Cities of Central and Eastern Europe


Blue Mosque Istanbul

Blue Mosque Istanbul

Settling into normal life after a trip abroad requires serious adjustment. Long absences skew reality and it takes time to absorb new experiences, sort them out, and write about the memories.

Since returning in September, I’ve spent hours pondering the latest trip but haven’t put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard. It’s clear that I most enjoyed the large cities and their energy, unique history, and distinct personalities.

Istanbul, Athens, and Prague were the cities where I spent the most time and they definitely impressed. Some other cities that linger in my mind include Ljubljana, Zagreb, Split, Budapest, Salzburg, and Vienna – all beautiful flowers.

Near Taksim Square

Near Taksim Square

Athens

Athens

For me it’s best to become an invisible traveler. It’s exciting blending with the local atmosphere as you forget yourself and move from a state of normalcy and routine into the unknown of a foreign country.

Connecting with locals on a one-on-one basis changes the dynamic and is an enriching experience. I often get involved in volunteer projects during my travels but didn’t this time. Although there were many encounters and interactions, I knew they would be short-lived.

Acropolis

Acropolis

Now that I’ve had some time to digest the latest travel adventure I’ll revisit each city mentally and see where the memories lead. It’s not fair playing favorites but Istanbul may have fascinated the most. Reading Turkish author Elif Shafak’s beautifully written novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, brought back the sights, sounds, and smells of that powerful, exotic city divided by the magnificent hulking Bosphorus!

Prague

Prague

After a long trip, it’s wonderful savoring the comforts and safety of home. A cozy environment makes it easy to dwell on those faraway places and the invaluable lessons learned.

I’m once again ensconced in the chosen pursuits of my retirement – yoga, oil painting, hiking, and volunteering are a few – but am already planning the next exciting travel adventure – South America in late 2014.

South American countries briefly visited in the past include Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. There are many treasures in South America and the plan is to take a more leisurely approach this time allowing a deeper look at the people, culture, and terrain. Preparation includes planning an itinerary and daily bumbling with on-line Spanish tutorials….

Bosphorus Strait

It will be interesting to see what happens as I combine factual blog postings and more personal memories into travel vignettes!

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