"Every story needs a Picture" Ekaterinburg's Profile

2013 Travels

October 2013 we had our very first trip to the COTE D'AZUR in FRANCE and a chance to savour the pleasures of Nice, the French Riviera and neighbouring MONACO.The light was amazing and the extraordinarily bright sunshine, created constant diamond sparkles on that blue, blue Mediterranean. Set against such a stunning natural backdrop, Nice did not disappoint and I was blown away by the atmosphere and architecture of the Old Town and the rich colours and vividness of everyday life on the streets.

In June I went to SIBIU, ROMANIA for Euromeet. My second visit to TRANSYLVANIA and Sibiu and if anything it was even better then the first time. A charming, small city with stunning architecture and surrounded by idyllic rural scenery. Codrutz did an excellent job and as Euromeets go, it was the most relaxed and sociable one I've been to so far.

En route from Sibiu to Cork, I had an 8-hour layover in MUNICH, which was a great opportunity to re-visit the city that I'd previously only experienced in freezing December snow.

Another VT meeting in September, this time in ENGLAND, brought the unmissable chance to visit the PEAK DISTRICT, eat a Bakewell Pud in the town itself, and explore the plague village of Eyam. Based in BUXTON in a house that Gillybob organised, we were perfectly situated to enjoy the upper and lower parts of this spa town. Always happy to visit the NORTH OF ENGLAND and hope to join up with the OOP NORTH crew again in 2014.

2012 - not a great travel year so far

My husband finally got his way this year and instead of the traditional pre-Christmas trip to northern Europe, we went to LANZAROTE in March. He's been wanting a 'holiday' as opposed to a 'trip' for a long time now so a pact was made before we left: no sightseeing, no getting up at the crack of dawn to catch buses or trains, just a week's rest and relaxation in the sun. Not my idea of travel but I have to admit it was a lot more pleasant then I anticipated. Our hotel in Playa Blanca was right on the edge of the sea, the swimming pools were divine, the loungers inviting and the food delicious. The sun shone all day and at night the sea sang a constant lullaby. I wouldn't say I've been converted to the sun holiday ethos but they do have a certain appeal.

On May 31st I went to BERGAMO in ITALY for Euromeet 2012. No lounging around here and it was a jam-packed few days of sightseeing socialising and 'craic'. Great fun, very well organised. Thanks again to G, J and S for all their hard work.

Mid-June we spent a week in LONDON to attend my nephew's very 'Four-weddings-and-a-funeral-ish' nuptials. At that stage London was post-Jubilee and pre-Olympics and the city was really dressed for one long summer party. I loved the flags fluttering over the double decker buses right along Regent Street and Oxford Street.

At the end of June our house flooded so all other travel plans have been cancelled for the moment. Right now I have really itchy feet.

So what makes a good travel year ?

A good travel year for me, would include at least one new destination. New destinations are important because at the heart of my love of travel, is the joy of discovering new places and thrill of waking up in a city or place I've never been before. Hopefully this new place will delight or intrigue in some way. It doesn't necessarily have to be beautiful but it does have to engage your imagination or senses and make being there a memorable experience. This could be because of the different culture/way of life, the architecture or the history, the galleries, the street-life, or just the buzz you get from wandering aimlessly and savouring the discoveries you make along the way.

Notching up new destinations doesn't mean abandoning the places you've already grown to love, so a perfect travel year for me would be one that would combine visits to old favourites, along with the new kids on the block. In recent years, this is exactly the way my travels have worked out , so 2012 needs to measure up soon.

To be there you have to get there...

... and even though the sound of my wheelie-bag's wheels whirring along beside me is my favourite sound in the world, I absolutely hate the logistics of getting there. It would be different if I was setting off by train or ferry but in the interests of economy and time, most of my journeys involve low-cost airlines. The whole airport experience, being harried and jostled through security, the long trek to the gate and the ultimate herding into a sardine can with wings, is my idea of hell. And that's before you settle in to several hours of inhaling endlessly recycled germs and overpriced, plastic sandwiches. Yes, getting there can be quite an endurance test but as the alternative is not travelling at all, it must be regarded as a means to an end.

Shank's mare or public transport...

... are my preferred means of getting around when I reach my destination. Walking is definitely my favourite although meandering would probably be a more accurate word to describe my progress. I will walk forever as long as the terrain is flat but with less then perfect lungs, hills are a major problem. In recent years I've needed to put a lot of thought into plotting routes that avoid uphill climbs and trams and buses have become my best friends. On city visits, I always buy a transport card so that I can ride to the top and stroll downhill at leisure. The only form of transport I will not use is anything drawn by horses, mules or any other beasts of burden. The sight of fat, lazy tourists riding on undernourished, exhausted animals is one that I really find hard to stomach.

Why Virtual Tourist ?

VT is way more then a website to me. Unlike any other site I frequent, this one goes beyond the page, directly to the people and the places. Lots and lots of places ! Since joining VT in 2006, I've visited Austria, Germany, Portugal, Israel, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia and Italy, to take part in VT meets. On side trips from these meets, I've been to Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary. Kosovo and Albania. For someone like me whose partner isn't keen on trips that involve a lot of sightseeing and moving from place to place, VT is an invaluable travel resource. Without VT , I would certainly not have made it to Israel or to the Balkans, or to Ukraine or Romania.

The places are made possible by the people and as people go, VT members, - especially the ones I meet every year in different locations all over Europe - are the best. VT staff are also members and regular attendees at meetings. so really we are talking about a community of friends and fellow travellers here. In other words - the people behind the places.

  • Intro Updated Feb 26, 2014
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Comments (519)

  • Chinggis_n_Borte's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Thanks Katherine for the message! Cork is a very popular place in tourist discussion in this website. I hope to visit Ireland one day, when I got enough savings! It is mentioned that Ireland is one great country for safety of female tourist as mentioned in women's solo traveller's top ten recommended.

    • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
      Mar 24, 2014 at 5:47 AM

      Yes, Cork is a very interesting city and a good base for visiting the wild landscapes of west Cork and Kerry. Things are a bit expensive here but hostels are fairly reasonably priced. If you do make it to Cork then be sure to let me know.

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Happy St Patrick's Day, Katherine! Hope you have a great time.

  • scottishvisitor's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Haven't been on VT for ages. Did you mean my personal pic? It's old and I did get it from internet so possible still there for the taking. Thanks anyway.

    • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
      Mar 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      Yes Joan, I meant your personal picture. If you got it from the Internet then that's fine. I recognised it immediately when I saw it on Facebook and just thought I'd let you know in case someone had stolen it from you. Hope all well in Scotland and that spring comes soon.

  • alza's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Just finished Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields. She had me at page one and I couldn't put the book down. She's incredibly keen and observant! I'd been meaning to read this since it came out in '76. Thanks for reminding me of her. :-)

    • Ekaterinburg's Profile Photo
      Feb 17, 2014 at 2:57 AM

      Now that I've read your reply I definitely must read it again. I'm so much older now and maybe a tiny bit wiser, it should be a completely different experience from first time around. Thanks for your insights as I probably wouldn't have bothered with it otherwise. I've discovered a few times, re-reading old favourites, that something you read in your 20s or 30s can take on an entirely different significance and meaning when you come back to it a couple of decades later.

    • alza's Profile Photo
      Feb 20, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      I'm sooo thrilled by your pic of Smart reflection in Monaco! Wanted to rate it but can't find a page on it... :-( About Stone Diaries, just finished it and for me, there was a marvelous surprise at the end. I hope that if you read it again, you'll find the same.
      I feel just like you about coming back to a book years later... I think "they" had me read books too early, in school. I was not at all precocious so can't blame my school entirely. :-) It's fantastic to finally understand...

  • alyf1961's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Happy belated birthday Katherine, I hope you had a good one.

  • Zajem's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    Katherine Happy Birthday to you from the Czech Republic!

  • Treshi's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    Happy B'day Katherine, have a blessed one!!

  • tere1's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    Thank you Katherine :-)

  • jonkb's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    Happy belated birthday, Katherine

  • Gillybob's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Belated Birthday Greetings. Hope you had a wonderful day!

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“Outside of a cat, a book is (wo)man's best friend.Inside of a cat, it's too dark to read. ( Apologies to G. Marx)”

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