2011 was a very good year. In fact, it was a rather life-changing year for me as I finally took action to make some of my wildest dreams a reality. Getting over my fears of change and the unknown, I took “the plunge“, quit my job, sold almost everything I owned and left behind family and friends in Toronto all to start new in Berlin.
It was the best move I ever made. I now live in one of the amazing cities in the world and am able to frequently indulge in my favorite pastime which is of course … travel!
Here is a recollection of my über cool year.
While dining alone at Garde Manger, I happened to meet three really cool people who invited me to a jazz bar called Piano Rouge with them. We had a fun evening drinking, chatting and enjoying the live music. This is when I came to realize that solo travel doesn’t necessarily have to be lonely.
Trip highlights included watching live rumba music in a ghetto neighborhood, walking along the Malecon, getting lost in Old Havana and taking in the beauty of Plaza De San Francisco.
Partying with other travellers at the casa particular was also awesome! One night, I met two girls from Germany who helped convince me to move to Berlin. Another night, I hung out with a Swede and a Czech couple in the backyard smoking a giant cohiba and drinking rum and cokes under the stars.
Hiking and swimming in Cinque Terre was nothing less than amazing as was taking the walk of love (with another girl no less) and stumbling upon streets decorated with flower petals in Riomaggiore.
4 – Prague – feeling a little down, I spontaneously headed back to one of my favorite cities for a little travel therapy in July. Some girls indulge in retail therapy and I jump on a plane or a train!
I wandered about the city taking in the now familiar sights. I smiled as I walked across the Charles Bridge one night as seven months earlier it was during a similar walk that I decided to move to Europe. And here I was back in the city again, with the sudden realization … I really did it and my dreams had come true.
5 – Rostock and Dresden – as I was taking a German intensive course throughout August, I didn’t go far and only took a couple of day trips organized by my school. We hit up Dresden and Rostock during their Hanse Sail festival.
6 – Barcelona – a birthday present to myself in September, this marked my first time in Spain where I managed to spend five days eating tapas, tasting wine, admiring the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia and checking out a quirky flea market.
To be honest, Barcelona is one of my least favorite places. After hearing so many good things from so many people, I came away underwhelmed and disappointed. Since I’ll be returning to Spain next month to spend some time in Costa Brava, I’m going to spend a couple of more days there to see if the city grows on me.
7 – Budapest – no sooner than getting back from Spain, I took off to Budapest. A city that makes my heart swoon, it was no surprise that my second visit there was just as fabulous as my first.
Making friends with several people from my hostel and my cave diving expedition, there were some late nights out clubbing and chilling at ruin bars like Szimpla. It was especially fun meeting up with John and Andrea from Inspiring Travellers!
Of course, I headed back to the Szechenyi Bath, cruised along the Danube, tasted Hungarian wine at Buda castle and walked for hours on end (as usual) even coming across a little park with a love locks site.
8 – Cologne – meeting up with a college friend from my DeVry days, I took in more of Germany when I visited Cologne for 3 days. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sleep in a real bed (since moving to Berlin, I’ve been sleeping on couches and futons).
Here I sipped good beer, indulged in German food, checked out the Dom, took a cable car over the Rhine and even got a tattoo! This is where my obsession for street art began as well.
9 – Szczecin – one morning in November, myself and a visiting friend from Toronto decided to make a day trip from Berlin to a Polish border town. We had fun walking through Szczecin taking photos by day and later at night.
11) Amsterdam – along came December and I headed to Amsterdam for a fun weekend away! I loved this city a lot and am thinking about even moving there someday.
I was also surprised to discover so much street art in the city … seriously couldn’t stop taking photos.
12) Toronto – arriving “home” in Berlin from Amsterdam for a mere eight hours, I un-packed and re-packed for a trip “home” to Toronto where I spent two weeks visiting family/friends and hitting up some of my favorite haunts like Pizzeria Libretto and Brazen Head Irish Pub. A special treat was attending Toronto’s annual fundraiser for The Daily Bread Food Bank, known as Hohoto.
And just where is home anyway? Toronto? Berlin? I don’t know. I’ll be writing about this soon as it’s an interesting question for expats and nomadic types.
What an amazing, perfect, lovely, super, awesome, cool (I could keep on going) … year! 2012 is shaping to be another good one and dare I say, even better? Stay tuned to the blog for even more travel adventures!