Tag Archives: hiking

Italy Adventures – Part One

Venice & Cinque Terre

Italy was like stepping into a fantasy word that you have been imagining your whole life. As I dramatically told Adam numerous times, it was everything I had dreamed of and more.

We started in Venice and were blown away by how gorgeous it is. I think it was my favourite city purely because it was the one we went to first. We walked around the little streets flanked by canals and broken up with bridges for hours. We stopped in little cafes and ate cannollis Italian style, standing up at the bar and downing an espresso.



We looked at the gondola prices and happily moved on without a trip down the canal – 80 euros for 40 mins was well out of our price range. Instead we sat at a little cafe bar drinking what the Venetians seem to drink at any time of the day, the Spritz.


In the heat of the day I was wooed by a lady selling homemade pineapple gelato. I ordered it with a scoop of milk cream flavour as well, it was only the best thing I have ever tasted in my life.



We bought our lunch at the supermarket and ate it in one of the city’s gated parks which seems to be a ‘lovers lane’ for all manner of couples on their lunch breaks cavorting in the shadows and on the grass.


For two whole days we pretty much just basked in all the glory that was Venice. We didn’t do much except walk around, take photos, stop for beverages and eat. It was wonderful.

One negative in regards to Italy was the price of accommodation. We found that there were no budget options inside the cities at all and if there were, they were booked weeks and weeks in advance. So Adam and I looked into alternative options and the best we found was staying in furnished tents in campgrounds outside each city. We did this in Venice which was great even though it meant that we had to travel a little bit (15 mins) each morning to get into the city. However it was well worth the money that we saved and could then spend on other important things such as food, of course.

After Venice our next destination was Cinque Terre (the 5 Lands). We had a few difficulties getting out there due to train strikes that apparently happen quite regularly in Italy. After almost 12 hours of waiting in train stations and sitting on trains, we finally arrived at our camp ground in Deveina Marina, a town located a few stops after the last of the five Cinque Terre towns. It was perfect. We had our own little pre-made tent with a double bed and room for our bags.


The hot water was hot and the campground offered free shuttles to the train station that would take us directly to the towns we wanted to see. Another plus was that there was a family run pizzeria opposite the campground where all the locals would congregate at night. The pizza was the best we had in Italy and at a fraction of the cost elsewhere… and the red wine was free flowing. Heaven!


On our first day in Cinque Terre, we looked into the famous coastal walk that joins up the 5 towns. To our dismay it had been closed due to part of it falling into the sea and an accident involving a tourist. But after a bit of searching we found out that there were other walks and it was only the coastal section that was shut.



The upper walk was still open but the lady warned us it would be strenuous. It was. We hadn’t been doing as much exercise as we were at the start of the trip and so we found ourselves sweating and panting almost embarrassingly so on the first leg between Riomaggiore and Manarola. There were just so many stairs, but the views were to die for.




The whole day was magic. Spring made sure the wild-flowers were out in full bloom for us which made everything all the more beautiful. We made sure to stop for a coffee in the first town, gelato in the second, special anchovy sandwiches in the third and a well deserved beer in the last.


Overall the walk took us about 4 hours not including the hours spent in the towns along the way. Needless to say we were wrecked as we staggered back to our campground that night… but not wrecked enough to skip going for our second night to the pizzeria across the road.



We had a few days in Cinque Terra so we made sure to stop back in at our favourite towns: Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.

We joined the locals in Vernazza by taking a picnic down to the shoreline, staking our claim on a patch of cement and heading into one of the little bars to get a bottle of cold local wine and two plastic cups. We sat there basking in the sun, swimming, sipping our wine and eating our grocery-store feast. Vernazza that day was bliss.



The Lycian Way – Part Three

Whilst we were walking the Lycian Way we couldn’t help but compare it to our experience on the Camino de Santiago. The two walks couldn’t be more different despite the fact that they are both cross country expeditions through small (and larger) towns.

The Lycian way seemed to be easier on your feet because the terrain is much more varied, with lots of walking done on softer ground than the Camino. However our joints seemed to be suffering more under the weight of our packs and ibuprofen has been vital for reducing my ever-swelling knees and ankles.


Also, the distances covered aren’t really something that anyone takes any notice of. On the Camino it was all about how many kilometres you would walk in a day. On this walk it seems to be in hours and minutes. Sometimes the smallest distance can take you the longest because of the terrain you are walking on.

Then there is the accommodation. Whilst you can camp on the Camino, not many people do as the albergue accommodation is so well set-up for the walk. On the Lycian Way, we have been camping the majority of the time so we don’t have to worry about making it to the next town. In fact, the better campsites are usually 1 or 2 kms outside of the town.

Day 5

Xanthos to Delikkemer

We woke up feeling rejuvenated and ready to begin hiking again. We planned to camp just outside of the town Akbel so we needed an early start. We left by 8:15AM and made good pace in the morning. This stretch of the walk was particularly interesting as we spent most of it following the aqueduct that used to supply the Lycian civilisation with water. Amazing to think that we were walking along a structure that is almost 2000 years old.



We arrived at a place called Impinar spring where part of the aqueduct is still in use. It was there that we met a new friend, Jegor from Estonia, and it was also there that we lost the way markers.


The three of us wandered around a bit lost for a while until we finally found the white and red stripes that show us the way forward.


We walked almost 10 hours again that day but it didn’t feel as long with Jegor there to chat with. We made it to the Delikkemer aqueduct ruins at 7PM and made camp.



Adam and I were impressed with Jegor’s one-man set up and the boys discussed cooking equipment while I made the fire. It was so good to have found another amazing campsite with a beautiful view of the green rocky hills that lead down to the Mediterranean Sea.

Day 6

Delikkemer to Patara and a taxi to Kalkan

Adam and I spent four hours the next morning walking with Jegor to Patara ruins and beach.


The ruins were impressive and a nice place to rest after our brisk morning hike.


After we’d finished exploring the 2000 year old Lycian capital city and beach, we parted ways with Jegor and caught a taxi up to to the small coastal town of Kalkan, where we were planning to start the next leg of our walk.


Kalkan was a great stop. The pension was a welcomed change from the tent and the breakfast and views from the terrace were amazing.


We washed our clothes finally and bought supplies for two more solid days of hiking.

Day 7

Kalkan to (2km before) Gokceoren

This was a long, tough day. We walked another 9 hours and most of it was mountainous.


We knew we wanted to make it to Kas the next day so it was imperative that we make it as far as we could. The walk was beautiful but isolated.


We thought we would be able to buy food for the next day on the way but we passed through two towns that seemed to be empty with no shops.


We walked until we couldn’t walk any further and made camp next to an old ruined farm house.


The place was beautiful and there was a lot of old dry wood for a fire.


At first we had found it a little bit daunting camping in the wild, on someone’s property for all we knew but it was beginning to feel more comfortable. The noises we would hear in the dark didn’t bother us as much and we began to appreciate the ‘silence’ of nature.


Day 8

(2km before) Gokceoren to Kas

Our 8th day broke me, I am sorry to say. It was another crazy-long walk with relentlessly steep climbs up slippery mountains and a hot sun bearing down upon us.


It had rained on us during the night, but miraculously we both slept well regardless and the tent didn’t fail us. We broke camp very early and realised that we didn’t have anything substantial for breakfast. We hadn’t been able to buy bread the day before – a major issue if we were to last the 9 hours it would take us to walk to Kas. Luckily we had some dried cranberries and hazelnuts to snack on but our stomachs were growling after 20mins of walking.


When we reached the small town of Gokceoren our relief was massive when a little old Turkish lady ran out of her house and offered us breakfast (for a price, of course). We gratefully accepted and sat down to the most amazing feast of omelet, bread, homemade cheese & strawberry jam, tomatoes, cucumber, olives and honey from the family beehives.


We ate as much as we could, filled up our water bottles and began our long walk to Kas.



A highlight of the day was the unexpected ruins of Phellos that sits perched up on a high mountain ridge above the small town of Cukurbag.


We couldn’t believe that an ancient city once sat on this long forgotten mountain.


We took a much needed break there and worked ourselves up to begin the last three hours of our journey for the day.


The last three hours to Kas were hard but the views over the small seaside town were incredible.



Getting down to Kas involved slowly descending a very steep cliff along narrow hairpins. Rocks covered the precarious path and Adam and I slipped over a couple of times each. My right ankle wasn’t dealing with the jolts and slides well and I was in tears by the time we reached the bottom.


We decided to stay in Kas for a couple of days to rest my ankle (which seemed to be swelling a lot) and do a bit of touristy sightseeing before we began the next stage of the hike.

We found a gorgeous campground about ten mins outside of town where we pitched our tent and enjoyed the sun and the clear blue sea every day.




But unfortunately my ankle continued to swell and was quite painful to walk on despite four days of rest.

After much debate, we made the decision finally to leave the next section of the walk for another time in the future.

On the bright side, we got to spend eight days on this amazing hike and we would absolutely recommend hiking the Lycian Way. It was a fantastic way to get to know Turkey and its wonderful people.

The Lycian Way – Part Two

Day 3

Gey to (2km before) Letoon

Our third day on the Lycian way was our most challenging so far. We didn’t make ourselves a coffee due to the fact that we only had one litre of water left between us and we weren’t sure if the spring marked on the map would be full or even exist. We also knew that it was going to be a difficult day of walking so we would need to stay as hydrated as we could.


We couldn’t help taking a few last snaps of the view from our amazing campsite before heading down the trail.


The beginning of our walk was actually quite scary. From our campsite we had to make our way across a valley pass along a very narrow goat track on the face of a large and sheer cliff. My heart was racing quite a few times as the rocks under my feet slid down the cliff towards the sea. It wouldn’t have been quite as difficult if we didn’t have our large, heavy packs on but after a long hour and a distance of only 1km, we made it onto a more solid and wider path.

Right on cue, a spring popped up, exactly where it was marked on the map. It was a full well and we were excited to sit down and make a coffee and brush our teeth with the precious water.


Some of the springs on the walk are flowing and it’s easy to fill up. Others you need a contraption to get the water out. Adam has a lot of fun doing this.


We walked almost 10 hours again that day, the terrain was varied and we passed a couple of small towns and greenhouses full of ripening tomatoes.


The weather was hot and humid and we tried to rest in shade when we could.


We were absolutely exhausted when we decided to set up camp a kilometre or two away from the small town of Letoon. We had just passed through kilometres of swampland that was obviously used to dump rubbish and hunt pigs. Adam saw loads of shotgun shells on the ground and there were four-wheel drive tracks everywhere. We had read blogs that described the wild pigs that come sniffing around campsites late at night so we pushed on even though the sun was setting fast.

Eventually we came to a sheltered area with clay ground that had a bit of grass on it to put the tent and only a few sheep chewing noisily on the surrounding bushes. We quickly set up our camp before the darkness set in. I slept horribly that night. I kept waking up to the sound of barking dogs and loud engines in the distance. Adam assured me that we were safe but at about 4AM it started to rain and then storm. As this was only our 3rd night ever in the tent we became slightly concerned about how it would hold up and whether the clay ground we were sleeping on was actually part of the wetlands. We brought our bags into the tent which made the already small area to lie in even smaller. Needless to say, neither of us slept much at all that night.

Day 4

(2km before) Letoon to Xanthos

We packed up everything into our bags whilst we were inside our tent quite efficiently and braved the downpour as we pulled down our tent. We packed it into its sack and carried it between us. We made it to Letoon an hour later and stopped for shelter at a little shop selling bread and other necessities.

We must have looked pretty sore and sorry for ourselves as we walked through on the road between Letoon and Kumluova and finally Xanthos (Kinik). The rain had stopped by this stage and we had made the decision to find a room to stay in Xanthos even though we had only walked 7/8km that morning.

Luckily for us there was lots to do in the small town, other than catch up on sleep. The weekly markets were on in the Main Street. There were stalls selling everything you could want and everyone was so friendly, saying hello and welcome as we passed. We sampled some prunes and apricots but ended up buying a huge bag of dried cranberries to carry on our walk and indulged in a cinnamon flavoured slushy – this was amazing!

In a few hours, the weather had cleared. We took out tent out to the famous Xanthos ruins and set it up to dry while we explored what was left of the 2000 year old city. Amazing that Turkey has some pretty impressive Roman ruins.





That night we ate a mountain of delicious Turkish food and slept like the dead. The next day was going to be another long one.

The Lycian Way – Part One

Day 1

Ovacik to (2km past) Faralya

After a good night sleep, we got up, ate a big hearty breakfast and prepared to leave for the start of the walk. This was when Adam’s bag broke…

Not to worry, we had a sewing kit handy and he stitched the tear in a matter of minutes. It was a bit worrying though, considering we were about to begin a long hike but we were minutes away from starting so we decided to ignore it.

From Fethiye to the beginning of the walk, we caught a minibus that took about 30 mins. It was reassuring to see that there were other hikers on the bus ready to begin their journey as well.


The walk was both harder and easier than we expected. Physically we aren’t as fit as we were going into the Camino so we really felt the steep inclines and declines and the loose rocks made us very wary of where we were putting our feet. The Lycian way is a mountainous goat track that follows the coastline of Turkey from Fethiye to Antalya.



The views were spectacular and certainly brought the crowds. There were quite a few serious hikers that we passed and who passed us but there were also a lot of hikers who only had day packs on and were either on a day hike or had sent their packs ahead with a tour company to the accommodation they would be staying in.


We estimated our packs to be about 10-12kg each. This is quite heavy and we started rethinking the amount of water we needed to have on us as we hiked. Fresh water springs were marked on our map but some of them were dry and we didn’t want to get caught out so we decided to push through the pain, knowing that it would get better after a couple of days.

After walking five strenuous hours, we found the campsite that the couple who wrote the blog had marked on the GPS. It was perfect with a fire pit and nice flat cleared area to put our tent. We set up, boiled some tea and had a piece of cake whilst taking in the scenery. Quite a few hikers passed us on their way to the next town, Kabak but we were happy sitting and stoking our fire.



After successfully cooking our tuna and noodles we were very early to bed, absolutely exhausted but content.


Day 2

Faralya to (2km past) Gey

More beautiful than the day before, day two was long but rewarding. We walked through so many different terrains, dealt with some nasty looking dogs and had some spectacular views.


The walk started with a steep and rocky decent to Kabak beach which was a gorgeous place for a short rest. The water was as clear as it appeared from above but a little too cold to swim in.



Once we had rested our aching muscles and fed our growling bellies we set off up the mountain. It was a tough climb but the views were absolutely worth it.


The views over the mediterranean were out of this world. We found it hard to determine where the sea ended and the sky began.


We walked for hours and hours passing through a few small towns until we reached Gey. We stopped in at a shop to buy some more snacks and they offered us a good price for dinner, breakfast and to put up our tent but we had our hearts set on staying at the campsite that the couple had marked on the GPS route.

This ended up being a lot longer than we had anticipated. Campsites aren’t always easy to find on the walk. Often the area will be too steep, covered in rocks or too exposed.


But the campsite we found there was out of this world. Perched high up on one of the cliffs overlooking a rocky valley and the ocean was a semi-circle of cleared ground. There was a small fire pit and flat rocks to sit on.


It was the most beautiful campsite either of us had ever seen.


As it was getting dark, Adam and I set up our tent quickly and he cooked dinner while I gathered some wood for a small fire. It was heaven. All we could hear was the breeze rustling the olive branches all around us and the soft tinkling of goat-bells.


The sun set at 7:45PM and it was then that we realised that we had walked almost 10 hours with only a few small breaks. Not bad for our second day.


Preparing to Walk the Lycian Way

We first heard about the Lycian Way in Australia through a friend whose parents were walking it at the time. We already knew we were going to do the Camino de Santiago and decided to add this walk to our loose plans.


In preparing for the Lycian Way, Adam and I started to realise that it was no Camino de Santiago. This was a much more technical hike and we wouldn’t always be able to rely on refugios/albergues and supermarkets being readily available. A lot of people wild-camp on the Lycian Way. This concept of camping where you end up was a little foreign and scary -so of course we had to do it. But we were going to need some camping equipment if we were to attempt the walk in this way.

We bought a two man hiking tent in Spain. At 2.7kg it was a steal at 100Euros – why is hiking/camping gear so expensive in Australia? We also bought two ultra light self-inflating mattresses for a little bit of luxury.


Getting Kate Clow’s guide book was tougher than we thought. We were Istanbul for about 8 days and not one of the bookstores had seen it for about 2 years. Some even claimed it was out of print. Luckily there was a man staying in our hostel who had just finished the walk and gave us some very valuable advice. He had got his hands on a copy of the book in Fethiye (the town just before the beginning of the walk) and recommended a hostel we could stay in where the owner could assist us in our preparation. This was so fortunate as Adam and I were starting to lose a bit of hope about how we were going to go about everything.

We had been doing a lots of research on the walk to make sure that we were fully prepared. One of the most detailed and useful trip-reports on the Lycian Way was one we found on http://www.backpackinglight.com. This couple had walked the Lycian Way in 17 days and had suggested we use the iPhone app Gaia GPS. They had recorded their walk and marked the places where they had camped throughout. Adam is the technical genius between us so he downloaded it onto both our phones ready for the walk. It can be used without wifi as long as you have downloaded the map previously (and turn airplane mode off).

We spent two days in Istanbul buying the last of the necessary items for our trek. This included: stainless steel mugs, a MSR cooker, gas canisters and a small hiking pot set. We were planning to camp the majority of the trail spending only one or two nights a week in pansiyons (guesthouses) or home-stay accommodation. This meant that we had to be self-sufficient from the very beginning.


We made it to Yildirim Guest House in Fethiye, a little bit nervous but also very excited. Umar, the owner, was lovely and gave us advice about the first few days of the trek and we bought a detailed map off him as well. We went down to the Migros supermarket and stocked up on nuts, chocolate bars, cake, long life cheese, instant coffee sachets, instant noodles and of course, water. We were ready.



Magical Morocco

Tangier —> Chefchaouen

Morocco has quite simply stolen our hearts. Adam and I are in love with this country, the people, the scenery and, of course, the food! All of this said, when we first arrived it was quite a different story.


The ferry from Tarifa, in the south of Spain, to Tangier was a rough 30 minute ride across the mediterranean. Both Adam and I had our heads down on the tables in the ferry cafeteria as it rocked mercilessly. Thirty minutes felt like two hours but eventually the ship pulled into Tangier and we walked with wobbly sea legs towards the taxis that were swarming into the port ready to take the foreigners for a ride (both literally and figuratively).

We should have done a bit more research as to how far our riad (guest house) was from the port. After a two minute ride in a grand taxi (more on that later), Adam and I paid the driver at least 4 times what we should have and were immediately accosted by a group of faux guides. We were shocked and a little unsure of what to do so we ducked straight into the safety of our riad’s reception.

While we were checking in, the receptionist’s phone rang. After she’d finished speaking in Arabic, she told us that the person on the phone was a neighbour warning her that there were a group of men outside waiting for us. The look on our faces must have been priceless as she quickly assured us that we weren’t in any danger and that it was just faux guides hoping to make some money by leading us around the city. She told us that she didn’t recommend that we go with any of them and showed us where all the local sights were on a map that she’d given to us. Even so, once Adam and I were in our room we agreed that we were both feeling nervous about travelling in Morocco if this is what it was going to be like.

We did a lot of reading about how to deal with faux guides and touts before we left Spain, but it is very confronting when you are first faced with it. By far the most effective way of dealing with this unwanted attention is to politely say ‘no thank you’ without ever slowing your pace and showing no hesitation in where you are going – even if you haven’t got a clue where you are. These touts/faux guides are just trying to earn a living and don’t feel any shame or embarrassment when hassling tourists but also don’t seem to react badly when being told politely and firmly ‘no’ and ‘thank you anyway’.

After two nights in Tangier Adam and I were becoming experts in predicting who was going to hassle us and how to handle it. The city itself had few sights and attractions worth mentioning but we realised later on that learning to deal with faux guides in Tangier was going to set us up for a much more enjoyable trip around the rest of Morocco.

Chefchaouen was our next adventure. This small town exists in the northern hills of Morocco and is completely white washed with a blue tint. We fell in love instantly and set three full days aside to explore the town and the surrounding area. Our Riad located in the centre of the medina (old walled city) was stunning.



The view from the terrace was straight off a post card and the English woman and her two sons who owned the riad were hilariously frank and had the best advice on where to go, what to do and more importantly, how much to pay. They even had wine and beer which isn’t common as Morocco is supposed to be a ‘dry zone’.


We loved walking around the blue medina, getting lost and taking photos. Chefchaouen is full of tourists and you can see why – the picturesque city had little surprises around every corner.


On on of our days there we walked up to the lookout above the city which took us a couple of hours. The views were breathtaking.



We also took a full day trip out to the national park an hours drive from Chefchaouen. We shared a grand taxi with an English couple who were also staying at our guest house and had an awesome day walking 18km return to a stunning waterfall and swimming hole, through huge gorges and bushland.



Who would have thought there’d be a cafe waiting for us when we reached the waterfall. After a delicious Moroccan mint tea and some lunch we hiked back to our taxi driver who was waiting to take us back to Chefchaouen and our guest house where the promise of cold beer was tempting us.


The Algarve

Lagos —> Faro

Our spirits continued to climb after Lisbon. We travelled down to the famous Algarve coast where we spent the next few days in Lagos. Apparently in summer, Lagos turns into an Australian party town. As soon as we arrived we immediately felt relaxed. The town had a ‘surfy vibe’ and the weather was glorious. The hostel owner picked us up from the bus station in his old van and it was so refreshing to see the seats and floor covered in sand from a morning trip to the beach.

The hostel we were staying in didn’t provide us with dinner each night. This proved to be a nice change as the kitchen was well-stocked and it was fun going down to the supermarket and buying our own ingredients. We could make nice big salads and eat a few of the things that we were craving after travelling and eating out for so long. The other guests staying at the hostel had the same idea so we would eat together each night and play cards whilst watching the Sochi Olympics. We loved watching the Canadians jumping out of their seats and screaming at the computer screen when their ice hockey team made the finals.

In the mornings one of the girls running the hostel would make us banana pancakes and serve up deliciously strong coffee. We felt so much at home that Adam decided to investigate whether there were any judo clubs in the area. There happened to be one just up the road from our hostel so one night he went and joined in the training session. I’ve never seen him so excited and he had a great time making new friends and seeing how the Spanish do it.


On our first day in Lagos, we went down through the old town which is gorgeous and stacked full of restaurants lining its cobblestone streets. At the very edge of town is where the famous Algarve cliffs begin and you can walk for hours along the edge and stopping at each of the little coves.



We had packed our bags with our lunch, plenty of water, towels and swimmers and spent at least three hours wandering the little paths that line the cliffs.


Sometimes they got a bit hairy in places or came to a dead end but we didn’t mind. It was such a nice way to pass the time as the weather was fantastic and the views were spectacular.


We didn’t make it into the water but the t-shirts were out and we both had to put on sunscreen which was a nice change.


On our second day there we hired a scooter for 25 euros and spent the day scootering up the coast.

It was absolutely beautiful and each little town had its own vibe. Adam got used to the road rules quite quickly and we stopped at a surf beach in a town called Sagres and ate our sandwiches whilst we watched the hardcore surfers riding waves in towards the rocky cliffs.



On our way home we were stopped by a policeman and after we got over our initial fears, we had a nice chat with him in broken English. He breathalysed Adam, checked his licence and moved us on.

Lagos gave us a little bit of respite from tourist days where you go and see monuments and wander around big cities with loads of people. We visited at a good time in the year as foreign tourists were scarce.

It was sad to leave sunny Lagos, but we moved on to Faro and spent another three days relaxing in the sunshine and exploring Portugal’s fabulous coastline.