Hiking in Zion National Park was one of the top places we had high expectations on our US road trip. As Utah’s first National Park, we couldn’t wait to climb the massive sandstone cliffs within the 24 km long canyon. The Springdale Visitor Center is a great start to your hikes to pick up any last minute snacks or water and that special souvenir to take home! Our goal of the day was to hike the hardest and most challenging Angels Landing! Continue reading “Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah”
The Horseshoe Bend, located only 6.4km from Page and 8km from Lake Powell, can be easily reached with a car on your US travels through Arizona. The beautiful curve of the Colorado River can be seen after you hike from the carpark through the recycled sand, which is protecting the Navajo Sandstone. You will see the incredible Horseshoe Bend from above. At the top of this hike, you are basically standing in the crossroads of Page, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs. By car is the best option to travel here, but there has been an increase in tours too.
Since living in the Netherlands, I have often seen the mariniers training throughout the city of Rotterdam. Training and hiking with their 40+kg backpacks or at the local swimming pool in all their gear. The Van Ghentkazerne Military Base is in Rotterdam near my previous school too.
The Korps Mariniers are the Dutch amphibious infantry component of the Royal Netherlands Navy, who can be deployed anywhere within the world within 48 hours in all circumstances.
Their motto is Qua Patet Orbis (“As Far As The World Extends”)
Their final week of training is the hardest, with no sleep hiking up to 125km a day, abseiling down the Van Brienenoordbrug bridge, peddling with a boat down to Zealand for different scenario trainings and also climbing up and abseiling from the Hef bridge. Unfortunately it was pretty much raining their final week too!
On Friday July 14th I watched the ceremony at the Schouwburgplein, where they exchanged their training beret for the official Mariniers dark blue beret. It was pretty interesting to hear what they had gone through since February 6th, and how their final week went. They arrived at 12pm just as the rain got worse, carrying all their gear and weapon.
The ceremony wasn’t too long before they were done, wearing the new beret and greeted by loved ones to celebrate. It was great to see the final ceremony in Rotterdam, even with the rain.
After 5 years of living in Rotterdam I finally got the chance to visit the beautiful Kinderdijk. I took the opportunity to visit Kinderdijk at the same time as my family visiting me in the Netherlands, combining both was a good chance for us all to visit something new together.
Planning our visit we decided to take the Waterbus from the Rotterdam stop at Erasmus Bridge that takes only 30 minutes to Kinderdijk. A perfect mode of transport to also enjoy the views Rotterdam from a boat, as you can stand on the open section at the back of the boat as well as sitting inside if it’s cold. You can use your OV chip card or buy a ticket on board.
Arriving at Kinderdijk you will know exactly where to walk with the first windmills in sight. Paying only €8,00 for adults and €5.50 for children (4-12 years) to get in it’s well worth it. The main path takes you past the first restaurant along the walking route to see all 19 windmills that stand there since 1740. The whole route is 15km which can be done in a day with sensible shoes.
Kinderdijk is not just a pretty site, it’s actually needed for the land. Since most of the Netherlands is below sea level, including Kinderdijk, the function of the windmills are part of the water management system to prevent floods.
We took some lunch with us, stopping on a bench to each and drink while other tourists walked by. There are a few restaurants and a cafe too, where you can buy souvenirs, refreshments, lunch or some typical Dutch snacks like bitterballen while waiting for the boat trip back to Rotterdam.
I plan to go again this summer, but then by bike like a true Dutch person!
We booked a tour online with City Wonders that would pick us up at 7am in Rome for a long drive to Pompeii for the excursion. Our lunch and entrance tickets for the Pompeii Lost City were included in the price and we would be back by 11pm. We were a bit skeptical as we would be sat on a coach for a total of 6 hours (3 there and 3 back) and this is hugely something out of our comfort zone. Plus with Lennart being 196cm tall he’s not the comfiest person sitting on a coach, but we really wanted to visit so we prepared ourselves for the long journey.
From the first hour on the coach to Pompeii we already had a great impression of how the rest of the day would go. Our guides were Luca and Dmitri who were fantastic! Luca told all different information about the region, the food and the history of castles on the way in such an interesting and comic way that we really enjoyed it. He also made it personal by adding in little stories of his wife and children and how they have experienced life in the region.
Once we arrived at the Pompeii ruins we were appointed to a guide who works at the Lost City to show us a main walking route that takes 2.5 hours. Right from the start it was impressive and fascinating to be walking through the ruins. Experiencing the houses of how some of the richer families lived to the poor areas where the famous brothels were. Truthfully we could have spent all day exploring there, but for an excursion this was the perfect amount of time. It is definitely a place we will return to and explore more.
(It’s been hard to choose which photos to share as we have so many! This last photo above shows Mount Vesuvius in the background, where we headed next.)
Back on the overheating coach we headed to a booked restaurant for lunch. We were treated to a set meal of a fresh salad, a Napoleon pizza of our choice and a much needed cold drink, since it had reached 29°c! From there we had about a 40 minute drive up to the highest part of the volcano. Lots of twists and turns in the road definitely made it a challenge for the coach driver but he did a fantastic job getting us to the top, most likely something he does often on these excursions.
We bought a fresh cold water at the temporary little shop and prepared ourselves for the steep walk to the top of the volcano. It was temporary because the previous little shop had been struck by lightening a few weeks before!
We were prepared with our sneakers on, rather than some guests with high heels on. There was a time limit of 20 minutes for us all to get to the top and enjoy the views before having to get back to the coach as we still had the 3 hour drive back to Rome.
If you open this photo above larger, you can see the dried lava/volcanic rock in grey from the eruption from 1944. The other two photos are of the creator of the volcano.
We were extremely lucky for such a clear day. There was a super friendly Chinese guy on the tour that took our photo at the top, he lost his wife near the coach as she was wearing heels and literally couldn’t walk up the steep part, but he didn’t want to miss out and joined us to the top.
The day ended back in Rome at 12pm, later then expected due to some traffic from Naples. We highly recommend City Wonders tours, since we can’t think of any negative things to say about the day as we were well informed about the history of Pompeii, Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the overall service was fantastic. If we visit another city that the tour company is based in we will certainly book another excursion with them.