Actually #1 or Excitement in Suburbia
Between trying to keep this blog fluff and travel (okay and a bit of food) and wishing to talk about everyday stuff, inspiration, travel plans, I never done the kind of “life update” blog posts, although I love reading them on other peoples blogs. But actually, I feel maybe I ought to contribute, so I am trialling this, and if it’s no fun or turns into too much work, I will abandon it. Yes, a “Dear Diary” kind of outpouring, if you like. Let’s see how it goes, and whether you find it completely ridiculous or, worse, punish it with disregard.
I tend to stick to travel and a bit of hobbyism on this blog only. And as much as I am slightly bothered by the affiliate links and advertising on many of the “life update” blog posts I read, I am going to keep mine most advertising free. Just an update.
First of all, happy summer to everyone in the Northern hemisphere! I hope life is good, and that you are enjoying your summer, and possibly your summer holidays. Here, summer provides opportunity to pick up some extra locum work… and finally, after 2.5 years hiatus, we went to the opera again! Kept the mask on after I suspect a mask-free Pet Shop Boys gig helped me get some “natural” immunity against the modern plague. Other than that, it was extremely good so I managed to squeeze two Pet Shop Boys references into the title.
Here in Holiday Golightly’s world, summer is usually one of more work. Firstly, the summer hiatus we had experienced in pre-pandemic years is absent as we are catching up on work delayed by corona-related bed closures, staff shortages while most people in Germany tend to take Juli or August for their traditional summer holidays. I can’t be asked to pay top dollar for a holiday while my garden dries to a crisp in the intense heat, so I am staying put and as usual, will go away later in the year.
The first year of “normal” travel?
The first year of relatively normal travel while we certainly still deal with high levels of COVID-19 has been a difficult one so far. Not only do we have Russia’s attack on Ukraine to deal with, expecting fuel shortages for the winter, while frying in up to 40C heat in Central Europe, which gives the media plenty of material to get their teeth stuck into with all sorts of doom and gloom scenarios. Add to that a high level of inflation, fuel prices expected to rise something like five-fold, wildfires all over Europe, and one would think travel related first world problem take a backseat, but no!
This spring, I spent a lot of time at the railway station of Berlin, first to assist refugees, then at the animal help stand to assist refugees and their pets. Hence the fetching green gilets. Other than that, feeling pretty helpless and somewhat poorly informed about what’s going on. I joined an international disaster relief organisation hoping for deployment to Ukraine to assist a bit more, er, directly, but not yet. But I do believe the time will come when it is right.
And I travelled to beautiful Bremen in the first weeks of the poorly thought-out subsidised German travel ticket, where for 9 Euro you can use all local trains for free… after a few jolly rugby scrum and crushed trains in times of rising incidences, it was not as fun as some might think… but I did manage to do a bit of travel … I might not get paid for travel, but travel is paying off!
Every day I can read something about cancelled flights, industrial actions, lost luggage… very unfortunate, especially if you are one of those people who work hard for their time away, who have not been on a holiday for years, only to have your time away spoiled by this.
However, locally, I can see our cities filling up with visitors again. There are the usual visitor streams to the concentration camp-museum in my town. Berlin is vibrant and restaurants are full.
Lately, I have been fascinated by Oman. We were planning a small group trip to Uzbekistan (Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Chiva) later this year, but as my mother is currently recovering from surgery, she has already written it off and I am wondering whether my husband and I just set off on our own, or whether suck up the 150 Euro apiece it costs to cancel the flights and book flights to Muscat, Oman instead. So far, we have just been watching lots of documentaries on TV and I am making up a wish list of places to visit. As always, we would fly out independently and book our own accommodation and maybe book trips where we feel a bit unconfident on our own, for example, into the desert.
While I haven’t written off Uzbekistan just yet, we keep it pretty flexible. Maybe the flights get cancelled, or we will go just as a couple, one of the advantages of spending a little more on flexible flights is being able to leave decisions til the last minute. I would love to re-visit Samarkand and Bukhara, as my last trip was extremely short!
Other than that, I have decided for the 100th time that life is short and I just travel wherever I want. As usual, putting vague plans into reality is not my strong side.
Where I’ve actually been
Things have not been too bad here. I had a week off in May, did my acupuncturist exams, then slept for 48 hours, then went to London for three days with my mother. She last visited London about 1997, and was somewhat handicapped with a manky hip, so everything had to be carefully chosen and not be too strenuous. We took a city tour on a bus ( oooh how I hated it) , viewed a few Christopher Wren City Churches and took advantage of the nice coffee shops in some of them, and, of cours,e my mother wanted to go to a “nice” shopping area. We ended up in Liberty (which she hated and I loved) and King’s Road (which we both loved).
Also, I returned to London in July for a very short and very hot weekend in order to go out to Ealing, drink G&T in a pub yard and eat curry.
My trips were usually just a weekend, flying out on Saturday, returning Sunday, due to work commitments. Not great for the environment, I know. I try to compensate by eating a vegan diet, having been vegetarian for 30 years, taking the train to work and saving and mending… no new consumer products in this household!
Except fabric, Oh how I love fabric. Here is our Aria checking out my latest haul from London. It’s some Italian viscose wit kitty prints. Summery dress, not cat bed.
Talking about work commitments, I started a new freelance job and had to travel to the city-state of Bremen for two days of onboarding. I wasn’t expecting much from the city. As my first day ended nice and early, I wandered through the old town and was positively surprised how many historical sites, cute nooks and crannies and overall pleasantness this small Northern German city has. Although it is usually overshadowed by Hamburg, it is definitely worth a few days, and much less crowded and much less expensive than Hamburg.
I stayed in a lovely comfy business hotel at the airport and took the train into town, a swift 15-minute ride. First I walked through Bremens probably most touristy quarter, the “Schnoor”. It is full of dinky medieval houses, turned into little shops and cafes. Then I walked through the more stately centre, a well preserved legacy of Bremens history as a Hanse trading city. Recent history is less rosy since the 1960’s when Bremen was the richest federal state of Germany, but the city remains small and pleasant and very much under the radar.
We booked flights for our summer holiday! Unlike most prices currently in Europe, we didn’t spend a ton.
Firstly, our trip falls outside the summer holiday season. Secondly, we are flying budget airline with a small handluggage bag only.
And last not least, our first week, accommodation and car hire will be free, as we are simply staying with my father -in-law and drive around in his bashed-up Renault. We will have access to laundry so there really isn’t much point to take a lot of stuff. The only thing I want to bring back is organic Gaillac wine, and that’s pretty impossible on the plane anyway. We always do a few shorter trips, and last time we went to the Aubrac and Conques Abbey and the year before that, to much underrated Rodez. This year, I plan to visit Lourdes, and undoubtledly some brocantes and restaurants between Albi and Toulouse.
The second part of our annual holiday is dictated by the flight schedule out of Toulouse and back into Berlin. We bought flights for 19Euro apiece to Cagliari. We will mov eon to elegant-looking Carloforte on San Pietro Island and I hope we like it enough to stay put for four days, as I have booked my first ever diving course.
And then, browsing Skyscanner one day between an on-call and house work, I noticed Easyjet released their winter schedule and swiftly booked a flight to Aqaba in Jordan, for yet another diving course. My new job is a lot of diving (but not just diving) so while I do not use this blog as a business at all, I am looking forward have part of my travels incorporated into a sound business.
But before all that… I Am volunteering at the Yiddish Summer Weimar Festival. I am very excited as I have not been to any kind of festival for a decade or so. And I think it will be very different! As someone with a great interest in ecumenial and interfaith relationships and having taken Hebrew lessons for the past six months, I hope to experience a lot of yet unknown Jewish culture. I will work wherever needed but hope to spend as much time possible playing vegetarian chef, and learn to cook kosher food. The programme looks certainly very cool, and I plan to make the most of the cultural offerings.
So long, this site may or may not be updated until later this year – I feel the second half will be very exciting… from my lips to God’s ears.