About four years ago, caught at the intersection of two complicated stories, in a gesture of desperation, I escaped my Brussels reality and went to Athens. It proved to be the perfect destination for my first solo travelling experience (it was 2014) and exactly what I needed for my mental state. Since then, life continues to bring me back to this place every once in a while, I am currently in my 5th trip to the Greek capital.
Belgrade is the perfect combination of old and new from every point of view. A great mix of Balkan spirit and European lifestyle. Many reasons why you should put this destination on your bucket list: historic sites, green areas, design neighbourhoods, great nightlife etc. But there is a specific one, which beats them all: the people. Serbians have open hearts; they welcome you warmly and make you feel special.
Santorini: a little island with a spectacular form, one of the most popular, beautiful and well-known destinations in Europe. And no wonder: it has the sea, the view, the life-style and the good vibe. Blending the myths, the ancient history and the good wine, Santorini is assimilated by some with the lost “Atlantis”, the land of prosperity and utopia. From Plato’s stories, to today’s life in Santorini, several thousands of years have passed; one thing is for certain: this Cycladic island deserves the interest of any traveller.
From end of December 2016 until mid-January 2017, I travelled solo in Romania for about three weeks, mainly in the region called Maramures. Why solo and why Romania?! This you can see in another post. And what a trip that was! I have discovered so many things about my country, my heritage, but most of all about myself. This is a visual summary of what I have done in those days.
I fell in love with Breb on a frosty January day. Located in the heart of Maramures and hidden between hills and valleys, the village embodies the image of true Romania: uncomplicated, delicate, profound. The sight of untouched snow and the strong scent of burning wood took me instantly back in time. For few hours I have been in a tale, one with beautiful nature, hard-working and kind people, people that respect their past, their ancient traditions and live humbly…
I am now one week into my visit in Maramures and I continue travelling solo. Apart from the long walks I am taking daily in the snow, I am also visiting sites and villages. I am every day on the move, talking with locals and discovering the customs and traditions in the area. In my days of traveling, I figured out some tips that anyone interested to visit Maramures (and Romania) might find useful. These will help you make the best out of your trip in Maramureș. Some are more general for Romania, some are specific for Maramures.
My guess is that a trip to a cemetery is not a priority on your to-do-list. But what if it would be a…. Merry Cemetery? Here, instead of mourning black, you will find a festival of colours. The crosses are not just the symbol of death, they are telling the story of life. It is the cemetery that celebrates life and humour more than anything else: the Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures (Cimitirul Vesel)
Maramures is known as one of the most pristine and beautiful areas from Romania. Scattered villages, majestic mountains, simple and beautiful people, hospitality and joyful music. In my first day in the region, I took a road trip to see the famous UNESCO churches from the area. I was simply mesmerized and cut down to silence by the beauty of the places I’ve seen. It was the land of peacefulness and magic. I lost my words and remained silent in front of the nature’s wanders.
As I took off from a foggy airport at an indecently early hour, my heart started bouncing up and down. I rested my head on the window and watched the sunrise from above the sky, while the plane was speeding towards its destination. Home, finally, back home!!! And then another thought hit me: my wanderlust seems to have been slowly replaced by what I decided to call “homelust”. It is not quite about the same as being homesick, it is just a beautiful desire to be back home. Or as we say in Romanian: “un dor de casă”.
My personal belief is that one should visit London at least once in a lifetime. If you think that it is just another European capital, traveling there will demonstrate you the contrary…. Just a two-hours ride with the Eurostar from Brussels, you leave the old continent and get into a slightly different world. At first, everything seems the other way around here: centimeters turn into inches, euros into pounds and instead of looking left, you need to watch right. But then, everything falls in place and when you are at ease, you can finally enjoy the classic breeze that surround you. Welcome to London!