Browse Month

May 2017

Bored in Bratislava

Within the last two days before going to Bratislava, two friends of mine said that it’s a pretty boring city basically because there is not much to do there. They couldn’t have been more right, but at the same time; doing nothing is sometimes a great activity – especially for a globe trotter going high and low all the time.

When I say it’s boring, it doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Because the people were nice, it’s cheap, it has a charming old town, very relaxed, everything within walking distance, good food, pretty high standards and it felt very safe. So in many ways a nice place, but not just any big cool attractions or nice nature nearby. I guess it’s a nice place to live, but if I will go on a weekend trip with either guys or a future girl (#ForeverSingle) I probably would not go here.

When I sat in a cafe, actually working on a blogpost a local guy 25 year old started talking to me. First he asked if I was backpacking – which was pretty obvious since I had my bags with me. Then he asked me if I had a travel blog, which I as you know by know I do, but I never really promote it. So we started t0 talk a lot about traveling and he really wanted to do something like what I’m doing now as well – and if you by any chance read this; do it! As I told you, you won’t regret. And if there is anyone else reading this thinking of taking a break from the every day life in order to travel; do it! Now I’ve almost been away for 10 months, so traveling is and has been my every day life for a while – and it feels great. I can’t remember last time I was stressed or worried about something. No, I’ve not smoked anything now or turned a hippie but I must say I’m really in harmony with myself. In one way I’m perhaps more lost in terms of where in the world I want to live and settle, since I’ve seen so many nice places and many of them are tempting to live in. At the same time; you don’t know what you have until it’s gone – and home is also very important to me. Time will tell what I’ll do after this trip is over, at the moment I’m very open minded and it feels great. Maybe I’ll go back home and trade stocks, maybe I’ll do a season in the Alps snowboarding or go to Costa Rica to improve my surfing skills and live the “pure vida life” for a while.

Speaking of home by the way. My next destination is Prague and that means it’s the closest I’ve been to home on the entire trip. Just a little more than an hour away. Feels fun in a way, but what feels even better, is the fact that I’ll get some people from home visiting me in Prague – and I can’t wait to see them.

One day in wonderful Vienna

Usually one day isn’t enough to experience a city, but it’s definitely more than enough to get a feeling of it and determine whether you like it or not. And also, when that one day turns out to be an amazing day – it doesn’t really matter that it was a short visit.

I flew from Romania to Vienna in Austria because I soon need to be in Prague in Czech Republic soon in order to meet my mom and my best friend. Before Prague, I also want to visit Slovakia and the capital there, Bratislava, which is just 30 minutes from Vienna but as there are no direct flights from Bucharest in Romania to Bratislava in Slovakia, Vienna was a good stop. A lot of countries and cities in a few sentences there!

First I met up with a good guy I traveled with in South-America for a few weeks. After a stroll in the city we went to watch the final round of the Spanish Football league, La Liga. Really nice to meet him to talk both memories and future. Football was a big, actually by far the biggest, passion in my life growing up. Real Madrid has been “my” team since 2002, when the Brazilian Ronaldo joined the team. Back then it was a team full of superstars like Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo, Beckham, Raul, Roberto Carlos and the list goes on. 15 years later it’s still full of superstars, still my team and my passion for them is even stronger – and ironic I guess – a new Ronaldo is my role model and also the flagship of the team; Cristiano Ronaldo. So part of the reason my 24 hours in Vienna were so good was thanks to that Real Madrid won the La Liga, in the very final round of the season.

But hey, wait a second – did  you say Ronaldo is your role model?! I guess a lot of people react on this – and at the same time I can understand you a little bit, that would be judging a book by it’s cover. Yes, he has A LOT of feelings and he is anything but afraid of showing them. When he is winning and happy, he smiles from ear to ear. When, luckily not often last years, it’s not going his way you could perhaps say he looks a little cocky, arrogant, diva and acts a little childish sometimes. But he is  just a person with a lot of emotions and even that is very untypical in Scandinavia – there is nothing wrong with that. So, to the things I admire him for. On the pitch he is, in my opinion, the best player in the world at the moment – and maybe through all times. But the real admiration is actually off the pitch in two different ways. He is extremely dedicated to his profession and sacrifices everything (but family) for his success. And also, like many other professional athletes he is not very greedy. He is the sports person through all time that have contributed most to charity – and yes – with Scandinavian looser mentality some people might think that it’s no problem for him – he can afford it. And yes, he can. But other players and people can too. Take for instance Lionel Messi which everyone thinks is such a good guy, he opens up bank accounts in Panama in order to skip the taxes. Luckily enough he got caught doing it! So I would say Ronaldo is a player that is misunderstood in many ways and just because he is good and he knows it, a lot of people don’t like him. And people saying he is a diva taking off his shirt to flex his pretty decent upper body; those people are probably just jealous.

So how was Vienna? To keep it short it’s very beautiful with nice buildings, green open parks and cosy streets pretty much everywhere. A true blessing for the eye even though I didn’t visit many restaurants the few I went to were both very good and cheap. It’s said to be one of the cities in the world with the happiest people and I can believe that. Even though I just spent one day – it made me happy.

 

Am I lucky?

The by far most frequent words I hear and have heard the last year are: “Oh, you are so lucky!”. I get this from people online and offline – from people that I know and total strangers. They are of course referring to that I’m traveling the world. But does it really have anything to do with being lucky? On behalf of myself and other world travelers out there, I would say NO – and here is why!

First of all; what does being lucky actually mean?
This is of course individual as different people appreciate different ways of life, but what goes for everyone are two basic fundamentals which I think being lucky is all about.

Firstly, health is the greatest wealth. To be born without any diseases or disorders is a gift. To wake up every day and live your live without any, is an even greater gift. I’m not talking about the flu, but real diseases that can and will affect your life in one way or another. For example cancer might send you to hospital and treatment for years stopping you from studies, living your everyday life or enjoying your hobbies.

Secondly, to be born and able to live in a part of the world without poverty, starvation, corruption, frequent natural disasters,  lack of water and last but also worst; war. We are at the moment 7,5 billion people on the planet. Half of these live in what the World Bank consider as poverty – on less than 2 dollars per day. 1,5 billion lives on what’s called extreme poverty – less than 1 dollar per day. Today 15 000 people die due to starvation, just as yesterday and unfortunately a few more tomorrow. Most of my readers (not that I have many) probably live in Europe, the US or Australia where in contrast to poor countries overweight and obesity is growing day by day – too much food! Some of you even might get some rain perhaps a little too often – but at least it’s not raining bombs.

My point with these two basic fundamentals is that it’s really hard to have a good life without them and most of us take them for granted. If you call me lucky for traveling the world; remember that in the “sperm lottery” there is a 50 % chance you get born in a poor part of the world. We are talking a 50 / 50 chance! Ending up on the “right” side here, THAT’s being lucky!

Am I lucky because I’m able to travel the world?
So, now when being lucky is defined – let’s get back to the topic of traveling the world. Even though I’m born in a safe and wealthy part of the world and without disorders, I was not born into a life of wealth or travel at all. In fact, my father never sat his foot in an airplane – and I’ve by age 30 visited all continents in the world multiple times and soon been to 100 countries. Sadly my father died way too young at age 52 and I know what some of you are thinking now – but I didn’t inherit a single dollar. I don’t like talking about money, but I will however get back to the financial part a little later in this post.

The reason I’m able to travel the world is because of me and the choices I’ve taken – nothing else. In the same way that I’ve chosen a way of traveling – I’ve had to say no and to sacrifice other things in life. It’s called priorities and it’s the one and only reason I’m able to live this kind of life. If you take a look in my wardrobe you’ll understand. It’s mainly full of either clothes from H&M or sports clothes. Even though also I think that Ralph Lauren clothes look better, I don’t fall for the temptation of buying them – I would rather spend the money on a flight ticket instead. Or buy some stocks or put them into my savings account so I could afford an extra apartment to rent out. This mindset and these choices has brought me to where I am today.

It has nothing to do with luck. It’s basically only priorities, money management and street smartness and therefore I think it’s well deserved that I’m able to have this life now. Let’s compare to a guy with a really good job and high salaries. He probably worked hard in school, studied for many years, put in a lot of effort in order to get good grades and eventually a good job. After years of hard and dedicated work he becomes a manager and receives high salaries. Would you call being lucky? Or just a result of priorities, hard work and smart choices over a long time? It’s not being lucky – it’s just being smart and the result is well-deserved.

Money management
I very rarely speak about money with other travelers or local people, but every once in a while people say: “Oh, you must be very rich!” and to a certain extent, compared to the average man on earth, that is true. Anyways, I always answer by saying: “It’s not about how much money you have or can make – it’s a about how little you can spend!”.

There is one great fallacy among people when it comes to private economy and money management and it goes like this:
We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t know or in some cases don’t even like. Last but not least; they probably don’t even care.

The perhaps even worse and ironic result of this is often that the things you think that you own end up owning you. So what do I mean by these “smart ideas” of mine? Here is an example: some people are taking big loans to buy a brand new car. I understand and respect that some people need a car, but I don’t agree on that they need a brand new car – or a fancy one at all. A 5 year old Toyota could do the same job! Also, if you can’t even afford it – why do you buy it? This will only limit your economy and unfortunately in many ways also your life. A perfect example of someone buying something he/she doesn’t really need, with money he/she doesn’t have and the car ends up “owning” him/her because of the commitment of the loan.

To be clear; consuming is not the problem. Without consumption the economy and also the world stops. The problem is overconsumption!

Traveling is not only rainbows and butterflies – would you handle this?
If you believe that traveling the world only is about beautiful sunsets, paradise beaches, cosy cities and might misty mountains – think again. There are for sure lots of this too and that’s what I like to share in social media, since I like to inspire, be positive and show the best of the countries I visit in order for them to attract more tourism and hopefully the people there can achieve a better life since tourism contributes with money which again gives food, education and a way out of the poverty.

There are however endless of unpleasant things and situations that you have to struggle with and handle being a world traveler on a budget. And if you still think I’m lucky – ask yourself if you could handle all of this?

  • 8-15 hour bus rides with sometimes zero comfort, no toilet, very warm or extremely cold.
  • Sleeping in hostels and share room with 4-15 other persons almost EVERY NIGHT for one year.
  • This also means NO privacy what so ever! No where to “hide”.
  • People snoring every night (earplugs doesn’t always help unfortunately).
  • Low standard. Sometimes really dirty and nasty showers, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Almost never feel really fresh due to heat or sweating after walking and carrying the bags.
  • Simple just quit your job without any guarantee at all for another one when (if) you get back home.
  • The lack of good food. Don’t get me wrong, you can have amazing food many places, but there are also times where you can find anything but Snickers and french fries. I don’t even wanna know how many nights I’ve had Snickers for dinner after arriving places late in the night when nothing was open.
  • Get food poisoned and diarrhea. Trust me, you will.
  • Not seeing your friends and family for a very long time. Of course you meet a lot of people, and that’s perhaps the best part of traveling solo, but sometimes you simply miss the people you have know for a lifetime.
  • Be away from all the holidays like Christmas, Eastern etc.
  • Carry all your belongings and your entire “wardrobe” in just two bags. Very limited!
  • Waiting.. Trust me, if you travel to poor countries they don’t have as good infrastructure, technology and systems but on the other hand often more bureaucracy and a “mañana mañana mindset” which means A LOT of waiting in airports, border crossings and bus terminals.
  • Use a lot of money, in my case around 37 000 EURO, on something that gives you nothing but “just” memories and experience. That could save you many years on your mortgage or a nice car.
  • Get totally soaked in the rain without any chance to dry your stuff – or your self for a long time.
  • And endless of other more or less unpleasant or frustrating situations. If you have back-packed yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Don’t misunderstand me, traveling is loads of fun as well – but there is a dark side of it and here I mentioned some of the situations and things. Even though it’s sometimes tough, I would never change and I also find a bit of charm in living like this for a limited amount of time. I will definitely appreciate the luxury of just normal standard when I come home.

Conclusion
So to wrap this up and answer the question of the headline if I’m lucky: yes, I’m very lucky – but not because I travel the world. It’s solely thanks to myself, my own choices and priorities.