When The Paradox Comes Full Circle

When I was away, I missed home. I longed for the routine of my life as it was the way I left it.

And now that I’m home, I don’t know why I ever wanted to come back in the first place.

I don’t have much here. But I guess before I left the dizzying busy-ness of planning my trip and the excitement that came with it distracted me from all that my life lacked.

I miss waking up everyday with a new place to see. With new people to meet and new friends to make. It was easy, there, everyone was alone. It was easy to start up conversation. To identify fellow Americans or other English speakers who were also traveling. You can meet someone anywhere and end up spending the whole day, weekend, or week with them. I miss having different countries at my fingertips each day.

I had to come back… to finish my degree so I can go back again once I’m finished here. I might not have much but I have to appreciate what I have.

The paradox of missing home when you’re away, and missing everywhere else when you’re home… a vicious cycle of constant yearning. I am restless yet exhausted.

Until next time.

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Dolce Far Niente 

Being born and raised in New York/New Jersey, I have always lived a fast paced life. I walk fast, I drive fast, I’m impatient as hell, and I feel as though I have always been in a rush. Moving to Florida definitely slowed down my pace a bit, but I still drive too fast and sometimes struggle with taking things slowly. Enjoying the minutes as they pass. Rushing through life. 

This trip has allowed me to slow myself down. To take time during my meals and to truly enjoy myself. I think in American culture, there is so much pressure to do things quickly, especially in the restaurant business, that you don’t even get time to enjoy yourself. I always found it weird when people would order their appetizers and finish them before ordering their main meal, because I always want my food as fast as possible. Granted, I’m usually kind of a hangry bitch, but still. Now I understand. Now I understand because I have learned to take my time, move at a slower pace and enjoy myself. 

I stretched out dinner for 2.5 hours while gazing at the Eiffel Tower from my AirBnb. I sat in the south of France on the Port of Marseille and sipped wine while enjoying every last bite of cheese and bread offered to me. If I have learned anything, enjoying myself is not sitting in bed and watching Netflix – it is enjoying every minute I have, without thinking about the next day or the past. I learned patience.

On this trip, this 90 day, 15 country, 45 city trip, I have learned about myself and what I am capable of. I have become comfortable with who I am and have only been unapologetically myself. I did not tuck myself away like I do a lot of the time. I let everyone I met see me for me. I have met so many people and I am so thankful for all of them, whether we just sat and talked at a bar or ended up meeting again in our journeys, the people I met made my trip what it was. 

Going home, sitting in Heathrow Airport, it feels surreal but I feel calm and ready. It’s hard to believe I am at the end of my road. No more mental strain on where I am off to next. No more planning. Now I can focus on school, and focus on coming back here, and one day making a life for myself here in Europe. 

That is the plan. 

I’ll be back.


Energized and Exhausted All at Once

Leaving to go home is just as surreal as coming here was, except at home I will at least know what to expect. 

My last days were spent doing relatively nothing. I am not necessarily tired of traveling, but I am tired of being a tourist. Doing touristic things. Surrounded by people who have no self awareness or know how to walk. If/when I do this again, I don’t want to be a tourist in the summer; I want it to be off season – less people, less heat, less money. 

When I got to London on Saturday, I napped and rode the metro around a bit and made my way to see Big Ben. It was right beside me the second I got off the metro. I tried to make my way down the street to Buckingham Palace, but the streets were so packed you could barely walk. It just wasn’t what I was in the mood for, and I don’t regret not taking advantage of my time there. 

I am more excited to go home than I ever imagined I would be. I am looking forward to going back to work and making money. I am looking forward to going back to school. I truly do feel energized. I’m ready. I took my time off and I’m ready to jump back in, full force. It’s going to be an incredibly busy semester, but I have never felt more ready, and I couldn’t be happier about that. 

Doing this… looking back on it… I can’t believe I really did it. I got through it. And it was so easy. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. And I’m so excited to do it again one day, but totally differently. If this experience and life in general have taught me anything it is that I can literally do whatever I want. Whatever I set my mind to. 

I was talking to a girl from back home who is only a year younger than me, who is struggling with where she is in life and has a lot to figure out. I gave her a brief insight into my life and what I’ve overcome. I look back at the worst times in my life, getting into serious trouble, dating the worst people, not caring about myself or my education, and I think back to that person and sometimes I can’t really believe it was me. It’s like speaking in third person. She did this. She did that. She had a bad reputation. But it was all me. I did those things. I had a bad reputation. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve come so far. And now I’ve seen so much. I’ve been to so many places. I’ve experienced different cultures and have fallen in love with them. And I love my life. 

If you were to tell me this is what I would be doing five years ago, I would have called bullshit. But so much has happened in five years. I thought I had been through it all when I was only 17 but it was only just the beginning. My childhood and adolescence were the worst times of my life but I am so thankful for the experience and the hurdles I have had to jump over. Not a lot has been straight up given to me. I’ve had to earn it all. I am more thankful for my shitty childhood than most people ever would be because I have moved on from it and I have grown from it. I don’t linger in the past. And no matter how much I complain and bitch, I really do love my life and the way that I am living it.

On this journey I have met so many people. So many ages from so many places, traveling for their own reasons. And it has inspired me in so many ways. Some people work in hostels for accommodation, some do other farming jobs or workaways, and I have learned so much from these people and what they do. There are so many ways to travel the world and the world needs more curious people. 

I loved seeing so much in so much time but I am already looking forward to coming back so I can do things so much differently. I didn’t know what I was in for and I didn’t know about the number of opportunities there are out here. I can’t wait to spend more time in fewer places. Return to some places and see even more. But I am definitely ready to go back home for now. I am energized and exhausted all at once. Energized for life but exhausted from constantly moving around. I miss a routine. And one day I will create a routine in a country over here. But until then… school will come first. And I will enjoy my days on the beach. Loving life. As always.

The Clock is Ticking… 

It’s really starting to hit me that I’m leaving soon. In less than a week it’s back to my life. Back to reality. Back to school and work. No longer a tired mind from traveling but an exhausted one from the repetition of my days. Back to work. Back to school. 
This is the end of my journey. This is the end of my exploration. For now. I feel like I’m waiting, wasting time to go home, the clock is ticking…. and it feels all the more real now. This is it. These are my final moments. It all started to sink in as I was sitting on the metro in Paris. I’m making the most of it as best as I can. I canceled my hostel accommodation because it was 45 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. I booked an AirBnb last minute with a view of the Eiffel Tower from my window. 7th floor, no elevator, no wifi, no fridge. The view makes up for all that it lacks. All I wanted was to be able to truly feel like I was in Paris while I was in Paris. 
I’ve been living in a dream. A fantasy. Fulfilling what I’ve always wanted. Seeing what I’ve always wanted to see. And it’s flown faster than any bird I’ve ever seen fly. This experience gave me wings. It brought me to life. It gave me life. And it’s made me appreciate the simplicity of my life at home. It’s made me miss shitty filter coffee and laying in bed watching Netflix. Sitting on the beach for hours, reading, smoking, and getting lost in a summer haze. I have learned to appreciate my moments and my time. I have learned to treat myself. To do what I want when I want rather than what anyone else wants. 
I have learned to not have expectations. I have learned that cities are less magical than movies make them out to be. Everywhere you go has its own characteristics. Its own flow of life. And I have fallen in love with some of the cultures I have discovered and the people in different countries.
4 days left… the clock is ticking. 

The Simplicity of Home

I love where I live. That’s no secret. The beach is where I spend a lot of my time, waiting for the sun to set. I spend hours and hours sitting on the seashore. Sometimes reading. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing. I figured while I traveled I would get my fix of beaches elsewhere. The coasts of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece were all beautiful in their own ways. I enjoyed being there and appreciated their beauties. But it isn’t the same.

The beauty of being home is knowing where to go to escape the crowds. But here I am a tourist. In some places my time has been limited. I haven’t been able to truly appreciate my solitude along the shore. Nowhere has managed to give me the same feeling I get when I am back home, sitting on my blanket, watching the waves crash, with no one around me as day turns to night. Sun setting, moon rising.

I miss and love the powder, white sand. The small crabs that pop out of their holes, watching me intently. The birds that fly by and stare at the sea the same way I do. Living in Florida for the last three years has changed me. I never imagined such a positive impact. To have such a relationship with nature. I love the shore more than anything. And no matter where I am, or how beautiful it is, nowhere gives me the same feeling I get when I am back home. Because that is where I became who I am. That’s what I miss the most. The calm feeling, the simplicity of home. 

Old Habits Die Hard // Expectations Ruin Reality 

I went from a tired mind of school and work and school and work to hostels, bars, and sight seeing. Something different everyday but somehow almost the same. I was definitely more social when I first started my trip as opposed to now. I would go on pub crawl after pub crawl. I would try to involve myself as often as I could, as if I weren’t comfortable being alone, but I always was. With a slower pace, I am more alone, and I enjoy it. I don’t feel obligated to do anything or see anything or socialize, because let’s be real, I’m just not the most social person in the world most of the time. Even back home, I hang out with maybe 3 people outside of work and school. I’ll go out every so often but I don’t party until 3 or 4am. I relate closer to a grandma than I do a person my own age. When I first started traveling, I was excited and social, but no matter what, old habits die hard, and I am forever an introvert living in a very social world. I don’t socialize out of obligation at this point on my trip, and I don’t do anything because I feel like I “have to” or would be missing out if I didn’t. A lot of people come to these big cities to party. I came to enjoy myself in food and culture, without necessarily getting hammered every night of the week.
And I’m enjoying myself. I might even be enjoying myself more now than I did when I started my trip. I’ve gotten into a nice groove all by myself. I enjoy planning my days according to myself, my budget, and my energy. I’m comfortable going into a bar by myself and sitting there with a beer and perhaps a journal to jot down some thoughts in. Limited amounts of social energy is a real thing and I find it more than necessary to recharge frequently. If I don’t, I get physically and emotionally tired. Reserved and inattentive. And I’m comfortable doing everything alone. Even sight seeing. I don’t need someone with me and if I want to socialize, then I will. 

Last night I went to a cool, underground bar in Prague. I had asked my walking tour guide for a good place to drink a beer that isn’t loaded with tourists and he recommended it. He said it wasn’t necessarily full of tourists, but not necessarily locals either – a lot of people from all over the place who moved to Prague and work there, or travelers. So I went. When you walk in, there’s a black metal gate door restricting you from walking right downstairs. You get a “chip” bracelet that you put money on and then you order beer or any other drink based off of how much money is on your chip, and if you run out, you just run upstairs and reload it. 
I put 100CZK on my chip, figuring I wouldn’t be there for more than 2 beers (most beers are 35-50CZK) and the guy buzzed me through the gate. I walked through and was met with darkness and stairs. “Downstairs?” I stupidly asked, because there were literally only one set of stairs. He joked and said “no, upstairs” and I made my way down. At the bottom of the first set of stairs was a big Irish wolfhound, laying there, uninterested in me passing by. At the bottom of the second set of stairs were a few old swings, to the right a brightly lit room with foosball tables, and to the left was darkness with some LED lights. I walked down the hall and found a “tea” bar and looked confused. An old man was sitting next to it and I said, “beer?” And he smiled and pointed down the hall. I got my beer and found a seat in the main area; it was early so it was pretty empty. There were two people sitting on stage, one playing guitar, and then a few other people just sitting and chatting. I sat there, sipping my beer, writing. As I finished my first beer and went up for my second, more people were slowly starting to pour in. One of the girls close to me was definitely an American, so when the other two people she was sitting with left, I asked her where she was from. 
We ended up talking for a while, and then more people came over to talk to us, and I ended up reloading my chip for more beer. On the other side of the bar was live music and I didn’t even notice it until the few people I was with all decided to wander around. Oddly enough I ended up meeting more Americans than anything else, but it still wasn’t that touristy. The Czechs talked to each other, and the English speakers talked to each other. Before I knew it, it was midnight, and I think I ended up walking home around 1. The bar was very close to my hostel, so before I headed inside, I grabbed some chips and took a seat outside. A homeless man decided to lay down right next to me before security took him away. 
For a city that I didn’t plan on going out in, on a night that I didn’t plan on staying out, and for desiring my alone time, I had the best time. I think the best things happen when you don’t want them to, or expect them to. 
Everything happens when you least expect it. Expectations always ruin living. 

Experiencing True Luxury While Traveling

Luxury is not 5-star hotels and all inclusive resorts. Luxury is taking your time. Luxury is not rushing, or having to cram an entire city into a day. There’s no way to see it all, or to appreciate what you’re seeing when you’re always in a rush. Instead, all you think about is where you have to go, and what you have to see next, rather than just being in the moment of where you are. I think my small bouts of home sickness are less of a desire to be home and more of a desire to simply stay put. Real luxury and relaxation is being able to unpack my things for a few nights and not be on the move again in just a night or two. When you’re always on the move, hopping from city to city at such a fast pace, you almost miss out on more just because it’s nearly impossible to keep your energy up long enough to see all that there is to see. And without that energy, it becomes harder to appreciate when every move you make is trying to make sure you’re not missing out on anything. 
I have learned to take my time. I am finally at a slower pace, with only 26 days left in my trip, and only 7 cities left. I am on my fourth day here in Vienna, while the first was spent mainly settling in and napping. I have become familiar with the city. I have spent my time browsing Naschmarkt each day, walking back and forth from the city centre, making meals at my hostel, and simply just taking my time.
Luxury is not setting an alarm nor feeling obligated to be a tourist for 12 hours of the day. Luxury is not exhausting yourself to feel fulfilled. Luxury is sitting in a booth of red velvet in the oldest cafe in Vienna, drinking coffee, eating a plum strudel, and writing. As long as you buy at least a drink in any coffee shop in Vienna, you can sit and stay for as long as you want. This cafe, Cafe Frauenhuber, is the oldest in Vienna. Mozart and Beethoven both once performed here. I feel as though I am a guest in someone’s home, as there is no music playing, and very few people for what you would think would be a very touristic location. 
Luxury is not five star hotels. Luxury is not even a resort with luxury in the name. Luxury is taking your time. This is what I have learned. I have no regrets regarding the way that I planned my trip. I have seen and enjoyed 11 countries and 31 cities in the two months that have flown by. I had to do what I did in order to see what I wanted to see in the amount of time I had. Now I know where I will want to come back to. I still have so much to see but I will be moving at a slower pace. I get a few nights in Brno, Czech, before I move onto Prague for 4 nights, and then I am in Denmark for over a week. There is no summer long enough that would ever allow me to explore all that I want to explore, but so much of the beauty of travel is staying in a place long enough to really know where you are. I know I will be back… but not nearly soon enough.