A Common Story

There is a common story amongst travelers, a story of risk that results in an expansion of something in your chest.  These stories revolve around those we meet and the sudden spark that happens.  These are my favorite type of stories, and every traveler has one.  How each one starts and evolves is different but how they end is ever so common.

My biggest advice for you is take the risk, and although it made not result in what you hoped, it will make for the most interesting story on your trip.

So how does it start. Very simple, like a story straight out of a book.  Two individuals meet in a foreign place.  The initiation is simple, “Hello, I’m (fill in the blank).

Two people from different worlds, different languages, different cultures, yet your conversations flow endlessly to a rhythm that never loses beat.

Day turns into night and you discover more about each other.  You begin to notice little details that make you more attracted to them. The wrinkle above her nose when she smiles.  His contagious laugh.

You both act coy, trying not to seem overly interested and even though others seek your attention you continuously engage in conversation with each other, eager to learn more about this perfect stranger.

Nothing is ever set in stone and even when a night is looking promising either party can still ruin these perfect moments.  The fact that we don’t know what the other person is thinking is what makes this ever so interesting and exciting.

Finally, the night is coming to a close, do I make a move or do I simply say good night.  Is he going to make a move?  Maybe he’s not interested.  Maybe I should just say goodnight.

The intensity builds up, you ago against your fears and kiss her.  She kisses you back.

The next morning you are asleep next to a perfect stranger.  Your arms around each other, finding yourself strangely comfortable.  You’ve been here before with an individual you’ve known for years, but this time you’ve only know this person for 24 hours.

A perfect sleep is ruined by a screeching alarm clock.  Reality sets in.  It’s time to go, your flight leaves in 2 hours, but then a strange thought hits you, “Maybe I should stay”.

You motion ever so gently to turn off the alarm clock and not wake her.  You failed.

She lays there and wonders, “Is he going to leave? Maybe he’ll stay”.

You make up your mind, “this is ludicrous, I’m staying the course……but maybe just maybe”

You lie there and watch him pack his bags reminding you that you both have different destinations, different paths, and different futures.

Neither wants this to end and both wish there was more time but they accept what it is, a perfect 24 hours, why ruin it.

They look at each other one last time, both hold back what they really want to say, “Stay!”, “I’m staying!”.

He kisses her goodbye.

All good things must come to an end, regardless if it last 24 hours or several days.  Both parties remain in contact, but eventually communication seizes as they return to their routine lives’.  Their moment together becomes a faint memory, but it will never disappear.

But every once in a while a song, an artifact, or a joke will remind them of each other and they smile is brought to their face.  They wonder, “I wonder what she/he is doing”.  They snap back to reality when their friend asks them, “What are you smiling about silly?”.  They respond, “Nothing….so what are we drinking?”

By now you are probably wondering if this has happened to me or if this story is directly from my own experience.  Perhaps, or maybe it belongs to a friend, really it’s a story that belongs to all us but in many different variations.  There are of course so many more details to this story that make it more intriguing and humorous, but I try to keep my blog posts short so I don’t lose your interest.

I have yet to hear a story that has ended differently, and although the ending is not what you want to hear, every traveler treasures these memories.  You can see it in their eyes and hear it in the enthusiasm of their voice.  This is why these are my favorite stories to hear, because they are real, touching, adventurous and straight risky.  Traveling exposes us to these experiences and trust me it will happen to you, it might even happen more than once.

Good luck out there fellow travelers, safe travels and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

 

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Toro! Toro! (Pamplona, how to survive the bull run)

Madrid had been a blast and after several nights of partying with new friends it was time to move on to Pamplona to attend the festival of San Fermin.  The festival of San Fermin is most famous for its bull run where thousands of people gather together for a week long celebration of the famous saint.

Originally I had no plans to be at this festival, for my Europe excursion was not meant to begin till August, but in an interesting turn of events I found myself leaving a month early, just in time for the festival.

My day began with a sleepless night as I shared a bunk with a friend whose phone went off throughout the night, in a room meant for 4 but 6 of us stayed in.  Tired and hungry I stumbled into the bus where I passed out for a couple of hours providing hours of entertainment for my friends as my head tilted back against my seat with my mouth wide open. A ticket to Pamplona should run about 30-40 Euros.

The festival kicks off with an epic sangria fight, which unfortunately I missed, but I arrived that weekend which probably had the highest attendance due to it being the weekend. Highly recommend going for the start of the festival, after all why wouldn’t you want to be drenched in sangria with thousands of people.

As I awoke from my slumber, I began to see the traditional outfit worn during the festival. White pants, white shirt, red sash, and red pañuelo will either be the outfit you die in, or the outfit you had the greatest time in.

We arrived early in the afternoon and after dawning our outfits we joined in the festivities. The plan was to take it easy and pace ourselves but after seeing a sea of people passed out on any patch of grass they could find, and another sea of people raging, I thought to myself, “fuck, I’m not ready for this, oh well time to rally (pounds copious amounts of alcohol to the face)”.

The next couple of hours can only be described in a montage of drinking, bull fighting, dancing, applauds, roaring crowds, dance parades, death and more drinking…good times.  In my drunken state I was determined to walk the course the bulls were going to run the following morning.  I wanted to be a bit prepared, after all I didn’t come all this way to be gored by a bull, but there was no way I was going to miss it either.

Accommodation

Hostels and Airbnb are booked out months in advance so plan accordingly.  The rates are also much higher for the event so budget for that as well.  I was lucky to find an Airbnb for like $90 bucks a night.  I know expensive but so worth it.  You can also camp in the local parks or sleep in the bus station like my friends did.

The Route (El Encierro)

The route the bulls run is walled off so they can’t escape and it stretches just over 800 meters. The street is narrow, and paved in cobblestone. One thing nobody told me was that the Spanish wash the street prior to the race to clear it of any debris, so you’ll be running on wet cobblestone, good luck. The run ends in the arena where more fun is to be had.

pamplona-bull-run-map

The Runners

Runners are made up of nationals and foreigners. Once the run starts its every man for himself. I say man because very few females participate in the run. The Spanish also frown upon it and authorities might remove a female from the run, sorry ladies. Being to intoxicated and having any form of picture/video device to take selfies will get you excluded from the run as well. Fellow runners are also your other threat. They will push and trample you, anything to escape from being impaled.

Dead Man’s Corner

Dead man’s corner is a sharp right turn along the route. The most consistent advice I received was to stick to the right because the Bulls will take a wide right turn and smash anyone on the left side. I had originally placed myself at dead mans corner so to avoid it during the run. Bad idea, for the police will kick everyone out beyond this point. They try to manage the size of the crowd and will boot as many people as they deem fit. Best way to avoid this is to position yourself as close to the start of the run as possible.

The Run

I slept an hour before the run and was still drunk when I awoke. I had lost my friends the night before but we found each other prior to the run. It was 5am and the sun was creeping up over the horizon.  Note to future runners you don’t have to be up by 5 am for the run isn’t till 8 am.  I just wanted to ensure that I had a spot.  You should be fine if you get there right before 7 am.  I mentioned that I got removed from the race because I was positioned near dead man’s corner.  I pleaded with the officer to let me stay in but she said to me, “Regresa el proximo ano” (come back next year).  I noticed several of other runners hop the fence and work their way around the police to find another entrance.  I rallied the troops and we followed these renegades.

The Bulls
Bullpen

It was a mad dash towards the beginning of the race, the one place we did not want to be. We found an opening between the fence and once again we were participants in the race.  Two Canadians, an Australian and an American waited nervously for the first rocket to go off.  The first rocket signaled the release of the bulls while the second rocket signaled that the bulls had reached the crowd. A minute before the race the crowd intensifies and an eerie chant echoes through the street.  I later found out that this was a prayer to the famous saint.  It was eerie enough to frighten the foreigners as they began to take off.

Less than 100 meters from the start I stood alone as my friends said, “fuck this shit mate, I’m out”.  I was determined to see the bulls before I started running.

BOOM! The first rocket goes off.  I thought to myself, “Ok I have some time still, bulls aren’t that fast, right?”

BOOM! Second rocket goes off seconds later. “OH SHIT!”

I see the horns and pack of bulls spreading the crowd of people like Moses did to the Red Sea.  I take off with no single thought in my head.  I can hear, “TORO! TORO!” coming from behind me along with the ever growing sound of hooves stomping on the cobblestone.  Moments later I feel the rush of the crowd push me towards the fence where a group of people had fallen giving up any chance to stand up.  Instead they huddled on the floor protecting their head.  I leaped over them as several massive blurs passed my peripheral.  Just like that the race was over, and I jogged the remainder of the way into the arena.

At the arena I found my friend and we celebrated our dash from death.  The crowd in the arena cheered the victorious runners.  The gates are shut and an announcer comes over the loud speaker announcing the release of a bull.

After The Run
Right after the bull run in the arena

Wait! What!

A single bull is released into the arena. We spend the next couple minutes avoiding the bull before deciding to hop the fence, but as my friend and I make our escape a Spanish officer pushes us back in.  A simple grin is all he gives us.  We spend another 15 minutes avoiding the bulls that are released into the arena before finding an unguarded side of the arena for us to hop the fence.  For the rest of the time we become spectators and watch the crazy Spanish agitate an already frustrated bull.  This goes on for a good while.

The best advice I can give you future runners is………..run, simply just run.  Good luck.

If you find yourself in Spain during the festival, make every effort to make your way to Pamplona, I promise you won’t regret it.  I highly encourage participating in the bull run as well because it is an unforgettable experience.  Regardless if you run or not, the Festival of San Fermin is a must do and you will have a great time.

Till next time friends.

 

 

The Rough Plan (Europe Itinerary 2015)

July 7, 2016    

A year ago today I hopped on a plane on my way to Europe for a 3 month trip.  Below in blue is a snapshot of the planning process.  It was a rough plan and many things changed during my trip, but take a look at it because you might find something useful.  The notes on the bottom were meant for a friend who took a similar trip.

Europe Trip 2015 August 3/4 – September/October

  1. Pick cheapest airport to depart from and cheapest country to arrive in.
  2. Plan route and see which city you will see last so that you can depart from.
  3. Choose must see cities and how long you will stay in each city.
  4. Find hostels in these cities.

The route, recommended days to spend and hostels

Pamplona 2                 Festival de San Fermin (Bulls Bitches)

Madrid 3                    

Lisbon  2                     

Lagos   2                      The Rising Cock

Seville 2                     

Cordoba 2                   

Granada 2                  

Barcelona 3  (18)        Kabul

Paris 3-4                      The Loft Boutique

London 3-4                  St. Christopher Village

Bruges   2                   

Amsterdam 2-3          Flying Pig Downtown

Berlin 3                       Wombat’s City

Prague 2-3                 

Budapest 3-4              Retox party hostel

Vienna 2  (43)

Munich                        September18-21  Ancher Point  Okterberfest baby!!!

Interlaken 2                 Balmers Herberge

Venice 2                     

Florence 2                  

Cinque Terre 2

Rome 3-4                   

Athens remainder       Pink House

  1. Have 88 days total including travel time.  Take away 10 days for travel and to regroup,  have about 78 days to see Europe. 
  1. Planned budget 10k fuck!  Time to work my ass off.  Target goal reached, but KEEP GOING!!

Spain-places to go according the sweet Spanish couple I met.

Seville

  1. Alcazar – royal palace
  2. Catedral (Seville Cathedral)
  3. Giralda Tower
  4. Parque de Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park) (Within this park is la Plaza de Espana)
  5. Jardines de Murillo (another park)
  6. University of Seville (not sure why they added this, might be historical)

Neighborhoods where you can find places to eat and drink.

  1. Plaza San Francisco
  2. Alameda de Hercules
  3. Triana
  4. Tablao el Arenal (restaurant with flamenco show)
  5. Barrio de Santa Cruz
  6. Casa Roman (restaurant)

Granada

  1. Alhambra (Palace)
  2. Centro y Alrededores (I think this is some kind of downtown area)

Cordoba

  1. Mezquita Catederal (Mosque of Cordoba)

Madrid

  1. Zona de La Latina (center of Madrid)
  2. Plaza De Mayor
  3. La Taberna de la Daniela (this is restaurant, good but pricy though)
  4. Mercado San Miguel (this is a market with all kinds of food)
  5. Taberna Macieras (this is restaurant, really good apparently
  6. Huertas (Spain is divided into districts, this is one of them)
  7. Museo del Prado (art museum)
  8. Chocolateria San Gines (chocolate restaurant.  They serve fresh churros with fresh chocolate, hope you like chocolate)
  9. Mercado de la Reina (restaurant)
  10. All these places are located near each other in the “zona centro”, in other words the center of Madrid.

Barcelona

  1. Barrio Gotico (neighborhood with plenty of things to see, eat, and drink.) (Laseu Cathedral is here along with gothic alleyways)
  2. Paseo de Gracia (plenty of places to shop here but this is a pricey district, but still cool to visit because of its architecture)
  3. Barrio de Gracia (this is a district/neighborhood plenty of places to drink and eat)
  4. Tibidabo (this is the tallest mountain in the area where you get an entire view of Barcelona, there is also a sick church at the top)
  5. Villa Olimpica (I believe this is a hotel but they noted it as a zone/area to take a stroll through, and there’s a park there. Looks very industrial when I looked it up)
  6. Universitat (this is a stop on the metro, apparently there are plenty of places to eat cheap here)

This is all the Spanish couple wrote down, hope it is helpful.  They completely changed my itinerary.  I went from spending a week in spain to spending at least two.  Now that I am leaving earlier, I plan on attending the festival of San Fermin (the bull run).  There is more info for Barcelona that a friend who was just there told me about, I just have to write it down.  She also spent time in Paris so I’ll pick her brain about that.  I’ve also getting more info for Italy and Germany from people who have been there and have lived there.  Let me know if you are interested in any of this information. 

Northface Gear

Shoe:  Ultra fastpack goretex

Below is the actual route that I took with minimal back tracking.  I will post more specific information about each place that I visited at a later time.  I will also include hostel reviews along with it.  Sorry about lacking on writing, but life happens.

The Final Route

Spain – Madrid, Toledo, Pamplona

Portugal – Lisbon, Lagos

Spain – Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona

France – Paris, Normandy

England – London

Italy – Naples, Amalfi Coast

Belgium – Brussels, Bruges

Germany – Cologne

Netherlands – Amsterdam

Germany – Berlin

Czech – Prague

Poland – Krakow

Hungary – Budapest

Turkey – Istanbul

Greece – Athens

Serbia – Belgrade

Bosnia – Mostar

Croatia – Zagreb

Austria – Vienna

Germany – Munich

Switzerland – Interlaken

Italy – Lake Como, Florence, Rome, Vatican

For the most part I stuck to my plan but additions were made thanks to my fellow backpackers.  I rushed through the Balkans and missed the Greek islands, but it gives me a reason to go back.  I suggest not having a concrete plan, but a rough plan instead, because circumstances will change.  Also its more fun being flexible.

I have plenty of info and stories from my travel journal that I still need to transfer over.  Hopefully this is helpful for now for those looking to travel Europe.  If you have any questions feel free to ask, till next time friends.

 

Tips on Backpacking (Europe)

I had no idea what to bring on a backpacking trip through Europe so I took to the inter web in need of advice. There are plenty of sources out there such as the lonely planet, Vaga brothers, and several travel bloggers willing to give you some advice. One of my favorite sites is the Savvy Backpacker. You can find everything you want to know on their site and they break things down more elegantly than I do.  

The advice I plan on giving is based on my sole experience as a male solo traveler. Ladies I’ll shoot you a source at the end of this.

Luggage

Travel light, as light as possible. You want to be quick on your feet and be able to pick up your bag and go. There will be multiple times that you will be running late due to not understanding the native tongue, or because you drank to much the night before. I was fortunate to only miss my bus once in Amsterdam due to a late night of partying. With this being said purchase a bag that is no bigger than 50L. This is the largest bag you are allowed without having to check it in at the airport. I purchased a Northface Terra 50 top loading bag, because I got a great discount on it thanks to a family member. There are superior brands out there such as Osprey, but you’ll be paying a shit load of money for it. Don’t be cheap with the bag you choose either, for this thing will carry your life for the next couple of months.  

Top loading vs suitcase style backpack

The Northface Terra 50L held up really good for what I needed. Looks good and has sufficient amount of pockets to put things in. Top loading backpacks are not ideal for packing due to the lack of accessibility. However if you pack accordingly it reliefs the stress of finding things. Here’s what I did: I separated things into categories (shirts, socks, underwear)and stored them in ziplock bags to keep them together. This made things really easy to find. Another handy tip is to pack according to outfits. Keep the most current outfit on top and once it has served its use store it at the bottom through the bottom zipper access on the bag. Doing this will push the next outfit up. I personally brought a laundry bag to separate my dirty clothes from my clean ones.  

The Terra is technically a hiking backpack and has several straps that can at times get in the way. Easy fix though, just store them away. There are backpacks in the market that offer a suitcase style, meaning they fully open making things easily accessible. I have no experience with these types of bags, but I like the concept behind them. Whatever you do though, don’t actually bring a suitcase with wheels and a lil handle like my friend Dan did. Cobblestone streets will not be kind to you, and neither will the locals who you are constantly hitting with your bag. Dan’s suitcase lasted less than a month, and he purchased a bag similar to mine afterwards. Sorry Dan.

What to pack?

While we are on the topic of bags and packing another important question is what to pack? Like I said I’m a guy so I can’t help you ladies in this subject, but I will give you some guidance at the end.

Ok bros remember you are a man or better yet a “dudeman”, trademark pending, so you can survive on very minimal items. The lack of womanly products will save you tons of space. I recommend bringing at least a week worth of underwear and socks. You will need to change these daily with the exception of socks if you buy the right pair of socks. Wool socks with wicking material work great and will keep you comfortable, dry and don’t smell horrible after one use.

Buy a comfortable pair of shoes and wear them in prior to your travels. I wouldn’t go cheap on this either. You won’t need some extreme hiking boots, because you won’t be roughing it in the woods. Instead you will be navigating through several cities with small corridors and amazing architecture. The miles you put in will depend on you. On average I would put in 8 to 10 miles daily, mainly cause I almost never took public transportation. Once again I bought Northface brand simply cause I got a discount, but brands like Merrills or Solomans are great as well. I suggest buying a black pair of shoes because they go well with every outfit. One pair of shoes is all you will need. Dress codes to bars or clubs in Europe are pretty much non existent.

My shoes were gortex which are not necessary during summer but it did save me on some rainy days and when my trip extended into September. Also you might be an idiot and stumble into a fountain in the center of a city square. No I was not drunk.

I forgot to mention that I’m basing this packing list on a summer trip but still pack a light sweater/jacket in case you go to areas where it might be a bit chilly (London).

3 t-shirts and 2 button ups is all you will need. Two pair of slacks and maybe one pair of jeans. Honestly I wouldn’t bring jeans during the summer. Europe is fucking hot and your balls will thank me. I say at least two shorts and two slacks. I highly recommend Bluffworks for the pants. They are pricey but worth it. About 90 bucks for a pair. They are light, breathe well, wrinkle free and look good. I took a khaki pair with me which matched with every outfit, casual or dressy.

Flying vs train vs bus

By far the most economical form of travel is by bus. It is ridiculously cheap, convenient and there are busses leaving constantly. The busses in Spain and Portugal were not that great but as I headed more east the buses became more luxurious. I’m talking wifi and small screen TVs. Flix and Student Agency are some of the best buses I have ever been on. Use their apps to find tickets. There many others by now and I’m sure prices are just as competitive.

I didn’t purchase a rail pass but I hear it’s quite convenient. Purchasing a train ticket last minute is quite expensive, to the point where flying becomes more economical.

I did quite a bit of flying. I think I took 8 flights during my time in Europe. Flights within Europe are cheap. Airlines like Rynair, Vueling, and Easyjet are some of the cheap airlines you will encounter. The best way to utilize these airlines is through the app Skyscanner. It searches all the cheap airlines throughout Europe and connects you directly to the airline to make a purchase. These airlines make their money through seat preference and luggage check ins. This highlights the importance of having a bag no bigger than 50L and who cares where you sit. Also check in online and print your boarding pass because some airlines will charge you to print a boarding pass.

Navigation

Take the time to learn the basics of a foreign language, the locals will appreciate your attempt.  

“Sprechen English? Danke”

Hostels will offer you maps of the city and are great guides. When booking a hostel, they will usually provide you with great directions on how to get there as well.

We are quite reliant on technology but honestly you won’t need it although it is a great tool to have. I learned about an app called Citymaps that works with no satellite or wifi service. This boggled my mind and I was sure some type of sorcery was involved (not a word Liz). The app works by downloading maps of the area you are in. These maps of course have to be downloaded when you are connected to wifi. Usually you also have to establish your location through wifi when arriving in a new area. Afterwards the map will pinpoint and track your location. This is a very handy app and very few travelers knew about it. It also marks tourist locations and you can mark your hostel so you can find your way back.

These are the basics. I could go further in depth but then you probably be bored of reading. Also do your own research you lazy fucks. But seriously do your homework, because not only will you be well informed but you’ll get pumped about your trip. Ladies I know I promised you a better source so here it is.

Shegoesglobal.net

This blog is written by a girl name Heather who I met in Rome. A fellow Bay Area girl and inspiring writer. She’s traveling on her own for a year and has written some awesome pieces so far. I believe this will be a great source for you.

Final Thoughts

Act accordingly and be humble that you are seeing the world. Give up your seat on the metro, help an elder lift something heavy, open and hold doors, and if you see a woman trying to figure out how to bring her kid on a stroller down some steps, take action and assist her. She will give you the biggest smile and be grateful that a foreigner helped her when her own simply passed her by. Others will notice and their perception of the country you represent will change.  

Feel free to ask any questions. Till next time friends and safe travels.  

The Squad

While I was traveling I learned a very important rule, establish a squad or join one. For me this came pretty naturally since I’m a sociable guy, but it might be quite a struggle for you introverts. But no worries for this is a real simple thing to do if you stay at a hostel. Hostels cater to the lone traveler and host events such as bar crawls and family dinners to get everyone acquainted. Even without them travelers naturally want to connect with each other due to the commonality of being foreigners in a country.

I’ve established several squads and been part of many but my Madrid squad remains my favorite, not because it was the first but because of how easy we connected. It was simple and it all started with a “Hey how’s it going, I’m Carlos”, “Hey I’m Dan, pizza?”

It started with a simple young Australian mate to my fellow Australian soldier, the America girls and the Canadians.

Day 1: established names and got drunk together.

Day 2: day trip to Toledo, share the misery of our hangover and fell asleep on busses and restaurants. This of course was followed by another night of partying. Hey why not right, after all we are in Madrid.

Day 3: tour the city followed by some needed rest.

The weekend: go to Pamplona and run from some Bulls.

The one drawback behind this is the constant heartbreak. Eventually everyone goes their separate ways and you find yourself missing these people you only knew for a few days. Although the time spent with them was short, the experiences you shared will live forever in your memories.

With that being said, cheers to my Madrid squad, Granada, Istanbul, Berlin, London, Munich, Prague and so many others.

Prost!

How I Did It

Dec 5, 2015

Today marks exactly 2 months since I’ve been back from Europe and the readjustment back has been somewhat difficult.  I was fortunate enough to have a job waiting for me upon my return and continue school from where I left off.  I came back refreshed and ready to work again, towards a career, towards an education, and with so many new ideas and plans to set in motion.  The fire was relit before I left for Europe, and by the time I came back it was a flaming torch.  I also discovered that 3 months is the most I could travel before I get sick of living out of a bag, not working out, and not having stability.

 

Now I did mention I had some difficulties upon my return, and that was my adjustment to normalcy.  I had grown use to waking up when I wanted, stepping outside my hostel doors to ancient beautiful cities, walking the streets, and not knowing what the people around me were saying, waking up with multiple hangovers, drinking at all hours of the day, eating exotic food, meeting new people everyday, and hearing my name said in so many accents.

 

Coming home was like a return from deployment, everyone wants to see you and hear your stories, therefore the party continued when I got back home.  A month later the party slowed down, and normalcy began to kick back in.  Also after 3 months of not working out, the gym has been a real struggle.  I find myself constantly laughing at my weakness followed by a lonely teardrop.

 

The most common question I’ve had since I’ve been back has been, “How did you it?” Now I want to dive right into writing about my crazy adventures before I forget them all, but I feel obligated to answer this question, because I feel everyone should have an adventure like mine.  So let’s go back to the very beginning, to over a year ago.

 

I’ve always had plans to travel, but they were consistent with everyone’s plan to work hard, establish a career, save money, accumulate vacation, travel for 2 weeks at a time and maybe if I’m alive and healthy travel for longer periods of time when I retire.  The American dream right?  Let me be the first to say, “FUCK ALL THAT”.  Throw that shit out the window, like right now, do it! (sounding like Shia le bouf here, “Just do it!”).  Forget that institutionalized way of thinking, it will fuck you straight in the arse.

 

  1. Say Fuck It and Believe in Yourself

 

The first method to getting rid of this mentality is building confidence.  Fear keeps people from stepping out of their comfort zone and doing amazing things.  All you have to is believe in yourself, as cheesy as that sounds.  Amazing people cross our lives everyday, leaving a mark in our lives, and in history.  This can be you, yes you.  All you have to do is punch fear in the face and keep moving forward.  Quitting my job was difficult because it was comfortable, I had mastered it, and I needed the money to survive.  “But Carlos it wasn’t a super fancy, well paying job or career you were leaving behind.”  This is true, but I also turn down a management promotion that would have further my career in the company.  That was tough, not knowing whether I regret it or not, but by that point I was focused and determined to accomplish what I set out to do.

 

Still not convinced?  I have met several people on my travels who have done the same, with way superior jobs than mine.  We all share a common bond because of this.  We share a “Fuck it, shit will buff out” attitude because we believe in our abilities, and are confident to know that everything we left behind we can gain back and even more.

 

  1. Opportunities

 

Look for opportunities and turn the negatives into positives.  Life will present you with many different opportunities to take advantage of traveling.  For instance, you lose your job, have a break from school, or need a break from school, you don’t get that promotion, you break up with your significant other, you’re offered a job that entails traveling, or take a job overseas, study abroad, and so much more.  Take advantage of these opportunities and if they are negative say fuck it and skip town.

 

Now I’m not a huge believer of running away from problems, or leaving due to a broken heart, because I rather fix the issue and heal before I leave so that I don’t carry that burden with me.  But, I understand that not everyone works like me and sometimes distance and traveling can be a huge way to heal, reflect and reestablish who you are.

 

Although I didn’t bring my heartache with me, I be lying if I said I didn’t reflect on it while I was out there.  I found myself running into people with similar stories.  From the Scottish man in Munich, the young cat in Bosnia, the American in Istanbul and many more.  These are a stories for another day.

 

  1. Have a Plan

 

Although I’m telling you to say fuck it and go travel, don’t go without a plan.  This isn’t some rom com where you travel to some foreign place, have funny scenarios happen, meet the perfect stranger and fall in love.  Motherfuckers get killed out there, so plan plan plan PLAN.

 

This doesn’t have to be a concrete plan, but at least have an itinerary.  This is how I did it.  I printed out a map and began planning my route.  The goal was not to backtrack for it would be a waste of money and time.  I went with a one-way ticket with an idea of when I wanted to return. I looked up hostels in each area, but didn’t book right away because I wasn’t sure how long I was going to stay in each area. (I will give reviews on the hostels I stayed in on a later date).

 

The first month was an open itinerary, and I loved it because it gave me the freedom to go wherever, stay as long as I want, and add new destinations I discovered from fellow travelers.

 

The cons are: it’s expensive due to last minute bookings, not finding accommodations, and consistent planning.

 

The second part of my trip forced me to book ahead because I spent way too much money in Spain and I took a costly, but well worth it, detour.

 

Pros: you save money, find accommodation, and you don’t have to worry about planning because it’s already done.

 

Cons:  unable to venture off, strict itinerary, missed out on some events (two football/soccer games).  If this happens, no worries, we travelers have a common saying “Gives me a reason to come back”.

 

  1. Travel Alone

 

Chances are you are not going to find a travel buddy to accompany you on your travels.  Not everyone will have the same itinerary as you, schedule, money, endurance, interest, or patience as you.  Traveling with someone for long periods of time can be as difficult as living with someone, so choose wisely.  I personally highly recommend traveling alone, because it forces you to meet other people, it takes you out of your comfort zone, and forces you to be alert and adaptable.

 

You also have absolute freedom.  Freedom to visit a museum whenever you want, drink at any hour of the day, or chill at the local plaza/park and write while listening to tunes.

 

You also have the freedom to do something completely ridiculous, like fly to a different country out of your route to meet a girl, or boy, whatever your preference is.  It’s funny how often this occurs, once again a story for another time.

 

  1. Save Save Save  

 

Do you really need that starbucks coffee every morning?  Do you really need a new outfit for the weekend?  Do you really need to drop $200 at the club, or buy that cute girl a drink? The answer is HELL NO.  Save your money whenever you can.  Cut unnecessary needs out of your life.  Make sacrifices when possible.

 

You don’t have to be rich to travel.

 

Well that pretty much sums it up for now.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me if you know me, and if you don’t then drop me a comment and I’ll get back to you.

 

Till next time friends!

And So It Begins……

Tomorrow afternoon I arrive back in California to pack my final things to embark on my trip to Europe the following day. I have half a day to finalize such things as packing, suspend my phone service, research maps, and hopefully suspend my car insurance if they allow me. I’m a huge procrastinator but it sometimes works in my favor. I just booked my hostel to my initial destination today, eeeeek, and a not guaranteed bed in Pamplona which is going to cost me a fortunate if it goes through.

But before I begin to divulge my plans for my trip, I first want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to my family, friends and strangers along the way who have supported this trip through advice and sweet gear.

Thank you to my cousin Jess who hooked it up with some sweet travel gear. I look forward to seeing my niece upon my return.

Thank you Lori for the info on Budapest.

Thank you to my roommate Sergio for the extra phone, and battery pack and for holding down the fort.

Thank you Tina for the journal. You saved me a trip to the bookstore and encourage me to continue writing. I promise to completely fill that notebook.

Thank you Team RWB for the sweet goodbye party and the condoms, hahaha! I promise to use those as well if the opportunity presents itself.

Thank you to my fellow travelers who have shared their knowledge of the unknown lands I will soon discover, especially to the Spanish couple who hand wrote 2 pages of information on Spain.

Thank you to my family for fully supporting this trip. A special thanks to my sister who will be attending to my disable mother all on her own. It is extremely difficult to care for another human being and I feel guilty for leaving but I can’t let this unfortunate life event hold be back. I will try and be as helpful as possible from a thousand miles away.

And in case I forgot anyone, thank you, you are all my family and hope to see you all upon my return.

This feels like I’m leaving for a deployment except this time I won’t be getting shot at where I’m going (at least I hope not) and I’m not leaving half of my heart behind, this time I take it with me completely.

So now it’s time to pay it forward. Like those who have helped me, I plan on using this blog to share my experiences and offer advice on traveling. I know the stresses of planning, conducting research and making sacrifices to make this trip possible. Hopefully I can make things a bit easier for you.

First thing is first, pick a destination. A place you have always dreamed of going, a place you want to see before you die. Yes, take it this serious. How long you stay is completely dependent on your situation but don’t make excuses and say you can’t go. You can, it doesn’t matter if it’s only for a week or a month, this trip is possible. In my case I chose Spain because I know the language and it be a good way to start my European experience in a country where I know the native tongue. However don’t let language discourage you because the majority of Europeans know English. If you plan on doing a trip like mine where you visit multiple countries, try and plan a route where you don’t backtrack. I will be doing some backtracking because I have to attend the festival of San Fermin. You can also start west and work your way east, maybe start in Lisbon Portugal which was my original idea.

Don’t be afraid to travel alone. I started planning this trip on the idea that I was going to do it alone but as I began to disclose my plans others wanted to join me. Unfortunately no one was able to fully commit, but that’s alright for I am completely comfortable traveling alone. If you can find a friend to travel with than that is great, but choose carefully who you travel with because things can go south quickly if both parties don’t agree on accommodations or destinations. From what I’ve read traveling with a significant other is also not the best idea, it can end relationships. Plus if you break up with this person, your awesome trip will forever be tied to this person. If you’re in a long term relationship you are probably okay, but once again I only know this from the research I have done, do what you want but use a little common sense. If you’re a woman you can also do this alone. I understand the dangers of being a solo woman traveler in foreign lands but don’t let this deter you. Many women have done it and continue to do it, just use common sense, use your wit, and keep your guard up. This applies to both genders.

Finally commit. The best way to do this is to purchase the plane ticket months in advance. Once it’s purchased there is no going back and it will be remarkably cheaper. Print the confirmation paper and post it in a place you will see it everyday as a reminder of your goal, your objective. There are many things that will try and deter you from your objective, but keep going, stay resilient. If changes have to be made, so be it, but don’t cancel the trip. Stay focus and make sacrifices. Cancel other smaller trips and pour that money into this trip. Pick up extra shifts at work or get a second job. Take a portion of your paycheck and stash it into your savings account. Don’t party and go out as often. You can have as much fun with a cheap bottle of wine and Netflix. Cook your meals and start a budget.

Well that’s it for now folks. I will be getting more in depth about this Eurotrip as I experience it. Some topics I will focus on will be clothing and gear, hostels, Airbnb, couch surfing, packing, transportation, and many more. Stay tune and be safe out there.