In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, what’s new with Globetrottergirls.com and what’s next for me.
What I’ve been up to
What a busy month! I would almost say that this was the busiest travel month of the year so far, but then I remembered my how I started the year by visiting five countries in January, island hopping around the Philippines in February, bouncing around Thailand in March to show someone special around the country, and a lot of traveling in April, including stressing out over my visa, and never finding time to properly relax over the summer… no wonder that I am exhausted. Which is why I am not sure if I should go ahead with my upcoming travel plans, but more on that later.
Back to what I’ve been up to in September. You might remember that I was about to set off on a month-long Euro trip when I wrote my last update in Berlin. Since then, I’ve been to Amsterdam, London, Iceland, London again, Germany, Italy and now on my way from Venice to Oktoberfest in Munich. I left Berlin in 86F (30C) heat, sweat was dripping off me, and I should’ve cherished that moment much more than I did because now I know that this was the hottest I’d be for a while. Arriving in London at a chilly 54F (13C) was already a shock to my system and I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive Iceland.Luckily Iceland, just a short 2.5 hour plane ride from London, wasn’t really any colder than London (shocking!). I road tripped around the country for a week with my friend Rease, which turned out to be the highlight of the month – see more on that below. After I dropped the car off at the airport again, I flew back to London where I had another busy day catching up with old friends and a business meeting before heading back to Germany for my sister’s 30th birthday. I spent a couple of days baking and cooking for her big birthday bash and before I had any time to recover I was already on a train again – this time to Italy.
The 3am wake-up call for my long train ride to Milan was well worth it, because the train journey across Switzerland was one of the most scenic ones I’ve ever taken. Using Milan as a base, I explored the Lombardy region for a week with some fellow bloggers as part of the Blogville campaign, which aims to promote this underrated region of northern Italy. Knowing that I was just a two-hour train ride from Venice, without a doubt one of the prettiest cities in the world, I couldn’t resist spending a couple of nights there before heading to Munich for Oktoberfest.
Highlights of the month
Road tripping around Iceland
Iceland was magical – definitely one of my favorite trips this year! It was a rather spontaneous decision to join Rease when she asked me – I looked up airfare and when I saw that a flight from London to Reykjavik was only 60, I didn’t think twice. I’ve seen so many beautiful images of Iceland pop up on other travel blogs over the past few years that this little island in the Atlantic Ocean worked its way higher and higher on my travel wish list – yes, I still read travel blogs for inspiration and have added quite a few destinations to my wish list because of blog posts… like Boracay, South Africa (yet to happen!), or Myanmar. We drove the Ring Road around the entire country, stopping along the way for geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers and glacier lagoons, black sand beaches, scenic views AND the northern lights! In short: it was glorious! I am currently in the process of sorting through my 1,500+ photos and video footage to show you my Iceland highlights.. hopefully next week. Until then, check out my Iceland Photo Album on Facebook to which I am still adding new photos regularly.Traveling by train I’ve always loved train travel and have been riding trains frequently since my grandma took me on them when I was a little child (he was a train driver his entire life and loved being on trains) and especially in Europe, trains are amazing. Efficient, super fast, reliable and most of all: sooo comfortable. I used an Interrail Global Pass which allowed me to travel in 28 countries for 30 days – I wish I would have time to travel to all of them, basically spending an entire month on trains. That’s how much I love train travel! Maybe next year?
Returning to Amsterdam
I added a day in Amsterdam to my itinerary on a whim, since it was on the way from Berlin to London anyway and I haven’t been there in years. When I still lived in Europe, I would hop on flights or trains for weekend getaways in Amsterdam, Paris, Edinburgh, Barcelona or Prague all the time, but since I haven’t been spending a lot of time in Europe in recent years, I felt like I should take advantage of my rail pass and re-visit this scenic city. And I am glad I did because my day spent strolling along the canals and rediscovering Amsterdam ended up being a highlight of this month’s travels.Spending time in London When I moved to London for the first time in 2005, I fell in love with the city immediately and knew I wanted to live there. A year later, I moved to England for university and after finishing my degree in May 2007, I moved back to London right away. I loved my time there, even though the grayness and the lack of proper summers wore me down a bit in the end, but I would have never thought that leaving in 2010 to go travel the world would mean I wouldn’t be spending any time in London for nearly five years! Other than a short layover last November I somehow never made it back, and this was the first longer visit in nearly 5.5 years.
This time around, I spent a week in London catching up with my friend Shannon and showing her some of my favorite spots around town, and after being terribly cold for the first five days, just when I thought that this was a good reminder of what living in England was like and vouching not to move back to London, the sun came out and we had a beautiful late summer weekend which we spent between Camden and Notting Hill. Then of course I wanted to move right back there – and it still is a viable option, just not now. I loved seeing how the city has changed since I left; I felt like in the short time I spent there I didn’t even scratch the surface!
Returning to Venice
Another successful return! How could I not mention Venice as a highlight? I was excited to return after many many years and to see that the city is just as breathtaking as I remembered it! I also wasn’t sure if I would fall for its magic again after having traveled to so many place all over the world since I was there last – I know that I’ve become somewhat jaded and hard to impress but Venice was able to enchant me. And that’s even despite the fact that I had to battle tourist crowds, but I found that once you moved away from the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco you could still find plenty of streets, canals and piazzas that were completely deserted.
What went well
I had a few hiccups this month, but other than that I would say everything went well. And I am happy that after a year filled with visa hassle, missed flights and an emotional turmoil I am starting to get my groove back. There were quite a few things that could have gone wrong this month – like needing to replace my laptop (see below), but I was lucky. I drove accident-free in Iceland, I had pleasant experiences on all of my train rides (except for one majorly delayed train in Germany), I didn’t lose any valuables when I was pick-pocketed in Milan (see below) and I didn’t have a single travel experience that I didn’t enjoy… wait, there was one rainy day in Bergamo, Italy… but do I really want to complain about that? 😉
As for last month’s goal to get more sleep in September, I am happy to report that I indeed managed to get more sleep this month, didn’t have a single 2-hour sleep night and averaged 6 to 7 hours (still not enough). I am still dreaming about a 10-hour sleep night, followed by a lay-in during which I binge watch Narcos. I am hopeful that this day will come.
What went wrong
It seems like there were quite a few things that went wrong but I’d like to say that in the grand scheme of things, they were all minor annoyances.
I almost killed my laptop
I was taking notes on our day in Iceland when somehow I managed to knock over my water bottle and it spilled all over my laptop. My trusted Acer laptop shut down immediately and when the black screen stared back at me I thought that was it. I did react fast though, cleaned off the water and put the laptop upside down and open on the hot radiator in our room to dry it off – and miraculously, it turned back on a couple of hours later, a bit confused still, but then it worked just fine! I was lucky, once again!
Traveling with carry-on only Ah, me and carry-on only.. Two things that don’t go well together. I know several nomads who travel indefinitely with only carry-on luggage, and while I admire them, I know that I’ll never be able to do what they do (and quite frankly: I don’t know how they do it!). I just like having options and not just a few outfits – this is my life after all, not just a short trip – and not being limited by 100ml rules, with my contact lens solution for example, of which a small bottle barely lasts a week. I knew I would be traveling for 3.5 weeks in between seeing my friend in Berlin last month and going back to Germany for my sister’s birthday this month, and tried to travel with carry-on only for that short time – but even for 3.5 weeks I felt extremely restricted, and when I flew out of London Gatwick I had to get rid of half of my liquids (body spray, toothpaste, mascara, hand sanitizer, and a few other things) because I was only allowed one Ziploc bag for all my liquids, even though I had specifically bought small bottles only, but they filled up two see-through bags instead of one which is apparently not acceptable for London Gatwick’s airport security. (On my flight back from Reykjavik I didn’t even need to separate my liquids from the rest of the stuff, so wth?!). This whole experience was not pleasant at all, and even though it was nice to travel light for once and not with my giant backpack I won’t do the carry-on only thing again anytime soon.
I was pick-pocketed At least that’s what I think happened when I came home from our last dinner in Milan and realized I didn’t have my wallet anymore. Luckily I’ve separated my credit cards from my cash ever since I started traveling full-time, and while it was annoying to lose the 50 Euros I had just taken out of the ATM, it could have been a lot worse.
Lack of an exercise routine
I didn’t get to go running enough and I ate too much pizza in Italy – poor me, I know 😉 But like I’ve said in previous round-ups, whenever my running routine gets messed up I can feel how I get cranky after a few days. I didn’t go running once in Iceland (which might have been because I didn’t pack my long-sleeved running shirt and I am a wuss when it comes to running in the cold), and for all the pizza and pasta I devoured in Italy, I didn’t run nowhere near enough to compensate the extra calories. That said though, after a pretty painful fall (I was down on all four and ended up with this long-lasting bruise), it was probably not the worst thing for my knee to get some rest. My goal for next month is to get back into my daily running routine and lose the (estimated) five pounds I gained in Italy and from all the birthday cake I ate in September.
Failing at photographing the Northern Lights This one still pains me, and I could kick myself for messing this one up. I was so excited when, on our nightly northern lights watch, I finally spotted them dancing in the sky just outside of our guesthouse on day 4 of the road trip, woke up Rease and told her to get dressed and ran outside to the car to grab my tripod, which I had brought for only one reason: to photograph the northern lights. While I was trying to set it up as fast as possible, the part that connects the tripod with the camera broke, which meant I had carried that thing around for weeks for nothing. No photos of the northern lights. I tried to see the upside of it: Instead of watching them through my lens I got to enjoy them in their full glory, without getting frustrated about camera settings (I suck at night photography.)
What’s new with Globetrottergirls
First of all, I had a pretty good month money-wise, and a few interesting business opportunities came my way. I don’t know what will come out of them, but expect an update on that in my next monthly round-up. And you’ll read more about one of them in ‘Upcoming Travels’ below.
If you have been following me for a while you already know that I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that is involved in running the website and all the admin stuff that keeps me from creating content. I’ve tried to come up with a better system to organize everything and to make it easier to outsource some tasks and hope that there’ll be some changes soon, allowing me to focus on content creation more again; and to grow the site. I haven’t promoted Globetrottergirls in any way in months, I’d love to publish an updated version of Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, and so much more – but as a solo-preneur, I just lack the time to fit in everything I want – unless I stop traveling, but wait, ain’t I running a travel blog? Speaking of stop traveling:
I’d love to announce a break after this exhausting month but instead I am happy to announce that I will be returning to Tel Aviv next week! But first: Oktoberfest! Right now I am on the way to Munich, and I am excited that worked out to visit the beer festival for the second year in a row. While my visit to Oktoberfest had been in my calendar for a while, the Tel Aviv trip only evolved in the past couple of weeks and while it wasn’t what I had planned for October (the plan was to rent an apartment in Istanbul to catch up on work), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to the city I fell so hard for a year ago. I’ve been wanting to return ever since, almost fit in a city break in August but then let go off the idea because I had too many other things going on, and would still like to ideally spend a month or longer there, but visiting for a special project with someone I’ve been wanting to go on a trip for a while now promised to be too much fun to say no to.
I will barely have any time to pack for sunny Tel Aviv after Oktoberfest, but I haven’t committed to anything for the rest of the month and am just now finding the time to think about it. Maybe I can stay in Tel Aviv for a while? Maybe visit a friend in Spain? Still go to Istanbul, for a shorter time? It all depends on if I’ll follow through with my plan to travel to Nepal. This trip had been pretty much set in stone since the early summer, when I found a travel buddy to hike the 3-week Annapurna Circuit through the Himalayas with. However, with my giant work backlog and general exhaustion I am not sure if it’s the best idea to set off on a strenuous 3-week trek and am weighing up alternative options.
So for now, I only know that I’ll be on my way to Israel next week – who knows where my next update will come from. It could be Kathmandu, or it could be.. anywhere, really 😉
Has anyone been to Nepal? Will my laptop survive the altitude and will I survive a 3-week mountain trek? Let me know what you think in the comments.