Off on my next adventure it was time to pack up Arnie, my faithful Audi A3 and begin the two-day road trip to Catalonia. Don’t forget to get your car checked out before a lengthy journey like this and make sure you have a decent European travel insurance you can opt for a single journey if pennies are tight. My advice get the best you can afford which covers hotels. https://www.moneysupermarket.com/breakdown-cover/european/
I had accepted a job to Manage a Project in Catalonia at an Arabian Stud. Working with twenty-five straight Egyptian Arabian Horses, eight of which were Stallions.
Driving from the North of the UK to Europe, I find it the easiest and safest route for us Solo Fillies. I short drive to Newcastle and then you are free to rest, work or eat and have a couple of glasses of wine. There are normally other solo travelers on the Ferry so you can find someone to chat to if you want to.
Note you don’t get WIFI included and phone charges at sea are crazy or not available. Breakfast and dinner is best booked in advance to avoid additional charges.
My advice on a budget take your own food and go for the cheapest cabin with a sea view. If you’re not in the slightest you can get even cheaper without a sea view but be warned its tiny.
If you want to have a pleasurable time and money isn’t soo vital, then upgrade to a Commodore De Luxe Cabin. You get a free mini bar, WIFI and breakfast so if you do the sums it isn’t a poor deal.
Its way more comfy and you can enjoy the sailing. You will arrive between 09.00 and 10.30 plan for the later time, it can be painfully slow getting off or no hassle at all. No way of knowing which.
Driving in Europe
Driving out of Amsterdam to watch your speed, I’ve had two fines for being 2 kilometers over the limit. If you in MPH mode it’s easily done.
I made it to the north of Lyon in France the tolls are frequent and expensive so don’t forget them when you’re quoting for your journey there.
I had forgotten about French hours. Pulling off the motorway at 16.30 starving and finding most hotels shut for off season and no one was serving food until 19.00.
Hmm…. not my best day tired, hungry and stiff I found a B&B who made me an omelette. What I would do differently, take enough food with you to do the two-day journey and maybe find two stay over options in the area you expect to get to or an hour apart.
Checking they are open and when and if they serve food. That way you have options depending on how you feel the drive is going. You can just keep going, but I don’t advise it on your own. Driving in France is stressful, they are unforgiving drivers and Spain is as bad. North of France I find easier to drive in than the UK.
If you don’t drive, then your probably best to fly, but ferry and train is also an option. Where I would recommend that you get your new employer to book and pay for the flights to make things easier. They should also get you from the nearest airport or train station or send someone on their behalf.
Day two I had an early breakfast and set off at 07.30, making it to Montpellier for lunch. It was hot and a much nicer drive as I headed towards the coast and the excitement of reaching my rural Girona destination grew.
I finally arrived at around 17.00. Where I was pleased to get settled in and finally be in such a stunning sunny place.
More to come on this project as soon as I have time to continue the story. If you have an equestrian position or project, you need help with please get in touch.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
For me that company has often been of the equine variety. I am a freelance rider-manager and equine consultant originally from N Ireland. I have a passion for all things horsey, especially whilst traveling the globe and absorbing new cultures. Its a colourful world out there and the land of horses is vast and diverse. So much to be learnt and experienced.
I have spent my life working with and helping horses and owners all over the UK and Europe. I began my career as a working pupil, grooming for two consequtive 5 star British SJ team members, before I turned 17.
From backing youngsters to riding race horses, my experience and an opportunist encounter lead me to set up and run my own reschooling, eventing & pre training yard. For eight years I worked with my team of sassy lasses, in the heart of stunning Northumberland Countryside.
Having competed in all disciplines I specialised my business in young and problematic horses. I have always favoured the troubled souls of quirky and misunderstood ad horses in pain. The Temple Girls & I found a nich in the market and had many busy years.
Empathy and consistent kind training and a good vet #PhillDicon is the only way to break down the barriers of abuse and regain the trust of an animal that puts its faith in us and endures our endless mistakes.
Having retired form competing I contemplated what came next, which lead me to india. Here I spent time in 2017 riding in the Indian mountains, on the amazing Mawari Indian War Horses.
Later I began to take international freelance projects working as a Flat Rider Manager in Holland. I went on to coordinate and accompany their six horses (with a driver & his partner from Romania and my Ukraine Groom), to Arezzo for the six week Show Jumping Tour.
So in 2018 I was delighted to be given the opportunity to go to China, I had initially expected it to be a two month project. However, it was actually a five month epic adventure from Northumberland to Cambodia. Via Holland, Germany, Kazakhstan, China, Macua, Hong Hong and Thailand.
My life has taken many twists and turns and am immensely grateful for all the wonderful opportunities and experiences i have been given and shared with others. I have decided that I have no reason to return to live in the UK and instead will begin my life as a nomadic blogging horse expert !
Big thank you but what have I been up to recently…….
Ive had quite a COVID adventure…
On the 8th of March I went to Andorra, skiing for the first time. With a guy I had been dating for a couple of months Miquel. #braveman.
The trip was a “it’s a shame but I probably won’t see you again trip.” He had exams and I was going on my own journey…
With mixed emotion, I had just finished a seven month equine project in the Girona area of Catalonia. Now I was driving to start my next project in Bulgaria.
An english tour guide in the beautiful mountains where I have owned a home for 14 years yet never had a chance to live in it full time.
12th March we said goodbye and I flew from Perpigon to Marrakesh, for a quick one week holiday before the big drive. It had begun! my road trip from Catalonia to Bulgaria was really happening or was it!
13th March whispers of what’s to come, as flights are cancelled, airports closed and chaos decends amongst travelers.
I make it out of Marrekesh to the beach. Where I remained stranded until April with twenty other international travelers in a Morrocan hostel.
I met some awesome guys and finally started teaching some Yoga. Miquel and I stayed in touch his exams are cancelled and he is worried about me in Morroco. I’m not sure if I will get back and resign to being in Morroco for the long haul.
Finally I was rescued by the Spanish consult from Essaouira, via Casablanca and Madrid after Ryan Air cancelled my third rescheduled flight home.
Luckily I had my Spanish residency or I would still be in Morroco.
A masked Miquel was waiting for me at Figueres his home city. It was a strange reunion at the end of my 38h piggybank emptying #bizzarejourney back to where I started.
He managed to take me across the French border to be reunited with Arnie my Audi car who was abandoned at the airport. We drove back to my old flat and unpacked everything that 25 days earlier we had packed up. 🤷♀️
We did three weeks quarentine played guitar got cabin fever, ate to much. Then I got a voluntary position with horses in exchange for food and accom not to far from Miquel family home.
I waited out the getting to Bulgaria sarga in the stunning Volcanic Region helping with organic veg and horses.
Once restrictions eased we spent weekends wild camping in Miquels camper van and fell in love. We will see what happens I thought…
The embassy finally confirmed on the 25th of May that I can get into Bulgaria. But It will take me four wks to get there. Completing various quarentines in some of the country’s I would have to cross so I waited.
Miquel would normally work in France for the whole summer season. But he gets a job to start on the 1st of July in Girona for three months.
Then I got offered a job here to, so I’m now working with Polo Ponies. The season is April to Mid Nov and then I get four months off so we can travel 🙌
I’m lucky to be staying with Miquels family, were super happy and are talking about our future together. I’m 10 min from work and I love the area so much that I’m buying a house here.
Its nothing like the path either of us had in mind a few months ago, but I wouldn’t change a day of it.
This whole situation has shown me that you always are exactly where you are meant to be.
If only we can be at ease with it life gets so much easier. Your purpose is just to be present in every moment no matter what or where it is.
If you can learn to live with or even enjoy uncertainty. The universe has a way of working things out for you….
#gowiththeflow and #enjoytheride you never know where you might end up ❤️🙏❤️
I contacted http://www.princesstrails.com/history.html#pg via their web page and received prompt and helpful communication. They were super flexible and quickly helped me to make all the arrangements. After a life-changing experience achieving my teacher training at the Yoga Shala in Rishikesh. It was time to say goodbye to my new set of amazing international friends and set off solo again.
I had a super exciting and slightly daunting twenty-four journey ahead of me, starting with travelling by taxi from Rishikesh to Haridwar. The driver took me to the wrong coach station leading to a mad dash by super-fast Tuk Tuk to catch my overnight coach from Haridwar to Jaipur.
You can buy a ticket from any good travel agent in the towns and you get a self-contained pod bed with charging point, air-con and fulling closing door and duvet set. Having survived the overnight coach which was a bumpy and occasionally life-threatening ride. It was great to see my Tuk Tuk driver arranged by the hostel waiting for me.
I spent the next two days exploring the amazing sites of Jaipur by tuk-tuk and had a private room in a relaxed, friendly, traditionally decorated hostel on the outskirts of Jaipur. Having befriended the young Tuk Tuk driver, he kindly took me to meet his adorable family. It was a pleasure to experience local culture, and it delighted his young sisters to decorate my hands with traditional henna work.
If you were to take a similar journey, I would highly recommend visiting Jaipur. Especially the Jal Mahal Floating Pink Palace. It is an abandoned palace set in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. They say they built the mysterious island as a royal summer retreat for parties. Although the red-walled fort looks flat, it actually has five levels, with four being submerged under the lake.
On the third day, my faithful Tuk Tuk driver took me to the Maharana Pratap Airport, Udaipur’s local airport. I arrived in the late afternoon where I easily found Mr Virendra Singh Shaktawat who had kindly come to collect me and was waiting.
Hotel Boheda Palace Bespoke Package
I arrived at the http://www.hotelbohedapalace.com/, where I received a very warm welcome. Mr Virendra Singh Shak of Princess Trails also owns the Hotel Boheda so you can opt to stay there instead of camping. It’s also a great option if you are a solo traveller rather than a group or if you wish to make a bespoke trip and not a full safari as I did. The hotel is fabulous with a wonderful roof terrace restaurant and a nice selection of traditional and western food.
Princess Trails offers a variety of accommodation and safari packages if you have a longer trip I would highly recommend getting in touch with them and checking out this link to find out what they can offer http://www.princesstrails.com/safaris.html#pg.
Day One: Mountains and Jungles
I woke up early in my fabulously decorated and luxurious room and headed up to the roof terrace to do some sunrise yoga and then choose a delicious option from the breakfast menu. The hotel made me up a packed lunch to go with me and a car took me to the stables. The staff matched me with a very nice young mare that could be a little strong so they felt she would enjoy having an experienced rider onboard.
So after giving them a hand to prepare the horses (optional) we set off through the local villages in the foothills. We spent the first day riding through the stunning mountain villages guided by a local groom and a german working student who had been returning to Princess Trails for many years and had become good friends with the family.
We then began climbing through forest and jungle to reach mountain paths that led us along cliffs and ledges. The Marwari horses were agile and sure-footed, making a light word of the difficult terrain. We continued through the jungle and tiny mountain villages that even the boldest event horses would have had a great deal to say about. The sun was hot, and I would recommend taking sunscreen or a shirt to cover yourself in the midday heat.
After a few hours riding we stopping for a leisurely picnic of traditional breads, eggs and salad with hot tea and fruit. We sat and chatted In the shade while the horses took a rest and while the groom fed and watered them. Back at the ranch, the horses live mostly out in paddocks. They come into the stables when needing a break from the sun and flies.
Day Two: Lakes and Safari
On day two, they drove me to the fabulous Jaisamand Lake in the chief tribal region of Rajasthan. It is a stunning wildlife sanctuary and protected area. On top of the hills surrounding the lake are the two historical former summer palaces of the queens of Udaipur. They then accompanied me on a boat ride across the stunning lakes where you can take great photos of the palaces while relaxing in the sun and a fresh breeze.
Later we drove to the regions famous Safari Park, where they endeavour to protect animals and their natural habitat. We met up with the Marwari horses here who arrived by truck; they are not of a Western standard but the horses were happy and accustomed to the non-ramp procedure! I had asked to keep the same Mare for the whole three days, but you can do as you wish.
Princess Trails has exclusive use of the Safari Park for their riding guests, and it was a thrill to enter through the massive iron gates that keep the public out and the wild animals in! We had a wonderful ride through the park with a mix of terrain and often getting glimpses of exotic birds and game. We had many sightings of water buffalo, gigantic game and birds of prey.
We rode to some extraordinary lagoons, and after several hours had arrived at another exit, where we found a local stall to drink tea while the staff came to collect the horses. Back to the fabulous Boheda hotel by car for a well-earned shower and another delicious meal from their restaurant menu. It was another unforgettable day riding across shallow lakes and stopping at lagoons made a special experience. .
Day Three: Low Lands and Lagoons
On the third day, it was my last ride, a pleasant short ride through farmland and smaller villages, along fields and through palm groves. We visited the beautiful Lotus Lake, which sits like a serene oasis inside the hills. We stopped to take photos before returning to the farm, galloping across the lowlands of the mountains, and it privileged us to see so many birds and beasts.
The Marwari breed is a wonderfully brave and sure-footed little horse, elegant with a kind and noble nature, sensible yet responsive and eager to go. With their moon-shaped ears that make them seem as if they were the last of the mythical creatures, they really were a very special horse to spend some time with.
What are you waiting for this is a must for any Equine Nomad or World of Horses Explorer. If you’re a complete beginner, it’s probably a little too much although I think they would try to cater for you and provide non-ridden activities. But if you have some experience, or you are in a group, they will easily be able to adapt the rides to suit you. You will have an amazing time with these special horses.
If you’re a super experienced rider, then you will love it and I would recommend letting them know and asking about a bespoke package where you can choose from the ride options. As always, be super honest about your riding ability. Some of this terrain is tricky and the horses are sensible but are blood horses.
Udaipur is a fabulous city, and I enjoyed visiting the lakes where I took a boat ride to the island hotels and restaurants. I visited some spectacular ornate buildings and temples. In Udaipur, the local markets are bustling you will find small craft shops produce some stunning silk paintings and other traditional goods. This is one of my favourite places in India, and I was privileged to visit a traditional dance and music night at the theatre, which was incredible.
As a solo female traveller, the coach station from Haridwar was not a magnificent place to be waiting alone. I later found out that not even Indian women would go there alone, so have your driver wait with you until the coach arrives or take another route. Be careful of Gurus who will charge you for their readings in Jaipur and being taken to clothing and fabric shops which will try to convince you to go into business with them.
In Udaipur, I felt very safe, and both accommodations looked after me exceptionally well. The Boheda Hotel even prepped and sent me away with a day’s worth of packed lunch food for my onward journey to Mumbai by train.
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When Travelling Solo leads you to places and faces that leave footprints in your soul, memories in your mind and joy in your heart.
You marvel at the magnificence of mother nature and the priceless moments that you share with others. Realising that life is a gift not a competition, smiling is free and you can live for less than ten pounds a day.
Wow its been a tricky few days with high winds and extreme rains flooding the area, bursting river banks and bringing down trees on determined drivers, trying to make it to their destination.
But my thoughts go out to all those who have lost someone dear to them in the storms, truly tragic.
We expect sunshine tomorrow and then the grand clean up mission must begin…
Stay safe and remember to consider our climate in everything we do. The planet is the most wonderful gift and our inability as a race, to live in balance and find peace in presence, has lead us to crisis point.
More fires, floods & famines await us, whilst we obsess over buying a better car than the neighbour has, or having another designer bag.
Reality check people.. no thing will make you happy. You are already happiness & joy in its true form. Inside you is the brightest light, compassion & eternal youth.
The things you buy only distract you and help you loose sight of the very thing your looking for. But it was never lost & its not a mystery, its just hidden under all the rubbish you bought & nonsense thoughts you believed in.
None of its real, none of it is going with you. What goes with you is what’s inside so nurture it, do something kind for youself and others everyday.
Could you abstain from eating meat? Not because you have to, but because you believe that feeding the starving is more important than you eating meat or that all life is sacrid & not ours to take?
We buy take aways, whilst we through out meat & animal products that we didn’t find the time to cook. Even though processing those products has a massive impact on the environment & life has been sacrificed for us to eat it.
We are horrified by the mass devastation. Yet we buy the products & support companies who care more about their profit margins, than filling our seas and land with their plastics & chemicals.
Check out Echart Tolle #ANewEarth…
Is it possible for enough of the Human Race to evolve in time to save the planet 🌏🙏