One of my favorite travel destinations for historic sites is Italy. The country is plastered with historic building and ruins from every time period since the antiquity. I love wandering through its cities and admire remnants of Ancient Rome or the Italian renaissance.
From the moment we got there, we were treated and pampered at every step of the way. Starting with complementary welcome massages, every room and corridor smelling of fresh flowers, delicious food, great drinks, lovely and approachable staff that seemed to anticipate your every need.
I was aware that India would be very different from I had encountered before. I was theoretically prepared for the stark contrasts and ready to embrace the expected culture shock. But all my years of research and love from afar did not prepare me for the actual impact it had on me.
I used to say that I am a city girl through and through. When it came to travel, I was focused on city trips and architecture, the idea of the country side and nature bored me. Until I made it to Vietnam… and was convinced otherwise.
My 30 day interrail trip around Europe had taken me to amazing sights, enabled me to meet fascinating people and forced me to face myself and grow in the process.
My travel companion had disembarked in Budapest and decided to let me sleep, therefor leaving the door unlocked. The conductor asked me to secure the latch, which I complied with drowsily. And in hindsight, I am grateful that he did ensure that I did.
And even though I did not speak Turkish and they did not speak German or English, we ended up having a full fledged conversation with a mixture of basic words and body language.
Through reflecting on and questioning my believes and values, I figured out a couple of years ago that even though I am not religious or affiliated with any church, I believe and enjoy spirituality. This is most noticeable whenever I enter a place of worship, not matter what dominion.
After Athens, I took a train to Thessaloniki (Greece) and from there a night train to Istanbul where I arrived on Sep 20th. And honestly, even though the weather was grey and gloomy, the city and its people were amazing.
Athens confronted me with a problem that I had anticipated earlier but had been spared: Language barriers
In December, my parents, my baby sister, my younger brother and his girlfriend decided to join us in New York for the holidays. It honestly meant a lot to have them in our new home town and have the people that mean so much to me get to spend time together.
We were lucky enough that by the end of the year I still had a good portion of vacation days left over. Paired with German national holidays and weekends, I was able to join him in New York for a little over 3 weeks throughout December which was a big luxury.
Our first Christmas together was a roller-coaster. We were living in Hamburg (Germany) at the time and had made plans to spend Christmas eve with my younger siblings and their significant others at our family home on the outskirts of Berlin.
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