Wakka Wakka, Wakeboarding!

Sebastian was bored the other day and quickly edited a clip about a recent daytrip to Zossen. I had just handed in my Bachelor’s Thesis so he made me this thoughtful gift of multiple, painful face dives… Just kidding, I really enjoyed it and would love to do it again soon! Wakeboarding and Kitesurfing have a huge potential to become a new, addictive hobby…

A big thanks to our friend Robin who took us along and showed us the ropes!! Much appreciated!

Theo, the Mountain Geezer

theo small

Theo in his favorite chair.

Let us tell you a story about a man. A man who’s 64 years old but can still stem more weight than most young men in their bloom. A man who grew up as the son of a wealthy Belgium entrepreneur who taught him how to work with any material you can think of: wood, stone, leather, … A man who grew up as the son of a nature-loving mother who owned a farm in the South of Spain and taught him the language of dogs and horses and the secret whispers of plants.

His name is Theo.

Theo deeply impressed us and made our stay on his farm in Andalusia as memorable as it was. Let’s say he truly was that extra pinch of cinnamon in our morning porridge. That extra dab of cream on top of a warm apple crumble. That extra … ah never mind, I guess you know where I’m going with this. Keep reading to learn more about our stay with him and be fascinated…

The Man

Theo was born in Belgium but has been living in the South of Spain for more than 40 years by now. His life story contains a trillion of bends, peaks and dips which we won’t mention in detail. But as always, his childhood laid the foundations for his eventful biography: He inherited priceless skills from his parents. His father owned a successful, internationally operating picture frame factory and little Theo had been playing between the machines since he could walk. Later, he led the company himself and had by then perfectionated many working skills. All the buildings you see on the pictures – he built himself.  All the plants you walk past in his huge gardens – he planted himself. And that’s due to the fact that his mother led a very different lifestyle than his father: After their divorce, she bought land in Spain and taught her son how to plough, plant, harvest as well as how to work with animals such a donkeys, horses and dogs.

We spend almost every evening with Theo and couldn’t get enough of his anecdotes. He is as cheeky as he is smart. As quick-tempered as he is gentle. As stubborn as he is generous. A true character.

The Farm

Theo owns a whole mountain. Not kidding. His property is located close to the village “Cortes de la Frontera” and encompasses about 450hectars. Even after 10 days there, we did not see all corners of this vast area. There are about 5 uninhabited houses which are mainly used for storage. Theo himself lives in a construction site. Although his gorgeous pool and the ground floor are ready, the second floor and the upper tower (yes, a tower) remain unfinished. It was a true adventure in itself to climb up those steps!


The Gardens

Then, there are two huge gardens out of which he only tends one at the moment. There, he grows so many fruits and vegetables that you can’t help but think of Eden: Apples, pears, peaches, pomegranates, figs, grapes! Cauliflowers, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, courgettes! Plus, many flowers, herbs and medical plants. He cultivates them all in permaculture and only uses his self-made hummus as fertilizer. Only seldom, he sells some boxes of his harvest for cheap or gives them away to neighbours. The rest, he eats himself or feeds to his animals. According to his own opinion, the gardens give him a hell lot of work but even more pleasure. And we felt the same: More than once, we (voluntarily) helped him to water, plant and plough and shed more than a few litres of sweat in the process. But it is satisfying work and just as I have loved the months of farm work back in Australia, I’ve loved it in Andalusia.


The Animals:

At the moment, he shares the huge area with 16 horses, 8 cats, 5 dogs, 4 pigs, 1 mule and 1 donkey. Then, there are some scorpions, snakes, spiders and a variety of bugs. Most of the animals roam freely through the land, only the gardens and the outer borders are fenced. And that’s just a momentary count, the number has variated greatly over the years…. Personally, we want to put the focus on the horses because we ended up taking care of them and even mounting these beauties without saddles – true Western style. But before we could ride for the first time, we first had to catch them.

“Say what? Didn’t you just write that they live on the farm?”

Um, technically, yes. But they are too much work for Theo at the moment which is why he prefers to let them roam freely through the surrounding lands. The majority of the neighbours is fine with it, the state does not care at all and the area is so remote that the chance of them striding over a highway is like 0%. So, we had to get them back onto the farm first. To make a long story short: Theo caught the leading mare of a group of six horses, put the string in my hands and waved goodbye. We then led the herd a few kilometers back to the farm and spend the next few days cleaning saddles and bridles and finally riding them. Theo barely supervised us and fully trusted my knowledge – something that would NEVER happen to you in Germany. Already on our second ride, we went without saddles (brave Sebastian!). It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to come back and work more with these beauties.




We are happy to provide Theo’s contact details if you are interested to get in touch with him. Be prepared to work hard and sweat harder (in return for food and accommodation). It’ll be worth it though: Priceless scenery, soul-satisfying work with animals and plants, endless life lessons and the chance to meet one of the most fascinating characters we ever crossed paths with. As for ourselves: We already pinkie-promised to come back with more time on our hands… Fare well, Theo!



Darling, let’s be EcoVenturers!

alp_0407Tomorrow morning, Sebastian and me are starting a big road trip. Two other lads and us will be driving all the way to a very remote area in the South of Spain, close to the ancient city of Ronda. Why? For the past few months, I’ve voluntarily helped the EcoVenture Camps with all sorts of public relation, coordination and planning tasks. They are an ecological, non-profit travel agency and offer some great adventurous outdoor programs. I was instantly hooked:


So after a hopefully awesome 3day road trip through France and Spain, we’ll be preparing the camp for the first participants next week and probably stick around for a bit longer to help them settle in. After that, we still have a few days left for private travels. Maybe to the Algarve, maybe deeper into the Sierra Nevada. We have the luxury of spontaneity and are determined to make the most of our 10day holiday!

The EcoVenture Camps about themselves…

“The camps take place in a 450ha large, remote valley in the South of Spain, about 130km West of Malaga. This unique area belongs to Theo, who’s been living here as an ecological farmer, architect and entrepreneur since decades. He mainly cultivates his own fruits and vegetables. To keep the grass short and prevent erosions he keeps about 20 horses who are allowed to roam freely through the land. We are combining this way of living with sportive activities in nature to enjoy a life as sustainable as possible: As an EcoVenturer you will be sleeping in a tent, do fun outdoor activities like climbing, hiking and yoga, go exploring all day, learn about alternative lifestyles and eat mainly vegetarian/vegan dishes. We want you to go out and reconnect with nature, but the camp is also meant to be a retreat for you – giving you the chance to unwind and relax: In between the activities, there will always be enough time to chill out, laze in the sun and bond the with other participants (…)”



Roadtrippin‘: 5 cities in 5 days


When I told some of my friends about this roadtrip, some mumbled: “Mhhhhh I dunno, that sounds like more work than fun…” When learning about our route


they exclaimed “What the heck… U guys hyperactive!?” And when I pointed out that we would drive these more than 2,000km by car in only five days – well, then the reaction strongly depended on my friend’s nationality. People from huge countries such as the USA, Canada or Australia were like “fair enough” – the Germans, however, … they kept silent but probably thought that my travel bug had had some offspring…

So, let me convince you that it was totally worth it.

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Ciao, Val Grande!

IMG_2751-2A long day lay ahead of us. Our long descent back into civilization was additionally slowed down because we just couldn’t walk past all these bushes full of juicy, ripe  blackberries before we had picked a good couple of kilos of them. A rare treat before autumn!! Eventually, we hitchhiked to the campsite at Lake Mergozzo because we figured it might be nice to spend the last night of our trip in our tent at a lake.

We were wrong. It was horrible. Truly horrible.

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Ghostly Solitude: Val Grande Part 3

Route: Cicogna –> Valley Val Grande

 IMG_2498-2We started the final part of our trek on a crisp and sunny morning. And I’m glad we did because in foggy conditions, I would have been really spoked out by the spider-webby ruins we encountered soon. Over the last few days, we had already seen quite a few of them but the old village of Montuzzo was by far the largest and most impressive sight of our trek.

Before going to Val Grande, Sebastian had told me that exploring some old, abandoned villages in the mountains had always been one of his childhood dreams. And here we were, carefully opening crooked doors on squeaking hinges, peeking through dirt-smeared windows, scrambling through collapsed stone huts. If you are into these kinds of treasure hunts you will have the time of your life in Val Grande, especially in that area. While Sebastian clearly enjoyed the exciting site, I was rather busy making myself think of anything EXCEPT vicious killers hiding in those ruins… Although these villages are long abandoned, there are still many signs of their former inhabitants: old pieces of furniture, broken tools, rusty crookery, … Sebastian’s #GoBackpack video really catches the scary atmosphere.

Due to these explorations, it was already past midday when we finally reached the junction into the wild heart of the National Park: The actual Val Grande. This valley truly lives up the reputation of the National Park. In fact, the path was blocked with this big sign:


Mh…. bugger. We discussed for a bit and then decided to keep going to see just HOW difficult it was. After all, we both are quite experienced hikers and felt sure-footed and fit after our first week of hiking. So, off we went. Down the forbidden path.

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Edging forward: Val Grande Part 2

Route: Agriturismo „Valle Loana“ –> Cicogna

IMG_2225-2After this delicious break at the restaurant, we went back deep into the National Park. Stuffed indeed, yet ready and motivated to tackle our next summits after the rather miserable weather at the beginning of our trek. The storms from the days before were not truly over though and we had dark clouds gathering in our backs for most part of this hike again. But sometimes, travelling fulfils the cheesiest sayings… “Ohne Regen gibt es keine Regenbogen” – indeed. And we spotted a truly stunning specimen: A perfect, uninterrupted half-circle in the most vivid colours. It even turned into a double-rainbow for a bit. Amazing!

We arrived at the next shelter (A. Cortechuiso; 1,883m) in the afternoon, unfortunately it was a rather miserable and drafty thing. We really had to do some laundry though so decided to stay and make ourselves comfortable. Little did we know that we would have to share the view and the shack with 8 other hikers soon… After the first few days of almost complete solitude, we felt like we were sleeping in a crowded hostel 😀

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Tempest-Tost: Val Grande Part 1

Tour: Premosello-Chiovenda –> Agriturismo Valle Loana (close to Malesco)


After a 16h bus ride to Milano and another 2h journey on a hot and crowded train, we finally arrived in Premosello-Chiovenda which is one of the possible starting points into Val Grande. The clouds already hung low and heavy on the mountain tops, reminding me of tropical regions rather than the Italian Alps. We were both super exhausted which is why we decided to spend the night in a local B&B. That night, the thunderstorms raged violently for hours and we were glad to have a proper roof over our heads. The next morning, however, we couldn’t wait any longer. The forecast had predicted bad weather for the next three days but since we had appropriate gear and experience, we decided to start our trek despite the rain. We then hitchhiked to Colorro, the last small village before Val Grande’s borders.

And here’s the odd thing about trekking: It usually requires a decent chunk of work beforehand (researching, planning, booking, shopping, packing, …) but once you’re at the beginning of your trail, you set foot on it and your duties immediately shrink to the very basics. And the main duty of course is to walk. One step, two steps, three steps. And 5minutes later you look back and the forest has already swallowed all signs of civilization. I love them, those first few minutes on the trail, they are magic and smell of adventure. Less magic was the sobering fact that we were walking right into a storm.

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The Alps’ culinary highlights

Trust me: You won’t regret learning some basics about edible plants if you’re into the whole outdoor-thing. This skill just adds so many great flavours, vitamins and minerals to your bland camping food. We loved coming across yummy greens and always paused long enough to gather a few handfuls of them. In Val Grande, we found and used the following plants (I suppose they will grow in other parts of the Alps as well):


  • blackberries and wild strawberries (Brombeeren & Walderdbeeren)
  • aromatic, thick cushions of thyme and oregano (Thymian & Oregano)
  • water mint (Wasserminze)
  • shaggy soldier (Franzosenkraut)
  • bear’s garlic (Bärlauch) – yes, it’s actually too late for this delicacy. Lucky us that spring often lacks behind in the mountains!


    wild oregano

  • St. John’s Wort (Johanniskraut)
  • yarrow (Schafsgarbe)
  • goldenrod (Goldrute)
  • lady’s mantle (Frauenmantel)
  • cow parsley (Wiesen-Kerbel)
  • caraway (Wiesen-Kümmel)
  • cow parsnip (Wiesen-Bärenklau)
  • wood sorrel (Sauerklee)
  • ribwort and wide plantain (Spitz- und Breitwegerich)
  • ground elder (Giersch)
  • loads of stinging nettle (Brennnessel)



Wow, I’m only realizing now that this is quite a long list. And indeed, we had fresh greens in our dinner pretty much every night and on very lucky days sweet berries in our morning porridge. Oh how my little, nerdy, botanical heart wished that my identification key wasn’t such a bulky, heavy bitch… There were so many more plants I simply didn’t know! Gimme a shout if you know a good app, I haven’t found one yet (however, I can recommend the website Wildfind).