Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wwoofing, HelpX and Workcamps - short term volunteering

After I already wrote an article about opportunities for long term volunteering, I want to show you some examples and possibilities for short term volunteering today.S o if you have only a few weeks, but want to do something, this might be perfect for you.

WWOOF stands for world wide working on organic farms. So basically, the idea is that people work for 5 to 7 hours a day 4 to 5 days a week on an organic farm and get free food and accommodation in exchange. It is a great way to learn new skills, have fun, learn the language and get in contact with local people. Sometimes you will be the only wwoofer who stays with the family, sometimes there will be other volunteers as well. It is easy how it works: you just have to sign up for the country you want to go, which costs about 20 euro for a year. Then you get a list of farms with a short description and contact details. So your task is to write them a nice mail, telling when and why you want to stay at their farm etc. You can arrange everything individually with them e.g. length of stay, working hours, tasks...

Official website with links to every country 

HELPX works similar than wwoof, but you can find a lot more different things you can work on. It is not for farms, but also for homestays or working as a nanny. More information you can find here

WORKCAMPS are a bit different from wwoofing and helpX. You can choose a certain project and go there to volunteer for a few weeks togteher with other volunteers from different countries . Mostly you have to pay around 150 Euro to the Organisation, and then a bit for food and accomodation. I did it in Serbia in 2011 and had to pay 15 urp for 2 weeks. So praktically nothing. 
For more information:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ireland 2010 - the first time backpacking

Maria and me as typical tourists
I am in love with Ireland as long as I remember. The green, the music, the pubs, the Irish accent...all this makes me feel like home. I don't know why, it is just there. So I decided to travel to Ireland for 3 month after I finished school in summer 2010. The plan was a mix between travelling and wwoofing (world wide working on organic farms, I will write a separate article about that later). My first problem was, that none of my friends wanted to come with me, not even for a couple of weeks and I was too insecure to travel around on my own at this time. So I started to look for a potential travel partner on the internet. After a few weeks, I "met" Maria. We had approximately the same ideas of travelling around: we didn't want to make too many plans in advance, wanted to travel on a low budget, meeting people etc.
Finally, we both booked our flights and met at Dublin airport on the 14th July. I was excited and a bit nervous, because I never met her before and didn't know how we would getting on with each other. But everything worked and I'd say we became really good friends.
We had only booked a hostel for the first 3 nights in Dublin, everything else we wanted to do spontaneously. We had also booked a bus ticket for traveling for 3 weeks on every Bus Eireann bus "for free"  and had a rough idea where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see.

Ring of Kerry

Hiking in Connemara National Park
For three weeks we traveled together around Ireland, taking the bus from one place to the next and stayed in hostels most of the time (only once we booked a B&B). One of the best things to do in Ireland is, of course, go into a pub,drink a Guinness and listen to good Irish life music. We met an unbelievable lot of people there, locals and other travelers, and talking to them and having a pint together is something you can only find in Ireland. After three weeks, Maria had to go home to Germany, and I was on my own. Before I left Germany, i had already contact to two farm where I wanted to work for a few weeks. One was in County Sligo and the other one in County Meath, just 1 hour north of Dublin. 
I arrived on the first farm, and was really pleased: I had my own room and the people (a couple in his 50ties) seemed to be really nice. They had a few sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, a dog, a cat, and the best: 4 horses. The work I did on the farm was mainly "boys" work: helping to build a trailer, driving the tractor and the quad, fixing fences,...but I also had to feed the animals and I could go for a ride every evening. As I have a horse home myself, I really enjoyed it. One of the highlights on this farm was visiting a sheep mart and a horse show.
The place I stayed near Drogheda
After 2 weeks, I was finished on this farm and started to work on a smallholding near Drogheda. My host picked me up from the bus station, and we arrived after a half an hour drive. I was surprised when we arrived; that was amazing. A big house with an even bigger garden and I had my own flat in the house with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room! I hardly couldn't believe it. I spent 3 awesome weeks with so nice people there, that I decided to stay for even 3 more weeks. My main tasks were feeding the animals (they had pigs, chicken, horses,dogs and cats). After 3 month of traveling and working, I had to go back to Germany. I was so sad to leave, and I will never forget all the people I met on this trip. I am still friends with some of them, and now, as I am back in Ireland for 9 month, I couldn't be more happy. But this is another story...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chili: Tips and tricks

Chile is one of the richest countries in South America, the economy is growing. Maybe I write more about Chili's history, economy etc. later, but first of all, I want to provide tips and tricks regarding travelling in Chili. It has been more than 4 years since I was there, but I hope it hasn't changed so much. Nevertheless, I can tell you more about other countries, as I didn't travel around on my own in Chili. But maybe you still can find the one or other helpful thing here.

Getting there: There are several flight connections from Europe, my flight was with LAN Chile via Madrid, but there are also connections with Iberia and Lufthansa. I can highly recommend LAN, the flight was pretty comfortable.

Arriving to Chili: I can't really say a lot about it, as we were picked up from the airport. But the formalities were cleared fast and without any problems. Just make sure not to bring any forbidden food, as they have dogs and it could bring you in real trouble.

Transport: The best thing for getting around Chili, is taking a bus. There are a lot of different companies and classes. All in all buses are very cheap, I remember paying about 10 Euro for 5 hour bus drive in  middle class bus. Tickets can be bought directly at bus stations and connections are really good, even for long distance travels. Traveling overnight shouldn't be a problem and I consider it as pretty safe.

Food: You definitely have to try Empanadas. The best ones you can get in small street shops. There is a variety of fillings, from cheese to mice meat or fish. If you like sweet things, Churros is the food for you. They are filled with Manjar, a special kind of caramel and are just delicious. If you have the possibility to attend a typical Chilean BBQ, it will be an unforgettable experience.

Drinks: Pisco Sour is the most famous Chilean drink, but why not also try a Piscola? It is a Longdrink made of Pisco and Coke and very popular among young people.

Party: If you like parties, try to go to a Chilean disco. Reggaeton is the main music there, and people love to dance. The feeling and atmosphere is completely different than in European discos.

My Highlights 

Valle de la Luna
San Pedro de Atacama
BBQs with my host families
"O.C. Californa" Parties
Empanadas, Churros, Manjar Cakes and Piscola ;)

In San Pedro de Atacama

Chile ist eines der reichsten Laender Suedamerikas, die Wirtschaft waechst kontinuierlich.Vielleicht schreibe ich noch einen Artikel zur Geschichte, Wirtschaft und Politik Chiles, aber zuerst soll es mal um das Reisen im Land gehen. Es ist schon mehr asl 4 Jahre her seit ich da war, vermutlich hat sich aber nicht allzu viel veraendert. Ausserdem war ich nicht wirklich als backpacker unterwegs. Trotzdem hoffe ich, dass der ein oder andere hier einen nuetzlichen Tipp findet.

Flugverbindungen: Von Europa aus gibt es verschiedene Moeglichkeiten nach Chile zu fliegen. Mein Flug ging mit LAN Chile ueber Madrid, aber auch Iberia und Lufthansa fliegen nach Santiago. Meiner Meinung nach ist LAN Chile zu empfehlen, der Flug war sehr angenehm.

Transport: Innerhalb Chiles bewegt man sich am besten mit Bussen fort. Es gibt etliche Busfirmen und verschiedene Klassen (von einfachen "normalen" Bussen bis hin zu ueberaus luxurioesen Modellen). Im grossen und ganzen sind Reisen mit dem Bus sehr billig, ich habe fuer eine 5 Stunden lange Fahrt ca. 10 Euro bezahlt.Tickets koennen direkt an Busbahnhoefen gekauft werden und die Verbindungen sind ausgeprochen gut, auch fuer lange Distanzen. Uebernachtfahrten halte ich fuer relativ sicher und sie sind gerande fuer lange Distanzen angenehm.

Essen: Meine Lieblingsgerichte in Chile waren Empanadas, es gibt sie mit vielen verschiedenen Fuellungen, von Kaese ueber Hackfleisch und Fisch. Fuer alle, die suesses moegen, sind Churros zu empfehlen. Gefuellt werden sie mit Manjar, einer speziellen Art von Caramel und sind einfach nur unglaublich lecker. Wer die Moeglichkeit hat, an einem typischen chilenischen Barbecue teilzunehmen, sollte sich das auf keinen Fall entgehen lassen :-)

Trinken: Das wohl beruehmteste chilenische Getraenk ist Pisco Sour. Typisch, vor allem unter jungen Leuten, ist aber auch Piscola. Hierbei handelt es sich um einen Longdrink bestehend aus Pisco und Cola.

Partys: Alle Feierlustigen werden in Chile voll und ganz auf ihre Kosten kommen. In typischen Discos wird hauptsaechlich Reggaeton gespielt, und die Leute lieben es zu tanzen. Die Atmosphaer in solchen Discos ist komplett anders als die in deutschen Diskotheken.

Meine Highlights in Chile waren:
Valle de la Luna
San Pedro de Atacama
Grillfeste mit meiner Gastfamilie
"O.C. California" Partys
Empanadas, Churros, Manjarkuchen und Piscola :-)