- 3 weddings in 3 months in 3 different languages! (across 2 different continents)
- Obtaining a photo pass for a Modest Mouse concert at casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with my pal, Brendan.
- Moving from Johannesburg to the adorable student town of Stellenbosch, about 40 minutes outside of Cape Town, in the heart of the Cape Winelands. This move involved a 15-hour road trip across South Africa which was one of the more epic drives of my entire life, across three (or was it four?) different biodomes, through the heart of the Free State and the Karoo, with temps reaching up to 100 degrees F/ 38 degrees C.
- Getting swept up in the middle of the 400,000 person Pride parade in Tel Aviv (and swimming upstream like a salmon, against the flow of the masses)
- Halloween, Election Day, and my Mom’s birthday all occurred in the same week and I got to be home for all three events!
Locations Visited (…in a vaguely chronological order):
- New York City
- Cape Town
- Worcester, Western Cape
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Swaziland (eSwatini)
- Home (Bucks County, Pennsylvania)
- Stellenbosch, Western Cape
- The Garden Route, South Africa
Travel Low Point:
Sleeping on the floor of the female prayer room in the Abu Dhabi airport during a 14-hour layover with no available hotel rooms. (UPDATE: See a silver lining that resulted from that story here.)
Travel Horror Story:
Driving through a blizzard on the 4th of January to get Gerhard back to Newark Airport for his flight back to South Africa. We drove an hour to the train station (& did a full 360 on the way), took the train with frozen tracks & then took the airtram at the Newark airport and then, somehow, his flight was the only one that wasn’t cancelled. We said bye, it’s always hard, and then I had to get back home. Which was even more complicated than getting there, and it was dark, and I was alone.
Magdalena (of the Female Prayer Room) Magdalena found me sleeping on the floor of the airport in Abu Dhabi (See: travel low point above). She was called over by a male custodian who had found me while sleeping the floor in the middle of the night. Rather than shooing me away or telling me I had to make another plan for the night, she helped me gather up my belongings, practically grabbed me by the hand, and led my half-asleep self a few levels up to a quiet corridor with two prayer rooms. She took me inside the door marked ‘Female’ in five different languages (six with braille), and made sure I was all settled before giving me a big smile and wishing me sweet dreams! She honestly felt like an angel. Of course, I don’t have a picture of her. I regrettably didn’t have the foresight in my 4 am haze to ask her to pose for a picture. Something about the fact that I don’t have a photo of her makes her all the more mysterious and benevolent to me, as if she’s the patron saint of weary travelers.
Worst Stranger I Encountered:
The cab driver from Tel Aviv who stiffed me for 30 shekels and was looking at Tinder while driving. He made me so mad. He ignited that deep and rarely-tapped fury within me, the kind that results from feeling a sense of injustice. I was so upset I went up to my hotel room and wrote a poem about it…..(of course I did).
Strangest Travel Observation:
Every cab driver in Tel Aviv wanted to discuss the copious wonderful qualities of Donald Trump. I honestly wish I met just one who didn’t ask me about Trump. Just one, to prove to me that there was an exception. And I’m sure, across the thousands of taxi drivers in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area not every driver is a Trump stan. I’m just callin’ it like I saw it and I SAW way more support for the current President of the US than I’ve ever seen in the US (or in any other country I’ve been to since 2017, with the exception of perhaps Dubai, but that’s a whole other can of worms….)
Most Pleasant Travel Surprise:
When I was flying from Tel Aviv back to Joburg in June and I learned that my flight from Tel Aviv was delayed and I would miss my connecting flight in Istanbul. So, rather than leaving me with this bad news & essentially saying “figure it out,” as has happened to me a few times with airlines that will remain unnamed, Turkish Airways hooked it the f**k up, and booked me on an earlier, direct flight on a different airline that got me back to Joburg 8 hours sooner. Applause to you, Turkish Airways. I will remember you favorably during my flight-booking future. And applause to El Al for the entire row to myself. Sometimes, the travel stars just align. Other times they also align, but to conspire against you. Alas, this was not one of those days.
The very first day of this year. It was the worst day of the entire year by far. After an all-night masquerade ball at the McKittrick Hotel in Manhattan for New Years’ Eve, I made it home safely but my purse did not! My bag had my cell phone, wallet, passport, as well as my boyfriend’s passport (who was set to leave the country in a few days.) After 24 perilous hours on New Years’ Day where we had absolutely no luck, we showed up to the McKittrick on the 2nd of January only to happen to meet an employee on her way in to work while we were pacing outside in the cold, trying in vain to call the main switchboard. Her name was Abby. And she made us both so happy that we could’ve (and actually did!) cry tears of joy. Thanks Abby for setting our 2018 on the right path! The McKittrick is lucky to have you.