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Since I am usually writing my travel stories delayed in time, I started these monthly updates to tell you about my current whereabouts, what has been going on with me travel-wise, emotionally and work-related (if there’s anything interesting to talk about), plus where I’m headed to in the next month.
August has been the busiest month in ages – I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since I returned from Buffalo at the end of July. Moving quite literally – through word of mouth and a pinch of luck, I ended up housesitting again three times this month! In total, I did eight housesits during my time in New York – none of which had been arranged before I got here – and I even had to turn down two requests this month due to timing issues. I loved getting to know so many different neighborhoods, many of which I’d never set foot in had it not been for a sit, and some of which I was completely smitten by, like Crown Heights, where I housesat an adorable little dog named Monkey, or Prospect Heights, where I housesat for Jessie the cat three times. But I wrote in more detail about my adventures in housesitting in this post, including some tips on how to score a great gig in New York City.
When I wasn’t moving house, I was moving around town like a mad woman over the past four weeks: I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge walking and running several times, whizzed around town on my Citibike, walked the entire length of the High Line Park about five times, checked out art exhibitions, flea markets and food markets, street art and more open air movies, rooftop bars and a couple of sunset cruises, plus an awesome outdoor dance party. There were several picnics in the park as well, two visits to the Bronx, street art walks, bocce ball games, beautiful sunsets, lots of good food, and speakeasy bars, to name just the things that popped right into my head.
I only left New York once this month to go to New Jersey for a day, and sadly I only went to a beach once, despite the glorious summer weather. Instead of hitting up some beaches along the Jersey Shore as we had planned we ended up in an incredible (and incredibly big!) sculpture park because the weather didn’t cooperate that day. I made it to the Rockaways though, a beach getaway just a subway ride away from Manhattan (and even closer if you happen to be in Brooklyn). The Rockaways had been on my to-see-list forever and turned out to be way more awesome than expected. Even though I barely traveled, I did so much exploring in NYC that I just feel exhausted and want rest for a month. There’s no time to rest though…
Next week, I’ll wave goodbye to New York and the U.S. for a while and explore a region entirely unknown to me. The original plan was to hike the Camino De Santiago, a 500 mile long medieval pilgrims trail in northern Spain. While this started out as a pilgrimage for Christians, who end the trail at the tomb of St James in the cathedral of Santiago De Compostela, it has become more and more popular for non-Christians over the last decade or so. Think of it as a ‘journey to yourself’ sort of thing, a quest that people undertake, a month of walking to have some time with yourself and to reflect on your life, think about your future, deal with your deepest inner fears, hopes, ideas and issues.
While I had been intrigued by the Camino for a while and it came up several times when J and I discussed travel plans in the past, I was never sure if I was able to do a month of walking. After finishing our 5-day Salkantay Trek in Peru’s Andes earlier this year though, which is not an easy trek, I was hooked on multi-day treks and eager to do more of those. And the Camino seemed perfect this year – after everything that’s happened in my life, I felt like it would be a good way to process and work through my emotions on this very long walk. However, at the end of June I started to discuss the opportunity to go on another amazing trek, the Israel National Trail, a grand hike across Israel that is not very well known.
We need to talk about Israel
I hope you can laugh about this video, too – I needed the laugh that day after having spent hours reading hard-to-digest news articles about the Israel – Gaza conflict. Talks about this trip had begun before the conflict started (and later escalated). When the situation there got out of control instead of an anticipated short few days of combat, I decided to withdraw and go ahead with my original plans, and have since been going back and forth about doing the trek about 600 times in the last seven weeks. Let me say that I am not necessarily a fan of Israel’s politics but I usually give every country a chance, even when I have a problem with their politics or am disturbed by a country’s social issues – and I have been spending the last four months in a country where I am disturbed by social and political happenings on a regular basis (Ferguson just being one example this summer), but I still love the country and its people (well, at least most of them).
With regards to Israel, I am not qualified to provide commentary on the complex political situation in that region, even though I have been following the escalating situation between the Hamas and Israel closely over the last few weeks and done a lot of research on the topic. I have been talking about the conflict with Israeli expats here in New York, with friends who have a better understanding of the region, and with critical and objective travelers who have been there. They all encouraged me to take this opportunity to visit the country and to see the situation for myself, and form my own opinion.
As for articles about my trip, I am not sure to what extent I’ll be able to cover the conflict, but I will share the same types of stories of food, culture, an introduction to the country and of the people i will meet there.
I will first join a group of travel journalists to hike the National Israel Trail for eight days, a hike that was named one of the most epic trails in the world by National Geographic and is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will then travel independently to several places around the country and also gladly accepted the invitation from a friend to show me around the country. I am planning to explore places like Jerusalem, Jaffa and the Dead Sea, places that I have been dying to visit. The trek itself was the most compelling factor, since like I said before, I am keen on another challenging trek, and my hikes in the scorching heat of the Sonoran Desert and through hot-as-hell White Sands should actually be a good indication of what to expect since Israel is very hot and dry.
I will spend about four weeks in the country and hope this will give me the chance to get a good picture of Israel, and the chance to learn more about the ongoing conflict with Gaza.
What’s new with Globetrottergirls.com
Last month I received a rather large invoice from my web hosting company, giving me the option to either terminate the website or to keep it going. For a moment, I was hesitating. But you reading this now means that I paid the invoice and will keep running the site, and I committed to three years (for now), so get ready for hundreds of more travel articles.
This got me thinking though – will I still be globetrotting in three years? What will I be doing in three years? Will I have a base somewhere? As of now, I sincerely cannot answer this question, but I have no doubt that life will lead me in the right direction. What else got me thinking about the future was the Soccer World Cup which ended last month – because I was in completely different places and stages of my life during the last four World Cups, never anticipating in the slightest where I’d be four years later. In 2002, I was working as a cocktail waitress in Ibiza, not knowing that I’d be getting a degree in International Business in 2006, when the World Cup took place in Germany (my home country). It was my last summer there before I moved to England, and while I was working my way up the corporate ladder, I had no idea I’d be watching the final games of the World Cup in 2010 in Mexico City, three months into what was supposed to be a one-year trip around the world. And then, I certainly didn’t think I’d still be vagabonding four years later, and watch the World Cup in my favorite city in the world!
As for the stories I am sharing momentarily – I had mentioned a while ago that I’d still want to share the stories of J and my last travels together, but that I’d want to take my time and decide when I’m ready to relive the emotions of the incredible experiences we had before the break-up. I am not gonna lie, it is still not without pain that I look back at these adventures that happened so close to the end of our relationship – like our trek to Machu Picchu, our Salt Flats Tour in Bolivia or our New Mexico road trip – all highlights of all of our travels together, making it a bittersweet journey back in time for me.
Overall though, I can look at those photos now with a smile on my face, remembering these trips without getting caught up in emotions, treasuring them in my heart forever and being thankful that I was able to experience these things together with her. I have already started to sprinkle in some of those stories here and there in the past few weeks – you can expect more of them in addition to my travel stories from New York, Buffalo and Israel, and I hope it is not too confusing for anyone (please let me know if it is!) that I am not necessarily posting in chronological order.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear what you think about me traveling to Israel right now – I’ve already gotten angry comments from some people who I told about the trip, who cannot understand that I am traveling to Israel in the first place, and that I am doing it during this unstable time (to this I’d like to say that the trip has been approved by the Ministry Of Tourism and the authorities are confident that it is safe to do this now). I know not everybody will be supportive of my decision, but I hope you’ll understand my motivation behind it. As for the Camino – I am still eager to walk it, and have been thinking several times if I really made the right decision NOT to walk it now, but to be honest: While I felt like I desperately needed this time with myself when I started researching the Camino back in May, I am in a much better place right now and have been reflecting a lot during the past few months. I am interested to see how I’ll feel about my decision in four weeks’ time, and will share my thoughts on that here at the end of September.