Happy seven month travel-versary to me! Yep, as of Saturday I have been on the road a whopping seven months. I am now past my halfway point, a thought that brings me a mix of happiness and trepidation. While I am excited about all of the adventures I have left to experience in the next five months, I am also starting to anticipate enjoying some of the comforts of home again. At the same time, the thought of returning to face a world of uncertainty on almost all fronts is a little scary.
So I am not going to think about – or write about – it any more for now.
Instead, I am going to celebrate seven months by taking part in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots game. Amanda of A Dangerous Business and Ali of Ali’s Adventures both tagged me to participate a while back, so it’s about time I play as well.
The premise is easy: share seven favorite photos that fall into seven different categories. What better way to look back on my seven months on the road?
1. A Photo That Takes My Breath Away
Visiting Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, was amazing, but the view that really wowed me was the sunrise on my first morning crossing the Black Sea from Ukraine to Georgia. I had never before sailed so far out into open water that I lost all sight of land. So to wake up and see nothing but the vast sea ahead really did take my breath away (it also made me just a bit nervous!).
2. A Photo That Makes Me Laugh or Smile
Arriving in the town of Khuzir on Olkhon Island (the largest island in Lake Baikal) was like being transported back in time or to another world. After enduring the craziness of large, loud, steel and cement-filled Russian cities for two months, I couldn’t stop smiling as I wandered along the sandy roads in Khuzir. And as I passed this cow hanging out in the middle of town, I think I probably felt the happiest and most relaxed that I had on my entire trip up to that point.
3. A Photo That Makes Me Dream
I’m going to go all cheesy on you now. There was something about St. Petersburg in the fall that had me feeling romantic and dreamy. It probably had something to do with the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, happy couples strolling through the parks hand-in-hand and new brides frolicking in the leaves as they posed for photos of their special day. I couldn’t help but think how beautiful it would be to be in love in St. Petersburg (note to my future husband, if you’re looking for the perfect place to propose, St. Petersburg in late September might be it!).
4. A Photo That Makes Me Think
No place I have visited made me think as much as Warsaw. As I wrote shortly after my time there, it was both somber and inspiring. The place that really got me was the Jewish Cemetery. Walking all alone through fallen leaves, past cracked headstones, I felt like time stopped there in the 1940s. And I couldn’t help but think about how little I really knew about what happened in Warsaw in World War II until I actually visited the city myself.
5. A Photo That Makes My Mouth Water
Being gluten-intolerant, food has not been a huge part of my travels – at least not in a positive, mouth-watering kind of way. That changed my last night in Kiev when a twenty-something Aussie chef-turned-hostel-staffer named Chadwic whipped up the feast shown above for the entire hostel (the picture above actually only shows about half of it!). The fact that he did it all in about an hour with the limited resources of a hostel kitchen was even more impressive.
6. A Photo That Tells a Story
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words but even pictures I don’t think do justice to completely tell the story of Chernobyl. This is one that stands out to me the most of the dozens I took while visiting Chernobyl and the nearby “ghost town” of Pripyat.
7. A Photo That I am Most Proud Of (i.e., my worthy of National Geographic shot)
I don’t know if it’s worthy of National Geographic, but I personally love this photo I took in Odessa toward the end of February. I had just arrived from dreary, snowy Moldova and spent the day wandering around the city, basking in the sunshine and lack of snow. Then, I ventured down to the beach to get my first glimpse of the Black Sea and was greeted by lingering snow and ice!