Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. Today, we’re introducing our new feature: “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Yulia Denisyuk, a freelance photographer and writer specializing in the topics of travel and human stories. After spending more than 10 years in large organizations, Yulia began a career in travel journalism and has traveled the world extensively ever since. Today, she discusses the entertainment she turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
“The War” by Haux
As someone who often works on the road (I prefer the term “wanderpreneur” over the oft-used “digital nomad”), I am always on the lookout for techniques and hacks to help me work more efficiently while I travel. Recently, I learned that playing a song on repeat can help you get into a state of “flow.”
While sitting in a crowded Flatiron café in Manhattan one day, I found that elusive state harder than ever to attain, so I played “The War” on repeat. I found the combination of its gentle instrumental score, soft vocals from singer (and fellow photographer) Woodson Black, and subtle beats to be a perfect companion to my long stretches of uninterrupted work (this site plays videos on repeat for as long as you want).
For me, traveling is a form of meditation. As I mostly travel alone, I often find myself with no steady companion for long stretches of time. “On Being” helps me tap into travel’s more spiritual side. Tippett’s conversations with thought leaders across different disciplines are rich with insight on the human condition.
On a 19-hour train ride across Vietnam I listened to an episode that delved into the best mystical traditions: “In the beginning, there was only darkness, the source of life. And then, our world emerged from the heart of the darkness as a great ray of light…There was an accident and the vessels containing the light of the world broke. It was scattered into a thousand fragments and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world.”
“The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak
I first traveled to Turkey in the dead of winter in 2013. It was a miserable year for me, and the eight-day trip sparked a transformation that is still ongoing. I fell in love with the country and its history and traditions somewhere between the minarets of Istanbul and the rolling hills near Izmir.
I recently had the opportunity to go to Konya and visit the tomb of the 13th century Sufi mystic Mevlana Rumi. On a flight back to the U.S., I picked up “The Forty Rules of Love,” eager to enter the world of Rumi once more. Elif Shafak’s seductive prose paints that world effortlessly, telling the story of Rumi’s transformation into the famous mystic we know today. Like a skillful dervish, Shafak whirls together the worlds of bygone Persia and the Ottoman Empire with modern day Massachusetts. Just as our plane was landing in Chicago, I turned the last page and, with it, the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to a friend overcame me.