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Johan

Vilnius – the capital of Lithuscandinavia

Even though the Baltic states are just an hour flight away from home for me, I’ve never been to any of them – other than a transit but that doesn’t really count. After Prague with lovely visitors from home (mom, Nisse and my best friend) I set aim for the capital in Lithuania – or should I say; Lithuscandinavia.

Outside of Scandinavia, this is by far the place that reminded me the most of home when it comes to how it looked – both nature and architecture. There were also Swedish and some Norwegian brands and companies everywhere: Swedbank, SEB, Telia, Nordea, DNB, Narvesen and of course the obvious H&M, IKEA etc. so that also contributed to the home-feeling. I don’t know if it’s only me, actually don’t think so, but when we Scandinavians think of the Baltic states we often think of them as poor old “Soviet bloc” countries known for two things: cheap and ugly! Cheap it was, but far from ugly. Vilnius has a very cosy and good looking old town and city centre. I would say it’s a really good destination for a weekend getaway!

To be honest, there are not many things that I’ve missed at home (besides family and friends) – the only thing is probably the winter sports snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Besides those two activities, I don’t really fancy the winter. The summer in the nordic countries however, is the best in the world when the weather gods are on your side which unfortunately don’t happen too often. In Vilnius they were though, so I could enjoy some late summer nights with sunsets around 10.30 PM and that reminded me of the Swedish summers when you can be out all day (and night). Without even knowing it, I had for sure missed this. But since it’s been winter there hasn’t been much to miss in a way.

A good thing about traveling in Europe is that everything is so close and easy to get too. A couple of low-cost airlines in combination with buses and trains makes it easy, cheap and fast. Next up will be Riga, where I’m about to get my 4th visit from home on this trip. Excited? Indeed!

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.