After a big hiatus from blogging, I’m back! As I type this, I’m currently outside Split, Croatia, staying at a hostel alongside the Adriatic Sea. A lot has happened in the last 3 months since hiking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal! Hopefully in this long recap post I’ll capture all the highlights!
The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of my top ten greatest adventures of the trip so far. Twenty days of hiking through some of the most beautiful, jaw dropping scenery that I have ever seen in my entire life.
After Nepal, the pace picked up with two short layovers in Dubai, UAE and Frankfurt, Germany. Dubai being the most money I have ever spent in one day on the trip and Frankfort/Mainz being the most beer and pretzels I have consumed in one day on the trip…or ever for that matter! Next stop was Istanbul, a city I have dreamed of my entire life. The place is oozing with history. Oh how I wish the beautiful mosques and towering ancient city walls could talk for they have seen wars, crusades, the lives and deaths of kings and sultans, and empires rise and fall. Definitely a city I will make it back to! From Istanbul I traveled by bus around the coast ,hitting places like Ephesus, Kas, Antalya and Cappadocia (to see the crazy swiss cheese fairy tale rock houses).
From Turkey, I took a bus over to Greece and worked my way north to south, starting in Thessalonike, a charming cosmopolitan city on the sea. Next, I cruised south down the coast by train to visit the Gods on the top of Mt. Olympus before ending up in Athens and Delphi to explore the wonders of ancient Greece.
The original plan was to head to Egypt from Greece, but all hell was breaking loose there so I scooted off to Jordan to check out two things: Petra and The Dead Sea. Petra is one of the ‘7 new wonders of the world’. I could totally see why as I roamed through the desert mountain gorges, casting my eyes on a mix of Hellenistic and ancient eastern structures carved into solid rock of the canyon walls. The Dead Sea was just plain fun! With 33.7% salinity, you could float around on your back as if you had an air mattress under you, bob up and down like a fishing bobber on the surface, and try to awkwardly swim on your belly as your body is to far out of the water. Good times!
At this point my friend Dawn was just finishing up her travels in Greece and was going to spend her last two weeks of her travels in her family’s homeland of Italy. After some intense flight searching, I found a cheap flight to Italy and met her in Rome for a week! I didn’t sightsee too much as I’m going to meet my mom there for two weeks soon, but what I did see blew me away. Every time you turned a corner there was some type of tasty visual treat. Amazing carved fountains, charming cobblestones streets lined with cafes and Gelato shops, stunning domed churches, and STATUES! No other place in the world have I seen the such beautifully carved statues that look so life-like.
From Rome the rail took me to Venice, a city built entirely on water. If I had two words to describe it, I would say Romantic and Magical. No other city in the world is like Venice with its gondola filled canals, small maze like streets and beautiful architecture. The city was just enchanting and alluring; one day did not do it any justice.
Back on the rails again as I headed to Slovenia, the number one biggest surprise country of the trip so far. For a country that is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, it has soooo much to offer. Mountains, castles, lovely clear lakes, breathtaking views, and super friendly locals…. I could go on forever, but you will have to wait for the dedicated post :).
Last but not least, I caught a train from Slovenia to Croatia, the country of my blood heritage, which has been an amazing and very special experience. Croatia is known as the land of 1000 islands and has only recently in the past 10 years become a hotspot for European and world travelers. While touring around, I swam in the gorgeous clear blue water of the Adriatic, stayed in small little cozy towns on the sea snuggled up against coastal mountains, and explored some the countries beautiful islands. The biggest treat here was being able to visit my family’s hometown of Mrkopalj, a small town nestled in the mountains near the port city Rijeka. I really felt a very strong connection with this country and the people. I could honestly say I would feel totally at home if I ever moved here.
When I started typing this post I was in Split, Croatia, but as I finish it I’m sitting in an apartment in Rome, awaiting the arrival of my mother tomorrow morning. My mom (age 74) decided to meet me in Italy for her first trip over the pond and first time out of the country (excluding Canada). We have one week in Rome and one week in Florence, with side trips to Pisa and Sienna. Should be a trip of a lifetime for both of us!!!