Monday, December 31, 2018

Thank You 2018!

2018 is almost over and it's time for a short retrospect. How has 2018 been for you?

Well, my year has been full of ups and downs. I started off with a good energy, good ideas, a happy outlook. Then, around April/Mai, everything changed.
It became darker. Worries about my job, about money. Fears and sorrow. No walk in the park but somehow I managed. Deep breathing, some crying and quality time spent in nature helped a lot as well as talking to friends.
Then in October, luckily, things turned again and everything became easier, lighter.

I learned to speak my mind, I overcame old fears, dealt with the money issues as best as I could, stayed as much in the present moment as possible, trusted my inner voice and became really good at not letting others spoil my good moods (always trying to make everybody happy ARGH!).
Last but not least, I had an idea concerning my future life. One that felt right and good (more to come on that).
And then there were my travels.

I started off my travel year 2018 in cold Copenhagen.
Then I went on a trip down memory lane in Bordeaux/Arcachon in April.
In June I was blown away by the beauty and the energy of the American West in New Mexico.
During summertime, I discovered how soothing long walks discovering places near where I live can be (long walks now being part of my weekly exercise).
I celebrated my 50th birthday on the shores of the lovely Lago Maggiore.
And I completed my travel year 2018 in grand style "road triping" through Andalusia.

I feel humbled and grateful :-) 
Thank you 2018! Thank you life! It's always a pleasure (even when it's not).

Andalusia Road Trip: More Pictures Of Cordoba

Cordoba was a cute little town (hordes of tourists though!!!). We stayed just one night and we chose a hotel with a view on the other side of town. Nice, don't you think?

The weather was nice and therefore we spent time walking the streets (avoiding the hordes haha).

The next day, we drove back to Sevilla, where I took my flight back to Zurich and where my friend continued on to Portugal. It took me quite some time to digest all the impressions - hence my delay in writing my posts :-) It was important to me though to have it all "digested" by the end of 2018 and I made it :-)

Andalusia Road Trip: Forth And Last Stop Cordoba

Ma guidebook described the Mezquita/Catedral of Cordoba with the following words:

Beeindruckend ist der Wald aus über 800 Säulen des 104 m langen Betsaales (Haram).
The forest made of more than 800 columns of the 104 m long oratory (Haram) is formidable.

And I thought: forest?? Gotta be kidding me. But then, not a half an hour later, I was standing in the entrance of the Mezquita and thought: oh my. Was I wrong or was I wrong?? IT ACTUALLY IS LIKE A FOREST.
I had never ever seen something like this.

Look it up on the Internet because my pictures aren't perfect (not enough light).

I was tongue-tied (doesn't happen often, hahaha, believe me) and I kept walking the space, soaking it all in.
What a place.

The mosque was built between 785 - 990 AD in 4 stages (1 main part and then 3 extensions were added). The craziest thing though? The cathedral in the middle of it!
Imagine for a second walking through this forest of columns made for people praying their God (if I remember the audio guide's words correctly, there was place for 4000 people but I may be wrong…) and then suddenly? You're in the perfect Gothic/Renaissance cathedral with an excess of gold ornaments. Excessive was the word that came to mind.
But then how to compete against the perfect forest of columns?
Apparently (citing my guidebook again) the Emperor Karl V first approved of the addition (they had to destroy 70 columns to built the cathedral in the middle of the building) but then, after having seen the final masterpiece, it is told that he said:
Ihr habt etwas gebaut, was man überall hätte bauen können, und etwas zerstört, was einmal war.
You've built something that could have been built anywhere and destroyed something that was unique.
By then it was obviously too late (and he did approve of the addition in the first place) but one can only be happy that they didn't destroy the whole mosque.
Either way, it is an amazing place with a very special energy. Go see for yourself (if you don't mind hordes of tourists, that is!).

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Andalusia Road Trip: Favorite Picture of the Alhambra

This is my favorite picture of the Alhambra (my new screen saver, obviously!!)

Andalusia Road Trip: Third Stop Granada & the Alhambra

Visiting the Alhambra in Granada was one if not THE highlight of this trip. I didn't particularly like the city of Granada though. I have no idea why. Even though I liked the cute little coffee shops, the nice bars/restaurants and the feeling of being in a university town (I love them for their special energy), the rest of the city didn't leave a mark in my soul. Something was missing but I didn't spend too much time analyzing the why … because after stepping into the Alhambra?
I had found the why of my being there.
It was love at first sight.
It didn't even bother me that to get into the Palacios Nazarìes (the King's Palace) we had to get the tickets two days in advance (and we were lucky to even get any on such short notice) (imagine?!?!).
I wasn't bothered either that we only had a limited time to visit the Palace (every 30 minutes they admit a limited number of tourists) (apparently the admissions are limited to 6600/day in winter and 7700/day in summer) (7700 in summer????? My town has less inhabitants!!) (mass tourism at its finest) (SIGH).
All that didn't bother me (astonishingly) because I was simply blown away.
The Palacios were mind-blowing but the rest was so too. The gardens (I can only imagine how wonderful they'd look in summer when everything is abloom), the Generalife, the Alcazaba, the view of the city of Granada and the Sierra Nevada.
Everything. EVERYTHING.
I could have spent the whole day there, until literally the last minute (if it weren't for the knees of my travel companion that started hurting, I'd probably still be hanging around hahaha).
Go see for yourself (keep the visitor numbers I mentioned above in mind though!). But in the meantime (I suppose you can't just fly off to Andalusia), here some pictures. Let's start with the Palacios:

Saturday, December 22, 2018


I've already told you that I love December; its lights and energy. And I absolutely love the 12 days of Christmas (called "Rauhnächte" in German). I may already have talked about this. It's the time between 26 December and 6 January. It's the time between the old and the new. A time where everything is possible and where nothing is decided yet. A time to feel grateful for everything that happened in 2018 and a time to feel excited about what 2019 will bring.

This year, for the first time in years, I won't travel anywhere. I decided to stay home. Our office is closed and therefore I have 2 weeks off. My first instinct, when realizing that I had 2 weeks off, was "where should I travel to?". But then, on second thought, I knew that I had to stay home. To stay home and enjoy this particular time of the year. I have no plans other than … to go with the flow.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS everybody. And may you go with the flow too :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Andalusia Road Trip: Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos

I had read about the "Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos" (well, the name says it all, doesn't it?) in my guidebook and I absolutely wanted to see for myself (and my friend agreed!).
We had one day to visit and it wasn't enough to see them all (therefore, my advice for all the future Andalusia travelers: plan at least two days to tour them all :-).
We only made it to Ubrique and then drove back to Ronda. Bummer. I had really wanted to see them all but my days off were what they were. Can't do it all … sometimes :-)
Anyway. The villages we've seen were cute and the landscapes breathtaking. And it rained only late in the afternoon! So, we were lucky!