As I sip my espresso in Zadar, a 3,000 year old town on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, I reflect on the year just passed — 2014. Based in Romania the main focus of the year was learning to balance personal interests and parenting. While my compass always pointed towards my baby daughter, the year came with several exciting opportunities, especially to travel.
On January 2 we moved to Sibiu, one of the most beautiful cities in the very center of Romania. I had visited Sibiu early on my travels after in 2012. It was then I thought that the city would be a great live. Fast forward two years and an unexpected job provided the opportunity to explore the thought. Sibiu is an old medieval town surrounded by Carpathian Mountains. It feels like a place from childhood fairy tales. The people of Transylvania are unlike the reputation shadowed upon them by the story of Dracula. Instead they are warm and welcoming. We left a piece of our heart in Sibiu when we left in September.
Working as a professional in Romania provided a deeper insight in to the country and culture. I feel that this has been a valuable experience in getting to know this part of the world, it’s history and politics a lot better. Working for travel representing a Romanian group in the UK also provided a perspective on how Europeans relate to each other based on their geography. It’s a political and much debated discussion which I will leave out of this post.
My trip to London was work-related, however, it felt like a break to experience life closer to home. The first thing that came to surface was how much I miss communicating with English speakers. I felt that I could let my guard down and just relax. I enjoyed sharing ideas freely without having to explain what just said or two simply my phrases. To add to my joy the weather turned out to be great while I was there. Warm, clear sunny sky — it felt like Spring.
The most moving experience of the year was my trip to Israel and Palestine in May. The primary objective of my trip was to hike the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. It was a two-day walk, which I completed solo. Even the locals thought I was bonkers for walking alone through the country. However, the experience was nothing short of amazing! With the complicated situation in the region it has been difficult to share much about my trip — especially since the unjust war this past summer. Part of my reluctance towards writing about Israel and Palestine is that you can be sure that someone will chastise you for your opinion — positive or negative. I will say, however, that there is something very special about this small strip of land. I hope that a peaceful and fair resolution will allow everyone to live and travel there to experience the special energy this region has.
End of summer was a whirlwind starting with a family re-union in Dubai. It was the beginning of August and we really got a taste of what extreme heat can be. It was the first time in over 15 years that I had been to Dubai. I was blown away by how the city has transformed in such a short period of time. Dubai is probably one the most technologically advanced cities I’ve been. However, I am really not the target audience for this global commercial hub unless we’re talking beaches and nature. The heat makes it like walking in to a warm bathtub if want to go for swim. It’s great way to cool off and get away from the concrete jungle of Dubai. If you prefer cooler water take a bus to the eastern shore of the UAE to Khor Fakkan. The water in the Gulf of Oman is cooler, cleaner, with a more natural landscape. Plus water sports and activities are lot more affordable in comparison to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I got my first taste of para-sailing in Khor Fakkan. Now I am hooked!
It was a good thing that I got to take in some of the heat in the Emirates because just a few weeks later Canada was quite cold for September. After more than 2 years I was back home in Ottawa. I left as a bachelor with the ambition to travel the world and came back as a “responsible” father. I must enter a plug for the Rideau Hall Foundation here as this trip was really an opportunity to serve the community back home. I spent my first weekend at Activate Weekend and awesome group of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast and abroad. Our objective was to offer our skills and experience to help create a foundation for Canada. It was a once in a life time opportunity and the best possible reason for me to return home for a couple of weeks. Two weeks went by in a blink of an eye with many visits with family and friends. No matter where you go and however long you’ve been gone, home stays the same.
Back in Romania we’re now based near the western border in Timisoara. Life is constantly revealing exciting opportunities and opening doors to great journeys. It’s not the type of travel or life I had ever imagined but amazing things happen when you least expect them. My life in Timisoara is starting to parallel my life three years ago in Ottawa. Once again I am in an entrepreneurial setting and taking on leadership roles in the community. Life as a “settler” is not very different no matter where you are in the world. Only your surroundings and culture change. In Timisoara I’m keeping up with efforts to maintain a balance between the life of a settler and nomad to offer my child the best of both worlds just as my parents offered me.
This brings me back to where I am — Croatia. A Russian friend of mine once told me, the way you start for the New Year is important because it sets the intention for what you do the rest of the year. So I decided to travel to a place I have never been. I decided to travel to the coast, a landscape that bring out the best in me. I chose to spend it with my family so that we continue to build stronger bonds in the years to come. I am sharing this story to stay connected to my family and friends who are not here in person but their presence is strongly felt in my heart. I am envisioning the year ahead. It is full of opportunities, ideas, friendships, and places still to be discovered.
Happy New Year to everyone. Remember to enjoy the journey — it is what matters in the end.
About The Author
Urooj Qureshi is pro Adventurer and storyteller. Follow his adventures on Instagram @uroojqureshi.
Originally published at http://www.living-being.com on January 1, 2015.