Days on the road: 397
Number of beds: 7
Countries visited: Albania, Turkey, Russia
Postcards sent: 15
As we head back stateside, we’ve been thinking lots of homecoming. Although it is bittersweet, we are definitely ready for some comforts of life with a more permanent address. So rather than dwelling on drawbacks of our adventure coming to a close, here are big three reasons we are excited to come back to the US:
First off – Our own couch.
Ottoman-era noblemen’s chillaxing room in Kruja, Albania. Only men allowed here — not so in our house!
It is always there for you – bad day, good day, sick day – whatever. It is there and it is all yours. Along those same lines – our own bed, with our own sheets, pillows and blankets, which are all much nicer than those we slept on (for the most part) this past year. Our own towels. And obviously our own house – we have missed having our comfortable kitchen, amazing bathrooms, and sweet porch and rooftop.
second – friends.
Hanging out with Adrienne and Pete on the rooftop of Mama Shelter in Istanbul, Turkey.
OK… maybe friends are actually the number one reason we are excited to be back. We’ve met a number of amazing people on the road and have spent time with friends from home in Thailand and Turkey – BUT – it’s just not the same as sitting in front of your office computer at 4:55 pm and getting super excited for a happy hour with your favorites, or hanging out at your favorite park, where you already know all the neat spots for a picnic or a game of hackeysack – all Saturday. Plus we’ve spent a lot of this year saying things like “so and so would love this” or “wish so and so was here.” So we are super excited to have all these so and sos back )
last but not least – Life as we have known it.
Playing chess in the old bazaar of Kruja, Albania. This is the routine way of life around these parts.
Or maybe a new life of sorts. We’ve missed the routine of a work week, the familiarity of a city we call home, the rituals of Sunday night nightcap, or Saturday morning run to Home Depot. But! We’ve also mentioned in our month 8 round up– how traveling has allowed us to focus on how we would like to live (or perhaps, how we would like NOT to live) and what is it exactly we want from life. Our dear friend has kindly defined this nebulous concept for us: strong roots, no anchor. Since then we have fleshed it out a bit for ourselves – even without that month in Bali! – and are pretty excited to begin putting this quasi plan into action.
Generation 1 meets Generation 3 – life’s lessons are passed on. Berat, Albania.
And now that we got the big three out of the way, a rant on why travel has been wearing us down as of late (even though we still love it, and it’s been the best ever):
1. MISSED CONNECTIONS
It took us 6 different connections – 4 buses and 2 hitched rides to get there and back from Egirdir to ancient town of Sagalassos in Turkey. We pretty much spent our entire travel karma points here – but we made it without a minute to spare in each case )
It will be great not to have to take intracity / international transport for awhile. Usually there is more than one leg of transport involved in such instances – multiple modes of transport, layovers, waiting time, nerves. It all wears you down. It will be nice to have a car with a reliable GPS at our disposal for longer trips. So excited to stop looking at maps for awhile! We do have to mention however that we must have had pretty good travel karma as were rather fortunate for not missing a single scheduled bus, boat, train, plane all of this year. (knock on wood).
2. NO MORE ‘SPLAINING TO DO.
Haggling in English with Turkish shopkeepers puts you at an infinite disadvantage. There is no way you are getting a good deal. That will be 1,500 euros.
We are big fans of other languages. We always learn a few key phrases in each country to ensure that we can at least get our foot in the door. Xie xie very much. But after a year of miscommunications, getting our point across with hands, gestures or otherwise – it will be great to walk up to a counter in a post office and say:
how much are postage stamps to country x?
Ok, may I please purchase five.
Thank you, have a good day.
3. NO MORE PLANNING!
Figuring out when best to visit Pamukkale was a bit of a hassle — finally seeing a suggestion in one of the guidebooks that the site is accessible 24 hours, we made it there right before sunrise and got 1.5 hours of tourist-free magical travertines all to ourselves.
No more thinking five steps ahead, looking up directions for the new city transport lines, calculating how long it would take, figuring out where everything is to make sightseeing / errands efficient. What time does museum open – how much does it cost – can we eat around there somewhere? I just know that Smithsonian museums are open 9-5, are free, and offer poor food choices (save for Native American museum). However, walking /biking / or taking a bus I can easily procure delicious nourishment. Boom. Easy.
4. STEADY AND UNLIMITED INTERNETS.
Ionian sea boasts pristine beaches…and no internet. Perfect for a vacation, but not everyday life. Borsh beach, Albania.
No more using wifi when it’s available at 3 am while everyone else is off the network (and sleeping). No more being lost or bored. Amazing conditions for Sergey to do some work on the blog interface + much saved nerves for Jenia = awesome time all around. Yay.
NEW FRESH CLOTHES.
How many times have you seen these outfits? The correct answer would be – way too many. On the road to Sarranda, Albania.
Now – one of the things we have taken away from the year of travel is how little you truly need to be happy, comfortable, and just in general a high functioning member of society. This is why after typing in ‘new clothes’ – something didn’t feel right. Realized it wasn’t about owning more clothes – just having more variety – new or old doesn’t matter. But enough with nuances, the bottoms line is that having a choice of more than 3 t shirts / one pair of jeans will be pretty exciting. Maybe we can go up to 5 t shirts and 2 pairs of jeans!
6. BEER AND COFFEE.
Turkish national liquor of choice – Raki – has a rather peculiar taste. Excellent with a Turkish meal, but we wouldn’t exactly name this as a drink of choice for happy hours. Istanbul, Turkey.
Beer Lao is great – but it doesn’t stand anywhere close to a craft brew IPA produced in good ol US of A. Having a choice of these craft brews will be pretty special too. You know what else will be great? A Bloody f’ing Mary. Served with really nice filter coffee. Organic beans and all. Mhhhh. While we are at it, you can throw in a nice breakfast/brunch in here as well. Sure the world has some pretty amazing ones out there – but they aren’t quite enough when you miss the comforts of home.
7. HOME COOKING.
Feast of a meal at the Castle restaurant in Saranda, Albania.
Through out this trip we have been fortunate enough to be invited in people’s homes for delicious meals and great company, yet we have rarely cooked ourselves. Jenia’s soups or Sergey’s breakfasts were hard to come by throughout the year. And talk about knowing where most kitchen supplies are located without checking every single drawer. Come over, we will make you nice meal.
8. THE CAT, OUR CAT.
Otto-double on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.
He’s been out and about this year like us, living outdoor/indoor life. We are curious to see how much he changed or stayed the same. I bet he even won’t recognize us… oh well. He is still Otto the cat, who missed very much. To compensate, Jenia has been taking photographs of Otto-looking cats all around the world.
Instead of going to work, we went on hikes. Like this one, overlooking Egirdir, Turkey. Sadly, this did not result in bi-weekly direct deposits into our bank accounts.
Having an income is something most of us take as a basic component of life. Yet this year we did not have a steady every-two-week paycheck. Yes, there were projects that brought some cash infusion, but being just a little less careful with our money is something at least Sergey is looking forward to. Your good old $40 a day budget is just what it is – $40 dollars a day for everything, food, transportation, and housing. You literally feel a weight of a cup of coffee as your coin purse gets lighter.
10. EVERYDAY IS OK.
Surreal landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey is definitely not your everyday type of place. Quite magical and special — and being surrounded by everydayness – we will remember it very fondly.
We miss every day. A routine or consistency. Our friend Carl has warned us that if you stop traveling even for two weeks and surround yourself with friends or acquaintances, you will immediately start missing your own home. It happened to us a few times and we truly understand what he meant. In day-to-day travel, we were on the money, packing, checking out, boarding, unboarding, arriving, checking in, exploring…if you have enough information from your surroundings to keep your mind and sense occupied – you are good, but if you pause… homesickness creeps in. Therefore, we are looking forward to cherishing our everyday even more than before, because everyday is ok.
Panorama of Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Turkey as seen from the ferry boat.
As for the last leg of our trip, here are our approximate dates so we would love to see you if you are around:
- September 22 – 26: Hamden, CT
- September 26 – 28: Cleveland, OH
- September 28 – 30: Detroit, MI
- October 1 – 5: Chicago, IL
- October 5 -11: Cape Girardeau, MO
- October 11 – 12: Nashville, TN – Memphis, TN
- October 13 – 15: New Orleans, LA
- October 15 – 22: Ft. Myers, FL
- October 22 – 23: Savannah, GA
- October 23 – 25: Atlanta, GA
- October 25 -26: Raleigh, NC – Charleston, NC
- October 26 – 28: Washington, D.C.
- Oct 28: Philly, PA
- October 29 – 31: NYC
Note that these dates are subject to change, but you know how to get in touch with us email@example.com or Sergey’s same old phone number.