This past summer, the summer of 2017, I was fortunate enough to travel to 17 countries, 15 of which were for the first time! My country count is now up to 27, my city count even higher! Throughout this summer I took countless flights, hitchhiked in France, took a few questionable buses, ubered through Paris, day tripped to Portugal, and have had a plethora of new experiences (one of which being learning how to use a squat toilet). I left America on May 1 and flew back in August 13. From 3.5 months abroad, countless pictures were taken. I have selected the 17 pictures (with a few honorable mentions) that impacted me/impressed me the most throughout my travels. The list is in no certain order.
1. Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is a fairly new capital city. Most of the buildings are new, in part because of a government initiative. Moreover, this was the year of Expo 2017, which Astana hosted! Visa restrictions were lifted (US citizens can now go visa free!) and celebrations held throughout the city. When I took this picture, the line for the Bayterek Tower, the center building, was over 2 hours long. Astana is currently the place to go in Central Asia! I recommend.
*This picture was taken with me standing in front of the president’s residence
2. Carthage, Tunisia
Carthage is my favorite neighborhood in Tunis. It is a short 30 minute light rail line from the city center to the Hannibal stop in Carthage. The old city, naturally the part I visited, was full of ruins from the Punic War and from Roman occupation after. After visiting the Carthage Archeaology Site, I walked down to the water (actually a mile or so way). Down by the ocean, there are more Roman ruins dotting the landscape, beautiful ruins, but underwhelming compared to the main site. After walking though, I walked down by the water’s edge, from where this was taken from. There was a nice homeless man washing his clothes in the water; he was kind enough to take a picture of me as well.
3. Tallinn, Estonia
I visited my best friend in Finland (shout out to Joni) for the last main stop of my summer trip. We ended up on the last day in Tallinn as I had a full day before my flight left from Tallinn. Luckily, as a Finn, he was able to get us tickets for the ferry to Tallinn (apparently it is super popular). The ferry alone was a neat experience as I got to see 18 wheelers loaded onto the boat (it was honestly a cruise ship!). While exploring Old Town Tallinn, my best friend knew a really neat place to go, which after navigating Viking tour traffic up narrow walking lanes, we eventually ended up here in this spot. The view from here was worth pushing a few tourists aside to see and take a picture of.
4. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
This picture made the list because of the “otherworldly” quality it exudes. Looking at the “Circus” automatically makes one think of a UFO satellite (you can see UFO Bridge in my honorable mentions). It looks as if it has come from space to drop off people. This neat building is actually a relic from the Soviet Union, built in 1976, and still in use! Currently the Circus opens up for concerts and events of the sort. But it is neat to look at, the gardens near by even cooler!
5. Kraków, Poland
Old Town Kraków has quickly become one of my favorite cities in the world. From the local music acts playing in the center to the countless ice-cream to the local market, Kraków is full of wonders. There are things for people of all kinds to enjoy. I cannot wait to go back to this beautiful city to explore more of its wonders.
6. Carthage, Tunisia
As this country has already been mentioned, I will keep it short and sweet. The picture was taken up at the archeology site, where the main ruins are. I have never felt as content in my travels as I did looking out over the ruins, the ocean in the background, and the new city to my right. It was a beautifully magnificent contrast. Side note: I went at the end of May, there was basically no tourists.
7. around the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
I flew into Kerry County Airport when I came to Ireland. My friend (shout out to Liam) picked me up and drove me around the Dingle Peninsula, a must-do drive from Killarney. I was able to see beautiful landscapes, beehive huts, and more ancient ruins. Moreover, the drive was beautiful and so full of sheep! It was like a whole different world! This picture is from a super cute “secret beach” along the drive!
8. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Here’s another one from Kyrgyzstan! This picture made the cut because it shows a different side to Kyrgyzstan, the impoverished side. This sidewalk, more than likely dated to the Soviet era, is just outside Ala-Too Square, the main square in the capital city. The sidewalk was cracked everywhere, not just here. It is a neat contrast to most sidewalks. Plus, the design is unique!
9. Mont Saint Michel, France
This was my favorite picture I took from Mont Saint Michel. The island is amazing, you drive up and it looks like a massive castle like church in the middle of the English Channel. The island itself consists of a medieval village, which fascinated me! The signs in this picture are so aesthetically pleasing that it makes my heart happy.
10. Bratislava, Slovakia
This monument, a dedication to those who suffered in the Holocaust, is the last remnant of the Jewish community in this part of Bratislava. The monument itself is beautifully made. This picture was chosen because I loved the symbolism and the it’s so vivid.
11. Mechelen, Belgium
About a thirty minute train ride outside of Brussels lies the tiny, quaint town of Mechelen. This town hall, in the picture, dates back to the early 1100s! It is the oldest town hall in Belgium and is still in use! I loved this town and the history and highly recommend!
12. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
This is typical Kyrgyz transport. One trolley bus ride is 8 som (less than $0.50). The buses are super old, and are in high use! Just thought this was neat!
13. Auschwitz, Poland
There are many things one can say about this place. The feelings it evokes. The lack of being able to express how you feel because you feel so much. The lingering despair you feel from sites within. There is not much one can say except what a powerful place this is. I am not sure words could ever describe it. If you go, bring tissues.
14. Osh, Kyrgyzstan
This little guy is a mural from Soviet Kyrgyzstan! Painted on the side of an apartment building, this was advertising the 1989 Olympics hosted by Russia. You can get a sense of the impoverishness of Osh by looking at the surrounds. If you were there, you would smell the sewage from the rusty, old pipes. You would see nothing but dirt and dust around you.
15. Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine
I thought this picture looked pretty cool. Kiev is a neat city, but virtually impossible to try to see in a day! As a tip, all the beautiful churches cost money to visit and you must wear pants and have your shoulders and hair covered.
16. Tallinn, Estonia
A remnant from the Soviet past, currently in disuse. Super eerie to see and be there. Not much else to say.
This picture is the epitome of Finland, peaceful. Everywhere you go, even Helsinki, you get a sense of peace. The country is beautiful, the food is good, the people are nice and quiet, and there are not insane amounts of tourists. Honestly, Finland is an underrated country and should be near the top of everyone’s list.