Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dorset - England

Took a trip to Dorset on the South West coast of England for the weekend where we competed in another of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series. Again Liz and I piled into a big house where we stayed with 7 other friends also down for the challenge. This time we attempted the half marathon (turned out to be 14.6 miles) trailing part of the Jurrasic coastal path of Dorset, famous for Durdle Door (top), and recognised as a World Heritage site. The scenery was spectacular along the run but the hills were immense. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that it had poured the night before so it made for some really muddy, slippery running. I think my time told the story as I finished in 3h15. Liz smashed it coming in at 2h36! The scenery was so good we returned the following day to take the photos.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Zavala - Croatia

The Place: Staying 80m from the sea in Zavala on the island of Hvar, Liz, Danel, Dave and I spent a good few days around the beaches and neighbouring towns of Pitve and Jelsa.
Some features: Long swims along the coast line, fishing from the rocks, cliff jumping into the ocean, and soaking up the sun on the pebble beaches was the general vibe of the holiday. Popped in to a local house one eve as they had a sign up advertising their wine, Bozji Dar (Gift from God). The couple made a variety of wines and spirits from grapes and believe it or not lavendar, or 'Lavanda'. It was like something out of the twilight zone as they offered taster after taster of their wines and spirits keeping us there for a few hours. Due to their hospitality (shrewd business skills) we were back on 2 more eve's to eat out on their tiled veranda high up on the hill overlooking their own orchards, the sea and a view of the next island. Their menu included local fish, full squids and black risotto (flavoured with the ink of the squid). On the 3rd night the couples' friends were over and we ended up joining in their party and dancing with the couples, was very weird but good fun.

Hvar - Croatia

The Place: The town Hvar on the Hvar island is a great town to explore with its winding alleys and steps that head up between old houses and restaurants towards the huge Spanjola castle. It's a great little port town with the usual plaza, and church and in the intense heat it was nice to be able to head around to one of the small beaches/ anchoring point for small boats and have a swim.

Split - Croatia

The Place: Split in Croatia (Hrvatska), beginning and ending point of our trip in Croatia, out to the island Hvar.
Some features: The old town sits within the ruins of the palace of Diocletian, a Roman emperor of the fourth century. It features old churches, venetian-style towers and statues, and bustling markets of fish and vegetables. The city is packed with tourists, but was still good to walk around and sight see, particularly good was hearing local singers sing their traditional Dalmatian music under one of the domed ruins. Had sundowners at a local bar overlooking the port and prominade lined with palm trees and later tried a pašticada (stewed beef and gnocci meal) at a traditional Kanoba, delicious!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Norfolk Broads - England

The Place: Spent a long weekend on a narrow boat with friends in the Norfolk broads.
Some features: It was so relaxing to just wander along the tributaries at no more than 5 knots passing quaint houses, small towns and natural wilderness. We all got a good dose of reading, fishing (none caught tho), and just chilling out in general. Though we passed some cool little pubs on the river we decided it was more fun on the boat so cooked all meals on board - and had legendary cooked breakfasts on board (thanks to Tim!). All-in-all, a great British way to spend a weekend!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cornwall - England

The Place: Competed in a 4 mile endurance life swim in the Helford Estuary which starts in Gweek near Falmouth and heads out till it almost meets the sea.
Some features: Liz and I found a great campsite - we were the only tent there! There was a farm stall close by so we woke up to fresh coffee and sticky buns for breakfast. Headed in to Falmouth for a wander through the old town before heading to the swim in the afternoon. The swim was exhausting - I enjoy a good swim but felt this one stretched me beyond my comfort zone - I came in 35th (last) with a time of 2:21 but at least within minutes of the rest of the pack without falling too far behind. Despite the difficulty the surroundings were awesome. Liz and I took a trip the next morning to Lizard Point (not far from Lands End) which gave us a chance to see the rough sea and cliffsides of Cornwall and Liz got to bite into a true Cornish Pasty (the size of the plate).

Friday, July 22, 2011

South Devon - England

The Place: Spent a weekend in South Devon for a bit of camping. We took a drive along the coast stopping in at Dawlish, and Paignton - and unfortunately no waves for surfing (I guess this isnt SA or Aus!). We did however manage to hire some kayaks in Babbecombe Bay, where we could explore some of the caves in the cliffsides aswell as paddling within a metres of a large resident seal.

Dart Estuary Swim - South Devon

The Event: Entered an endurance swim covering 5.2miles of the Dart Estuary in Dartmouth (South Devon). It was tougher than I expected and I came in at a slow time of 2h27 (52nd out of 62) with the leader getting a time of 1h43. It was a weird experience for me to do a long swim; unlike running where you stop when tired, with swimming you just keep going but feel as though you're blacking out. Towards the end I was just swimming in a zone with eyes closed, looking up every now and then to keep my direction. Enjoyed every second though!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Helsinki - Finland

The Place: Our first trip to Scandanavia, Liz and I spent a long weekend in Helsinki, Finland.
Some features: Helsinki is a small port city and the sight of its massive oceanliners which cross the Baltic sea are very impressive. Nesting slightly above the skyline of the city is a simple but beautiful cathedral which stands behind a large square with Alexander II (from when Finland was part of the Russian Empire) standing in the middle. Quite a few of the statues are unique in that the people wear bear skins with the head of the bear above their own.
We had a good night out on the Saturday night and were surprised as it was still light at 23:45! Met some Fins in one of the bars, one of whom mentioned that she was from further north in the lapland regions where there are days in mid summer with 24hrs of sunlight and conversely in winter, 24 hrs darkness.
There were loads of musicians walking round the city, partly because of a music festival taking place, but it seemed quite a few were just happy to strum a guitar in the park. Definitely a lot of heavy metal! In one of the more chilled out pubs they were playing a bit of death metal softly in the background.
We both really liked the old markets set up on the esplanade, where they sell alot of hand made wooden crafts, some using reindeer antlers as handles, or decoration. Also in abundance were mink coats, blue fox skins and reindeer pelts.
Took a ferry trip to the island Suonmenlinna which is an old fortress and an important part of Helsinki's history and is now a UNESCO Heritage sight. It stood through Finlands Russian and Swedish eras to when Finland became independent in 1917.
The Finnish language looks seriously complicated or in Finnish "Suomen kieli näyttää vakavasti monimutkainen!" but it was easy to get around as everyone seemed fluent in English. The nordic names are also really cool; coincidentally I was reading one of the Nordic authors books (Kon-tiki by Thor Heyerdahl (OK, he's norwegian)) but the names that came up included Bengst, Otto, Knut, Torstein to name a few.
Would love to return to scandanavia and experience life in the laplands, with a bit of husky dog sledging, reindeer spotting, snow saunas and northern lights. Maybe next time!