“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”
As I prepare for my summer adventures I started to think about solo travel. When people ask me who I will be traveling with and I say myself I usually get strange looks and then the typical question, “aren’t you afraid?” My same response is, “no I am not afraid. I love to be on my own and I will meet people.” It has not steered me wrong to date and I am eager to travel abroad on my summer adventure. This summer I will visit Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo, Brunei, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Russia. I know most people get tired just hearing my list, but I thrive on excitement and each journey invigorates my mind, body and soul. By the time I return back home at the end of the summer I am recharged and excited for a new school year with my students and colleagues full of new adventures and more travel. I think the best way to predict your future is to create it. If I want to go somewhere or see something I do not need to wait for someone to come with me. I can just go because I have the confidence and ability to do so. Those who travel alone often make themselves more available for local discovery and connection. I love to travel with my friends, family and students, but solo travel is a unique experience. I have traveled to over 60 countries and I am blessed to have visited more than half of those places more than once. The goal of solo travel is not to learn to be alone even though at specific times we might feel isolated. I think the goal of solo travel is to learn independence and that is different from isolation. Solo travel is about building a life full of richness and loving the vast number of places and people you encounter and seeing endless opportunities for beauty and happiness that exist all around the world. When you travel on your own it eliminates distraction from other people and allows you to enter fully into every experience. I do not have a fear of strangers. I love to meet new people and learn about who they are and where they are from. Once you meet a stranger while traveling and get to know them you will then have a new friend and most often that connection will last a lifetime.
“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime.”
― Victor Hugo
Some places never get old. Paris is an amazing city for the first time or the fiftieth time. For many travelers there are few places that still deliver pleasures so effortlessly. It is a city that is buzzing with a dynamic energy and I can never get enough of Paris. Paris is full of life and most of that life is inspired from the many works of art housed throughout the city at a variety of museums. My favorite museum is the Musee d’Orsay, but whichever museum you prefer you will be impressed by room after room of extraordinary works of art including paintings and sculptures spanning centuries of time. The Musee d’Orsay covers a variety of art from 1848- 1914 with a splendid impressionists section. I visited this museum for the first time in 1998 and continue to be impressed by each additional visit. It is a converted train station that was in operation until 1939, then closed down and ignored until it was converted into a museum in 1977. The setting of this museum alone will take your breath away and give you a light and spacious feeling. One of my favorite paintings at this site is Cathedral at Rouen by Claude Monet. I have always loved art and visiting museums, but that is not for everyone. Luckily in Paris you can learn a lot just by wandering the streets. If you prefer that then remember while you look, absorb and feel your surroundings. It is an effortless pleasure as you explore and you will take away so much from the experience. The history and culture is impressive, but sitting under the Eiffel tower drinking a glass of champagne is what Paris is all about.
Paris highlights according to Tedeschi the Traveler:
In loving memory of my beautiful friend Amanda Jean Malloy (1979- 2008)
Ireland is a magical place. The friendliest people live there and you have a huge smile on your face from start to finish while you are present in this beautiful country. I had the opportunity to visit Dublin, Galway, Killarney, Kilkenny, Blarney, Cork, and Kildare. It is almost like you are living in a postcard as you trek around the emerald isle. It is full of stunning views and you find yourself taking pictures of everything and when people ask you, "what is that?" you laugh when you reply, "a house on the side of a road." People often use the term. “Luck of the Irish,” and now that term has a deeper meaning for me having spent time in Ireland. It is beautiful, majestic and some views are like something out of a movie and you wonder am I really seeing this? I travel often and never had a strong desire to visit Ireland and upon my return it is a place I keep thinking about and find myself talking about often. I have nothing against the country or its people, but my desire not to go was more of a personal choice. My best friend Amanda loved Ireland and everything about its culture and history. She visited the emerald isle a few times and we always talked about seeing it together one day. Unfortunately she was taken from me too soon and I never got that opportunity. It took a long time for me to be comfortable going to Ireland and now I feel honored that I did. I believe my beautiful friend watches over me from heaven and is always by my side. I know this to be true for numerous spiritual encounters and the appearance of butterflies. My closeness to her was no different in Ireland. I felt her presence everywhere I went and could hear her singing Irish songs to me and her happy and contagious laugh many times. My favorite and most special day in Ireland was when I visited the Cliffs of Moher. I walked in so many places Amanda had been before me on this trip, but this site at the Cliffs of Moher made me feel her the most. I brought a picture of her with me from when she visited the sight. I stood in the exact places she did and knew this time she was with me along that same path. Life is a gift and should be treated as such. There is not a day that goes by that I do not wish for my friend to be here with me, but I find peace knowing she is in a better place and still a part of my life in a different way.
“…by far the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago…is that the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings…I never dreamed that islands, about fifty or sixty miles apart, and most of them in sight of each other, formed of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height, would have been differently tenanted.”
Some might argue if you make your life's mission to go to various places and territories that are obscure and distinct that you might be trying to escape reality, but I feel more like it allows me to know the world better. I feel strongly that if you want to know about the world then you must get out and see it. Just like people study a variety of sciences I feel that I engage in the study of wanderlust through my many travels. Ecuador is a remarkably beautiful country. I love the Andean culture. Quito was a lot of fun and Otavalo was stunning. The Galapagos islands are a part of Ecuador. They are an archipelago that sit along the equator approximately 600 miles west of the mainland and Galapagos means tortoise in Spanish. I had the opportunity to visit three different islands- Santa Cruz, Isabela Island and San Cristobal. Everyday was a new island and it brought with it a new exploration, adventure and learning experience. Each island is diverse and fascinating. It is like the coolest playground full of exotic wildlife. Five must- see Galapagos animals are the blue footed booby, marine iguanas, sea lions, giant tortoises and penguins.
I recently visited Estonia and Finland. Both are wonderful and unique destinations. There is so much history to learn and experience while touring these countries. They are hidden gems in Europe. I highly recommend going to these countries if you enjoy history and learning about new cultures. I was only there for a short visit, but I will return in August to explore more in the summer months and add a few new places on my list that include Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Russia. The weather was crisp and cold and it felt good to walk around and visit medieval castles and cathedrals. Tallinn was a captivating city and Helsinki was quirky. Normally I thrive on adventure and incorporate something intense, but this was a different type of journey for me. I am always open for new experiences and I love to go on adventures. This is nothing new. I believe there is more to life than just being in your hometown and you have to experience the world to really understand yourself and the people around you. Travel adds life to your life so rather than stay in one place during my healing process I decided I needed to stay strong and leave the country.
There is nothing wrong with taking advice and learning from others, but make sure it aligns with your desires and passions. As you know I was recently injured when I was walking and got hit by a car. I was worried I would never be able to travel again. Gratefully I worked hard at physical therapy to feel more like myself to get on the airplane and I learned to ignore my continuous pain. I was never worried or anxious to fly on a plane in my life until my adventure in the Baltic began to approach fast. I was scared I would feel pain the whole time or be uncomfortable. I put on a good front and decided that the way I was feeling was not like myself at all. I lost my sparkle. I was sad and feeling down instead of smiling and feeling happy. I thought maybe I should not go on a trip because people around me were telling me I was crazy to travel since I was just injured, but you cannot always listen to people because then you will miss out on what you want to happen in your life. Instead of listening to others I listened to my heart. I knew something needed to revive my happiness and bring me back to life. I am wanderlust. Travel is what makes me happy and this specific trip to Estonia and Finland might have been a quick few days, but that is all I needed to help bring me back to life. I was blessed to be able to visit an area in the world I had never visited before. I fell in love once again. It was a spectacular experience and it was a wonderful way to begin the New Year 2017. I celebrated New Years Eve in the UNESCO protected old town Tallin, Estonia. I sat at a table with wonderful spirited people while overlooking the Christmas markets and had the enlightening experience to get outside to watch the fireworks as the next year began. The sights and sounds were unforgettable and there is just something about fireworks that make your whole body feel a sense of joy. I watched these beautiful colors light up the sky and the tops of the buildings located on the square light. At that moment I felt like myself again. I had just finished visiting a variety of sights and doing a lot of walking without anyone knowing I was ever injured. You have to have a positive mind to heal and stay strong both mentally and physically. Now my sparkle has returned and I am back to smiling everyday. I value experience instead of things. I love to learn and I do not take things at face value. You can study, read and listen all you want, but the real learning occurs when you take action and can gain a deeper understanding through experience. This trip helped me transform. I feel blessed for completing another amazing journey and as usual made intentions not resolutions for the upcoming year that include both health and happiness.
“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” -Martha Washington
I love to travel and embark on journeys that change my life in various ways. When I am asked if I want to see a particular place my response is always, “I want to visit everywhere.” There are 196 countries in the world and I have already visited over 50. I feel blessed for all of my experiences. I love to meet new people and learn from my experiences. I believe a person is wealthy from experience, not from money. I am a happy person and I value my life. I try to stay positive on most days and do my best to see the good in others even when it is a challenge.
This past weekend I was walking with a friend and was hit by a car. The car hit me above my left ankle leaving an imprint of his car in my leg and instead of stopping the man kept driving and his passenger side mirror hit my hip and knocked me down throwing me onto the street. I suffered many injuries, but did not break anything and I am thankful to be alive. I am a believer and I know angels saved me because it was not my time. The pain in various parts of my body tests me on a daily basis, but as long as I stay positive and work to repair the damage I know I will be stronger soon. I am hopeful that each day I will be stronger and soon I know I will be back to myself. My faith in human kind was challenged by this man who left me on the street. I could not believe someone could do that to another human. I kept saying this to the EMT and police officers who were in the ambulance with me. They seemed like it was a common practice and that I was the weird one for thinking this man’s actions were uncommon. I see the good in people and that will never change.
Similar to when I return home from a trip I woke up the following day a different person. I have been in extreme pain and I think I am still in shock by what this human being did to me, but then I remember I am a believer in karma and I know what goes around comes around. Your life is your message to the world so make sure it is inspiring. I want my friends, family and especially my students to know that there are good people in this world. It is a shame that some people act in such a way that allows people to get discouraged, but everything happens for a reason and I hope the man who hit me realizes there was a better way to handle the situation. I pray that he will use this unfortunate incident to learn and grow and become a more positive person. By considering the strengths in your life, I am confident that you will find the joy that surrounds you. If we always look to focus on the negative then we will never be happy. The power of positivity is endless if you choose to believe. Being a positive person is a lifestyle choice and you learn what you live. I count my blessings on a daily basis, but after being hit by a car and miraculously not being killed or breaking any bones I will continue a life where I always choose to be positive, grateful, strong and hopeful.
Iceland is surreal. It is a destination of extremes. It’s captivating capital of Reykjavik is wonderful and full of life. The name Reykjavik means “smoky bay” and about two thirds of the Icelandic 330,000 population live in the capital region. It combines hip and wholesome like no other city in the world and it is truly a fascinating travel destination. It is a small city, but has a lot to offer. You will experience local customs, cosmopolitan influences and innovative attractions. Most of the places of interest are in the downtown area. Something that I found interesting is that it has some of the highest literacy rates in the world and Reykjavik is a UNESCO City of Literature. In addition, they have delicious coffee and interesting baristas. Everything in Iceland is expensive, but just put that out of your mind and enjoy your visit. Most travelers will purchase Icelandic wool because it is a great souvenir and you see the sheep everywhere on the mountainside. I decide to purchase gloves and a coat that will be used on my next adventure to Scandinavia after Christmas. The wool is versatile and water resistant and you can find it at most souvenir or craft shops. It really keeps you warm and makes you feel like you have a part of this paradise with you at all times.
When outdoors, taking a deep breath of clean, fresh air is something that Icelanders take for granted. But the abundance of fresh and healthy air comes at a price. Iceland is located at the border between Arctic and temperate seas and between the cold air masses of the Arctic and the warm air masses of lower latitudes. This makes Iceland’s climate extremely variable. In fact, it is not unusual to experience all four seasons in a single day. The local have a saying, “If you do not like the weather wait five minutes and it will change.” Thanks to the gulf stream, winter temperatures are milder than in New York. Iceland is a volcanic land and has many glaciers and other countless natural wonders. I embarked on many adventurous tasks during my visit and I look forward to returning to do more. I loved all of my climbs at different waterfalls and especially my glacier hike. It is the best place for anyone who loves nature and outdoor activities. Some of the highlights of my trip included a northern lights evening tour, a visit to the blue lagoon, the golden circle tour, south shore adventure tour, and just wandering aimlessly around Reykjavik looking at rainbows. I could not believe my eyes during some of my daily events. The natural beauty is in abundance. I kept staring at my surroundings and thinking is this real?
My most recent journey took me to United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Oman and this adventure gave me a new perspective on the world since it was my first time visiting the region of the Middle East. I always love people’s reactions about my travels. Where are you going? Where is that? Why would you want to go there? Don’t you have to be covered all of the time? You are taking your mom? Is it safe? The answers are- it is located on the Arabian peninsula, I want to go everywhere, only when visiting a mosque, yes I took my mom and yes it is safe.
The UAE has developed into one of the richest countries in the world and that is why everything is the biggest, fastest and over the top spectacular. It is so advanced, clean and modern and that is probably why it is a business and tourism hub. The Arabian emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the richest and most powerful of the seven city- states that make up the UAE. These places offer the best of the East and West. You experience Arab culture, Bedouin heritage and Islamic architecture alongside luxurious modern amenities such as shopping, dining and hotels. Abu Dhabi is the capital and second most populated city of the UAE. It has enormous wealth. Thanks to the natural resource of oil it has transformed from a fishing village into a spectacular and attractive Arab city. Abu Dhabi preserves its Islamic heritage and Arab cultural roots. You will be amazed by what you see. One of my favorite places was visited during my first day in Abu Dhabi. It was the Skeikh Zayed Mosque. There is a mosque dedicated to him in all of the emirates, but this one is the biggest and most lavish. If you have ever been to the Taj Mahal in India you can see some similarities in it grandeur. I was in awe of the details and beauty this mosque exhibited. There are so many malls and theme parks to visit, but my heart feels most connected to the cultural sites. I loved wandering around the site of the mosque covered from head to toe in 100 degree heat. Yes, it was 100 degrees and some days even hotter. Even though it was hot your mind is not focused on the heat. It is focused on what you are looking at and the feelings who experience as you hear the sound of the muezzin [prayer caller]. I remember being in Istanbul and the sound of the muezzin was one of my favorite sounds and I felt the same way in Abu Dhabi. The more I travel the more I see that the world is small and connected in so many ways. Islam is an interesting faith. I love to study and teach about religion. It is so interesting to learn the practices and teachings of other people in various parts of the world. While traveling I had a tour guide who lived in Dubai, born and raised in Sri Lanka, practices Buddhism, and studied in Germany. He is a true world citizen and very knowledgeable in many areas. I really enjoyed our time together. If you choose to travel to these places I would suggest using Smartours and hopefully you will be lucky enough to learn from Mr. Shirley Karunaratne.
Dubai looks like a city out of the movies! Between the glistening golden sand of the Arabian Desert and some of the most iconic architectural structures it is fascinating. It is not a place with tremendous historical impact but it has the world’s tallest buildings and the innovation that you experience is amazing. Dubai was a small fisherman village and not that rich. It turned into a successful port in the 20th century. What makes this city so intriguing is how fast it has grown. Twenty five years ago it was just a desert. Oil was discovered in 1966 and Sheikh Rashid utilized the oil revenues to bolster infrastructure development in Dubai. Dubai is known as the entertainment capital of the Middle East and is not a hub of world travel. It is the busiest airport in the world followed by Heathrow and Frankfurt. There is a thousand things to do in Dubai. You can visit man- made islands, shop, indoor ski, watch fountain shows, visit museums, go on a desert safari, admire luxury hotels, drink and eat gold, and enjoy amazing nightlife. I really enjoyed many of the activities I did, but the desert safari was my favorite. Driving in land cruisers over the dunes of sand is incredible. It is like a roller coaster and even though I dislike rollercoasters because I get motion sickness I loved this. The driver was amazing and had a great combination of fast and furious and slow and smooth as part of our ride. All I kept thinking was how do we not flip over and how do they know where to go since there is sand for miles. The desert safari ends with dinner at a camp in the desert and you can participate in falconry, ride a camel, smoke shisha, get henna on your body and eat dinner. I love henna so that was the first item on my list to be done. The whole experience gives you a great feel for life in the desert and leaves you dreaming as you head back into the busy city after experiencing the calmness and mystery of the desert.
Oman is a true oasis. It is gorgeous. Oman is mountainous, coastal and pastoral. Most people have never even heard of this country, but I suggest you get there now before it gets too popular and loses its traditional charm. It made an appearance in the most recent edition of Conde Nast Traveler and is growing in popularity. A few years ago I had a former student who lived and taught English in a school in Oman and my classes that year had pen pals with Omani kids so I wanted to visit ever since that collaboration took place. I spent a whole day traveling in Musandam. It is a stunning location and the water is gorgeous. I felt like I was in the Greek islands. This trip was exciting for so many reasons especially since I had my mommy right by my side, but also because I had the opportunity to swim in the Persian gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Maybe I was a mermaid in a past life because I love the water, but dislike the boats. I always feel blessed for my experiences because that is the way I learn more about the world and myself. This trip was a great combination of traditional ways and modern life. Each day I felt like I was in paradise.
Some of the must see’s if you travel to UAE & Oman-
Abu Dhabi: Fish market, Corniche, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Dhow Cruise, Lou Lou Island, Emirates Palace, Saadiyat Island, Yas Mall, Heritage Village and Ferrari World.
Dubai: Dubai Museum, Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Mosque, Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeriah, Spice Souq, Gold Souq, Desert Safari, Burj Khalifa, Al Fahidi, and the Islands.
Oman: Muscat and Musandam
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
-Henry David Thoreau
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz means holy cross. It is a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in present day Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz is the largest city of Santa Cruz county in California. The present day site of Santa Cruz was the location of Spanish settlement beginning in 1791. Following the Mexican- American War of 1846-1848 California became the 31st state in 1850. The city of Santa Cruz was incorporated in 1866 as a town and received its first charter as a city in 1876. As you already know I teach history and have a passion for learning about the subject. California offers a history lover a lot of information to absorb and in addition I love nature and especially the beach. I see the beach and the ocean as my holy place. I feel better when I look out into the horizon and see the blue water and just listen to its calming sound. It is hard to describe, but my heart just opens up and my smile grows even larger. This is probably the reason I fell in love with Santa Cruz on my first visit. After my first visit I was addicted to this place and could not wait to return. Luckily for me I was able to get back there before my trip came to an end. I arrived on my own and just absorbed my surroundings. I walked around the coast and along the sand beaches observing what was around me. I listened to the world around me and met some of the coolest people. The vibe in this area is explosive. Everyone is happy and friendly and it just makes you want to keep coming back. There is so much to see and experience. There is an amazing beachfront with a historic boardwalk and many shops and restaurants that you can enjoy. In addition there are so many surfers to watch in the water while enjoying their energy. I had the best time just sitting on the rocks and dreaming and thinking about life. I know it sounds strange, but the simple things in life are what make me happy. This specific destination actually made me want to extend my trip just so I could get back to my spiritual haven one more time before going home to New York, but then I had to have a reality check about my life at home and of course my bank account that is almost non existent at this point in the summer so I decided not to change my flight, but instead to plan another visit to Santa Cruz and consider it as the location of my next big birthday extravaganza! These are the simple things that keep me going and make my energy rise. I am sure people go to this place each day and have a different experience, but that’s just life. It is just like reading a story- it is up to you whether you get to read the colorful chapters or just be content judging by its cover.
California 2016- San Francisco, Los Angeles & San Diego
I recently traveled to California and had a wonderful experience. I visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The natural beauty in our country is outstanding. I travel the world and see amazing sights, but nothing compares to the national parks in our nation. This year celebrates the 100th year anniversary of the national park service [1916- 2016]. By the act of March 1, 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the territories of Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed it “under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior.” The founding of Yellowstone National Park began a worldwide national park movement. Today more than 100 nations contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for protecting the 35 national parks and monuments then managed by the department and those yet to be established. There is so much history involved in the establishment of these national parks and some key individuals that played a vital role in its preservation. I won’t bore you with the specific details since we all know how to use Google, but it is worth your time to investigate these details further and even more worth your time to get out and visit these destinations.
I have visited a few other national parks on previous trips and now I have a slight addiction to visit more after this adventure and specifically return to camp in Yosemite National Park. There is something about the fresh air, sounds of animals and peaceful environment that I fell in love with while spending time in Yosemite National Park. It doesn't hurt that my friends and I got pulled over by park rangers so it is probably not easy to forget since I was embarrassed and in shock all at the same time when this specific incident occurred. I was in the car with two other teachers and was told by the ranger that instead of causing trouble we should be setting the example for others. I never thought we were causing trouble since it was completely the fault of one of the other girls outside of our vehicle. It was hilarious and something that we will speak about for a long time. Each time we met someone after this day we told them our story and each person seemed to have the same sense of shock since we are good law abiding citizens on most days.
My trip to California was initiated to visit a lifelong friend. We met around the block from my home going to school and summer camp. We have been friends for over thirty years and it is a special bond that we both cherish. Now that she is relocated to California it is an even stronger east coast west coast connection. Friendship is a special relationship that people should appreciate. Most people take things for granted, but I feel grateful for the friendships that I have. I believe they are the family that we choose for ourselves. I am blessed to have friendships that I have had since I was born, began school and with travelers I connect with along the way. I was so happy to see so many of my friends while trekking through California. Many of these friends I met while abroad in places such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru and this visit to California was our first time together in the United States of America as crazy as that sounds.
Travelers are the best people. I am biased, but I believe this to be true. We all possess many of the same characteristics. Most travelers are flexible, resilient, happy, courageous, open- minded, always smiling and a slight bit crazy, but in a good way. Travelers break the mold of normal. We get out there and do it. We step out of our comfort zone and into what we find alluring. A good travel companion can go with the flow. He/she sees change as an opportunity and not a drawback. This is what makes me always smile. Each of these friends I have on the west coast hold a piece of my heart. We are deeply connected and offer inspiration to each other. A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be. I always appreciate good people because they are hard to find. The trick about meeting others while traveling is that if you can travel with someone you know you can do anything with that person because travelers are like minded people. Now that I have returned home I miss the positive energy that runs rampant in California and I know that I made a lifelong friend with a strong love connection. I look forward to another adventure on the west coast very soon.
I am a high school Social Studies teacher and have been teaching since 2002. My passion in life is to teach, travel and be happy. I feel that I am married to the world and my passport is my baby. Education is essential in life, but there is an abundance of knowledge that is unattainable in a classroom and some that you can only receive from experiencing the world around you. I believe the more you wander the more you wonder. Everytime I have been to another country I come back home a slightly different and better version of myself. I feel that when I travel I come alive. I gain a greater understanding of the culture and history I am involved with during my travels that builds a deeper appreciation in my heart for what I have and where I live.