Attachment: Working in a Hostel

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

graffiti in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

"Just don't get attached, okay?" he says and the frustration hits me instantly.

Attached? ATTACHED? He's concerned about ME getting attached to HIM?

I'll give him some credit: he may just be the most attractive man I have ever met.  A Justin Trudeau look-a-like but with a stronger jaw, if you can believe.  He had the perfect personality to match the face with a soft voice, strong arms, and a kind demeanor.  I could get attached to him if given the chance, but of course, I wouldn't give myself that chance.  If anything, he started to show signs of getting attached to me. Bringing me chocolate bars from the shop, paying for lunch, letting me keep his t-shirt.  I don't think he realized that this wasn't my first rodeo.

I take a slow breath so he can't see how angry his assumption makes me, as if it's inevitable that I'd develop a crush on him.  "I work in a hostel and have traveled to 20 countries alone.  I know how to not get attached." 

Working in a hostel is great.  I get to connect with so many people since being social with guests is an unspoken part of the job description.  I meet people I would be close friends with if we lived in the same town and guys I'd like to date if the circumstances were right.  But you never live in the same town as the person you can talk with for hours and the circumstances are never right. If I got attached to every nice and decently looking man that walked through those hostel doors, I'd be in deep trouble.

Working in a hostel (the same one I volunteered in for five weeks last summer...I really need to tell y'all that story) has taught me a lot about attachment and letting go. But it hasn't taught me what I was trying to insinuate to the assuming Canadian above.

I was trying to act nonchalant.  As if people walk out the front door, onwards to their next destination and I never give them a second thought.  I wanted him to think I was cold-hearted, the type of person that doesn't get hurt or miss people or care about much of anything. I wanted him to think I was a "cool girl", the type who doesn't fall hard and fast and often.

But that's not me at all.  I get attached all the time, to everyone and anything.  And even though I was trying to get him to believe a false version of me, he was also completely missing the point. Getting attached is the whole point of travel. 

Travel is pointless if you don't get attached, if you don't fall in love.  I get attached to cities, towns, hostels, people, bookstores.  Attached to the view of a city at sunset.  Attached to hostel cats and dogs.  I get attached to mountains, keep returning to them somehow, even though walking uphill is a bitch.

I understood what the attractive Canadian meant and why he felt the need to say it. He was a bit older and gorgeous and I'm sure he's used to girls falling in love with him all the time, but he needn't worry about me. 

The only part of him I'm attached to is the memory of the week he stayed at the hostel, of how he was only meant to stay two nights but kept extending because he also fell in love with the same mountains. 

I 100% recommend attaching yourself to everyone and everything.  Your life will be so much fuller because of it.

Eating Alone

Friday, August 3, 2018

I've finally gotten the hang of eating alone.

Last summer, and all of last year really, I was too scared to eat alone. Sure, I'd get a falafel on the street and go enjoy it in a park by myself, but no matter how badly I wanted to I could not get my feet to take me inside a restaurant and sit down. By myself. Alone.

I'm over that now, mostly. Or I'm much better at getting over myself, at least.

This is my process. I read my book until I'm given a menu and then continue to read until my food comes. Once my food arrives, I listen to an audiobook or a podcast (I cannot read while eating. For some reason I incapable of reading while either one of my hands is actively doing something else). I only put one earbud in so I'm aware of my surroundings and so I don't shut the rest of the restaurant out.  After all, even when dining alone eating out is still a collective experience. I am content with my books and podcasts and food. I am happy.

But then, in typical 22-year-old fashion, I'll think "Wow I wish I had someone to share this with. I wish I had a boyfriend to travel with."

Those feelings are quick and fleeting when I realize that someday when I'm older, I'll wish I could go back to these exact moments.

Someday I will be older and (probably? most likely?) married and we'll get into a fight over something dumb and I'll be so angry and I'd give anything to go back to being 22, to being truly alone. To enjoy a meal without talking to anyone, to not having any responsibilities. I'd give anything to walk home alone at my own pace and have no one waiting for me except my own bed. 

Now, whenever I walk home alone at night and wishing I had a companion, I'm also walking with the acute feeling that 44-year-old me is sooooo jealous of 22-year-old me right now. And I shouldn't waste either of our time by longing for something that I don't currently have instead of enjoying what I do have. Which is an unmeasurable amount of freedom.

All of this freedom feels too big for me right now. I can't comprehend it. Probably won't be able to comprehend it until I have a career, a mortgage, a kid, a husband, until my time is split between a thousand responsibilities. I won't be able to fully appreciate these moments until I have enough hindsight to do all the work for me.

Hmmmm. I could keep thinking about this, but I think I'll just go have another beer.

You Weren't the Best, Budapest

Thursday, July 26, 2018

view from a bridge, Budapest
I tried so, so hard to love Budapest.  I'm adamant about the fact that there is good in every corner of the world and I found a lot of good in Budapest.  Gorgeous buildings, so much history, cheap food even near the main square, flavorful free-trade coffee for under $3, a hostel with a good vibe (make sure you stay at The Loft!). All the makings of a great city, but for some reason, Budapest and I just couldn't get along.

Let me take you back to my first time in Budapest.  I came to Budapest last year, 2017, at the very beginning of July. I had just spent 3 days in the beautiful High Tatras, Slovakia, and was nowhere near ready to leave that relaxing home in the mountains for a big city.  But I had to leave because I was meeting a friend in Budapest for 2 days and I desperately wanted to be around someone familiar.  On the train from Poprad to Kosice, I finally connect to the spotty wifi a few minutes after the train pulls away from the station when I get a message from my friend:

"EasyJet delayed and then canceled my flight. They can put me on another one but then that would only give me a few hours in Budapest before my flight to France. I'm sorry I won't be able to make it."

I wanted to hop off that train and run back to the Tatras, but I had a route that I was determined to stick to, friend or no friend.  I arrived in Budapest sad and alone.  I was used to traveling alone at that point, but I expected to spend time with a friend so the solitude felt way more evident.  Plus, booking a hostel at the last minute in Budapest means only shitty hostels no one wants to stay at are the only ones left. 

I went on a walking tour and didn't care. Tried to chat with people in the hostel but they had their own friends. Felt unsafe in the city at night so I stayed in. I left for Zagreb, Croatia after my two-night sentence was up. 

watching the England vs. Croatia game in a park

Flash forward a year and I'm reluctantly back in Budapest. I started this year's trip in Slovakia in order to give myself time to rest post-graduation. I also wanted to take things more slowly this time around. Travelling too quickly led to burnout last year, which is how I ended up in the mountains of Slovakia in the first place. 

I was determined to visit Romania and Bulgaria this year, since they were the two countries I "cut off" my travel list in order to make room for a month in Slovakia. However, in order to get from the High Tatras to Cluj, my first stop in Romania, I needed to have a layover somewhere in Hungary and Budapest was the easiest. I still felt hesitant about returning to Budapest after last year's debacle, so I looked into going to Debrecen or somewhere else in east Hungary.  With the way trains worked out, it would have been next to impossible, or at least way more tiring and difficult, to go from northern Slovakia to somewhere with a hostel in Hungary. So Budapest it was!

My second time in Budapest was much more eventful than the first. On my first day, I met up with people I met in Slovakia to watch the England vs. Croatia game in a park and went to a bar after. The next day, the same friend and I went to the thermal baths and got dinner. 

Even though this time involved more friends, activities, laughter, and drinking, I still felt unsettled. Budapest probably isn't the best place to go to after volunteering at the Monkey. It's like a shock to the system. A 1,000 person village versus a big city. Close friends that feel like family with lots of inside jokes versus strangers and a few acquaintances. Lowkey drinking beer on the front porch versus strobe lights and shots at a ruin bar. I was bound to have an adjustment period leaving a place I love no matter where I was headed, but Budapest, with its stag parties and groups of 18-year-old British lads, is probably one of the worst places to be when your heart is aching. 

I'll try you out again someday, Budapest. Just not anytime soon.  

In Possession of a Female Body

Monday, July 23, 2018

me and my female body somewhere in the mountains in central Romania

By most measures, I am classified as a "strong and independent" woman.  I started traveling solo at 21 and have since been to 22 countries by myself.  I fund my own travels. I'm comfortable striking up a conversation with a stranger because I know that (most) everyone wants to be your friend as badly as you want to be theirs but they're also nervous about proffering the first word. I'm way more confident now than when I was 16 (thank god for that). Hell, I'm more confident now as I'm typing this than I was last month. That's how growth and experience work.

However, a few times a year, I am forced to remember that I am vulnerable due to the world I live in and the body that I possess.  At the end of the day, I am female. I inhabit a female body and because of this, I am at risk.

Last night* I was reminded that at any moment, everything I own can be easily taken from me. Please don't be concerned, nothing bad actually happened. But I was reminded of every bad thing that could've happened.  A few disrespectful words from an older, drunk man doused cold water over my head and took me out of my mind and personality and thumped me back into my body.  He forced me to become all too aware of the corporal. He reminded me that no matter how hard I try to be just a human on this planet who is doing their best, the shape of my body, sound of my voice, and structure of my chromosomes will always come first. I can't rise above this body.

my female body having fun in the bathroom during a wine tour in Moldova

I walked into the living room of the hostel I volunteered at where other people were finishing up a movie. A cute German guy had just won poker night so he bought beer for the room.  I carried a bottle opener with me, trying to be helpful. An American from D.C. began popping the bottle caps in some creative way that only guys and experienced drinkers know how to do. He let the caps fall on the wooden floor of the living room.

"You're going to pick those up, right?" I said with a laugh. Lighthearted, chill, jokingly, never confrontative or overbearing.

"That's your job, isn't it?" said D.C. guy, in all seriousness. He had made a few sexist "jokes" earlier in the night and I was tired of it.

"No, it's not actually. It's not my job to clean up after grown men."

"Why are you such a bitch?" Tyler*, who had spent most of the night silent, said.  Tyler is the worst type of American I've encountered during my travels. In his late 30's, no attachments, no respect for women, with a dash of a drinking problem. I hadn't been around when he arrived but when I first noticed him around noon he had already started drinking. During dinner, I overheard him bragging to other guys about all the prostitutes he's slept with. That type of guy.

I didn't reply. I didn't know what to say, I wasn't even talking to him, didn't even notice he was still in the room. I was too focused on the cute German to realize that Tyler had been watching me interact with others for a few hours, slowly letting his anger towards me build.

I stood there in the doorway. When I didn't move or say anything, he continued.  "Seriously, why are you such a bitch? What's your role here? Do you even work here? I'm going to complain to the manager tomorrow and get you fired. You don't have a role. You're just a bitch. You bitched about the movie and you bitched about the game now you're bitching at us. Get out of here. Just leave."

No one else in the room seemed to hear. Either that or they chose to ignore. And so I left. Of course I wasn't going to argue with a big, drunk, ex-Marine.

I know my place. I know how easy it is for a man like him to hurt me if he wanted to. And I could tell he wanted to by the disdain in his voice. If we were alone or I dared to talk back he wouldn't have hesitated. So I left.

my female body in a place that feels like home

I shut the door on to the living room and stood in the dark hallway. Most of the hostel and the rest of the staff had already gone to bed. I stood there, warm with anger, too angry to move my legs and move on. Even though the door was shut and I had left just like he asked, I could still hear him talking about me on the other side. He was drunk, repeating himself. Talking about how he was going to get me fired tomorrow and other big talk, as if he had any power other than the fact that he was a large male and I was an average sized, young female.

I texted the manager, John, my friend. "You don't have to do anything now, but I want Tyler gone tomorrow. He called me a bitch and other things and I don't want him around."

I went into the kitchen where a few people were still hanging out. John came down, even though I told him it could wait, and went into the living room. I heard raised voices but no specifics. The next morning, Tyler and the guy from D.C. were gone before I woke up. "No one talks to my friends that way," John said when I asked why he came downstairs immediately instead of waiting until the next morning. I already felt close to John, but seeing how much he cared meant a lot, especially when my legs still felt weak and my backbone hadn’t fully recovered.

As you can see, nothing bad happened to me, physically.  I was lucky to be surrounded by people who trusted me and friends who would protect me. Even though Tyler succeeded in making me quiet and small and scared, I knew in the back of my mind I'd be okay since I had John in my corner.

But I also hate the fact that I needed John. That I couldn't stand up for myself or protect myself. Even though Tyler was a guest and I had superiority as a staff member, I still needed a man to protect me.

I'm extremely aware of the fact that most people don't want to hurt me, don't want to hurt anyone. Most people are good. My travels to 23 countries and counting can attest to that. No man has ever physically hurt me but the potential is always on the back of my mind. Walking down a deserted street, trying to make my way to another hostel, I think "What if tonight's the night?  It's just a matter of time, isn't it?"

my (blurry) female body using its strength to row around a salt lake at the bottom of a salt mine near Cluj, Romania

I like being female most of the time, in the instances when I'm aware of my sex and gender. I like many of the traits that my culture allows a female to possess.  I like painted nails and picking flowers and romcoms and expressing my emotions with ease. I like pink and yellow and journaling and babysitting. I hate most makeup but I like lipstick and mascara and easily getting sympathy by squeezing out a few tears.

But sometimes, I hate having a female body. I hate walking home alone at night. I hate second guessing the intentions of every man that is nice to me.  I hate wearing dresses or looking too nice because then male eyes linger for too long. I hate curtailing my drinking because I know what happens to girls who just want to have fun. I hate how I feel more comfortable, more at ease, more safe whenever I'm with a male friend. I hate how guys like Tyler can so easily remind me that I'm not safe even when I'm in my favorite place. I hate how I need quality men like John to protect me from the Tyler's of the world. I hate I hate I hate I hate.

As long as I occupy this female body I will always hate the culture that made me believe that the female body is a thing to be hated.

*names have been changed, obviously, and this did not happen 'last night'. I wrote the beginning of this post the day after it happened but it took me a full month to write about it.

Consume This #9

Monday, June 25, 2018

Consume This is my monthly curated list of interesting links for you to read, watch, and listen.  If you come across something you think I’ll like, tweet at me.


How to Live Without Ecstasy Every Day

Traveling as a White American is a Privilege

Ask Polly: I'm starting a new life but there's so much pressure to get it right!

The Arrival of Timothee Chalamet 

Timothee Chalamet interviewed by Frank Ocean

Kacey Musgraves is too ballsy for country

the impact of When Harry Met Sally on the romcom genre

Ask Polly: Why am I so lazy?

My Failed French Dating Experiment

The Killer Crush (about the girls who love the Columbine killers)

What poetry collection is right for you?

Electroconvulsive therapy isn't as bad as popular culture says

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves

Strange Desire by Bleachers


Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them. - Dalai Lama

Posting While Sedentary (Also, Where I'm Going This Summer)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sunflower posting when not traveling

Alternative title: should I post if I have nothing to say? If I'm not traveling?

I hate having my time wasted and I hate wasting other people's time.  But I feel like everything I read by (most) travel bloggers these days is just fluff.  Meaningless #hashtag content.  Like everyone is trying to fulfill their requirement of one Instagram post a day and two blog posts a week, nevermind if they even have new pictures or new stories to tell or new thoughts to share.

What bores me most about travel blogs is that people feel compelled to have a "point" for every single post.  A long layover in the Netherlands turns into "How to Spend 24 Hours in Amsterdam".  Visting a few cafes after a week in Paris turns into "The Best Cafes in Paris" as if they've had time to sit and contemplate them all.  I'm tired of everyone trying to have an angle. 

Just tell me about your day!

I want to see hastily taken pictures in a museum before security tells you to stop, shots of a flower that you thought was pretty.  What book did you read in that park you sat in for hours since your feet hurt and you couldn't bear the thought of walking one more kilometer to the metro? Were you having a nice day at a cool museum then, once you connected to the free Wifi, accidentally got into a text-argument with your best friend and now your thoughts of that museum and the artists you saw are tainted?

Believe it or not, I don't read travel blogs for useful information. Sounds ridiculous, but I'm sure most people relate.  If I want information, I use a guidebook or a tourism website. If I read a blog, I want to hear about your day. I'm sure I've retained information through osmosis of all I've read, but in my four-ish years of reading a few blogs a week, I've never actually, consciously used any of it while traveling.

WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS that I don't want to post just for the sake of it.

Because I don't want to bore you.  Because you don't deserve to have your time wasted since everyone and their mother is trying to waste your time on the internet.

I've said all of that ^^^^ to preface this new information (although this info isn't new if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram):  I'm traveling again! Starting June 6th!

I will (hopefully) travel until late August or early September and I really don't have much planned.

The only definite is that I will be in Slovakia for a month, back at the hostel in the mountains that I ran back to last July when I needed a break. (I really need to update y'all on that story. I only wrote one post about it and never followed up with a part II. Oops!)

After Slovakia, there's a strong possibility that I'm going to China (Beijing, specifically) with my school for two weeks because my school is paying for it, even though I graduated!, and over my dead body will I ever turn down a free trip.

From there, who knows! I might have a long layover in Dubai on the way back from China. I was wary of the idea at first, but now that I looked into fun and reasonably priced desert tours I'm extremely excited at the thought. 

Once I'm back in Europe, I have no plans for a full month. I'm considering Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria, but August in those countries might be too hot for me. That sounds like a dumb excuse, but last summer when I was in other south-ish eastern European countries, like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, I was so miserably hot I couldn't fully appreciate my days. Hence my exodus to the High Tatras in Slovakia.  So I'm not going to let myself be miserable again if push comes to shove.  Maybe I'll go to Slovenia and do some chill hiking, or Latvia and Estonia. Who knows! I'll probably let Ryanair decide my next move.

Near the end of August, I'm heading to London to meet Poppy, an Australian friend that I met last summer in Slovakia. From there we'll take a night bus to Scotland and do some hiking.  I didn't expect to go back to Scotland this soon after leaving last year, but Poppy has never been and suggested we go. Similar to free trips to China, I will also never turn down an excuse to go back to Scotland.

From there, I'll (hopefully) follow her to Sweden where she's starting her master's degree and just chill for a bit.  For some reason, there are insanely cheap flights back to the US from Sweden compared to other places in Europe. How convenient!

That's my ~general plan~ but who knows how the next three months will unfold!  I had a plan for last summer too and I set fire to that only one month in.

Whatever happens, I'm going to blog about it.  In the most genuine, unselfconscious way possible. No forced angles to any of my stories. Not trying to pretend I'm an expert in anything, much less a city I've only spent a few days in.

I'm just a girl with a blog, standing in front of a Europe/China/UAE, asking them to love her.

Consume This #8

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Honestly can't remember where I took this. Maybe Belgrade?

a profile on Darren Criss (it's SO WEIRD seeing him in mainstream outlets)

buying more time, not stuff, will increase your happiness

Improving Ourselves to Death

7 Helpful Tips on How to be Miserable

How Do You Rebuild a Life After Leaving a Polygamous Cult?

Instagrammers are sucking the soul out of travel

How DNA Testing Botched My Family's Heritage

The Rise and Fall of the Pop Star Purity Ring

Genre Fiction and The Canon: "To understand the world you have to be a magpie. You have to read everything you can get your hands on. You can’t allow snobbery and insecurity to trap you in biblio prisons."

The Rise of Country Rap

The Female Price of Male Pleasure

Pop Culture and its Dangerous Consent Myth

I Copied the Routines of Famous Writers and it Sucked

When I Was Married, I Was Rich. Then I Got Divorced.

L I S T E N I N G  &  W A T C H I N G 

all of the best romcoms that take place in the spring

Birth Control Your Own Adventure

Consume This #7

Monday, January 15, 2018

Consume This is my monthly curated list of interesting links for you to read, watch, and listen.  If you come across something you think I’ll like, tweet at me.


champagne is the secret to solo female travel

how to feel comfortable eating alone

Mourning in Paris

I'm a struggling writer whose life is falling apart

Star Wars conspiracy theories are one of my fave things

Ask Polly: should I start blogging?

the critical time we need to get off social media

I Did Everything You Said and I'm Still Alone

W A T C H I N G  &  L I S T E N I N G 

A Letter to London

Jane Fonda's on Life's Third Act

You have to believe, in your heart, that even if you don’t work hard and exercise and think positive thoughts and make new friends and march triumphantly into the future, you are still enough. You will always have bad days. Being broken doesn’t make you a loser. You can crumble, and you will still be enough. Make that your religion moving forward. You are here to feel this moment. You are not here to become someone better. You are not here to impress or compete. You are not here to prove yourself. You are here to savor this life. Let down your guard. You are already enough. Believe it.   -Heather Havrilesky 

My Last First Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lviv, Ukraine
I'm having a very emotional time in my life, if you haven't noticed. I feel like I'm always having a rather emotional time simply because I blow everything out of proportion and have to analyze everything from every possible angle. That's just how I process things, but my current life events warrant a minor crisis.

It's my last first day as a college student. In four months I will no longer hold the title of "student" and will have to find other ways to define myself. I'll no longer be an active sorority member (I'll be a sister in my organization forever of course, just as an alumna), I won't be an Honor Council member anymore, won't have my job in the tutoring center or event staff to report to anymore.

It's crazy that I'm here. I remember being a sophomore in high school, absolutely HATING my life for multiple reasons (some very valid, other just normal teenage angst) and counting down the months until I could go to university and escape. Every old person told me to "enjoy your time in college, it'll be over in a blink of an eye" and I was like YEAH RIGHT. High school dragged on forever, I'm sure college will be the same.

Yet suddenly I'm four years older and 18 countries wiser and lived in Europe for 8 months and traveled around BY MYSELF to countries my parents didn't even know existed until I told them I made it safely to my hostel. Traveling solo may not be a big deal to many Europeans and Australians who are raised in the adventurous gap-year culture, but hot damn, 13-year-old Victoria is so proud of me right now.

I think that's the goal for my last first day and for the rest of my last semester of my first degree. To make 13-year-old Victoria proud (and 14 and 15 and 16 and...).  If SHE'S proud of me, then there's no one left to impress.

That's what I've been mulling over, on my last first day. Accomplishments and goals and timelines. College is filled with them. College is also fairly easy. You're given a syllabus on the first day of class and as long as you organize your time well and study, you should be able to get a good grade. Hard work and a little brown-nosing with the professors practically guarantees you an A, as it should. The problem is, as I'm leaving academia for the first time, I'm realizing that life isn't like that. Your effort does not guarantee correlating results.

I hear you yelling at your computer, "DUH! Life isn't fair, sweetheart!". Please don't be concerned, I am painfully self-aware. I know that life isn't fair and nothing is guaranteed, but that doesn't change the fact that kids are raised with the mantra "Work hard, be kind, and good things will happen to you". Which is an ideal people need to have or everyone would give up and nothing would ever happen and daily life would suck.

At this point in my life, during this messy, confusing, transition period, I'm starting to learn that hard work doesn't guarantee happiness and good things, but I have to believe it does anyway.

Believe in yourself, kid, and hopefully good things will happen. Because they must.

My 2018 Travel Goals

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 will be a year of change. Sure, a lot changes EVERY year (2016, anyone?), but 2018 will be a year of plenty of forced changes.

I'm graduating from university, for one. 

On May 12, 2018, I'm graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in English and a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience (two degrees for the price of one? heck yeah) and will be forced out into the world as an adult without any plans. Well, of course, I have plans, but nothing like the rigidity of the American education system that has a strict timeline I must conform to.

So what does 2018 have in store for me, travel-wise? 

I have big, big plans, but there is so much up in the air right now. Possibly none of the following can happen, or everything could happen and more! Come what may, I'm going to try to see as much of the world as I can.

Here are my ambitious 2018 travel goals.

Appalachian Trail

My friend and I want to do a few weeks on the trail after we graduate in May. She's done a 2 week AT hiking trip before and I've never even camped outdoors overnight. But if Cheryl Strayed can do it, I can too, right? If I had it I can just go home with no harm done and if I love it I can carry on for 3-5 weeks. This will be our big graduation hoorah without spending too much money. 

Get a traveling job or internship

I'm applying for a few short-term internships and jobs that start right after graduation. If I get any of them (which honestly the chances are low, but I'm still trying) I could end up in a European capital for a month, Washington DC for the summer, or 20+ American states for a year. Fingers crossed I get one of them because they'd be great resume builders while also letting me see different parts of the country and world.

The Baltics

Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. I flew from Glasgow into Palanga, Lithuania, a cute seaside town as the very first stop of my eastern European summer trip in 2017. Because I was in such a hurry to see Poland and Ukraine, I didn't even stop in the capital, Vilnius, much less go up north to Latvia and Estonia.  Almost everyone I talk to tell me about how cool the capitals of these three countries are (and the surrounding areas, of course) so I'd love to see them for myself.

sunset over the High Tatras on the way back from a hike
Eastern Europe and The Balkans

They overlap a bit so I'm including them in the same section. Romania and Bulgaria were on my original 2017 summer travel list, but that was before I got so incredibly burnt out and hid in the Slovak mountains for a month (I should post about that at some point, probably). I met so many people who were doing months solely focused on the Balkans and they were having the time of their lives. There's a lot of hitchhiking in that area, which I really need to get used to. 

The countries I was to visit most: Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Slovenia and to go back to Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina since I spent so little time there. 

It's an ambitious plan for the year, but 2017 was pretty big, too! 

I visited 18 countries in 2017, 16 of them for the first time, so I'm sure I can visit a few more in 2018!

What are your travel plans for the year ahead?

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