2015 in review, and some travel resolutions

 

Compared with the previous years, 2015 was a very poor one in terms of travel! No new country added on the list, few spectacular places visited and only 2 destinations outside Germany, both places that I know very well, covered: London and Israel. My blogging had ups and downs, with a long writing break between end of August and end of October.

However, many interesting things happened into my not so travelling life: I extensively went almost every week-ends in small green paradises around Berlin, discovering oasis of quietness and some great food too. I got my first full time job in Germany after many years of freelancing and unsuccessfully applying for various positions. And the most important of all my achievements sofar, baby boy D., born three months ago, my best excuse ever to slow down a bit more and rather focus on taking care of the new life. Last but not least, I added Instagram at my online brandig portfolio – #Ilanaontheroad – which I enjoy to experiment a lot with, especially during the time when waiting to be released from hospital.

But little by little, everything is back on the track and it is about time for a basic wishes’ planning. As for now, I still have some travel stories to tell from the last year and this will keep the blog busy till the new adventure is ready. I have a couple of travel and writing books that I need to read, preparing to finally start writing my own serious writing projects.  Technically speaking, my blog needs a serious relift and I will have to find the easiest and best technical way to make it look a little bit better.

Baby boy D. is also ready to travel, with his first long trip already done to Potsdam. We are ready to start discoverig the world together,  one little wonder at once. After so many years spent travelling across Europe, I know that it is about time to pay more attention to travel stories from outside my comfort zone. But as I have on my agenda the need to dramatically improve my Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, most probably I will have to include at least three classical European destinations too.

As usual, I am very cautious with making plans, but I am trying at least to make some wishes and only hope that it’s all for good!

Till the next post, keep in touch with many good travel news! And a phantastic travel year to all my readers!

Lessons learned of my last travels

I am happy to be back home, after a couple of days of intensive travel in Europe, discovering by foot and through rain two ‘A’ cities: Amsterdam and Antwerp. I have a lot of travel stories ready to post in the next days, or at least till my next trip, and promise to be a very active blogger the next days.

Till then, there are a couple of cold lessons learned from my last trips, that I want to share:

– Always get in touch with the hotel before arrival, especially if you expect to be there after 3-4 pm. Especially for the small residencies with more locations spread through the city, being sure that you can find someone at the reception will save a significant amount of energy and time.

– When you want to get the special press discounts at museums, you better check carefully the website and drop an e-mail to the people in charge with the press to ask if they will let you in at a discounted price.

– When you arrive late in town and you want to go to a special restaurant, don’t assume it will be open for you just because they were sure that one day you will finally decide to honour them with a ‘hello’.

– When you need to travel with local and inter-country connections, it is better to: 1. know exactly when and where do you want to go at least 4 days in advance; 2. buy the ticket online, for a better price and time management.

– When your train is more than one hour late – and you are left in the middle of the Netherlands due to some uninspired person that decided to jump in the front of the train before you passed by -, you are assigned to request compensations.

– Checking some basic information about places generally considered ‘pricey’ is a smart step to have a good financial planning. Some learn it in primary school, but it is never too late to start learning something new and useful.

– When your wifi connection fails more than once and you are supposed to work at least one hour the day online, you should visit your PC doctor before your next trip. Maybe your firewall policies are too strict, or who knows what you’ve done (again) to your poor computer.

Compared to other occasions, I did not encounter any weather-related problems, especially because by accident, I forgot an old umbrella in my bag.

Keep an eye on my blog for more and more and more travel stories in the next hours and days!

Reading recommendations of the month

I love to read as much as I like to write. Especially in the last months, I focused my attention on writing handbooks and travel books that can help me advance with my writing. Also, I was looking for books that can help me to discover new places and inspire for finding new destination to feature.

Every time I travel I have at least one big book in my bag. The time has a different dimension when I am away of the computer and the reading goes smoother. In the last three weeks, I did a lot of trips together with some good and interesting books.

As I need continuously to improve my German, I found at my generous local library a couple of books with a travel topic.

Das Paradies liegt im Pommern, by Liselotte Schwiers is a memoir about childhood in this green and lake-rich area. I crossed Pommern several times in the last months and loved the picturesque landscape and the quiet green fields.  It is a classical book, not necessarily entertaining or surprising, telling simple stories. The kind of book that can fill your time when all the other good books are gone.

Tine Wittler is a famous media star, but the country girl me did not know about that before finding her book about a trip to Mauritania to document the standards of women beauty. Written as a diary starting months before the trip per se, and it is interesting from the point of view of the travel planning tips, especially for a destination that presents certain safety issues. I was not extremely interested by the ‘beauty’ part that took though the most part of the story, but for an easy reading, it is not that bad. 

My third and last German lecture was Nadine Gruenter account of the summer life in Trouville. A book that I liked for the ironic yet warm descriptions of characters, the architectural detail and the social relevance of every single move in such a crowded place. We are talking about France after all, where the bakeries are playing one of the biggest role in connecting people, events and latest gossips.

The next book is fascinating and it is that kind of wake-up call that I want to read from time to time. Alexandra Horowitz’s On Walking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes is a reminder of why we are writing and how we need to better use our senses to see, hear and understand the city. Even if it is about the two streets away from our house that we cross at least 3 times the day. I haven’t been so enthusiastic about a book since I discovered James Elkins’ How to Use your Eyes during my art classes years ago (as I did have a lot of free time, I also had some institutional artistry experiences).

I finish my bookish recommendation for today – some more books are on my shelves waiting to be featured – with a book about how to write freely, without complexes and getting the best possible voice, regardless what other people say: Brenda Ueland, If you Want to Write. The book was written in…1938 – it is not a misspelling – but republished several times, and did not feel anything outdated. An encouraging book for anyone coping with mistrust, misplaced jokes about the quality of their writing and other sarcasm, especially from the part of people that their whole life kept editing, but never publishing something valuable. ‘Even if I knew for certain that I would never have anything published again, and would never make another cent from it, I will still keep in writing’. Keep this in mind and don’t give up writing. It is only Tuesday so a lot of time left to publish at least 400 words this week. 

Happy writing and reading everyone!