Many people dream of jumping in a van and heading out to the mountains and oceans to explore our playgrounds. Clara and Kattha -- two best friends from the Austrian Alps - did just that last Spring. Clara, an avid skier, and Kattha, a surf fanatic, decided to combine their passions and head out on a girl-powered adventure to find powder and waves through Europe “Straight through the alps of Switzerland to the Atlantic ocean in France.”
Committed to having as much fun as they can with the lightest footprint possible, Clara and Kattha decided to make this a Mizu Mission -- an adventure where, as we like to say over here, you Enjoy The Journey, Leave Nothing Behind.
Meet two Mizu customers who shared their inspiring trip with us. We’re now dreaming of touring through Europe in an old camper ourselves. #2022plans
We’ve been fantasizing about some snow and surf travel for a while now at Mizu HQ: tell us about your journey so we can dream a little…
Our adventure started in Innsbruck, Austria. We hopped into our Camper and the first stop was Arlberg -- a huge, beautiful skiing area where we did a small skitour up to Maraoi at St. Christoph. Next stop: Switzerland! Most people think about how expensive Switzerland is (and they’re not wrong!) but once you’ve experienced their beautiful mountains you have no choice but to go back.
We arrived in Engelberg and after two days of snowfall we were rewarded with a sunny powder day. With some great powder turns under our belt, we jumped into our camper and headed further to our last skiing spot of the trip -- a hidden gem in Kanton Wallis. The tiny town we had expected was even smaller in real life... Only one café, an old abandoned house, an old man clearing the street with his snowplow and us – with our van. And one drag lift! Our expectations weren’t high, but we ended up having one of the best powder days of the season thanks to that little lift.
After taking in all the blue sky, fresh powder, and empty slopes we could, it was time for our next stop: Portugal. By this point we were exhausted. Hours of sitting in our van, a snowstorm, a minor car crash (with a repair sleepover in France), 14 gas station coffees, 129 pee-breaks and 1800 km driving… we finally reached the ocean. One moment you're drawing lines in deep powder and the next you’re sitting out in the lineup, feeling the fresh salty air in your hair. We got some funny looks at the breaks as we took our skis out the van first to reach our surfboards! We headed south to Sagres, Beliche where we stayed a few days before starting our journey back home.
Sounds terrible. Ok, ok, it sounds amazing! Have the two of you adventured together in the past?
We’d been on some trips before through Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Italy and France before, but this was a completely new route. We wanted to travel by road this time, and we wanted to make sure we got to ski and surf. That was what led us to pick this plan.
We’re already planning our next road trip through Europe. What can’t we skip?
Have you ever been dreaming of waking up next to the ocean, hearing the waves crashing on the cliffs, feeling the warm morning sun in your face and sipping on your cup of fresh brewed coffee? Oh, then you definitely should sleep over in one of the amazing caves at the Algarve in Portugal! You can check the waves during your breakfast before you slip on your wetsuit and jump in.
Also, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a fresh and warm Pastel in the small bakery in Aljezur. It’s addictive! The first day we bought one each to try, but after that it was at least 3 Pastels for each of us. One to eat straight away, one after surfing and one as a dessert in the evening.
What was so special about this Mission?
We both feel a very special connection with water in all its forms and beauty. On the one hand, falling down as soft snowflakes from the sky, forming our playground for fun powder days in the mountains. On the other, creating beautiful waves out in the ocean, allowing us to surf. This trip reinforced what a big impact and importance water has in our everyday lives. That we need water not only to drink and wash and for our daily survival but to live out our passions. We experienced water in all its states -- we had snow, rain, the ocean, saw rivers and lakes, surfed beautiful waves, drew lines in fresh powder, took hot showers to warm up again, cooked tea and boiled water for pasta. We felt compelled to honor water more than ever.
How does your appreciation of water fit in with your overall approach to taking care of our planet?
We wouldn’t call ourselves environmental activists by any means, but we do take steps everyday to reduce our footprint: we try to reduce our plastic intake, buy mostly local, minimally wrapped products from our town, take our own reusable bottles and boxes wherever we go and just choose reusable whenever possible. We haven’t achieved a totally plastic free life or invisible carbon-footprint: We drive by car and love “vanlife”. We eat a really good slice of meat sometimes when it's from the farmer from our town, where we know how the cows were treated and how they were fed. And we go shopping sometimes and just buy what we like at that moment. So yes, just normal girls in this western living world.
But we try our best. We take little steps closer to a more sustainable way of living. Some days more, some days less. But we live with that mission in our minds. The mission of trying.The mission of keeping our planet clean and healthy so the next generations have the opportunity to go and explore this beautiful planet like we do.
We understand that a road trip has an impact, so we did our best to minimize it. This meant keeping the speed low while driving, using as little fuel and energy as possible, taking our environmental friendly cleaning items without wrapping, not using the chemical toilet, buying local, unwrapped vegetables and fruits, eating mostly vegan (we just couldn’t resist the cheese from Switzerland and some fresh fish from a local fisher and Pastel de Nata in Portugal though!), keeping our camping areas clean, buying one big canister of water instead of single water bottles, and always having our Mizu bottles and Mizu Cutlery Sets at hand which made it easy not to leave plastic or other waste behind.
What inspires you to get outdoors and see the world?
We both love skiing and surfing, but not only in the physical way. These two sports are such beautiful and amazing opportunities to connect with our wonderful and beloved Mother Nature. We were told since we were young girls: what you love, you should know and care about. And we learn the most about what is happening outdoors while just being out there and experiencing it. So we are young and curious and just want to explore. We couldn't discover the world by staying at home. Meeting new people, getting the chance to get to know other cultures and learn how other people are thinking about life continuously inspires us in what we are doing. Being open minded is something we’ve learned by being outdoors.
We know that reducing single-use plastics is important to you. Was there a certain instance you recall that really opened your eyes to the importance of reusing whenever possible?
Plastic water bottles! We luckily live in a town in the middle of a mountain chain where we don’t just have really good, drinkable tap water -- it's fresh and delicious too. Driving through countries – especially by the ocean – it reminded us that this isn’t the case everywhere and you can’t just take your bottle and fill it up at any sink you find. So sometimes you have to buy your water in plastic bottles. We bought large containers of water in the supermarket, kept them when they were empty and filled them and our Mizu bottles up when we found drinkable tap water. If we wouldn’t have done so – we would have collected at least three water bottles a day, which would have been 21 a week and over 63 bottles the whole trip.
Reusing can be hard while on the go. Do you have any tips to help make going reusable a little bit easier while on the road?
What definitely helped us not even get to need a plastic bag or bottle on the go was always having our little plastic-free essentials. An insulated Mizu bottle full of hot tea on the snow adventures or fresh cold water for the beach days, our Mizu Cutlery Set (or at least a pocket knife), and a tote bag just in case. With those three essentials you are always prepared.
What was your favorite Mizu product on this Mission?
We loved taking our Green Insulated D7 bottle with us but not only because we love that color so much! There is just no better bottle for having a cup of tea on the top of the mountains or a warm nice coffee after a good surf session.
What does “Enjoy the journey, leave nothing behind” mean to you?
For us it turned out to have two meanings. On the one hand, you just don't want to leave anything undiscovered. We always try to explore places in their pure state of being – we just can't leave anything behind unexplored, unseen or just unaware of its natural beauty. But the more we spent time travelling and time outdoors in clean and pure nature, the more important it got to always respect the places and environments you visit – to take care to keep it clean and just like you found it.
Do you have advice for others to inspire them to continue their own mission in reducing single-use plastics?
In our eyes it's important to start small in reducing single-use plastic. A good first step is to make sure you always carry your own water bottle, coffee mug and jute bag with you -- it becomes a habit really fast to always have them with you.
Mizu does a great job of making that step easy in our everyday lives, especially when you travel. Soon enough, you’ll become increasingly aware of the other areas in your life where you can skip plastic.
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