Dani in New York

Last Updated on April 12, 2021 by Dani

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.

Life lately

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.

rooftop chelsea
The rooftop terrace of the luxury Chelsea apartment I housesat in.

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.

high line park nyc
The High Line Park, which I love!

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…

dani at rockaway beach
Beach = Happiness

Upcoming travels

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.

footprintsWhile 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).

dont shoot bushwickWith 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.

shakshuka at bustan
The best introduction to Israeli culture I’ve gotten so far: Shakshuka, one of my favorite egg dishes in the world.

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.

dani in southern arizona
Hiking in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona

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

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.

new york city
More articles on New York City coming soon!

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!

statue of liberty at sunset nycI am curious to see where I’ll watch the World Cup in 2018, and while I have no clue where that will be, I have no doubt that I’ll be in a good place.

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.

dani laguna honda
The 3-day off-roading jeep tour through Bolivia’s Southwest was an all-time travel highlight – I can’t wait to share my photos with you.

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.

I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…
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Tags : Life latelyTravel Reflections


  1. Love the look of the High Line and have been dying to go for a long time.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what photos, videos and articles come out of your Israel hike.

    1. Dale – I’ll share more photos of the High Line soon – love that park! Israel is definitely going to be an interesting experience, I hope in a good way though 🙂

  2. I am so jealous of the housesitting places that you secured! They look and sound amazing. It’s something I have been looking into a little bit recently, but know very little about. I’m looking forward to yoru tips on scoring a great gig in NYC!

    1. Laura – I was really lucky this summer with all the housesitting gigs I landed! Look out for my detailed post on housesitting in New York in a couple of weeks 🙂

  3. Thinking of you during all these life changes. We have discussed hiking both the Camino de Santiago and the National Israel trails. We’re just returning from an awesome trip to the Amazon – we even saw a jaguar!!! We’re looking at the Salkantay and Ausangate treks now. Hope to see you out on the road. – Tony and Thomas

    1. Thanks, guys! Appreciate it 🙂 I’ll report back on the INT when I get back. You’re making me jealous with your tales of the jungle! I highly recommend the Salkantay Trek!! Hope you’re enjoying Peru 🙂

  4. I think if you’re feeling called to go to Isreal then that’s where you should go. I hope you have a great trek! Also, that egg dish looks so effin’ good!!! Lastly, love the caption on the last photo 🙂 one of my fave songs!

    1. Rachel – I wasn’t sure til the very end what to go for but opted for Israel on a whim. I hope my gut feeling was right 😀 I fell in love with shakshuka (the egg dish) in Guatemala (of all places!) in 2011 – there are so many Israeli expats who run restaurants and make a mean shakshuka. Can’t wait to stuff my face with it on a daily basis 😉

  5. Personally I choose not to support countries that I don’t feel reflect my beliefs trough my money when visiting, but I don’t mind that you go. We all make our own choices, live and let live. I’d LOVE to score good housesitting gigs in New York. And err… the next World Cup is in 2018, babe. I know you’re anxious (as we all are), but it’s not in 2016 yet 😉

  6. Hi Dani, it’s been awhile since I commented. I’m getting burned out reading travel blogs. The one thing that contributes to this is bloggers that write travel stories about places they’ve been. My overwhelming preference is to read about your adventures as they happen, not a week or month later. I like to be living in the moment with you. I like to know that you are experiencing a place as you write it. “Living in the Now.”

    I can pick up any guide book and read stories of places and people that happened sometime in the past.
    Blogs should be personal and in the present, something other forms of communication can’t provide, except for maybe live TV or radio of breaking news.

    Israel is not for me (yet). It may be a long wait for the dust to settle. And, I’m not too keen on countries with a “state religion”. We all just need to get along and keep religion out of politics. Peace on Earth!

    1. Steve, thanks so much for the honest feedback, I appreciate you being so blunt 🙂 To be honest, I expected much more criticism about my decision to visit Israel – It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I am still not 100 % sure about it, but I hope I’ll get a better understanding of the country while I’m there.
      As for my posts – I am actually the same, I prefer reading what people are up to NOW, but I really want to still share some stories of my South America travels and am finally ready to do that. I’ll try to write more timely about current travels though. Thanks again for the comment!

  7. Good luck with everything in the future! Don’t forget to go and see the other side of the story too – visit some part of Palestine, hear the plight of the Palestinian people too! Israel is always churning out much more PR and lobbying than they can…
    BTW: you must be doing something wrong! During World Cup most people turn OFF their head – not start thinking 😉

    1. Thanks, Juergen! I will see the other side of the story, too.. that’s for sure! That was a priority for me when I decided to go to Israel.

  8. Wow I definitely didn’t think you were going to say Israel was where you were heading next! I wouldn’t have thought it was safe at the moment but if it has been approved by the Ministry of Tourism then I guerss it should be OK. I am personally not interested in visiting Israel at all – it just doesn’t appeal to me – but I will still read along on your adventures regardless 🙂

    1. Katie – ha, me neither! I guess that’s what was so appealing to me in a way, as well – the randomness of it! I’ve been reading up on Israel as a travel destination a lot lately (rather than just the news which don’t really paint a very good picture of it) and it looks like it has some beautiful scenery, and then there are all the historical and biblical places. Historically and culturally it is definitely one of the most interesting countries, I feel like, and I can’t wait to find out how I feel about Israel after spending some time there.

  9. Wow I definitely didn’t think you were going to say Israel was where you were heading next! I wouldn’t have thought it was safe at the moment but if it has been approved by the Ministry of Tourism then I guess it should be OK. I am personally not interested in visiting Israel at all – it just doesn’t appeal to me – but I will still read along on your adventures regardless 🙂

  10. Dani I think it’s great that you’re going to Israel. Like you I am NOT a fan of the country’s politics and have problems with many of its military decisions, but it’s historically one of the most significant nations in the entire world, and it’s got great natural beauty as well. If I only visited countries that I agreed with on everything I’d never go anywhere, and I think you have to decide what’s best for yourself.

    My wife is a non-religious Jew and we’ve had Israel on our list for many years, but the time never seems right. However, because there are constant conflicts there, the time may never be “right,” so at some point you just have a to take a leap of faith and go for it. I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences there and how your perceptions of Israel change after your visit. Best,


    1. Hi Brian, thanks so much for your comment and the encouraging words. I agree, historically Israel is one of the most significant places in the world and I’ve always wanted to visit Jerusalem. I’ll let you know soon if I think you should visit 🙂

  11. First I was going to be all excited for you because you brought up the Camino (I’m doing mine in November!!), so I thought I can read from your experiences and see what sorts of tips/tricks I can get from you. Then, I read about Israel and I got THAT MUCH MORE excited! It’s one of my dreams to visit the country and NOT to do it with a tour group. As a Catholic, the acceptable option to visit the Holy Land is to join a pilgrimage group, where you pay outrageous amount of money for a 10-day tour of the holy sites along with a busload of other pilgrims. Yea, no, definitely not my travel style.

    That said, I’m also worried about the safety of traveling to such an unstable area. I wouldn’t do it now (not the right timing), but I’d like to eventually follow your footsteps and do what you’ll do in Israel. Stay safe and I’m looking forward to the updates!


    1. Pauline, I can’t believe you’ll be doing the Camino!! I’m tempted to tag along – thought November might be a bit too late though with regards to cold and rainy weather. I am happy I’ll be able to provide some insights on independent travel in Israel after my trip 🙂 I actually know quite a few travelers who visited Israel by themselves and they all loved it and thought it was easy to get around, according to them. I’ll share my thoughts soon 😀

  12. Israel is a beautiful country and I must second Juergen: if you can, take at least a day and go to Palestine. Arranging a day trip from Jerusalem is easy and with the right guide, well worth it. Traveling in countries with difficult political situations is hard at any time and I suspect Israel will be even harder right now. Good luck – I look forward to reading about your experience!

    1. Marbree, thanks for your comment! I will definitely go to Palestine. I even have a little project planned there but I can’t talk about it yet 😉 Will share the details as soon as I can.

    1. Thanks, Maggie! I hope so, too… just about nervous that the timing of my visit might be a bit off, but we’ll see.

  13. So jealous you are doing a few days on the INT. It’s on my list, but I plan to do the whole thing if possible. You should also check out the Jesus Trail (I know the people who developed the trail from Facebook, and they also wrote my favorite guidebook to the Camino!). Also, if you need any advice on the Camino, let me know. I’ve walked it twice, the Frances in 2010 and the Portuguese in 2012 and served as a hospitalera. My journal from my first Camino is on my website. I give talks regularly in Portland about the Camino too. Happy to help! Kim from So Many Places can vouch for my advice! 🙂 Enjoy Israel and be sure to try the lemon mint slushy they have there….sooooo good!

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