Sunday, August 12, 2018

9 Years of Solo Traveling

I went on my first solo trip in 2009 ... 9 years ago. My first 3 and a half weeks by myself kind of trip. Up until then I had only experienced some long weekends by myself (Amsterdam and New York).

Long weekends, in my opinion, are a good way to start your solo travel experience. It's easy to do: you book a flight, a hotel room, and you spend your days doing touristy stuff (keeping busy being the main thing). Well, you may find the whole having meals by yourself thing difficult or struggle with having to decide on everything anytime but on the other hand, you'll also know that you'll be back home in a couple of days, if you don't like the experience. (And if you like the experience, it will open up a whole new travel dimension for you!)

I, for instance, realized by 2009 that I was ready for the "real" thing. None of my friends had time to travel to the US at that time of the year and I decided that the alternative, staying at home, was (and still is) a definite no go for me (haha).
Therefore, in November 2009 I bought a plane ticket to Washington, DC and there I went, traveling solo for more than 3 weeks for the first time. Even though many things went so completely (and hilariously) wrong (hey, I was new at this … I had a right to mistakes haha), so much else was so nice and so cool that I knew right away it wouldn't be my last solo trip.

To honor (and to remember) my 9 years of solo traveling, I decided on creating a photo book of the best pictures I've taken these last 9 years. I usually do photo books of every trip but this one is gonna be different, more classy, more like a coffee-table book. I have started on the pictures (sooo many of them!) and will have to decide on the kind of book later on. It's gonna be an exciting journey :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

When Life Is Like Something Out Of A Painting

Summer is usually the time that I spend NOT traveling the world (last year was an exception with my Greek trip in August due to a wedding!). When the weather is nice and the days long (and the people away on some crowded beaches), I love to discover places not far away from home.
Therefore, these last couple of weeks, I walked around Lake Greifensee, Lake Türlersee, I went hiking in Andermatt with my brother and my nephews/nice and just this Monday, I spent my day on a boat trip on Lake Walensee.
That was when I took this picture...

... that made me say to my friend (who joined me on my boat trip) that sometimes I wish I could paint. Because this mood? Oh my, that would make a wonderful watercolor painting, don't you think?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August Wish

August ist one of my favorit month ... especially the weeks when everybody (and I mean everybody, like people in the neighborhood, in the city, etc.) is away on vacation (somewhere on a crowded beach, I guess). I love it! And when, like this year, summer is sunny and hot ... I'm in heaven.

Happy Summer to everybody! Deconnect, recharge, rest, let your mind wander, meditate, do yoga or whatever makes you happy.
Yes, do something that makes you happy!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monument Valley ... Part 2

Here some pictures :-)

The Early People (that was the name my guide gave the first people living in the Valley) left their mark

Monument Valley ... Part 1

When I look back on my day spent at Monument Valley, I think of how overwhelmed I felt. I can still feel the heat, the glaring sun. Can still see myself trying to take in as much impressions as possible. Soak it all in.
It all started with this view at 7 am with me driving to the Valley, having the road to myself.

It really looks like this!!
While planning my trip to the Southwest US, deciding on how to visit Monument Valley was difficult. What I knew was that one day would be enough and where to sleep was decided rather quickly. But on how to actually spend my day in the Valley? Unsure. Even after having consulted the official internet site (it's not a US National Park but a Navajo Tribal Park - that means that the site is managed by the Diné … Navajo for The People) and reading through many traveler's reviews, I still felt unsure.

I decided to trust my Travel Instinct.
And my Travel Instinct guessed that visiting the park driving by myself the whole day wasn't ideal. Driving AND looking out/looking at the landscape? Not a good match.

Therefore, I decided on guided tours. That would allow me to enjoy the landscape without having to concentrate on the road AND the tours would show me around parts of the Tribal Park that are closed off to the public otherwise.
I decided on two tours (rather expensive … each for USD 85/2,5 hours but well worth the money!)

So, I spent the morning (we took off at 8 am) in Mistery Valley and the afternoon (3 pm) in Monument Valley (in places beyond the official loop).
In between the two tours, I went on the loop with my own car (I couldn't visit the Valley WITHOUT experiencing the dirt road with all its holes and bumps!).
I then had lunch at the Guilding's Lodge (just outside of the Tribal Park) and even visited the small museum (you know me, I can't miss a cute little museum haha).

Thank you Travel Instinct! You were, once again, totally right. It was the perfect day. Exhausting, sure, but perfect.

I visited the Valley in this jeep

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Remembering Driving from Mesa Verde to Monument Valley

I left Mesa Verde thinking that I somehow had reached the culmination of my trip. I was looking forward to see Monument Valley, obviously, but I thought that it couldn't get better that what I had experienced the day before.
Well, not 10 minutes into my drive west to Monument Valley, I found out that I was wrong.
Thoroughly wrong.
Mesa Verde was magic but what I saw around me felt … majestic. I had arrived in the West one reads about or sees pictures of. But seeing "it" with my own eyes? Just … stunning. Breathtaking. Amazing. Dizzying. Well, let's stop with the adjectives. Look at these pictures? Am I right or am I right?

Ute Reservation

Just a couple of miles before Mexican Hat (the town I spent my nights in) I decided on a detour: Gooseneck State Park.

Majestic was the word I mentioned, right?

The town Mexican Hat was named after this rock that … looks like a Mexican Hat (?? but hey I never said to be a visual person haha)
I called Mexican Hat a "town" but it actually was more a couple of houses along US163. Some hotels, a gas station (with little shop), the San Juan River flowing lazily (I slept at the San Juan Inn which offered a nice view of the river) - heat, dust and red soil all over. I had arrived in Navajo Land. I loved it!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Remembering Mesa Verde

If it weren't for the Lonely Planet guide "USA's Best Trips - 52 Amazing Road Trips", I wouldn't have known that this place even existed. But there it was, on page 418: Mesa Verde National Park. On my way to Monument Valley, nonetheless!
After reading more about it, I decided that it was worth a stop (2 nights) and booked a hotel in Cortez (cute little town, BTW, and the view of the mountains was very nice as well … see below).

Mesa Verde is just beyond these mountains

I imagined that Mesa Verde would be a nice but nothing really prepared me to the magic of the place. Reading about it is NOT seeing it! It was mind-blowing. I spent the whole day driving along the roads, doing the Cliff Palace Loop and the Mesa Top Loop twice. And I only went back to the hotel because I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open. You know, the heat, the sun, the altitude, the impressions … all of that was really tiring!
I would have loved to see the place during the evening as well (when the light would have been different) but driving while being that tired is not smart and traveling alone forces me to always do the smart thing!

I could write poetry about this place (even if I suck at poetry hahaha). Therefore, let's stick with what I know well… photography :-)

Imagine! Up to 6000 people lived here (meaning in the valley in similar places) 800-1000 years ago

The Valley

Nobody really know why people left the site … some scientist say it was because of water shortage. We'll probably never know. What we know though is that they moved south...

The site was discovered by a cowboy (who was looking for his cows) by … accident

Back in the days, this place was an important treading post - people selling and buying stuff from all over


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Remembering My Drive From Taos to Mesa Verde

It was a long drive, from Taos to Mesa Verde, but the landscape was so very nice, so green and so different from what I had seen so far that I enjoyed every minute of it. My stopping all along the road, to take pictures, to absorb the landscape, made my trip even longer but it was totally worth my time!