1. Traveling Right, Traveling Wrong

    NOTE: This post is very long and full of feelings. If you are here mostly for travel photos, this is not the post you’re looking for.

    I read a lot of travel blogs now, so I know that a lot of great things, and a lot of really terrible things, can happen to you when you go nomad.

    Travel blogger Kate McCulley wrote a blog about her trepidation leaving her parents and worrying about her success far from home prior to leaving for southeast Asia in 2010.

    I think her articulation of her fears is a sentiment shared by nearly everyone who takes this level of risk, whether in travel or something else. We’re courting a lot of chance. What if this doesn’t work out?

    Travel is very romanticized. It is a stigmatized level of ungratefulness to get the chance to travel overseas and come back with complex feelings about what has happened to you instead of simple, gushy ones. In part, I’m writing this to remind us all that this mindset isn’t always fair to us. The world is a complex place, and we ourselves are complex.

    By nature, I’m an overplanner. I take daily excursions into travel forums. I have Google doc itineraries and Pinterest boards for everywhere a person could possibly want to go. But on the grandest scale, a trip like this is something you can’t overplan. Either you do it or you don’t.

    I don’t think I can live a life where “or you don’t” is permitted to rule my decisions.

    This chart reminds me that I shouldn’t let it. It’s pinned above my desk at work (at least for the next two months that I have a desk).

    image

    The chart would suggest that my energy would be better spent ANYWHERE else, even making a Pinterest board about Thailand rock climbing locations, than worrying about what happens if I fail.

    But I’ve actually gotten lucky with worries about this move going poorly. You see, I have a weapon that many others don’t.

    It already happened to me.

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  2. Sad update on the hotel room.

    It was a glitch and they wouldn’t honor the room rate.

    Whatever, Italy.

     
  3. You’re paying US$17 per night for 2 guests.
    That’s below the Forcola average of US$133 per night for a 3 star hotel!
    — booking.com, to me, a second ago, when I just got a hotel room for 87% off
     
  4. Three Cities That Deserve a Second Chance

    I was compelled to write this post after reading Matt Long’s post Five More Cities That Deserve a Second Chance. I, too, have cities that probably could have been better experiences in different circumstances and with which I would like to try again someday.

    Berlin

    I didn’t dislike Berlin, but I think I could have gotten more out of my visit. Mark and I weren’t getting along for part of the time (in particular, we had an argument that I don’t remember on a nighttime cruise that I subsequently didn’t even write about because my enjoyment was so limited), and that probably affected my mood as well, but the other consideration is just that I didn’t get to experience everything I wanted to. I found myself annoyed with the urban sprawl of Berlin. There were some great moments—if I went back, I would focus on being present in them more.

    Miami

    I have this completely irrational disdain of Miami. I’ve only spent about three days there, and most of that was in transit, but I didn’t even bother going to Miami Beach area. I’m not really a partier, and I guess I have always assumed that Miami therefore didn’t have much to offer me beyond nice weather. But how would I know that? I didn’t even try.

    The impetus for publishing this list was that in a fit of melancholy about the bad winter weather (yes, in North Carolina; yes, I know others had it worse!), I decided to go to Miami this coming weekend. As I only booked it to be outside for 2 straight days, I thought, it didn’t so much matter whether I found it charming. Still, this is my opportunity to give it a chance, and I will try to do so.

    Seoul

    The first few weeks that I was in Korea, everything was totally enthralling; for most of the time after that, I hated everything and had to force myself into every new experience, with varying results. I know Seoul is a great, interesting, vibrant city, but I think of it with bitterness and gloom. A trip back might let me change that.

     
  5. image: Download

    Throwback Monday: Niagara Falls, Ontario, December 2012. From the observation tower.

    Throwback Monday: Niagara Falls, Ontario, December 2012. From the observation tower.

     
  6. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.
    — Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
     
  7. New Year, New World: Update on My Traveling Future

    My plans for the new year are the most ambitious that I’ve ever had. They start out as a trickle and move into a flood.

    While I don’t have any international trips planned until the spring, I plan to get lots of hiking in around this area to condition myself for the upcoming April/May trip to Peru.

    We will be in Peru for two weeks, seeing Lima, Ica/Huacachina, and Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and finally hiking the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu is a dream of mine, so I have high hopes for the trip.

    imageMachu Picchu (image source)

    In June, two important things are happening!

    1) We’re getting married.

    2) Our apartment lease is up.

    I’m aware that most people make sure they can handle any rent increase, renew their lease payments, and move on with life and planning a wedding.

    The truth is, I’m just not that person. I don’t know if I ever will be. Instead, Mark and I have decided to do something that’s more in line with our goals and passions.

    In July, we will be flying to Italy. For about a month, we’re going to backpack from Milan, Lake Como, and the Dolomites down through the Amalfi Coast and Sicily.

    imageMilan’s Duomo (image source Wikipedia)

    When we feel ready, we’re going to fly to Bangkok. From August through time indefinite, we will be working as freelancers using Chiang Mai, Thailand, as a base. We hope to visit most of the countries in Southeast Asia.

    That’s everything that’s been planned, because I’m working on my spontaneity. But this year is what I’ve been working toward my whole life. Ever since the first time I went to another country just four years ago and felt that spark, even though the country mainly spoke English and was right next door, perhaps lacking in obvious exoticism.

    When the plane took off from YYZ to transport me back to the midwest where I grew up and went to school, it unhinged a panel in my brain that unleashed everything I needed to know about the world. That this was the truth of possibility: there was no limitation on my life after all. All I needed was my feet and the dream and I could feel that takeoff forever.

    Things are so much different for me now, but that isn’t different.

    I’m ready to feel that takeoff forever.

     
  8. ethereo:

    Erik WitsoeWinter in Prague

    I wish it had snowed while we were there.

    I mean… aesthetically, I wish that.

     
  9. Kutna Hora: Inhabitants Past and Present

    The second to last day of our trip, we took the brief excursion to Kutna Hora, about an hour away by train. This was a special day trip for me because, unbeknownst to me until a couple weeks before we left for Europe, Mark has family members who live there. Being able to meet them, see the sights they thought were important, eat their delicious food, and hear their stories (using Mark as an interpreter, as my Czech is limited and fluent English is less common outside of the vibrant Prague metro area) made this day very meaningful.

    It just goes to prove that meeting locals is a valuable part of any trip if you can manage to do so. It’s the best way to see things you wouldn’t have thought up yourself and view your destination in a new way.

    Most people go to Kutna Hora to look at the Kostnice Sedlec—the Sedlec Ossuary, a below-ground church decorated with bones exhumed from those who were once buried in the graveyard there.

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  10. John Lennon Wall, Prague