So I have a new blog name

I left Scotland almost 3 months ago, and since I decided to continue writing here, I’ve been trying to come up with a new name. Which is awfully difficult. I guess this will be a kind of travel blog, but I don’t want a standard “your-name” travels/travelling/nomadic/similar travel-related word of your choice. Partly because I’m not actually traveling that much at the moment, and because it’s just a little boring. So eventually I went with this one, I will travel the world. Perhaps not the most imaginative, but it fits well, because being back in Norway have just strengthened my wish to travel. There are many good things about Norway, but right now I don’t really feel like living here. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a nice city, it’s great to see friends from uni again, as we’ve all been away on exchange different places, and I’m looking forward to my classes. There’s just the rest I don’t like so much, so then I will travel, even if it takes at least a year before I can travel for a longer time than a weekend or week at the time. Oh, and I also decided to get my own domain name, so my old one will redirect to this one, as well as I’m in the process of trying to find a different/better design.

I’d be cool to go here for example, here being Greenland and this being a view from the plane to USA this summer.

Kilauea, an active volcano

Craterception, a crater within a crater. The outer crater being where the fence is, with the other side of the distance somewhere barely visible in the distance.

The Hawaiian islands are, if you didn’t know already, volcanoes. Huge ones which started forming at the bottom of the sea many thousand years ago (if not longer). Most are inactive today and have been for a long time, especially on the most northern islands like Oahu where you can see the mountains are very different from, say, the Big Island, as the mountains on Oahu has eroded over a long time since the island was formed, while Big Island still has volcanic activity and is a lot more flat. On Big Island there is still an active volcano, Kilauea, which actually is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Fortunately that doesn’t mean it has huge eruptions that brings death and destruction to the island, but it does have smaller eruptions regularly, and it’s possible to see the light from the lava in the distance at night. As the area close by is closed, so you have to watch from a distance. Which I’m quite ok with, I have no great wish of going all close and personal with molten rock.

I did however experience the wonderful smell of sulfur and various other volcanic gases, as there is a trail you can walk through some sulfur fields. Which is a completely natural thing to want to do. Who doesn’t want to go through an area of foul-smelling gases which could potentially make you feel ill if you inhale too much of it? It was cool though, to see how the gases had crystallized and the rifts were covered in these yellowish crystals.

It’s seriously huge, the inner crater is to the right of this picture, and the space on the other side of the inner crater was even bigger.

The crater for the original volcano is HUGE…it’s not very high up anymore, like the other volcanoes on the island (4000+ meters/14000+ feet high),  as the top collapsed when the amount of lava decreased, but the crater is still seriously huge. In the middle there’s a “small” one where there is continuous smoke and gases coming up, which is the still active part of the volcano.  The size of it is incredible though, trying to comprehend just how large this volcano was before it collapsed is difficult, it’s simply enormous. Standing on the edge of the larger crater, I couldn’t see the other side, partly because of smoke from the smaller crater in the centre, but also because the opposite edge of the large crater was so far away I probably wouldn’t have seen much of it even if there weren’t any smoke and fog in the way.

Entrance to a lava tube

In another area of the Hawaii national volcanoes park, where Kilauea is, there are also some old lava tunnels, which you can walk through as the lava is long gone. We went there, but I got really claustrophobic even if I could still see the entrance and it was a rather large tunnel. But just the thought of having so much stone and earth over me freaked me out and I ended up going back to the car instead. I wish I’d pushed through anyway, as I don’t like being cowardly, but hey, I tried.

Have you ever been near or on a volcano? 

The most famous dead tree in Hawaii

Does it look familiar? Without looking at the signpost

The most famous dead tree in Hawaii, also known as the dead tree in Jurassic Park, which Dr. Grant and the two children hide behind when all those dinosaurs come running down the hill. It looks a bit different there than the movie now, but then, it’s almost 20 years since that movie was made. This is on Kualoa ranch by the way, on Oahu, you know, the island which Honolulu is on. We went there on a movie tour, as lot of movies and series has filmed scenes here. Like Jurassic Park, 50 first dates, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla (the American version of course), Lost and a bunch of others. Including one called Tyrannosaurus Azteca, which, according to our guide, is so bad it’s funny. I haven’t seen it so I can’t judge, but the name doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Fun fact about the Godzilla footprints:  when they were originally made they were a lot deeper than now, but as the ranch also have cows, the cows kept falling into the footprints and died, so they had to fill them in and make them shallower.

Godzilla was here.. Although it’s a while ago since it’s growing grass in the footprint

The tour was pretty interesting, even though I’ve only seen some of the movies filmed there. Good guide with interesting stories and beautiful nature. Definitely worth going on if you like movies and series and such, but the rest of the ranch didn’t look that interesting. They boast of horse riding and ATV driving, but that’s really only riding/driving in a line the same route, seeing the same things we did from the bus, so really not worth paying 2-3 times as much for. Oh, and in the bay just by the ranch scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean 4 was filmed, and parts of 5 and 6 might be filmed there as well. Or so the rumour goes. Anyway, it was a nice experience. It’s just lacking a tyrannosaurs rex and few velociraptors for it to be great.

7 years ago I was only a few blocks away from a terrorist attack

7 years ago I was in England for the first time, on holiday in London with my dad, sister and grandfather. 7 years ago there was a terrorist attack in London, 4 bombs went off the morning of 7th of July 2005, three in tube trains and one on a bus. Two of those bombs went off in the streets next to the hotel we were staying at. While we were there. I was quite young at the time, but this is what I remember of that day.

The day started as any day on holiday, with breakfast and talking about what we were going to do that day. Whether to get the bus, the tube or get a taxi, that sort of stuff. We were almost finished when a waiter came over and said “Please come with me, there has been an incident”. So we did, along with everyone else in the hotel we were led to a conference room and asked to stay there until they had further information. At this point we had no idea what was happening, no one did, it was probably within the hour of the bombs going off. So we sat, and waited. Talked to people. Everyone wondering what was going on. Trying to not get too scared or freaked out. Sitting like that waiting and not knowing what’s going on, while knowing that something bad actually has happened really freaks out out. It was clearly something serious since we were all put in the same room and asked not to leave, yet not judged dangerous enough for us to have to leave the building. Was it some kind of attack? A big one?  Was it over, or was this just the beginning?  Would it be more that would hit us? Who was it? Another country? Terrorist attacks? Just some crazy individuals? Were we in danger? At this point, these and other similar questions were running through the minds of everyone, as we had no idea what had happened.

After a while we were told that there had been bombs going off nearby and that the police was working on finding out what had happened. It was scary. The whole atmosphere in the large conference room was filled with worry and fear. Hearing what was going on wasn’t very reassuring, even though it made sense that it probably weren’t any more bombs, as there hadn’t been any more explosions for hours. Phones were brought in so people could call their relatives to let them know that they were ok, as at this point it was in the news all over the world and the mobile network wasn’t working properly. Probably overloaded.  Seeing people sitting along the walls talking in phones or waiting for a free phone, in all kinds of languages is something I remember clearly even now.

We were updated relatively regularly, as more information about what actually had happened was found. We were still not allowed to leave though, other than some people being allowed a quick trip up to hotel rooms to pick up books or something else to help the waiting. I remember my dad doing that, and even though there probably weren’t any danger at this point, I was so, so worried the whole time he was away. It felt like he was gone for ages. Of course he was fine and it probably didn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, but I still remember my stomach hurting because I was so afraid that something would happen while he was there and that he wouldn’t come back.

The streets nearby was closed for traffic, and so there were no food deliveries that day. While several hundred people had to stay inside the hotel, many of which hadn’t even had breakfast, or at least not finished eating it. Luckily there was supposed to have been a conference with lunch included that day, so there was food to serve us. Even so it was rationed out, so there would be enough for everyone. People with children first, meaning us, along with some other families. For me it was enough food, or at least I can’t remember being hungry afterwards.

Eventually, sometime in the afternoon or evening, we were allowed to leave. I don’t know how many hours we sat there, but it was the better part of the day. Outside the hotel, two of the streets  directly next to the hotel were blocked off. And I don’t mean a small fence, but a huge plastic sheet going from one building to the other. We could see reporters standing a block up the street filming and talking, as they weren’t allowed as close to the barriers as the hotel was.

We didn’t do much the rest of that day, other than having dinner and going to our rooms. With express command from my dad that me and my sister should not turn on the TV in our room. He didn’t actually command it, he never commands things, but it was a very strong suggestion, and as we both respect out father, as well as having no great wish of seeing the damage, in spite of curiosity, we didn’t turn on the TV. Even today I still haven’t seen any pictures or video of what happened, or even know more than the general story of what happened. And I’m ok with that. Even though we weren’t in any real danger at any point, we didn’t know that at the time, and it was still a frightening experience and I think not seeing news stories has made it easier to deal with it.

I don’t know how many were hurt or killed or how much damage was done, but my heart goes out to everyone who were killed or hurt in the bombings and I hope everyone who were hurt have recovered and have no lasting injuries today.

Going to Spain!

About a week before I left Scotland, I got a message from a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and when she told me she had just moved to the south of Spain and that I was welcome to come visit her, it didn’t take me long to look for and find a reasonably cheap flight. Which happened to be in the middle of June, meaning I left Norway again, just a week after coming home, after being gone for 10 months. Cause, like, who wants to be in Norway? (Ok, so I kinda really like Norway, I just like to be other places as well.

The view from my friend’s flat

So I left for Spain, and as the flight was cheap, it also arrived late, which meant it was too late to get the bus the hour or so from Alicante airport to Torrevieja, where my friend lives. She and her mom were awesome enough to come meet me at the airport, even if they didn’t have to, and we were planning to get a taxi back, costing 60-70 euros or so. Luckily I happened to sit beside a Norwegian couple on the plane, who were going in the same direction and had a rental car, who were really nice and offered to drive us most of the way. We got a taxi for the last little bit, as it was very out of the way where the couple were going, but still, it ended up only costing us 20 euros. Win I say!  Acts of random kindness are awesome 🙂

I was there for 10 wonderful days, most of the time spent on the beach right outside my friend’s flat or in the market and restaurants in Torrevieja, as well as reading books (all three of us loves reading), having great dinners and talking about everything and nothing. We also went to Tabarca, this tiny island off the coast of Alicante, which was very pretty.  Just annoying that there were 5 or 6 classes of school children there at the same time, who almost seemed to follow us around and were SO noisy. One of my good friends from the year in Scotland is Spanish and lives in Madrid, so naturally I had to take the 6-7 hour long bus trip there to see her, even though it was less than 2 weeks since we both left Scotland. And so I did, and it was definitely worth it!

Tabarca

 

The whole trip in general was great to be honest, although I almost didn’t get my flight home. Because in Spain there are a lot of black guys who illegally try to sell sunglasses and whatever crap to tourists, they wander about carrying their wares and approaching tourists (one guy tried to sell my friend what he said was Rolex sunglasses..) or display them on temporary cardboard “tables” so they can just pick it up and disappear if they see any police. If they are illegal immigrants or just don’t have a permit for selling I don’t know, but either way they were protesting in Torrevieja the days around my departure date. Which normally wouldn’t have been a problem, except that they happened to block the street in front of the bus station, where I needed to get the bus to the airport.  Fortunately I was getting an early bus, but even that one barely got past the protesters, it didn’t even drive all the way into the bus station(as he’d have to drive through the guys again when getting out of the station), the bus driver just stopped outside, hurried over and told us this was the bus to the airport. We followed him to the bus, and as the last people were getting in, things turned violent. The majority of the protesters were just behind the bus, so I and the other passengers could see through the window how some guys started using trash containers and pushed them hard into police cars and policemen who were trying to keep control. I don’t know what happened afterwards, but I assume the police got control of the situation. If the street was cleared however, is a different question, and I doubt the later bus I could have taken would have managed to get to the bus station at all.

Anyway, even with this slightly dramatic end to my trip, it was wonderful, can’t wait to go back sometime!

Have you ever been to Spain? Where did you go?

Two weeks until departure – the end of an adventure

Today it’s exactly two weeks until I board the plane home to Norway (although I won’t actually be home until the day after, thanks to the cheapest ticket leaving me stranded at the airport in Oslo overnight because it arrives so late). The end of a bit more than 9 months living in Scotland. Sure, I was home over Christmas, for a whole month actually, but that was ok, because I knew I would come back to Scotland afterwards. When I go home in two weeks, I will probably not be back here for a long time. Which will be very strange, as I’ve been traveling regularly to Scotland the past year and a half before I moved here, thanks to my now-ex boyfriend. No more funny Scottish accents for me.

Ok, so I will be going home to do things like this, so it’s not like it will be that bad

There are negative sides to Scotland, as everywhere, and there has certainly been things I haven’t liked while being here. Such as some things I’m not entirely happy about at my university here. Or the ridiculous obsession with ID here. Or the huge focus on alcohol and getting wasted all the time. Or the way all most a lot more girls than I’m used to seems to think they have to wear a ton of make-up, 15-20 cm high heels and really, really, really short dresses every time they go out. It’s kinda sad to see them (unsuccessfully) try to walk , especially late at night when they’re often pretty drunk wasted as well.  Or, of course, the weather. Although that isn’t as bad where I live as it’s rumored to be. It completely lives up to its reputation other places though.

Despite all that I’ve come to like Scotland and living here quite a lot. Ok, it’s partly because so many things is cheap for me, or at least cheaper than I’m used to. The scenery is pretty awesome as well, and I quite like Stirling, as it’s about the right size, not super close to any big place, but not that far away either, and how it’s surrounded with nature. Sort of anyway, like when I walked to the top of Dumyat. The real reason is the people though, both my wonderful flat mates and fantastic friends and the people here in general. Scottish people can seem sorta scary at times, not to mention hard to understand if you aren’t used to the accent, but they’re generally really nice. Some of it is probably the British politeness (which I think is a bit over the top sometimes, like saying sorry when someone bumps into you), which I’ve grown to like a lot more than I did originally. Of course, people most places are as nice, it’s just sometimes less visible. Like in Norway, were we can often seem rather cold, impolite and unfriendly for people who are not used to us. Or so I hear anyway.

My wonderful flatmates… Ok, not really, but I’ll miss seeing these guys as well.

What I will miss the most is my friends, in particular my amazing flat mates, who I’ve grown rather close to in the past 9 months. How can you not, when you live together for that long in a foreign country? I know I’m leaving soon, and the first of my flat mates is leaving in just two days, but I haven’t really realized it yet. Not on the emotional level, it’s just empty when I think of it. It’s like I assume she will only be gone for a few days before coming back. Of course I will be seeing them again, the first one in July when I go to Hawaii for 3 weeks, where she lives, but it will never be the same of us living together and studying in a foreign country. I’ll also miss the other friends I’ve made here, particularly the ones living in neighbouring flats, as some of them has become as close friends as my flat mates. I hope it won’t be too long until I see them again.

This past year (a year sounds cooler than 9 months) has been one of the best of my life

I’ll miss Scotland

Isle of Iona

It’s just so cool!

Isle of Iona is officially my favourite place in Scotland. It’s a small island on the west coast, which you need to take two ferries to get to, first from Oban to an island called Mull, then drive across it to get to the ferry to Iona, but it’s worth it. It probably helps that it was really sunny the day I was there, but the island is so, so beautiful anyway, and so peaceful. It’s also where Christianity started to spread to Scotland, literally the place it started, which is really interesting. Essentially an Irish guy, who later became Saint Columba, went to Scotland and was given Iona, and started spreading the word of God in Scotland. Which does seem to have been relatively successful.

The Abbey of Iona is now restored and can be visited, as well as there are remains of a nunnery nearby the Abbey. There are some really nice carvings and decorations in the Abbey, and there are these huge stone crosses which are really cool. A lot of kings and other important people over the years are rumored to be buried there, but how much is actually true is hard to know.

From the highest point (which is not really that high) of Iona, Dun I,  you can see almost the whole island as it’s not very big, and  it’s very much worth the trip up. For example, sitting there and eating lunch with the amazing view is pretty great. There is also quite a lot of sheep on the island, and since I was there in spring, there were a lot of weeks-old lambs, and they were just adorable. I want one now.

Why, of course all the beaches in Scotland looks like this.

Being on the beach was by far the best part though.It was sunny, the sand was so white, the water was so clear and turquoise it didn’t look like Scotland at all. I went barefoot most of the time on the beach, and it was wonderful. The sand was warmed up from the sun, so it felt like summer to walk there, even though I had 3-4  layers of clothes on my upper body. Even the water wasn’t actually that cold. If I had a towel and some sort of swim wear, I would probably have gone for a (very, very) quick dip in the water. Too bad I didn’t. We spent most of the time at Dun I and afterwards at the beach, until we had to go to catch the ferry back. At that point we were all sun burnt to some degree…which is sort of cool when it’s in Scotland it happens. 

Where is your favourite place?