With that, I went. I traveled, and I found ways to survive. I ended up staying abroad for nearly eight months – from the moment I left in April, I didn’t turn back until this past November. I started in Spain and wandered quite aimlessly indeed, flying to Morocco, back to Europe to France, by train to Italy, and once I reached Venice, I settled down for a little over six weeks. I took a few short trips during this time to Belgium and Luxembourg, and then to Slovenia and Croatia. As my Schengen Visa neared its expiration date, I went on a ten day trek, traveling through parts of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. I then flew to Dublin, Ireland, where I wandered around the country for a couple of months in a strange figure eight routing. I snuck in Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks before crossing a bit of water, where I found myself in Scotland. I visited Glasgow for a few days before gathering a rental car, for one of the more exciting parts (or at least I thought so) of my trip thus far. I drove from Glasgow to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and from there I visited several rural areas and interesting towns. I wandered through the mesmerizing Highlands and the moody Glencoe Pass, before finding myself crossing the Skye Bridge over to the Isle of Skye. After driving around the island, I turned back for the main land of Scotland, where I drove to Loch Ness, followed it north to Inverness, before going east to follow the coast south to St. Andrews. From there, I returned the car to Glasgow, hopped on a bus, then a train, where I found myself touring a couple of English towns, by the name of York and Cambridge. For years, I’ve ogled at the photos taken in Iceland, and I thought of no better way to end my journey, but to proceed to London, where I spent a few days, prior to my flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. I gave London another try, since the first time I wasn’t a huge fan of the experience I had, before jumping on my flight over.
All in all, my nearly eight month trek was a great experience – I met a lot of great people, had some amazing experiences, tried a lot of new things, yet overall, I learned the most about myself, and about life. Travel truly transforms a person to become a more versatile, open, raw and broken (yet beautifully so), and a more developed being. Throughout this trip, I made friends in the strangest ways in some of the most exciting places, I was challenged to adapt to completely different cultures and a way of doing things, I ate some rather interesting dishes, I was on my own to adapt alone for months on end, I hiked some of the most amazing landscapes on earth, I was humbled, I was challenged, and I loved, and I was changed, and I forged everlasting friendships in every country I visited – and for that, I am forever grateful.
Although, spending the better part of a year traveling aimlessly abroad sounds luxurious and amazing, many of the times were difficult, they were sad, and they were lonely. Travel challenges you to submerse yourself, to see, but not to simply view. It makes you analyze and understand at an immense level. For you’re not only experiencing the culture, the people, and their struggles, and their truths – you’re also set face-to-face with yourself. You’re struck with the beauty of your strengths, and the horror of your weaknesses – for all judgmental and egotistical behavior and thought-processes are destroyed, and you’re left with the raw, weak, tender, shaking, skinless, wall-less, real version of yourself, and theirs no mistaking who you are then. For travel is more than the external adventure, it’s more about finding yourself. Without tests, trials and tribulations, you never really know how strong you really are. Without being pushed to your limits, how else will you know the extent of your character – and when push comes to shove, without this experience, how will you know that you can get through anything that comes your way.
It seems I’ve done my usual off-subject run, flitting from one idea and finishing on a completely different notion. Anyway, what I was saying is that, yes, my trip was an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful that I was able to do what I did, but the year wasn’t perfect, by any means. It was tough at times, it was great at times, but in the end I am a better person for it.
Last year, I wrote a little article outlining the past year’s major disappointments, while listing off some of the things I wished to accomplish in 2013. I stated some things, like gain fiscal stability from my work, travel to twice as many countries as the year before, and to not fall into the same old self-destructive tendencies that I had in the past. In these, I succeeded, but there were others, that I did not quite accomplish, like that of finish my first European trek’s narrative novella, completely take control of my health (I will say that I eat a lot better now, but I have to start working out more, for sure), and releasing a couple of ebooks. I know that I won’t have success in every area of my life that my greedy little mind can dream up, but with proper effort and passion, I can at least accomplish what’s most important to me – and that is to apply my time and talent for the gain of others, influencing improvement and inspiring change.