Namibia, Fall 2001

Here's the email I sent out after returning home from three absolutely amazing weeks in Namibia:

Hi guys!

I've been back from my annual big trip (this year to Namibia, in case someone didn't know…) for a week now, so it's probably time for answering all your lovely emails or just let you know how the trip was!

I've never before sent a group email, but since I'd like to share some of the pics my friend Sandra and me took I hope you don't mind – just this once… ;o) I have to send the pictures in two mails, they seem to be too big for hotmail – if you get them twice I'm sorry!

I hope everyone is okay, wherever he or she is at the moment! Let me know how you're doing!

Oh, in case I haven't told you yet – there were problems with my luggage (to be exact: with the absence of it), so I spent two of the three weeks without it – but I'll spare you the gory details of “the tragic epic of the lost luggage and the incapable airline staff”… ;o)
I'll just go through the pics quickly to show you how much fun and how many special experiences I had:
The first leg of the journey (to the north) our group was small, only four of us (Sandra, me and a couple from Germany, Martin and Alexandra) and the guide Bossie.

The very first night on tour we spent at a cheetah farm where we could watch them feed and even touch one of them – it was absolutely amazing! The guy beside me on the picture is Marco, the owner of the farm.

That was for me one of the absolute high points – we visited a Himba kral! The visit itself was a bit awkward (like going to a zoo..) but the Himba obviously liked us (specially the children), because they came to our campsite in the evening and despite our inability to communicate we had lots of fun! They even danced for us – and almost died laughing when Martin joined them!

After one week we returned to Windhoek, the capital, where we got a new guide and five more travelling companions. We set out to explore the south.

Supposedly the second biggest canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon) – very impressive!

We spent two nights at the feet of the Klein Aus mountains. Most of us went for a small hike and were rewarded with an awesome view over the desert – but I think you guys are more interested in pics with people in them… ;o)
The people are: Bernd (Germany), my friend Sandra, Mike (USA), Tal (Israel), Helene and Christoph (Germany) and our guide Eckhard (Namibia, but German speaking). Not on the hike were Alexandra and Martin (Germany). So you see, except for Tal and Mike we all spoke German, which was a bit annoying for them – wasn't it, Tal? ;o)

The famous dunes of Sossusvlei were of course another high point. I loved it there – even if climbing the high sand dunes was damn hard work, but watching the sunset from dune 45 was defintely worth it! Also loads of fun was running down the side of the dune in a chain, almost falling because it got so fast… Btw, the two blond heads in the back of the group pic belong to Martin and Alexandra.

In Swakopmund our group changed once more – Bernd, Helene and Christoph left us and Rose (South Africa) and Martin (England) joined us for the trip to the North, specially the national park Etosha.

We had a morning in Swakop and used that for shopping. I was very happy, because I had finally gotten my backpack back! Btw, it's a miracle I have pictures of Tal smiling – she normally hid her face whenever someone tried to take one of her. (Yes, Martin?) ;o)

In Etosha we were really lucky and saw tons of animals – zebra, oryx, kudu, giraf, rhinos, lions (from afar) etc. But the best part for me were the elephants! The wonderful sunset pic was taken on the first evening there and I thought it couldn't get any better – but the next day we saw about four or five herds of those impressive animals! One even crossed the road right in front of our car – I was deliriously happy!

The last day in Etosha it was raining – probably so Sandra and I wouldn't miss Namibia so much when we came back home… ;o) Didn't work of course!
Sandra and I wanted to finish our films, so we started taking lots of people pics. Btw, Mike is hugging the Kleenex because he was sitting right under a leak… ;o)

The safari was supposedly “on participation basis”, which only meant that we put our tents up and broke them down and helped with the dishes… Here's the proof! :o)

On the very last day of the tour most of us went and hiked up Waterberg plateau. Luckily the weather cleared and it was really nice. (Mike, Tal, Eckhard, me, Rose, Martin)

no comment… You were one lucky guy, weren't you – hubby?! ;o)

Our farewell dinner back in Windhoek. I apologize for ruining the pic! ;o) I was tempted to keep it for myself, but since everyone except for me is smiling so nicely… We all ate Namibian game – I had Kudu, which has a very… interesting flavour… (me -urgh!-, Sandra, Mike, Tal, Martin)

Okay, I hope you enjoyed my rambling about my trip and are nice and jealous now… ;o) Of course except those of you still travelling – I WANT, TOO!!!! ;o)

Bye for now – hope to hear from you soon!

Love / Liebe Grüsse,

PS. Tal – where are you now? How was the beach? Have you met lots of people? (But you still miss me, don't you? ;o) ) I'll write some things in German now – no offense, they're really not important! :o)

Sandra – klar bin i au im Oktober drbi! I bi jetzt dihei bis d'Uni afoht und usser ere Wiisheitszahnbehandlig (aua, will nit!) stoht nüt Grössers uf em Programm! I bi an dr Judith ihrem Empfang gsi – sie het usgseh wie e Prinzässin, sooo schön!

Martin – so you travelled Namibia on your own… Want, too!!!! Btw, the weather here is beautiful! *Sings “nananananaaa” in a very childish voice…* ;o)

Kathrin – gefällt Dir das Studium? Dich hat's also ganz in den Norden verschlagen… Hoffe, bald mal wieder von Dir zu hören!

Roman – wie isch d'Priefig gloffe, hesch s'Resultat scho? Du gohsch also ins Wälschland – i bi beidruckt! Hoffetlig sehn mir uns vorhär mol no!

Debbie – thanks for your wonderful email! You're right, we all should tell people how much they mean to us!

Karin – hesch Di no bitz meh igläbt? Was für e Erfahrig, mol nit als Tourist in e fremds Land go, sondern zum dött läbe!

Mike – where are you now? In Paris? It's a wonderful city, isn't it? Hope to hear from you soon! And remember – Basel is only 4 hours by train from Paris… “Mach's gut!”

Daniel – ha ghört, Du bisch jetzt in Paris. WOW, so cool – möcht au!!! Bisch au schön am Franzi rede? ;o)

David – was machst Du im Moment so? Arbeiten? Lass mich wissen, was bei Dir so läuft! Hab gestern Dein Geburtstagsgeschenk abgeschickt – hoffe, es gefällt Dir! Falls Du mal Lust auf eine Reise in die Schweiz hast… ;o)

Everyone else – even if I have nothing much to say, I think of you, wherever you are!

America, August – December 1999

My four months in Canada and the US were just about the best time of my life so far – being on the road on my own really helped grow and become more comfortable with myself. Even after almost three years it's all still very vivid in my mind – which is why I still talk about it a lot… *g*

I won't go into too many details here – that would take hours… Just let me say that I started out in Vancouver and crossed Canada over to Niagara Falls. Then I went over Chicago and crossed the Midwest (Kansas City, MO, to be exact), stopped in Flagstaff to see the Grand Canyon and in Las Vegas, then went to California and traveled up from San Diego until Yosemite.

I spent a lot of the time staying with relatives of my mother that I didn't know and with friends that I also didn't know very well and had a lot of good experiences – also when I was completely on my own. I'm still in touch with a couple of people I met in hostels – mostly with Denise from New Zealand. She and her boyfriend let me ride with them from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and then up to Yosemite – and I definitely hope to visit them and their little daughter one day!

But since they say 'A picture says more than a thousand words' – here's a small selection of the 15 or more rolls of film I took in those four months:

Banff – the Rockies felt a bit like Switzerland, truth be told… So it was just perfect for me, since I was still getting used to traveling.

Invermere, on Lake Windermere – stayed with relatives there. This is one of my fave pics of myself – I spent a lot of time like that, just relaxing somewhere beautiful…

Well, this is obviously Niagara Falls – I really enjoyed the ride on the 'Maid of the Mist' and the falls just took my breath away! I think I took about two rolls of film there…

“Love and marriage…” *g* Well, I definitely enjoyed Chicago – stayed with a friend who'd done an exchange year in Switzerland for two weeks. Her family was really nice, took me in and treated me incredibly well!

That was one of the highlights – Jane had arranged a 'date' for me to go to the Homecoming Dance… Jason was doing me a favor, but he still did it right, opened car doors, paid dinner and insisted on dancing with me a couple of times (instead of with his friends) – a real gentleman!
I was all the more impressed because the day I'd spent at the high school had left me prejudiced about American school boys (think 'American Pie' and you have a picture about my day there)… *g*
The dress I bought in Canada, btw – and spent only 60 Canadian dollars, as opposed to the 200 American bucks or so the other girls all seemed to have spent… LOL

Jane and her the boyfriend Eric with me at the Brookville zoo – one of the few times I actually spent time with Jane, who was incredibly busy with school and all…

Around Halloween (obviously… *g*) I spent a couple of weeks in Liberty, MO, with a college professor and his wife – they really went through a lot of trouble to make me feel at home and keep me entertained! The excursion to the pumpkin patch was just one of many, many things we did when Ken and/or Phyllis had time…

The visit at a local open air museum (where they had rebuilt historic buildings into a village) was another thing we did. I really really loved my stay with Ken and Phyllis – despite the fact that there was not a lot for me to do on my own in Liberty I had an absolutely wonderful time there! For example I sat in on a couple of Ken's English Lit classes and discussed 'Utopia' (after reading it as a kind of voluntary homework – how did that happen? LOL).

Flagstaff was not just great because I got to see the Grand Canyon – it was also definitely the 'funnest' hostel, because through group activities (trips to the Grand Canyon and Sedona) I grew close to several great people. With the guy on the right (Simon, an Austrian) I then even traveled on to a place I hadn't really planned on going to…

Las Vegas. Aka 'Disney World for grown-ups'. Definitely another highlight! Simon got sick, but I had luckily met David, a Canadian, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly – without spending a buck for gambling! Well, I was still very, very underage then – but we had a lot of fun in the children's section of the Excalibur! I still have the dog David won for me – and I won one as well and gave it to poor poor Simon… LOL

The hostel was Vegas-style as well – it even had a jacuzzi as you can see! The guy on the left is David, the one in the back Simon – the others were from Sweden and I've forgotten their names. LOL

In San Diego I visited my former class mate Claudia (the one in the back with the blonde curls) and we had a great time together, enjoying California – and spending a Saturday night in Tijuana, Mexico… (Claudia, ??, Jessie, ??, Merlin, Jessie's mom, me and Sarah)

The obligatory L.A. pic… Took a tour from the hostel – was not overly impressed by the city, although the posh parts were sure fun… It's just too big for my taste.

I could hardly believe myself – it was Thanksgiving and I was sitting at the sea and watched the crazy folk at Venice Beach…

Pigeon Point. If I'd still been travelling by bus I'd never seen this beautiful place (and the hostel was right beside it – with a jacuzzi on the cliff…) – but thanks to Denise and Ross from New Zealand I had the chance to stay a night there…

In Frisco I stayed with relatives in San Mateo. This is the city I liked best – it has a really great atmosphere and I enjoyed it a lot!

To soak up the incredible nature America has to offer I spent a couple of days in Yosemite – Denise and Ross took me. It was quite cold at night and in the morning – but also breathtakingly beautiful and walked around for hours…

After that I spent some more time in San Fransisco – then it was over and I spent Christmas at home again… It felt strange but also good to be home – but it's definitely made me addicted to that kind of travel… The trip down the East Coast in September (2002) is definitely something I need! *g*

Interrail, Summer 1998

With seventeen me and Sibylle went up to Britain and all around the island by train – and in a tiny tent, despite the mostly very cold and rainy weather…

Home, sweet tent… on a day when the weather was decent for a change! *g* (The weird shape comes from this pic being a part of a huge collage Sibylle made me.)

Amsterdam – a really beautiful city and I'd love to go there again one day! (And no, we didn't buy any grass in one of the coffee shops… LOL)

I loved Cambridge – it's a dream of mine to study there one day…

Edinburgh was great – but incredibly cold, even in July… We left it after only one night of freezing in our tent! But I'd love to go back one day…

The coast of Cumbria – the train follows the coast line, it's a very very beautiful part of the country!

Naturally we had to go to Stonehenge – very fascinating place, but also very crowded… (Don't know how I managed to take a picture with no people in it!)

Naturally we also spent some days in London – didn't have any money, had fun anyway… (Btw, this is on the bridge next to the House of Parliament.)

Crete, Summer 1997

When I was sixteen we went on our last 'big' family vacation – ever since then it's never been more than a week. But those two weeks were really special, since I hadn't been at the Mediterranian Sea before at all – and now we went to Crete!

How I love the sea… This was taken by my mom in Falasarna – a very remote beach with no hotels, you had to drive there. It was very, very beautiful!

Being the big fan of all things antique (in the archeological sense) I naturally died to see Knossos…

Family picture – my dad, my brother Michael, me and my mom after a delicious Greek dinner. Wasn't I cute with 16? *g*