COOLEST THINGS I DID IN 2015

This is my December, this my time of the year…  These are my snow covered dreams. Yep, Linkin Park fan here!

How are you, my lovelies? Well, if you are like me (a Christmas terrorist) and this IS your time of the year, you are soaking in every little bit of this festive atmosphere. Hot chocolate with mint, mulled wine, Christmas decorations (I love love LOVE!) and people trying to show their loved ones how much they mean to them.

Also, for many, and I am no different, this is the time of the year when you sit down with yourself and look back to see what went on with your life for the past 11 months, and what  would you like to do with yourself in the next year, which is just around the corner.

Luxembourg Christmas market is one of my favorite Christmas markets.
View of Luxembourg Christmas market last year (2014)

Since I am not like those bloggers who are always smiling to the point where you can see their tonsils, claiming their lives are butterflies and unicorns pooping rainbows, I will be honest and say I had a long, difficult year. But if I had to describe it with one word, I’d chose: eventful. Because that’s exactly what it was-a vertigo of plans and plans that got changed and then plans which were changing changed plans. All this brought me many experiences I am greatful for. I have finally left Europe and started exploring not one, not two, but three continents. Quite a big thing…

Therefor, I will definitely not say I had a bad year. Actually, I have decided (for me and for you) to make a list of coolest things I did, experienced and saw in 2015. Yep, it’s time for an annual recap.

I SAW NORTHERN LIGHTS

It was that little thing that was on my mind, ever since I have visited Norway, and missed them. It was like a little itch on my brain. Part of my bucket list. “I need to see them, I need to see them…”

First time I did, I was on a bus tour taken to middle of nowhere in Iceland. Iceland  trip was an experience with many, many cool stuff to see, but nothing really beats the feeling  of crossing off something from your bucket list.

So, there I was, stood in the complete dark, looking at those green, green lights coming down on us, like a finest piece of art sent from up above. And the amazement was bigger than I ever even thought. What a phenomena.

Since these are lights in the city, imagine how strong they were once you get out of Reykjavik.
Beginning of northern lights in Reykjavik. My camera phone wasn’t able to capture them in the dark.

Later on this year, I have seen them few times in Canada too, while driving outside of cities and the feeling never changes. I was also told I open my mouth wide  when I spot them, so I guess it is a source of good laugh for Canadians, who are used to them.

I FINALLY GOT ON A HORSE

…and as I soon realized, there is no better place to do it, than Iceland, as their horses are short (just like me, lol) and strong. Also, they have that particular gate in their walk which allows you to actually go for a nice horse ride rather than jumping up and down and then regret it the day after.

Wild horses on Iclend are friendly to the point that that come over on their own and ask for cuddles and treats.
Some of the few Icelandic wild horses. Small and strong and so FRIENDLY just like trained ones.

Another reason why I would recommend horse back ridding in Iceland is the beautiful scenery you get. Especially winter time. I mean, there you are strolling on your horsy, lakes are frozen, red, dark blue and black cliffs around you… Yep, pretty nice.

And this site is one of the reasons why I think Icleand should be visited winter time.
When I say Iceland looks like a different planet, I am actually not joking.

By now I am faaar more comfortable on a horse so I actually did a tour around pyramids of Giza on a horse and that was pretty cool too.

I STOOD ON TOP THE WORLD AKA TOP OF BURJ KHALIFA IN DUBAI

Now, this is a thing I never even dared to  hope to experience. Majestic Tower of Khalifa. Maybe biggest surprise this year.

Dubai. Just that word, that name… And you know it is special. And even though I enjoed the city, learning about cultural differences and different lifestyle, Khalifa is something you can’ really compare to other tourist attractions (though dancing fountains come pretty close).

Being 828 metres tall, it is the tallest building in the world. Even though it does look super tall when you watch it from the ground, you really have no clue about it untill you go up to 140-something floor and look down. I was lucky (and smart haha) enough to chose  the time when sun sets, so the lights of the sky scrappers were slowly turning on. It left me speechless.

You look down at the city in it’s whole beauty and lights, and that is the scene that would be nice in pretty much every big place. But when you realize how small and tiny tiny seem buildings  that have few dozens of floors… This is where a thought hits you: it does feel like standing on top of the world.

Burj Khalifa - Amazing view from 800 metres up in the air
View from the top of the world also knows as Burj Khalifa

QUADDING IN DUBAI DESERT

Too many of you, I am sure, this will be just another thing on the list. Simple, cool, a bit of fun and then forgotten because Hey, Khalifa and pyramids and helicopters (did that too this year) or what not. But you see, this particular event that happened on a desert safari might be the best thing I have experienced… In my life.

Long story short- I took a desert safari tour, was taken there with a terrain vehicle and a lot of (loud) belly dancing music in the car. I was sat at the front with driver Mohamed and some Asian ladies in the back that kept arguing. Every time they’d become really loud, Mohamed would turn up the music. Instantly, we made friends. 😀

By the time we got quite deep in the desert, just before the hills, he already realized I am fully enjoying the speed and the bumps and sudden turns. Adrenaline lover? – he asked. And Hell, yeah, I replied. Therefor, as soon as we stopped, he took me out of the car and showed guys that to me looked like ninjas in disguise. They were on quads. Go, Ana! -my newly made friend said.

..like I did in Dubai desert.
Jump for joy

And so I did. For some reason I climbed on the quad, with a complete ninja stranger sat behind me and took off. I had no proper equipment or knowledge for quadding. Only thing that kept the sand out of my eyes were Ray bans. Only thing I knew was that my personal ninja speaks very good English (finally somebody!) and smells great (How? You just spent whole day ridding around on 40 Celsius!). Are you scared he asked? And I would rather die than say Yes.

So we went on top of the hill, then slid down on front wheels. We were driving sideways, making sudden turns hanging of the quad. We would go all the way to the top and then brake with front wheels, pushed forward with gravity, to the point where the steering wheel was only thing holding us from rolling down the hill. I screamed, I laughed, I couldn’t care less about the sand coming into my mouth.

Right there on top of that hill, hanging down in a position that would give a heart attack to majority of people, I felt alive. More than ever before. My entire body was present and completely fearless. I was THERE. And I was ultimately happy. No feeling ever before or after came close to that.

Since my ninja was a cool guy, he let me drive on the way back, which was not very pleasant since I had no clue what I was doing but ok. When I got of the quad I tried tipping him, he refused. Nope, what would Mohamed say?!- he said. So I just hugged him and I can only hope he felt how greatful I was.

After my quadding with ninja I was too excited to think about my phone and pictures. :D
Cars lining up in the Dubai desert just before we reached the hills.

SNOW IN AUGUST IN CANADIAN ROCKIES

-Look, it’s snowing! – my BFF Brit said.
-No, that’s just rain.
-Ana, I am telling you it is snowing!

So I looked around, stood there for few seconds, quite close to the top of the mountain we were trying to reach and… Jesus Christ, it was snowing! But, it is August… Are you kidding me? She just laughed. “What did I tell ya?”

For someone who refused to give mountains a chance for a long, long time, thinking I am a beach and a cocktail type a girl, I found myself breathing that cold air, resting my eyes looking down on Jasper, caught by a surprise how much I am enjoying that moment.
Oh, yes, it was an amazing view, one you could never get bored off, but… How on Earth did I ever become lucky enough to experience things as snow in summer, on (almost, okay) top of the mountain on a road-trip, having pretty much time of my life? Growing up, Rockies were something I’d point out on a map in Geography class (hello, prof. Robotic!), never a place I would think I will actually see. Ana, you lucky, lucky girl.

Snowflakes were tiny but still there.
Me, foolin’ around on top of the Whistler’s mountain just before snow started to fall.

 

WALK ON THE GLACIER

Now, if I wasn’t prepared for something this year, that was the walk on the glacier in Columbia Icelfields, Canada. As a super organized person who always does all of her research, I had no clue where I was going or what I was doing that day. I climbed into that (I guess we can call it a) bus that takes you on the top of something something something. I knew I had the ticket but I honestly though I was only gonna go to Skywalk so… What do you mean we are going on a glacier?

Our driver/ tour guide Daniel with his sexy land-down-unda-accent kept talking about glaciers so I figured Ok, there is some glaciers involved on this route. Mind you, I was wearing two hoodies (temperature was going minus, minus, minus) and freaking Converse trainers. Do you know glaciers are pretty much compressed snow? Yes, I was going on a top of the mountain wearing hoodies and footwear made of thin fabric. Job well done.

Standing on a glacier in Converse. Smart cookie.
A job well done.

However, I can tell you right now, hands down, it was worth all the cold and wet feet I dealt with. Once I got out of that quarter of  million CAD worth vehicle, I was mind blown.

The view… Virgin white snow, high up,  caressing the dark mountains and then coming down to my frozen toes (wearing red Converse, khm) turning into the nicest color of baby blue I have ever seen and just… The sound of wind.  A fairy tale.  I remember just standing there not caring about the cold (very unusual for me) and smiling like I was a bit coo-coo. Wow.  Imagine that, I am walking on a glacier. Wow.  Narnia.

 

Walk on the glaciers in Columbia Icefields. Alberta, Canada. Blue snow, yes...
Beautiful colors of glacier.

PYRAMIDS OF GIZA

I am pretty sure this one needs no introduction.

I have already written  a post about visiting pyramids  and how majestic they are. Everything I thought they would be and just a bit more. Another thing on my list that just few years ago I thought I would see only in text books and on TV. Surprise, surprise.

You can see pyramids behind me. And me out of my mind from all the excitement.
Horse back ride to the view point for pyramids of Giza

There is something special about historical locations. A feeling of respect and mystery that comes with it. Cognition that  powerful people built an amazing culture in conditions our minds couldn’t comprehend no matter how hard we tried. All those life stories, loves, intrigues, wars, tiranny…

It is recommended you go to a view point to ble able to see all the pyramids at once.
My view of pyramids.

And then there you are, many years after, stood (ok, sat on a horse) looking at it. Completely speechless. As I was looking at all of them from a view point just a bit further, I gave myself a little imaginary tap on the back, saying: Ok, ok, you are still having a good year and yes, you still have so many things to be greatful for. Just breathe.

 

I STARTED A TRAVEL BLOG


  Ta-daaaa! Here we are. My very own personal piece of Internet real estate.

For so long I wanted to write. I tried volunteering for some bogus websites. I tried having a blog with my own personal cubicle life rants and whines… Didn’t really like it. I thought about writing a novel about young girl struggling with life but gave up as there is waaay too many stories like that. I had many other hobbies that more or less stayed dear to me. But writing… I felt like that was something I just need to do. Like some people meditate, some go for a run (God, I wish I could make myself) and some paint… I needed to write. About me. About what I do and where I am going (literally and metaphorically).
This is why I am proud of this blog. It is my baby. Even though I am technically challenged and therefor having a blog means getting frustrated every now and then (many thanks to my friend Dunja-you still haven’ told me what you want for Christmas), every single post I publish gives me a lot of joy and content. And going through it and seeing how much room for improvement there is, makes me work harder – read more travel writing books, read more inspiring stories, getting a professional camera and even the underwater one for my trip to Thailand next year. Hell, I bought a fancy laptop just because of my baby!

So, I guess the fact that I am a proud owner of my own website and it is making me happy, is inexpressibly important and needs to be on this list. That’s what it’s all about. It can never be only flowers and rainbows, but it has to be about things that matter to you.

do-what-you-love

I would have few more things to add to this list but I decided to keep it short and sweet. I also hope you found time for yourself in 2015 to create hart warming stories and memories that will make you smile forever and always. Don’t be shy and share them in comments.

Until my next post, I am sending you lots of love and sugar cookies,

Love,

A.

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