The time to review year 2017 has come. What did you see and learn this year? And what did you neglect or not manage on the contrary?
I had a difficult but very important year. Since there are 12 months in a year, symbolically, I have also chosen 12 pictures that I would like to share with you. These moments were simply the most beautiful, inspiring, intense or set me forward.
#1 Mt. Everest at sunset and full moon
I love adventures that are challenging both physically and mentally. Therefore, the absolute winner is the fantastic Everest Base Camp trek in the Himalayas, especially the day when I hiked to the top of Kala Patthar (5550 m). There I took this photo of the highest mountains of the worlds during sunset and (almost) full moon which made that experience even more powerful. I travel and live for such moments.
#2 Meditation course in a Buddhist monastery
One of the best things I did for my own sake last year (Buddhists would say that also for the sake of others) was a 10-day meditation course in a Buddhist monastery. 10 days without contact with the outside word, no phone, no laptop or internet. During the course I attended a long life puja (ceremony) for Lama Zopa Rinpoche, one of the founders of the monastery.
#3 Sand dunes
I would never have thought, that I will like deserts so much. I am more a forest loving person, admiring mountains, trees, lakes and fresh streams. However, watching the sunset with friends and wind in your hair and hijab, feeling the little sand grains hitting your skin fills me with immense happiness. I think the desert near Varzaneh is one of the most beautiful places in Iran.
#4 My first salt water lake
I have seen some salt water lakes before but last year for the first time in my life I walked in such a lake barefoot. White salt instead of sand everywhere. So cool. Beautiful white – blue –brown scenery. I rank this lake near Varzaneh amongst the most exciting places in Iran. Sometimes salt is over gold…
#5 Iranian women and stories
The most rewarding and enriching thing about travelling in Iran was that I learnt so much about the life of Iranians. I talked to locals a lot, asked them about various social, cultural and religious rules, traditions, prohibitions, dating and marriage as well. Also, the ladies explained me the Iranian dress code and fashion tricks.
#6 Bukovec mountains
First time in Ukraine. Three days backpacking in burning hot summer, scary storms, hitchhiking, visiting old wooden churches, thousands of years old oaks and lots of funny moments with friends in the Slovak-Polish-Ukrainian border area. The Bukovec Mountains are known for their precious Carpathian primeval beech forest. Unfortunately, they are not protected enough even though they are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list…
#7 Rocket launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome
I cannot say that the rocket launch that we were watching from 2 kilometres was an extraordinary experience. It was interesting for sure. But even more exciting is to realize that from that place someone or something goes into space! Also, the fact that you are in a vast desert in the middle of nothing, staying in a hotel with single rooms only, standing at the launch site from where Gagarin flew into outer space, and especially that this is what you wanted to see as a child. And then one day you make it…
#8 Chilling in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is one of those places where I could return anytime. I love its atmosphere so much, that after finishing the EBC trek and my meditation course I spent a week in Kathmandu just for fun. While I was working on my blog I created my own every day rituals, such as morning freshly brewed juice from the same vendor on the same corner, coffee, cake, dal bhat, beer with friends in the evening.
#9 Pink Mosque
Shiraz itself is not among my favorite cities in Iran but the Pink Mosque (Nasir-ol-molk) surely is. I love colors in general and this mosque is a masterpiece of stylish and magical colorfulness. Moreover, there are my very good friends on the photo. Another reason to put the Pink Mosque on this list.
#10 Surprising Kazan
Kazan surprised me with its nice evening atmosphere. The picture of students singing and playing music downtown is still vivid in my memories. The best thing about Kazan is the interconnection of Christianity and Islam in this city. As if Tatar and Russian boots were on the same shoe rack. Wonderful.
#11 EXPO 2017
The exhibition in Astana was devoted to future energy and the Kazakh pavilion was excellent. Intriguing, professional and lots of fun. I learnt about the creation of typhoons and other winds, wave energy convertors and various space equipment, such as a coffee machine used by astronauts.
#12 Weekend in Munich
I went to Munich because of the London Grammar concert that was eventually cancelled at the last minute. Well, not every day is Sunday. Still, I had a wonderful weekend in Munich with friends having huge German cakes, coffees and with a stunning view of St. Peters Church during that single hour when it finally stopped raining and snowing. Just chilling, working on my blog and enjoying this nice historical city and its lovely pre-Christmas atmosphere.