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A recent holiday has broadened my mind

  |  September 2, 2013

Switzerland, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Asmaa Al Hameli / The National
Switzerland, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Asmaa Al Hameli / The National

There was a time in my life where I couldnít wait to get out of my country and experience a new world of interaction. I do not hate my country; in fact, I like it here, but I was yearning to meet different people, see different sights (not shopping malls) and try out different things.

I used to hate summer holidays because my family did not travel. Itís been one of my wishes to fly to Europe, particularly London and Paris, since many of my friends have spoken highly of these cities.

The magical moment happened when my siblings suggested that we take a monthís break from the UAE and travel to four countries: Austria, Switzerland, England and France (now you know why I havenít blogged for so long). Before I left, I had high expectations based on the flowery guidebooks I came across, online pictures and other travellersí tales. I was not disappointed.

In Austria, I found the countryís history and culture fascinating. We went to a few palaces and were amazed at how the country has been able to preserve its past. My favourite place is the Sisi Museum at the Imperial Palace, where there was a giant room that showcased a comprehensive range of tableware and other utensils used at the Imperial Court.

When we left Austria to Switzerland by train, I was stunned by the view I got to witness on the way. Switzerland is heaven on earth. When we arrived at Interlaken, I couldnít believe my eyes. The snow mountains, waterfalls, flowers, the exquisite colour of the water and the small villages scattered all over the place. Best of all, everyone we came across were all friendly and social.

It was raining when we landed in London, but we were so happy to be in that type of weather. Of course, we had our ups and downs in all the countries, particularly with language and cultural barriers, which is normal when visiting a new country.

We came across some rude people. Some areas were smelly and dirty, with a lack of public toilets, which we didnít expect.

Not all the countries lived up to my expectations. But as I learnt, expectations can be dangerous. I guess at times, the higher your expectations, the greater the chance youíll be disappointed.

I also learnt not to get overwhelmed by other travellersí experiences and stories. There's something special about experiencing things yourself.

But I really discovered how much I love my own country. It is clean, the people are respectful towards women and I really missed being home.