Monday, 6 October 2014

Wye Camp Kenu

Finally!! Here's the edit of some of the best moments captured on our canoeing/camping adventure. Would do it again and again.. (watch in HD for best quality)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Summer 2014

Oh what a summer it was. I thought the previous one was really something but Summer 2014 topped it just like that.

Let's see, it all started with the Welsh camping/bunking adventure in Pembrokshire in May. Not long after we made an outstanding luxurious upgrade and went on a pretty posh cruise trip to Bermuda island (!)(a post to come).

not many things in life have felt this soft - Horse Shoe Bay, Bermuda (May 2014)

After spending five days out in the Atlantic and getting used to constant motion we jumped straight into a more regular type of transport (car) and set off to a very very exciting nature-filled road trip across NY state and even managed to have a sneak peek of Canada (lots to blog about).

first glimpse at the Niagara Falls - USA side facing Canada

After that came a very productive and fully-packed week in rainy Lithuania with the very special experience of Summer Solstice that I've mentioned in my previous post and other very extraordinary experiences not to skip.

Took a little breather in July as August was bringing a lot more action and lots to celebrate about. When it finally came, it felt like it just swished passed at a super fast speed. Every weekend was fully booked with joy and adventure and, how can I explain this, let's just say that there was no time left for dishes or laundry. What came next to complete the Summer 2014 is something I've never done before for such a long period of time - we set off to a four day camping/canoeing trip down the river Wye in South Wales completing 33 miles. It was truly EPIC and that's what I'm going to share with you next.

breakfast is served - Hay-On-Wye, Wales, UK

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Appalachian Trail (Pawling, NY, USA)

While road-tripping from NYC to Niagara Falls across NY state in the USA we found out about the Appalachian Trail which was just a little bit out of our initial route. We thought a short stop and a quick taste of this historical trail would definitely be better than nothing so we found a 2-mile-long hike in a small town called Pawling. It was a very misty rainy day with a bit of thunder and so we didn't get to see the views from the top of the trail but the atmosphere and layers of fog created an unforgettable experience for sure. (Set to HD 1080 on bottom right when watching the video)

Appalachian Trail stretches from Maine to Georgia (around 2,180 miles long) and takes months to complete. It crosses 14 states with the longest mile length across Virginia. A must-explore for me and you.

*be adventure*

Monday, 7 July 2014

Summer Solstice (Joninės) 2014 in Kernave, Lithuania

Kernavė's beauty

This year I got to visit my homeland, Lithuania, during the Summer Solstice. The longest day and shortest night in Lithuania is also known as Joninės which is the nameday of Jonai and Janinos. Some dress in traditional costumes, decorate their heads with colourful wild flower wreaths and greet the shortest night with folk dancing and singing. Here is a short video I made during my visit just to get a quick taste.

The culture reserve and historic capital of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, Kernavė, is most famous for its stunning landscape with historic forthills spread in the valley of river Neris. It is a great tourist attraction and archeological site where many different celebrations take place all year round and if you ever find yourself in Lithuania I'd definitely recommend planning a stop there for at least an hour or two.
in the middle of action and shadows
© V. Soblys

Monday, 12 May 2014

Pembrokshire, S. Wales (Day 1)

I've been quiet lately as it's the busy time of the year - Summer Summer time! The good news though is that it's travelling time - action time in the outdoors. I am so so excited about what this summer has on its plate for me and when I'm excited I struggle to concentrate, sit down and put it all in words. But I'll try..

hiking in Pembrokshire
The big travels of Summer 2014 kicked off on Easter weekend with a trip to Wales - the South West part of the UK that always leaves me in awe no matter where we go. We tend to visit Wales each year and this time it was time for Pembrokshire in S. Wales which is known for its magnificent rocky beaches - ideal for hikers like myself.

It was time to start camping season as well.. we thought. And we did! The Celtic Camping and
hike to the Blue Lagoon
had it all - great facilities, attentive and helpful owner, lots of space, camp fires and the most amazing views I've ever seen in my camping career. I picked a spot right in the middle of a huge green field to have the best view of the sea and the Blue Lagoon. Why do we have to follow everyone else and try to shelter our tents, I thought, when we can have the most romantic spot all to ourselves. And even having least sleep ever throughout my camping career due to cold winds blowing from all sides I still do not regret my decision (Becky, Huw, Vaida - sorry.. and thank you for your sacrifice :]). Anyway, after setting our tents up we followed the advice of Ian (the owner) and headed toward the Blue Lagoon. I wanted to capture all the beauty around us: rock formations drifting into the sea along the hiking trail, sheep fur decorating plants and fences across the whole area like cotton candy, bright yellow, orange and brown colours of the rocks at the lagoon, wet water flora and fauna revealing itself on the low tide.. it was obvious - I missed being in nature a lot.

on the way to the Blue Lagoon
the Blue Lagoon

The sun was setting down so it was time to start our camp fire and get our dinner cooking. Oh, how I love the smell of burning wood.. It was a perfectly clear night sky with gazillions of stars looking down on us and us lying on our backs just staring into space and feeling so small and yet so very special at the same time. True happiness filled my heart in that moment of having very little but everything that really matters - peace of mind, friends, family and excitement for what the future brings. It was a perfect ending to our perfect first day in Pembrokshire.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dutch romance in Zaanse Schans

When you think of Netherlands, clogs and windmills come to one's mind instantly. Not sure whether it's about how rare windmills are these days or the mesmerizing spinning of their sails - there is a great deal of romance in it all, well, at least for me personally.

Dutch clogs in Zaanse Schans
Having visited the wonderful 'clogland' in Marken and spotting a random windmill in the distance on the way back to Amsterdam brought great excitement, so it totally made sense to try and find some place full of windmills. Zaanse Schans, just a little over 20km north of Amsterdam, was the place we were looking for.

at the Amsterdam train station

It was the last day of our visit to Netherlands. I remember it was another beautiful sunny day - just right for exploring outdoors. We dropped our big backpacks at the train station storage services and after a bit of confusion with which platform we need to get the train to Zaanse Schans and a bit of 'angry birds' game while waiting we quickly reached the destination.

the first windmill to spot in Zaanse Schans
The first time you get off the train it looks like a regular residential neighbourhood but once you make it to the first turn with a big old windmill on the side of the street it becomes clear that you're in a very special place of Dutch heritage.

historic windmills in Zaanse Schans (names from left: ''the sheep'', ''the seeker'', ''the black cat'', ''the crowned poelenburg'' and ''the houseman'')
Windmill after windmill was popping up in the distance on the far bank of the river Zaan. Apparently each historic windmill has an interesting name as well. You can take a nice walk to visit them all and get to know what they were and some still are being used for.

''the black cat'' windmill where you can watch the production of flour live
a lovely green walk across the heritage site in Zaanse Schans
kiss goodbye from a cute local farm goat

Zaanse Schans is a perfect destination for a day trip where you can get to know and feel the local history, take great pictures of authentic Dutch buildings or just lie down and relax in the company of sheep and other animals of the farm that is part of the site.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Amsterdam to Marken on two wheels

iLoooove cycling. That is probably the main reason why the trip I took to Amsterdam one autumn has left a deep footprint in my memory. I don't get to cycle abroad much at all but even if you're not as crazy about cycling as I am and if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, you must get on two wheels and explore the wonderful Dutch landscape (it's mostly flat too, so no excuses).

We decided to rent bikes from Mac Bike (yes, it's me in the pedal brake picture :)) located on the right side of the main train station entrance. There's a choice of different types at different prices and it's
on the way to Marken with a pedal brake bike 
around 10/24 hours - great deal! Pedal brake bike was my choice as it was the cheapest option but most importantly it reminded me of the first ever bike I owned that also had a pedal brake plus a front wheel hand brake. As you would expect from a rented bike, Mac bike was quite heavy but sturdy and did its job - it took us all the way to our destination and back completing around 50km including a couple wander aways here and there.

Marken village from distance
There are many cycling routes in and around Amsterdam and having heard of how authentic and pretty
the cycling route from google maps
Marken is there was no doubt  - we had to see it. It is best if you get a map of the area but Google Maps is also great for getting directions for cyclists (enter Amsterdam as your start point and Marken, Netherlands as your destination and choose the bike option on top). It actually brings up the exact route we took and the great thing  about it is that you don't get to return the same way which means you get to see and explore more, plus get a free ferry ride back to Amsterdam train station at the end. You pick which way to start but I'd recommend starting on the grey line route along the coast and return on the blue line route as the blue route is a couple kilometres shorter to make it easier for your legs (and bum!) after a day of pedaling. The views are also greater on the grey line and there are wooden tables and benches to stop, have a snack and enjoy the scenery with no rush.

traditional green houses in Marken
Marken village is known for its traditional Dutch green wooden houses, clog-making and, although we weren't lucky enough, you can also spot local people dressed in traditional old-fashioned clothing. Marken survives on tourism and no wonder why - it is such a lovely and very green village where you can have a nice walk, try local dishes and find out about where the famous Dutch clogs come from. The surrounding green colour and wood-works create a relaxing nature-oriented atmosphere which is exactly what you need when on holiday.

Dutch clogs in Marken
If you have patience for detail, a pencil and a piece of paper - Marken is a great place for architectural drawing. Relax at a local cafe or restaurant with outdoors seating and try to capture stripes and roofs. It definitely was a perfect day to do just that, however, the sun was starting to set and we still had to cycle back to Amsterdam preferably before darkness.

Pleasant tiredness and happiness about what a great day adventure we got to have and about all the new things we got to see and experience was visible in our sun-kissed faces. I remember hurrying to cycle back through some farm fields when in the distance we spotted a traditional windmill. It brought more excitement and inspired to keep on pedaling.

The way back was pretty straightforward and after an hour or so we were on the free ferry taking us back to mainland Amsterdam. Our Mac Bikes also luckily survived the night being locked outside our friend's flat (bike thefts are very common in Amsterdam) and after returning them to their owners we were again ready to explore more. This time another traditional Dutch village - Zaanse Schans.