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Adventure travel in Calabria Italy

A little over a month ago, I discovered some incredibly affordable plane tickets to the South of Italy ; Lamezia Terme to be exact. No, I hadn’t heard about it before either. 😉 I wanted to go South (because it tends to be warmer) and I didn’t want a touristy place. Sometimes it’s just fun to feel like you’re the only one. After a busy wedding season and a trip to Belgium to visit family and photograph (an awesome!) wedding, I knew we’d need a break!

We booked our first night at a local airbnb apartment, because after all, where better to start than with someone local, who can tell you all about the do’s and don’ts. For the rest of the trip we’d figure it out on the go, lead by whatever we found online/in the gps/mentioned by the people we’d meet. Now looking back, it definitely was adventure travel, because not planning everything in advance came with amazing as well as iffy discoveries. 😉

It all started out at the airport, where our rental car company blocked an 800 euro deposit on our credit card and included an interesting list of expenses that could be charged for each individual car part…. Ehm, excuse me? Jelger’s gut told us to return the car and it was good we did, because we found out online that this particular company scams people all the time. :p Lesson learned: when you go to the South of Italy: rent from an international company with a good reputation.

Luckily our next experience, meeting our airbnb host for the night, was great! He cycled all the way from Germany to Lamezia, where he took an extended break to rethink his lifestyle and work. I love meeting people who leave the beaten path when travelling. There’s something about getting out of your “ordinary environment” that sparks your imagination. 🙂 (such as visiting Vancouver on a trip and deciding to immigrate there… hehe)

After finding out that it was going to rain in the South for days, we decided to drive North. We weren’t disappointed: from olive groves to the beach, mountain cities, old castles and tiny streets, to a big nature park and more ocean. We experienced many diverse sceneries in our short trip. I’ll include a little map below, because if you’re like Jelger, you’ll love that.

Other amazingness on our trip: the food was fantastic. We kept a salami, a whole bunch of cold cuts, appies, red wine and a bottle of limoncello as a staple in our car. (nothing wrong with some food decadence while travelling!) And of course we had coffee every time we had the chance. 😉

What we didn’t expect was the afternoon siesta (riposo in Italian), which sometimes lasts from noon to 5pm! Don’t try to find any stores that are open! Even the big supermarkets are closed in the smaller towns. Luckily we did have our car stash!

We were also surprised by the “lack of info” for tourists. For instance: after following signs to a castle, it turned out to have been closed for years. Still, it turned out to be a great experience, because while walking around trying to find the entrance, we enjoyed a beautiful view on the old city below, including it’s abandoned parts.

After chasing another sign to giant trees in a national park, we suddenly got tailed by the police, which made us turn around. I guess the locals found it suspicious to have a car driving around on a foggy day in the middle of a national park.

If you’re planning on going to Southern Italy: be open-minded and don’t get stuck in a mindset of “I need to see/do this”. Otherwise you might end up frustrated. Just go with the flow and trust that you will find amazing places, because there are plenty of those.

I’m grateful to have had this adventure. It had been a long time since we travelled like this: no plans, just a vague idea of an area to visit. Our last trip like that was to Oregon Coast, almost a year ago! Next time won’t be that long!

Do you like to travel without making plans in advance? Or do you prefer to have concise schedule in advance? Where are you going next?

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