Please weigh in, agree or disagree, thoughtfully and respectfully. Ferocity and passion are encouraged; disrespect is not. Thank you for reading, and seeing this as a conversation rather than a monologue.

July 30, 2010

Migratory Thoughts

The first two weeks of this trip were brutally, debilitatingly hot, between 35 and 41 degrees centigrade. I had two bouts of heat rash and began to reconsider my itinerary - even, at one point, considering coming home. It made no sense to travel to places if I was going to be able to go out in the early morning and late at night, but otherwise have to sequester in air conditioned refuges.

Then it rained. No drouth-breaking rain in Santa Fe was ever more welcome. I was in Mostar, Bosnia. But the damage to my original itinerary - tentative in form as it was - was already done. I began to research other itineraries. I jotted down some notes on my options:

Go home
Do whirlwind tour of most favored destinations, go home early
Go everywhere I was planning to go, just go with AC...but will that mean going to Delphi or Athens, for instance, and only going from air conditioned facility to facility, or staying in and doing nothing?
Travel elsewhere. It makes no sense for me to stay in this heat if I can't be out, meeting people and learning new things. After Sarajevo, make a plan that includes taking in Athens, Delphi, and Istanbul.
Go north after Sarajevo or Sofia.

I considered adding some or all of the following destinations

Warsaw (I met a couple from Poland who are teaching ESL, and they made some suggestions about visiting their country)
Helsinki, Finland

My next step was to decide where I wanted to go, and why: university towns, national parks, inexpensive locations, zen monasteries, hamlets conducive to writing and WiFi?

Then I met a Columbia University student in Sarajevo as we were both heading to the train station, both heading toward Zagreb - me to it, her through it - and she loaned me her Lonely Planet guide to Europe on a Shoestring for the 10 hour ride. During that time I decided that I will abandon the Balkans for the Baltics. So I will be going to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. That means I will probably also go to Poland, Budapest, Hungary, and might even make it to Berlin. This means missing out on Albania, Macedonia, Romania and, most likely, even Greece. It may also mean that, in order to get to Istanbul, I will probably have to fly there. Either that or go there directly after Sofia and then fly north from there.

As you can see, there are still decisions to be made. I need to sit down with a map and a calendar and sort out what works best.

For the moment, I will say this: Zagreb looks like love at first sight. I would love to live within weekend getaway distance of Plitvice Lakes. I can really do without all the cigarette smoke in the Balkans. I'm immensely relieved that the heat wave has broken, and am a bit bemused that I now need a sweater to go out, even in midday. I hate that Europeans eat songbirds. And I miss my friends and Boz. Will you visit me if I decide to stay?


  1. Sounds like a real journey, not just a trip. That IS hot, wow. If you get to Poland, give a silent wave to my ancestors. Perhaps the universe in some bizarre way is leading you to places you need to see. Or it's just serendipity and chance. Always the question. Wherever your wandering takes you, I'm sure it will stimulate your brain and your heart. You are one simulatable guy! Be safe.

  2. I agree with Barb about journey, not a trip -- and, for me, it would make it oh! so much more valuable and soul-touching.

    As for if you live there will friends visit. Can't speak for the rest of your tribe of friends, but YOU BETCHA, RED RIDER! Make room!

  3. Glad you're having the adventure your soul craves. And what about those photos???


  4. Wow! But what about the boat trip?
    It's great to be so free that you can go anywhere and be as spontaneous as your intuition guides you!
    I would say though that weather is impermanent, and there's always a couple of blistering July weeks in Europe, but then yes, the rains...
    If you go to Budapest (which is lovely, if you haven't bee), be sure to visit Gellert and Szecheny baths. I also know a killer Mexican restaurant there... forgetting the name now...
    Krakow and Berlin (and Prague of course) are also some of my favorite places on the planet...

    Happy Journeying!!! Kristin

  5. P.S. I suppose August in Greece would be pretty blistering... and crowded! Whatever you do, don't come home early. Not that we don't want you back... but this is such a great opportunity you've made for yourself--live it! :))

    --Kristin as Anonymous this time

  6. Thanks, all, for your thoughts and support and ribbing.

    Faith, I would love to load up a bunch o' photos, especially after yesterday at Plitvice Lakes, but it's unwieldy with the iPad. I may yet find a way to do it so I have a mess of shots on a post, but yesterday's effort bore no fruit. Even text is a challenge: I can e-mail a post, but cannot edit it for formatting with the iPad.

    A journey, not a trip? Gods, I hope so. I need . . . something.

    For now, let me see if I can get at least one or two of my Plitvice pics up. Thanks for being here fwith me, friends.

  7. Isn't there a step on the Hero's Journey where the Hero looks around and says, "God, what the hell did I get myself into? Enough of this! I'm going back to the comforts of home and hearth." I seem to recall such a thing -- and if there isn't, there should be.

    That Billy Joel song "Storm Front" keeps coming to mind in recent days -- probably because of my own stuff, but it seems appropriate here, too.

    "Safe at harbor, everything is easy
    Off to starboard, daylight comes up fast
    Now I'm restless for the open water
    Red flags are flying from the Coast Guard mast
    They told me to stay,
    I heard all the information. I motored away And steered straight ahead
    Though the weatherman said
    There's a storm front coming..."

    Enjoy the voyage, including the storms...


  8. PS -- How about Flickr for photos? And then you could post a link to the blog. Just a thought.


  9. John: We returned from our Mediterranean cruise last night, and it was just great. But we also ran into very hot weather most of the time, and it is extremely limiting re: activities and seeing the sights/people. Italy was in the 90's and jammed with tourists, of course.
    Enjoying your thoughts and experiences. Have a great time of course. We have been to Vienna, Prague, Budapest and can certainly recommend them all. Not sure about the others, but sounds like you can't go wrong. Certainly different than life in Santa Fe ...

  10. Faith, the difficulty seems to be with the iPad once I have downloaded photos to it. I can only select one at a time. I tried cutting and pasting, to no success. This just means I will have to be selective of which shots I post, which is not all bad. Perhaps I can find a way to offload them en masse when I get home, but it isnt a priority at the moment.

    Frank, welcome home. I understand you were met with quite a torrent of rain in the last day or two. I hope you are still high and dry in your aerie overelooking Eldorado.


Because I Need to Know If McAndrew Is Full Of It