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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Travel Highlights 2012



A)    Moldova
I admit that I was searching for something I didn’t actually find: the continuance of the Romanian spirit, and I’m not totally satisfied with the results, because this spirit was somehow lost and the chances for it to be reignited are low at this point. Who knows? History has proved us wrong over the centuries...
Favourite café:
Tucano Coffee, Chişinău [http://www.tucano.md/]
Reason:
This place is an oasis! I’d go visit Chişinău over and over again only to get to this café. The food and drinks are extraordinary, the staff is delightful, it also sells handmade jewellery, and you can’t beat the colourful yet tranquil atmosphere!
Tip:
Try a cheesecake (or more) with fresh lemonade! I couldn’t make up my mind, so I ordered a Tiramisu cheesecake and an apple cheesecake. My next choice would have been a cherry cheesecake. DELISH!!
Banana, Mint, Coffee, and Tiramisu Cheesecakes
B)     Maramureş, Ukraine, and Bucovina
The regions of Maramureş and Bucovina in northern Romania are truly fairy-tale lands, where the traditions and the ancient personality of the area were accurately preserved.  
Favourite attraction:
Ieud Wooden Church
Reason:
This place is extraordinary. The village has an amazing vibe and the peace that governs this church is incredible.
Tip:
If you get to Ieud Church and it is closed, try calling the museum curator (+40262336203, +40766351773) and ask him to let you climb into the attic. The first document written in Romanian and dating back to 1391 was found there and the view is simply beautiful.
Ieud Wooden Church
C)    Berlin
Contrary to what I thought, I found a very nice atmosphere and very warm people in the German capital.
Favourite freeby:
The Dome of the Reichstag Building
Reason:
It’s an overview of the entire city and the guide tells you loads of interesting information.
Tip:
The visit to the Dome may be free, but you must register in advance. You can do that here http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/kupp.html.

D)    Iceland
There was a time when a trip to Iceland was my biggest dream. I think I’ve built an image of Iceland and its people that didn’t really coincide with what I found there!... Not by far! I’m searching for a travelling experience that is TOTAL (amazing nature, extraordinary people, fantastic history, intrepidness). Iceland may be one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world and I admit that it is stunning, but the experiences I had in my 2 weeks spent there with most of the Icelanders left me disappointed, feeling like one of the many to visit their country. And this lack of involvement doesn’t make me want to return there.
Favourite spot:
Dyrhólaey
Reason:
It is an iconic place! …one of the most dramatic and stunning views I have ever seen! It still haunts my dreams and I don’t think it will ever stop doing it (I don’t want it to, anyway).
Tip:
Especially if you’re visiting Iceland in summer, try reaching this place as late as possible [I’d recommend 10 o’clock in the evening]. Even that ‘bit’ of darkness perceived at that time helps increase the contrast between the white and foamy waves and the black and threatening beach and cliffs.
Dyrhólaey...
Favourite dessert:
Rye bread ice cream
Reason:
I am crazy about sweets and I sampled sweets all over the Globe, but this taste was one of the most special and unique ones ever! I wonder if I am going to try it again in this lifetime.
Tip:
This recipe was passed on from generation to generation and it was actually the grandmother of one of the employees at Loki Café [http://www.textil.is/ENGLISH/] in Reykjavik who ‘introduced’ it to the general public.

E)     Georgia
I expected Georgia to blow my mind as a travel destination. It didn’t happen, I was actually a bit disappointed. What I truly liked and will forever stay in my mind is the kindness of the people I met there.
Favourite vibe:
Uplistsikhe
Reason:
In my opinion, there are only few places in the world that are blessed with such a vibe. You can feel the good energy of the rock-hewn town flowing through your veins months after you leave the area. It is amazing!...
Tip:
Try to arrive shortly before the closing time (18:00). You will be allowed to enter and stay for as long as you wish and you will probably have the place all to yourself!

F)     
Favourite destination:
Armenia
Reason:
Well, I didn’t expect it, but I fell in love with this country, with its nature, with its people, even with its churches and food (two elements I’m not usually into). The greatest highlight of this year was the landscape on the ancient Silk Road from Yerevan to Goris. The colours of the mountains, the rolling valleys, and the mystery found all around were breathtaking! I’m going back for more!
Tip:
Although Armenia can be a year-round destination, choose to go there in early spring (April-beginning of May) or late autumn (October-beginning of November), when the temperatures are neither high nor low, which makes the conditions ideal for exploring the country.

G)    Rome
I didn’t enjoy the Eternal City the first time around. My second visit – even if short – was much better, though!
Favourite breakfast:
Enjoying a breakfast complete with all of my favourite Italian specialties: cappuccino, pizza with mozzarella and rucola, and finally Italian ice cream. Mmm…
Reason:
I felt very relaxed, my senses rejoiced, and I will always remember that morning.
Tip:
If you’re short on time and get into Rome via Termini Station, you will find every item mentioned above on Via Cavour and you won’t pay more than 10 Euros altogether.    

H)   Cyprus
I knew from the start that Cyprus won’t be my cup of tea. Still, I went there and it was one of the best birthdays of my life! It is good to try – destinations, attractions, adventures; this is the only way to really understand what you actually like.
Favourite wildlife watching:
Larnaca Salt Lake
Reason:
Flamingos are amongst my favourite animals. To see them so close in the beautiful December morning light added magic to this scene and made it unforgettable!
Tip:
Go to Larnaca Salt Lake as early in the morning as you can. The birds are more active at this time and they are closer to the shore!

Favourite new sport:
Scuba diving
Reason:
The visibility and the flora and fauna in the Cypriot Mediterranean are amazing and definitely worth to be explored!
Tip:
Choosing to enrol in such an adventure is much more rewarding off-season. The air and the water are still warm and you will surely not feel crowded.
Courtesy of Helmut Carl Simak, www.tokaiki.net
Read more on Project Cyprus.

This list of mine surely proves one thing: every single country/region of the world has something exciting and amazing to offer. If we accept the challenge to discover that ‘certain something’, we are certainly on the right track!
Merry Christmas!

Love,
Petra

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