Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The dream of flying

Being an aquarius, it isn't hard to guess what i love most: my freedom. But it is often hard to shake off difficulties at work, personal struggles, financial struggles, anything that is running wild in your mind. Easy to guess why flying caught my interest - there is no greater feeling of freedom and nothing that can make you "let go" more easily. Although I have always enjoyed flying (in a big passenger plane that is, mostly Ryanair..ugh!) and anything regarding aviation it only hit me few years ago. I was reading a book called "Dance with wings" by Amelia Carr about a woman pilot and the story of her life as a pilot and her love during a time of war - i can only recommend reading it, it's such an amazing captivate story about a very strong woman. That's when I really started getting the idea of informing myself : what does it take to become a pilot? One of the first things I found out is that first of all it takes a minimum of 10000 €. Which frankly speaking, I don't have. Since then the whole idea was but in the back of my mind. A year later i met the step father of my step dad (ya i know ), who has been a glider pilot all his life. Whenever we get together now the whole family sighs, mentally waves us goodbye and says "later guys" since they know we will spend the rest of the day talking planes no matter what is happening around us. I find myself more interested in motor planes and not glider planes (although it would be the cheaper option). Personally i find myself flirting with Cessna's and Piper's a lot more. It was this year that i started realizing fulfilling this dream is inevitable for me in my life. I have different goals than other people. I don't save money for a brand new car, for a house or for furniture. I don't see myself with children, I never have - I have chosen another life. I only ever saved money for journeys . So this is the first time I am actually dedicated on saving my money for something else and not a journey - yes, I want to get my pilot license. Yes, it will probably take years until i have saved up all that money that i need but i have a strong will and belief. The whole idea was sealed when i took my grandmother on a plane this year. She always mentioned how she was sad that one thing she never did in her life - flying. I kept that in the back of my mind and last christmas i gave her - not my heart, she always had that, but a flight voucher for a sight seeing flight over Leipzig on a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. I am super glad to say - she bloody loved it. The weather was great, blue sky and sun, mild, hardly any wind. We actually killed two (three) birds with one stone. We took my step mum on board who has never had a flight in her life either and me - well i got to sit in the front and interviewed the pilot about what he does and about how to achieve the license. About the money factor he just laughed and said "Well some people buy a new car, others make their dream come true and get their pilot license!" I looked out of the front window, placed my hands on the yoke and i knew. If you need more reasons on why to become a private pilot, check the pictures below.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Discovering the Baltic states - Latvia and Lithuania

Why go there? Well this was kind of an odd one. Let me sum up how the decision was made:

Me: I want to go somewhere over easter, maybe Rome.

Friend 1: but we have both been to Rome. Why not Morocco?

Me: I don't want to go there.

Friend 1: Ok how about Scandinavia?

Me: My bank account says no. Wait a minute. There is that other "North Europe" too...

Friend 1: Great

Friend 2: I want to come with you!

Friend 3: Hi guys, just letting you know, I booked my flight to Riga, I'm coming with you.

That's pretty much exactly how it went. Two months later we landed in Riga and fell in love with the city. We felt at home. Everything was nice, people were friendly and things were CHEAP. I mean CHEAP CHEAP. Cheap as in 3,99€ for a proper meal or 1 € for a drink or dessert or like 60 € for our rental car that we hired fully insured for six days. As a German, that's like paradise. Combine that with the excitement of a discovering two countries you never really heard about because "nobody goes there" (why??? Change your mind people, both countries are super interesting!) and you get a great trip. Speaking about food - amazing. Go for restaurants that serve national cuisine because you will totally fall for bread juice, filled dumplings and red beet soup. Sigh...

I only spend two days in Riga so i can't say too much about what to see and where to go but do check out the lovely city centre , the riverbanks in sunshine and at night time too - it's great.

The second day we drove down to Lithuania. Driving in the baltic states is fun. It seems the only rule that reigns here is "there is no rule". Completely normal to make way for other cars on a two lane road by driving on the emergency lane. Well if a car is suddenly coming your way like a ghost driver because he is overtaking someone - that's exactly what is expected from you - make way! But everyone looks out for each other, it's cute. Really.

Vilnius was nice. The old town convinced us even more than Riga did, yet we prefered Riga's "small town charme". When in Vilnius , do take the walk up to the tower - you get rewarded with a brilliant view.

What i enjoyed even more than the city was the small places like Trakai castle near Vilnius or the famous hill of crosses ( great energy at this place) . My favourite however was the Curonian Spit. We went there by ferry ( 14 euro for a car and 4 people return ) and drove down to Nida. The dunes will make you think you are in Egypt. Such a breathtaking landscape! The Curionian Spit has a border. Basically half of it is Russian land, the other half Lithuanian. Don't go to the border without a Visa. Seriously, don't even try. We tried - it was a bad experience. If you want to get the experience of being 2 feet into Russia then expect to get shouted at by a furious Russian officer.

I seriously hope more people will want to discover these countries. They deserve the tourism and are totally underrated . What are you waiting for?