Summer hymn…

Traveling means nothing when you have no one to share it with. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. The memories made are priceless. It doesn’t matter how many times you visit a place, or how often you see the same people. It is about the emotions. Your  surroundings keeping you. Your joy filling you.

Although a three week vacation may sound like a long time, the love from family, beautiful scenery of Europe, and the unforgettable experiences made my time overseas fly by.

It helped being away from such a demanding city like New York – the high paced lifestyle creates excessive stress for everyone living within it’s concrete jungles. Getting away from responsibility has turned out to be a great detox to my mind, body, and health. My summer travels started in Kosovo, my birthplace, and continued in Austria and Germany for the second time this year. The contrast in lifestyle between European countries and the US is extremely prevalent.

My days in Kosovë, where everything and everyone are so relaxed and laid back, gradually passed by. Coffee during the day and drinks in the evening, the time in-between was kept for long drives between cities and villages from Prishtinë to Brezovic, Prevallë, and even Prizren. Traveling so often to the place where your heritage bloomed creates a new experience for you, almost every time. The word “gurbet”, from the Turkish dictionary, means to emigrate. Gurbet, amongst us living in diaspora tends to represent the space which separates us from the country our ancestors are from. The second I landed in Prishtinë, I forgot what New York was. I forgot what school was. I forgot what work was. It became so surreal that another part of my life existed somewhere else.

Dividing three weeks between three countries becomes a hassle when all you want to do is stay in each place forever. However, because flights within Europe tend to be less than two hours long, the possibilities are endless to where one can go. After a flight from Kosovë to Switzerland and a drive from Switzerland to Austria, it all felt so quick. It felt as if my time in Kosovë evaporated into thin air.

It wasn’t just Austria. It was Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. It was the waterfall from the Rhein which follows its path through Feldkirch. It was the daily trips to Dornbirn from Lustenau. The opera on the water in Bregenz had become the most incredible work of art in my eyes. The forms of the sculpture just took your breath away. Lindau had to have been overflowing with flowers in every inch of the town. All it took was a train ride from Lindau to Frankfurt with connection in Stuttgart via the Deutsche Bahn to land in the financial heart of Europe. Nothing like Wall St. but it did have the same energy. The cities never end.

My uncle had made this point as he was driving my mother, my younger brother and I to the airport in Zurich. He said “In Europe we drive through a great amount of kilometers in less time. In NYC, you guys have to travel less kilometers, but take significantly more time.” That point had summed up my entire summer. Our lives have become so busy, we do not even realize how much of our times goes to waste as we sit in subways or traffic for hours. So go out and travel. Take that two hour drive to Philly or plane ride to Chicago. Go somewhere you have never been before because I guarantee it’ll be worth it.