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This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

You would think that after almost a decade of travels, I would be a travel pro.

I’m no amateur, but I wouldn’t consider myself a master in the art either. I still make costly mistakes.

Stupid ones.

I recently went on a 20-month long trip around the world to every continent and made a ton of mistakes regarding expenses. I do learn from my mishaps, but then I go ahead and make new unforeseen ones. It’s like a never-ending cycle. I also learned a lot of neat ways to save money during these adventures that I will highlight on a future post.

Always remember this: There is no such thing as a perfect way to travel adventurously around the world. That’s what makes it an adventure.

With that said, during my recent trip I jotted down all of the costly mistakes I made while traveling along with tips on how I could have prevented it. I hope my blunders set an example of budget mistakes you can avoid on your next adventure.


Missed my flight from Dubai to Tajikistan because I didn’t have a visa. -$400

United Emirate Airlines wouldn’t let me board my flight to Tajikistan because I didn’t apply for a proper visa to enter the country. I guess I missed the part about having to apply for a visa in advance. Whoops.

This almost happened again for my Brazil tourist visa. Thankfully, there was a Brazilian embassy in Cape Town, where I was situated at the time. Dodged that bullet!

Always, always remember to check the visa conditions for a country far in advance. In Tajikistan’s case, US citizens need to apply for one in advance and pick it up at the airport.


Went to the wrong bus station by accident in Germany. -$25

I needed to get to Cologne, but I went to the wrong freaking bus station. You should have seen me wandering around trying to find my bus that didn’t exist. I later checked the reservation email on my phone and found the address to the correct bus station listed at the bottom of the email.

I had to catch a more expensive train to another bus station, to catch the connecting bus I already booked prior.

Do read your email reservations carefully. Many travel reservations will have the direct address of where you need to be.


Ignored flight alert from South Africa Airways. -$340

This was pure procrastination on my part. While walking across Spain, I received an email alert from South Africa Airways that my credit card didn’t go through for my flight to Johannesburg in a few months and that I needed to contact them soon. I ignored it, thinking I would get to it later. Well, I ignored it for too long!

When I later tried to rebook the flight, my original departure was filled up. Thus, I had to book a new, more expensive ticket on an earlier date than I planned for.

Don’t put things like this off or it may deter your travels. If you get an alert from an airline saying to contact them immediately, then do it immediately!

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This is me kissing my hard-earned cash goodbye!


Took an Uber to the wrong terminal in Mumbai. -$10

This is another example of not carefully reading my email reservations. It clearly stated to go to Terminal A on the bottom of the ticket. I didn’t see it until my driver dropped me of at Terminal B and I was wondering why I couldn’t find my airline. No problem. I ‘ll just walk to Terminal A.

Sounds simple enough if Terminal A wasn’t all the way on the other freakin’ side of the giant airport. I had to catch a taxi to get there.

Another case of reading your email reservations carefully. For flight reservations, check and see if there is any text imprint about which terminal you should depart from.


Accidentally stuck the wrong Aussie note into a ticket machine. -$30

I just landed in Melbourne from Tasmania. I needed to catch a train into the city. I went to the ticket machine to load up my Myki card (the cards locals use to get around on public transportation) and instead of putting in a smaller note, I accidentally stuck in a $50 note and I couldn’t get it back! There was no way I was going to be using this card all that much unfortunately. I used only about $20 of it. I gave my Myki card away to a backpacker I met in India who was on his way to Melbourne.

This I could have EASILY avoided if I just paid attention to what the heck I was doing. To be fair, it was an Australian note, which I wasn’t used to. Not a great excuse, I know.

Familiarize yourself with foreign currency. It can be confusing.


I have cheap friends. -$30

During my birthday in Nepal, my friends were so broke that I bought THEM drinks.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to be the only drunk one…That’s just no fun.

Don’t have cheap friends.


Dropped new iPhone into ugly water in Fiji. -$1,100

This was my biggest budget blunder I made during my trip and it happened fairly early into it.

I had my new iPhone I just bought a few months ago slung around my neck in a waterproof shell. I stood on the top of a cliff on a gloomy day, ready to rope swing into a pond of poopy looking water. I knew darn well that the day was unfit for recording any awesome footage, but so I went anyway. I rope-swung into the poop water and as I fell in the air, my iPhone came loose around my neck and landed into the water as I plunged into it. I quickly surfaced to try to retrieve it, but the water was so brown and 15 meters deep. I couldn’t see nor even attempt to get it.

It was still early into my trip. I needed to have a phone and more importantly, I needed my music. I had to buy a new iPhone in Suva, Fiji’s capital which costed me way more than it did at home in the States.

I still kick myself for that one.

Don’t be a dingus like I was. Sometimes it’s not worth risking your expensive gadgets. Think about it first. I knew perfectly well that there was no need to have my phone with me that day. My gut told me to leave it behind, but no. I just had to show off.


Wasted Airbnb’s in South Africa. -$300

I left too much in the hands in one my travel buddies. I left it to him to book our Airbnb’s in South Africa and boy did he splurge. The accommodation’s looked stunning…but perhaps too stunning and way too big for just three of us. I knew this from the get go. We would spend most of the time out and about and wouldn’t be able to properly utilize our accommodations. Now if it were a larger group of us to split the costs, then yes, I’d be all for it. The other third traveler in this group and I were fine with being in hostels, which turned out to be a lot more fun.

To be fair, my friend did ask us for our permission and thoughts before he booked them. My gut was telling me to say no because it would be pointless, but I let it be. My own fault for not speaking up.

His budget was only for South Africa. My budget was for the whole world.

If someone in your travel group is being too extra and wants you to be extra too, then let them know because we all have different budgets.

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There’s no doubt this pricey place was amazing. But we were barely there and it was way too big for just three people.


Bought wrong type of visa in Zambia and Zimbabwe. -$30

Victoria Falls is claimed by both Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. A buddy and I went to Zimbabwe to visit the falls, not realizing that the fun part of the falls was on the Zambia side. By fun part, I mean swimming in a pool on the edge of the waterfall. We couldn’t miss this so we repaid for another visa to get us back into Zambia and then back to Zimbabwe. Then we had to cross back into Zambia the next day to catch a flight. I never crossed a border so much in such a short amount of time.

Once again, pay attention to visa requirements and also do your research when booking excursions on your own. Being that Victoria Falls was in both countries, we should have checked which side had access to the pools.


 

Total Amount Wasted (in USD) = Approximately $2,265+

Ouch.

I put the “+” because I’ve made a ton of smaller scale mistakes, among these bigger budget blunders. Like accidentally using my non-travel credit card on a foreign purchase resulting in foreign transaction fees, getting ripped off while bargaining, etc.

Heed my advice and avoid my mistakes well for your own adventures! If you made any costly blunders on your own and would like to share, then please do!


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All The Reasons Why South Africa Is The Perfect Place To Wine

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Western Cape, South Africa is the Shangri-La of all things wine. The Garden of Eden of wine.  The absolute nirvana of wine ecstasy.

Not to discredit world-renowned wine capitals such as France, Italy, Spain or any others, but everyone already knows how distinguished and prized they are, unlike the hidden gem and severely underrated wine region of Western Cape, specifically in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  South Africa is the underdog in the world of all things wine and now, more and more people are discovering just how impressive it truly is. If you’re a complete wine enthusiast or love wine even just a little bit, treat yourself and get down to Western Cape for a truly pleasurable experience.

Here’s why:

imagesIt’s Scenic Everywhere You Look

South Africa is one of my favorite countries because of how stunning it is. Oceans, mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, forests, deserts, vineyards–it’s all here in one relatively small pocket of the world. Each winery I visited in Western Cape (I lost count) was complemented by mother nature during her finest.

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Even my Airbnb in Franschhoek was surrounded by acres of beautiful vineyards and mountainous backdrops.

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What did I do to deserve all of this?

imagesMore Accessible Than Ever

Western Cape presents to you more options than ever to get your wine game going strong. Private shuttles, Ubers, cabs, trains, trams, wine buses, bicycles, and even Segways are at your service when it comes to getting around. My favorite option was the trams and wine trains in Franschhoek which normally requires a reservation.

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In many cases, you don’t have to book a tour in advance. On two occasions, we walked right up to a tourist information center in Stellenbosch and enquired about a wine tour to go on there and now. Soon enough, a knowledgeable driver arrived to chauffeur us around. On another occasion, we simply had different Uber’s take us around to the random wineries we chose on our maps. On another occasion, we took a series of Hop-on, Hop-off buses in Franschhoek to a few wineries. Getting around safely and responsibly was never an issue.

imagesThe Unbeatable Pairings

Sure, wines are known to be carefully paired with select cheeses and chocolates, but where else in the world can you have your wine paired with biltong?

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Biltong is basically South Africa’s unique version of beef jerky. Though the biltong here can be made up of some of the most interesting game meats–from springbok to kudu and even ostrich. They all pair quite well with your reds.

Besides the biltong, you have your go-to pairings of favored cheeses, chocolates, sweets, and other nicknacks all available to your liking.

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imagesYou Will Meet Some Fantastic People

Wine tours attract thirsty people from all around the world who enjoy divulging in the finer things in life. In this case, wine. And in my experience, wine people are happy people. You’re bound to meet others who share in your wine commonality. I met a group of frat-like Dutch dudes who joined in on a custom tour and on another occasion, I accompanied a group of beautiful ladies on a special birthday wine tour that they thoroughly enjoyed.

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imagesThere’s No Better Place To Discover Pinotage

Did you know South Africa has their own varietal of red wine they invented? It’s called Pinotage and there is no better place in the world to try it. It’s a red blend: Pinot noir and Hermitage, hence PINO TAGE. Western Cape offers that and every other varietal you can imagine. As a special bonus, South Africa also offers some of the finest selection of Brandy in the world!

 

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imagesIt’s Conveniently Affordable

I’ve been to South Africa a handful of times over the past five years and have been able to go on SO many wine excursions because of how affordable they are. At one of my favorite vendors, Muratie, I even shipped a few bottles back home to Michigan right there on the spot. As of this post, the US dollar is doing well in South Africa, which means more to spend on your favorite Cabernet or Sauvignon blanc.

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I found a tour that shuttled you roundtrip from Cape Town and included six different wineries with five tastings at each winery and lunch included for R800 which translates to about $65 USD. Quality pricing!

imagesThere’s More Than Just Wine

Another thing that’s great about the wine region here is that there is an abundance of other things to do during your wine day. There are tons of exceptional restaurants and bars, shops and cafe’s, malls and theaters. There was even an instance where a friend and I went to a champagne tasting at the House of J.C. LeROUX and then immediately after went to go play with monkeys in a conservation outreach nearby!

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imagesTips To Make The Best of Your Wine Excursion

  • The wineries in Western Cape are open year round but the best time to visit is during the late spring and summer when the weather is ideal. Remember that the summer in South Africa is in the December to February months.
  • Many wineries, especially in Stellenbosch, close earlier on Saturdays for some reason. Some as early as noon! For that reason, Fridays are the most popular days for wine tours.
  • However, there are a couple exceptional outdoor food markets in Stellenbosch that are only open on Saturdays. Root 44 and the Slow Market in Stellenbosch are the two most popular. There they serve lots of fresh and delicious food in addition to great wines. Beginning there on a Saturday morning is never a bad idea!
  • The birthday girl in one of my wine groups got lots of free samples and larger pours when she told our wine hosts it was her birthday. Hint hint 🙂
  • Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are home to an insane amount of different wineries and I have yet been to a bad one. You should have no trouble finding any as they are all relatively in close proximity to each other.
  • Pace yourself. You’ll be surprised just how fast the wine creeps up on you.
  • There are many other wineries outside of the neighboring towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but these two places have the most wineries by far.
  • There are loads of accommodation in Cape Town that cater to wine tours, along with hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Many companies offer direct pickups and returns.

Happy WINEing 🙂

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First You Play With The Ostrich, Then You Eat The Ostrich!

Along the southern coastal region of South Africa’s Western Cape, lies a stretch of parallel routes originating from Cape Town and bleeding into the Eastern Cape. It’s referred to as the Garden Route–a ridiculously scenic drive encompassing a myriad of activities to partake in along the way including but not limited to whale watching, cave exploration, game drives, surfing, bungee jumping, and a visit to an ostrich farm or two.

I had the pleasure to show two of my friends around the Garden Route, being this was my third time experiencing such a wondrous opportunity. One of the particular highlights I was looking forward to, besides the highest bungee in the world, was introducing them to the peculiar world of ostriches.

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You see, ostriches are absolutely terrifying creatures.

They are bitey and ultra curious birds that can easily wreck your s#1T if you get too close to them. They’re also fast as heck and can kill you with their giant legs if they wanted to.

At the Cango Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world, we had the privilege of being shown around the farm on a private tour, along with everything an ostrich is capable of. They really are bizarre creatures!

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I informed my friends of a thing called an “ostrich massage” that I’ve gotten here before, but I didn’t tell them exactly what it was. They had all sorts of guesses, including a version where they thought an ostrich would give them a back massage by stepping on their backsides. THAT would be the death of us!

But, no. An ostrich massage was much less horrible than being stepped on. Instead, you were simply given a bucket of pellets to hold close to your chest as an ostrich or two or three came and went to town on the pellets from around your neck. It was a kooky experience, but the unpredictable nature of the ostriches showed on all our faces.

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We learned quite a few things about the ostrich bird that day, including how their feathers were used as a form of currency back in the olden South African times. Weird. Also, cannot forget the fact that their abnormally large eggs are strong enough for a human to stand on without them cracking.

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Enough with the play. Time to eat!

On the menu? Ostriches!

Served right here at this very farm.

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing ostrich meat for the first time at this very place a few years ago and it did not disappoint. I implored Veronica and Will to try it as well and they were more than down for it. Even after learning to love the ostrich, we still didn’t mind devouring one!

Take a look at this delicious ostrich-kabob that I ordered.

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If you’ve never eaten ostrich meat before and are wondering how it tastes, know that it resembles and tastes more similar to beef than that of chicken. It’s also lean and full of flavor. The others ordered an ostrich burger and an ostrich steak, both great options as well.

The Cango Ostrich Farm is situated in Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is one of two main farms along the Garden Route. I do recommend a visit during your Garden Route trip as it doesn’t take up much time and it IS in the ostrich capital of the world after all.


Cango Ostrich Show Farm

Oudtshoorn 6620,
South Africa

+27 44 272 4623


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When I Was Happily Forced On An Island Getaway in Mozambique

No need to twist my arm!

Thanks to all of my diligent efforts, my Workaway host, Julia, sent me off with six other of her lodge guests to a small island just off of the coast of Pemba. It was part of Cabo Delgado, and this was my island getaway, which cost me nothing. Thanks, Julia!

My squad consisted of a young German couple, two girls from England, and a cool Israeli couple on their honeymoon. I got along effortlessly with all of them over the last few days at the lodge.

I chilled out with them the night prior to a bonfire Julia had made on the beach.

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Early in the morning, two taxis picked us up from the resort lodge and drove about 40 minutes to another part of the coastline. We were prompted to walk out to the beach where a small boat would charter us about 20 minutes to a small island. Julia refers to this beach as “Poop Beach” because the locals tend to poop there and bury their goods in the sand.

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It was a perfect day! The fresh air was crisp, yet salty from the sea breeze and the sun gently lavished the horizon. On the way to the island, we saw a humpback whale or two breaching in the distance. Soon, we docked at the island and was greeted by a welcoming French woman who owned the lodge properties.

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We made ourselves at home and soon summoned us to a delicious breakfast at her outdoor restaurant.

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A few of her staff took us out on the boat all afternoon for some snorkeling. No photos because I’m a dunce who forgot to put a new memory card into my GoPro.

Back on the island, our lunch that we preordered was ready. Most of the guests ordered fish, whereas I had the beef kabob.

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The lodge’s resident dog escorted us on a short trek to the other side of the island to a beach where there were no other people but the seven of us.

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Skittish white crabs were all over the shoreline, getting battered by the oncoming tides. They would quickly disappear into the water or the sand as we approached them. None of us were prepared to go back into the water, so we just took it easy on the beach.

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Our dog led us back to the lodge where we took a boat back to the mainland—back to Poop Beach and then Julia’s lodge.

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The guests I spent the day with were great, but it was short-lived as they all had scheduled to leave Pemba, while I stayed behind to finish out my Workaway. Although technically, I was working, I never felt like I was doing any hard labor. It was impossible not to enjoy, considering the beach setting, the warm weather, and the excellent food.

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This photo isn’t from the lodge. It’s from another hotel resort Julia treated me to before my time in Mozambique was up!

I only set my time for a month in Mozambique before I moved to South Africa. It was all my visa was allowed for and I had made prior arrangements to meet up with friends later. Without those circumstances, I would have definitely extended my stay there in Pemba, helping out Julia with the kids, the homeschooling, and the lodge. It’s been a month since I arrived and poor Adam was STILL being held in jail against his will. We all thought that he would be out sooner but that wasn’t the case. Speaking of, the case of who murdered the expat was nowhere close to being solved and slowly progressed into a high-profile investigation within the community. Until this point, it was unheard of for expats to be held as prisoners without evidence. The whole community knew about Adam. It was madness.

My Workaway experience included lodging and food at Julia’s abode. But, if I ordered food at the restaurant, I would get a 25% discount. I racked up a big bill by the end of it, in which Julia told me not to pay because I’ve been a big help. So nice of her!

When I left Mozambique, Adam was still being held. Julia had to come up with money to bribe the judge to set his bail at a reasonable amount. It’s the corrupted way things work there in Mozambique. I received a Whatsapp later from Julia stating Alex was finally released, along with an emotional video of him reuniting with his two toddlers.

It made my day.

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The Demonic Electronics of Bucharest, Romania

Some man/woman hybrid thing who looked like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dressed in drag asked me if I wanted ‘sex’ as I walked past the train station in Bucharest.

That there folks, is how I was welcomed into the “The Paris of the East”, or more properly Bucharest, Romania.

Btw, I Speedy Gonzalez’d past The Rock’s ugly cousin and straight to my hostel I booked called Friend’s Hostel. A girl, who appeared to be in her very early 20’s, checked me in and gave me the scoop on the hostel and said if I had any questions, then to let her know. I had lots of questions particularly because I came into Romania with next to no prior knowledge of the country and mostly because I wanted to hear her voice. She had a captivating ‘Dracula’ accent that made her sound like a character straight out of a Transylvanian horror flick. I didn’t think I’d be so enthralled.

Here I was–officially in Europe! Continent number four of my Quest to the Seven Continents and country number ten of this trip, Romania. Out of all the countries I’ve been to so far, I knew the least about Romania. With that, I went against my usual mode of exploration and opted for a free walking tour offered from my hostel, to acquaint myself with Bucharest and a little bit of its history.

Back at the hostel, as I was lounging in the upstairs area, I met a backpacker by the name of Jasper (Poland), who was strumming away at a guitar by his lonesome. Jasper spoke English, but very slowly, so listening to him required all of my attention. He mentioned that later in the evening he wanted to go into the city to find food and explore. I decided to tag along. It would be good to see what Bucharest was like during the night shift.

We took a a cheap subway towards the city and popped up into the ‘happenin’ area of the city called the Old Town. This area was lined up with bars, clubs, cafe’s, and lots of neat restaurants in between. It actually reminded me of Amsterdam, sans canals.

We ate a delicious meal at a vegetarian restaurant he suggested and afterwards we met up a few of his friends for a few beers nearby. They were neat people and I was content on just enjoying the rest of the night there, but Jasper had hardy plans to visit an “electronic concert” somewhere in the city. He just wasn’t sure exactly where it was.

Jasper told me he loves music of all varieties and studies it back home. He saw on an online ad that there was an electronic music concert somewhere in the Old Town that he was interested in attending that began at midnight.

“Are you sure it’s a concert?” I asked him. From the way he was describing it, it sounded like a club that just played electronic music; not so much as a ‘concert’.

He wasn’t sure. I was marginally interested to see what it was and so I went with him. Why? I don’t know, I had nothing better to do. Electronic music is not really my thing but then again I was invited to an electronic music festival in Mexico a while ago and had a ton of fun. It was mainly the beer though.

He navigated on Google Maps and I followed him about the streets at night. We went around in a circle before we found a giant warehouse that was converted into a bar/club kinda deal. It actually looked pretty decent inside. We paid an entrance fee which was also a ticket for the live show. It was well past midnight, but we found that the show hadn’t started yet.

I’d say the size of the show room was comparable to the inside of a 7-Eleven; so not too big. The stage was set for a more intimate experience. When we first arrived, the floor was practically empty as a DJ played tunes that sounded like nothing I’ve heard before–a random mix of sound bytes against a repetitive monotone beat. Jasper and I got a beer from the bar and sat in one of the booths near the back wall. Conversation was almost nonexistent because the music was too loud. Jasper did express his excitement for the main event, which should have started by now.

1:30am came and went. 2am was long gone. It was nearly 3am. How late do places like these stay open for? Gradually, the floor started to fill with a crowd and so Jasper and I made our way to the front. The show was finally about to begin. At this point, it was so late, I just wanted my bed.

The room suddenly turned red. A smoke machine filled the air with fog. Two girls who looked like hipster teenagers walked onto the stage to the DJ mixer/turntable and began pressing buttons and adjusting tabs and switches. Then things just got weird from there.

 

A simple, yet eerie sounding beat began to play, loud as heck. People began to bob their heads as if they were in a trance. Jasper disappeared into the middle of the crowd. The music began to blend into a more sinister rhythm. The red lights of the room intensified. I looked over to Jasper who was dancing around as if he were possessed by a ghost.  As for myself, I really did try to enjoy it. I even had a couple more drinks but that didn’t help. This wasn’t any kind of music I’ve ever heard.

 

 

I stood near the wall by myself while everyone else seemed to enjoy it. I’m pretty open to most genres of music but this particular genre sounded like the DJ’s were trying to summon a hipster demon and we were all about to be its sacrifice. THIS is the concert people paid to come to? This was definitely not my cup of tea. I needed to get out of there.

Jasper was in a complete trance when I went up to him. “I’m gonna get out of here,” I said to him. “I’m falling asleep!” Thankfully, he agreed to come as well. If he wanted to stay, then I would have no problem leaving him behind.

I returned to the hostel and spoke to the girl who spoke like Dracula. She informed me that the who lore of Vlad the Impaler, more famously known as Dracula, is in a town called Brasov.

That’s where I’ll go! Bucharest was cool. The people were friendly, but that demon summoning, electro concert thing was a little much. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to Jasper; he disappeared without a trace.

Perhaps he was taken by one of those demons.