Posts Tagged With: Atlantic Ocean

Playful Dolphins Come In Waves Off The Coast of Portugal

dolphin

I’ve done my share of whale watching tours.

Unless you own a boat or have friends who own a boat, your options are limited to get out on the open ocean to see these magnificent mammals in their natural environment.

But let’s be honest. Like me, you could probably do without being loaded like cattle onto a boat where you will spend the next two hours with new parents struggling with strollers, youngsters wildly running

 about the ship’s deck, messy food in their little hands, with minimal supervision, rowdy, half-drunk 20-somethings still drinking the beers they sneaked aboard; loud, obnoxious teenagers trying to one-up each other with foolish antics; iPad-toting seniors baffled by the technology and trying to figure out how to take pictures with the device yet blocking others from the best shots. So it is.

I try to go it alone whenever and wherever I can, but crowds often come with the travel turf. You just have to bring your patience.

With Zuka, the dolphin-spotting Portuguese water dog, aboard the Days Of Adventure

With Zuka, the dolphin-spotting Portuguese water dog, aboard the Days Of Adventure

An opportunity came my way to see dolphins outside of an aquarium and although the chosen tour company stated emphatically that there were no guarantees, they also stressed that the chances of seeing dolphins were good to excellent.

So off we went.

From Lagos, Portugal, I took the boat to see common dolphins on the vast Atlantic Ocean.

I was not disappointed.

Less than an hour out to sea, we – or should I say, Zuka the dolphin-spotting Portuguese water dog aboard – spotted countless dolphins feeding. (He barks in the direction of the pod to alert the boat crew).

Soon we were surrounded by dolphins. Like pets, the dolphins came to us, curious creatures that they are, some taking advantage of the boat’s wake to surf. They apparently love the waves.

Others swam right alongside the boat or darted under. In pairs, they seemed to be dancing with each other, happy and free.

Each time the boat picked up speed to leave, the dolphins also stepped up their pace and swam faster to keep up with the boat.

They seemed as curious about us as we were about them and also appeared to enjoy the visit just as much as us humans enjoyed seeing them.

 Out of Lagos, dozens of tour companies offer dolphin and whale watching tours. The two-hour tours include a cruise along the coastal cliffs, but the boats are too large to actually go inside. For that you have to hire smaller vessels, which charge between 10 and 15 euros. Prices for the dolphin tours vary and also depend on the season. Still, they are worthwhile.

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Sometimes No Planning Leads To Nice Surprises

 

Runners in the Krakow Marathon run "for Sparta!"

Runners in the Krakow Marathon run “for Sparta!”

 

It takes a certain amount of planning to have a fun vacation, but you can have just as much fun, and discover much more, by not doing much planning beyond arranging transportation to get there.  Lately, I’ve been doing very little in the way of reserving transportation or a place to stay. I decide – often last-minute – where I want to go and just get up and go. When I get there, I walk around the city or town,  do a bit of consultation with locals on the street, and decide from there where to stay. It doesn’t always work out in my favor, but more often than not it does, either in the way of meeting new people right off the street or finding a great bargain recommended by a local.

For Sparta!!!

For Sparta!!!

When I travel this way, I take into account the city, the season and the time of day I will arrive. I would not suggest you go to Paris or New York in spring, for instance, without a place to stay already pre-arranged. You just might end up sleeping at the bus terminal or overpaying for a hotel walking  in cold. If you are not an experienced  and resourceful traveler, book everything in advance. You  have been warned. 🙂

I’ve come close to sleeping on a park bench, but it so far has not happened. I am pretty resourceful and not shy about approaching strangers. I love talking to strangers, in fact. Usually, in case of emergency, I travel with a tent. Twice I used it – pitched it out in the woods in Argentina right next to a lake and it was amazing waking up alone in the woods, with just the sound of birds chirping and fish jumping. And rustlings by curious wildlife in the middle of the night. Sleeping out in the woods alone is not for the cowardly. 🙂

On royal grounds in Vienna!

On royal grounds in Vienna!

I also used it once in Colombia. There I slept on a sandy beach. But I was not alone. Other “campers” were nearby. But it was beautiful waking up with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, waves lapping and ships in the distance. Took a morning swim. It was nice.  kra3

Opening night of bar in ruins of vacant building in Budapest. With Irene of Milan, Italy.

Opening night of bar in ruins of vacant building in Budapest. With Irene of Milan, Italy.

A few days ago, I made one of those last-minute decisions to travel from Poland to some other place in Europe. I wasn’t sure where to go, but I intended to hitchhike, meaning no need to book flights, trains or buses to get there. I would simply decide in which direction I wished to travel, find a good spot to hitchhike and go. I love and I loathe hitchhiking. I have to be in the mood to do it, because sometimes it can take hours before someone offers a ride. On a good day, it’s a matter of minutes. When it happens quickly, it’s great. You often meet interesting people along the way all while traveling free. A word about hitchhiking: Do as much research about the dos and don’ts before you try it, especially if you are traveling alone and especially if you are woman. It is no accident women get ride offers almost instantly from men. They are just being men interested in the opposite sex. There are many things you can do to stay safe, but again, you have to do your own research.

Running waiter

Running waiter

When I decided to go, my roommate stepped up and said he, too, wanted to take a trip and that he would drive his car. That took care of the need to hitchhike. After changing our plans a few times, we decided to head south to Krakow, Poland, then to Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and finally back to Poland.

Hope his prayers were answered and he finished the race

Hope his prayers were answered and he finished the race

Doing minimal planning can produce some amount of stress if you are easily rattled by your circumstances. We decided to couch surf but oftentimes we did not land a couch until the very last minute. If you are the type of person who freaks out when every little thing seems to be going wrong, this sort of travel is not for you. And if you are traveling with someone who gets a panic attack because you don’t have a place to stay come nightfall, well, at the next stop ditch them and travel alone. Or don’t travel with them again – ever! 🙂

On the border with Slovakia, arrived Hungary!

On the border with Slovakia, arrived Hungary!

The cool thing about deciding last-minute, we encountered some cool events in some of the cities we visited. In Krakow, there was the Krakow Marathon. In Budapest, the Red Bull airshow and opening night of a very cool bar. And all along the way, meeting new and interesting people who took us to some cool places.

We found the Trololo guy in Krakow :)

Mateusz and I found the Trololo guy in Krakow 🙂

The idea behind this type of travel is not to be stressed over schedules, check-ins and check-outs. Just to relax and enjoy the time. And if you don’t see everything there is to see, so what?

Mateusz loading up in Vienna

Mateusz loading up in Vienna

 

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