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Europe Reviews

2014 Review and 2015 Goals

Unfortunately the blog has been quite inactive, against what I planned last year, but surely I can’t postpone this post! Every year I write the previous’ year review and a few goals for the following year, I’ve been doing this for a few years and here I am again!

A heads up, I foresee that I failed a lot this year, regarding last year’s goals. A lot happened worth mentioning, but also a lot wasn’t done either…, but let’s see.

So, here we go!

2014 Review

English classes

Writing and speaking English is not an issue for me, but I want to take this travel writer thing really serious, and for that I decided to attend for some Advanced English classes which I’ll pay a bit for… but I see it as an investment.

Well, I did this indeed and I didn’t get much out of that. It is the second time I go for the wrong course, I want to improve my writing and the course I attended didn’t give me much of what I was looking for. Well, I won’t add that for 2015 goals either, as a few things will change.

Traveling

I plan to visit another continent, I postponed Africa so or I’ll go to North America or Oceania, I might pick North America first…

Well, this one was a fail… This year, technically, I left the Euroasian plate when I went to Madeira island, but that’s part of Portugal. So, not sure if I could count that as going to a new continent…, maybe I did 😀

Due to this, I’ll change slightly my original plan, in 2015 I want to visit at least three new countries!

Moving away

By the end of 2014 I plan to be away from Ireland or being preparing my move. I learned to like this country, though I feel that I need another life changing event soon.

This one was also a fail, but for a good reason. My personal life changed a lot, so I postponed this for later. I won’t say for when, but it is something that eventually I’ll do.

Discover Ireland

Still about Ireland, I am going to buy a car soon which I intend to use almost every weekend to discover new places in Ireland and share with you all my experiences!

Well, I did this and in fairness not because I had this goal, I actually forgot about it. I bought the car just because my personal life changed and this was a big plus!

I drove a lot, but I haven’t visit that much as expected either, but surely the car helped to get to visit a few places that were unknown to me 🙂

Blog

As for the blog, I want to post at least once a week and avoid long posts (like this one).

And fail…, I started quite well, but the lack of visits to the blog, and comments, affected my motivation. Recently I found out that Google isn’t targeting my blog to the right audience (my fault, I’ll change a few about that). Hopefully 2015 will be better 🙂

Bring it on 2014, I challenge you to become better than 2013, like 2013 did with 2012 😀

Well, it wasn’t better than 2013, but it was a really damn good year! I am happy to write and acknowledge that the last three years of my life were amazing! A few less good things, but in overall I can consider myself as a lucky person!

Three Windows
Façade in a building in Berlin

Now about the blog itself

Regarding travel journal, I wrote 14 posts for the Japan Series, about the trip I did the year before. Two posts about the Romania Series (I still have a lot to do about this one), one post about Stockholm and one post about Eastbourne.

I also wrote two app reviews and a Tips and Tricks post about planning versus preparing for a trip.

As I mentioned before, I also noticed that the stats decreased significantly. In the last weeks I have tried to figure out what’s the reason behind that, and when this happened. I think I finally figured out what’s going on, but I’m not so sure yet how to fix it.

For a few years I follow Chris Guillebeau‘s blog, and honestly I think I got inspired to write these reviews after reading one of his earliest ones. I love traveling, and Chris is like the travel guru for me, I have learned a lot from his posts so I looked at it from a different perspective this time. What do I like there and why I keep following him after he finished his quest to visit all the countries in the world. Shame on me, I realized that for the last years I only looked at his posts and I saw the letters he strategically placed to form words, I never read it.

I spend a few hours re-reading one of his manifestos (279 Days To Overnight Success), and that kind of hit me in the face. My stats dropped because I changed this blog for me and not for my followers, I used to write in Portuguese (my native language) when my target audience were Portuguese native speakers. I wanted to improve my English (which I did, a lot) so I totally disrespected my followers and I disregarded my geo-stats.

I don’t seek Chris’ success, but it would be great to become meaningful and inspire other people like he does to me. My stats tell me that my followers are from Portugal and Brazil, therefore in 2015 I’ll write for them, in Portuguese, and occasionally in English (or maybe duo-lingual posts).

2015 Goals

  • Visit at least three new countries in 2015
  • Become more active with the blog (for real)
  • Paying attention to the stats and to my followers

Three things, it should be enough 🙂

For 2015 I also have a stretching goal, this one will be tough but hopefully I’ll do at least half of it! Ireland has an amazing tourism trail of 2500km, the Wild Atlantic Way. I plan to do this by bike in several different stages, maybe one weekend a month which would be about 200km a weekend… Yep, that’s just a stretching goal 🙂

And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for you 🙂

GuardarGuardar

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Europe Journal

On my way to Romania

This year I was still undecided where to go next, I gave it a though and the decision was easy to make. I owed some friends of mine a visit for more than a year, this was the right opportunity to pay my debt. That’s how I decided to add another European country to my list of visited countries, Romania.

Planning this trip was easy, I told Paul that I wouldn’t make any plans, he is the local so he knows better. When in Portugal I am the one that plans my friends’ trips, so it seems fair to ask for the same, no one better than a local to show you around. Preparing the trip was a total different matter, but I’ve explained that on a previous post.

How to get there

Several airlines serve Romania, besides the local ones, but from Ireland I had three choices. Ryanair, that I swore not flying with them ever again; Blue Air, a Romanian low-cost style company; and KLM, with indirect flights.

I have preference to fly with KLM because of the air miles, but the option of having a cheaper and direct flight sounded more appealing. A 3 hours and a half flight is already a bit, but despite that I gave it a go and I decide to book with Blue Air.

The flight

Blue Air doesn’t seem to be picky about the luggage size as other low-cost airlines are, at least I didn’t see them complaining with people. Though, one must only carry one hand luggage, and a woman’s purse should go inside the carry-on luggage.

I can’t judge an airline for a single experience, but it was obvious that it was a low-cost company. The seats weren’t much comfortable, and there was a mold-like smell in the air – this wasn’t that nice for a 3:30 hours flight…

I started to pay close attention to different cultural habits since my last long trip. And one thing I noticed this time was the orders inside the plane. Not the typical snacks and sandwiches, instead cherries and baked rolls. This was the first time I see cherries on sale in a flight, and yes, the amount of requests really had an impact on me so that I had to share with you.

Arriving

Landed in Romania for the first time, I had Paul there to pick me up by taxi. The first impact of Bucharest was the mixture of old and renewed, the communist architecture still present. Some old and grey buildings, some renewed but with the same concrete blocks architecture.

Driving in Bucharest seems to be a nightmare, though everything seems to work. I had the same experience in Greece, and it wasn’t such a big deal when you get used to a different driving style. Though, I still found it amusing the way the taxis cross in front of old trams to just invert their way instead of going to the next roundabout.

Almost at Paul’s, we stop to buy some flowers, and then we went to his’. He told me to knock the door myself and wait. Irina didn’t know I was going to Romania and it was a surprise for her, just he face and surprise made my trip worth every cent!

Categories
Europe Tips and Mistakes

What did I take with me to Romania?

I’m going to start a new kind of posts, posts where I’ll share how I packed for a trip and how wise or not I’ve been. Romania was my last trip, I arrived back home last Wednesday, and I think I learned a few things with that trip and how to pack.

So, organizing items by category, here they are.

Gadgets

  • Nikon DF5100 + kit lens + 70-300mm lens
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Universal Adaptor
  • Chargers

All of this was important to take, thankfully I didn’t forget any nor while packing, nor when coming back. I was in doubt about the 70-300mm lens, with all the stuff I had to pack and the fact that I only had carry on luggage, I almost left it home. I used it a few times, I’m still not sure if it was wise or not, but considering that I used it a few times maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Clothing and Hygiene

  • Personal hygiene stuff
  • Underwear for 5 days
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 swimming shorts
  • 1 bath towel
  • 1 beach towel
  • *1 shorts
  • *Underwear
  • *1 t-shirt
  • *1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • *1 pair of hiking shoes

*clothing I was wearing on the departure day

Ok, this time I had some thought about what to pack, but it wasn’t enough. I had to think for 9 days, counting with departure and returning days. I also knew that the chances to have a weekend away were quite high, that was part of the drafted plan. So, I packed enough until Sunday (the returning day), and I could do laundry to have exactly what I needed until the departure. This was perfect, nothing failed with this part! But almost did, due to hot weather I could actually have an extra shower every now and then 😛
About the swimming wear, this ended up not being necessary due to the bad weather. It failed, but not the packing. I was prepared, just the weather screw our plans.
About the towels…, this was unnecessary. On vacations one should not be picky. Why would I have a bath and a beach towel? This wasn’t a good idea…
The long sleeve t-shirts, I was wearing one on the departure day and I had an extra one that I didn’t even unfolded… Too much. And considering that I also had a hoodie, that was indeed not a wise thing to pack.

What I could have packed?

I knew that the weather wouldn’t be too cold, at least not as cold as Ireland. And I packed a pair of jeans. I wore it, a few times. It was useful, but not wise. We ended up going to the mountains as an alternative plan, and hiking pants there would be way more handy. Even better if hiking pants that can be turned into shorts. That would actually use less space than jeans.

I didn’t miss anything else besides this, so, overall I think my packing wasn’t that bad 🙂