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Europe

Gorgeous Georgia

Before going to Georgia some people “warned me” and asked me to be careful and vigilant. This because, apparently, it’s dangerous here and the people are not trustworthy. It’s not the first time I’ve heard these words before going somewhere, South and Central America were two other areas. But anyway, common for all these “warnings” are that they come from people who had never been there. In my opinion, that’s even worse than judging a book by it’s cover. Another thing that’s common is that I felt safer in those places, including Georgia, than I usually do in any big city in western and northern Europe.

It was a great feeling leaving Europe and the “civilization” for some adventures in a not so well know country. To be honest, I can only think of one person I know that has been here – and that is a TRUE adventurer. I don’t know him very well, we were old colleagues but didn’t work on the same department. However, if I’m not mistaking he rode a bicycle from Scandinavia to China and has also completed the Mongol Rally – which I was supposed to do this summer as well but my passport is soon full so I’ll have to save that for next year. But back to the point; to go a place not many friends have been is always a great thing – because you don’t know what to expect, which I think is a great feeling!

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was the first stop on the visit here. I stayed only for 1,5 days since I knew I would have another 1,5 days here at the end and that’s usually enough for a mid-sized capital city. I would say it’s pretty beautiful, very cheap and has both old and new architecture in a good mix. But I have been to enough cities lately, so I went to the mountains – the Caucasus mountains to be accurate. I’ve been in that mountain range once before but on the Russian side, last summer when I climbed the highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus. This time I went to the Kazbegi area, which is just 10 kilometers from the Russian border and it had much of the same feeling as when I was in Russia. The mountains here are big, wild and beautiful and the villages on the other hand are very small. I went hiking two days but didn’t go any higher than 3000 meter above sea level and no really big, but still scenic hikes. Unfortunately I struggle a little bit with a knee so I’m a little limited at the moment. Sometimes you take the most simple things for granted, for example just to be able to go hiking without any problems. I really hope this knee pain won’t last long and that I can be back to my active self again.

When I arrived Kazbegi, 3 hour bus ride from Tbilisi, I had no booking for accommodation. I thought it would be pretty easy to fix – and it was. An old lady approached me as I went off the bus in the village “centre” and she knew only one word of English: guesthouse – which for me was enough. I turned out it wasn’t a real guesthouse, more her home where she had two rooms available for travelers. 3 nights cost me around 12 Euro which for a traveler is almost for free. Even though the standard was extremely poor, I really enjoyed it because it was the first time in a really long time I’ve had a room for myself. Being able to sleep without earplugs was a blessing – and also one of those things we take for granted in our everyday life. I really hope that I will remember all those small uncomfortable things as a traveler, when I get back home. As it is now I would consider my normal life luxurious compared to the life as a traveler – but on the other hand, there is a great chance that when I get back home, I will consider the life as a traveling nomad as luxury. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Anyways, I’m living in the moment and having the time of my life. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is my biggest dream, because we humans adapt really fast to new circumstances – even though we want it or not. So I will probably adapt and get used to the standards back home as well – but I will for sure look back and remind myself of how hard, dirty but also of course wonderful the life on the road was.

A day in Athens

Sometimes people ask me why I stay such short time in some cities – and I fully understand that they are asking. For me there are mainly two reasons for this. When you travel you want to keep costs as low as possible, and cheap flight tickets usually mean a transit or even two in order to reach your final destination. When I see a cheap flight, with a long transit in a city I haven’t been, that’s perfect for me. I get to my final destination at a low price – and at the same time get a glimpse of another city or country. The other reason is simple: in some places you don’t need more than one day – Athens is one of those.

My flight from Tallinn was 03.30 in the night or in the morning, depending on how you look at it. Also another thing with cheap flights; the departure times suck! Usually I sleep like a baby on airplanes, but this time I didn’t catch a second of sleep – ironically thanks to a baby. In the seat behind me there was a young mother, with obviously a much younger baby – perhaps a little too young. This baby constantly from the second it entered the flight until it left, probably set a new record in screaming which kept me and rest of the plan awake for the entire flight. However, I’m not bitter and I don’t complain – I’m just telling the story. I’m extremely grateful being able to live this life of traveling and I want other people to enjoy traveling as well. But on the other hand, I still question people traveling with young infants.

Let’s face it; for whom do you think the parents decide to travel – for a 1 year old kid that can’t enjoy, appreciate or remember anything of it – or for their own ego? It’s as obvious that water is wet. They are doing it 99 % for themselves! No one really likes flying, buses, taxis or many things that’s a part of traveling – and especially not small children. And also, when they can’t even remember anything of it – is it really a good idea? I would say no and here is my suggestion. Wait until the kid is 3-4 years old. Take the money those travels would have cost, put them into a fund and when the kid is 20 years old that would probably be enough cash for the upfront payment of an apartment – which I think the kid will appreciate A LOT more than a bumpy flight to the Mediterranean that it can’t even remember.

So, not so many word about Athens in this post and there is a reason for it – it simply didn’t make any impression on me. Or at least not a good one. Simply just a big, busy and also pretty ugly city bowl. When I write this, of course some people will say that I’m such a jerk judging a city after only one day. But as I’ve said before; I don’t need to eat a whole pizza to tell if I like it or not it’s enough with a slice or maybe two. Also, there are MANY cities that I literally fall in love with after just one hour. If I get no positive emotions at all after one day – I’m not negative – just honest. Although I’ve met some people that say it’s a fantastic city, and I respect that people are different. But if Athens is fantastic, I really wonder with which word they would describe cities like Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, San Diego, Barcelona or Vancouver to name a few.

 

Thoughtful in Tallinn

My last evening in Europe I watched a beautiful sunset over the Baltic sea. On the other side of that sea is my home, Sweden. For 10 months this is the closest I’ve been to home, when it comes to distance and perhaps also mentally and that because of two things: Tallinn is pretty much like Scandinavia, and I admit, for a second I actually considered going home.

I’m glad this is my last European stop because I’m pretty tired of these capital visits now. They are pretty much all the same, and in many ways good places to visit, but perhaps not when you visit 8 of them in a row and especially when you appreciate nature more than urban areas.

So, it’s time for some “wilder” and more unexplored countries now again and I’m really looking forward to some adventures. But as I mentioned, there was a second when I considered going home. I mean; 30 Euros and an hour in a plane and I would be home, in perfect timing for the summer as well.¬†Family, friends, summer, sunshine, beaching, barbecues, mountains, hiking, wakeboard and the list of temptations goes on. Also I must admit that lately I’ve been a little tired of living in a bag, taking buses, flights, arriving late, checking out early to catch another bus, no privacy etc. These are also things that made me consider going home at least for a while. Comfort, privacy, maybe join some friends to Spain later this summer and some other to the USA. In my measures; a normal and good summer. But, I’m not a totally normal guy – I know that by now. I’m a little wilder and more seeking. I mean, how many 30 year old guys do you know that travels the world? How many do you know that are willing to pay 10 000 dollars to in order to freeze your ass off and feel like shit when trying to climb a mountain for 3 weeks? Not many, I suppose.

So a few more countries in Asia, and then my plan is to take a long summer holiday. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Been traveling for almost a year visited the most amazing places on earth and I’m planning a summer holiday?! Yes, you read right. Traveling for a long time has been amazing and incredible in many ways and I’m so grateful for it – but on the other hand it’s also hard and tough some times. No matter how weird you might think this sounds; I actually think that I deserve a couple of weeks in the Caribbean and a roadtrip in the US – my favorite country in the world! But first; adventure calls – Georgia next up!