Friday, May 5, 2017

#13: watch sunrise & sunset in the same day; in 3 different countries

Confusing, I know. 
Alas, this is what I was going for: 

-Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day. 
-Do that three times over but each time in a different country.

I'm a fan of sunsets: fact. But there's just something about the sunrise. Not everyone hoists their bums out of bed for the moment the sunball breaks the horizon. At times, it can feel like you're witnessing a fresh start to a new day on your own. A special moment for you, and you only. A bond between you and the sun. I wanted to embrace that exact solitude that only a sunrise can give you. (Don't worry, I'll dial down the sap.)

Alas, I set out to see the sun rise and tuck it self in, in the same day- three separate times, in three separate countries. Turns out, it's not an easy feat. Especially when one of my other fav travel activities is to drink the local beer. 

The rules surrounding #13 were pretty much that I had to view the sunrise and then the sunset that same day, I could not, do it the other way around even though it still fell within the same 24 hours.

 Lofoten Islands, Norway

I was cozy as all hell burritoed up in more flannel than I've ever laid my eyes on in the heart of a traditional fisherman's cabin in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Especially when I had been on strict Northern Lights watch the night before. But, the sun called and it was time to get up. 

I was completely alone as I staggered out to the edge of the water in every piece of clothing I'd packed, pointing myself in the direction of the sun's debut for the day. I was a true gem. My breath puffed out in the arctic air and I longed for a hot coffee. 

The sun rose as I simultaneously froze, but it was worth my fingers turning into actual popsicles. 

Sunrise, Check! Popsicle fingers crossed that the sunset would be attainable that evening.

KJ and I spent the day kayaking the fjords, NBD. On our way back, somewhere within the fourth hour of epic style kayaking; The. Fog. Rolled. In.

And stayed.

Sunset was a bust. It was happening somewhere, behind the intensely dense fog, and I wasn't going to see it. 

Attempt #1? FAIL. Sometimes sunsets get thwarted by fog. 

I awoke in the Italian darkness in an apartment skirting Piazza Navona where I knew for a fact that no one within a half mile had gone to bed until very, very late. The family had elected to sleep off their jet lag and I made my way to the ancient streets; walking in earnest to the Colosseum where I hoped to watch a successful sunrise. 

It was dark; REAL dark. And empty. And I was a little sizable bit scared. But I walked with purpose- isn't that what you're supposed to do? I was purposely striding along the streets of Rome in the pitch black to watch the sunrise so don't mess with me. That's what my stride said, I think.

I arrived at the Colosseum to...CONSTRUCTION. Literally half of the iconic structure was riddled with scaffolding. I didn't try to hide my annoyance- it was still dark anyways. I'd just have to get crafty with photos.

The first glow of light slowly appeared and that's when I realized I hadn't really thought this through. I was early. Turned out it would be at least another hour before the sun was close to where I had pictured it. So, wait I would. 

I watched the city gradually wake up mere feet from a world famous icon. That alone was fairly, ridiculously, crazy awesome. 

The second half of the sunrise/sunset sandwich would be a little ton trickier to snag being that I had to get to the airport, wait 3 hours for a giant van named Pepé that they didn't have, and then drive my family hours north into the Tuscan hills. All before dusk. No biggie.

There's obviously a much larger, more involved story behind all of that; one that ended with me climbing over an iron gate circa 1800 in the middle of nowhere in the darkness and "breaking into" what may or may not have been our rented villa off the goat path that was considered a road and not nearly wide enough for Pepé the enormous white van. But that's for another time. 

In between both of those comically horrid stretches of time on a day that seemed to last 23984 hours, was my opportunity for attempt #2 of this list item to NOT be a major fail. 

The road trip from Rome to Panzano started out promising despite the debacle that was the car rental situation thanks to Auto Europe. If you can't tell I DO NOT recommend Auto Europe. Auto Europe, I'd like to punch you square in the face. 

Anyways, we were majorly behind schedule because of said debacle. The highway portion was fine, and then I was put to a true test. Driving Pepé on skinny gravelly Tuscan roads with my terrified family putting every ounce of their trust in me was a touch stressful. I should also mention that it was getting dark; both the day and my mood. 

The sun was plummeting, and I knew there was no way we'd make it to the villa before darkness fell. BUT I NEEDED TO SEE THE SUNSET. So, as we rounded one of those goat paths in pasty obese Pepé, and the expansive view of the Tuscan hills spread out before the dirty a** windshield, I was forced to make a decision. One that would prompt yelling of my full name and transport me right back to my childhood days of getting in trouble. As if pulling over swiftly on the side of a cliff last minute was scary or something. Oops.

"I HAVE TO SEE THE SUNSET FOR THE LIST! IT'LL ONLY TAKE A SECOND! ISN'T IT BEAUTIFUL THOUGH?" my voice was strained with the stress of the day and they weren't impressed.

I was not even enjoying it. 

But I saw it. 
But I didn't enjoy it. 
But it still counted. 



Spoiler alert: hands down the best sunrise I've ever experienced.

KJ and I slept in a cave and woke up middle-of-the-night early to get in a van and sign a waiver in Cappadocia, Turkey. All normal things.

Finest sunrise absorption method? From a hot air balloon, of course. 

In Cappadocia, it's the thing to do. A giant birthday party rings in the rise of the day at dawn, and although I was scared stiff, it was one of the most incomparable things I have ever seen.

Fingers crossed the weather would cooperate for sunset over this moon-like landscape that evening, and I could brand attempt #2 with the stamp of success.

And, that evening after having gotten stuck in an underground city tunnel, and still in disbelief of the morning's sunrise experience, we watched as an unbelievable day turned itself in; wine in hand.

Two down. One to go.


Thailand as a whole, is a tale involving a lot of me looking for or being in a bathroom. But, in between I managed to try to finish this list item off, island style. 

A 5 hour catamaran ride on the Andaman Sea and an ungraceful exit from a longboat with our bags, landed us in some of the bluest water I've ever seen. Literally. My shorts were wet but it was welcome on account it felt about 115 degrees. I didn't know where sweat ended and seawater began.

Now that I've painted a supremely attractive picture, it should be said that all of this took place on a tiny island, in south-est of south Thailand; Koh Lipe

I planned to rise early and head to none other than Sunrise Beach on one of our five days slumbering on the island. Preferably one that the weather would join forces with my list item for a full day, or at the very least the start and end of it. 

Clearly people liked to get up at the crack of dawn on this island seeing as it was much busier than expected. Solitude it would not be.


p o s t c a r d   w o r t h y.

Sunset was nearly foiled by a late afternoon storm, that by some small miracle cleared by sun down o'clock. KJ and I strolled along paths to the sunset side of the island. We passed eye opening local communities, unusual bars, and a stray dog that I promptly named Ralph. Ralph, come home with me. 

Goodnight Thailand.

Three down. Zero to go. BOOM.

Although my attempts at checking this list item off were several more than written here- (ain't nobody got time for that) and some were foiled, and some were freezing cold, and some were protested against by fellow travel companions, ALL were spectacular. 

**Watch a sunrise & sunset in the same day; in 3 different countries? CHECK! Almost jump out of a humongous moving white van named Pepé to make it happen? CHECK, CHECK!

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