Winter holiday en brief. I traveled by bus, airplane, train, ferry, car, taxi, and my own two feet. I took my one backpack, along with a small tote for my hula hoop, because how could I leave that at home? I had a stellar time with friends, colleagues, and fellow travelers along the way. I cannot begin to describe the sights, smells, sounds, sensations I was able to experience in all of these places (at least not in a way to avoid having a tome of a post), so here are my favourite photos from my trip, chronologically from beginning to end. Between 24 December and 11 January, I traveled from Aarhus to:
I spent Christmas with a lovely couple of Brazilians in my programme. We cooked dinner together on Christmas Eve, and spent Christmas Day wandering around the snowy city. I believe it was all of our first Christmases away from family, so it was nice to spend it with familiar faces (Kahlua the canine included).
I met one of my flatmates in Rome, where we spent four full days doing everything a tourist can do (minus the unfortunately-closed Trevi Fountain), including eating our collective weight in pizza and seeing the Pope at the Vatican on Sunday. It was a beautiful city that had most of the history I could ever want, and the blue skies and warm(ish) air was a welcome respite from Denmark. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover I could understand and read a bit of Italian, thanks to several semesters of half-studied Spanish.
New Year’s Eve, Day, and Next Day were all spent in Berlin, where my flatmate and I were warmly received by a good friend in my programme, his girlfriend and several of their friends. Ear plugs were an absolute necessity on New Year’s Eve, as that night is the one night of the year when any German can buy whatever fireworks his or her heart desires, and set them loose in the city. Bridges shook. The next day once we all were relatively recovered from our respective hangovers, we took the Bullshit Tour of Berlin, which included the explanation of the (former) Adolf Hitler River running through the city. I finally got myself a damn currywurst (or three), and had the opportunity to visit some of the most popular landmarks in Berlin.
We stayed with my friend’s brother in Potsdam, a city I knew nothing about but learned a bit from both the Bullshit and No, Seriously parts of the brief tour I got on my last day.
I had one day here staying with my friend and his girlfriend; while they stayed in to do some work around the apartment, I spent a few hours out walking part of the town. It snowed the entire time, which was wonderful. I also nearly had a heart attack climbing to the top of a church for some spectacular views (from the stairs, not the height). One of the highlights of the day was actually stopping off in a random cafe for a coffee, apple strudel, and a good long read.
After accidentally getting to the airport two hours too early, and then having my flight delayed almost two additional hours in Munich, I was exhausted by the time I finally landed in Tunis: my first time in Africa, the Middle East, or anywhere where there aren’t a lot of english-speaking white people (this includes Belize). This was easily my favourite stop on the whole trip, with the possible exceptions of the one 11-hour walking day in Rome, and the lazy beach day in Santa Flavia. I stayed with a colleague from my programme in a Youth Hostel in Tunis’s medina: a literal and not veritable maze of souks and streets. He and another woman in the Mundus programme were there to work, and I spent most of my time wandering around the city and lamenting my lack of skill in either French or Arabic. Two highlights of this trip were, broadly, the food and the people. From a wonderful family I met in a restaurant they owned, to an asshole of a journalist I encountered at a protest, and on the last day a man who hand-makes perfumes who led us to a beautiful (former) palace rooftop overlooking the city, the anecdotes I gained are numerous and fit for conversation over coffee instead of trying to regale you with every detail here.
An unplanned day trip to Carthage taught me two things: one, trust your instincts, Daphne. And two, always carry a spare memory card. Carthage was a great city with an amazingly rich history; a nearly-three-hour cab ride for a very small amount of money allowed me to see most of what it had to offer, including an unofficial stop off at (and into) the city’s standing aqueducts.
Palermo, Italy (Sicily)
Between the morning arrival of the overnight ferry from Tunis and the evening train to Santa Flavia, my colleagues and myself spent a few hours walking Palermo and stuffing our faces. I had the chance to have real, original Sicilian cannoli, Italian espresso, Arancini; we spent a good bit of time in the street markets buying things to eat on for the next couple of days, including spiced olives, fresh strawberries, and sausage. It was nice, and a small city compared to many of the places I had been on this trip, but it was still more than twice the population of Aarhus. The weather could not have been better, and it was a shame we did not have more time to see some of the historical sights.
Santa Flavia, Italy (Sicily)
This stop saw one of my favourite singular days of my entire holiday: we spent pretty much the whole day lounging on the rocky beach, drinking wine and soaking up the sun (I have never been so happy to be sunburned in my life). It included an impromptu harmonica-versus-car-speakers battle, hooping, and giving the locals a good laugh at the crazy tourists swimming in January. Limoncello drinks and fresh Italian bread concluded what was an all-around excellent day. It was a little stressful figuring out how to get from Santa Flavia to the Palermo airport for our flights out the next day (the early morning train schedule on Sundays is nonexistent here), but thanks to some real Sicilian hospitality, we managed to get a ride with a storeowner’s brother.