WHERE IS SKOPJE?

WHERE IS SKOPJE?

One might ask when they hear that I went there. Don’t worry I asked the same thing. When I was looking on the Qatar website to see where I would go next I saw a city called Skopje, I have never heard of it before and couldn’t even image what country it was in.

Do you know? If not that is okay, I’ll tell ya. Skopje is the capital city of Macedonia. It is small with a population of 536,271 people (recorded in 2012), I thought it was really sweet and enjoyed my time there. I would recommend just two days as I felt that was enough to explore the old town, hike the cross and then go check out Matka a Canyon where you can go kayaking. There is also an option of hiking from the cross all the way to the canyon if I planned ahead I would have totally done that. Instead I caught the local bus there and back.

In Skopje I met up with my friend Melissa and we set off towards Ohrid. Ohrid is a town on the lake, it is surrounded by mountains and beautiful hikes. We did an amazing hike in the national park called Galicica. We got dropped of at number 24 (refer to the number below) by our taxi and hiked the G5>T5 finishing in Elsani and getting the Bus back from Elesec. I highly recommend this hike because at the highest point you have the view of the three lakes and can see three countries, Albania, Macedonia and Greece. If you have a drone it’s an amazing spot for some cool videos, unfortunately I didn’t but I still got some incredible panoramas.

In Ohrid there are a few hostels and you can also get amazingly cheap apartments. We got super lucky and got a place for $20 USD, with the view of the lake, out own balcony and kitchen. It was the low season but even it was $40 it would still be worth it. I still have the dudes whatsapp so if you guys want I can pass it on, just shoot me a message.

After our relaxing few days in the lake we headed to Tirana the capital of Albania (if you didn’t know). We stayed in the coolest hostel Tirana backpackers, it has such a nice vibe and made me feel like I was back in Central America. Apparently it has lots of great second hand shops and you have to check out the Bunkart museum it was amazing.

Everything is so cheap in both these countries so it’s a great place to spend some time if you are waiting for your Schengen to tick over (more on the Schengen here).

PS. I’m laughing a little bit about the title because I made it at the beginning of the trip when I was in Macedonia and now I’m rereading Veronica Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho.

If you have more questions of want some travel inspiration follow me on Instagram @travelandotherdrugs

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COUCHSURFING, YAY OR NAY?

COUCHSURFING, YAY OR NAY?

I’m often asked about couchsurfing and what I think about it? Have I ever done it? Where? Was it safe? Did I like it? Would I do it again?

I have done it. In actual fact I do it a lot and I didn’t it throughout most of Europe in 2017. Do I use the website? Yes, I’ve tried to find a host few times and I was only successful once but that one time we hit the jackpot. My friend and I couchsurfed in a mansion in LA, we got put up in their pool house just like Ryan from The OC. We could eat whatever we wanted from the fridge that didn’t have a label, shared a huge bed and had our own bathroom. Personally I wouldn’t couchsurf solo of that website. I know some of my friends have and had the most amazing experiences but I also have a few friends that had really strange experiences from cameras in the bathroom to hosts being nudists. When I usually travel my moto is, Its better to be safe than sorry, so I tent do avoid putting myself in bad situations like willing going to a strangers house.

There are comment sections on those websites but I know that my mates that had issues never left the hosts bad feedback (I have no idea why). My tip is that if you do want to use it just make sure they have lots of feedback from girls and guys and perhaps try and catch up with them before hand if you can or always have a back up option if you have to leave in a hurry.

My first couchsurfing experiences was from the website but apart from that jackpot of a host the rest of my hosts have been through friends or friends of friends. Facebook is really great for this, when I am about to go anywhere I always post a status asking for tips of where to go, where to stay and if anyone has any friends there to show me around or offer a couch. If you don’t ask you don’t get, is another quote I go by because you never know what will happen. Last year I messaged all my friends in Europe that I met the year before on my 20 @ 20 trip to see where they will be during the summer. I had so many replies and I just planned my whole trip around who could host me and when, it saved me so much money and I got to experience each place from a locals perspective. My friends also hooked me up with their friends in other cities and I had no hesitations staying with strangers in this case because we had mutual friends.

*EDIT** This trip (Europe 2018) I traveled a little bit with my friend who loves Couchsurfing.com and she got us a few hosts in Eastern Europe. I was really happy to couchsurf through the website because I wasn’t alone. I then decided to try it for myself in Israel and wowza jackpot. I have had some awesome hosts and my views on it have now changed. I would now really recommend it especially in Israel. I know some cities and countries are better for it. So when I was in Tel Aviv I gave it a try and had lots of success and so did my friends the ones that tried it after I shared my experience with them.

Again, make sure you read their profile and references because yes there are still weird people out there and I had an interaction with one of them but luckily it was very evident from his profile.

You can get a pretty good idea about the person from their profile and their references. It is always a good sign if they say that you can arrive at any time and that they left the key out for you. This means that they are trusting and most likely won’t be a clinger and will give you your space.

I always like to check the sleeping arrangements and the address of the place before agreeing to be hosted. If they are weird about giving you that information then they are probably bad news. If you have any doubts at all just don’t do it. Trust me the hassles of a bad experience is not worth it.

On the website I message a few people in the area that are currently hosting but because I only use the free version I have 8 messages a month. This the easiest way to find a host is to actually create a public trip and then people will send you invitations if they have room available for the dates you want.

If you have any other questions please feel free to comment below and I’ll happily answer them!

HOW TO PACK LESS SHOES?

HOW TO PACK LESS SHOES?

After traveling for 13 months with only 3 pairs of shoes, I believe that you only need 3 types of shoes, unless you are not worried about foot fungus.

Flipflops these are great for the beach, shower and everyday wear. I love my gold Havaianas with a back strap around the heel. The back strap allows me to use them not only for the beach/shower but also provides the support of a sandal. The gold colour makes its seem dressier than it is and the back strap keeps it on my foot. (I have also hiked in these babies).

havaianas

Boots are great for going out, rain, mud and cold weather. Last trip I went with these little leather boots that folded down tiny but this time I have slightly upgraded and will be taking my Dr Martens. I have watched numerous youtube videos on how to wear them in and I believe they are finally ready. Docs are so versatile, firstly they have super comfy soles and they mould to your foot. They are great for wet or muddy weather (so perfect for festivals) and you can also wear them to go out. They can be worn with a dress or jeans. I know some people even hike in them. A total winner in my eyes.

docs

Running shoe with grip are great for exercising, hiking or everyday wear.  Unfortunately, I went for fashion over practicality with this one, but ideally you would want a shoe that you could hike in (if you are into that kinda stuff). I’m taking my runners for when I want to exercise or for when I just want a lighter shoe option.

adidas

I hope you have liked these tips, please share them on to your friends.

GETTING NAKED

See you soon Puerto Escondido, hello Mazunte and Zipolite. I set off on my bus adventure to Mazunte with my day pack after my homie Kapono said I could leave my big bag with him. It took me a long time that day to leave as always I just couldn’t decide what I wanted to do but in the end I left.

When I got to Mazunte at 4pm it was super hard to find any accomidation, I walked hostel to hostel, guesthouse anything and everything. Things were either all booked out or too expensive. In the end I ended up walking really far away and that place was booked out too, but there was a guy sitting in there who said I should go to this dude called Amiliano he owns heaps of hostels which are super nice and that I could find him in his restaurant. I decided to follow his advice and find Amiliano. In the end the dude hooked me up with this sweet place right on the beach, with the kitchen, hammock and my own double bed. I could see the sunrise and the ocean from my bed. I also had an Italian, stoner room mate, who was super lovely and had this cute gf who he would teach yoga everyday.

That night I cooked up a feast in the kitchen. The next day my friend from Puerto came to visit me and then I went on a hike to some beaches, apparently there were three but I only got to the second one. Where I walked past some nudists, who inspired me to get naked, so I did. I also watched the sunset there and headed back to cook some more epic food.

The next day I woke up did yoga and decided to visit the nudist beach, seeing as I was slowly becoming one, but I wasn’t going to get naked, but in the end I did. Why not, right? I was actually surprised about how little naked people were there, and confused to whether I was in the right place or not. And then I had an old, naked couple walked past and I knew I was in the right place. I found a nice place on the beach, to myself, and got my junk out. The best part was swimming until the strong current, quickly began taking me away, and away from my clothes. To get back to my clothes I had to get my ass out and do a quick nudie run. I finished my day in Zipolite, with a Carona and a fish Ceviche and then headed back for Puerto.

ISLA MUJERES

How to get there? Super easy, you have to get to Puerto Juarez either from Cancun Centro ADO terminal or from a hostel you are staying in. From there you will buy a ticket to Isla Mujeres the ferry is only 15 minutes.

Where to stay? Poc Na is a popular hostel to stay you can book through Hostelworld or by emailing them directly. I recommend to call or email if its fully booked on Hostelworld because usually they put up only a limited amount of rooms on there and actually have more available if you contact them directly. There are obviously other options also, if you arrive during the day and have the energy to walk around you can find a hostel that is not listed online and stay for a bargain price. There are also many camping options at Poc Na and other locations on the island.

Where to eat? There is a great whole in the wall, Taco and other authentic Mexican little eats place right next to Poc Na, there are a lot of Vegan and Vegetarian options available also, and if you would like to splurge a little you can eat at one of the restaurants on the main street where the ferry docs (I highly recommend it, great sea food).

Party? Yes party island, beach parties at Poc Na very night.

Next… Another Mexican Island, Holbox, the main way to get around on this island is with a golf cart that can be hired in many locations.

HOLBOX

HOLBOX

How to get there? Is a little bit harder to get to but doable. Obviously if you are not a cheap backpacker you can hire a car or a private transfer but what is the fun in that, am I right? Here are the instructions for the bus.

There are daily departures [7:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:45 pm] from Cancun to Chiquila from the main bus terminal in Cancun City. From Chiquila you will get the ferry.

If you are going straight from the Cancun airport there is an Airport ADO Bus that runs approx every hour from 7:00am to 10:00pm. It leaves from the airport Terminals 2 and 3 and goes to the downtown central bus station in Cancun City on Tulum Ave.

There if you arrive early enough you can catch the 7:30am MAYAB line bus to Chiquila. The next bus is at 12:30pm MAYAB line to Chiquila, and the last bus is 1:45pm NORESTE bus line.

Many flights arrive in Cancun too late to make these connections so you might have to spend one night downtown at a hotel close to the Bus Station.

Going back to Cancun from Holbox there is a 5:30am NORESTE bus from Chiquila, a 7:30am MAYAB Bus from Chiquila and finally a 1:30pm MAYAB bus from Chiquila.

You can also come from a place called Merida I went there from Holbox, here are the instructions for that. The only bus we know that travels to Chiquila from Merida is a late nighter departing from Merida main bus terminal at 11 pm.

Directions borrowed from: https://travelyucatan.com/getting-to-isla-holbox/

Where to stay? I stayed in a hostel called Tribu a very popular option, it was recommended to me by many. It has a kitchen, a bar, free yoga and nightly activities. Again you can find cheaper options online or if you walk around upon arrival and you can also camp on this island.

Where to eat? If you stay at Tribu they will give you a map and point out local markets and some restaurants. Otherwise most places are on the main road that leads from the ferry doc. We had amazing Pizza at the Pizza place and amazing ceviche and fish tacos at the little markets.

Best coffee (Australia standards) was at Tierra Mia.

Party? There are a few bars on the island to party at or Tribu.

Extra info.. Go see the flamingos and the HOLBOX hammocks in the water.

Next… This is a mini Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, lots of American tourists and huge party. Personally I only went because I was going to the music festival BPM.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

(Read original blog post here)

How to get there? Super easy. Get an ADO bus straight from the airport or from the Cancun city terminal.

Where to stay? I think the most popular accommodation is at the Yak but when I visited my friends there the internet was sooooo bad. The place I stayed at was called Tres Mundos it was on the local side, super nice people running it, it was cheap, free toast and coffee, beds were okay and it had a kitchen. There are so so so so many hostels that are not online so just walk about and you will find something.

Photo taken in Playa of some local dancers.

Where to eat? There is lots of street food (I love love love street food) especially in the park on 15 Avenida Nte and Calle 2 Nte. I think on the way to that there is the best taco shop I ever went to but I can’t remember the exact address and it didn’t have a name but I will describe it and perhaps you will find yourself there. I was on the corner, it has a plastic chairs. Scratch that I just looked it up on google maps its on the corner of 15 Avenida Nte and Calle 4 Nte. They are so simple but amazing, I am drooling right now.

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 9.58.44 pm.png

Party? If you can try come for BPM, otherwise I heard Coco Bongo is nuts.

Extra info… There are a lot of cool cenotes around playa. Cenotes are fresh water whole usually in underground caves, super cool. I didn’t go to this one but I heard Dos Ojos is amazing, you can also snorkle or scuba dive in them.

Next…Of Playa there is an island called Cozumel, it is known for its diving. I was there before I got my scuba but I met lots and lots of people that said it was incredible.