Author Archives: Andrea

Food and places I’ll never forget My Lonely Planet of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. During the pandemic I’d traveled, but only within Europe, staying close to home. Although Europe has so many amazing places to explore, I wanted something different. Something that would feel truly foreign. A place I didn’t know anything about. When I bought the Lonely Planet, I’d thought I may visit Georgia, or Azerbaijan. I have no idea why, but I ended up planning a visit to Armenia. It was the best decision! My trip wasn’t without glitches. My airline decided to cancel the flight and put me on a flight the next day. A minor detail they forgot to tell me about! Luckily I tried checking in online, got confused and found out about the canceled flight on the phone. The lady sitting next to me…

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It’s not a popular thing to say, but my first visit to Istanbul didn’t leave me raving about the city like many other people do. I finished a tour there, with 1,5 days to explore the main sights. Although Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque were impressive, I had felt uneasy and confused for most of my time is this gigantic city. But now, when my manager suggested to go meet the team in Istanbul, my first business trip in this job, I gladly took the offer. Arrangements needed to be made fairly last minute and once again I was uneasy and confused, but this time in the process of corporate travel. The feeling disappeared when I landed, got through passport control and found my way to the Havaist bus to the city. The bus was 1 minute away from departing, so I was glad I caught it and could…

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At 6.30AM I walked through the empty streets of Yerevan on a Sunday morning. There were only a few joggers and the odd cyclist. Everyone else was still asleep. But today I had plans: a group hiking trip to the Dilijan National Park. When I reached the meeting point I was surprised to see a big bus waiting for all of us. We were hiking with 50-ish people! As we drove north we picked up a few people on the highway until the bus was pretty much full. I had the idea that everyone was Armenian. Everyone seemed to understand each other apart from me. After catching a glimpse of lake Sevan we stopped at a huge rest area, with supermarket, petrol station, restaurant and café. It appeared to be the must-do stop on the way north. When we left the bus drove through a small town and up the…

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I loved spending some time in the Dilijan National Park. The views were just incredible, whether it was from the town of Dilijan, from the drives around there or from the hikes I did. Although there are many day trips from Yerevan, this place deserves a bit more time, especially if you like to hike. I read a few too many warnings about shepherd dogs in the mountains. After being bitten twice already on my travels, I’ve developed a fear of dogs I can’t seem to shake. So I decided to stick to some short trails because I was alone. Medieval monasteries trail – 3,5 km loop About 6 km from the bus station in Dilijan is the start of the Medieval monasteries trail. As the name suggests, the path leads you to the 13th century monasteries of Jukhtakvank and Matosavank. When I arrived at the start, a local man…

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My friend and I were planning our trip to Albania. We needed some beach time, but the popular beaches like Sarande were a little too far for our liking. With the short time we had, we needed something a bit closer to the capital. What about Vlorë? Vlorë? Vlora? What’s the name of this place? Why does it have two names? Vlorë. It’s the third biggest city in Albania and about midway between Greece and Montenegro. Why not. Getting to Vlorë from Berat was easy enough. Only, our van had us waiting for several hours until it was full and ready to depart. After all that waiting we ended up with too many passengers and a family we picked up along the way had to sit in the aisle, with the mum on a tiny fold out stool. The poor little boy got car sick and we had to stop…

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My first day in Tirana was not exactly what I’d expected. I’d arrived after midnight the night before and the hostel had an interesting ‘room’ that was somehow connected to the rest of the space without a proper wall. So the 10 bed dorm could hear all the noise from the hallway. Besides, the 6 or 8 bed dorm upstairs had an open ‘wall’, so people could stare right into our room. Basically I felt like I was sleeping in a massive dorm and I felt so bad when I had to brush my teeth in the ‘bathroom’ which was just some wash basins in the middle of the room. Anyway, it was my first day in Tirana and I was excited to see some of it. My hostel didn’t have tea at breakfast, so I made my way to the main street, got some cash out and sat down…

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Taking public transport in Albania takes time. Our bus didn’t leave on time, so we arrived in the late afternoon at the bus station, just outside of the city. However, the ride from Tirana to Berat was pretty smooth. Minutes after arriving a local bus arrived. My friend and I hopped on, hoping it would take us towards Berat’s old town. Although we weren’t 100% sure, all the other tourists followed. We were staying in the Gorica part of town, across the river. It is one half of the Unesco protected part of the city. Our hostel was in one of the typical local houses that Berat is known for. They spread out from the river all the way up the hill and create the most picturesque cityscape. When we saw the river we hit the stop button. It was only a short walk to the hostel. I was eager…

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It seems like I end up in the Spreewald once every summer, but never had I explored it on the water. When my team was planning a day out, I took the lead and booked some canoes. It was the last week of August and after some really hot weather, it seemed like fall was on its way. The weekend had been dreary and this morning clouds were hanging over Berlin, with about 19 degrees. But the forecast for the Spreewald looked better. So we packed layers, but also sunglasses and made our way to Lübbenau by train. While one guy explained the route to us, another put the 2 canoes in the water. We were ready to go! Close to Lübbenau we saw more canoers and kayakers leaving for a trip on the Spreewald’s waterways, but since there are so many options, it quickly spread out and at times…

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On Thursday I decided to buy a ticket to Berlin’s long night of the museums, a night where many of Berlin’s museums open their doors until 2 AM and offer special programs like performances and express tours. With one ticket you can visit it all. It seemed like a great plan. However, on Friday night I attended the company party at the Napolean Komplex. The theme was 80s and after weeks of stressing about the outfit I ended up buying a cheap T-shirt, putting some beads on a string and going overboard with make-up and hairspray. Unfortunately, after many nice days, on Friday a storm rolled into Berlin. It was pouring down and seemed to ruin the party. I think it mostly ruined my hair. No amount of hairspray would keep it up. Arriving at the event venue we had to walk over pallets to cross the puddles of rainwater.…

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It’s already August, the last month of Germany’s €9 ticket. Time to make a trip outside of Berlin, perhaps one of the last ones this summer. With 29 degrees in the forecast I packed my cap, sunscreen and sunglasses. I added my lunch and a book and took a train to the Beelitz Heilstätten, about 45 minutes outside of Berlin. The Heilstätten was a huge sanatorium, mainly for people with tuberculosis. It was built at the end of the 19th century, in a time where Berlin was going through industrialization and attracted many people from the countryside. Hygiene was poor, with dozens of people living on the same floor and sharing a bathroom. It was the perfect place for TB to spread. So all over Germany these sanatoriums started to appear, particularly in places like the Alps, with good air quality. Beelitz was chosen as a site closer to Berlin.…

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