Uncharted Traveller

Category - Featured

Change: When were you last present?

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Understand that most people feel the same way in life except at different times and there really is nothing to separate most of our problems except the timing in which they come. Everyone has setbacks too and it can help to look at our heroes to understand how life is not a straight line, that it really is a climb with many obstacles on the way up.

It’s not commonplace to be empathetic for oneself nor is it to learn from the same advice we are so used to giving others and so we most often continue down the same path to disillusion until it hits us square in the face. Although it may be a vague memory, if you take a look back, maybe way back – you can almost see that time when you were doing what you wanted to do, when you were with someone special or when you were somewhere you at least wanted to be.

It’s so easy to be negative now, it’s so easy to complain about what went wrong, to fall upon reasons for why you are here and not where you had hoped you would be. This wasn’t the plan, we both know this but it doesn’t change anything. You are not working at what you love anymore, you are lonely or having a hard time coping with past mistakes.

But for how long since you stopped believing? When was the last time you were present and who are you even talking to?

Sometimes I need to remind myself that there was such a time – that there was a night when I was gazing at the stars, that there was a morning when I smiled through breakfast, that there is still a way to move forward and away from the disillusion.

No matter what has happened or how difficult it seems, I know the situation is not the problem for a situation is something I can change.

I can change anything, can you?

How to Get from Krakow to Auschwitz?

Birkenau

When I was trying to find out how to get from Krakow to Auschwitz recently, I had a difficult time trying to get information from the people at the hostel and tourist information. They all wanted me to go on a tour to Auschwitz.

I wanted to go alone and in some way, experience the journey there without the noise of a group tour. By all means if you want to go by tour and do not have much time, go by tour but for everyone else, the following is the easiest way to Auschwitz;

Train to Auschwitz or Bus?

Some people might want to go by train to experience the rail journey taken by the prisoners, as morbid as that sounds. Anyway, do you have to book tickets for the train to Auschwitz? No, you can just show up and buy one.

It takes 1 hour 30 minutes but I would suggest going to the central station early so you have time and room for error when finding the right desk.

However, I recommend you go by bus because they drop you right outside the Museum OR at the train station, if you are staying in Oswiecim. The bus takes 1 hour 30 minutes also.

Hotel in Oswiecim

There is not a lot online for hotels etc but if you check out Booking.com you will find a few reasonably cheap options in the centre of town. I stayed in the Home Traveller Hostel (Old Tree Villa Hotel is next to it) which I liked but it is a walk from the town of approx 2km. I did not mind the walk each day.

Auschwitz Ticket

You are probably best to reserve a place on Auschwitz.org which does not cost any money and neither does the entrance. I did not reserve and there was no problems getting inside.

If you have a bag, you will need to leave it on the tour bus or in the luggage storage at the entrance (kiosk to the right of the entrance).

Your time is unlimited from what I can tell and there are plaques all around the camp to explain what you are looking at.

Birkenau

A free shuttle bus will take you to and from Birkenau which is 4km away.

Warning, it is a very emotional place to visit.

Should you take a tour of Auschwitz?

In my opinion no, the groups look very rushed and miss out on a lot. However, the guides do explain everything brilliantly.

 

How the Best Vietnam Travel Company Changed Me

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The main question a person asks themselves when they are getting ready to travel anywhere, is whether to travel alone or on a tour. I wish somebody told me back then, what I know now today as my personal experience has left me in no doubt as to which one is best. Recently I took a tour with a travel company in Vietnam and it completely changed my perspective on how I travel at all!

I travelled alone for much of the past seven years but it is only in more recent years and since working as an International Tour Guide that I have realised the importance and much larger amount of enjoyment which can be found from taking a group tour.

In truth, it took all of these years of travel experience and the recent experiences travelling in Vietnam to understand that the reasons I had for going alone instead of on a tour, were mostly lies I told myself or at the very least, the result of wishful thinking. Here are the top 5 lies that I told myself:

  1. I will immerse myself in the local culture

This was usually the first lie I told myself and the first reason I had for travelling alone; that I would be able to get more involved with the local people or community by travelling without a group. The reality is, that a language barrier can mostly stop this from happening and in fact, the easiest way to get to know a community or get involved with the locals, is by taking a group tour.

  1. I will enjoy being alone and travelling without a tour group.

I kept telling myself this for years, that I would take to the life of a nomad and enjoy exploring places by myself.

The best moments of my travels, as with my entire life, have always been with other people and other travellers. Without people to share these sights or experiences, there is no meaningful way to create life lasting memories. I realised this very fact when I decided to take my first tour in Vietnam. Granted, I got lucky because I ended up visiting Halong Bag with the best Vietnam Tour Company and the like minded travellers on the trip are still great friends to this very day.

  1. I will use the time to learn about myself

I tried to maintain this lie for the longest time. I told myself I would read and write, enjoy the solitude and use it as a chance to get to know myself. However, quite opposite seems to happen when you travel alone. I am very comfortable by myself but to be honest, I found that most of my time spent travelling, was done so wishing that I had someone there to talk with along the way.

Again, this was something my tour in Vietnam would teach me; you learn more about yourself by travelling with a group of interesting people than most books out there.

  1. I will put myself out there and meet new people.

Wishful thinking. In reality, walking up to a group of strange people and introducing yourself is a terrifying even which, if we are honest – rarely happens!

The best thing I did in Vietnam was go online and ask friends if they knew of any Vietnam Tour Packages they could recommend. Once I booked the tour and walked into the meeting place the following morning, I was forced to put my fears aside, shake hands and finally, meet new people!

  1. Group Tours are expensive.

What a lie, if anything – Group travel has always been more cost effective than travelling alone. No more paying the full price of rooms alone and group prices for pretty much everything else including activities and meals.

I now know that my time to Vietnam would not have been anywhere near as good, had it not been for the trip I took with the best Vietnam Tour Company. In fact, it will be a long time until I travel alone again as whats the point in going it alone, when you can meet more people and have an even better experience on a tour.

Travel is Not a Far Away Place

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My feeling is that most people travel to experience a change of some sort in their lives but it means we wind up travelling to top destinations in far flung places around the world at a huge cost when really, a lot of what we are looking for is on our own doorstep.

Although  I was born here in Ireland, I realised recently that I knew more about Africa, South East Asia and South America than I did about my own Country. So I decided to take a hike in the Countryside somewhere for a break, to find out a little bit more about my homeland.

Derry & Donegal

I took a bus to Derry City which was an interesting stopover enroute to the North tip of Ireland, Malin Head. There is a great walking tour of the city walls and the history is no less than engrossing, with many sad stories along with uplifting messages to those who are open minded enough to hear them.

Malin Head was insanely beautiful. I stayed at the Sandrock Hostel there but it was most memorable for the beautiful country roads which winded around the headland to the most Northern point of the Country. There you will find the old outposts which were used by the British in Word War 1 and these same buildings were then used by the Irish during World War 2, as they attempted to communicate with oncoming German bombers. The reason for this was to let them know that the land below them was Ireland and not the nearby, United Kingdom.

New Experiences

It was nice to walk around this area and set foot inside the historic buildings before walking back along the roads through quaint villages with beautiful scenery.

I finished the evening off by watching a beautiful sunset over Malin Head and wondered why I don’t do these things at home more often? It was a wonderful feeling to get away from the city, to go somewhere new and refresh, at a low cost. It dawned on me that I usually travel to far away places for new experiences when I could so easily do them in a much more local travel destination.

I vowed to do it more often, to be more aware of my immediate surroundings and stop thinking of travel or adventure as a far away place. Because it’s not, Travel and adventure is what happens the minute you walk out that door.