3 months of travel, almost 3 left

Today marks 3 months of travel for me – 92 days away from home! I left my life as I knew it in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada on the 1st of May, and am currently the only living being in the “common room” in the only hostel in the city of Jajce, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, celebrating the 3-month milestone of my travels by enjoying a Nikšićko beer. Perhaps not optimal, but I think three months around Europe deserves at least a beer, no?

During the past three months, I’ve been to Spain, France, Spain again, Portugal, Morocco, Spain again, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, and Bosnia. And just to remind you (as much as myself) where I’ll be headed to the next few months, I plan on touching ground in Serbia, England, Germany, Belgium, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Serbia again, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

Highlights?

When I meet people and tell them how long I’m travelling and how long I’ve been travelling, they naturally ask about my favourite moments and experiences. And I’m unable to provide answers. Seriously? Yes! How am I to narrow down and select from the many blessings over the past three months? Every day is amazing, every time I set foot in a place that I haven’t been before is amazing, every time I’ve had the fortune of revisiting a place for the xth time is amazing, every time I’m among natural beauty is amazing, every time I meet a fellow human being in this world who contributes something to my way of thinking is amazing…

Case in point: Today, I took a day trip to the town of Travnik, about an hour and a half from Jajce by bus. After leisurely visiting the hilltop fortress, I met a souvenir vendor who made conversation with me. We ended up talking for half an hour, about where I was from, my life in Canada, what I studied in university, where I was travelling, my last job, his previous job, the War in the 1990s, the political situation in Bosnia (presently and historically), religion in Bosnia, and why ćevapi in Travnik is unique and the most delicious ćevapi in Bosnia…

Before this encounter, this man was just another human among the 7 billion that inhabit this Earth. Now, although in all likelihood I’ll likely never see him again, he’s someone who shared a sincere conversation with me, whose face I’ll remember, who’ll be a highlight of my day on 31 July 2013…

But here are some highlights…

on the Camino de Santiago

on the Camino de Santiago

inside the tent

inside the tent

Having a friend visit me on my layover at Newark International Airport; exploring Villeneuve-lès-Avignon; meeting up with a friend in Toulouse; walking the Camino de Santiago and all the blessings during that wonderful 32 days; arriving at the central square in Santiago de Compostela, looking up at the imposing Cathedral and having tears trickling down my face uncontrollably; celebrating the Festa de São João in Porto; riding a camel in the Sahara and sleeping in a tent in the desert in Morocco; fending off a mugger in Casablanca; battling a GI infection in Vienna; climbing the Untersberg mountain outside Salzburg; relaxing in Lake Bohinj in Slovenia; hiking up a hill in Bled to get a truly magnificent view of the town; seeing the sun set in Sarajevo while sharing conversations with fellow travellers; and, of course, eating lots and lots of delicious, tantalizing food…

Speaking of food, among the things that I miss is regularity! There are days where I feel that everything is so disjointed, where I forget which city or country that I started the day in, where I crave a bit of routine! And so, one thing I do that to alleviate this that works well for me is to go grocery shopping and cook a meal for myself. And it’s great, because there’s the routine in simply wandering the aisles of a grocery store or an open-air market looking for things on my list, and then there’s the novelty in the produce and products that are for sale, and the manner in which you buy them, and figuring out how much things cost, and wondering if that head of lettuce really only cost €0.27 at a farmers’ market in Guimarães! Similarly, cooking at the hostel is that mix of familiar and unknown – there’s the routine of cooking and preparing a meal, and then there’s the novelty of making do with a limited set of pots and pans, absent kitchen utensils, very dull knives, stoves that take forever to heat up, realizing that there’s no oil/salt/pepper and having to improvise…

What keeps me going?

Sarajevo just before sunset

Sarajevo just before sunset

I never set out to have everything planned or set in stone when I decided to travel for six months. There are things, mainly flights, that are generally set, and I have to schedule a general idea of my travel plans within these flight dates. However, I’ve come to appreciate not knowing exactly what I’ll be doing, where I’m necessarily going next, and when that will happen. I love today, the possibilities that can arise today, and the surprises that are literally just around the corner that I can never plan. These unexpected, incalculable surprises perhaps might be what I savour most…

Happy travels!

Lake Bled and surrounding town

Lake Bled and surrounding town

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