Time to Fly

Travel posts coming soon.

Unexpected Places to Visit While Traveling

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back and I still have travel on my mind. Below are places I like to go to when I’m visiting another country.

Take a look at the local life and visit a grocery store. It’s one of my favorite things to do when in another country. Grocery stores in other countries are often completely different than what you’re used to. You also get an idea of what the locals eat on daily basis. Oh, and it’s a good place to shop for gifts to bring home.

Go visit a cemetery. They’re often beautiful and peaceful. Gravestones from different countries and from hundreds of years ago are a sight to see. Is there any more famous cemetery that Père Lachaise in Paris?

Check out a library. There are gorgeous libraries across the world. I just wish I had thought of this in my earlier travel years. Better late than never. The one is from Trinity University in Dublin. I actually had the pleasure to be in this one.

Take a stroll through a park. Some of my favorite travel days is walking through parks. Wherever you are from, I can guarantee you a park in another country looks and feels completely different. And if you’re a dog lover and see a dog, it’s a good way to open up conversation with a local.

Take a look inside second hand shops. You never know what you might find. Sr. Elizondo and I stumbled upon a military second hand shop in Prague. He walked away with two WWII helmets and I bought a military jacket for $4.00!

This isn’t a specific place, but I like to pay attention to street graffiti. You can tell a lot about the city you’re in by it’s street art. For example: Berlin felt dominated by political graffiti; Mexico’s graffiti is colorful and often references the indigenous Indians; And I was lucky enough to see a Banksy in France.

There are the must see sights of course, but it’s the little things and day to day places that give you a clearer glimpse of the people.

Returning to the Daily Routine After a Trip

It’s not easy to return to your daily life after a journey. There’s jet lag, catching up on things you’ve neglected during your trip, you haven’t eaten your normal diet, exercised none…etc. Now that I’ve been home for over a week, I’m still trying to get back into my previous daily groove. I’m in a post vacation rut. I don’t want to eat healthy or exercise. I had a few plant fatalities while I was gone and I don’t seem to care.

It’s not a depressed feeling I’m having. It’s more that I’m unmotivated or just plain lazy. It made me wonder if this is common after a trip, so I googled it of course. It turns out some people call it “Vacation Blues”. The definition is a decrease in well-being or work productivity following a vacation. Having to get back into your daily routine can cause “discomfort”. Apparently, it’s discomfort I’m feeling.

The ways I read to overcome the Vacation Blues seemed a little silly to me. What did ring true was physically getting yourself back into your timezone. So this is where I’m starting, beginning with my sleep schedule which is still not normal. Doing 10 minutes of exercise in the morning just to get myself back on the treadmill. (I’m on day 4, thank you very much). Lastly, getting rid of the sugar and white flour in my life….AGAIN.

Baby steps.

Changing My Travel Mode

Like anyone with a wanderlust spirit, I’ve been home less than 48 hours from our vacation and I’m already thinking where I want to go next. I can now check my ‘Visit 25 countries’ off my bucket list. At 51 years old, I’ve set foot on 28. Technically, mission accomplished.

While I still love travel, the need to do as much as possible, see as much as possible, visit as many countries as possible, are no longer my main travel goals. I now find myself wanting to appreciate the destination I choose more in depth. I want to absorb my surroundings and chat with locals. ‘Take my time’ type of travel.

So where to next???

Bulgaria Final Thoughts

Sofia Bulgaria’s city center can easily be seen in a day. If you want to go inside the exhibits, allow two.

Vitosha Street crosses the main boulevard of sights. This street is full of restaurants and shopping for tourists and locals both.

If you’re on a budget, Best Western Art Plaza is a great place to stay with a large buffet breakfast included.

Day trips to Macedonia and Serbia are mostly drive time.

Definitely try the pork in restaurants.

Locals in Sofia were friendly and helpful. I would happily visit this country again.

***And now it’s time to say goodbye to Europe. Until we meet again…

Day Tour to Serbia

Sr. Elizondo and I smoothly crossed the border from Bulgaria into Serbia today on a day tour. Our first stop was the Skull Tower. It was constructed as a memorial to the first Serbian fight for independence. (The skulls are real.)

They had to put glass in front of the tower due to people taking the skulls to have symbolic “funerals” for their lost loved ones.

Our second stop was to the Red Cross Concentration Camp. It was used as a distribution point before sending those off to the bigger concentration camps. While it’s considered a “lighter” camp, those who were imprisoned here were still horrifically tortured and killed.

The execution wall was full of holes from bullets.

Next stop was to the Ottoman Turkish Fortress from the 18th century. The entrance and partial wall is all that’s left, but in excellent condition.

Behind it is a big park with a shop and cafe, a mosque (now art gallery), and ancient ruins.

We had lunch of salad, pork cooked in 5 different ways, and Serbian beer in the city center. It was all delicious as usual. Let me reiterate from a previous post, the pork in these countries is unbelievably good.

This day tour was worth it and part of reason was this was a fun group to travel with. Thanks Nadia.

*The other traveler was on his way to Chernoby after this. I’m hoping he sends us pics of his visit there.

A Visit to Skopje Macedonia

Today was a three hour drive to Skopje Macedonia. Skopje is a small city as is Macedonia a small country. There are approx 2.5 million people in the entire country, and the younger adults are all leaving to other countries in search of a better life. The future is looking dim for this country.

They spent alot of money on their “Project 2014” which is a lot of new buildings. Eclectic would be a good description to describe Skopje. The city center has alot of different architecture going on.

The current population is 80% Christian and 20% Muslim, and everyone gets along. We visited a mosque at the top of a hill. My dress was too short, so they gave me a skirt to put on. I was waiting for them to tell me to cover my head, but they didn’t say anything about that. Shoes were left outside as usual.

The big attraction for me is the fact that Skopje is the birth place of Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

There is a small museum and church dedicated to her. I was lucky to add a rosary from here to my collection.

Can you see the bird and fish symbols?

While we had a nice day and learned a lot about this country from our guide, it was a long drive each way. Pretty much what you see in this post is what there is to see, and it takes less than 2 hours. You can be the judge if it’s worth it. I personally would not recommend this day trip.