I admit I wrote this blog mainly to make a list of some of the trips (not all of them) that I have completed so far in my life and to assign a few photos to each so that I have it preserved as a whole.
Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks would not fulfill this purpose for me. The original intention was to create a kind of “repository” of older photos in electronic form, which I took as an amateur. Some memories emerged less easily for me and it was even more challenging when I was looking for suitable pictures. This is also the reason why sometimes there are more or fewer photos or text.
At least I will show you a few “other” shots from earlier times :).
1. Canada, Toronto
I’ll start with Canada because it was the first country I traveled to by plane and alone. A part of our extended family emigrated there and we had kept contact by mail for years. Sometimes, very rarely by phone. In high school, I dreamed that when I graduated, I would not go to college, but to America. Since Canada is right next door and there was a better chance of getting there thanks to my family, I wrote a letter to my uncle. He surprised me a lot when he sent me a flight ticket and I was able to fly right after graduation. There is where I celebrated my 18th birthday.
The original plan was to go to Canada for at least a year and from there to get to the coveted America but I survived there for less than 2 months. We traveled a lot in the beautiful Canadian countryside, visited the Niagara Falls, and saw the view from the CN Tower. Almost every night we came to downtown Toronto which fascinated me with its nightlife. I spent my days alone in the house while my uncle went to work. I took care of the household. We had many plans: a trip across America, to get my driver’s license (I still have a Drivers hand book at home) and a parachute jump from a plane. One family affair changed the situation and since I missed my life in Slovakia, my family and friends very much, I returned home.
The most amazing thing about it was that a few years later my grandmother, who was almost 80 years old, flew at the initiative of her family in Canada to visit them. A holiday for the first time, for the first time on a plane, and at an age at which it is admirable to dare do such a thing. So my journey united a little our distant family in Canada with ours in Slovakia.
2. Greece, Peloponnese
I was on my first vacation in Greece with a friend when I was twenty. It was the first one which I paid on my own. We flew to Athens and from there by transfer to the town of Tolo on the Peloponnese peninsula. We spent the whole holiday on the beach, in bars, we saw the sights and at the end of our trip we saw the Acropolis. A nice experience was the view from the Rio-Antirio bridge, which connects the Peloponnese with Greece.
The Greeks are very friendly and like to have fun. And especially a lot of smoking. This was also seen on the beaches, which were not exactly the cleanest. But the nightlife was exemplary.
The most memorable experience was water skiing. I tried it for the first and last time right there. It took us about 15 minutes to stand on the water. Then we water skied 6 hours straight. I also tasted real Greek frappe for the first time, we drank a lot of beer and tasted all the seafood.
3. USA, Miami + Caribbean
Finally, the coveted America happened. I got there to work as a waitress on a cruise ship. Arriving in Miami was fascinating to me. All the bustle of the city, a lot of people, music, lights, limousines, life… completely different than at home. At the Fairmont Hotel, where I first met my future colleagues, I found out that I didn’t understand English and couldn’t speak at all. I didn’t realize this fact when I left home :-). That’s why I went everywhere with a dictionary.
Already at the hotel, I became friends with a Hungarian woman named Edit. We waited for about 3 weeks for the ship to be assigned to Miami. From the beginning, it was like a vacation without any obligations, with accommodation and food almost directly on Miami beach. Gradually we said goodbye, each of us went on a different cruise ship, rarely several went together. I got a ship that I boarded in Puerto Rico, San Juan. I was pleased to go with Edit.
Our trips began innocently, but we took risky chances sometimes. I once asked for a break when Edit and my Czech colleague Peter got off the boat in Colombia. He took us through all the interesting places that could be seen on the coast in that short time (a few hours). Whenever the ship was in one of the ports, we marched to an island or city. I went to Venezuela to buy new work shoes. Beautiful leather shoes could be bought here very cheaply. After returning to the ship, everyone was frightened that we took such a risk, because there was crime lurking around every corner. We had no idea about it when we got off the ship. We ran to the nearest shoe shop and then took local buses to go to the nearest beach to swim. It was breathtaking. The surroundings were beautiful, mountains around the sea everywhere.
That’s how we crossed most of the Caribbean. Every island left me with a special memory – Aruba was magical at first glance, a tiny island that we crossed in one day; in Barbados we somehow found ourselves among people at a party, they accepted us here as members, so we ate and drank until we were full. St. Martin, St. Martinique and St. Thomas – on one of these islands we were also gambling in a casino, although not with our own money. My friend Blanca was invited by a wealthy 80-year-old gentleman who proposed to her, but she did not accept.
The passage through the Panama Canal, which was just wide enough for ships to pass, was also an experience. Very high humidity and heat created a wonderful tropical atmosphere.
We didn’t complete the one-year contract, and after saving some dollars, we left the ship for Miami, where we spent another month. We traveled a little through Florida, enjoyed the nightlife, and when we literally got enough of everything and spent all the money, we each returned to our countries.
We have visited Edit and are in contact to this day. We became close friends and met each other’s families.
Mexico had remained my unfulfilled dream from the cruise ship, as it was there that the ship went after we left. I traveled there with a friend. It was a fascinating trip I had never experienced before. We flew to Mexico City originally for half a year, but in the end it was enough for only 3 months. We left just with backpacks and expectations. Our goal in Mexico City was to study Spanish at one of the universities. However, we found out that we came at a time when strikes were taking place at both universities, so we could not start either. I will be honest, I was quite pleased with this fact because I longed to go to the sea and spend time, especially on the beaches. Luckily, my then boyfriend was much more action oriented, and thanks to him, we have managed to see the whole Mexico. Starting from Mexico City, Teotihuacán, Chichén-Itzá Oaxaca, through Palenque, Playa del Carmen, San Cristobal, to Acapulco, and Tasco… and mentioning these, I am still just cherry picking because if I would refer to all the beautiful spots we experienced, this blog post would easily go beyond 100 pages.
The Mexican pyramids were spectacular. They are charming, having very unique historical vibe. Today, we already know, and it has been scientifically proven that they were built by the civilization way ahead of its time – Aztecs were smart and their knowledge, and skillset, using only primitive tools, far exceed even nowadays understating. The pyramid of the Sun, however, stand out the most of them and it stuck in my memory the most. Allegedly, during the autumn and spring equinox, sun creates such an effect that it seems that snake statues on pyramid’s sides wave. As we visited the place during the summer, we haven’t been lucky to see this wonder by our own eyes. Sadly, after the conquest of Mexico by Spain in 16th century, many of the pyramids were destroyed and Spaniels, who replace pyramids’ rubbles and built churches, where pyramids used to stay.
Among other experiences, the town of Palenque was unforgettable. The city has such a high humidity that sometimes I felt like being in the steam sauna. Small lizards were crawling all over the walls, but we got already used to them because of our prior trips. However, I didn’t get used to when during our stay at Zippolita huge palm beetles went out of their shelters during the night, and from time to time they felt from the ceiling directly into our beds and at our heads – thankfully, these creatures were harmless. By the way, in the meantime, the beach at Zippolita has completely burned down. It used to be a place where various “independent” travelers met up, and it was common custom that they offered drugs on every corner. On top of that, allegedly, the coastal waters contain the most dangerous undercurrents in the entire Pacific – hundreds of people used to drown there every year before accident happened on the beach.
Further, Cenotes were spectacular as well. The caves with such a clear turquoise water that one may feel it’s drinkable, however, the opposite was true – often the water is contaminated with bacteria, which even caused my boyfriend strong ear infection and consequently inflammation.
Experiencing All Saints’ Day in Mexico was truly unique. Local people celebrate during the whole week prior All Saints’ Day, however, during the holiday, they celebrate at graves of their ancestors, they sing, dance, scatter oranges around , and they also meet up with their relatives and family. During the All-Saints’ Day, you wouldn’t find any grieving people and graveyard, the very opposite is true – The people there shine and are in a “great” mood, with many of them staying on the cemetery even during the night.
I shouldn’t forget to mention strong earthquake having epicenter in Oaxaca, where we had arrived at the very same day when earthquake started. Because we traveled by bus there, we didn’t realize straightway that the vibration we felt was an earthquake – actually, one of the strongest in the last 12 years. Only after we arrived at our hotel and saw fallen building and two people buried under the rubbles, we realized what we witnessed. So, the bus driver wasn’t drunk, and we didn’t travel by a dirt road as we initially thought. Mexico was amazing, however, after 3 months we reached the point when we realized that we are full of traveling and we decided to return back home.
I visited Madrid upon the invitation from a friend of mine, with whom we had worked on a cruise ship few years back. Blanca – the friend of mine – was a beautiful, exotic looking woman coming from Panama. She was so beautiful that during our tenure at the cruise, there was no male passenger haven’t recognized here. I am mentioning this fact, because almost each and every time new passengers joined the boat, she received absurd offers and proposals from guys. The most bizarre came from an 82 year old billionaire, who offered her welfare for marriage, however, she accepted an offer from a Spanish guy who felt for her at the very first sight. After dating for some time, she relocated to Spain, and gave a birth to their daughter.
Madrid is a beautiful, green city. During my stay, we visited the Prado Museum, from which wonderful paintings by Velazquez and Goya stuck in my memory as I were there just yesterday.
The family of my friend had various rituals and also, they, as a family, spent together quite a lot of time – especially compared to what I am used to in my country. They taught me how to make a real Spanish Tortilla, which they used to ate with baked sausage combined with the best Spanish wines. Also, it surprised me, how much Spaniels enjoy the evenings, and how clustered their day is with midday siesta as a nationwide standard. I spent a week with my friend and her family in Madrid and its closest proximity.
I would like to include among my traveling experiences also many family vacations with my now, ex-husband. The first one we experienced, even before having children, was in Crete. We spent 2 weeks there; we rented the scooter and we traveled to almost every corner of the island. We visited the beautiful, and peaceful Elafonisos. Roads leading there, even though labeled as highways, were in a very bad shape, comparable to cart roads in Slovakia. With my partner, we experienced a weird period in our lives, during which we played chess almost continuously, and so, chess board couldn’t miss even at holiday in Greece.
Two weeks traveling across the Tuscany was also a kind of a business trip as well, because my already then a husband was working on Slovak documentary video shooting about the region. During our stay, a close friend of mine, who was married in Italy and lived there for several years, helped us a lot. She sorted an accommodation for us, and she assisted us with trip planning. Thanks to help of my friend, my husband was able to produce a wonderful documentary movie about the life of regular people and the happenings in Tuscany. I would like to highlight the pinnacle of our trip, shocking Palio – a horse race that takes place twice a year in Siena. It is a battle between the city districts, and the event attracts a lot of tourists as well as locals. It was very exciting, basically, the whole city was made of one huge plaza. The city streets were decorated by flags, and the town was divided into contradas (city districts). At the end of the day, the winning horse became a hero. The event goes very far into the history and locals organize the competition since 14th century.
Accompanied by our friends, we returned to see Greece again, however, at that time as married couple having then 10 – years old daughter. The target destination of our trip was an island Corfu. The place was phenomenal – with our daughter, we have managed to visit most parts of the island, and on every corner, there was something taking our breath away. The island’s air was soaked with the true summer holiday vibe.
We have been to Turkey 4 times in total; however, we have visited the same spot only once. Our first holiday happened on the west coast, where traditional beaches were missing, and the sea access led only through rocky, shallow, descending cliffs. The rest of our 3 trips led through Side or Belek. In Turkey, we witnessed for a very first time in our lives how a true luxurious holiday in a 5 – star hotels offering various spare time activities for adults and children as well, feels like. Holidays in Turkey were a true holidays without any necessity to solve minor problems tied to traveling or to keep an eye on any random small issues – resort took care of everything.
Oasis of the Seas
Couple of years ago, I used to work as a waitress on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. During my tenure at the boat, I wouldn’t even think of that once I would return back as a visitor. Not only I have returned, but also our trip happened on the largest cruise at that time – Oasis of the Seas. This trip really stands out, as the whole journey happened on the boat. We embarked in Miami, where we experienced a “rappers meeting”, as hip hop enthusiasts arrived to Miami from all over the America. The rap fans flooded the Miami, and what usually accompanies events such this, is rioting. During one night when we slept, one of the attendees ran across the balcony, broke into our apartment, but luckily, right after we and he realized what happened, he left our room via the main entry door. After such and unpleasant and shocking experience, we had embarked the cruise and sailed the boat through Haiti, Cozumel and Jamaica.
With my family, I came to New York upon the invitation of our very close friend. The invitation was intended for a stay in a specific hotel – the Carlyle – where friend of ours stays every time when he visits N.Y. It was the stay in this hotel that brought one of the most unforgettable memories. We were honored of seeing Prince William with Kate, who was pregnant at the time. His arrival to the hotel was even announced at CNN few hours before he came. The hotel was guarded by the security, and the whole happenings seemed to me like a scene from an action movies – the area in front of the hotel was closed, and we saw the real American “paparazzi” surrounding the building.
The trip was fascinating. Central Park, Broadway, walking down the streets of N.Y., a trip to Washington, the White House, views from the Empire State Building, Top of The Rock, helicopter flight over the whole of N.Y., and a boat around the Statue of Liberty are unforgettable and unrepeatable experiences.
Even more exciting than the location of Cape Verde itself, was the period of my life when the trip happened. Even though I was not divorced yet, I have left my then husband, and with my children we moved to my parents’ house. One day, at the end of the summer, the thought crossed my mind that it would be cool to take children somewhere for a spontaneous trip. I didn’t have a plan, and the destination was “anywhere”. Since the travelling agency was located right next to my office, I went to check with clerks there, and asked them whether, by any chance, they don’t have any ad hoc, last-minute trip. To the questions they asked: “When?”, “Where?” I had unequivocal answers “Immediately”, “Anywhere”. The earliest trip departure was the very next day in the morning – destination Cape Verde. After the work shift, I went to my ex-husband house (as some of the children’s clothes, accessories, and suitcases were still there), packed up the children’s clothes and swimming suits, and I returned back to my parents’ house as if I return from work, however, with already packed suitcases – what a surprise for everybody! 🙂 In the evening we googled where the hack Cape Verde are and how it looks like there. We were blown away by the pictures and full of excitement for the coming days.
The Cape Verde Islands are located on the west coast of Africa and are composed of several islands – not each of them is inhabited. We stayed on the island called Sal having a beautiful, endless sandy beach, gently rough sea, and the calm vibe all around the corners. Right after our arrival, we signed up for all the interesting trips as we wanted to enjoy our stay to its fullest. We went for a quad bike ride through the desert around the entire island, we visited the coast full of sharks, being able to observe them from very close proximity, and we swam in the salt sea, which elevates, and which has healing effects similar to these of Dead Sea. Sadly, we were unable to complete the night expedition of loggerhead turtle due to the consequences of a strong hurricane that flooded the entire area. Because of the natural disaster, we were evacuated and had to stay at the hotel for 24 hours. This experience is also one of these, which human doesn’t encounter each and every day. The following day after the hurricane, we went to the beach, however, it changed dramatically. We sailed through the sections that were sandy and clear prior the storm, however, the hurricane made them muddy and turbid. With all its ups and downs, the trip was very special for us in every dimension one could think of.
America again! But this time from the different angle and from the different coast. In August 2019, my now adult daughter left for a study in Roswell, New Mexico. Originally, she was supposed to go there for 5 months to a maximum of a one a year. In December, as her studies neared end, I had an idea to surprise her, and to visit the USA with my son. I made preliminary arrangements with the family my daughter was staying with that we would meet up in L.A. However, I asked them not to tell about our plans to my daughter, as it was meant to be a surprise for her. In the meantime, my boyfriend suggested that we should extend our trip bit more beyond just meeting in LA for a few days. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be wise to have such a long trip from Europe, and not to exploit the opportunity to travel within the US. And so, it happened – we planned a trip around California, looping around Sierra Nevada mountains.
Since the daughter still had no idea what was going on and that we would come, we didn’t tell the son about it either, to eliminate the chance that he may accidentally reveal the surprise. Consequently, the whole trip was planned just before its realization and right before our department. Frankly, like most of my trips do.
Our departure from Europe was scheduled right at the New Year’s Eve, with arrival to L.A. at midnight, European time. Even after onboarding on the plane, my son believed that we were heading to Paris. About an hour into the flight, he noticed that there was a direct line to L.A. on the screen in front of him. His surprise was quite funny to observe 😊…
In L.A., we stayed for a night, afterwards rented a car, and set off on a trip through the national parks of California. We witnessed the unprecedented beauty of the Californian mountains; we photographed the beautiful surroundings during the whole journey as we were constantly amazed by the scenery. We crossed Yosemite, where we were enchanted by El Capitan, a huge granite monolith, about which we educated ourselves during the flight via onboard documentary in a plane. Another beauty – Sequoia National Park with General Sherman – was fabulous. We passed Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Red Canyon in Nevada, and then we had a spectacular nighttime arrival to Las Vegas. Here in Vegas, we finally met with my daughter, and together we went for a walk to the “Strip” in the city center. We experienced a view from the highest observation wheel in the world, took a trip to the Grand Canyon, and arrived back to L.A. Each night we stayed in different hotel, and in different apartment, ranging from basic Indian establishments to the high end, luxury hotels in Vegas.
Back in L.A. we withal hiked through Griffith hills to see Hollywood sign from the close quarters, we saw the walk of fame, and we managed to explore the city, namely Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive and L. A. downtown. At this point our trip ended. The daughter returned back to Roswell to say goodbye to her temporarily family, and stayed with them for a couple of days before leaving US. With my boyfriend and the son we left America the day after my daughter departed from L.A. 🙂