Up until about two years ago, I’ve never heard about the Grüner See (Green Lake) in Styria. But then there was this article about it in the news papers and it got nominated to be one of Austria’s most beautiful spots. I started wondering why neither I nor anyone I know has ever been there, since it’s pretty close to home and honestly… hence the size of Austria, pretty close to about every corner of good old Austria! 😉
Two friends and I had the idea of doing a little more homeland exploring whenever we have some time to spare and when the idea of going to Grüner See came up, we were instantly hooked.
I can hardly remember a time in my life when I wouldn’t have been up for packing my bags instantly, board a plane and travel the world. But unfortunately… to travel you need money and therefor, like most people, I have to spend an awful amount of time working and doing „serious“ life things.
BUT , this doesn’t prevent me from constantly dreaming, planning and looking forward to my next trip to ANYWHERE. ❤
At times when my heart is especially restless, I love reading travel quotes, I have at least 200 of them screenshotted on my phone and a whole lot more in all of my notebooks.
I spent the first time of my stay in Colombia in the Caribbeanregion, I loved it, but there was one thing that was a true disappointment to me. The coffee tasted awful.
This might not be a valid reason to be disappointed for some people, but I am an official coffee addict and worshiper through and through. So, I almost gave up on the coffee-heaven Image of Colombia I had for so many years, but then… I got to Salento.
Salento itself is a gorgeous little town. It’s center is easily walked within one hour and the main plaza is always full of life. Be it school kids on their lunch break, backpackers waiting for the trucks to take them to the Cocora Valley (Post on the Cocora Valley here ) or locals drinking their coffee and chatting for hours.
Right from the main plaza starts the busiest street in town (which isn’t actually that busy at all… another thing I loved about Salento), there is a lot of shops, restaurants and bars lined up, so if you can’t decide what to do with your day , start off there and you will be entertained for hours. This street ends at a staircase which leads you up to a Punto de Vista, where you’ll have an amazing view over the famous eje-cafetera region and of course beautiful Salento.
I truly loved everything about Salento, the fact that there is almost as many Colombian weekend tourist as gringo backpackers, the friendly people, who actually greeted us from day one and knew our names by day 3, the tours you can go on from there, horse riding to hidden waterfalls, biking, hiking the Cocora Valley, visit traditional Coffee farms and many more, the fact that I stayed in the most beautiful hostel I’ve ever seen, the amazing coffee everywhere and the millions of different shades of green.
The Hostel we stayed in is called “La Serrana” and it is located about 20-25 minutes of walking distance outside of town. It is surrounded by literally NOTHING but green hills full of coffee plantations and in the morning, when the fog is still lingering around the hills, you feel like you are the only person in the world. So peaceful . ❤
They also have great common rooms, which are always full of guitar playing and storytelling fellow traveler and they serve amazing breakfast and dinner.
Coffee farm highlight
For me, a passionate coffee lover, going to the coffee plantations was a MUST DO. My friends and I decided to go see a traditional, organic one named Sacha Mama.
It took us about an hour to get there . We started at our hostel and the path lead us mostly downhill through the core of the Coffee zone.
Sacha Mama is a special kind of Coffee farm, with a lot of history and run by the same family since ages.
The lady there went on a tour through her families coffee plantation with us, we learned so much about the traditional coffee making process and in the end we were even rewarded with a cup of amazing self-made Colombian Coffee, cookies and cakes.
For a trip to the Coffee Farm, you definitely need a whole day, since you are walking quite a bit to get there and even more going back (since it is ALL UPHILL ;P ) and you should definitely take the chance to talk to the people who run the farm, they will answer all your questions and are really happy to meet people who are truly interested in coffee.
They also sell their organic, self-made coffee at the farm, which is SO MUCH better than the one you get in the stores… obviously! 😉
Battambang was one of the cutest cities I’ve been to in Cambodia. We arrived late in the afternoon with the Angkor Express Boat , that I already told you about in one of my previous articles. Since we were really tired we just grabbed something to eat, went for a short walk and then right into bed.
The next day we got up very early looking for a Tuktuk driver to show us the best of Battambang, since we just had this one day. A few minutes later we found one and hit the road to the Bamboo Train.
Let the journey begin 😀
The Bamboo Train is one of the most famous attractions in Battambang that is why we had to go there and check it out! With this train you don’t actually get somewhere, it is just for the experience – you drive 15 to 20 minutes in one direction and then the same way back for around $5. It wasn’t very comfortable, very bumpy and the train gets really fast – it was fun though and you get to take some really nice pictures.
Since the way there and back is the same, they have to get the train off the tracks to let the other trains pass. After an hour and a half we were finished and went to the next stop on our list.
Wat Banan Temple
This is a really small but beautiful temple a little outside of Battambang and it is definitely worth going there. You have to go up a very steep staircase but once you are on the top you get a really nice view.
Killing Caves and Phnom Sampeau Temple
Our Tuktuk driver told us a lot about Cambodias history and the victims of the Khmer Rouge who came to death at those killing caves. It is unbelievable what happened at this place not that long ago.
From the Killing Caves it is a nice walk up to Phnom Sampeau, which is also a really beautiful temple around Battambang, it is more modern than Wat Banan though.
Last stop Battambang Bat Caves
After walking down from Phnom Sampeau our last stop were the Bat Caves, this was just amazing – at 6 p.m. millions – and I really mean millions – of bats come bursting out of this hole in the mountain and fly towards the countryside, where they spend the night.
After that our Tuktuk driver brought us back to our hotel and his friend drove us to Phnom Penh the next morning, which he arranged for us! What a lovely day 🙂
Salento is a typical paisa village located about 20 kilometers away from Armenia in Colombia, it is located in the famous eje cafetero ( the Colombian Coffee region). Besides of being a truly beautiful place itself, Salento is the perfect starting point for a hike trough the Valle de Cocora, which , for me, is a definite MUST SEE in Colombia.
The Cocora Valley is famous for it’s huge wax palm trees, which are actually a national symbol of Colombia and to be honest… one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen so far.
When staying in Salento, it is pretty easy to get to the Valley, you simply wait at the main plaza, where there will be a couple of old pick up trucks lining up at several times of the day. (Leaving hours start from 6.10 in the morning) I’ll recommend you to start in the early morning hours, since there is always a high risk of rain in the mountains of the valley during the afternoon.
The cars will stop right in front of the entrance of the valley and you’ll have two options to start from there.
You can take the short way (the one on the left) , which will lead you straight to the wax palm fields. This way doesn’t take more than 90 minutes to walk and you’ll have a great view on the wax palm trees without much effort. But, obviously you’ll miss out on all the other highlights of the walk.
So anybody who is in decent physical shape… DO TAKE THE LONG WAY! 🙂
The long way will take you about 5-6 hours, you’ll cross wild rivers on dangerous looking rope bridges, you’ll climb steep hillsides, you’ll walk through ankle deep mud paths and you’ll also come across a hummingbird sanctuary. It will be an experience you’ll never forget, I’ll promise you that.
Another important thing is to ALWAYS be prepared for changes in weather! When me and my friends went on the hike, we were lucky enough to be close to a lodge, which is located halfway of the way on top of the mountain, when it started to rain heavily. I don’t want to imagine how our walk would have turned out otherwise, because we definitely didn’t bring appropriate gear.
So… pack the rain jackets and make sure you wear proper footwear! 😉
The lodge I mentioned is called Finca la montana and it’s the best place to rest a little while drinking the famous hot chocolate with cheese ❤
When you finished all of the walk, you’ll end up exactly where you started. Unless you get there really late, there will also be trucks to take you back to Salento.
Koh Kong was our last destination in Cambodia, since it’s located right on the border to Thailand. They offer lots and lots of tours and activities there like island tours, kayaking, fishing, hiking and so on.
We decided to do the Cardamom Mountains Trekking for one day which was around $20 per person plus a little tip for the guides. This tour included pick up from our home stay, drinks and lunch (we got some fried noodles with shrimp and fresh fruit).
The Tuk Tuk driver picked us up at 8:30 in the morning and brought us to the boat, it was just my friend and me and those two really nice guides. It took us around one hour and a half up the river until we got off the boat and directly into the jungle with which I fell in love with immediately.
After a while we stopped to take some pictures, I have no clue what time it was by now, I was so amazed by all of those gorgeous views that I didn’t check my watch even once. The hike itself wasn’t very exhausting or hard, it was pretty hot though which made it a little challenging but one oft he guides always reminded me to drink something 🙂 and once my water was finished I got a new one within a second.
Around noon they took us to a really nice place where we had lunch, got to take a swim and explored the jungle and the amazing waterfalls by our-selves.
After lunch break we hiked back to the boat and arrived at the city around 4.30 p.m.
What an amazing day 🙂 so if you’re planing on a short stop in Koh Kong traveling from or to Thailand you should definitely consider staying the night and trekking the jungle!
If you’re more into relaxing and beaches another tip is the Koh Kong Island Tour which I really enjoyed too, I’ve never seen such a beautiful and quiet beach before! Koh Kong Island is just a really tiny island where you can spend the night in some cute little huts, if you want to.
Going from Siem Reap to Battambang by “speed“ boat was one of the most impressive things to me while I was traveling Cambodia.
I have to say that I’m not a very patient person, I’m that kind of girl who keeps asking “when are we there“, “how far is it“ and so on because I just can’t stand sitting somewhere doing absolutely nothing. Since we just had 3 weeks to travel around Cambodia anyway, I did not think of it as a good idea to waste that much time on a boat trip, but it turned out that it was definitely worth every second.
We left Siem Reap at around 7 a.m. the ticket cost around $20 per person and it was supposed to take us 6 hours (it actually took us around 9 hours because the water level was very low). Another possibility to get to Battambang is by bus, which takes 5 hours I think.
If you’re looking for a comfortable way to travel and high safety standards you’re definitely wrong on this boat – you get to sit on hard wooden benches and the engine is really loud in the back of the boat, but that didn’t bother me at all.
We were crossing the Lake for about one hour and a half then we went down the river, where we passed lots of small fishing villages. After a short stop at a floating village, where you can buy some cold drinks and coconuts, we kept going further south.
The landscapes and birds we got to see were just amazing. I was also very impressed by the people living there, everyone was smiling in a very warm way, all of those cute little kids were playing in the mud and in the water, laughing and waving at the people on the boat. It was just really nice and relaxing to watch!
„floating village – people are going everywhere just by boat (even kids by themselves) – there were swimming schools, supermarkets and even churches“
Finally we arrived in Battambang, this did not seem like 9 hours to me at, time went by so fast. I think I should have used sun blocker instead of LSF20 though 😉
All in all this was a really great way to travel and I would definitely recommend it to everybody looking for good pictures and a great adventure.