This morning I just woke up feeling extremely blessed.
We arrived in Rijeka last night and our new crib for the month is just beyond belief. We strategically chose this place as I wanted to be closer to the sea (going to test out my new €15 worth snorkeling gear, yeayuum) and heck, I got the sea. Not even that, I even got a balcony with a sea view. As some may know, I have a thing for balconies too. So yeah, I did shred I tiny tear of happiness last night.
This morning I’m just breathing in this breeze of euphoria and I’m just so grateful for where I am now. Like I wrote on my Instagram account recently:
Not to brag and all, but I’m super rich. I’m actually so rich in happiness, love, experiences, freedom & adventures, that I today know I will never be poor again. I’ve finally found wealth, and it was in the abundance of the immaterial.
I’m really proud of myself for sticking to my core being. To find freedom. And along this journey I’ve also met incredible people who has helped me along this path. At the end, being free is all about being authentic. That was the moment I started to focus on other things in life than money, status and “success”. Don’t get me wrong, I know money is important for survival, but money also gets a different meaning depending on how you use it. Money is just a tool. Some take the choice to spend it on possessions, some people choose to spend it on passions.
For me that changed everything. I’ve gained so much by investing my dollar in the immaterial. And it has lead me to this crazy awesome balcony in a town I didn’t even know existed.
It’s simple, you just join a wine tasting and suddenly you’re 12 hours deep into a new friendship. That’s at least what happened to us. It could’ve been because we have just been lacking friends to talk to for 3 months, and anyone could’ve been a victim to our bla bla. But, I honestly can say that it was one of the greatest days I’ve had and it was because we just totally clicked with the people we met.
This wine tasting was a gift to my boyfriend, Lars the Winelover, for his birthday. Although, this wasn’t the usual kind of wine tasting. It was a wine tasting at a Medieval Castle in Chianti. Who doesn’t love a little castles and Medieval history to a bit of wine, right?
About the wine tasting tour
We met up in Florence and then we drove to a place called Trebbio. The place was just the most Tuscan place I’ve ever seen. A castle on top of one of the many Tuscan green hills as far as the eye can see, vineyards, olive trees and a red fiat casually placed next to a super Italian looking house.
Pazzi and wine tasting – what?
The whole experience started off with a tour around the castle, which by-the-way was owned by Medici’s enemies, The Pazzis, back in the days! We had no idea that our experience was going to involve us actually walking in one of the rooms where The Pazzis conspired against Medici’s power. Lars and I just looked at each other and had a moment of; holy scheisse, this gone be good. And it was amazing.
Though, the castle today is owned by some very “ordinary” people. It was bought by a duke as a gift for his wife back in the 60’s. Their grandchildren are now making this area into a Tuscan cradle. For me it was mind-blowing. Imagine growing up in a castle. A CASTLE. Their living-room was the Pazzi conspiracy room, like I can’t even.
Then the wine tasting journey took us below ground level and into the pits of wine.
The power of Chianti
We got an amazing introduction to the Chianti wine and how important it is to pronounce Chianti as Ki-anti and not Shi-anti. Otherwise you’ll be banned from Tuscany. And the Chianti God gives you alcohol poisoning even before you drink the wine. We also learnt about how important it is with extra virgin olive oil and got other tricks in the sleeve.
We also got a sneak peek of some wine from the early days, that no one is allowed to drink. I think Lars cried a bit inside, but we had to just give a teary glimpse on the wine and just keep walking.
An intimate wine tasting
Then our group was split up, where some people left on Vespa road-trip, and Lars and I, along with our two new best friends, went on a very intimate wine tasting. So yeah, it was four of us and we got super lucky to meet a couple from Down Under.
We got an amazing wine tasting, with different type of wine and some complimentary snacks from the area. Below you can see a very happy guide showing us some secret information about wine.
After the wine tasting we had some free time. Below you can see one picture of Lars, Mark and Tate, two of our new mateys. Or how they say it in Australia. Tipsy and merry, we just talked about everything between how huge corporations suck and the freedom of travels. We also met another couple from Murica.
After this amazing wine tasting in Tuscany, we drove back to Florence. Guess who was in the car together? Us, the Down Under couple and Murica couple. It hit me in the car that we are from three different continents and how amazing it is that we can just hang.
We also talked about the fact that Australia and North-America have only existed for a couple of hundred years. Sometimes I forget that it’s actually us Europeans back in the days. Tate also had some Swedish heritage in her DNA.
When we arrived back in Florence ready for more, we decided to go to a place where Lars and I once had a beer-date. On a bench.
We found some chairs this time and three beers later, the Muricans left. Yet, the four of us still weren’t done talking. So we ended up talking until 00, Lars and I missed the last train home and had to spend a spontaneous night in Florence. It was a good day.
We stayed in Florence from Tuesday and until Thursday, hoping to avoid the crowd. What we found out was that early weekdays don’t apply on high-season to avoid the masses. The crowd is the same-same and the tourists are scattered everywhere.
You can either find your partner-in-crime and hide in a huge “I’m invisible and safe and all is well”-embrace or you can find cute little streets away from the crowd. It can be a detour if you’re on an A to B mission, but it’ll be the greatest detour of your life. Narrow streets, cute shops and yeah, less people. What’s not to like. See survival examples in the pictures below. Or you can choose the third option; be a vampire and move in the night.
In addition, we had to survive 34 degrees in full blown sun. There were points where we just “NOPE” and just had sacrifice some places and retreat to more silent places. We also have some more Florence travel hacks, just click on the “Florence travel hacks” field below!
Florence travel hacks
Google Map pins: Before you enter the cradle of Renaissance, then find your Google Map and pin all the places you want to see, the places you want to eat and so forth. With the crowd and some waiting in queues, it’ll make your life so much easier.
Firenze Card: If you’re going to spend more than 2-3 days in Florence, then this is your ace in the sleeve. It costs €89 for the Firenze Card, but it is valid for 72 hours, you can enter the majority of the museums for free, you get a priority access once in each museum (aka skip queues) and it has a lot of discounts to different shops and restaurants. I’d seriously pay the amount of money for the Firenze Card, just so I can skip the queueing! We walked almost straight in to the Galleria dell’Accademia, when people were queuing forever in 34 degrees and sun. Suckers.
AirBNB: If hotels are sold out or are too expensive, then we’d recommend staying at an AirBNB. If you’re also staying longer, you can find an apartment with your own kitchen, so you spare some dollars on not eating out.
Trenitalia: Can’t even find a decent and cheap place to stay in the middle of Florence? Find a place outside the city, for example Pistoia or Prato. From there you can take a train directly to Firenze Santa Maria Novella next to the old town. The train tickets are super cheap and you can find them here – Trenitalia.
Duomo: Ok, what we didn’t know was that one has to book a slot to come up to the infamous creation of Brunelleschi – The Dome. We had bought the ticket and then saw it was fully booked. So, buy the ticket and book it early here.
4 things to do in Florence Italy
Galleria degli Uffizi
If you don’t have time to go strolling and visiting all them endless gems in Florence, then Uffizi Gallery is the one museum you need to visit! It’s worth the queuing (although, if you have the Firenze Card you get priority access) as you can spend hours in there. It’s FYI considered to be one of the largest museums in the world. How about that.
Your eyes get the pleasure of seeing original creations from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio and many more. Totally a starstruck hive if you have a passion for art, history and culture.
Another tip; keep an eye on the opening hours, as the museum sometimes has opened during the evening and you get the place pretty much to yourself!
The Medici Chapel was an interesting and fascinating place. You could sense it was a space where death is welcomed with open arms. You enter the Chapel below, in the crypt, where the Medici’s remains are kept alongside sacred ornaments containing relics. Reliques in form of bones, pieces from human skulls and all that jazz.
When we went up the staircase, we were met by I sight that seriously took my breath away. Usually you see chapels and churches in bright white, illuminating the whole room. Although, the Cappella dei Principi (“Chapel of the Princes”) was dark and almost gothic in a sense. The stones used to decorate the chapel were dark green, brown, grey, with small golden and red details. All of it illuminated by the dome above.
Last, but not least, we visited The Sagrestia Nuova, designed by the great Michelangelo. We watched a documentary in beforehand and we already knew what was coming – Michelangelo’s subliminal mockery of the Medici family. Once a student, then a silent opponent towards the greedy Medici. As it was for the majority of Florentines back in those days. The statues of the Giuliano and Lorenzo weren’t as grand as they should’ve been by the book. Also, the statues representing Dusk & Dawn and Night & Day, were a symbolic meaning of the passing of time. As with the Medici family.
If you love astronomy, technology, science, compasses, time measuring devices, telescopes, globes, maps and all them kinds of goodies, like moi, then this is your heaven. It’s amazing to see how mathematics and logic could create so complex things, before our modern technology. Well, this was birth of the technology era, but it’s just mind-boggling to see how far they were already back then. All thanks to the father of modern science – Galileo Galilei. I can’t even figure out my phone.
I’d say that Galleria dell’Accademia is not worth the queue if you don’t have secret crush on Michelangelo’s David and if you’re not super interested in sculptures as an artform. I personally felt the grand David was the reason for entering this museum (yup, totally starstruck), as I’m too ignorant about sculptures. Mesmerized, but ignorant.
Although, I later learned that sculptures were one of the most expensive artforms back in the days and were often used to show an economic strength. In addition, in the New Testament, believers were called “living stones”, which gave the sculptures an additional – and symbolic – meaning. My point; don’t be ignorant and life will be more exciting.
Ok, let’s get back on track. The museum also had its own floor where you could admire old frescoes in gothic style. Again, not my cuppa, but maybe yours?
3 things to do in Florence Italy – when things get too crowded
Alright, back to avoiding the scary masses, which is basically an artform in itself. We found some more quiet places to visit in Florence, on the Firenze Card. Here are some of them below. You are welcome.
Museo Casa di Dante
Dante’s crib! We found his old house hidden somewhere in Florence. A bit lost at that time, but you’ll find it easily on Google Maps. I have to say I was expecting a bit more, being Dante’s house and all. But, just knowing it was there where he slept and pondered about the world – and Beatrice – made my whole experience.
Otherwise, it was more of a collection of information elaborated from Dante’s scriptures. Aka, it wasn’t always directly about him, but what happened during the time he walked the streets of Florence.
Museo dell’Opfificio delle Pietre Dure
No pictures taken from this little spontaneous trip!
This museum was a collection of different… stones and rocks. Being a rock collector myself back in my days when I was 5 years old, this was definitely was an extension to my rock knowledge. I also have a love for crystals as being spiritual AF, so it was a bonus applied to this experience.
All in all, an interesting little detour, which sparked a further understanding about how rocks and stones were used to decorate differents aspects of the grand life in Florence – and for the Medici family.
Bibiloteca Medicea Laurenziana
Barely any people, probably the smallest museum in town – but, damn it is beautiful. This was Medici’s personal library (like holy cow). What I’m about to say now goes against every fiber of my being, but I’d seriously consider becoming as greedy as a Medici just to get a library like that. The vestibule already had me on “I wanna become a Medici.”
Food wise, check these 6 vegan restaurants out in Florence! If you’re not vegan, doesn’t matter – you’ll convert to veganism the moment you take bite.
I will keep it short and sweet this time, and let the pictures do the talking. I’m totally fried right now after some months as a digital nomad and I’m still trying to balance logistics, expenses, travelling and most importantly my dreams. Anyway, Estonia spat me out with 3 infections richer – totally not Estonia’s fault – and here I am, lying back in my Italian feeling sorry for myself. I guess that was the last drop to say that I need to slow down.
Enough about me, more about Estonia! Estonia once more was an amazing reminder of how amazing my birth country is and how my roots stand strong. Blessed to have a family who is as “crazy” as I am aka free spirited, open-minded, empathic and who has a lust to discuss worldly matters. Fuck capitalism and live more, you know. Therefore, yet again, we talked until the morning, discussed deep things, patterns and layers in people and in our family and yeah, just bonded and made up for some lost time.
I also got involved with two exciting projects – was interviewed for a school’s magazine on how it is to be an Estonian abroad (met the interviewer randomly in Venice) and got a volunteer job at Let’s Do It!, which is an NGO fighting illegal dumpsites and trash globally. I’m really excited.
Now, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Tallinn – Modern City versus Old Town
Viinistu – A charming, harbour town
Tammneeme – My dad’s roots
Pärnu – My mum’s roots
I’m proud to be Estonian by blood, although I know I’m a globalist at heart. Despite this, I know my digital nomad a** will be back in Estonia at some point, where I also want to give this amazing, innovative, hard-working country a voice and help to lift up what we have lost so many times under occupation – the love for freedom, nature and our culture.
I still remember the day when we had just left Denmark. We drove on the autobahn in Germany, embracing the fact that this highway was the start on our digital nomad life in Europe. I remember feeling true, genuine happiness knowing that we didn’t have a registered address anymore. From there on, we were heading towards an unknown era of freedom. Dreams manifesting and the whole shebang, you know.
First stop: Volta Mantovana
Our first AirBNB base was in Volta Mantovana, a place no one would randomly live in, where rumours abound and where a piece of renaissance still remains. The first thing we did was to pop a local white wine with our lovely host, Margaret. Fluffy kitties welcomed us, we had the sound of grasshoppers in the background and late talks about being globalists.
Sitting there sipping my wine, I was thinking; I can’t believe how blessed I am.
Second stop: Monsummano Terme
Well, around 10.000 km later, some dollars poorer and plenty of experiences richer – we are hereby announcing that we are super tired and somewhat broke. Therefore we have decided to be kind to ourselves and stay at a lovely little apartment in Monsummano Terme until mid-August! You really need to zoom in on Google Maps to even find the place, but the beauty of its location is that it’s actually right between Pisa and Florence. Aka, we can spare ourselves some kilometres and money, yet still see the best Italy has to offer.
Lars has his precious motorcycle track, Mugello, right next door and can embrace his inner world champion. I get to be an hour from the sea where I hopefully can start my underwater photography. Blub blub. We can explore the Tuscany area even more, drink some local Chianti wine and actually live a little. We also have pizza restaurant next door and the local “social-hangout-place” Tiffany’s. Ah, and the apartment has balcony, so that kind of won me over.
More posts will come about how we even managed to reach 10.000 km, how our mini-minivan Opie experiences his travels, some tips regarding a digital nomad life and all that. Stay tuned!
I sort of failed on my last minimalism travel to Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, because it went too minimalism! Guess I forgot that I have to be presentable some times.. especially when you’re in Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina with your best friend. Like, how many times can one reuse a tank top (the only clothing that is ish presentable)? Well, I’ll tell you, after three times you kind of don’t ever want to wear it again. But then you’re unlucky and have occasions where you have to look presentable at least good 8 days in a row. I did though, and I’ve learnt my lesson.
Feels like I’ve been away for a month, but I’m finally home now! Saying finally is actually pushing it, as I really feel sad for not being in Nepal anymore. How can one come back from a trip that gives you the feeling of meaning in life? Something that’s bigger than life itself and something that felt like home. Although, coming back made me understand even more that I belong out there.
Oh my god where to start. Well, yesterday we arrived at Namche Bazaar, which is the main meeting point and biggest “town” in the Everest region. What. A beautiful place. We’re surrounded by massive mountains and they make you feel like nothing really matters. Everything else in life becomes so small. It was a 14 kilometre walk from Phakding through incredible surroundings and we also crossed the bridge you see in the “Everest” movie.
We were all a bunch of tired, excited, happy campers this morning, despite the early hours and lack of sleep for the most of us. We got some breakfast to-go and we were off! The plane to Lukla though.. smaller than expected. Made me super excited, because I knew it was action coming. And I was right, some good old turbulence and the landing was pretty insane, as we landed on a short landing strip with an height increase of 11,7%.
Back at the hotel now, eaten and then ready for a good night’s sleep. Hopefully. Because, guys, tomorrow it all starts. We are waking up at 4.45 AM and will take a flight to what is been said to be the most dangerous airport in the world, Lukla. And from there our trek starts to the almighty Base Camp.