Photo Essay: The Best of September 2015

September started like every month should start: In white hotel linen and a salty breeze from the Mediterranean pouring in through the open balcony doors, softly moving the light curtains.

Starting the month on a high note though, always means there’s the potential for disappointment. Overall, September was not a bad month, not at all, but going back to the same old day to day routine after two weeks of vacation bliss was definitely a little challenge.

Side, Turkish Riviera, Turkey

Travel

Turkey was incredible. All I wanted was relaxation and lying on the beach without even thinking of my computer. And it was basically already the best. But getting to know a new country (and continent, too!) with Steffen (aka the boyfriend) was even better. After not leaving the country together at all in 2014, I’m glad we could make up for it by visiting three different countries this year (granted, my not-so-subtle Christmas and birthday presents left him no other choice).

Side, Turkish Riviera, Turkey

Watermelon vendor in Turkey

Side, Turkish Riviera, Turkey

Side, Turkish Riviera, Turkey

The little part of giant Turkey that I got to see absolutely blew me away. I’ve been in love with the Mediterranean ever since I was four years old so it wasn’t too big of a surprise to me that I really enjoyed the beach. But what really overwhelmed me were the landscapes you wouldn’t associate with Turkey right away: Rough mountains (did you know there’s skiing in Turkey?!), tropical waterfall caves, and endless fields of olive trees.

I was meaning to visit a lot of cities along the Turkish Turquoise Coast and see the many Roman remains there, but ultimately, I was glad that we decided to go easy on the sightseeing and spend more time with our toes in the sand — because I’ll definitely come back to Turkey soon. This vacation was a wonderful teaser and I now know for sure that I absolutely have to go back for Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Cappadocia, and all the beaches.

Karacaoren Baraji, Turkey

Turkish breakfast

Side, Turkish Riviera, Turkey

The only down-side of this trip: I forgot to bring my passport! I didn’t even think about the fact that I was actually leaving the EU and just took my regular ID card — that’s not a problem in Turkey as they have so many German visitors, they accept ID cards without question.

But: I didn’t get a stamp! I was so excited that 2015 was the year I finally got a new passport made, and my Jordanian visa would have loved a little company in those empty passport pages. Now I only have a sad little piece of paper proving that I got a stamp from Turkey. (Please tell me you would have been just as bummed about this as I was?!)

Traveling to Turkey with a Passport or an ID

Blogging

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I barely got around to blogging in September. I wish it was only due to traveling and having a lot to do at work, but I also struggled with finding inspiration.

I’ve come to the point where I’m so over travel blogging that I can’t even read through a single travel-related blog post anymore, because it’s all the same all the time: 10 things you didn’t know about Rome, how to travel the world for free, 5 best things to do in Berlin, how to pack a carry-on, why carry-on-only-travel sucks, how to write a travel blog, the pros and cons of being a digital nomad, how to backpack Europe in 15 days, how save money traveling in Western Europe, how to be enlightened by Full Moon Party in Thailand, how to get offended by monkeys in South East Asia, 10 best free things to do in Stockholm, how traveling helped me overcome my anxiety/my eating disorder/my break-up, 20 random travel Instragrammers you must follow, 15 most colorful places you have to see, photos essays from Game of Thrones filming locations on Croatia/Ireland/Iceland… the list goes on and on.

After three years in the travel blogging world, there’s barely something new anymore. I keep clicking on blog post links, but I often can’t even make it through the first paragraph, because I feel like I read the same tropes about the same places over and over again. People tend to write the same things about the same places all the time, and I’m on the verge of boycotting travel blogging until someone sends me a link to a well-researched blog post about Paraguay, Bhutan, or Kaliningrad (preferably without a number in the title).

If you browse StumbleUpon for travel websites, everything that comes up are posts like “30 places you have to see before you die” with the same old stock images that we’ve seen 589,000 times on Pinterest, oh, and posts about scoring cheap flight tickets. Because, right, that’s all that travel is about: Cheap flights and the same old photos of Santorini and Mont Saint-Michel. Even the photos that bloggers publish (which are not stock images) have started to look all alike to me.

Don’t even get me started on photos of yoga poses on mountain tops!

Ranting like this is usually not my style (especially not in written form), but I’m honestly frustrated with the lack of creativity I encounter online, and I’m just desperate to read something that really makes me want to visit a new places again, something that really inspires me. I know, I’m not going to far off the beaten track kind of places either, but hey, at least I’m not trying to make you buy the bikini I’m wearing while doing stand-up-paddle-boarding-acro-yoga in the Caribbean via a semi-subtle affiliate link.

Honestly, I think I’ve read more blog posts on breastfeeding, fructose-free nutrition, and interior design (although none of these topics actually affect me) than on travel in the last month. So, feel free to share something travel-related that recently inspired you in the comments, please — I really need to recover my love for online travel writing again to stay inspired.

Coffee

Okay, I’m afraid to admit it. I know it’s bad, but: I didn’t indulge in any proper Turkish coffee when I was in Turkey. In my defense, the beach resort I stayed at only served cheap machine coffee, and the very few independent cafés along a street full of resort hotels sold Nescafé as Turkish mocca. It’s really disappointing to go to the country that basically invented coffee and drink only shitty “fake” coffee — especially as a self-proclaimed foreign coffee junkie who was hoping that Turkish coffee would play a big role in that annual coffee round-up.

However, I did ultimately find a little shop selling real Turkish coffee (cooked in hot sand!) in the airport, and while this was definitely not the coffee atmosphere I had been hoping for, the coffee was exactly what I expected: Thick, spicy, and gloriously bitter.

Turkish coffee

I couldn’t help comparing it to Jordanian coffee, as coffee in Jordan is actually called Turkish coffee and despite the cardamom, the textures are very much alike, because coffee powder, spices, sugar, and water are all cooked in the same pot together. It won’t become my favorite kind of coffee, but I adore the cultural and social habits created around coffee in all the Middle Eastern countries.

Plus, after an extended layover/spontaneous return to my beloved Hamburg on the way home from Turkey, I at least still got my flat white of the month — and could thus tick another coffee shop in Hamburg off the list!

Flat whites in Hamburg

Life

If you begin a month with the perfect vacation and then go back to the real life (and single digit temperatures!!), the month is almost bound to have a slightly bitter aftertaste in the end. Looking back, my two weeks of vacation in Turkey, Hamburg, and my parents’ house were perfect, but coming back to my countless folders of unread articles felt even more exhausting then.

It’s weird to feel exhausted right after you just came back from the beach, but maybe this is what grown-up life feels like? I’m still sometimes struggling with being a “normal” grown-up with a job and endless piles of dirty dishes and laundry, because that’s certainly not the glamorous life my 15-year-old self had pictured. But I don’t want to complain, normal is not necessarily a bad thing.

Home made granola by Julika

And my life was pretty ordinary-but-good in September: I hosted several visitors, attended a huge art history conference in medieval Hildesheim, I was sick all over my bedroom (stupid fall migraines always get me), I tried to make my own healthy granola (badly burned it the first time, learned my lesson, took it out of the oven sooner the second time), I forced myself to finally try a fig (didn’t like it, consulted fig lovers, found out that it might not have been ripe enough, tried a second one, liked it much better), I went clubbing for the first time in over a year (clubs are still lame, drinks are expensive, and most people seem desperate, but dancing is still fun), I watched my tan lines appear and then fade again, I read three non-research related books (which is a lot if you basically read for a living), I broke off my house key in the front door (so stupid), and ate freshly picked apples from my parents’ garden. All in all, a pretty average, but pretty good month.

Photography

You know this story already: I was a lazy photographer in September. In Turkey, I saw no use of bringing my camera to the beach, partly because I was scared I’d drop in the sand, partly because there’s only so many photos you can take of a deck chair and a book on the beach.

Thus, I came home with very few photos (luckily Steffen also took some and I might steal a few of his photos for future blog posts), but it was soothing to not feel any pressure to arrange things prettily, or wait for the perfect shot. Of course, we did go to the beach for a few sunset photo sessions, but taking less than 100 decent photos during an 8 day vacation is really not much for me. (Remember how I took 2,000 in Jordan in the same time frame?).

Fall in Göttingen, Germany

On Instagram

I’m not at all surprised that the most perfect sunset in Turkey not only became my most liked Instagram photo from all my Turkey photos, but also of all my September phone snaps. This scene definitely didn’t need any filters!

Sunset on the Turkish Riviera, Side, Turkey

Coming up in October

I don’t have any international travel plans for October, but there will be plenty of domestic travel — hopefully including all the warm fall light and all the foliage. I’ll spend the weekends in at least three different German states and I’ll definitely squeeze in a day trip or two to explore more destinations in my current home state of Lower Saxony.

What was September like for you?

 

 

  • Ah, I know what you mean about travel blogs. I’ve felt like that for a while. It seems like every article has already been written before (based on what people have been writing) and everything is so generic. If I see one more Top 10 list…

    The only travel posts I’ve been able to get into lately are places that I’ll be visiting in the near future; it gets me excited for wherever I’ll be going. Other than that, I just don’t know anymore.

    • JulikaSarah

      I’m so glad you can relate, Elizabeth! I agree, reading about places you’re definitely going to visit is fun (for the anticipation alone)! 🙂

  • I applaud your ranting about travel blogging! So much of it is simply uninspiring…and uninspired. Major props to you for always pouring your heart into your writing and your photography!

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks Trevor! I hope I wasn’t too harsh as I’m friends with a lot of bloggers — but some things have really been annoying me lately!

  • Veena

    I am currently returning to the real world after an 8-day holiday in Sri Lanka, and my brain is just not cooperating. I also totally feel you on the sameness of travel blogs! I used to follow so many and have slowly been unsubscribing because they all say the same thing; the ones I still follow are the ones with great narratives – like yours – as opposed to the “10 Things to See in ______” and the like. I’d rather read infrequent content that is high quality, and I appreciate that you feel the same. Happy October to you! xx

    • JulikaSarah

      I’m so glad you can relate to so much in here, Veena! I’ve heard so many great things about Sri Lanka, it must be such an overwhelming destination!
      Thank you so much for following along!

  • I had to read most of this post aloud again to my boyfriend because I’ve been making the same complaints about Travel blogging and also because I reallyy want to go to Turkey (and don’t worry, I would totally be the same about not getting a stamp!).

    Your “normal” life sounds so dreamy to me right now (except for the key in the door incident, been there). I’m staying with my parents for a few months and I feel so uprooted. I’m craving a bit of normalcy!

    • JulikaSarah

      Phew, I’m glad you could relate to my little blogging rant as well as being bummed about missing out on that passport stamp, Laura! I was afraid I was about to turn into a drama queen 🙂 Also, I still haven’t confessed that key incident to my landlords… oops 🙂

  • Julie

    First off, your photos of the Turkish coast are stunning! The colors of the first photo look surreal. And all those delicious looking fresh vegetables! Turkey is high on my list of destinations I want to visit (possibly in my top three). And yes, I would be totally disappointed too if I missed out on a stamp! I covet passport stamps like no one’s business ha ha.

    Everything you wrote in your blogging paragraph resonated so much with me. I’ve never been a full-time travel blogger, rather I’m a jack of all trades blogger with cooking and food posts and posts on my city. Everybody talks about having a “niche” and yet I think that’s greatly contributing to travel blogging being such an over saturated market. I like travel bloggers who actually can talk about stuff outside of their “area.” Because yes, at the end of the day, quitting your job to travel the world/doing the backpacker thing, that has been done and then some. So for me, I enjoy travel bloggers who really focus on food (outside of just oh I went on this food tour, or here are some dishes to try) and history (my uber nerdy passion) 🙂

    • JulikaSarah

      Thanks Julie! When that boat appeared out of nowhere right in front of the setting sun I couldn’t help thinking: “Seriously, are you kidding me, Turkey?” — those Turkish sunsets were just too good!
      I forgot which successful blogger once said: “The blogging world doesn’t need another 20-something backpacker in South East Asia”. But I’m afraid the message hasn’t gotten out there yet! Regarding niches: From my experience in blogging and other creative areas like photography, I’ve found that it often seems to be the secret to success to curate your style/work/clients/portfolio items very carefully — but also that your niche can be You! Because ultimately, people read a blog, because they relate to the person behind it no matter how many interests in various fields they have!

    • Julie

      Talk about fortuitous! All of the colors in that photo are simply stunning.

      And yes, you’re absolutely right about “you” as a person being the driving force about what makes people interested in your blog, irregardless of interests like you mention.

  • Pingback: Taking a break from blogging - The Red Headed Traveler()

  • The part about travel blogging is very well written! I am as well tired of these lists of 10, 20 or 5 things to do, and I think lists are such a cliche, as well as titles such as “Why you SHOULD visit this country now” or “why we use this brand (and why you should too). So what will happen if I don’t visit this country – will the planet Earth stop turning?

    • JulikaSarah

      I’m so glad you could relate and it’s not only me who’s feeling this! Thank you for reading!

  • Thank you for the rant, I feel exactly the same way! I’m especially sick of packing lists & how to be a travel blogger posts (hawking, of course, Travel Blog Success), because both are clearly just there for the affiliate links; and I hate when people claim to be an expert on a place just because they were there for FOUR days! Are you shitting me? You think you know Paris because you walked Montmartre and had a baguette?? Half the time those ‘expert’ posts are written with a lot of help from Wikipedia… (deep breath) Anyway, as always I love your photos — you’re seriously my favorite down-to-earth photographer/blogger and I hope we can catch up in person sometime soon! It’s been far too long.