portrait of three friends (from left) one European man, one European woman and one Asian women

Noreen, our soul mate : )  : )  : )

Relationships that are overcoming borders, distance and time

experienced between 26 August-7 September 2020
4 minutes read


As we mentioned in our previous post, the first challenges were a good experience. They taught us how to deal with stressful situations and work together despite. However, without the support from our Sheffield friends things wouldn’t have been as smooth.

John (69), like Jozef's father, sitting behind a piano turned towards you smiling.

John. The dearest man in Jozef’s life. 

4 of us on the top of a hill. Gary is pointing to a map telling us the names of the surrounding hills.

Good bye hike with Gary, Jenny and Daniel : )

Helen and Steve, standing in their door way saying farewell

Helen and Steve : )

Our friends Mus and Michelle smiling at you in a park in Sheffield UK

Mustafa, Jozef’s hiking and dancing friend, with Michelle.

Katka and Kevin sitting and smiling in their garden

Katka and Kevin : )

our friend Petra sitting comfortably on a sofa in her yarn studio

Petra in her yarn studio.

During this time though, we managed to recycle another car and give away 80% of our belongings.

In the end, Jozef and John couldn’t repair the Ford Focus which John’s grandson gave to us. Instead, we bought ourselves a 16-year old Vauxhall Astra and this time, we were well prepared! Both of us had a list to check the interior and exterior of the car, to the surprise of the seller. We knew what to look out for and after all, we bought it (even battered £40 off the price).

So, with a 10-day delay, we finally left Sheffield (UK). A place I made my home for 2,5 years and Jozef for 11. A long time in which we established many close relationships. Isn’t it when we say goodbye that we are particularly attached to our environment and the people? Most likely and therefore, saying goodbye wasn’t easy. 

two friends hugging each other intensely while saying farewell

Ali with Meline and farewell hug

Simultaneously, we know that relationships can overcome borders, distances and even time. But of course, it needs the will of both sides to do so.

The first border was crossed when we arrived on the campsite in Calais. There, we discovered a peculiar-looking seesaw on the playground where we had tea. It turned out to be just the right device to release all the accumulated tension in us…through laughter!

Meline laughing on a huge seesaw while me taking photo from the other side

seesaw release : )

Before heading to Nuremberg, Jozef and I drove through the beautiful wooded landscape of West-Germany. On the way, we had trouble finding a good campsite. They were either closed on our arrival, located next to a busy road, fully booked or even completely abandoned. Hence, we were left with only one option: to wild camp in Germany! Well, we need to get used to it, I suppose. : )

Coming back to long-distance relationships and the will to maintain them. Good examples are the relationships I have to my friends in Germany. I have known Kathrin and Marit for nearly 20 years. In these years, our friendships have grown and matured. Particularly in the last 2,5 years when 1300km, the distance between Sheffield and Nuremberg were separating us. During this time, we were sharing moments of daily life whilst also learning from and supporting one another. We also had a few difficult conversations. By this, I mean understanding but honest conversations. Conversations that put our behaviours into question and that may also shake us. But which will most importantly help us to reassess our value system altogether.

So seeing Kathrin and Marit after all this time, felt as if we had seen each other only yesterday.

Nevertheless, phone calls and messages cannot replace a warm hug, a smile or a chat over dinner around the table. So it felt good to be back in Nuremberg where we stayed with Kathrin and her partner Alex. We also went to Erlangen to see my former colleagues and good friends who surprised us with a wonderful meal with various dishes from Syria. And then there was Marit with whom we spent some time, too, walking along the Wörder See.

our friend Kathrin sitting comfortably behind a table after dinner smiling

Kathrin just after dinner : )

Jozef, Marit and Meline smiling after a vegan burger (delicious!) in a restaurant in Nuremberg

Marit in the middle. After a delicious vegan burger. Magic!   : )  : )  : )

A group photo of us and friends from Syria.  Seven of us all together : )

Us and Reem, Amr, Jalal, Besher and Malisse after a very lovely Syrian dinner and time together.

The journey carried on to Munich. There, we stayed with my brother Philippe and his partner Irina. We spent hours talking about values, lifestyle, and relationships. Often, we asked how we could change society for the better. Occasionally, the emotions were rising. But we all managed to stay calm and understanding of each other’s point of view, letting go from the need to persuade the other.

On the whole, we can say that relationships are the most valuable aspect of our lives. Not just because we are social animals, but because through them we also understand ourselves better. At the same time, we learn how to cooperate, to listen and to communicate. Traits that are not particularly nourished in a capitalistic society. So it is up to us to make it happen! By having open conversations, exposing ourselves to different opinions and last but not least, by living it.

We’re on the road to Slovakia now from where we’ll post again. We hope you’re all well.

Take care



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