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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.

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Photo: Eloise Aurora Alisier

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

ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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