Monday, July 2, 2012

One month in...

I'm now one month into the trip. It feels longer though, since every day here feels like two or three. I thought I'd do a little reflection on what's happened so far.

  • Seeing a lot of new places. Each one has been special and beautiful in its own way.
  • Being alone. It can be wonderful doing exactly what I want, when I want. I've also had a lot of time to think about a lot of things and a chance to reflect.
  • Meeting interesting people. In the hostels and on day trips I've met a lot of very nice, helpful people.
  • Food. Very, very delicious food. And finding that favorite restaurant in each new place I go to.
  • Filling in my mental map. A lot of these places have always been very vague in my mind, but now I have a much better idea of their histories and what they're like.
  • Widespread Wi-Fi. I've been really impressed in some places (Tallinn, for example) with the number of free hotspots.
  • McDonald's. I very rarely go to McDonald's in the U.S., but it's my favorite place when traveling. Why? Free bathrooms AND Wi-Fi. It's incredible.

  • Being alone. This is on both lists because it really is a bit of both. Along with the good, it can make things more difficult. There's no one who knows you, so a lot of conversations are "small talk." Two heads can be better when it comes to finding directions or making decisions. It can also be not as safe when you're alone, so I err on the side of caution and don't always do as much as I would have if someone else were with me.
  • No water fountains. The tap water is usually potable (I drink it anyway, because who's going to spend half of their budget on bottles of water?) but it can be tough to find a place in the middle of the day to refill.
  • Paying for toilets. WHY???
  • So. Many. Buses. And trains, and boats, and trams, and ....
  • Hostel living. You learn a lot about the strange habits and quirks that complete strangers have. It's so odd.
  • Smoking. I always forget how popular it is.

This has also been interesting so far because it's been different than most of my travels. I usually am going places I have some knowledge of (language, culture, history), but this time I've gone in a bit blind. Of course tourist maps have been helpful, as well as books and the internet, but it's a very different kind of traveling. I guess I don't feel as invested as I generally do - a bit more separated emotionally. Like an "Oh, well that's nice" rather than a "That's amazing!"

Time has also been very strange. The freedom of having absolutely no plans can really be a double-edged sword. All of a sudden you're completely responsible for filling up your day with things to do, so time seems to go so much slower. I plan out my day, head out, see everything on my list, check the clock and it's only been two hours. The question of the trip so far has been, "So now what?"

Overall I've been enjoying my time. I am definitely looking forward to the next month though. Just under two weeks until I meet up with the family in Norway!

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