Today on the blog we have the wonderful Maria Davies. Maria is a long-time member of the Honey Good Network. While I certainly love international travel, Maria takes it one step further. In this blog, she discusses how she travels the world and gives her wisdom on how you can do the same. Enjoy!
A Few Disclaimers:
- There’s no right or wrong way to travel.
- I’ve been traveling for most of my life. My 1st solo travel was at the age of 12, going from the provincial town where my parents and I lived to the capital of Budapest, where my grandparents lived.
- I speak four languages, which helps to get around when traveling to foreign countries.
This summer and into fall, my hubby and I took a trip that will go down as one of the most adventurous and most satisfying of the many we’ve taken over the years.
The planning began with the choice of where. As we hadn’t been back to Europe for nearly 6 years, we decided to go there.
But where is there? We started with 6 possibilities: Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Next we decided on the time we were going to be able to spend away from home. Eight weeks seemed doable. Then we looked at a reasonable budget and began adjusting everything.
Six countries became four. Spain and Italy being eliminated. The eight weeks stayed firm and the budget was worked out Then we decided on the date of departure and we were ready to go.
As a graduation present to our three granddaughters, we offered to provide for their housing, food and incidental expenses if they could manage to meet us at whichever country they chose–they chose Greece.
Traveling “My Way”
After the airline tickets were bought, we attended the housing. Here is the “my way” of traveling.
We chose Airbnb for several reasons. As we are not a touring group, we like to make our own arrangements and maintain the flexibility to change plans at will. This is the best choice for us. The added bonus is that we get to meet the owners, get to see how they furnish their places, where they do their grocery shopping and what those stores have on offer. I love to cook and provisioning in a foreign country is great fun. Airbnb is a great company, user-friendly, offers practically unlimited choices of housing and is very reasonably priced.
In Greece, we did the research of what we wanted to see, designated one of the girls to do the research and another one to find our way around Athens and Delphi. We saw the usual and some unusual sites, ate at fancy restaurants or holes in the wall as the mood struck us. Transportation was the next decision and we chose buses, trains and ferries rather than flying. We saw some stunning countryside and European buses and trains are terrific.
The ferry ride from Athens to Crete was a revelation. The ship was huge and the accommodations were more like a cruise ship. Our cabin was clean and functional with very comfortable beds and a nice bathroom. Food was available in many areas of the ship and of excellent quality.
We left the girls after two weeks and went on to Hungary by air. A local discount carrier, Easy Jet, was inexpensive and provided good service for the short ride.
Our visit was made very special because friends gave us their apartment and invited us to travel by car with them to Croatia where they vacation every year. We eagerly accepted.
A side note here that the friends were the lovely couple of Laszlo and Tamara Gonczi whom I had met through FIABCI The International Real Estate Federation. We’ve kept in touch over the years and the reunion was special in every way. When you are a solo world traveler, you should make every effort to maintain and nourish friendships like these. Always be ready to reciprocate their hospitality.
Hungary was special in another way as well because I was born and raised there. My feelings toward the country and its people are strong. And reconnecting was an emotional boost. I may be prejudiced but it is a beautiful country with sweet, helpful people and the culture, the food and scenery are spectacular.
When not with the Gonczi’s we stayed in Airbnb’s while visiting three other cities in Hungary. Two of which I had never seen. All but one of the Airbnb’s were far beyond our expectations. Two of our hosts even took us grocery shopping. One didn’t have laundry facilities, so he had his sister wash our clothes.
On to the Next Location: Germany
Next, we went to Germany where a friend whom we hosted several years ago arranged our housing, which was such a bonus. In Potsdam, we stayed with a young couple and their two little girls. They live in a very modern townhouse complex, comparable to some of the upscale townhouses in Chicago. The family was welcoming and very helpful to get us to places we wanted to go, including a day trip to Berlin. They were very curious about our little island and we promptly invited them to come to Grenada as soon as they could.
Potsdam happens to be the place where the infamous Potsdam Treaty of 1945 was signed by Truman, Churchill and Stalin. This is the treaty that carved up Europe. It was fun visiting the site where this happened.
Hamburg, Germany: Our Last Destination
In Hamburg, we stayed with a university professor who was the 1st female professor to be granted tenure, a very determined, intelligent, lovely lady. We did the usual, theater, museums, churches, and jazz club. Hamburg is famous for its jazz musicians!
While in Hamburg, we visited the island of Rugen, an island off the north coast of Germany. I had a real estate intern study with me some seven years ago and she lives in Rugen and she invited us to visit. So we hopped on a train, transferred to another and spent a lovely day with Lysanne. Trains in Europe have 1st and 2nd class, not always clearly marked. The price difference is quite considerable. As our return trip was late evening, we didn’t check and happily ensconced ourselves in a 1st class carriage only to be asked by the conductor to move.
We left cold, rainy, beautiful Hamburg to return to our own personal paradise, bringing back so many fabulous memories.
Do travel as much as you possibly can. Travel whichever way makes you feel comfortable but don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone now and then. The rewarding adventures are well worth it.
What location do you want to travel to? Tell me in the comments below!
Maria and her husband Richard Nuscher have lived in retirement on the island of Grenada in the West Indies for the past 6 years. Before retiring, Maria was a successful Realtor. Now Maria spends her time volunteering for the Willie Redhead Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the architecture and culture of her beloved island. In addition, she maintains her website, publishes a newsletter, guest writes for several websites and enjoys gardening, growing many of the things they eat. She is also an unofficial leader of what she calls her “Explorers’ Group,” made up of like-minded friends who enjoy exploring the island and organizing fun outings. She is also an avid member of the Honey Good Network!