Expectation vs Reality: Hiking Trolltunga in Norway

Trolltunga. The Troll’s Tongue. It’s a place you see on Social Media so much, that it somehow had to make our To Do List for Norway. And I am definitely not disappointed that we went. But there are a few things you need to know before going.

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Let’s start with the way there: The streets to Trolltunga are very narrow and windy and sometimes only have one lane for both way traffic. So definitely drive carefully if you have your own car, because the Norwegians don’t really.

We tried to go as early as possible but when we got there around 7:30am, we were clearly not the first ones. There are two parking areas, one at the very bottom for 300NOK for a day (there are multiple-days-tickets as well in case you want to camp around the area for a night or more) and then there’s another one that’s around 4km up, which is 600NOK. The higher one opens at 6am and when we got there at 7:30 it was full already. We didn’t really care, because we wanted to hike as much as possible anyways, but in case you are not that keen on it, this might be a good option.

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Recommendations say that you need all equipment possible – hiking sticks, a head lamp, all the typical hiking stuff. But to be honest, we didn’t have any of that and we managed alright. We didn’t even have hiking boots which was a bit annoying though. So make sure you bring those, it’s just less slippery and better in case you go on a day like we did and there’s mud and puddles around.

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In general, after the first 4 kms up (they go up an asphalted street) the hike’s not crazy steep anymore. There are a few rougher parts, but it’s definitely manageable. With all the mud it was a bit harder, because it got slippery and you sometimes had to walk around and over sticks and stones to avoid it, but still. One important thing to know is, that there might be some parts that still have snow that you have to cross, which can be even more slippery. Try to avoid the edges, since they can break in easily – I fell into a little hole with my leg because of that. Oops.

As you can see from the images, the weather wasn’t too great when we did the hike, it was even raining a few times throughout the day. But somehow I wouldn’t want it any other way – the landscape was so mystical due to the fog, you somehow wouldn’t have been surprised if a troll actually jumped out of a hole all of a sudden.

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We got the top after 3 hours and 37 minutes (very precise, I know) and we were welcomed by around 20 people that were standing on the cliff taking pictures and around 15 people standing in line to get on the Trolltunga rock and get their picture taken. It was very weird to go through a hike like that and then run into a crowd of people. I mean, not that we were all alone along the hike but it’s still a peaceful walk. After a bit of thinking we decided that we still need a picture on the rock, just as a proof, so we asked a girl in line behind us to take it for us. After the typical shot, we then climbed down to another “tongue” that was a bit lower than the actual rock formation and took a few more “single shots” for us.

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I guess with a hike as famous as that one, you can’t really expect anything else, but it took away a little bit of the magic to stand in line just to get a shot on there. And also to have around 30-40 people watch you pose on that rock – I was too uncomfortable to do anything special and just took the one shot with my friend. But it was worth the experience and the memory.

So all in total, it took us around 7 hours and 45 minutes to go up and down (the waiting time up there not included). So definitely pack water, snacks and lunch for your hike, there’s nothing to fill up water bottles or get snacks on the way (obviously, but just to mention it).

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My conclusion to this trip: So worth it! The landscape was just breathtaking, the hike was challenging enough but not too hard for a once-in-a-while-hiker like me and the reward up there was pretty cool as well. So put it on your bucket list and go for it!

Read my whole Norway guide here.

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A first aid kit for traveling – The 7 essentials

I guess we’ve all heard with a heavy heart what happened to the two girls in Cambodia last month. Reading this, I remembered once again how important it is to take all the essential medicine with you. It might be a pain in the ass because it’s an extra weight but as you can see, it might be life saving.
And even if it doesn’t go that far, it still saves you money. I remember when I had bed bugs in Vietnam (well my hostel claimed it wasn’t bed bugs, but whatever it was, it was itching badly and I had bites all over my body), I went to the pharmacy and they sold me two things, one of them were actual pills. Turns out they were not for anything close to bites but for something to do with your nose. While it might not have killed me it wouldn’t have been helpful at all either. So lesson learned, I’ll bring my own first aid kit with me from now on.

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Travel First Aid Kit via Flickr (Credit by The NRMA)

But what does it have to contain? Let’s go through the essentials.

#1 Aspirin

It doesn’t have to be aspirin, but anything that helps with a headache or maybe any other type of pain you might have, such as sore muscles. Or maybe even the start of a cold.

#2 Aloe Vera creme/gel

Especially in all the typical backpacker countries around South East Asia or South America, I saw plenty of sunburnt girls walking around. Clearly, you are on the beach all day, going in and out of the water constantly and you might forget about putting on sunscreen all the time. Try not to forget, since sun burns are very very bad for you, but if you end up having one, it’s such a relieve to put some aloe vera on it!

#3 Medicine for your digestion

I want tell you any brand here, because it depends on what’s helped you before. But definitely take something for your stomach! Because no matter how careful you might be while traveling, you can always get some type of stomach problem, either from drinking the water, eating something that wasn’t cleaned properly or swallowing dirty ocean water (that’s what happened to me on Bali for example).

Tip: If you have a sensitive stomach as it is, always wipe your cuttlery with a clean napkin before you eat, make sure you don’t drink anything with ice in it, wash off the fruit you buy on the street with bottled water and only eat where lots of people are eating. Just to make sure.

#4 Anti-bite creme

Yes, bites. It doesn’t have to be bed bugs it can just be any type of bites. So take any creme with you that you can put on them for you to stop scratching and for them to heal more easily. And if you are at it, take bug spray as well.
And maybe take something a bit stronger on top of it, in case you’re as lucky as I am and get bed bugs!

#5 Any medicine against a cold

That’s probably a pretty common thing. You might think you’re in a hot country and you won’t get a cold, but there are always things that might trigger a cold – ACs, swimming in the cold ocean, sleeping with wet hair.. You name it. So make sure to pack something that helps you with a cold every time!

#6 Band Aids

No matter if you’ve walked too much and got a blister, stepped into a shell or cut yourself with a knife – Band Aids are always useful!

#7 Anti-inflammatory medicine

Okay, I would have not thought of taking that before my last trip, but now I’ll definitely think of it every time.
When I was in Australia last year, I got bitten by a fish (don’t laugh, I might tell that story another time) and it got infected pretty badly. Lucky enough I was still in Australia (left for Vietnam a few days later), so I just went into the pharmacy and got the right medicine. But who knows what they would have given me in Vietnam?
It doesn’t have to be pills, I just used a creme and it helped perfectly!

Other than those 7 essentials, make sure to pack medicine against any issues you might have a lot. I, for example, always have problems with my sinuses whenever I get a cold, so I try to take my medicine for that with me. And never forget the protection you are using – birth control pill, condoms, whatever you need and use.

AND always make sure to get all the shots you might need for your destination. Check with a doctor or a specialist a few months before your trip (or at least a few weeks, depending on how spontaneously you planned it) what shots you might need to cover. Because trust me, you’d rather be safe than sorry.

The ultimate packing list: Festival edition

I’ve been to quite a few festivals now (this year is my 8th time at Southside Festival in Germany) and I’ve learned a lot about packing the right things and not too much for it. That’s why I thought I’d share my tips with you.

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Dawn of the dead on the last day of the festival


Food

Clearly, eating is very important, especially when you drink a lot like you usually do at a festival. That’s why planning this part is vital. But what do you really need?
At my first festival we bought a lot of food containers like Ravioli, Chili con Carne and other unnecessary stuff. Throughout the years, we realised that you don’t really need to bring much. So here’s what I always buy: Bread, cream cheese, fruits&vegetables (apples, carrots, …) and a few nuts. Usually you spend most of your day at the festival ground and walking back just to cook and eat your container ravioli is a waste of time for me. Sure, it’s a question of money as well, but I think hearing all the live music is worth it.


Clothes

Especially when going to festivals in Germany you can never know what to expect with the weather? Will it be crazy rain and cold? Or will it be the sunniest weekend yet? And even if the weather forecast predicts sun all weekend, it can still get cold at night and muddy around the festival ground. That’s why my luggage always contains the following:
Gumboots
Overknee socks 
(They are perfect to put on with your shorts when it gets cold at night)
A rain jacket or wind breaker
Shorts
T-Shirts
A warm jumper and sweatpants (for the evenings and sleeping)


Toiletries

Clearly another given. But what do you really need? I always bring facial wipes (I know that they are not very good for the environment but they are just so practical), mascara if I feel like I really need it, shower gel and shampoo and hand sanatizer (!!!). Other than that you don’t really need much else (except if you have contact lenses like I do). But if the weather is good, don’t forget to pack sun screen as well, a painful sunburn is the last thing you need at a festival!
And don’t forget toilet paper. It’s not only good when using one of the portable toilets another time than early on the first day but it also serves your Karma points well. Ever stood in front of a toilet, handing out toilet paper? People will love you.

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Me and a portable toilet on a Sunday. Wonderful.

Camping Gear/Practical things

Well, a tent and a sleeping bag are obvious but what else do you need? Definitely bring some camping chairs, because if it rains just a little bit, you don’t really want to sit on the floor anymore. And another thing important, to either be a shelter from rain but also from sun: a pavilion. You can get them at any construction market and they are cheap enough (if you are a bigger group) to just leave it there in the end. Make sure to fix it with lots of tape (the strong silver one to be exact), so it won’t break with people tripping over it or the wind trying to blow it up.
As a bag, try to bring a fanny pack, since that way you have your hands free to party like a rockstar and it’s not as easy to get robbed or anything.
You never know who you are going to camp next to and how there endurance looks like, so if you want to get a little bit of sleep at night, don’t forget earplugs.


Fun things

Because I always lose things, I decided to not bring anything too valuable to a festival anymore (except for my phone because let’s face it, you’d literally be lost at a festival without one), so I started buying disposable cameras to bring. They are usually around €10 and take up to 30 photos so perfect for a festival day.
We also always (try to) bring a ball to play Flunkyball, a drinking game that’s apparently not known in many other countries, and if you want to listen to music before the actual festival acts start, bring some speakers with you. If your festival actually offers a festival radio (Southside does, for example) you can also bring a radio to be up to date on any changes and listen to all the great bands you are going to see or have seen live that weekend.
Also, a water gun always brings lots of fun and definitely refreshment if the weather’s too hot to handle!

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Flunky Ball

I hope this helps you to have the best festival weekend ever!

If you want to read more about my festival experiences so far, click here and here and look out for some upcoming posts.

4+4 Tips for packing light as a solo traveling girl

Whenever I travel somewhere with friends we always decide on one person taking shampoo, one person taking make-up removal, one person taking toothpaste and so on.. Just because you then have more space for other important things (like clothes, duh) in your suitcase.
But when you are traveling solo, that’s not how it works. You have to pack everything you need in your own luggage. So how can you save some space in your luggage? Here are my tips.

#1 You don’t need everything you think you need.

This might sound weird but once you are traveling, you somehow turn to minimalism without thinking about it. Especially when you go to warm countries. I mean, who wants to wear tons of jewelry in a 35 Degree heat? And how many different shorts do you actually need? Just think about it twice and take the things you can easily combine with each other and you’re good. (Insider tip: There are washing machines all around the world ;))
Same goes for make-up by the way. Take a light powder and some mascara and you’re good to go. You don’t need much else.

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Going trekking? Leggings (great for flights as well), a shirt and sneakers are all you need.

#2 The important things can be bought.

Every time I go somewhere and think about what I could have forgotten, my mum always says “You’re not out of the world, they have stores everywhere”. So this became my mantra. When I go on big trips, I only bring small tubes of everything – toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel – and when it’s empty, I just get new ones wherever I am. It makes life so much easier!

#3 Always buy the lighter versions (aka travel gear).

And with travel gear I mean all the things you actually need when backpacking and not all the camping gear – definitely two different pairs of shoes.
So what I mean, for example, is a microfibre towel. Because, let’s face it, you need a towel when staying in hostels, since no one really fancies paying money to hire a towel that has been used by 100 other people before without knowing how clean it actually is. But all the normal towels can take away half of your backpack, so a microfibre towel it is. And a plus: It dries super quickly!

#4 Switch to alternatives. 

Every girl out there needs tampons once a month. And if you think about traveling for 2-3 months you need to bring tampons. And they take up space. So why not switch to menstruation cups? They are easy to use, take up less space and are clearly better for the environment. So give it a try and you don’t have to worry about having enough tampons to get you through your trip to countries where they can’t be found easily.

Another thing you could use an alternative for are contact lenses. If you need those and have daily lenses, you obviously have to bring 100 pairs on a long trip. Why not try and switch to bi-weekly or monthly lenses?


And once you’ve got all your things together and start filling your pack, make sure to use your space wisely. Think about it:

#1 What needs to be within reach easily? (Underwear, socks, rain cover)
#2 How many little pockets do I have on my backpack? And how can I fill them?
#3 What needs to go in my carry on? (charger, book, diary, toothbrush and -paste)
#4 What else CAN go in my carry on? (layering and stuffing’s key!)

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And voilà, you are ready to go! (Photo via flickr.com (Zach Dischner))

Planning a trip to Vietnam? Here are 10 things you might want to know

Vietnam is one of the main countries people visit when they go to South East Asia. Because it still is very traditional but it is also “western” enough for people who might not be too comfortable outside their own comfort zone.
As you’ve seen from my blogposts here and here, I just came back from my trip there and discovered a few things that might be interesting to know when you plan your trip.

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Things you should know before visiting Dublin

For me, Dublin is a pretty underrated place in Europe. People don’t really visit that city because they focus on cities like Berlin, London, Paris or Amsterdam. Even when I moved there, not a lot of people were able to say “Oh, I’ve been there, you should do this or that”. So for everyone out there, who hasn’t been so far, let me tell you: It’s worth it. It might not have the beach like Barcelona or the cute French cafés like Paris or the great night life like Berlin but it does have a lot to offer.

Here are a few things you should know, for everyone who’s planning on visiting Dublin in the future.

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A few places to get great animal photos

When I’m traveling, I love to take photographs of whatever comes in front of my lens. And  a lot of that are animals. Mostly wild animals, that are typical for the area I’m in. Because honestly, animals are just amazingly beautiful and great photo motives.
But some people overdo it. Remember the story from earlier this year, where people took a dolphin out of the water to take a selfie with it? And just earlier this month, another story occurred, where a woman picked up a swan to take a better selfie – and killed it.

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4 “Travel safe” tips, just to make sure

Girl went missing in ThailandBritish woman killed and two in hospitalin hospital after scooter accident.
Recently, headlines like that are ruling the media. And those are just the stories that make it that far. When you ask friends or frequent travelers what type of stories they’ve heard throughout their trips, you feel like, especially as a woman, you should never step foot outside your own country ever again. Robbery, rapes, accidents – the list is long.
The most recent story might be the murder of two Argentinian girls in Ecuador, which made the hashtag #viajosola and the question if women should travel without a male accompanist go viral.
But I, as a female (solo) traveler, can say that this is not as common as it seems and that traveling without a male isn’t as dangerous as it seems. In 5 months of traveling the world by myself, the worst thing that happened to me, was getting my flip flops stolen – no joke. Because I tried to be cautious and safe at all times. And because of that, I feel like I could give you those four major tips on how to be safe when traveling – especially as a girl/woman.

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A few money saving tips when traveling

People always tell me that the main reason they don’t travel is that they don’t have enough money. And I totally understand that, because travelling is expensive, but in case you already booked your main flights, here are some tipps how you can save some money while travelling.

#1 Compare

Once you arrive at your (first) destination, the comparing starts. Or at least it should. A lot of hostels offer trains, busses or different trips with a certain company. But in case you are not in a big hurry to get to the next place, you should walk around the street and compare some other companies that offer the same or similar trains/busses/trips and see if you can get it cheaper. A lot of times hostels raise the prices of the tickets so they earn something from it as well. (Of course comparing also applies for all flights you take, but I guess most of you do that anyways.) Continue reading

Hostelworld: Why I love hostels so much

“Really, sharing a bed with 9 strangers? I couldn’t do that.”

That’s just one of the sentences I hear all the time when I express my love for hostels in front of people. I can’t even count anymore in how many different hostels I slept. But I know, that I loved every one of them. Yes, there are definitely downsides to hostels, but I still would chose Hostels over Hotels or AirBnbs anytime. Here’s why:

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