Its Alright: My 2022 Travel Year
And so here goes nothing, with about 138 drafts on file, my heads full of plans. Not a great year for travel blogging here, my 2022 travel year but a good year otherwise. Mainly dominated by work.
Table of Contents
Work first, or what…
But that’s okay, because I mostly love my job. In fact, I love it so much, I got another job this year for a travel assistance company, in addition to my long term job. When before I was pretty set in my ways about researching and planning trips this job is not just bolstering the travel funds, but also opened my mind in many ways, forcing me to research destinations I would have never dreamed of visiting. All was preceded by a course at a Tropical Medicine School which was paradoxically held. entirely online. So thank you, Tropeninstitut Hamburg, for the enlightening but somewhat unexciting course about travel medicine studied entirely from the comfort of my sofa.
I also learned diving for the job. So that’s yet another draft sitting on my computer. And I signed up with two NGOs for voluntary work and applied for deployment with one later in 2023… but that’s all music of the future and I don’t want to jinx it before I am actually there.
As the year comes to an end, I have a weekend off, so, to keep the tradition, I am going to serve up a smallish “travel year review” and aim to publish it before the year ends… let’s see how I get on. Made a good start, as I was on call and got woken up at dawn, then felt awake enough to finish all my invoices for the years and set to write…
So, what about travel?
Nothing too exciting happened, but boring is good. Means no major upheavals, stresses, or the like. After a very stressful 2020 and 2021 I was really happy to go on my little trips, work was ticking along nicely, I had enough money in my account, my family was good… in fact, boring is massively underrated.
Did my actual 2022 travel year match my optimistic travel plans? Totally not, although I did manage to go to Turkey. And in a way, I got a fair bit more than I was asking for, with many little trips including my old home. England, and some new beautiful places in Germany.
The beginning of the year was stil very much dominated by the coronavirus here. I got somewhat cold feet about my winter holiday, which I take in January when it’s cold and dark here in Germany, quite literally!
Bursa, Iznik and Istanbul, Turkey, January 2022
After my 2021 Southeast Anatolia trip which I loved so much, I wanted to visit Turkey again as soon as possible. Flights to Istanbul were cheap, I had a week or so, so I hopped on a bus as soon as I got to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport and settled in a historic caravanserai in Bursa for a few nights. I slid and skidded through snow and ice, which was plentiful and more than I saw in Germany this year, which gave the magnificent Seljuk/Ottoman Ulu Mosque and Ottoman-era monuments and tombs strewn all over town an otherworldly atmosphere. I also discovered some extremely well made, reasonably priced silk here, not to mention all the accessories available in Bursa, one of a few centres of silk production in Turkey.
Apart fro the wonderful and uncrowded sights, my highlight was an evening experiencing a sema, a religious service known in the West as “Whirling Dervisehes” at the Karabas-i-Veli Lodge. Again, that’s another almost finished one in my drafts folder…
From there, I travelled to Iznik to view its traditional tile art, which was pretty much in hibernation, However Iznik gave me a very interesting hamam experience and a great small town vibe and lovely people, Roman ruins and a historically significant but currently relatively unexciting Hagia Sophia where the Nicean Councils (Catholic girl here) were held.
And I am finding it nearly impossible to not visit Istanbul at the end of these trips, so for one day, I sauntered through the Great Bazaar for as long as I wanted, looked at all the gold and went to the upmarket 19th Century Cukurkuma Hamam.
Bavarian Alps, Germany, March 2022
Just over a month later, I had to go for some professional training and rather than going for the pricier course her ein Berlin, I travelled to Berchtesgaden and spent the difference on a lovely and very reasonably priced pension with veggie food, no internet, and, of course a resident cat. . While everyone else went skiing on breaks, I admired the snow-capped mountains, did a few “easy” winter walks and spent an afternoon in Salzburg. Um.. and I really got into German Bavarian folk clothing. Too shy to go for the full dirndl, I came home with a folksy cardigan and more material to make a modest not-too-lavish dirndl.
I haven’t written any blog posts yet although I really want to. There is definitely more to the Bavarian Alps in winter than skiing.
London, England, January, May and July 2022
After just over three years… I was so happy to have fun in London again. My last trip there had been for a funeral, so imagine my joy to visit without such a heavy heart. Time for some unabashed hedonism in the form of restaurant food twice a day, trying all the alcohol-free “spirits” that appear to have sprung up on bar menus, shopping trips to Marks and Spencer and Goldhawk Road, all while basking in the spring sunshine.
In May, I repeated the same with my mum in tow.
And then in July, at the height of the season town being really rammed, I had no choice but to attend the yahrzeit celebrations of my departed dear friend, basically beer and a curry with as many of his friends and family as possible. It was hot, it was sticky, it was expensive due to being main season, but there was absolutetely no missing that.
Only a tiny bit of blogging about London trips here, here and here. Visit if you care about off the beaten track stuff even when town is chock full of tourists, Spitalfields and shopping for quality material at lower prices.
Bremen, Germany, June and December 2022
Some onboarding work and training meant I had to visit Bremen twice this year. Initially I was not very excited because Bremen is a relatively cash-strapped Northern German city state with a market square and statue as a major sight. However, Bremen turned out a very cool little city, with the aforementioned market square certainly very nice, and the nearby half-timbered Schnoor houses incredibly picturesque. While I prefer Bremen in good weather rather than minus 10 degree, they also manage to throw a pretty large and very picturesque Christmas Market and when part of your work trip turns out to be a three-hour cellar tour of the historic town hall cellars, I am certainly not complaining. Also, Bremen has the best perfume shop I have found in Germany so far, in the Schnoor, with moderately priced totally niche fragrances mostly of French origin. I always find something there, usually organic, always cruelty-free, with a price tag that fancy and often not cruelty-free brands like Amouage or Serge Lutens can only dream of.
No blog posts yet.
Weimar, August 2022
One I was looking forward to for months, was a week’s volunteering cooking vegetarian food at a festival. The first afternoon, just cleaning up in a tight basement in extreme heat, left me a bit disenchanted, but when I viewed my accommodation, a basically abandoned school used for some art projects, I fled as quickly as I could, booked myself into a fine hotel and was a tourist in Weimar for a day and ahalf before returning to the comfort of my home. I cannot remember a single thing I noped out of quicker. But Weimar was fun, and surprisingly uncrowded even in high summer.
Toulouse and Midi-Pyrenees, France, September 2022
Time for the annual family visit. If my husband were to write this review, Toulouse would feature heavily, as his family lives nearby so he visits often while I hold the fort and look after the cats. But at least once a year, I try to visit, too. With our Uzbekistan trip coming up, I agreed not to go anywhere “fancy” for our main summer holiday and to visit family instead. However, I did finally manage to visit Lourdes, which was kinda how I imagined it, yet totally different… blog pos tcoming soon, I hope. Other thsan thatm, we missed booking tickets for the Airbus factory again, another thing on my wish list. And in order to get to our next destination, we had to fly from Carcassonne, which suited me well, because I always wanted to visit the medieval walled city, but I was ultimately totally disappointed although the City of Carcassonne itself wasn’t bad.
No blog posts yet, France is a bit like home I spend very little time in. And I do know parts of it well, so maybe instead of my nap after work, I should get my arse in gear.
San Pietro Island, Sardinia, September 2022
One cheapo Ryanair flight later, we landed in Cagliari and went on a fun train and bus ride to San Pietro Island. I had booked a diving course there, but what really struck me about the island is how low-lewel touristy it was. Yes, there was tourist infrastructure, but everything was small, local and not outrageously expensive. That had been my fear when visiting Sardinia, really. Moreover their rail network might be sparse, but the trains that run were superb, so we did on a day trip to SAn Gavino Monreale, a sleepy saffron farming town with some pretty cool large-format mural art. Didn’t really care that only one restaurant was open at lunchtime and I think hotels are a bit thin on the ground, it had a train station and the art was really good. Also, I did my Open Water Diver in pretty warm and clear water with some nice unspoilt marine life, and since I was the only student, it was pretty intensive.
No blog posts yet. I am beginning to wonder what I have been doing this 2022 travel year, blogging-wise.
Xiva, Samarkand and Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan, October 2022
The final trip, and pretty much starting with “oh dear oh dear”. We had originally planned to travel as a group of four to the classic Uzbek Silk Road destinations. I had accepted the challenge to book a trip that was not only cheaper, but also more individual and “classy” than any commercial group tour. Well, said and done, I found nice semi flexible Turkish Airlines flights and booked us into high-end guesthouses. I narrowly avoided the then convenient but now impossible Aeroflot connection via Moscow or St. Petersburg.
A few months later, my mum went for surgery and felt she wasn’t up to all the walking with a new part just fitted, and my husband chickened out for fear f being abducted. Yes, abducted.
So, what was I to do? I cancelled all the nice fancy accommodation, booked myself into cheaper guesthouses in not-so-touisty locations and included a lot of markets and Beton Brut in my itinerary. The only time I felt truly scared was crossing the mountains in a share taxi on my way to Fergana, but I felt completely safe as a solo woman and come home with a bunch of new friends, improved Russian skills and a few metres of material.
I haven’t published any blog posts from this particular trip, but here is a foolproof instruction on how to book train journeys in Uzbekistan. And I detailed how I booked a pretty magnificent trip on a budget. From my earlier trips I have two posts about Samarkand, with an itinerary for a day and then, venturing a bit further out, from my first trip in 2019. Also, a post on Bukhara and a little sustainable, cool crafts shopping guide.
My 2022 travel year: Hotel of the Year
I am very happy to say I did not stay in any really bad sh*tholes this year but pretty much everywhere was good. Too many really good ones to really say a single one was the very best.
In general this was the year of the Bed and Breakfast. Starting with the bargain of the year at the Istanbul Otel in Iznik, where for 10 Euro I got a clean and comfy ensuite room right in the centre of Iznik, complete with always-present grandma and the friendliest people (but no breakfast).
Over to the lovely Pension Krennleiten in Koenigssee, which had the loveliest rooms with no TV, no Wifi, and a wonderful breakfast every morning.
This continued in London where main season and sky high prices brought be to the Swan Guest House in West Drayton. A lovely guesthouse in an old Georgian house, with rose garden, and pared down traditional interior.
Last not least, low priced gems like the Old Radio Hostel of Samarkand and Evergreen Guesthouse of Margilon in Uzbekistan, which may not win any interior design price, but are clean, super comfy and above all, are run by the most hospitable people who cook very well.
Airline of the Year
That has to be Turkish Airlines. I only flew them once this year, on my longest trip. From Berlin to Tashkent via Istanbul. Not only did they use spacious modern aircraft, even in Economy you got a decent meal, a comfort kit and decent entertainment. Also, their fares with some flexibility are extremely reasonable.Even on a delayed flight in the middle of the night from Tashkent to Istanbul the crew was cheerful, friendly and professional.
Not-so-honourable mention to Ryanair and Volotea and, to a lesser extent, Easyjet who cancelled flights more often than I can remember, leaving me to scramble and book another, usually more expensive flight.
Also Lufthansa, who screwed my husband good and proper on his recent trip to Toulouse. I think there were five or six flight cancellation for a 1400km round trip altogether. To make things worse, there was nearly zero communication from the airline, the rebooked flights were super late as well, and for the return Lufthansa really took the bisquit and booked him a flight with nights layover – at his own expense. I understand when things go wrong, but that ois totally shoddy customer service, so I have filed a compensation claim. Taking nearly 24hours of your time and then just expecting you to suck it up, without even an apology, really isn’t on.
The Small Print
I am keeping this small blog self-hosted and and mostly advertising free. All advertising is either personal word of mouth recommendations, meaning I always paid full price for a service, or comes in the form of affiliate links to Booking.com.
Although pretty much any of the hotels and guest houses are on Booking.com, I have only included affiliate links to the two Uzbek guesthouses that do not have their own website in this 2022 travel year review. They told me they actually prefer using Booking.com. Booking does take a large chunk of commission, and although I using for hotels (so convenient!) I try to book smaller guesthouses and hotels directly.