So, my first post is dedicated to something that, over the last few years, has challenged me more than I ever could have imagined, offered me the chance to discover new places, cultures, and new things about myself, and it will always continue to fascinate me…
Over the last few years I have lived and worked in Hamburg, Bratislava, and Cartagena in Southern Spain, worked a two week teaching contract in two very different parts of Austria, and during these periods abroad, I have taken the opportunity to visit many cities across Europe.
My experiences travelling have not always been positive and not always as fun and exciting as you dream about when planning a trip. For me, there is also a bitter-sweet sensation about travelling as I have often struggled with feelings of homesickness and feeling separated from close friends and family, often because I have spent long periods of time abroad rather than taking short holidays. But it is actually for this very reason that travelling has turned out to be such a great thing for me to have done. In three weeks’ time, I’m going to put my (perhaps short-lived) time as a TEFL teacher behind me, and return to the UK, where I see myself living permanently in the future. And when I return I am sure that I will be walking a little bit taller than before, have more courage of my convictions, independence and self-confidence.
Travelling has been an inspiration for me, and I have met some amazing people along the way. I’ve had ups and downs, learnt some new languages (Slovak, Spanish, Italian…), tried new foods (fried cheese in Bratislava and Prague; funnel bread in Budapest; Schnitzel in Austria; paella in Spain…), and done things I never thought I would do (like a lone bike ride across three borders during my visit to Feldkirch, and seeing the sun rise from a mountain top in Cartagena). I’ve lived in freezing temperatures (winter in Bratislava – although I think I actually got off quite lightly!) and much hotter ones (summer in Spain). I’ve experienced the loudness of Spanish people, the directness of Germans, the reserved nature of Slovaks, and found that everywhere I was welcomed with hospitality because, in the end, they really want you to enjoy living in their country.
Most of all, travelling has taught me to appreciate my home country and helped me to discover that, for me, home is where the heart is.
Finally, I want to include a quotation which initially inspired me to write this piece, but has now left me wondering what it really means:
“No one realises how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow” Lin Yutang
Does it means that you only realise how amazing your travels were when you come home and everything is boring and familiar? Or does it mean that travelling helps you to appreciate your home comforts? For me it could be a little bit of both.
And because I can’t really put into words some of the beautiful moments I’ve had when travelling, I’ve posted a list of my favourite places I’ve visited to date, and a collection of some of my favourite photographs from the various European cities I’ve visited.
Some of my favourite destinations:
- Germany – Hamburg, Berlin
- Austria – Vienna, Salzburg, Gaenserndorf, Feldkirch
- Slovakia – Bratislava
- Spain – Cartagena, Granada
- France – Paris
- Czech Republic – Prague