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what to do in a 30 minute lunch break

By travelleranto 2013.09.16 in arnhem

I am stuck in an office 36 hours a week and generally don’t mind, because the location I work at is simply awesome: right next to one of the biggest city parks in The Netherlands, called Sonsbeek Park. If I wanted, I could walk to Hoge Veluwe National Park from there without leaving nature. It’s the biggest wilderness area in The Netherlands and it all starts right from where I work.

Whenever I can I get out and take a walk. Today I took the route westbound, to the Zypendaal castle and its estate. On the way over to the castle I noticed a blue heron, which always leaves me entertained. The way those animals follow and get to their prey is amazing!

heron

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Next up on my journey was the Zypendaal Castle. Built in 1762-1764 and very pretty. I am not sure if there’s still people living there but I sure would love to, in the middle of nature and quietness…

zypendaal

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The castle is usually my turnaround point, from where I return back to the office. The last part of the walk is the best. It leads you into the middle of the woods and makes you feel you are miles away from everything. The perfect way to energize and release stress. I am already looking forward to all the leaves coloring and the fall colors changing the landscape dramatically…

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And then, after half an hour, it’s time to return to the office. I’m slowly getting back into the world of cars and other people and the routine of being a working person. But a happy person because I got some fresh air, saw the beauty of nature in various ways and full of energy to dig into the next challenge work has to offer.

I am sorry about the poor picture quality, they were snapshots taken with my iPhone… I’m sure you’ll forgive me!

In the past I used to stay inside, not wanting to go out or to lazy to do something. Now I know how good it is to get out, get some fresh and reset your brain. To experience the beauty of nature and the peaceful trails that lead me to quiet places where it’s quiet and fresh. Tell me what you do during your lunchbreak! Do you get out and take a walk, or do you stay in and chat with colleagues? Or do you not take any break at all? I’m curious to hear!

 

My friends the rainpants

By travelleranto 2013.09.11 in Uncategorized

Last spring my beloved Bergans of Norway rainpants died, after having served me well for about 8 years. We became best friends and we traveled everywhere together, from the fiords of New Zealand to the glaciers of Alaska … we were best buddies.

After her passing to the world of dead rainpants, it was time to find a new best friend. I found her in the best outdoor store in the world, REI in Denver, before heading out on my one month US roadtrip. I picked a Marmot one this time, no specific reason for that, it just looked OK on me and not extra large like most other ones. She came out of my pack just once, when it started to rain while camping in Yellowstone NP. I didn’t bother taking off the pricetag however, for unknown reasons… maybe we weren’t ready for that next step in our relationship just yet.

We didn’t really have the chance to work on our friendship ever since, simply because I didn’t need her. Not in 3 whole months, meaning we’ve had a wonderful summer. Fall has started however and someone opened the gates up in the sky and it has been raining nonstop since yesterday. Time to invest in my new friendship. Time to take off the tag and getting to know each other. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, my dear new rainpants. I hope I won’t need you a lot though. I love my independance.

Sincerely yours, travelleranto

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Fave trails: The Routeburn Track (NZ)

By travelleranto 2013.09.10 in fave tracks

The question many people ask me when I tell them about my passion for hiking, is which trail is my favorite. This question is impossible for me to answer. Sure, I’ve been to some of the most stunning places in the world but that doesn’t mean that the hikes there are the most beautiful or spectacular. As I’ve already done my big trip this year (I spent a month in the US back in June) and will spend most of the upcoming months working at the office, I’ve decided to take you on a journey through a selection of my favorite hikes… ever!

Today I’ll share a very special hike with you, a 3 day track (or “tramp” as the Kiwi’s like to call it) called The Routeburn Track. It’s located on the Southern Island of New Zealand and crosses two national parks: Mount Aspiring and Fiordland. I walked this track back in December 2011 when I traveled through New Zealand for 6 weeks.

The Routeburn Track is one of the most popular in New Zealand and eventhough it may be crowded, you just have to forget about the other people and enjoy it. If you leave from the huts early and take long brakes, you may have the track for yourself many times.

I started the trail from the Queenstown end (I took a transfer there) and spent the first day hiking through the Routeburn Flats up to the Routeburn Hut. There were quite some dayhikers on the trail too, but many of them don’t make it all the way up. The first part of the trail is easy and follows the Routeburn River, a fast flowing and emerald green stream finding its way through deep narrows and along wide banks. After crossing the flats I ascended up to the Routeburn Falls and the DOC hut. The view from there is simply stunning:
routeburnflatsview
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Upon arrival at the hut I was shocked to hear that the previous days the track had been closed further up because of serious avalanche danger: people could opt to fly over with a helicopter (a pricy option) or go back instead. Going back was no option… not on this trail I had been looking forward to hiking for years. I decided to head out further up to see what the status was and the rangers working on the track told me that probably the next day the ledge would be opened again for hikers without danger.lakeharris1

So before going to bed that night, I crossed my fingers and the next morning the hut warden brought the good news that everyone could pass at their own convenience. The situation would be monitored by the rangers on the spot and they would tell us if it would be safe to cross the ice covered ledge. So on my way I went, to the beautifully situated Lake Harris and the Harris Saddle, the place where you actually walk from Mt. Aspiring NP into Fiordland NP. This latter one is well known to be one of the wettest places on earth and I was told that I’d spend at least one day in full rain on the Routeburn. Despite it was cloudy on the saddle, the sky cleared while descending a bit again and within moments I had a stunning view on the Serpentine Range and the Hollyford Valley down below. It definetely felt like being at the end of the world…

serpentinerange

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After a couple more hours of walking I saw that day’s final destination: Lake Mackenzie, a bright blue Alpine Lake down in the valley below. A great place to cool down, the water looked great but was in fact freezing… The second day ended with a really funny yet interesting hut warden talk about the surroundings of this beautifully located hut.

On my last day the only plan was to hike down to The Divide, where I’d be picked up and taken back to Queenstown. The hike was fairly easy and mostly downhill through an ancient rainforest. I passed the gorgeous Earland Falls, among the highest in New Zealand and also did a little side trip to Key Summit (a popular destination for day hikers). The hike ended at The Divide, where a bus picked me up and brought me back to reality and the world of people and shops. Along the way I met quite some trampers who extended their hike with the Greenstone or Caples Tracks, leaving me dreaming for more. 6 Weeks was clearly not enough. One day I will go back to this beautiful place that is nowadays also called Middle Earth…

earland

If you are interested in hiking the Routeburn Track too, it’s important to know that you have to book the huts early in advance as they tend to fill up fast. Check  the DOC site for more information and reservations. Although I thought I was not too early (beginning of December) there still was snow on the trail and it was officially closed the days before. So don’t go too early in the season. You will also need transfers to make it to the start and beginning of the trail.

As I said before, the Routeburn is among the most popular multi day tramps in New Zealand. Sure, you will meet other people and you won’t be alone most of the time, but never mind that. I realise I was extremely lucky to have 3 sunny days on the trail, I’ve heard of trampers who were unfortunate enough to have nothing but rain. I was lucky though and had one of the best tramps … ever!

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OK, I wasn’t entirely honest when saying I’ll be at the office most of the time. This weekend I’m going mountainbiking in Belgium, so keep an eye out for my next blog!

A Walk to Remember …

By travelleranto 2013.09.08 in arnhem

image (1)Although we don’t like big crowds and busy happenings, there’s one event we try to participate in when we get the chance: the annual Airborne March in Oosterbeek. It’s the biggest one day walking event in the world, just a 30 minute bicycle ride away from where we live. The march is organized each first Saturday in September, to memorialize the 1.750 Brittish and Polish soldiers wo died during the Battle of Arnhem during WWII.

As there are usually more than 30.000 walkers it’s a very busy happening but it’s always special to be a part of it. Not only because of the memories but also because of all the people who remember and the soldiers that participate. This year we saw groups from Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Germany and Great Britain.

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You can sign up to walk 10, 15, 25 or 40 km in order to get your medal, this year we did 25 km. The walk starts at the grounds behind the Airborne Museum, one of the best museums in The Netherlands that shows all about the Battle of Arnhem. It leads you past various important historical sites such as the Airborne Cemetery, drop and landing zones around Wolfheze, Renkum and Heelsum as well as various battle grounds.

Though the start of the walk is very crowded as the military groups usually march in step and musical bands accompany the walkers it is always a lot of fun. Among the walkers there are old people (I’ve seen those who are at least 80!), fast walkers and families with children and strollers so it’s impossible to walk your own pace. Further down where the routes split it gets less crowded and at some places you’re almost by yourself. Along the route there are children selling cookies and beverages for various good causes and people who have opened up their garages with private museums and collections about the war. It’s all very impressive and alive!

imageAs every year, we had our first break at the golf course in Heelsum at 13km which is one of the drop and landing sites. Our second stop is always at 21km at the Duno Estate, from where there’s a great overview of the Rhine and the land behind it. Despite the gloomy weather it was a spectacular happening once again and I was glad to participate.  The 25km were peanuts for us, although I did feel the soles of my feet the last hour since most of the walk is on asphalt. But that doesn’t matter and is nothing compared to those who perished on those grounds back in 1944. Despite the fact there will (unfortunately) always be wars and killings it’s important that we never forget and always remember … combining this with a walk for all ages is in my opinion the perfect way to celebrate freedom!

This blog was X-posted in we12travel as well. For more information about the Battle of Arnhem please go here.

My first Trail Run … ever!

By travelleranto 2013.09.02 in general update

Did you ever hear of trail running before? Well, I didn’t, at least not until a couple of months ago. Sure, I had heard about people running the Kepler Track in New Zealand in 5 hours (instead of the 3 days we took haha) and witnessed people running up the Ben Nevis instead of hiking up, but I never thought of it as something that would become popular rapidly in The Netherlands…foto (2)

In addition to the 3-4 weekly classes I attend at the gym I attempt to run. Somehow, running and I have never been great pals. I find it extremely boring and have a hard time motivating myself to go. But as it’s easy to do and helps getting in better shape, I’ve been trying. Just before going to the USA last June I injured my ankle and didn’t run for almost 3 months. Last Friday I tried again for the first time since May and once again I was so bored. The lap I do is pretty nice, along the Rhine and between the cows but just making the same movement on and on for 30 minutes is just not my thing and I am always so glad it’s over.

So while enjoying a glass of good wine with a friend last Saturday night and talking about running (she is extremely motivated) I decided to spice up my running routine and head out to the woods instead. It’s just a 15 minute drive and named one of the biggest “wilderness” areas in The Netherlands. foto (4)It’s called the Veluwe and has quite some elevation change, for Dutch standards, as well as plenty of trails that would be suitable for running. The Veluwe exists of 2 national parks, Veluwezoom and Hoge Veluwe. For the first one, where I went to, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee so it’s perfect for outdoor activities. OK, it’s nothing compared to the rest of the world but still, it’s better than living in the Dutch polders where there’s no hills or woods at all, just grassy lands and cows… like many other places in our country.

So on Sunday morning I got up early and while I got dressed in my running gear I couldn’t help but think “what the hell am I gonna do”… I picked a trail, decided it shouldn’t be too long because of the ankle and just went for it. And guess what … I loved it! While breathing in fresh air, hearing birds whistle their tunes and greeting foto (5)other early birds like they were my best friends, I enjoyed myself so much. Sure, it was exhausting (just a little) and it was way different with focussing and movements and I was out of breath within 5 minutes, but man, I felt soooo good afterwards. No more boring asphalt tracks and dragging myself out of the house, running at the Veluwe it is from now on! Shame it’s a 15 minute drive and I don’t have a car at my doorstep all the time, but maybe one day, when I feel up to it, I’ll cycle to the woods, run my track and cycle back.

Some might call it running in the woods. I prefer to call it trail running. It makes it sound more outdoor-ish … and if I am right, it will be the next big thing in The Netherlands and I can say I did it way before the trails get really crowded and trail running suddenly is THE thing to do (the Dutch are very sensitive for hypes, it seems like).

Next up … the Airborne Walk this weekend in Oosterbeek, the world’s biggest 1 day walking event. Not sure if I’ll do 25 or 40 km … will keep you posted!

Hello from Holland

By travelleranto 2013.08.30 in general update

Hurrah, I managed to create my profile on the right and to upload a userpic. Don’t ask me how much time it took me, because I am quite sure that you don’t want to know. But I didn’t ask for help (OK, just once) and searched on the internet like a freak for the right way to get it all done. It’s really interesting and there’s still a lot to learn for me on creating blogs and websites. But that’s OK because like in html, there’s also a lot to learn in the outdoors. About how to prepare for it, how to experience it and how to leave nothing but footprints, for example.

 

If you would like to learn more about the outdoors and me and follow my footsteps, then keep an eye out for more to come!

rockies

nice to meet you

My name is Antonette (Anto) and I’m a 30-something outdoor fan living in The Netherlands. Traveling is my passion (hence the username travelleranto) and I like to spend my journeys the active way, mostly by hiking and camping.

If I’m not on the way, I work as a product manager for a Dutch tour operator specialized in natural destinations, such as Alaska, Argentina and Iceland. When not in the outdoors or behind an office desk, I enjoy writing (for my own site but also some Dutch websites), photography and reading.

website:we12travel
twitter: travelleranto
facebook:we12travel

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