I literally can not believe that we actually made it to the new year! I mean, the fact that time passes is not a surprise in itself, but the second half of 2019 seemed to fly by especially quickly. Despite being a rather rare visitor of my own blog, I still want to share my thoughts about the last year and make some conclusions. I’m sure I will get to elaborate about some trips in the following months as well, as I haven’t even gotten the chance to tell you about my most exotic destinations of the last year.
I am not a big fan of listing and evaluating destinations, as every country has it’s own charm and each experience is always subjective, being affected by weather, budget, mood and completely random aspects. So instead I will highlight some of my favourite travel moments; those that I would be happy to relive in some way.
A spontaneous breakfast in my solo trip to Mauritiusl
I didn’t really know what to expect from Mauritius, as it was not only my first trip to the Southern Hemisphere, but also my first time in African islands and by the Indian Ocean. So I was ready to face a completely different world, with the batteries of all my electronics charged and summer clothes ready to be worn. Mauritius was vibrant, lively and completely unique. After I finish my series about the USA, I will tell you more about my adventures by the Indian Ocean!
However, after an intense and beautiful 24 hour layover in Mauritius, I was already on my way to the airport at sunrise to catch my next flight. I was walking under the burning morning sun across a tiny jungle road and passed by the local marketplace before catching my bus. At the market place, local men were eating rotifrom a plastic bag. Roti is a meal traditional for the islands of this region, resembling a thin pancake rolled around its stuffing. The stuffing is traditionally either a white bean curry or a green tomato paste rougaille, both of which are incredibly spicy. Sunhat in my head and suitcase behind me, I looked like a real tourist; yet still lined up with the local men and bought myself some of the beloved street food. My mouth was burning for quite some time, but it was worth it — to wake up with the sun and the island and eat street food as breakfast together with the locals. At least for a moment out there, I was breathing in the same rhythm with the island.
Bar-hopping in Boston and Cambridge
Well, that wasn’t a particular one-time moment, but rather a continuous source of excitement during my summer in the USA. Despite summer being the most quiet time of every university city, Boston was still filled with students and learning even throughout the summer. Occasionally, my university UMASS Boston was completely filled with students even during the weekends. That meant that evenings at university bars were equally crowded. In my neighbourhood in Boston I couldn’t go out even once without somehow participating in a communal trivia night in the bars. It was exhilarating — a hundred people drinking beer together and trying to figure out which country in South America is the only one with English as an official language. Similarly, to sit together with post-docs from Harvard and MIT nd hold extended discussions about science, astrophysics, genetic engineering and experience a completely different kind of a bar culture than in Europe was memorable and heartwarming even in hindsight. And once again, this experience was special mainly due to the chance of blending into the culture, in the sense of belonging.
Soaking in the thermal baths of Budapest in fall
This fall I somehow ended up in Budapest quite a few times, naturally taking advantage of the situation to visit some of the most famous thermal baths of the city. Budapest hosts at least 10 different bath housesacross the city to take up some soaking. I managed to visit one of the most famous SPAs in Europe, the bath house in Gellert hotel, on Buda side of the Danube. Additionally, I also visited the biggest thermal spa in Budapest, called Széchenyi, with huge outdoors areas and more than 50 pools. Even though I have numerous great memories from both the Budapest city and the spas, then nothing can really compare to the feeling of running into a steamy 40 degree outdoor pool in late November when it’s minus degrees outside. The feeling of the cold slowly leaving your body and heating up in the water? Priceless.
Farewell breakfast in Turkey
It’s been almost a year since my move from Turkey, but many of the memories are still vivid. When the exams were finished and my return to Estonia got more unavoidable, me and my girlfriends from the Theology faculty decided to go on one last breakfast together. Turkish breakfasts hold a significant importance — breakfast is never eaten fast and it’s definitely not eaten alone. Serpme kahvaltı is the legendary Turkish breakfast with 15-20 different meals and infinite tea. Literally infinite: the tea kettle is placed on the table and it gets replaced as many times as you possibly manage to empty it. Me and the girls, the six of us, shared a breakfast menu for two and were all more than full. The whole set-up was idyllic: to sit in an old train factory turned into a library-restaurant, drink steaming tea and eat all my favourite breakfast meals for the last time while living in Turkey… Simply beautiful! Later we took my last tour around Istanbul, visited the glorious Dolmabahçe palace and took some secret photos. These last moments together really made me sad to leave.
Alright, I know that for some reason, half the favourite moments listed happened to be connected to eating breakfast. To justify myself, I can ensure that actually there were a lot more beautiful breakfast moments in that year! I also had incredible breakfast moments in Washington DC and New York and in the jungles of La Reunion and on top of the volcano and… Breakfasts are important! And I am grateful for having the chance to spend yet another year visiting more distant destinations and experiencing unforgettable moments than I could have even dreamt of. Moving back to Estonia, I had promised myself that I will take a long break from traveling and spend at least a full year at home, no travelling. Well, you can see how that ended up! I visited 8 countries in 4 continents, took more than 30 flights and almost learned how to cope with long haul flights (survival tip: don’t watch a sad movie at night, unless you want to wake up your seat mate with your endless crying).
So what will the new year bring? I have no idea! In a few weeks I will return to Africa, visiting Northern Africa this time in order to practice my incredible Arabic skills. I have some ideas for the near future, but no specific plans. Yet taking into account what happened last year, I can only assume that I won’t be spending too much time at home — rather having no certain plans gives me the flexibility I need. However, I will try to be more active in my travel blog and quickly catch up with my posts. If I’m especially lucky, then I should be able to post a few travel videos in addition to the blog posts soon. As a matter of fact, I have a lot of footage, but almost no idea what to do with the materials. Whoever watches or creates travel videos — give me advice on how to approach it!