My decade of travel in pictures
Hallo and Happy New Year to you! May 2020 bring you health, happiness and prosperity! How was your start into 2020? And have you thought about your decade of travel?
Honestly, I am kind of glad it’s over now. Too much reflection can be a bit regurgitative, and we know that’s not healthy. I’ve seen a lot of this in the past few weeks of pre-festivity indulging. But not wanting to miss out on a bit of collective navel gazing , I thought, hey, let’s do my decade of travel, too.
Why write about a decade of travel?
I have only written this blog regularly from late 2017 onwards, but my live (and the past decade) has never been without travelling. I thought it would be fun to dig out some old and some fun picutres of a decade of travel. Has my style of travel changed? Not really – it changes a bit then there’s another iteration… when I have money to spare, accommodations and destinations become a bit more lavish. In times of mortgages and job insecurities it’s very much travel with a budget.
What happened on the blog this year
It was only last year, the second that this blog reached larger numbers of visitors.
This were the most visited posts this year:
1. Is it safe to visit the Mount of Olives?
2. Riding the Chisinau to Odessa Train
3. My Morrissey Years and a Saal Digital Photobook Review
4. Buying a Caucasian Carpet 101
5. In the French Pharmacy: Cruelty-free Issue
So, here’s to the last decade of travel! To make it even more self-indulgent I’ve given every year the name of a Morrissey song title that seems most appropriate for that year – not necessarily the destination. Because… just because! Enjoy a little peep into my travels in this past wonderful decade!
“Ambitious Outsiders” (Maladjusted)
My decade of travel started rather modestly. 2010 the year where, like the previous 2 years, I travelled around the UK a lot – and now probably know it better than my native Germany.
A day trip to London to walk around Columbia Road, eat cheese cake and take a few pictures was a regular thing.
I’d travel around on my weekends off with my mates to take moody pictures of old buildings, then overlay them with heavy fake filters.
Which, up north, were sadly being demolished at an alarming rate. This is the car park that came to fame (or some notoriety) in the 1971 film “Get Carter”
But it wasn’t to say I did not like to spend time in nature! This is the Red Tarn in the Lake District, on Easter 2010.
Or saw cool bands. Like British Sea Power, who were still fairly cool in 2010 and gladly joined in the tradition of playing at a few free local festivals.
And there were frequent trips to Germany. I was very much into the modernist aesthetic at the time. The Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart is a great example and, as you can see its Le Corbusier Museum not exactly overrun. And these beds look bloody uncomfortable.
Italy with friends. It’s obvious she loved beer.
And I love churches. Nevertheless, between the beer and the churches, we made an excellent travel team.
My first pilgrimage, all the way to Cofton Park Birmingham to join Outdoor Mass.
Last not least, a trip to India that almost didn’t happen because of chaos a rare snowfall caused back in Yorkshire. We decided the Taj Mahal would be too touristy. The Tomb of Humayun wasn’t.
And again, more Le Corbusier. As Indian cities go, Chandigarh may not get tons of visitors, but we loved its architecture as well as chaos-free infrastructure and fast trains from Delhi.
And going off the beaten track was something I liked ten years ago, too.
“Everyday Is Like Sunday” (Viva Hate)
First up, a nice trip in my own country: The UK! We thought it might be nice and very un-touristy to cycle in Scotland in March. We picked the West Coast, Islay, to be exact. It rained on five days out of six.
Thankfully, there some very good places to visit in the rainy weather – whisky distilleries!
Apart from that, my home was excellent to cycle round in.
And for the English winter, it was time to go on a far away journey again! I remember my pissed-off-ness at the beginning of this trip, as my boyfriend had decided five days before the trip to take up a job offer and cancel the trip. Leaving me to backpack off to Laos. Here in the worst accommodation I have ever stayed in, in Pakbeng. That book, “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” is one of my favourite ever books and provided some good distraction.
And to wind up at the Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok. It’s become a tradition since.
“Dear God Please Help Me” (Ringleader of the Tormentors)
2012 is a year where I tried a few new hobbies. Like film photography. This picture was taken in Lisbon where I decided to take just two film cameras and carry them up and down the city’s hills. It was good preparation for the daily eating of custard tarts.
Then we tried yoga. I can safely say, back then, I wasn’t too enamoured by the classes, the raw vegan food and the ban on alcohol and caffeine at this Andalucian retreat, but lying around for a week in spring was good.
Come July, I was properly re-toxed and this Neapolitain sweet display wouldn’t scare me. We also visited Rome, The Gulf of Naples region and the Salento, which, in July is somewhat mental, but Italy always is worth a trip.
As if a very sunny week in Italy wasn’t enough, August saw me in no less sunny Marseille on a photo meet-up. My obsession with modernist architecture and film photography was somewhat more sustainable than the yoga. I even made my friend stay at the Unite d’Habitation so we could access this very cool terrace all the time. In terms of comfort, it was a bad idea, the worst beds of the decade. So this somewhat proved my earlier observation that beds in Le Corbusier buildings are not very comfortable.
It was also in Marseille where we hopped on a ferry, I saw the yachts in the Vieux Ports and decided I must learn to sail. No sooner said than done – I found myself on a Competent Crew Course in Gibraltar. Here is a view of our yacht in Marina S’Mir in Morocco after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.
And because I was very close to Morocco already, this was a chance to visit Tangier and Fez! I stayed at the famous Continental Hotel, which looks much more expensive than it actually is!
“Come back to Camden” (You are the Quarry)
New home and mortgage meant treading carefully, money-wise, so I tiptoed across to Amsterdam with my friend. I promise no drugs other than Edam and Lambic Beer were involved in the creation of my cheesy cat drawing, but cheese and cats have always been an important part in my life.
By now, the sailing bug had caught on properly, and before I knew it, I was a Royal Yachting Association Day Skipper. It wasn’t that difficult. We had lots of rains and almost no wind a whole week, so zero points to sailing, full marks for the scenery around the Isle of Mull.
The week in Scotland even made me drink a lot (of whisky, easily available in hundred kinds at every village pub) and throw my vegetarian diet overboard for a day or two. Just the deep fried Mars bar, sadly, eluded me – again.
Come summer, my weekends and many an evening were spent topping off my tan under the Northern sun of County Durham. Most of the time it’s called a club regatta, although, having properly been matched up witht he right crew mates, there were always bisquits.
But in the end, all that North England Summer Sun required a boost, so it was Thailand again. Here am I visiting a temple in Sukhothai, perhaps the most visited site on our itinerary which included Phitsanulok, Khon KAen, Korat and a number of interesting Angkor Era temples.
As well as the Atlanta Hotel Restaurant. I could not visit Thailand and miss that.
“Angel, Angel Down We Go Together” (Viva Hate)
This was the year where karma bit me in the bum and chased me all the way back to Germany. In terms of real life, my least favourite year of the decade. As far as travel goes, it wasn’t exactly riveting in terms of destinations, but no big disappointments either.
No new countries, but I managed to go to Italy twice.
And Germany. I spent a lot of time in Germany. One visit included a last walk through the Beelitz Sanatorium, which had managed to go from mysterious lost place to trash-laden ruin in a matter of a few years. Its a bit how I felt by the middle of the year. too.
Feeling Brexit and the potential loss of my livelihood in my little toes, I took measures to counterbalance career options and sat some exams. The first part in Warsaw. I had not been to Poland since early childhood. I absolutely loved Warsaw. The second part was in Vienna later that year, but I have only very few pictures without my mates on them, so I don’t want to post them here
I also travelled to Rome to see Morrissey on my birthday. A bit risky, given the frequency he cancels his concerts – but he showed. And besides, Rome is never a disappointment.
Lunch with a new friend in the Centro Storico of Rome.
Let this picture from the Neon Muzeum in Warsaw be an oracle, by the end of the year it was back to Berlin! So that’s the first half of my decade of travel. What do you think? In real lifel I had reached a bit of a low earlier in the year, and the end of the first half of the decade offered somewhat of a fresh start.
“You Should Have Been Nice to Me” (Southpaw Grammar)
If 2014 was a bit ass-biting then I don’t know how to call 2015. Lets say it was a year of intense highs and lows.
Going a little higher than my comfort zone already, in a tree canopy walk in Kakum National Park in Ghana
Would I have gone to Ghana on my own accord? Definitely not, but it was really interesting. And friendly. They call it Africa for Beginners, but it wasn’t an easy ride.
View from the Jamestown Lighthouse, Accra. Another high thing reached on a precarious ladder.
Also, my second trip was to Africa. I experienced an emergency landing at Luxor before moving to Tanzania. I found it a little easier than Ghana for the casual traveller, but when you travel with locals and by car/budget airline, and stay away from the tourist sites it’s somewhat different than a safari trip. Even managed a day in Zanzibar at the end of the trip, but honestly, the most interesting bit was walking round downtown Daressalam and watching the street and cloth markets.
Come autumn, I was doing really well professionally, personally I was a wrack. A friend kindly invited me to Paris for the weekend – twice! She knew what I needed – good food and a trip to a fabric warehouse in Bobigny. And a tour of Oscar Niemeyers’s greatest in Paris. So no, I wasn’t going to join the Communist Party.
It wasn’t the classic Paris trip, this much I can say. Here’s a detail of the somewhat rotten looking Tour BEaugrenelle. I am happy to see it appeared to have had a face lift since.
More Niemeyer – I learned he had designed a building in Berlin, too, and promptly treated visiting friends to a tour. It was the time of Instagram wings, and here are mine. Mid Century Modern ones. of course.
Towards, the end of the year, I visited a friend in Greece. I had lost a lot of weight by then which made me look and feel marginally better, but at this stage I honestly didn’t care about looks, I just wanted to survive!
This autumn week in very quiet Northern Greece was perfect.
“I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” (Your Arsenal)
For the first half of the year, I mostly travelled within Germany because of a long distance relationship. I did go on a short break to Italy (where else?) and visited Palermo. Pictures from that trip? On a hard drive somewhere. I openly admit for a couple of years, photography was badly neglected.
In autumn, as the long-term relationship turned into live-in relationship, we went on another short trip (Naples and Rome), and then, to Hawaii. It was my longest and furthest trip away so far and no, we didn’t get married there! I’m just grinning in the beautiful St. Benedicts Church on the Big Island of Hawaii here.
I mean, Hawaii is very pretty. But so bloody far away.
And ended the year in France, in a vastly underrated region of Occitanie. Here’s one of my favourite religious buildings, Albi Cathedral.
“Alma Matters” (Maladjusted)
After losing my beloved tortie cat of 19 years, I adopted a young and very boisterous kitty. Here’ sa blurry mobile shot of me picking up a very doped cat from the airport. From now on, the amount of time we would spend travelling would be somewhat dictated by our furry friend. But that’s okay, because at this stage we started looking for a home, and my boyfriend is a real homebody anyway! And where there’s one cat… well you know.
The rest of the year was marked by saving, working and then, going on a much-needed short holiday to Aegina.
We rented a scooter, drove around the island, visited the old island capital of Palaeochora with its amazing ruined churches.
And then on a whim, I decided to visit Israel and Palestine. This picture is from Temple Mount in Palestine.
And I could not pass up on the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. If you visit, bring a lot of time and stamina.
And then, as the winter blues hit, and a cheap flight to Budapest became available… a short trip to Budapest. It was planned to be a relaxing break, just sitting in hot water basins or cafes – with mixed success.
“I Can Have Both” (B Side to Alma Matters)
After years of unrest, it looked like things wanted to come together for the end of my decade of travel. A more settled life beckoned. Not without travel, for sure!
A lot happened in 2018. New home, new work place, five new countries, all within about 20 days of annual leave (I spent the others packing up our apartment).
We didn’t even have a house to move to on our trip to Armenia in the spring. After a lot of discussing the pros and cons, we put in our final offer on a bus to Noravank. And why not?
Yerevan has become one of my favourite cities, It is relatively compact, green, and friendly. Huge sculptures of cats help, too.
It’s Yerevan, not Paris.
And then, on to Georgia. It’s much larger and more diverse than Armenia. Tbilisi is no match on Yerevan, but I loved its quirky old town houses – some of whom have been turned into guest houses.
We’re not really into sports but driving up to Gergeti Trinity Church was out of the question. Yes, equipment-wise, we may have struggled a bit, but we made it up. Downhill we cheated a little when some friendly Georgian tourists offered a ride in their 4×4.
Summer, sun, and Italy. At a time when Italian cities are heaving with tourists, I went to Florence to meet friends, And yes, you can visit Florence and stay totally away from crowds without missing much of its incredible art.
It was also 2018 when I studied shopping opportunities at my destinations a bit more closely. From it sprang a couple of cruelty-free shopping guides, the first one about buying cruelty-free perfume. This year, I added one about cruelty-free French pharmacy cosmetics, which has become one of the most popular posts in the past months.
In autumn I visited Moldova and Odessa in Ukraine. Both Chisinau and Odessa are full of interesting architecture, although from different eras.
Did you know that Moldova produces excellent wine? I didn’t and was in for a big surprise. Also, the tasting rooms at Cricova Winery are out of this world (and entirely subterranean).
But Odessa, Odessa would steal the show from everything else. In a decade of travel, Odessa was certainly a highlight
On this trip, I rode the train a lot, a shorter Chisinau to Odessa daytime journey as well as this almost museum quality Chisinau to Bucharest night train. Both blog posts proved quite popular, both journey are easily accessible and fun!
We ended the year with our almost becoming a regular autumn holiday: cheap flight to Corfu, interesting side trip to Albania. And cats, always cats every step of the way.
“Moon River” (Now, I know its not a song by Morrissey although he recorded it, as did Elvis, who performed it at our wedding)
The final year of a decade of travel! The first trip this year was a very short one. We had decided to take it a bit easy this year, renovate our house slowly, and otherwise work a little less. Big fail. Our first trip was pretty hectic, a one-day trip to London. Toto, we’re not in County Durham any more! Why did we do it? The wedding rings of our (ok, my) dreams. And shopping at at least three different supermarkets.
In March, I fulfilled another dream of mine. A trip on the Silk Road – 2019 style by high speed train. It was a very brief trip, but I loved my time in Samarkand and Bukhara.
And we got married. I shy away from saying “finally” but I had my fair share of false starts and was adjusting to living happily ever after – on my own. The wedding was fabulous in our own quirky way, the honeymoon a relatively modest trip to Andalucia, although my husband is still moaning that eating out twice a day really ripped a hole into our travel funds!
I travelled east once more, to St. Petersburg. It was a super cheap 3-day ferry trip but I loved it and thought it was perfect to get an idea what is there to see. The Hermitage Museum alone could easily occupy me for three days. And don’t get me started on the endless opportunities to see Classical Music on a tiny budget. As I’m nearing the end of my decade of travel, I certainly steered towards more off the beaten track destinations that fewer people visit independently.
Our last trip of my decade of travel led us to Turkey. It is somewhat controversial politically, which isn’t doing justice to the beautiful country and the friendliness of the people we met.
So, this is my decade of travel!
And, entering 2020…
As for the “big night” itself? Well, I spent the night to the 2010’s on-call. And slept through the millenium New Years Eve. It didn’t lead to a pityful life of sorrow and loneliness. New Years Eve shindigs are so overrated – the best ones are always at someone’s house, with food, a bit of booze and friends and family – and if you want to sleep, you take a nap…
This year, we had a Thai lunch, went to the cinema, and spent the night at home with family. It’s how we prefer it because the cats get terrified by the fireworks. We opened a bottle of Bad Cannstadts finest, then watched the fireworks the nearby baths had put on from our balcony. Wherever you have been, I hope you had a smooth start into the New Year.
Thank you for your support this year and Happy New Year to You! As always, if there’s anything you’d like to know about any of the places visited, feel free to drop me a line!