I am not so fond of making that end of the year review…
Not that often, and not so out loud.
Yet, I came across a piece of writing that made me think it all over (thanks Elena).
Reading it not only inspired me, it also made me take a breath and look back. How simple it was to see what a wonderful year this one has been. How many friends I’ve made, how many things I’ve done, how much better I’ve felt since… well, for a good while.
And how —without even noticing — I’ve ticked off many end-of-twenty-fifteen list of resolutions…
And trust me, as shrinks say (and I’ve met a few), hearing yourself acknowledge your outcomes makes their importance clear. It makes you comprehend what direction to follow next. It gives you back focus… at least for some time.
THINKING OUT LOUD
Now, I won’t be talking here about the meaning of being a family travel blogger/writer/journalist (choose your own adventure). I won’t tell you about the good and the bad of it. I honestly hope you’re not a travel blogger/writer/journalist (choose again) since I prefer to write for the regular guy and gal out there, a bit less for my colleagues (they certainly don’t need me to inspire them to travel more!).
Anyway — excuse those last random thoughts — if you are truly interested in an account of this job, read Elena’s thoughts, which are similar to mine and I presume better explained too.
SO, HERE I AM, TAKING A GOOD LOOK INTO MY TWENTY-SIXTEEN…
…thinking about the places I’ve seen and the things I’ve learnt.
Looking at a bunch accomplishments and waiting for a tough road to come. And again, inspired by my dear Elena, I’m sharing a few snapshots of this twenty-sixteen. Not random pictures nor perfect ones. It might get a bit personal, but hey… that’s what New Year’s Eve is for, right? Take a look!
Postcards from Istanbul
Why not letters? Why choosing lack of space when there’s so much to tell? Well, because… Because there would be so much to say about Istanbul not even a letter would be enough.
Because postcards are double-faced so you can get the nice picture too.
And also because the written part might get nostalgic without even wanting to. So, be wise, choose the right words, the most important ones. The words that define it all. Or say nothing at all and simply send your kindest regards. Back at destination someone might understand.
Because Istanbul is a collection of mesmerizing, alluring, incredible memories. Because it was going back to myself, and it also meant thoughts, introspection and nostalgia for the gone me. For its colors, its teas, its tastes.
Because they say a trip is the direct result of a previous one, and the cause for the next. It’s true.
And just because it’s Istanbul.
Essaouira, Agadir, the Sahara, Marrakech… (inner) land of confusion.
I picked the emptiness of the desert to portray a trip full of stuff. It was confusing, exuberant, fun as well as sad. Morocco meant people, people everywhere. Frenetic snapshots of a long yet fast trip. Like a very quick movie. February was eagerness as well as anxiety. A soothing contradiction. It was going from a landscape to another as if on a roller coaster. For the very first time in a long time, I was glad when it was over. Despite my love for the road, I longed to be back home.
Berlin. It was a History book. This piece of Wall reads He who wants the World to remain as it is, does not want it to remain at all. And what about our own little worlds? Do we want to change them? If so, do we do anything about it? A trigger had just been pulled. I think…
Santorini, going back to beauty
Going back to Greece is always bliss. Going back to the land I love the most on Earth can only be joy. Because it’s a land of color and warm people. It’s the land of light. Just take a look over the Caldera and Santorini will prove it to you. A trip I would do over and over; as simple as that.
Florence… and visits from abroad
The Arno river divides two sides of Florence I treasure: the brimming old district, full of palazzi, monuments, art and tourists from the quiet Oltrarno, with its gardens and laid-back atmosphere. Florence reminds me of my wandering days in Italy… when you had to seriously seek for an Internet café if you wanted to read a few mails, let alone having a travel blog. It was so many years back it would be a shame to tell.
Florence reminds me of trains taken to go up and down the peninsula… of huge backpacks, cheap hostels and fun. Years have gone by and I did end up in Italy for good. Going back to Florence had always been “on the list”.
This time my mom joined us. With her being a fan of Italy, I put my Italian routine aside and played being a tourist. We spent a great time together and I… well, I returned to Florence.
Corfu, full-time mom!
Dad was too busy this time to join us. And yes, I had traveled with my kids alone in the past… but never with both! Being the eldest quiet and introspective is a plus. Being the youngest as playful as he is, made me nervous the minute I booked the trip. This was going to be a challenge I thought I was no able to survive.
I could have placed a picture of Corfu or Antipaxos and their beautiful landscapes. You can see those here… wonderful blue caves and dreamy scenarios. Still, I chose this one. Don’t wonder why, being a superfull-time mom was incredibly easy. Being alone with the kids turned out to be a blast!
Athens and Hydra
A pause in Athens was all I needed in July. I got to meet Travel Bloggers Greece and we shared an evening with an interview, top food and more. And then I walked. Walked, walked, walked. Under the heat, the sun, and the amazing history that covers the city.
Finally, it was time to stop and have one of those breaks I love, a whole day “just somewhere else, anywhere else“. I chose Hydra, and I loved it.
Lakes of Northern Italy
Our decision of moving abroad had already been made… now it was time to make peace with Italy. It’s not that I don’t like Italy… It just wore me off. And for coming to terms with it, I chose the lakes. This was nothing more than a challenge. I never loved Italian lakes, I’ve always found them uselessly snobbish and extremely over-rated. Probably because I normally visited during the wrong times.
If you visit in August, when only authentic locals remain (and the usual snobbish visitor is having his holiday somewhere else, normally on the even more snobbish Sardinia), lakes can be mildly pleasant. It’s not excitement, it’s not joy. It’s… well, it’s lakes.
Our trip to Crete covered September and October. Still, I divided Crete in two all the same. It was two trips in one as well as Crete is two islands in one. September was the South. With its proud Sfakia and its pristine beaches. A side of Crete many avoid and many ignore. A wilder, and at the same time milder, side to the island… my island.
It was a firm decision. The second part of this trip meant finding the place.
More Crete, making things happen
It took me half a day to find the house where I am writing this from. It is now our house, our place in the land I love.
I still smile when I remember doubting… Was it better to book a stunning hotel or go with a quiet Airbnb option? Same price, same area, different goals. Was it better to find a jaw-dropping scenario? Or was it the moment to think about us? There’s always time for stunning hotels. Now we had to find ourselves a home.
I couldn’t have made a wiser decision. My Airbnb is now my house in Crete.
House found, back home, back to work… time to fly to London. The World Travel Market is an annual must I enjoy to attend. This year I was less enthusiastic about it, but for a valid reason, there was so much to pack back home!! So I made it short, but made the most of it. I strictly stayed for the time of the fair (I even left earlier, but I did wander some Shoreditch) and back to pack.
It was such a positive bunch of days! I even met some fellow Travel Bloggers Greece again and we enjoyed a great dinner together. Back next year, as usual, hopefully with more time to spare.
Browntape and doubts… Not to the rhythm of Should I Stay or Should I go? There was less drama, to be honest. It was more of a Should I take it or Should I leave it? kind of tune. Same question with every-single-book-toy-dress-fork-notebook-shoe-souvenir-tupper-CD-DVD-appliance-everything! The doubtful game of fitting your life into fifteen boxes, well twenty-five.
Twenty-five?? No… make it thirty…
Ok forty, forty-three!
Forty-three f!!@ing heavy boxes, 629 kg of life transferred to Crete. Over half a ton of books, toys and some clothes. Not a single piece of furniture. Not even one!
And goodbyes, too many of them. But there’s a reward to this hectic December: Taking off from Milan and landing in Chania, for good. And Christmas in Crete! New Year in the place my heart always felt like home. Because it’s true. Because the first time I read that sign and had goosebumps I couldn’t understand.
Now I do, now it’s clear. Listen, I wanna tell you a secret, if one day you happen to spot a sign that reads Greece, welcome home you’ll know it. Look somewhere else and if nothing happens to you, you’re ok, you’re not infected.
However, if your stomach shrinks and your heart bumps… if you need to turn your head back to it and shout I’m not mad, you’re the ones telling me so!! Then, then it’s over my friend.
Or it’s just the beginning. Who knows? All I know is there’s no place like home.
It has been a wonderful year and I’m quite thankful for each minute of it… Allow me, then, to rephrase my introduction: I was not so fond of making a review of what my year had been, yet I am thankful for changing my mind. So I’ll say it more often and out loud.
I’m thankful for this 2016… the year I’ve finally turned a dream into a reality. So, let’s sum up with a nice, cheesy phrase, shall we? (And do click to tweet!)
[Tweet “Happiness is not only about things you want happening to you. It’s about you making them happen!”]
Oh, and yes… Happy New Year!