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Three stories of life-changing travel: Israel, Honduras and Rome

A single trip has the power to change your perspective - or even your life - for good.

Three stories of life-changing travel: Israel, Honduras and Rome
Photo credits: Dan Gold, Angello Lopez on Unsplash and Liv at The Local

The Local and Lufthansa have partnered to bring you three stories of life-changing travel. We asked members of our Facebook group for European travel fans to tell us about the trips that transformed them. Presenting three of their most inspirational travel tales.

Click here to discover more life-changing places

Joyce Oladeinde’s Israeli Shabbat Dinner

One of the highlights of my trip to Israel a few years back – a memory that will stay with me forever – was when Dov, a kind Jewish local, invited me into his own home for a traditional Shabbat dinner with his family. Shabbat is a day of rest that begins on Friday at sunset and ends the following evening. At dinner, the tables were set with fine tableware, candles lit up the dining room, and Dov’s family interspersed the engaged conversations with traditional Hebrew songs. What affected me most about this experience of Shabbat, however, was all the thought that had gone into it – and how seriously Dov and his family took this day of rest. During the Shabbat, the use of electricity and electrical appliances was prohibited, and everyone in the family had their phones switched off. The dinner, too, had been prepared without any use of electricity. For me, this encounter became a wakeup call of sorts about the importance of rest in an age where electronic devices and social media easily consume time we could otherwise spend with our families. After meeting Dov, I often remind myself that it is okay to unplug to be more present with loved ones – or at least be available for the kindness of strangers.

Photo credits: Joyce Oladeinde (DIYwithJoy.com)

Katie Osthoff’s Volunteer Vacation in Honduras

Last year, I went to Honduras and spent time on the Island of Roatan, where I volunteered for Sol Roatan, a wonderful foundation working with community-based programs to promote the quality of education and life in less developed areas of the island. I was fortunate enough to be there when Santa Claus was visiting, bringing the crowd of ecstatic children gifts. I cooked and served hot dogs while other volunteers played hula hoop, did face paintings, and tried to orchestrate a line for the kids to meet Santa. The joy on their faces upon meeting and greeting us, playing with us, and sharing with us their interests and hobbies was something out of the ordinary for me. The hard work this organization does to give these children equal experiences and educational opportunities to those living in more privileged environments made a lasting impact on me. It also changed feelings about the future of this planet, and made me realize how important it is to foster child and adolescent development in order to secure a happy and healthy world for future generations. I was also moved by the beauty surrounding the school, the crystalline water and the dolphins playing on the horizon, and this made me think about the importance of appreciating the simple things in life, too. To this day, I keep up with Sol Roatan on social media and think about them often.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SOL International Foundation (@solroatan) on Dec 19, 2018 at 6:49pm PST

Mesmerized in Rome with Eloise Aurora Alisier

When I first came to Rome, I realized for the first time how being in a particular place can boost up your mood for days, and also breathe new life into your everyday perceptions. A native of coastal northern Italy, I grew up contemplating the vivid colors of the sky, and I used to walk by the sea almost every day, and must’ve known its every color and shade and hue. But during my first time in Rome, I found that there was a soulfulness to the place, an energy I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but that seemed to be everywhere I went. In some strange way, the sea was no longer just the sea during the duration of my stay, and the sky wasn’t just the sky, and the colors all around me were brighter and more intense, more luminous, more striking, and more deeply affecting than anything I had experienced before. I walked around the city for days, mostly by myself, kilometer after kilometer, hour after hour without getting tired one bit. By the end of the trip, it felt as though I had been walking for months, mesmerized by all that beauty.

Click here to discover more life-changing places

Photo: Eloise Aurora Alisier

This content was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Lufthansa.

TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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