Vacation Travel Log, Day 1-2: Arrival in Tuscany

I will be in Italy for one week. Yesterday we got up at 4AM and drove from Germany down to Tuscany, near a town named Lucca. It took us 14 hours and we were wasted when we got here. But the view from the house could be enjoyed, even with travel exhaustion.

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Today, we still didn’t do much and mostly hung out at the house. We jumped in the pool for a little and then I took up a sketchbook and did some drawing. There are many things to draw here, but I decided to depict an “Olive Grove at St. Gennaro”. I’m not a master at colored pencil drawing, and I didn’t have any real green tones apart from a neon green marking pencil. But I like the result, anyway. Kind of reminds me of Cezanne and Van Gogh… they drew from similar scenery.

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Travel-Log Italy 2016: Day 1-2 (Overcoming Obstacles)

I am on vacation in Italy with my parents and my 2 sisters. We will be near Pisa for a week and in Venice for a week. My 2 brothers are staying at a youth camp at the same time.

Day 1: The ride down to Italy

We left the house at 5AM. The ride was smooth and we didn’t face any traffic. Still, it took us until 4PM to reach our destination.
When we got to the vacation house, we were greeted by the home owners. They showed us around and gave some suggestions for local restaurants, etc. They were very nice, and their vacation rental is great, as well.

Day 2: Overcoming Obstacles

My older sister Jessica is autistic and so she has very particular anxieties. One of these is the fear of water, eventhough she used to love water. So when my parents decided to try to get her into the pool this morning, she resisted that. She cried and made it really clear that she didn’t want to swim, but my parents didn’t give up. In the end, Jessi was in the pool for 10min, and she was proud of it. She had done something extraordinary.

Later, I went with my dad and younger sister Sarah to Lucca. We had lunch, ate Italian gelato, and rented a couple of bikes. This might seem like nothing special, but for me it was, also, extraordinary:
In the past, I had to  struggle with chronic fatigue issues , and even a year ago, a simple bike tour would have been nearly impossible. So for me, riding a bike on the city wall and through town was out of the ordinary. For me, it was overcoming an obstacle.


While I take the surroundings in, I am keeping my eyes open for stuff to draw, there is no shortage of intersting things here. While we were in Lucca today I drew a quick sketch of the guy next to us. And I think some of the stuff I took pictures of will be worth a sketch or painting. Right now I am resting, my dad has my packpack, which has the sketch in it. So pictures will have to follow later :)



Travel-Log Day 12-15: Work, Rest and Writing a Song!

After going to Salamis and Varosha (the ghost town), the rest of the week was spent with hearing and participating in teaching. I got to know some of my interns and support the art workshop session on Friday. Also, I went on Friday evening to visit two of my interns at their appartment and cook dinner with them. We made a lentil-curry soup, simple but effective!

Today I am resting from an intense 1st week: cleaning, cooking, going to the beach and writing a new song. Some songs take ages to write, some don’t turn out, but I think this one will be good…

Travel-Log Day 11: Salamis!

Today we went to the ancient city of Salamis in Northern Cyprus. This is where the apostles Paul and Barnabas landed when they came to Cyprus for their first missionary journey. It was a bustling Roman city and the ruins speak of its former glory. We all went to the ampitheater and prayed for the island and for reconciliation. Since a war in the 1970s the island has been seperated by a wall into the Turkish-speaking North and the Greek-speaking South, even today people remember the traumas. There is no war anymore, but the wall remains. But the prime ministers of both sides are negotiating peace right now, this is very encouraging!

We also saw a ghost town on the coast nearby, which is under Turkish military control. It has been abandoned since the 1970s, making it a concrete ruin. It is strictly forbidden to take pictures of it, but I managed to draw a picture of the city. The site was quite bizzare: A military zone right next to a lively beach. The beach was completely deserted a year ago, but apparently things have changed quickly.

Travel-Log Day 8-10: Countdown and Lift-Off!

This weekend was fun and relatively relaxing for me, I hope your weekend was cool too :)

On saturday I visited with two of the other ladies on staff, one is from Russia (Irina) and the other is from Ireland (Carol). So that made 3 people from 3 nations! We spent the afternoon together at the pool and just got to know each other a bit. They are both great people, so that was a pleasure!

On sunday I and Maike (one of the interns) took the bus to Larnaca to go to the house church there. The bus driver was really helpful, but the bus ride was long and rocky. I got a little carsick and took about 30 min to recover…
I was worth it to take the trip, though, because the house church is awsome! Maike and I spent part of the service with the youth and told some curious teenagers about who we were and what we were doing in Cyprus. It’s a fun group of kids and teens :)
Afterward we had a generous lunch with the whole church (they do that every week). I was glad for the free meal, especially since it was a good one. And we spent a long time talking to different people, not leaving until 6PM. Time flies when you’re having a good time!

And today was the start of the internship! The team and the interns met, we had some intoduction stuff and a group lunch. I think it will be a great 6 weeks!

Travel-Log Day 6-7: Mops, Chicken and Chalk!

The week of staff training is over, so I’ve got some time on my hands. This won’t be happening again anytime soon, so better make use of it:

I started the morning off by doing some much needed “deep cleaning” of my appartment. This basically meant sweeping, wiping down surfaces and mopping the floors. Cyprus is a dusty place, so the mop-water was quite grey after I was done with it…

On Wed evening I made a delicious barbecue chicken dinner with some rice. Since it was enough to feed 2-3 people, I had some of that for lunch today. And as it is with other types of foods: it tastes better the second (or third) day!

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I also tried to use some chalk pastels (something I don’t usually do). My attempts to use chalk have often failed because of it’s tendency to smear, but I decided to not be defeated just yet. So I sat down and did a chalk painting of the cacti in the back yard…
eventhough I see definite room for improvement, it turned out better than expected :)

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Travel-Log Day 5: Biggest Pumpkins Ever!

Today we had another preperation meeting. Afterward one of the other staff members took me by a produce shop. And the store had the biggest pumpkins (actually they were gourds) I had ever seen in a little produce shop! I could lift one out for a photo, but not so easily!

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Travel-Log Days 2-4: Getting Started

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I got here last Saturday and 3 days later it’s Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a summary of what went on here:

Sunday: a quiet morning, a home-made potato salad for breakfast and a day at the house church in Larnaca. It felt good to be back! I had been to the house church when I was here 2 years ago and had made some good friends. Meeting them again and feeling as if you had never been gone, a great feeling!

Monday: Beginning staff training for the internship next week. The staff members got to know each other and go through some practical stuff.

Tuedsay: I got to lead worship in the beginning for about 45 minutes. For some it might seem strange to sing songs to and for a God you can’t see, but when you know this God, it’s not difficult at all.
After this we talked about what makes a good team, what to expect from each other and from the interns, etc. It can be overwhelming to see all that lies ahead, but it is also exciting. We didn’t come here to relax, we came for an adventure. And adventures are seldom relaxing!