- On My Own
Gulin Akoz, Dec.
There are places I’ll remember all my life…
Is there anybody who doesn’t know the Beatles song?
There are so many places I’ll remember. Here’s
just a small selection from Europe:
Berlin: I had never considered going to Germany, didn’t
think it would be interesting. But Berlin and especially the
Berlin walk tour was fascinating. I’ll go into the details
later (some day!), I just want to mention I wish history could
be taught like that at school and geography, too.
Honeymoon towns and/or hotels: I was saying I would marry the
first man who came to Paris with me, thought it was a romantic
place, perfect for a honeymoon. Well, that’s out of the
Actually, in Brugges I made a list of honeymoon places. As
I was taking a walk, saw a hotel which looked nice and couldn’t
resist the temptation to go in and look. Hotel Die Swaene. It’s
a 15th century hotel overlooking a canal. Every room is decorated
in a different style and it’s not so unaffordable. The
town is small, quiet, with lots of little nice shops and elegant
restaurants. The museum has one of the best architectures I’ve
seen. The color of the leaves on the stone wall lit by a lantern
made me sit and stare at them for 10 minutes. Could have stayed
more if Jeff wasn’t waiting.
Hotel Mamunia- Marakesh: Our guide said Hotel Mamunia was among
the top 20 hotels in the world. I never did understand this
kind of lists, I mean according to who and based on what? Still
makes you want to learn and see it for yourself, just out of
curiosity, like reading your horoscope in the newspaper. So
we all go to see this hotel. At the entrance there’s the
hugest vase of yellow roses with long stems. There are flowers
scattered everywhere around the hotel. The shop looks like an
antique shop with ivory carvings. The whole building, the carpets,
the statues, the elevators are like as if they belonged to a
museum, every piece is a work of art. Then I go out to the garden.
This is like walking in heaven, the trees make an arch corridor.
Yes, you definitely need someone beside you here. Another woman
from the group comes my way and asks me to take her photo. When
I jokingly tell her “I can marry the man who takes me
here for my honeymoon,” she says that was what she also
was thinking :)
Then comes Sienna. I would like to rent a place for a month
and stay there sometime in my life. I guess I like medieval
towns. And I have always thought that the idea of going to an
exotic tropical island for a honeymoon was cool. But to go to
all these places for a honeymoon I’ll have to get married
five or six times. Or I have a better idea. Pick one for a honeymoon
and the rest will be anniversary places :)
A day in Paris, in fact, not even a day, 3 hours… more
than enough for Paris :)
Bilbao: I changed my ticket and paid an extra 30 $ to see the
Guggenheim Museum. Didn’t have any idea what I was giving
my flight up for. I just knew that I should see the Guggenheim,
that was it. To be honest, that may be my stupidity of course
but I don’t understand modern art. It seems like they
build something simple and ridiculous, then come up with a concept
to make it look like art.
Got to admit the building itself is impressive, that Frank
Gehry is creative and original but still my favorite architect
is Gaudi. Of course, after my dear parents :)
On the streets in Bilbao, I almost got run over by a car a
couple of times. Wasn’t looking where I was going. I mean
why look where you are going when you can read a book or look
at the buildings around you? :) I decide that’s how I’m
going to die someday. It´s such a pity that there are
no trams anymore so it won´t be as tragic as Gaudi´s
death. Gaudi had devoted all his life to his work and religion
so he lived in ragged clothes and when he was hit by a tram
and was unconscious in the hospital nobody could guess a genious
was lying there. They thought it was some old, poor man. Gaudi
himself as a person and his work fascinate me!
hurray freedom, long live the trains!
Jeff left, I dropped the truck at the port and was free at
Took the train from Bilbao to Salamanca.
Liked Salamanca a lot. Did you know the cathedral here took
220 years to be completed and the book says "when you´re
trying to take in the details of the facade you will be amazed
how they finished it so fast." Well, I thought “People
build things like this so that other people can look at it and
At the pension, sitting in my room: suddenly I hear the captivating
sound of a guitar. As I’m listening to the music, I once
again confirm: Salamanca is great. But I bet I won´t feel
like this waiting at the train station tomorrow at 4 o´clock
in the morning!
Don’t go in to see who is playing the guitar, afraid
to disturb him. Later on I find out. It’s the man who
runs the pension. I learn more about him. He goes jugging 3-4
days a week, swims and bicycles on the rest, has been playing
the guitar for 3 years, says it’s hard, is thinking about
starting dance lessons. And he is a great cook! I so much admire
people who are multi-dimensional(?)
the train station of Salamanca is engrained in my memory now.
21:00-04:38 (7.5 hours) the other day, 02:20-10:30 (8 hours)
yesterday. I knew I wasn’t a born backpacker but next
time I want to spend a night at a train station would someone
please remind me I’m too old for this stuff?
I almost miss my train back to Salamanca from Porto and I almost
miss the station to get off. An elderly couple comes into the
compartment. They look so good-natured and amiable. I had intended
to stay awake but finally I can’t resist it anymore and
sleep takes over. I have the alarm on but I wake up before it
goes off. It’s still not time (I figure where to get off
from the arrival time). “Salamanca should be the next
station. I woke up just on time,” I think to myself. The
fatherly old man asks where I am going, “Far?” he
says “France?” No, I answer “Salamanca.”
He gets up and looks out the window. His head turns this way,
looks around the other way, says “This is Salamanca.”
I grab my bags in haste. He calls out behind my back not to
hurry. I feel bad I couldn’t say good-bye properly…
but I’m sure they understood.
I’m sitting in a park. My eyes closed, enjoying the sun
when I hear a ´Hola! (hello)´ which sounds like
it is addressed to me. I look to see a small boy approaching.
He asks “Por que no vas a casa? (why don´t you go
home?)” :) He is sooooo cute!
Night fell… I get on the train once again, am trying
to put my stuff together on the corridor when a man calls "Hey
chica" and says something. I finally figure out that he
is saying the last 'compartamento' is empty and I can use it.
How can one not love Spain and the Spaniards?!
Porto: It is sunny and nice in Porto. I was thinking to myself
that Porto would better worth staying sleepless for two nights
and looks like it will be.
I spend the whole day walking the narrow streets, discovering
the port, the tram museum, the cathedral, the plaza. Some cities
look better at night. With lights, they are like women with
It is warm during the day but is cold at night. This is supposed
to be Europe, right? It looks like these people have not heard
of a radiator or a heater and it’s not that it’s
too hot that they don't need one!
I cannot say I’ve really been to Porto. Because I didn’t
drink port! Unfortunately, Jeff was not there to make me drink
i'm so glad i'm doing this trip, that i'm here.
London: Soooo happy to be with a friend! Two days with an old
and close friend. The rest of the week with people I didn’t
know before. Never could have imagined that I could feel so
at home with complete strangers. Met these Turkish people through
a Fin boy I had met on the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm.
They are so hospital and friendly. Thanks for everything Turgay.
I’m so glad to have met you and Namik and Ilkay and Christina
Also it is so good to see that there still are things which
can impress me after having been to so many museums and places.
The Imperial War museum was so moving. And really would have
liked to go to the Tower of London but didn’t get around
to it somehow. Anyway, you always need a reason to go back to
Though London was not so rainy and cold as I had expected,
I’m happy to be going to summer to Rio de Janeiiiiiiro!