Katerina Smyrko

Katerina Smyrko

Katerina Smyrko

Europe » Spain October 16th 2013

You are woken at 5:30am by hands rustling in bags and bunk beds creaking like old bones. You might lie in bed a little longer, earplugs jammed in firmly, trying to shut out the noise, but before long you are up too. Those first moments before you step out of bed are the only moments of doubt, when you start thinking; “Why am I doing this again?” But then you are up, putting on the same clothes you had on the day before (or a variation thereof), stuffing your sleeping bag in its bag and trying not rustle too much, there are still a few heavy sleepers snoring beside you. With whispers and hushed zipping you pack up your bag, you are quite efficient at it now. Then you regretfully pull your shoes onto your feet, ... read more

Europe » Spain » Basque Country October 16th 2013

We decided to go to Basque country next, We left the cities behind and headed for the mountains. Anna had found the name of some tiny town nestled in the Pyrenees and we spent a day getting there through different connecting buses. While we were waiting for our final bus, the sky opened up. I hadn’t seen it rain for a long time and the cool air and gushing water felt soothing. The sky was electrified with lighting and water started overflowing over all the footpaths and soaking everyone who wasn’t quick enough to get under cover. Our bus ride felt a little hairy, driving on tiny roads overrun with huge puddles while thunder rumbled overhead. It was dark and foreboding when the bus pulled up and announced that we were in Siresa. The bus driver ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona October 16th 2013

Every 2 hours on my 14 hour bus ride to Barcelona, the bus would stop, turn on the lights and blare out the name of the stop. Needless to say, when I arrived, I was a little dazed. To my delight, my sister Anna was standing outside the bus with a little grin, waiting for me! We had planned to meet at the apartment but she surprised me, it was so great to see her after almost 5 months. We were renting an apartment through AirBnb that was light and spacious and lovely. After tapas and lots of catch ups we went back to prepare for the arrival of sister number two, Lucy. The apartment was kind of hard to find so we made a sign and stuck it to the wall with bandaids (we had ... read more

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Almería » Carboneras October 16th 2013

When I first arrive in Mojacar, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I had just left Iceland and the UK and arrived in a resorty little town on the Mediterranean coast of Spain in the middle of summer. It was quite a change. At first I didn’t really like it. Big rows of sparkly new hotels line the main road, built high for a view of the beach. Bars spill onto the sand and a lot of retired English people lay in the boiling sun, accompanied by Spanish young families and their shrieking children. Everything seems a little swish and new and overdone. This is one element of this town, but after living there for a month, my opinion changed. I had moved there to start a month internship with Costa Almeria News, an English ... read more

Europe » Iceland » Northwest » Ísafjördur August 30th 2013

The snow covered tops of the mountains seemed close enough to touch as we flew past. They rose around our plane on all sides, our shadow showed up clearly on the snow below. The pilot turned sharply and we suddenly entered an opening, blue water and a little town at our feet. Following the sharp turn was a sudden descent onto a short air-strip, I didn’t think we were going to make it. But our teeny little plane touched down without a hitch and we were in Isafordur, Westfjords. We stayed one more night in Reykjavik after exploring the South Coast. We spent a lovely evening with Hofi, a friend of Pete’s who lives in Reykjavik with her partner and their new baby April. We had an amazing vegan feast prepared by Hofi’s mum that blew ... read more

Europe » Iceland » South » Vík August 30th 2013

Iceland’s main artery is a ring road that loops around the edge of the entire country. The buses are sporadic and expensive and we liked the idea of having our own car, free to stop as long as we like, wherever we like, camping whenever we were tired. However, hiring a car proved a little more difficult than we anticipated. Getting out of Thorsmork (where we finished our hike) was difficult in itself. We payed a lot of money to get onto a bus that looked more like an old battered loaf of bread sitting very high above extreme tyres. But the reason for this soon became apparent as we went cross country across the giant rocks of a dry river bed. We had to cross what remained of the river at one point, which was ... read more

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Selfoss August 30th 2013

Our trip to Iceland didn’t start very auspiciously, with our flight being delayed for 2 hours because of French air traffic control strikes! We wriggled and fidgeted and worried until they finally told us we were going, but we were pretty lucky that they hadn’t cancelled our flight like a lot of others. In our spare time we did manage to buy a bottle of duty free gin as we had heard alcohol was very expensive in Iceland, so the time wasn’t totally wasted. And before we knew it, we were touching down in Reykjavik. The sun was shining and it wasn’t unbearably cold, we couldn’t believe it! We’d been told that Icelandic people had been voted the friendliest in the world, and before long that was readily apparent. Some excitable and possibly slightly drunk locals ... read more

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada August 5th 2013

I love walking home from Spanish class. My teachers’ building is old, like everything in the Albayzin and the stairwell has the rich earthy smell of centuries of damp. The front door is heavy. There is dog shit dotted among the cobbles but I’m getting better at dodging it all. I wind onto Calle Teterias and the incense-seller with the big smile says hello like I am an old friend. I pass the woman who will draw henna on your hands, the man who will write your name in Arabic on pretty paper, past rows and rows of shops selling baggy pants, leather bags and trinkets. I pass the many teterias with their hookahs and silver pots of fragrant tea. I pass the Arabic supermarket that sells cheap tahini and fresh Moroccan bread. Just after this ... read more

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada May 24th 2013

The definition of the Spanish word ‘Granada’ is pomegranate. Throughout the city grow the twisted forms of the pomegranate tree, and pictures of the fruit are found on street signs, posters, bollards and every other available surface. When I first arrived, a friend from my hostel told me that she thought the city was called Granada because, like the fruit, it contained so much. Something sweet, juicy, surprising. And I think she was right. For the first week in Granada I stayed in the Makuto Guesthouse. I arrived bleary eyed from my 11hour overnight train from Barcelona and stumbled into a little paradise. Hammocks hang from every surface, the patio is brimming with flowering jasmine, and friendly staff and guests greet you from the tree-house which overlooks the patio or the chill-out room complete with guitars, ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London April 17th 2013

Everyone kept worriedly informing us that when the sun is out, Cornwall is really stunning. Following that they assured us that it had been sunny just a day or two ago. But it didn’t matter that it was raining and cold when we were there, it was beautiful anyway. I had met Dom, Maya and their friends Emma and Anna in Bristol and we drove the couple of hours to the coast! Emma lives in Cornwall so was kindly putting us up in her house. On the first night we went to a lovely restaurant nearby, with windows that looked out over the wild and rugged ocean. We huddled in our coats and felt cold just looking at it, well most of us. Dom decided that he felt like swimming in it instead. With the promise ... read more

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