2017

The Canaries Diary Part II: La Graciosa

Hello again,

welcome back to Part II of the Canaries Diary. Here's a link to Part I and all the things we did on Lanzarote

We spend the night in Orzola on Lanzarote before getting up at sunrise to take the ferry to La Graciosa. It's one of the northern islands of the Canaries and also one of the smallest inhabited part of the archipelago. Only about 700 people live permanently on the island, most live from tourism. There are no roads on La Graciosa, the only way to get around is by foot or to hire one of the 4x4 taxis. 

 

The first thing we noticed when we got of the ferry was the wind. Particularly around the harbour the wind blows violently through the little village. Since we didn't have time for breakfast we went to the first cafe which happened to be the only cafe in town. The entire town is pretty small, you can easily walk from on end to the other in less than 10 minutes. There's a little supermarket, a few restaurants and shops. 

After checking into our AirBnb ("Quiet apartment in La Graciosa Island") for the night we decided to take a tour around the island. Tours are offered by locals and usually start at the harbour and const about 50€. We shared the tour with a few others so it ended up being less that 10€ per person. The tour takes you pretty much all around the whole island, stopping at all the most popular sights. 

The highlight of the tour is definitely Playa De Las Conchas on the southern side of the island. It's very remote and hence not many people get there. It was probably one of the best experiences of the entire trip, we even came back later to watch the sunset.

The next day started a little less windy, so after breakfast and coffee we decided to hike up one of the volcanic mountains close to Playa De Las Conchas. They're not very high, but steep and the ground is very slippery. The view on top is absolutely worth it. 

To sum up the experience on La Graciosa, it feels a lot further away from Europe than Lanzarote. There are no tour busses or hotels, most of the tourists are backpackers. Especially after 5pm when the last ferry to Lanzarote left the island turns quiet. The weather and landscape is a lot rougher, the waves bigger and the currents stronger. The whole islands feels a lot more african than european. For me La Graciosa was definitely the highlight of the whole trip. 

If you liked this post make sure you also check out my post about Lanzarote. Also swing by my Instagram and Twitter for more regular pictures and updates. 

See you soon,

Tobi

The Canaries Diary Part I: Lanzarote

Hi all,

if you do an online search for the most popular and "hip" travel destinations of 2017 Lanzarote most likely wouldn't be on top of the results. And honestly I was in the same mindset. The only people I know who have been to the Canaries are my grandparents few years back. The reason we went there was mostly the lack of time and options, also the flights from London are a bargain in November. 

Today I've been back for about 3 weeks and I'm glad I went on this trip and overcame my prejudices.  Lanzarote has so many amazing and seemingly untouched gems waiting to be discovered, far away from mainstream tourism and tour busses. So don't get fooled by online reviews, Lanzarote is a unique and exiting place, only a few hours away from London.

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago just off the northern coast of Africa. The most popular ones are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and finally Lanzarote, the most eastern island of the Canaries. According to Wikipedia they are among the outermost regions of the EU. And indeed this becomes very apparent once you start leaving the main cities: All Islands are the reminisces of a volcanic eruption hundreds of years ago. The landscape literally turns into fields of hardened lava. 

 

Walking on lava

Lanzarote's violent past becomes already quite visible when you approach the island's airport. From the air you can clearly see craters and broken up slopes, relicts of massive eruptions in the past. The landscapes are vast and deserted, only under closer inspections revealing signs of nature slowly fighting its way back up through the solidified fields of lava. 

The black beaches

One of the most beautiful phenomena happened when over decades the solid lava got washed into the ocean and formed beaches with black sand. The blue ocean, the breaking waves and the black sand create some stunning colours.

Climb the cliffs

It's hard to miss the cliffs overlooking Famara Beach at the most norther end of Lanzarote. Roads are steep and mostly gravel at the ends, but the view is way worth it. Park your car at the Park El Bosquecillo and search for Cueva de Las Cabras, you won't be dissapointed!

Go Surfing

One of the best ways to experience the waves of the Atlantic Ocean it to go surfing. The most popular spot is Famara Beach in the north of Lanzarote. The beach is very safe with moderate waves, lifeguards and surf schools. We rented boards and wetsuits at lanzarotekite just a few hundred meters from the shore, prices are really cheap and staff friendly.

Take a bath

The natural pools are probably one of Lanzarote's best kept secrets, and it took us quite a while to find them. Located at the south of the islands, follow a pretty bumpy dirt road until you see an abandoned building. This used to be a hotel back in the 60s and 70s, there are very few sources on what this place actually is. Today it largely seems like a place for homeless and graffiti artists. We parked our car just outside the building.

We walked through a few holes in the fences and ignored the "Do not enter" warning signs. There's an undeniably weird vibe in the air, and the structure definitely didn't feel safe. So we left on the rear side of the hotel through what used to be courtyard, climbed through another fence and went towards the cliffs.        

The pools on the other side are just gorgeous. Carefully climb down the cliffs and make sure the tide is pretty low. Unfortunately when we arrived the tide was already rising again and big waves started to roll over the pools. So we only took a quick bath and snapped a few pictures before climbing back up. The currents are incredibly powerful, so please be careful and always have someone watching the incoming waves. 

 
 

This concludes Part I of our trip to the Canaries, hope you enjoyed the pictures. If you want to get a sneak peak of what's coming next, check out my Instagram and Twitter for daily updates and travel pictures. Click here to jump straight to Part II: La Graciosa.

Tobi

A day trip to Sintra

Hi all,

when we were staying in Lisbon a few weeks ago we decided to go to Sintra for a day. It's not to far, we took an Uber and it took about 45min. On weekends definitely start your day early to avoid the crowds. Our first destination was the National Place of Pena which is situated on top a little hill in a national park. It's a beautiful and colourful building with a stunning view over the surrounding forest. And if you're early you can have it pretty much all by yourself.

Also definitely explore the surrounding gardens. There are some hidden viewpoints that have a stellar view over the national park. 

From the exit of the palace it's just a short walk to the remains of an old castle. (You can get combi-tickets for both palace and castle) It's generally pretty steep to make sure you bring good shoes. Once you leave the castle just follow the path down the hill where you'll arrive in the old town of Sintra, just in time for lunch.

After a rejuvenating lunch at one of the local bakeries, we took another Uber to Azenhas do Mar, a sleepy little seaside town right at the ocean. Because of the strong waves and currents there is a seawater pool carved into the cliff walls so can safely go for a swim. A walk along the cliffs is a must, the scenery is absolutely stunning. 

Azenhas do Mar is probably one of the greatest places in Portugal to watch the sunset. It's facing almost exactly west, therefore the sun dips the ocean just in front of the beach. There are deckchairs and cocktail bars just at the seafront, making it the perfect end to a perfect day out.

I hope you enjoyed this post about our trip to Sintra. Also check out what we did in Lisbon and why you should go there too!

If you're curious and want more regular updates follow me on Twitter and Instagram

See you soon,

Tobi

Why you should visit Lisbon

Hola,

welcome back to another travel update, this time from the beautiful city of Lisbon. We stayed for 5 nights and we really had a fantastic time. Lisbon is a truly warm and welcoming place, we met a lot of really nice people and I would highly recommend to bump up Lisbon on you bucket list.

Lisbon is located at the Tagus river at the west coast of Portugal. Most of the year temperatures are warm and comforting during the day and refreshingly chilly at night. Although Lisbon is right at the ocean there aren't any beaches nearby the city centre but there are some beautiful waterfronts just a short minute train ride away.

 

For me a lot of the beauty come from the fact that Lisbon still has that dreamy feel like traveling back in time. Quite often we just wandered around in the old town just to stumble upon another stunning viewpoint over the city.    

I highly recommend an early morning walk, before most shops open and tourist swarm on the streets. So get up at dusk and make your way to the Elevator of Santa Justa. It's pretty much an old elevator that connects the lower streets with the higher streets of Lisbon. From the top you have an amazing view over the city. Later during the day queues get really long so definitely be there early.

Getting up before the crowds is rewarding in two ways. Firstly all the streets are empty and second- and most importantly, the light is just gentle and beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful light - If you're looking for an amazing sunset spot go to the São Jorge Castle and the top of Alfama. You'll need to get a ticket so be there at least 1 hour before sunset. The area of the caste is quite spacious so there's a lot to explore. When the sun finally sets make your way to the eastern wall of the castle for a stunning view over Lisbon and the bay. 

And there's a lot more to discover:

1. Visit the Church of São Vicente of Fora on the westside of Alfama. For a small admission you'll find a romantic, almost forgotten monastery that features some beautiful architecture and a fantastic view from the roof.

2. Take the train or tram to the district of Belém. From the station you can stroll along the waterfront until you reach the Tower of Belém. We didn't go inside the tower but went straight to the nearby Jerónimos Monastery.

3. Last but not least, if you have time visit the Cristo Rei Statue south of the river. The view over the bay, the suspension bridge and Lisbon is simply unforgettable. We took a cab from downtown Lisbon but the traffic can be pretty bad, particularly at peak hours. There's also a ferry that operates between both sides of the river.

I hope you liked our little summary about our experience in Lisbon, please swing by our Instagram or Twitter for more travel photos and updates. If you have any questions or suggestion please get in touch, we would love to hear your feedback.

See you soon :)

The New York City Digest

Hi all,

after coming back from New York City I went through the pictures and I really have to say that four days can't do justice to such a big city. I was actually pleasantly surprised how beautiful a lot of the pictures turned out. I was also the first time I took the Sony A7rii out for a field test. 

On the first day it was incredibly hot. With temperatures well above 30°C we started the day in the Central Park. We also made our first encounter with the New York City Subway. 

After a few hours of strolling around the park and at least three stops for coffee (jetlag!) we headed downtown for Grand Central Station. 

It was already late afternoon by the time we left the station, and temperatures we're still climbing, and so was the amount of people on the streets. A lunch break was well overdue so we went to the nearest park for a sandwich and (more) coffee. 

After a few hours of rest and some New York City burgers we decided to end the day on the roof of the Empire State Building. We deliberately arrived there quite late around 9.30pm to avoid the queues and get some nice shots of the New York Skyline with all the citylights on.  

Conveniently Times Square was right next door so we took some snaps and enjoyed the famous scenery. It was also almost midnight and streets were still packed. They don't call it "The city that never sleeps" for no reason.

The next day started grey and rainy. And rainy days are usually an excellent opportunity for some culture, so we decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. The museum itself is quite gigantic and we easily spend a few hours exploring everything from Roman Statues to Egyptian tombs.

Not to far from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts is the 9/11 Memorial. The adjacent and mostly underground museum surrounds the former foundation of the twin towers. It's quite an impressive and agitating exhibition and definitely worth a visit.

When we woke up the following day the sun was out again. The Metropolitan Museum of Arts also features a quite amazing rooftop that overlooks Central Park. 

After another stroll through Central Park we took the subway further downtown. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon exploring Lower Manhattan and the East Village. 

From Whitehall Street at the northern tip of Manhattan you can take the Staten Island Ferry completely free of charge for a tour around the Lower Hudson Bay. 

The last sunset we spent in good New York tradition under the Brooklyn Bridge. To sum up the experience we had and now that I'm looking at the pictures back at home I wish I have had a little more time to discover in particular New York's quieter sides, parks and cafes. 

I've you liked my pictures please follow me on Instagram or Twitter, leave a comment or message me if you want to get in touch. I would love to hear your feedback.

See you soon,

Tobi

Road trip through Snowdonia

Hi everyone,

Easter time means road trip time. This year our destination was the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales. We started our trip from London Euston where we took the train to Liverpool from where we continued our journey via car. (We rented a car from Europcar right next to the station which was pretty straight forward, would definitely recommend)

We left Liverpool heading north towards Llandudno where we had our first Airbnb for the night. We deliberately picked smaller and more scenic roads alongside the coast. This will usually be a little slower but there are plenty of great photo opportunities.

 

Unfortunately on the next day the weather forecast didn't look too promising. Nevertheless we left Llandudno heading west towards Isle of Anglesey. Our goal for the day was the lighthouse on Holy Island. It's an incredible panorama from the cliffs overlooking the the little island and definitely worth the trip. Sadly the rain caught up on us and we decided to call it a day and drive back to our accommodation. 

Waking up the next morning we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine peeking through our window. Our Airbnb had an unbeatable view overlooking Conwy Bay, and our host Anne made a fantastic breakfast. Great way to start a day!

As the weather was looking really promising we quickly packed our bags, our next B'n'b was on the southern side of Snowdonia National Park. To get there we had to cross the Welsh Highlands including the famous Mount Snowdon.

After passing the mountains the sun welcomed us on the other side. Our goal for the day was to circle the Lleyh Peninsula

After a day with plenty of sunshine it was time to get to our b'n'b for the night. Set in the small village of Dolgellau it was one of the most unique and quirkiest places we've ever stayed in. All rooms we're uniquely inspired by classic novels, Alice in Wonderland was the theme that stood out the most in my opinion. And on top of that our hosts Jayne & Mark were incredible friendly and welcoming. If you're ever in the south of Wales this is a great place to stay!

For our last day we had planned to explore the area around Dolgellau. The weather unfortunately wasn't as nice as the day before to we had to incorporate quite a few coffee breaks on the way to escape the rain. 

My five favourite things to do in Dubai

Hi all,

this journey started, like so many before, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon in March at Heathrow Airport. I was waiting in front one of the countless coffeeshops in the terminal for my friend Harry, who's joining me on this trip from Hamburg. At the time we had no idea what to expect, neither of us had been to Dubai before. We also had no idea what an amazing experience this trip was going to be.  

 

About 7 hours, one airplane green curry and a few coffees later we touched down at Dubai International Airport. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton which is pretty central and also really well connected to Dubai's public transport. And being connected is quite important as this city hasn't been designed for walking. It's easy to underestimate distances on a map, and you don't want to get lost in almost 40°C.

In the following I've assembled my five favourite things and recommendations to do in Dubai. Our stay was about 5 days which felt like the ideal time to get a sense for the country, culture and people. Just a quick tip to make the most of your stay, we booked most of the following activities in advance and it's proofed to be quite hassle free and straight forward. 


1. Fly!

Dubai is probably the best opportunity in the world to get a seat in a helicopter. The true scale of city only really reveals itself from the air. Especially the Palm of Jumeirah looks nothing but stunning from above. If it's in your budget, it's worth every penny.

2. Go on a Desert Safari

Going on a desert safari is a great way to experience the deserts around Dubai. Most tours are pretty worry free, starting with hotel pickup, dune bashing, sand-boarding and camel riding as well as dinner under the stars, fire-eater and belly dancing. Now this might sound a bit touristy at first but I can ensure you it's perfectly fine and group sizes are manageable. And most importantly there are plenty of photo opportunities.

3. Sunset on the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is dominating the Dubai skyline like nothing else. You will see it when you land from the plane, from the taxi, from your hotel, pretty much from everywhere. So you're going to regret not using the chance to get on top of the currently highest building in the world. Booking in advance is strongly recommended to avoid long cues, particularly at sunset hours. There is a maximum amount of people that are allowed on the top to make sure it never gets to busy.

4. Visit the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi

Ok, let's be honest. Before looking into what to do in Dubai I had never heard of the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. We went there on our last day and to be frank, we weren't sure at all whether it was worth the 2 hours bus ride to the capital of the UAE - But I've never been so wrong. Today I would recommend everyone to visit this architectural masterpiece. It's indescribably beautiful, the vastness of endless pillared hallways and the grand square right in the centre is simply just breathtaking. And the entry is free, bus tickets from Dubai can be bought on the day and cost around 15£.

5. Go for a walk

Frankly speaking, Dubai isn't ideal for walking. It's pretty wide and open and sometime you might find yourself in front of a 10-lane highway with very few options to cross. However there are a some places that invite you for a stroll, especially the more historic parts of the town:

The area around Bur Dubai and the Creek offer a great insight into Dubai's past before it turned into the metropolis it is today. Great for an atmospheric wander through the narrow alleys of the souks and markets, relax at the river or take a tour on a boat. 

If you're not tired stay up a little late and and experience the amazing Dubai skylines at night. Visit the Marina Walk and the Burj Lake right in front of the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa after sunset for a colourful nighty cityscape. Don't forget your tripod.

A great way to get a relaxing escape from the big city life is to go to the Madinat Jumeirah. It's a contemporarily development area in the style of a traditional arabic village. There are little market stalls and coffeeshops surrounded by palm trees and waterways, villas and hotels. Also this is just a short walk away from Dubai's public beach, offering a great view on the Burj Al Arab.

Bonus tip: Breakfast at Tom & Serg

You can thank me later for this one. The best undoubtedly best breakfast in Dubai you'll get at Tom & Serg. This former warehouse style cafe has everything you can ever wish for, including a Salted-Caramel-Milkshake.

If you want to see more travel photos and always get the latest photos from my journeys please follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

See you soon!

Winter Weekend Break

Hi everyone,

our trip into the German mountains has pretty much become a regular thing. Just in case you haven't seen the blog post from last year please check out the link. Similarly to last year we flew from London Heathrow to Hannover in Germany from where we drove roughly one hour to our apartment in Wernigerode

 

The area is most famous for its beautiful landscapes and scenic valleys and mountains. Therefore it's quite popular for hikers. The first day we hiked to the Brocken Mountain, which is the highest mountain in northern Germany.

Here are some more shots from the drone which Anja bravely carried all the way up to the summit.

On our way back down we got rewarded by the most beautiful sunset. 

The next day we went a different route to see a sled dog race that was taking place nearby. From there we continued our hike through some dark forests and some striking clearings. The entire area used to belong to the former German Democratic Republic during the Cold War. Even until today you can still see evidence from that time, mostly in the shape of abandoned watchtowers that marked the borders between east and west Germany.