Wednesday, November 7, 2012

“To Travel is to Live" ~Hans Christian Andersen

If there is anything you should know about me (aside from the fact that I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world to have 2 of the most amazing women in “my" world for my sisters, and the fact that I absolutely love dogs) is that I LOVE TO TRAVEL!  There is no greater thing in the world to do than to board a plane to a new country, wander aimlessly in a city, allowing yourself to be in the moment, all the while taking a few (hundred) pictures for remembrance sake.

See, I grew up in the Bronx, in a working class family where family vacations were not an option simply because there was no money to do so.  As I got older, I realized it was something I wanted to make sure I got to "experience", yeah well that “experience" has become a priority.  Traveling renews me, it fulfills me but it also reminds me that I do have a home, a base and for me, there is no greater reason to make a point to do it.  It allows you to see what you are missing out on, to experience something so different from your norm, an escape if you will, while at the same time, reminding you that you have a home, a place where you completely belong.

This past weekend I got to take my first trip (hopefully of many during my time in Malta) to Stockholm, Sweden.  It was a celebratory weekend trip for Melissa and I as a way to mark the one month mark in Malta.  Yes, we decided to celebrate by voting ourselves off the island.  Allow me to explain...Malta is small, like really small, so small that even the locals will tell you more often than not that they feel stifled here, almost trapped because the only way off the island is via plane or boat.  Well, I can honestly tell you that this NY'er right here, knew exactly what they meant immediately.  Don't get me wrong, Malta is beautiful, and more importantly, it's a genuine place where you can
have a truly authentic European experience, unlike most European countries that are now so watered
down for tourisms sake that it ruins the entire experience, but it is small and really hot/humid, even in November.  So what better way to celebrate the month milestone on my Fulbright adventure than to go somewhere completely opposite of Malta.

When we landed in Stockholm, I walked out of the plane and the first thing I did was inhale the cold air.  People were running for the doors to get inside the airport but Melissa and I just stood there and let the cool air wash over us.  It was GREAT!!!  SOOOO REFRESHING!!!  It is not freezing there this time of year so it was just the right temperature.  Now, the only "downside" to the trip (not that it really was) was that we flew Ryan Air so of course it's airport is one of the furtherest ones from Stockholm.  So aside from the fact that we lived out our very own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I can honestly say that there is nothing bad to say about Stockholm.  It was the perfect place to go as a first trip.  Different from my norm, a place I have never been and another positive
was that it had GREAT COFFEE!!! Like REAL COFFEE!!!! AND Hot Chocolate served in bowls,
yes bowls!  It was heaven!

Stockholm is, by far, the cleanest city I have ever visited, has one of the most efficient and cleanest transportation systems, offers amazing shopping and site seeing, has some of the friendliest people I have ever come in contact with and is easy to navigate.  It is a walking city, a family and dog friendly city (you can travel with your dogs on public transport-AWESOMENESS AT IT'S BEST) and it manages to balance urban and country setting like no other city. But the key thing about Stockholm, that even trumps the fact that you can travel with your dogs and that they have amazing coffee, is that it is a really safe city, probably one  that I have felt safest in aside from Sliema here in Malta (or most places in Malta actually as Malta is a very safe place as well).  It also has amazing hotels and glorified hostels near the airport to save you from having to travel to the airport at 2am for a 6:30am flight!

The architecture, winding streets, canals and bridges just really make it such a beautiful city.  We got to spend the day in Gamla Stan (Old Town), see the Royal Palace, go on a boat ride on the Royal Canal, visit the Vasa Museum (AMAZING!!!!) as well as Skansen Park.  It was certainly too short of a trip but worth it nonetheless. For all of the walking we did, it was relaxing because that is the vibe there, laid back and relaxed, what more could you ask for from a weekend trip.  It is an expensive city but if you do your research, it is definitely a manageable place to visit and well worth it!

I have done my fair share of traveling (and now I can add Stockholm to that list), moved to a foreign country a little over a month ago and took my first trip away from Malta that allowed me to solidify Malta a little more as home as it is my base for the next 7 months where I will continue to return to from any other trip I take.  Munich Christmas Markets are up next in 3 weeks followed by Paris for New Years.  We only have one life to live, one shot to make it our own, to live it our travel is MY way to live.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11/07/2012

    For every Pearl of wisdom you gain another open door in the world! Cheers to your, dear friend. ~ Ady