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Santiago’s Way

Because Spain don’t be only sun, beach and beautiful girls I try to guide you for one of the most impressive monuments of the spanish culture: the Santiago’s Way; but not only exist monuments, as well it’s a very important part of spanish history. I live in a city call Astorga, placed in middle of the Way, and every morning I can see from my room’s window some pilgrims with their knapsacks to back. Are thousands the pilgrims of many nationalities that cross it throughout the whole year, especially between may and september. They make the Way well walking, in bike or a length walking and other length in another transport vehicle. When they’re very tired or well for to finish any long stage, they can take a bus between city and city.

The Way begins the Pyrenees and comes from France. It crosses all the north of the Iberian Peninsula, of East on West. It’s a pilgrimages route arisen in the Middle Ages acquaintance too like “Route Jacobea”. The Way’s objective is to reach Santiago de Compostela, in the La Coruña´s province, where supposedly found the relics of the Apostle Santiago. According to the legend, the way was originated at the beginning of the IXth century and it is placed on a former Roman causeway. Coinciding with the most splendour age to “Route Jacobea” many lodgings arise along the Way where to give cover to the pilgrims. Nowadays the price of the lodgings is more or less 3 Euros, food and bed included, depending on the place. Former two principal routes existed from France: both principal routes go out from Somport passing then for Jaca, or from Roncesvalles and Pamplona. It are unified in Puente la Reina and go towards Estella, Logroño, Nájera and Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Immediately it continues for Burgos, Castrojeriz, Frómista, Carrión, Sahagún, León, Astorga, Ponferrada and Villafranca. Ultimately it passes for Cebrero, Portomarín, Triascatela and Palas, to conclude in Santiago de Compostela.

The people who begins the Way they don´t chase only religious or mystical aims, but also cultural aims. It’s a way of initiation framed between the biggest initiations ways of the mankind’s history. It’s hard to cross it; long treks under the burning sun, hunger, cold nights … but anyhow the people continue doing it. Mystery! Mysticism, faith, personal overcoming? Come, come to discover it, kids. It’s the only and incomparable experience.

Views: 6033

San Pedro, Almeria, Spain

San Pedro is apparently the remnants of what was once a port nestled in the cliffs of Cabo de Gata, Andalucia. It was discovered and is now the home to several permanent residents and many, many other travellers from all over Europe and the world, who may pass by.
It is completely unreachable by vehicle – only accessible via a 1hr walk (scenic is an understatement) along the cliffs from the nearest village, las Negras.

Its a piece of paradise and a place where nature leaves you awed and humbled, by day and by night. Its also a place where, if you come with the right intentions, strangers will give you what you need. San Pedro welcomes those who like to leave without a trace.

Views: 14171

Koh Phangan Thailand

Fire Dancer Pirates Bar Koh Phangan
I’m in the middle of a HUGE party here on Koh Phangan, for the Thai Songkran Festival. The house music right outside this Internet cafe is pounding the beat, and everyone’s dancing like crazy. I’ve been powdered, drenched, powdered again & drenched again, so many times it’s impossible to count! The supersoakers are out in force, and others are just throwing buckets of water, sometimes iced on everyone. Everyone is soaking everyone else, and Everyone is smiling like they’re having a great time (and we are indeed!)The Thais are going nuts. This is obviously a big thing for them. And today the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. I haven’t a clue what the temperature is because for the last 3 hours I’ve been completely soaked, feeling nice & cool.

I’m sorry but I’m not taking pix of this wonderful event. 🙁 Can’t risk the camera (which by now would be history!). I’ve refilled my supersoaker at least 50 times, and I’ve got a nice blister coming on my trigger finger.

Too bad everyday can’t be like this one! Tonight there’s a big party at the Pirates Bar, with a bunch of DJs with their setups in little nooks in the sheer cliff. I’ll post some pix of the bar soon. It’s right at the end of the beach I’m on, which is one minute away from my bungalow. How convenient.

I’m not jonesin’ anymore! Yippee! Sweet Thai medicine for my insomnia. 🙂

So the story about this Thai New Year celebration is that they’re supposedly cleansing themselves of all the shit from the last year, so they can start the new year fresh. It’s new years cause today is their Equinox, with the sun directly overhead. It’s the hottest month of the year here, so a great excuse to get soaking wet!

Koh Phangan Beach Scene
Views: 12818


South Sea Island Fiji
I’ve been wanting to visit Fiji ever since 1982 when my plane stopped there to refuel on my way to Auckland, New Zealand. I wished then I could hop off and check it out, but that wasn’t allowed then.

Most ex-pats like me sooner or later need to do a visa run. That is when your visa expires, you need to leave the country you’re in and go somewhere else, usually for a very short time. Then when you show up at the border again, they renew your visa for another stay.

So when it was time for my first visa run from Australia, I’m so glad I picked Fiji. It was cheap (A$500 rt) to get there from Brisbane, and it’s a relatively cheap destination to visit.

Bula Dance – The Fijian Welcome
Whether you’re a backpacker or a jetsetter, Fiji is your kinda place. It’s friendly, romantic and fun! Watersports are very popular as Fiji has some of the cleanest seawater on the planet. Coral reefs surround most Fiji islands and the water is comfortable, even in winter.

Fiji Bure with a View
Backpackers can stay in dorms or double bures which are old style Fiji huts made from local materials. Most places include three meals a day in the price, which runs from F$50-$75 a nite per person. (US$1 = F$1.70). For those with a bigger budget, you can stay in fancier resorts, even 5 star ones.

What makes these resorts so much fun is that you cannot escape socializing with the other travelers. You see them in the dorms, on the beach and of course at meal times. Then at night in the bars the scene ranges from very mellow to big party time! You get to meet travelers from Europe, NZ, the US, South America & of course Australia.

The Fijians ensure everyone is cared for and happy. The food ranges from good to excellent, although if you’re used to American style portions, you might be disappointed because they don’t usually offer second helpings in the cheaper places. The more pricey places like to do buffets where you can stuff yourself.

Fiji consists of lots of small islands like this one, as well as much larger islands
Most travelers book a package deal to the outer islands especially the Yasawas, where I went. You can choose from 2 to 12 nites, with everything included, island transfers on a huge fast catamaran, accomodation and meals. There are so many options, it really hard to choose which islands to go to and where to stay.

On most islands you can also book a partial day trip to a good snorkeling/diving area, a traditional Fijian village, kayaking, a guided island walk or other activities.

The beaches are superb, but swimming is often dependent upon the tides as many lagoons are very shallow.

The locals, once fierce warriors, are now very friendly!
A cool Fijian custom is the Kava ceremony. This is where you can meet with the Fijians in the evening and drink their famous narcotic beverage. It’s not very strong, and it is usually served in a coconut shell. If you’re lucky the village chief will attend and you’ll get to see the locals on their best behavior (at least until the kava kicks in). It’s a challenge to keep up with Fijians as they can drink 20-40 bowls a nite.

Of course there are other Fiji traditions for you to enjoy.

I was thinking I was going to have to go cold turkey from the ganja when I went to Fiji. Little did I know that the Fijians love marijuana and grow tons of it! It’s cheap and pretty good smoke, although some people (like taxi drivers) will try to rip you off. You should not have to pay more than F$30 to get a few long stems with buds wrapped in tin foil, that when separated amount to around half an ounce. To get the best deal you can try visiting the growers in the Fiji highlands. If you bring some smoke out with you to the islands you’ll make lots of Fijian friends as it’s difficult for them to get it at times.

The Blue Lagoon – Sorry didn’t see Brooke Shields
My favorite places were the incredible Blue Lagoon (yes, where they filmed the movie!) and Kuata island. The Coral Coast, on the main island of Viti Levu is also a great place to hang out. You can also take a side trip to the island where they filmed Castaway with Tom Hanks.

Net Fishing along the Coral Coast of Viti Levu – Self Sufficiency made easy!
The Fijian islands are sooo beautiful! The climate is superb and the people are very friendly. I was really impressed with how many Fijians are still living the old way, off the land and sea, without much money at all. Some of the villages on the outer islands are very isolated with only a two-way radio for communication. Indeed there is no Internet in the Yasawa islands, so it’s a great escape for people like me who never seem to be able to get away from the WWW.

So if you’re in the mood for an exotic tropical holiday or passing thru the South Pacific, Fiji is one stop you will love and remember for the rest of your life!

For more Fiji photos, visit the new Fiji Gallery.

Views: 20015

Nimbin Australia

Nimbin Hemp Bar and Hemp Info Center
I’m here in Nimbin and I’ll be reviewing the MardiGrass Festival for our sites. They’re expecting 10,000 people to decend upon this tiny town tomorrow in the countryside surrounded by rainforest.

Yesterday I got to walk thru some of that rainforest on the side of an ancient volcano. Awesome.

The town is gearing up for the annual onslaught which highlights cannabis reform. It seems everyone in this town is passionately activist regarding that subject, and this is definite one cool place to hang out. I hear they call this place Amsterdam on Steroids in the middle of nowhere (not sure about the steroid thing). I’d say it’s a cross between woodstock and Amsterdam, or it will be this weekend.

There’s going to be a big parade thru town on Sunday. I expect to be there, but I don’t even have my accomodation sorted yet. Camping out is the order of the day anyway. So I got to go to get some camping gear, now.

Beautiful Nimbin Area
Views: 15323

Alpujarra, Granada, Spain

the Alpujarra is a series of beautiful white-washed Andalucian-moorish villages high up in the mountains, producing loads of crafts like ceramics, rugs and strange little herbal tinctures and liquers. There’s a magical mix of influences in this area – the Arab touch from the previous Moorish settlement, a Buddhist monastery and retreat near Trevelez, open to visitors, a Mongolian gentleman selling yurts on the roadside…and near the village of Orgiva is a tipi community in a hidden valley, stop-off point for many new age travellers and home to many a full moon gathering. Alternative spirits are drawn to this area because of the beautiful mountains, valleys and springs, and the rich history.

I have some photos from la Alpujarra at the following site:

Views: 45361

La Semilla, Tarifa, Spain

La Semilla “the seed” is a little hippy haven tucked away in stunning mountains on the coast of Andalucia, with views to Morocco. It is a cultural association hosting several music/art workshops throughout the year, as well as being open at weekends in the summer as a vegetarian and organic restaurant. Prices are moderate, but if you love quality vegetarian food you may just find the meal and the views over the mountains and ocean to Morocco an overwhelmingly wonderful experience.

Wagons or a tipi in the surrounding land can be rented very cheaply per night, but also people from all walks of life come to volunteer at La Semilla for months at a time helping with building, vegetable growing, cooking, artistic contribution etc etc. If you are in the area of Tarifa on a summer weekend make it your mission to come here ; follow signs to Playa de Bolonia, follow the road up past the beach into the mountains, take the right at the fork, and follow the little signs, some on the road itself.

Enquiries: grahola@yahoo.es

See my Semilla photos:

Views: 12155

Dyssekilde, Denmark

With so much attention being given to the “free city” community of Christiania in Copenhagen at the moment, I wanted to shed light on a fascinating alternative-living project near Hundested in North Denmark.

Dyssekilde is a community of houses in an idyllic rural setting, built using alternative and environmentally-friendly methods. People have come from as far away as Australia and Mexico to buy plots here and as I write, several new projects are in the making and the village is full of people roughing it in caravans, wagons and tents as they build their homes.

People are using strawbale techniques, solar- and wind-power, recycled timber, bricks etc, permaculture and “living roofs” covered in grass among many others. Its an expanding community with organic food shop and bakery, craft shop and several artists (see www.livstrae.dk) and any interested visitors will receive a warm welcome.

If you want to really integrate and learn about the community you can stay and work on a nearby, closely-connected organic farm (www.roejle.dk) by joining WWOOF (www.wwoof.org).

My photos of Dyssekilde can be seen at:

Views: 6502

Hobart, Australia

Hobart, Tasmania has to be the most hippiest haven in Australia. LOADS of counterculture activity. Organic food markets are everywhere in the weekly Salamanca market. Lots of wild, beautiful, free-loving, organic environmentalists.

Hobart is the home of the world’s first left-leaning Green Party. Lots of old, character homes in Hobart. And, Tassie (as the locals affectionately call it) is such a dreamy place with turquoise waters, and eucalypt forests. It’s a utopia or the closest to one in the world. And, I’ve travelled to almost every corner of the globe seeking out hippie havens and like-minded eco-subcultural back-to-the-landers. Dudes, bring your berks, dreds, and peaceful thoughts to this totally chilled place downunder.

Views: 5244

Laurentian Mountains near Montreal, Canada

Montreal as many know is a MAJOR hippie mecca of Canada with enormous urban counterculture activity. For those of you who love nature, mountains and forest, and more organic, health-oriented back-to-the-land hippie havens, a short trip just north of Montreal will find you in the Laurentian Mountains which is one of the most beautiful places on the planet in the Canadian summer. Loads of organic outdoorsy hippies from Montreal and other parts of Canada hang out in the Laurentians to commune with the shimmering lakes, birds, beautiful bright green trees, and the bluest of skies around for the months of May-October.

If you want to live in the Laurentian mountains, the cost of living is next to nothing – you can find a small cottage for a very cheap/good price. Americans can buy cheap, cheap land/cottages, and take up residence in the Laurentians for up to six months a year. You might bring a English/French dictionary and compliment the passionate french locals – since it’s mostly a french-speaking area. However, there’s about 25% English speaking people in the Laurentians and so you can easily get by with just English particularly on the edge of the resort areas where many Americans travel from i.e., New York to vacation. People flock to the area from all over the world (mostly northern Europe). And, it has a very left-wing, progressive European feel about it.

Loads of free, peace-loving hippies in and around the Laurentians. Communes, yoga and artist studios, an incredible bike path (use to be a train line) that goes to Montreal, and endless nature/recreation!

Views: 15741