If all goes well, you will actually be reading this on or around my 10 month anniversary of traveling. I say that because I am writing it from the village of Shing, which is located in the Zerafshan Valley in western Tajikistan. While I have a so-called 3G mini-modem here, the coverage has been anything but 3G so I am relying on my friend and fellow travel blogger, Ali Garland of Ali’s Adventures, to get this up for me. Thanks Ali!
In addition to marking 10 months of my career break travels, I realized last week – on June 25 to be exact – that I had reached 300 days of traveling. For whatever reason, 300 days just feels a lot longer than 10 months! Regardless, I sort of found myself in awe of the fact that I have made it this far. Not that I am trying to toot my own horn or pat myself on the back, but I have had so many struggles and difficulties along the way, I am somewhat surprised at myself that I am still going.
At the same time, no matter how difficult things got early on, I can’t say I ever seriously considered calling it quits. The closest I came was searching for roundtrip flights from Warsaw to Chicago around the holidays, thinking that instead of ringing in the New Year in Poland, I could make a quick trip home instead. Obviously, I ultimately decided against that.
Of course, there have been plenty of good times and great memories to balance out the tough ones. So in honor of 10 months and 300 days, I thought I’d take a look back at the ones that stand out the most (in chronological order ‘cause heaven forbid I try to pick a favorite).
— Finishing the Tallinn Marathon with a new personal best.
— Spending time with my 11 year old host brother Phillip in St. Petersburg. One of six adopted kids, Phillip seemed so lonely and desperate for attention; my heart went out to him. Several times he invited me to join him as he wandered around the beach and woods near the Bay of Finland. As most of that homestay experience was a bust, hanging out with Phillip was a highlight.
— Playing in the snow on the north end of Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal.
— Hiking in the Stolby Nature Reserve outside of Krasnoyarsk when it was -12F.
— Going to a hockey game in Riga, Latvia.
— Touring a Soviet bunker outside of Vilnius, Lithuania.
— Visiting the Khatyn Memorial, Mir and Nyasvizh outside of Minsk, Belarus with local Yuliya and her husband Andrei.
— Arriving in Batumi, Georgia (after being stuck on a boat for 5 days, the happiest moment of my trip may have been when I finally set foot on dry land in Batumi!).
— Drinking cognac with three Georgians on the overnight train from Batumi to Tbilisi.
— Easter weekend in Yerevan – coloring Easter eggs, visiting the History Museum, lunch with Rita, Easter dinner with my host family, bargaining and chatting in Russian at the Vernissage Market, a Monday afternoon game of touch football and lots and lots of drinking and dancing.
— Visiting Davit Gareja in Georgia with two girls I met at my hostel in Tbilisi.
— Pretty much all of the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Umbria, but especially dinner and drinks in Assisi and the post-conference trip to Spoleto, Orvieto and Todi.
— Pretty much the whole week I spent in Istanbul hanging out with Akila, Patrick, Anil, Nailah and Priyank.
— My last night out in Yerevan (the second time around).
— Dinner with Sylvia in Tbilisi.
— Hiking (and donkey riding!) with my host family around the village of Shing here in Tajikistan. Shown below are 10 year old Mehron, 10 year old Farhuanda and 12 year old Mohpisand.
I have three more months to go and hopefully many more great memories to add to these!