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Ilha Grande: Jungle Jail

Ilha Grande is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to. When you arrive to this 150 km long island between Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, you first keep wondering how they managed to preserve it so wild and untouched. There are no streets, no cars and no cash machines on the entire island. Well, the reason lies in it´s dark history. For almost a century Ilha Grande was closed by the Brazilian goverment because it housed a leper colony and after a top-security jail with some of the most dangerous prisoners within the Brazilian penal system. The jail was closed in 1994 but the island still looks like an unexplored piece of jungle – except the main village Vila do Abraão (approximately 1900 inhabitants), where you can find some bars, shops and affordable places to spend a night. Ironically, everything was booked out in the village at the time we were travelling. We still wanted to stay some days on the island, so we picked the last remaining pousada for nearly 300 euros/per night. First pretty grumpy about the price, by arrival we realized that it was probably the best forced decision ever.
P1210629P1210669How to arrive? There is a bus departing every two hours from Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis (160 km, ticket aprox. 15 euros), then you take a ferry to Ilha Grande (1h, ticket aprox. 5 euros). Make sure to check the ferry hours before you go, it’s only operating in the mornings and in the evenings. P1220417P1210844We arrived in the main village where we were picked up by a smaller boat and it took us another half an hour to come to our pousada Atlantica Jungle Lodge. As we were approaching it, I could barely believe my eyes. A house in the middle of the jungle with only 3 rooms, a private beach and a lady preparing the catch of the day just for us. The rooms were beautiful but simple and I loved the smell of the sheets (I am crazy about fresh white sheets).P1210802P1210699P1210812 KopieP1210714P1210709P1210737P1210742P1210738We were having grilled fish and an octopus with a view to a floating bar, which also belonged to the pousada. You had to either swim or puddle to have a drink over there but it was not an option for me after finishing all these beans alone…P1220332P1220405P1220366In case you are asking yourself why I look so weird: This picture has a special story. Before my trip to Brazil friends kept telling me not to take jewellery and nice clothes with me – just some pants and old tshirts. Girls, now I will tell you one thing: It’s a trap! When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, you really could tell I was a tourist, because all the Brazilian ladies were so dressed up – even at the beach. So I told my boyfriend I was not leaving the hotel room untill we went shopping. On Ilha Grande I finally had the right outfit on, but unfortunately nobody was there watching. Well, at least we took this picture haha.P1220413P1220300From our pousada you could hike to the famous Lopes Mendes beach (picture above), which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. I liked our little private beach so much more to be honest, but still: It’s a nice hike through the jungle and you meet some apes and some bats on your way. P1220255P1210771P1220240P1210848If you are staying on the island just for a short period time a full day boat trip (aprox. 50 euros/per person) would be a perfect way to explore the most beautiful beaches of Ilha Grande. We shared our boat with a group of Columbian guys who brought some Pisco – so you can imagine the fun we had! P1210877P1210866P1220010 KopieP1220150P1220027P1220140At some point we ran out of Pisco. We were lucky the whole island was surrounded by floating bars though. P1220177P1220211P1220182P1220217P1220076P1220104P1220063This is the most famous palm tree of Ilha Grande and the pefect proof that it’s never too late to change your mind and go up! I would have loved to stay at least one week longer…P1220125P1220113 KopieP1220425

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Alone at Robinson Club Maldives

Friends often ask me if I´m still nervous when I´m travelling or if it has already become a routine. I AM nervous every single minute and I think it is one of the most important things about travelling. And if I´m not excited enough I just go and get 3 coffees and my heart´s bumping again. Easy like that. Well this time I was extra nervous without having a single coffee. I was travelling alone for the first time. To a tiny island where everybody comes with it’s favorite company. There are also a couple of families and singles staying at the Robinson Club Maldives, but most of the guests are honeymooners. Or at least people who aim to kiss the whole day. I was not that sad about (not) kissing, it was more like: “Ok, who is gonna take the typical Inna posing pictures then?” (at least I´m honest). And you know what: I never had so many posing pictures like after staying a couple of days at THIS place!P1910683P1910667P1920389P1910672P1920416P1920148P1920414P1920364P1920404P1910660You have a choice of either staying at the water bungalow (with a glass bottom near your bed, a huge terrace and some stairs right into the water) or – if you prefer sand on your feet- a beach or a garden bungalow. I have some pictures of a beach bungalow on my last post.P1910636P1910687P1910713P1910982P1910992P1920004First day was all about exploring the island. Our island Funamadua was only 450×240 m and you could walk around it in 20 minutes. When thinking about the Maldives I always had these amazing pictures from above on my mind: just an island, some water bungalows and nothing around it. So I prefered flying around it with a parasail fixed on a boat for the first impression. It´s really a good way to take some pictures to show off. Make sure you are flying between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a clear day, otherwise the colours won´t look that bright.DSCN0427P1910776DSCN0452P1910898P1910948P1910804P1910921P1910874Another cool thing about flying over the island was the only possibility to get to see the 240 sqm presidential suite at the end of the water bungalows. Hey there, can I land in your pool?P1910700The restaurant always offered a huge international buffet but they also had a local corner with a maledivian cook explaining you what it is and how to prepare it. The Robinson island has it´s own vegetable and herbs garden, a bakery and they produce drinking water by filtering the water from the Indian Ocean (so the food container only has to come once in two weeks). This is how they manage to save 400.000 plastic bottles per year. I don´t want to sound like a teacher, but these things are important since every island of the Maldives is located only one meter about the sea level and it keeps rising every year. Once a week the crew shows you around and explains how the island “works”, in case you are interested….P1910325P1920303P1910340P1910431If you are staying at the beach bungalow, you always have a little beach just for yourself. No building on an island is allowed to be higher than the highest palm. You can find the fruits everywhere in the sand.P1920360P1910516P1920173P1920158P1920199After only a single day I felt like a biologist knowing every tree and every flower (and every hammock!!!) on this island. And always meeting some new people during my expedition.P1920436P1920441P1920049There are two perfect places to enjoy the sunset on the Robinson island. The first one you see on this picture, the second one by the end of the post.P1920056P1910492P1920077P1910258P1910525P1910609P1910600P1910531I was lucky enough to arrive at the day of the captains dinner (always on fridays), so all the stuff was dressed up as a sailing crew and the guests were asked to come in white. The funny thing about knowing so many people by the end of the day was that the party felt like hanging around with friends and nobody had to do the washing up haha.P1910554P1910559P1910587What I already learned as a kid: Always make friends with the ice cream guys (yep, this ship is made of ice cream). But I´m kinda out of training: they didn´t want to deliver it to my room…P1910623During the night you can watch little baby sharks coming really close to the island.P1910420P1920340At the second day I finally tried out the water. No comments about it, hate people always writing about how blue the ocean is. I mean it´s obvious, you can see it on the picture. But it was really warm (between 27-28 degrees), so you could stay there for hours.P1920297Why don´t I look sexy even though I´m trying? This tree was full of spikes. So I rather felt like a yogi man without a matcha tea than a relaxed beach girl. P1920162P1920203P1910348P1920219P1920232P1920264P1910473This day might look really lazy to you but I was diving and snorkling between the posing and I will show you the pictures on the next post. I got a new underwater cam for my birthday and I was very excited to finally present it to the sharks.P1910156This is the second sunset place I was talking about: the Sundowner Bar with a DJ playing some house chill out music. I´m not too romantic or something but this place was really WOOOW.P1910221P1920130P1910232P1910308P1910275Thank you, Robinson Club Maldives, for having me. Thanks to the amazing crew, there are so many stories I would love to tell but I know they gonna kill me haha (“what happens on the Robinson island, stays on the Robinson island”).

To talk about the prices: One week All Inclusive starts from 2299 euros/per person (including the flight). I was flying with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and I can highly recommend this airline. They got voted for the best european airline for the third time last year and it´s totally true. Economy so feels like business with them.

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Île de Sein: the Best Island to Get Drunk

I kept the highlight of our island hopping tour through Brittany (France) for my last post: Île de Sein, the best island to get drunk! You will ask: „Why exactly Île de Sein? You can perfectly get drunk on every island.“ Maybe. But you can do it even better on this one. See the 7 reasons below: P1470241 P1470343P14703631. Even if the world seems to go down on the way to the island – as soon as you have passed a special point the sun always comes out. That´s what all the sailors and fishermen say who come over every day. And that´s what we have also experienced. So much luck must be celebrated! P1470388P14705222. In the sixties the island had 1000 inhabitans and 28 bars. Now there are only 150 inhabitans and 6 bars. No problem! Nearly the whole island is surrounded by a stone wall. When the sun shows up, peole come out and put their drinks on this wall. This is how the longest bar in the world has been established. P1470517By the way: I´m drinking Kir Breton (Kir Royal of Brittany). I´m not quite sure if you can remeber the recipe: take Cidre, put cassis inside.P1470461P1470471P14704873. Most of the houses on Île de Sein are or have something colourful, which is pretty unusual for this part of France. The good thing about it: you will always find back to your house or your hotel even if you are drunk. You just have to remeber if it was pink or blue or yellow… No streets, no numbers.P1470480On the day I was visiting the island (end of April) they had spring tide. It only happens twice a year. The sea went back more than usual and you could pick all the sea treasures like oysters or crabs from the bottom. P14705004. The streets between the houses were built so narrow that you could roll a beer barrel between them but you would never fall down if you were drunk. One of the walls would always „catch“ you.P1470502P1470519P1470531P1470548P14705595. If you compare it to the other two islands we have visited, Île de Sein is pretty far away from the continent. So it´s food stayed really traditional and you don´t have to look with a telescope on your plate to find it. I had a ray fish with pomegranate sauce and potatoes. A good base to order another 3 Kir Breton.P1470621P1470631P1470636P1470652Thank you, Christine, for showing me Brittany. And the drinks. Find here all her posts.P1470600P1470657P14706746. If you get really brave after some drinks – no problem. People on this island will believe you.P1470683P1470692P1470735On the picture above you can see another tiny „beer“-street. The water was coming back by the time the ferry was leaving ( 4 p.m.). It was your own fault if you still haven´t picked up your dinner till then.P1470724P1470760P1470781P1470815P1470844P1470865P14708487. If something goes wrong between you and the bottle, Sauvetage en Mer will save as soon as you come back to Audierne. Well, this one is a shitty reason. But the other 6 are really true!

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Ouessant: where France ends

800 inhabitans, 1000 tourist beds, 4 bars, 7 fishing boats, but no trees and no policemen (both perfect for my excelent driving skills): Ouessant was the first island on our island hopping tour (3 days, 3 island) across Brittany. And at the same time the most western point of France. Somehow it really felt like arriving at the very end of the world…P1460342P1460339P1460331P1460274The beautiful cliffs on the coast of Ouessant are not only the reason for the many visitors, but also for the many lighthouses on the island (5 directly on it, another 20 you can see on a clear day). Ouessant is maybe not the right place for swimming, but really perfect for walking around, cycling and eating.P1460291P1460352P1460363P1460262As there are no trees and no wood on the island, the traditional food was cooked on sods (a lamb dish takes 6 hours). Because of the strong wind the grass never grows very high and because of the mild temperature during the whole year it´s roots never get frozen. I´ve never walked on such a soft grass carpet before.P1460209Everything wooden on the island was made from the ship wreckage. As you can imagine, there are no many exciting things happening on the tiny Ouessant. But there are a lot of funny storries about things the waves sometimes bring to the coast. One morning a container ship full of rubber ducks sank and the water turned all yellow.  Another day the waves brought many shoes and the people on the island had to get together in the evening after collecting them all in order to find the right pairs.P1460412TY Korn was the best pub (ground floor) and restaurant (first floor) on the island. I didn´t want to wait 6 hours for my lamb, so I just ordered a crab which I had to crack with a nutcracker.P1460410DSCN1055P1460391P1460396P1460425P1460441There is one thing I haven´t done since my last teenage school trip: a night walk (nobody kissed this time!). On Ouessant it really made sense to walk around in the night because it was the best way to admire all the lighthouses “at work”. We also passed by a mysterious looking house on the cliffs and walked around it (I guess it wouldn´t look half that mysterious during the day). P1460456Creach is the most powerful lighthouse in Europe. When I was lying in my bed after this really long day I saw it´s lights running across the hotel room and hypnotizing zzzzz…. haha.P1460485P1460517On the next day we had to catch the ferry back to Le Conquet in the early morning. The second island was waiting for us. Le Glenán was the total opposite of Ouessant – no cliffs and a caribbean looking beach.

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Cayo Largo: the Zoo of Cuba

Cayo Largo (long island) is the second largest island of the Canarreos Archipelago after Isla de la Juventud. It is said to have the most beautiful beaches and corals reefs of Cuba. Inspite of the fact that there are 5 hotels and an airport on the island, it has no residents. All the staff goes home after 20 days of work. The only guys who are allowed to stay all the time on this 25 kilometers long island are some funny looking animals. The most people come to Cayo Largo because of it´s amazing beaches. I came because of it´s amazing “zoo”. I even have at home one of the exotic animals I´ve found on this island.P1390747We had some free days after our tour around Cuba and before our flight back home. So we decided to book a trip to Cayo Largo at our hotel in Varadero, which I guess is the easiest way to get there. You fly to the island with a small propeller-driven airplane and sometimes you are lucky enough to have it all to yourself (look at my Mom´s face). Don´t fall asleep on your way there, the view from the airplane is a beautiful sneak peek to what is expecting you.
P1390778P1390845P1390858Close to La Marina harbour, where the catamarans are waiting for the tour to get started, there is a small sea turtles farm. They help sea turtles to survive in Cayo Largo, especially during the egg deposition period (only few baby turtles are able to reach the sea). There are also some tubs where ill turtles are treated before being freed back in the sea.P1390881P1390886P1390885P1390940Cayo Iguana was the first stop on our catamaran cruise. It is a tiny island inhabited by iguanas. You can walk around and get really close to them.P1390994My Mom tried to make friends with some. And they didn´t mind as long she had something to eat…DSC_0876… but then they showed their real faceP1400013…and she had to run away from them across the whole islandDSC_0874My new best friend was much more friendly and we even had something in common: 1. We don´t see anything without glasses…P13909782. We love having lunch in a comfortable positionP1400087P1400090P1400152After having some lobster on the boat (the captain was also an excellent cook, unfortunatelly married) we switched to the aquarium department of our “zoo” island. P1400115P1400128OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP1400216P1400236P1400269And then, nearly at the end of our trip I finally found him: the most exotic animal of Cayo Largo. This white labrador was a a big star on Playa Sirena and looked completely like my dog Lila. We had a lot of fun, althought he didn´t even have an idea what I mean with “sit”.P1400274P1400297P1400326P1400372P1400360P1400377