Looking back at my travels in 2010

I've been reading to sweetest post about travel memories by Liz Borod Wright of Travelogged and it made me realise how much I've travelled in 2010.

After having left home in 1998, and spent seven years in Rome, two in Dublin and two in London, I finally made it back to my hometown, Sardinia, for quite a long while. This has given me the invaluable chance to spend some quality time with my parents, visit places I had never seen, carry out some research on the fascinating past of my island, meet interesting people, going down Europe's deepest canyon, participate to some of my favourite local festivals such as S'Ardia in Sedilo and the Mamuthones of Mamoiada, enjoy Sardinia's culinary delicacies and listening to my grandmother's extraordinary story of when she and my grandfather left the island to move to France in the late '50s.

Local getting ready for dune driving in Abu Dhabi desert
During the year I spent in Sardinia, I have also travelled to the Middle East, a region that has always captivated me. So far I've only been to the UAE, but I liked it so much that it won't take me long to go back and explore the rest of that charming corner of the planet. My short, yet unforgettable, stay in the Emirates gave me the chance to spark my passion for the desert, not only for the timeless beauty of its endless stretch of sandy dunes, but also because I could better understand the past and the culture of this young nation.

I thoroughly enjoyed dawdling about Dubai and admired its quirky skyline, but have been captured by the characters I met in Abu Dhabi local markets, the typical places where you can genuinely sense a country's identity.

Gordes, Provence
Before leaving Europe, I somehow felt compelled to make another trip within the Old Continent, and this is how, end of Mars, I ended up in the French region of Provence, where my aunt lives. Here I had the unique opportunity to visit the creepiest dolls' house I had ever seen, be able to picture how was the life of the infamous Marquis De Sade after the Catholic Church banned him and his works from public life, wander the streets of a ghost town, and enjoy a photo-trip in Gordes, picturesque village located right on the edge of a cliff.

After all this traveling around, I finally made it to my new hometown, and last July I landed in China. For who's been following my blog, it's not a mystery that the beginning of my stay in Shanghai has been quite a shock and more than once I thought I couldn't make it.

The Great Wall of China
Fortunately, however, my Sardinian roots provided me with a good deal of stubbornness and made me refuse to admit defeat. Now I'm glad I stuck to my original plan, otherwise I wouldn't have visited so many great places such as the Great Wall or picturesque water towns, I wouldn't have met such beautiful people, I wouldn't have had the chance to explore the fascinating culture of ancient China, and especially I would have missed the chance to challenge myself with studying Mandarin, activity with the unique feature of making me realise that the more I learn the less I understand.

Despite this barrier and my initial shock, I've been gradually collecting little defining moments in the "Country of the middle", conquests that are contributing in shaping my personality, enriching my life experience and opening my mind to a whole new set of priorities. In a nutshell, I'm applying for a visa extension.

2010 has been exciting and challenging, and I wish 2011 will be as constructive and inspiring. Happy New Year everybody!


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