The Ganga River in Rishikesh

Why My Love Affair With Rishikesh India is Over

All my life I’ve had a terrible pattern of falling in love with the wrong people, people that weren’t a good match for me. In the beginning of the relationship I’m overcome with a sudden burst of intense chemistry, and then I spend years, or even decades, trying to make it work. Now I realize that I did the same thing with Rishikesh India. At first I was attracted to her picturesque beauty, exotic charm, clean air, and the mighty Mother Ganga. But like any new relationship, the once rose colored glasses have turned dark. Now that the new relationship energy is over, I’ve begun to see obvious red-flags that I missed before.

I came back to Rishikesh for one main reason, to decide if I wanted to move here. All of the yoga, spiritual classes, Ayurveda, and recreation are very alluring. Plus, it’s cheap here, really cheap! I could probably live in Rishikesh comfortably on $500 a month. Unfortunately I’ve decided that inexpensive living is not enough for me. After a month in Rishikesh the clear answer is no. I can’t live here. These are the reasons why my love affair with Rishikesh, India is over.

Air Pollution

 

The first time I came to Rishikesh, in early 2016, I cried tears of joy when I saw the brilliant blue sky. Keep in mind that I had just left New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities on the planet. I hadn’t seen a shade of blue in the sky for months. The pollution in Delhi was so bad that on most days I could stare directly at the sun because it appeared blurry and orange through the grey dense smog. Rishikesh is in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains and she looked shiny and new to me compared to Delhi, a good 7 hour drive away.

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Sunset on the Ganga River

What’s all This Spiritual Stuff Going on in Rishikesh, India?

The first few time I visited Rishikesh I was astounded by all the usual tourist activities, such as white water rafting on the Ganga River, trekking through the Himalaya mountains, and shopping for exotic handicrafts. Then, last year around this time I took a 200 hour yoga teaching training course and learned that Rishikesh has…

Neer Gaddu Waterfall (level 2)

The Tranquility of Neer Gaddu Waterfall in Rishikesh

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya, Mountains, on the banks of what the Indian people call “Mother Ganga”, is the city of Rishikesh, India. Rishikesh, is a trekkers dream. It doesn’t matter if you want an easy stroll along the Ganges, or a hardcore excursion straight up a mountain side, because there’s something for everyone. One of my favorite places to pass a lazy afternoon is at Neer Gaddu Waterfall, which is a simple 30 minute trek. Here is how to find and enjoy the tranquility of Neer Gaddu Waterfall.

How to Get There

 

Only about 6 kilometers east of the Topovan area of Rishikesh is one of the many precious gems of the Himalayas. You can easily access the falls by car, scooter, motorcycle, or by trekking from the main road. Before you head up the gravel path though you’ll need to buy an entrance ticket from the little shop down on the paved road. The fee is about 20 INR for Indians and 50 INR for foreigners. The Indian people always charge foreigners more, so don’t be surprised. It’s just the way it is. You may be asked for your entrance ticket or you might not, but I wouldn’t risk it.

Teide National Park in Spain

My Incredible Day Trekking in Teide National Park, Tenerife Island Spain

Driving through the park entry the landscape suddenly changed, from rolling brown dessert to giant rock formations and lava rock. It looked kind of like mars. In fact, Austin told me that NASA often practices handling their rovers in the park. It looked mystifying and beautiful, like Arches, Zion, and Sedona all rolled into one marvelous place. It was hard to believe I was about to go trekking in Teide National Park, on the Island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands of Spain.

The Park

Mount Teide towers at an incredible 12,200 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in all of Spain. Driving to the national park was full of interesting surprises; from the sunny south coast to pine trees and mossy forest, the geography changes suddenly. The park itself lies at around 6,562 feet and is usually covered in snow during the winter months. Temperatures vary throughout the year from below freezing to 104 degree.

Tenerife Spain

Tenerife: A Crown Jewel of Spain’s Canary Islands

Many people have never heard of the Canary Islands. In fact, Americans rarely visit them. It’s a popular destination for Europeans, but to most of the world the stunning Canary Islands, just off the coast of Morocco, remain a mystery. The island of Tenerife is a geographic wonderland, much like the island of Kauai. In fact, they even share a similar climate. From thick lush forest to lava rock filled desert, it’s a recreational wonderland and a feast for the senses. Tenerife is a stunning crown jewel of Spain’s Canary Islands.

Hiking and Biking

 

The choices for hiking on Tenerife go on forever. You can choose from a nice short walk along the coast to one of the island’s beautiful lighthouses, or a vigorous hike to the top of one of the many mountains. Mount Teide is an old volcano and towers above the island at 12,198 feet. So from mountain climbing to meandering walks along the coastline, there are plenty of options. The same goes for mount biking. Want to kick your recreation up a notch? Fly down one of Tenerife’s many mountains on two wheels!

Puerto Venere Italy

The Beautiful Trifecta of Lucca, Florence, and Puerto Venere Italy

Looking out over the aqua blue water of the Ligurian Sea, while standing in the ruins of an ancient castle, took my breath away and made me feel insignificant. Nothing can compare to the glorious feats of mother nature and the Roman empire. I was surprised at the gorgeous diversity of the landscape of Italy. Within just an hour or two of Florence is the Ligurian Sea, the majestic Alps, and the beloved wine region of Tuscany. I’ll always cherish the beautiful trifecta of Lucca, Florence, and Puerto Venere Italy.

Lucca

 

Lucca is best known for its giant wall that is five kilometers long, about 20 something feet tall, and more than 20 feet thick, and surrounds the oldest part of the town. The wall was built by the Romans to protect its occupants from invasion but it still stands proudly today. Tourists and residents alike enjoy walking, biking, and jogging along the wall. Alongside it are great restaurants, food vendors, shops, and a vast variety of fascinating sculptures. The wall really is the heart of the city.

Sunset in Tuscany Italy

How Drunk did I get on My Wine Tasting Tour in Chianti Tuscany Italy?

I always thought chianti was a style or type of vino. Boy was I ignorant. Chianti is actually a region found in Tuscany Italy. So, you can even get white chianti. I learned all kinds of interesting things on my wine tasting tour, like you can buy a $70 bottle of balsamic vinegar, and that it’s pretty hard to hold a yoga pose when you’re a little drunk from all that wine. It was an incredible autumn day in Chianti Tuscany, and it was full of fun, fascinating facts, and new friendships.

Getting Around

The day wasn’t perfect. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the lack of organization surrounding the transport of guests was pretty shocking. It was kind of similar to my experience at the Rolling Stones concert in Lucca. It was a great event with lack luster planning. I can’t recommend to anyone using My Tours or GetYourGuide. The shuttle on the way out was 45 minutes late, and the shuttle at the end of the tour was over an hour late. I’ve been told that is just what you should expect as “Italian time”, but really? At the end of the tour, I had to call and pester the guide service to actually do what they had promised, shuttle me and some new friends back to our originating town. It was a real buzz kill, quite literally!

The view from Sassi Itlay

A Most Delightful Weekend in a 250 Year Old Home in Sassi, Italy

When my Italian friend and host suggested we go to Sassi for the weekend, I agreed, but I had no idea what, or even where, it was. Next thing I know we are headed out of Lucca and towards the mountains of northern Italy. Before long we are zooming along steep switchbacks, away from the city, enjoying the changing colors of autumn and the view of the valley below. Finally, we enter the most charming little historical village and stop in front of a giant red home, made of stones and concrete. To my right the Alps are towering in the distance and an ancient castle sits high on a hill. It was like like a view from a postcard. Staying in a 250 year old home, enjoying the astounding view, and mushroom hunting in the forest were all remarkable, and made for a most delightful weekend in Sassi Italy.

The Historical Home

 

Paolo Pocai’s family has owned the old homestead for generations. The front part of the home was built in 1770 and there is still an old brass plate above the door with the date on it. As if that isn’t remarkable enough, the back part of the building was a 15th century tower and still contains some of the ancient doors and the original circular stone staircase. The home contains some of the most beautiful antique furniture and chandeliers I have ever seen! It’s hard to guess how big the “house” is, as some rooms in the basement have never been completed, but I would estimate that it was well over 4,000 feet, which seems to be about normal for summer homes in the country in Italy. I helped Paolo prepare the home for winter as he doesn’t go there much anymore in the off season.

The view overlooking Biella, Italy

My Experience with Permaculture and Compost Toilets Near Biella Italy

My lifestyle as a travel blogger is rarely full of glamour and luxury like most people think. The past week has been a good example of that. I spent the days working my butt off for a family running a Permaculture retreat and education center in the mountains near Biella Italy.  Compost toilets, not-so-hot hot…

Omegna Italy on the banks of Lake Orta

Hiking, Swimming, and Shopping Around Lake Orta in Omegna Italy

The retreat center I’m staying at has an incredible view overlooking Lake Orta, and since I’ve been staring at it from a distance for the past week, I figured it was time to see up close. I, and my two friends Liza and Chi, decided to hike down to the town of Omegna, which is situated on the northwestern most point of Lake Orta. We filled our day packs with snacks and our swimming suits, and set off for a fun day of hiking, swimming, and shopping around Lake Orta, in beautiful Omegna Italy.

Hiking

 

 

There are a total of eight hikes in the  surrounding areas of Lake Orta. They range in difficulty level and duration. We were actually staying in the mountains, near the tiny village of Quarna Sopra, located about 50 miles from the Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy. Fortunately, one of the hikes starts at the back gate of the resort. From there it was all downhill, on a cobblestone path cutting through the forest. Half way down we came upon a charming little church, built about 200 years ago. Out front there was a fountain with fresh spring water where thirsty hikers can fill their water bottles. It took us about an hour to make it down to the town.