Tag Archives: world travel

Top 10 Moments From My Quest to the Seven Continents

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I began and ended this quest in ice…

…from the Arctic north of Alaska to the frozen continent of Antarctica. In between the two poles, I largely ventured in warm, subtropical climates. From the East to the West, the journey from the oceanic islands of the South Pacific all the way through across the Atlantic to the eastern coast of South America was enlightening, spur-of-the-moment, and the most adventurous of all my tales.

After a little more than a year and a half of constant travel, I successfully completed my Quest to the Seven Continents: North America, Oceania (Australia), Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, & Antarctica.

These are the TOP 10 Greatest Moments from that journey around the world. 

 From August 2016—February 2018

#11. Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro  (Honorable Mention).

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I had to include this as an honorable mention because it was just so damn special. Attending New Year’s Eve on the exotic beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been on my ATLAS (bucket list) for years and for good reason; it was truly something remarkable. Coming off the worst hangover of my life (lasting two days!) with a bunch of party-hard backpackers and insane Brazilian locals—I donned in mostly white attire and got silly again with them on on the eve of the New Year. I stood in the shimmering ocean as fireworks were booming and each jump over an incoming wave signaled all the best luck heading into 2018. I was sandy, soaking wet, and buzzed, but on a personal high I haven’t experienced in a long while. Rio delivered to the quest.

(I have yet to publish a post about this moment. Look out for it soon!)

#10. The Gift on the Great Ocean Road

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Some of the best moments are the unexpected ones. A few years ago while backpacking through Laos, I met an Australian traveler by the name of Alison who taught me how to ride a motorbike for the first time. Fast forward to November 2017, I still haven’t seen her since. Knowing she lived on the East Coast of Australia, I contacted her and asked if she was around to reunite for a bit. Unfortunately, she was working on assignment in the Middle East.

However.

Completely out of nowhere, she offered her entire home to me while she was away and encouraged me to bring my friends. It was a vacation style house, an utterly perfect luxury abode sitting right at the start of Australia’s Great Ocean Road. I graciously accepted her generous offer, heeded her advice, and invited a handpicked selection of trusted friends who were around the area along. To say our weekend there was a blast would be an understatement. Even more amazing, was the fact that this woman, Alison, whom I’ve only met once in a random country years ago, trusted me with her home. I took great care of it and still plan to one day return the very generous favor to her in some way. This was a very unexpected, yet appreciated compliment to my quest.

 

#9. Diving With Bull Sharks

Bull Sharks in Beqa Island, Fiji while Scuba Diving

The only thing I wanted to do in Fiji was scuba dive with bull sharks. I got the opportunity on my first day there when a group of scuba divers at a beach house I was staying at randomly asked if I wanted to join on a shark dive the next day. What luck! You would think seeing a gang of ferocious sharks underwater, just a few meters away from you would be terrifying, but not in this case. It was thoroughly mesmerizing in every way. I did three more shark dives in Fiji after that one. One of my most desired travel dreams was accomplished very early in the quest.

 

#8. Finding A Needle In a Haystack (My Lost Passport in Ukraine)

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This can also count as one of my most tense moments during the quest. The lengths I went through to find my lost passport to get out of Ukraine is nothing I will ever just shrug off. The complete language barrier, the bizarre police rides, the mysterious messages from Russian women, the apartment complex puzzle-solving, and of course, the shady man in the trench coat who tried to kidnap me in his alleyway vehicle…I still give myself a gratifying pat on the back for a triumphant ending. When I nearly gave up hope, I miraculously found my passport and was able to leave Ukraine in the nick of time. This quest was not without its trials and this is one unforgettable example of that.

 

#7. Summiting Annapurna Basecamp

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The Himalayas are perhaps the most fearsome mountain range in the world and I wanted to trek it. Not Mount Everest though, I’m not ready for that yet. Instead, I opted for its smaller-scale neighbor, Annapurna Basecamp. A buddy and I trekked up through vivid scenery for nine days until we peaked at 4,190 meters in the cool snow with relative ease. Annapurna Basecamp is the second highest climb I’ve ever done (Kilimanjaro is the first) and the highest summit I’ve conquered on this particular quest.

 

#6. Lost in Indian Mountains During Christmas

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I was sitting in a hostel in Mumbai minding my own business until a local Indian man came up to me and asked if I wanted to hike Fort Torne with him and his friend on Christmas Eve, which was just a day later. I gave an immediate “yes”. Fort Torne was a small mountain range just a few hours bus-ride east of Mumbai where tourists don’t usually go. We left late in the evening and had to sleep on the concrete floor in a small temple at the base of the mountain to avoid wild leopards during their primal hours. We got lost in the pitch black during the hike up which resulted in us sleeping on a random villager’s stack of hay we stumbled across, alongside a stray dog who kept us company the entire night; all while keeping watch of any looming leopards. The next morning, we found our way through Fort Torne. I wanted to do something unique for Christmas, but never could I have expected this. This would have been my favorite Christmas ever, but the Christmas of 1998 still reigns supreme—the year I received a Nintendo 64.

 

#5. Sparking The Most Colorful War On Sarangkot Mountain

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I just so happened to be in Nepal during their Holi Festival. A holiday where everyone celebrates life by throwing colored powder at each other among other traditions like shooting water guns and lobbing water balloons at everyone. Once I found this out, the child in me came all out. I bought a ridiculous amount of colors and water guns, bazookas, balloons, and even silly string and snow spray. I was completely ready to wreak the most colorful havoc on my village and they were prepared as well. It was me versus nearly the entire lot of kids in the area in what was the most polychromatic, rainbow war that I’ll ever participate in…at least until next time when I exact revenge. They completely destroyed me. On that day, Holi Festival became one of my new favorite holidays I was fortunate to experience for the first time ever during this quest.

 

#4. Walking 500 Miles Across Spain

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A friend in Manchester told me about El Camino de Santiago; an 800-kilometer pilgrimage from the France border across most of northern Spain. Many do it for religious reasons. Others do it to find themselves. I did it solely for the challenge. On the way, I met an eclectic range of personalities while walking through whatever the camino threw at me: villages, mountains, highways, forests, cities, farms, grasslands, and the nefarious Meseta region, a hot and dry portion that required all of my mental prowess all while eating rock-hard bocadillos every single day. I completed the camino in 32 days along with the group I met along the way. It was a gracious feeling knowing I could achieve such a major accomplishment to close out the European portion of the quest.

 

#3. Creating The League of Extraordinary Events

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The idea of removing three of my American friends from their normal everyday lives and throwing them into one of the biggest unexpected twists of their lives sounded like complete brilliance. For months, they were certain I was taking them on a special road trip down to Florida. Instead, I pulled the rug right from under their feet by flying them out to Alaska and then immediately to Hawaii to participate in eight extraordinary events and activities I’ve been planning for months. Little did they know that the unknown events involved sharks, icebergs, mountains, booze, ATV’s, rapids, oceans, and so much more. This extraordinary feat kicked off my quest around the world.

 

#2. Voyage To Antarctica

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Learning how to sail the Europa, a tall Dutch ship across the infamous Drake’s Passage into the icy wonderland that is Antarctica is arguably my greatest adventure of all time! I’ll never forget stepping foot onto the continent for the very first time, completing the short, yet arduous list of the world’s seven. Over the span of 22 days, I learned the basics of sailing and became a crew member for the Bark Europa vessel. Add on the abundance of wildlife, mountainous glaciers, icebergs taller than skyscrapers, the nights of unavoidable sea seasickness, and the natural beauty beheld…the voyage to Antarctica was truly the ultimate pinnacle of my entire quest.

(I have yet to publish a post about this moment. Look out for it soon!)

 

#1. Nepal

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It was the most heartwarming decision I made on this quest.

The only reason I went back was to fulfill a promise I made two years ago to the class nine students; to take them on a field trip, fully funded by me. If it weren’t for that sole purpose, I probably would have never returned, but I’m so glad I did.

I kept that promise and took that same class, plus a couple other classes on a special trip, but what I didn’t expect was to gain a family while I stayed in the villages in Sarangkot Mountain. I got to know my host families much better this time around and in the process created an unbreakable bond with the people there. I gained a few new “brothers” and never once did I feel like a tourist. I stayed for three months, much longer than I anticipated, and even returned for two more months, just a short time later. I felt completely at peace.

The family foremost culture in Nepal is something I don’t really have back home, I hate to admit.  I always think about the country and how it’s now one of my absolute most favorite places in the world. I already am looking forward to my near future trips to see my “family” and friends there once again. My newfound love for Nepal was the best gift this quest presented me.


 

Here are some other interesting numbers:

-I visited 26 countries during this quest. Not including airport layovers and transfers. 8 of them are ones I’ve been to before.

-I spent the most time in Nepal (5 months total), which also means I spent the longest time in Asia out of all the continents.

-Not counting being home, I spent the shortest amount of time in North America out of all the continents.

-The longest consecutive time I went without any internet is 22 days.

-I flew on 36 different flights around the world (not yet counting the ones taking me back to Michigan)

-I spent 35 consecutive days without eating meat.

-Out of all of my travels, I’ve been sick the least amount of times during this trip. Only a 24 hour flu and a brief stomach bug. Both occurring in Nepal.

-The absolute worst hangover in my life occurred in Brazil. (Lasted for two days.)

-I learned to say basic phrases in 6 new languages. (Hello, Thank you, Please, Excuse me, etc)

-I held 6 different phone numbers total during this quest.

-I’ve driven a vehicle in 6 countries during the quest. Only one of them was on the right side of the road.

-Around month number 9 is when I first began to feel travel fatigue.

-I always accidentally receive some sort of semi-permanent scar on my body from a trip. With this quest, I came out unscathed.

-I stayed in a total of 104 different hostels, hotels, lodges, and airbnbs. A bulk of this is from the camino in Spain. This doesn’t include homestays, volunteer houses, and friends homes.

-I vomited in 3 different countries during this quest: Poland (intoxicated), Brazil (very intoxicated), and Antarctica (seasickness) (I’m also counting that as a country).

-“Despacito” and “Shape of You” are by far the two most popular songs I’ve heard during most of the quest in many countries.

-The highest altitude (without flying) during this quest was 4,190m (Annapurna).


 

And now my watch quest has ended.

What could possibly be next? I have no clue. But, I still have a bucket list to complete…

 

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Walking Across Spain (El Camino de Santiago): Week 3

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Continued from previous post Walking Across Spain (El Camino de Santiago): Week 2

 

31 May

Day 15: Honturas to Frómista (32 km)

I left early again, not on purpose, but because Ethan decided to sleep in. The first half of the 30 km+ day was great. I felt as powerful as ever! Soon, I began to feel my blister coming in. Also, I didn’t eat anything for breakfast so I was struggling on the last 5 km to Fromista. Ethan arrived at the municipal about two hours later, and Jon about an hour after that. I took a majority of the day to rest in bed. I did not like the way I felt on the last part of the walk. We’re halfway there, body; just hold up a little longer, then you can relax back in Nepal for two months!”

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I had to wear a buff over my face for part of the day because it was getting mighty buggy!

1 June

Day 16: Frómista to Carron (18 km)

Today I woke up and ate an apple and a donut for breakfast, which seemed to help this time. The back of my left leg was still a bit sore, but I was able to power through the 18 km day. The sun was relentless and I had sweat dripping down my back and out of my armpits. I’m gonna have to figure out how to deal with the heat tomorrow as it’s a 37 km day in the sun! I made a dinner from scratch: rice with caramelized onions and green peppers along with a cheesy chicken on top. I thought I did quite well. Gotta rest for tomorrows haul. It may be the hardest day yet!”

 

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2 June

Day 17: Carron to Sahagun (37 km)

Today was long and hot! 37 km! I stuck my stick so that it was sticking up out of my bag and hung my rain jacket from it. It was like a canopy that protected me from the direct sunlight. I was also able to read an entire novel as the path was straightforward and without many hazards. My group of three also got split up. I made it to Saharan while Jon stayed in Terradillos (it was too hot for him) while Ethan stayed in a town (don’t remember the name) about 18 km back! He stayed behind for unknown reasons. No worries, we shall regroup once we get to Leon in a couple days. This may be good for Ethan to get a couple days on his own, actually.”

The novel I read was called A Girl On a Train, the only book in English I could find in the albergue’s. I read a couple chapters the day before and read the rest on this day, under my mobile canopy.

 

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3 June

Day 18: Sahagun to Mansilla (35 km)

Today hurt like no other day. I was moving at a brisk pace when suddenly my left leg (which has been sore for the last few days) said “no more’’. I took a pause in Regioso to eat and rest up so I could finish the 35 km day. Only about 6 km to go! I had a renewed, God given, strength and regained a pep in my step as I quickly made it to the municipal in Mansilla. There, I reunited with two pilgrims I met yesterday, Jake and Dan, who arrived shortly after. I made us all a pasta dinner and then hit the hay. My body needs rest. Tomorrow I will have an easy 18km day and will meet up again with Ethan and Jon. After speaking to Dan, it’s my left Achilles that’s paining me. He taught me how to stretch it out. Hopefully, it will help.”

Today was the first day that I spent the night apart from everyone in my group. Weird at first, but a good change of pace for a moment. I’m sure the others could have used the separation as well.

4 June

Day 19: Mansilla to Léon (18 km)

Jake and I had an easy 18 km walk to the big city of Leon. There, I reunited with Ethan and Jon, and we went tapas crawling. Many pubs served tapas when you ordered a drink. Our albergue reminded me of a military war hospital. And it just so happened that the loudest snorers on Earth were in our room. The city of Leon itself was much better than Burgos, but it was still no Pamplona. At 9pm, our group went to the albergue’s monastery for a special pilgrims blessing. Most of the sermon was in Spanish, but the list of it was a blessing for us pilgrims for our continued perseverance and guidance for the rest of our walk.”

I’m not a very religious person by no means, but I felt that going to at least one blessing along this camino would be neat to experience.

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5 June

Day 20: Léon to Hospital (24 km)

Jake and I walked 24 km to San Martin, our intended destination for the day, but instead went further to Hospital; an outstanding medical town that was much better than the previous cities. However, the walk today was the ugliest in the whole camino so far—industrial pretty much the whole way. Once I got to Hospital, I messaged Ethan and Jon letting them know that I went an extra town further. They persisted and joined me later on. I made a dinner for the five of us (Ethan, Jon, Jake, and other Dan), a special pasta with veggies, a creamy carbonara sauce and lots of grilled chicken breast. I think I may have outdone myself this time. The total day was about 30 km.”

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6 June

Day 21: Hospital to Astorga (20 km)

I hate to admit this, but I’m ready to be done! They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, but I’m just about over walking and never plan on walking again. I shall invest in a Segway after this. Today’s walk was a short 14 km into a rather larger city: Astorga. Found a comfortable hostel near the cathedral and just planned on doing nothing all day. Just relax, Youtube, and nap. No matter how much the others wanted to ‘do something’’, Today was my day to do absolutely nothing. I had no desire to see the city. My only desire was to get to Santiago, get outta Spain and continue the rest of my trip to far more interesting endeavors (Nepal, Germany, Africa, etc). Had done kebob for dinner. Met twins from England.”

 

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6 June

Astorga Thoughts

So. Everyone that told me they’ve done the camino before, told me it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Mainly because of the people they’ve met along the way that has made their camino extra special. It’s day 21 and I gave up hope on meeting those special people. TBH, most of the pilgrims I’ve come across are rather odd or just too old with nothing in common with me. Besides a handful of gems, my small group, I haven’t really bonded well with the people here as I usually do on my other backpacking trips. It could just be bad luck or bad timing on my part. Or maybe because most of these pilgrims are first time travelers and I just can’t be bothered with their noobness. I’ve met amazing people during all my travels, but no one here really wowed me, save for those gems I mentioned. Also, waay too many old people who have no shame when it comes to walking around in their tighty-whities, farting, snorting, snoring, etc. I’ll reserve my final opinion until I actually reach Santiago. So far, it’s been mediocre.

Just being honest. Keeping an open mind.


One more camino post!

Walking Across Spain (El Camino de Santiago): Week 1

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Why the hell would anyone in their rightful mind want to walk across an entire country?!

Some are doing it for spiritual reasons, some for religious reasons, some just to get away from real life for a moment. As for people like me? I’m doing it solely for the challenge.

It’s called El Camino de Santiago — an 800 kilometer walk from the France/Spain border to nearly the Atlantic coast.

I’ve planned to do this walk since a little over a year ago. A friend from Manchester told me about it—said it was one of the most amazing experiences of her life. It immediately piqued my interest. I’ve never heard of it before and it sounded truly fascinating. Walking 800 kilometers from the France/Spain border to Santiago, a city in Spain, near the Atlantic Coast. I’ve never attempted anything quite like this before. A perfect addition to my quest to the seven continents.

During my quest, I thought very little of the camino. It was still far off and it wasn’t until just a few days before, when I did my research about what to pack.

Things that were recommended to bring, I didn’t have:

  • a sleeping bag
    earplugs
    headlamp
    a few small odds and ends

Things that I did have that I brought:

  • three t-shirts
    a light rain jacket
    a poncho
    trekking shoes
    flip-flops
    a pair of cargo shorts
    two pairs of synthetic pants (they can unzip and become shorts if necessary)
    two pairs of synthetic/wool socks
    one pair of regular cotton socks
    sunglasses
    four pairs of underwear
    a buff
    light travel towel
    my iPhone
    my Canon DSLR

Everything besides the trekking shoes and the electronics were lightweight. My camera was the heaviest.

Thankfully, my darling Lucy had all of that and then-some that she happily lent to me. I left the majority of my belongings with her in England for the time being. Suddenly, my 85-liter backpack weighed about a tenth of my weight; just like the guides recommended. I was now officially a pilgrim! A pilgrim is what us trekkers are referred to during the camino.

But first…

I had to meet a friend and fellow pilgrim in Paris. I went overland through England, across an overnight ferry to France, and trained it to Paris. I settled into a hostel and met my friend Ethan there the next day, who has just flown all the way from North Carolina. I met Ethan last September while volunteering in Fiji. He volunteered with the construction program and we were roommates for the majority of my stay.

Upon first glance, I would describe Ethan as your typical frat guy (he hates when I say that, but that’s the most generic description I could give). He was the dude bro in Fiji that always enjoyed a beer, wanted to party, and more importantly, wanted everyone to party with him. Not a bad person to have in the house. Still, I was nervous having him around for the camino. He and I would be together, 24/7 for about a month! We are bound to butt heads, if not anything worse. Not to mention, we still don’t know each other very well. I was only in Fiji with him for a little over a month. I was set on doing this alone, but when I mentioned I was doing the camino later in the spring, his eyes lit up. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to have a companion.

My new underlying mission alongside this 800 km walk across an entire country:
Don’t Kill Ethan.

We casually walked around Paris before we went for our bus that would be overnighting to Bayonne, in the south of France. At the bus, we randomly met Christina, a girl from Texas. By the way Ethan and I were dressed and geared up, she could tell that we were pilgrims on our way to Spain. Thus, the three of us decided to stick together for a while. Once we arrived in Bayonne, we went to the train station and booked a journey to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, the official starting point of El Camino de Santiago!

We, along with a crap ton of other pilgrims, went to the pilgrim office to receive our special pilgrim passport. With this passport, we would gain access to the many albergues scattered across the entire camino. An albergue is essentially a hostel, but exclusive only to pilgrims. At each albergue, we would get a unique stamp in our passport, as proof that we actually walked the distance.

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I also bought a small journal to keep tabs of my daily observations that I will share with you all here — unedited and from the heart, each followed by my after-thoughts of each day.

17 May
Day 1: St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncevalles (25km)

“Supposedly the hardest day of the hike, because of the ascent (1,400m). Our group of three expanded into six with the addition of Jon (California), Nicolas (Frankfurt), and a girl from Italy (not sure of her name). The day was super scenic, extremely windy, and cool. I felt bad for Christina and carried her heavy bag up most of the way. We arrived before 3pm. Good Day!”

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Yeah, Christina over-packed and so we switched bags for the day. Good exercise. The Pyrenees were stunning. It was extremely breezy, but it helped keep us cool. I heard that this day was one of the hardest days, but I found it to be more enjoyable than anything. I loved that day!

18 May
Day 2: Roncevalles to Zubiri (20km)

“Cold, wet, and gloomy day. Beginning to realize it’s cheaper to get our breakfast and dinners outside the albergue’s, but sometimes we have no choice. Wore my poncho most of the day.”

 

Complete opposite of the day before. It was coooold. We were soaked by the time we reached our destination.

19 May
Day 3: Zubiri to Pamplona (22km)

“Our group of six enjoyed a nice, cool day towards Pamplona. Ethan began to get feet full of blisters, which slowed us down a bit. It’s only day 3 and his feet are already hit! Nic bandaged him up. Our group couldn’t decide whether to stay an extra night in Pamplona. I’m hoping we don’t. We shall see.”

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Pamplona was one of the larger cities during our camino and a pretty extravagant one at that. I didn’t know that this area was famous for the Running of the Bull tradition they hold every year. We had lots of cheap red wine this night.

20 May
Day 4: Pamplona to Puente de Reina (24km)

“Socks didn’t completely dry overnight, so I stayed back while the others went on. Eventually caught up and pressed on. Beginning to realize that I am spending too much. One, because when I’m hungry, I buy lots of food. Two, Ethan always wants to drink and I always give in. Italy quietly left our group. Jon began to blister up. I have been fine thus far, so I hope it remains. Warm, sunny day through cornfields, small villages, and rocky slopes.”

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I washed and hung my clothes to dry the day before, but my wool socks didn’t completely dry overnight. It’s not wise to do long treks in wet socks so I had to improvise; I hung my socks over a toaster oven. It did the trick! I managed to catch up with the others who stopped along the way to wait.

21 May
Day 5: Puente de Reina to Estella (22km)

“My team is starting to physically break down. Ethan’s knees, Christina’s limp, Jon’s feet, and Nic’s illness. Fortunately, I am still completely able, but it’s only the fifth day. Since my pace is naturally a bit quick, I went ahead of the group and reached Estella two hours before they did. I enjoyed walking alone for a change, chatting with other pilgrims along the way. Tomorrow, I will try and walk slower with the others. Hopefully, their conditions don’t worsen. I made the day cheap for us by booking a cheap albergue and cooking dinner.”

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I was already growing tired of having bocadillos (sandwiches) all the time so I took it upon myself to make dinner for the group. Saved money and it’s also great practice for me since I’m no cook. Most albergues have kitchens in them for pilgrims to cook their own food in.

22 May
Day 6: Estella to Torres del Rio (30km)

“Instead of stopping in our planned destination of Los Arcos, we (and many other pilgrims on our route) decided to press on further to Torres del Rio. We heard it was a cheaper, better city…but it really wasn’t. The day started off cool. We saw the public wine fountain and then walked through a cloudless heat. By far the hottest day yet! I stayed with the group most of the way, but walked faster once it grew hotter. Ethan’s knees have gotten worse and is unsure how he’ll perform tomorrow. We suggested that he sends his bags to the next town, to ease the load on his legs. We shall see. Christina quietly fell behind in our group. As of now, it remains just us four guys. However, if injuries persist, then I may be walking alone. So far I am in great shape!”

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I didn’t anticipate the albergues to be able to accommodate so many people! Thank goodness for the ear plugs Lucy gave me. They have worked wonders. The best item I brought with me. But if you forget anything, you can buy your necessities in virtually every big town you come across.

 

23 May
Day 7: Torres del Rio to Logroño (20km)

“Ethan’s knee pain was too unbearable and so he decided to take a taxi to Logroño, while Jon, Nic, and I would continue our walk. An easy 20k day. Once we reached Logroño, Jon opted to stay in a 75 Euro hotel! Nic and I met Ethan at an albergue nearby. His knee wasn’t really getting better, so he decided to rest another day and he will meet us in Santo Domingo via bus in a few days. I’ve been in great shape since the beginning and felt stronger than ever! No blisters, no aches, no pains, or anything. I hope it keeps up! It’s only been a week. Something is bound to happen.”

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The distances indicated for each day are close estimates. If you ask any pilgrim, they will all tell you different answers, but usually they are always around the same ballpark.

Week 1 done. If we continue on this pace, we should reach Santiago in about three more weeks!

Two Ways to Remedy 'Travel Fatigue' in Poland: Good People & Pączki 


I have to admit—nine months in, this quest to reach the seven continents is starting to wear me out.

I came to that realization when I was hanging up my wet (from being washed) clothes in Maria’s living room. Most of my shirts had holes in them and there was a permanent stink I acquired from Nepal and India that I couldn’t get rid of, no matter how many times I washed them. Not only that, but my wallet was falling apart, my bag was infested with dust and dirt all over and in it, and mentally I was exhausted. Packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, long flights, motion-sick inducing buses, trains, boats, taxis, visas, language barriers, religions, superstitious beliefs, politics, this, that, these, and those. And then that incident in Ukraine happened.

The idea of going home, for maybe a week, to reset myself sounded reeeeal nice.

But, I cannot do that. I declared a pact to myself, a goal that I published here to the world, that I will not go back home until I reach all seven continents. As of where I am now, in Poland, I still have three more continents to go — Africa, South America, and the big one, Antarctica.

Since I can’t and won’t go home for a little TLC, I can settle for the next best remedy: my amazingly awesome foreign friends. I’m lucky enough to have them in all the right places, dotted all over the world, including here in Warsaw. My Canadian/Polish amiga Maria is one that I met while traveling in Peru back in 2011. She invited me up here before I made my way further west to Europe. I was happy to be there in the presence of a familiar face, where I didn’t really have to think or plan anything. I didn’t care what we did honestly, I was just happy to be there.

Just like most countries I’ve visited on this quest, I knew very little about Poland. From prior knowledge, I knew that they were involved in many important battles. I knew of polish sausages. I knew I had friends at home who would always rant and rave about their Polish heritage, but most importantly, I knew that pączki were a thing.

IMG_7391

We have those in Michigan, particularly during Fat Tuesday, but I’ve never had one, but it’s basically a cream-filled donut and I hate those things! I love most donuts, EXCEPT donuts filled with crap. Cream, jelly, whatever. It ruins them. But being since I was here in the official home of the pączki, I oughta give them a try. After Maria settled me into the comforts of Warsaw, she baton passed me to Janka, who served as my own personal tour guide while she went to work during the day. Janka knew I longed for a pączki and she just so happened to know the best place for that.

IMG_7399

Fresh out of the oven, warm, and just the right amount of fluff. I had two different pączki and they were delicious, even with the cream filling. It wasn’t too much.

Janka showed me all around the most populous area of Warsaw. I was surprised to find that the locals here were big fans of ice cream. There were ice cream shops around every corner! Not only that, but the cuisine was amazing. When we went to eat lunch, I asked Janka to order something traditional for me from the menu. She gladly accepted the challenge.

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She explained to me how Poland used to be a communist state. She also had an eye for pointing out the differences between buildings that were constructed under communist rule and others that were built during the democratic periods. Communist buildings appear to be drab, a dull tone of gray, and is mostly made up of cement building blocks that are pretty much always completely horizontal and vertical in nature—rarely curvature and intricate in architect.

IMG_7408

Janka passed me back to Maria who took it upon herself to show me around the city and to even more delicious foods. All I could do in return was to show her how to ‘dab’ because she had no idea what that was.

IMG_4616

IMG_7522

That night, Maria invited me to a get-together she had with a group of her colleagues. One of them went out of her way to make dinner and supply a whole lot of alcoholic beverages.

IMG_7460

IMG_7465

IMG_7476

I wasn’t sure if I was drunk off the wine or the endless supply of sauerkraut. I didn’t think I drank all that much, but the mound of sauerkraut I vomited outside of Maria’s apartment, just a few meters away from her oblivious security guard, would say otherwise—much to Maria’s amusement. Since I’ve known Maria, she’s always been a puker. I consistently make fun of her for it and now was her opportunity to rag on me. Much deserved.

My time in Warsaw was extremely brief; only three days to explore, but I left on an uplifting note. Poland, from what I’ve experienced, is an easy and cheap country to explore with tons of rich history to dive into. There’s SO much more than just Warsaw, that I will have to invest more time into one day.

IMG_7430

As for me feeling beat? I still am, especially knowing what’s coming ahead. Seeing friends was a good, temporary fix. I’m still learning to deal. It just takes time I suppose. As I came to the end of this post, I do find that writing about the fond memories does serve a purpose, instead of concentrating on the tedious parts of travel.

Thank you, Maria and Janka, for giving me a taste of Poland!

Onward to another flight…

Has anyone else ever felt this way after extensive travel?

Two Ways to Remedy ‘Travel Fatigue’ in Poland: Good People & Pączki 


I have to admit—nine months in, this quest to reach the seven continents is starting to wear me out.

I came to that realization when I was hanging up my wet (from being washed) clothes in Maria’s living room. Most of my shirts had holes in them and there was a permanent stink I acquired from Nepal and India that I couldn’t get rid of, no matter how many times I washed them. Not only that, but my wallet was falling apart, my bag was infested with dust and dirt all over and in it, and mentally I was exhausted. Packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, long flights, motion-sick inducing buses, trains, boats, taxis, visas, language barriers, religions, superstitious beliefs, politics, this, that, these, and those. And then that incident in Ukraine happened.

The idea of going home, for maybe a week, to reset myself sounded reeeeal nice.

But, I cannot do that. I declared a pact to myself, a goal that I published here to the world, that I will not go back home until I reach all seven continents. As of where I am now, in Poland, I still have three more continents to go — Africa, South America, and the big one, Antarctica.

Since I can’t and won’t go home for a little TLC, I can settle for the next best remedy: my amazingly awesome foreign friends. I’m lucky enough to have them in all the right places, dotted all over the world, including here in Warsaw. My Canadian/Polish amiga Maria is one that I met while traveling in Peru back in 2011. She invited me up here before I made my way further west to Europe. I was happy to be there in the presence of a familiar face, where I didn’t really have to think or plan anything. I didn’t care what we did honestly, I was just happy to be there.

Just like most countries I’ve visited on this quest, I knew very little about Poland. From prior knowledge, I knew that they were involved in many important battles. I knew of polish sausages. I knew I had friends at home who would always rant and rave about their Polish heritage, but most importantly, I knew that pączki were a thing.

IMG_7391

We have those in Michigan, particularly during Fat Tuesday, but I’ve never had one, but it’s basically a cream-filled donut and I hate those things! I love most donuts, EXCEPT donuts filled with crap. Cream, jelly, whatever. It ruins them. But being since I was here in the official home of the pączki, I oughta give them a try. After Maria settled me into the comforts of Warsaw, she baton passed me to Janka, who served as my own personal tour guide while she went to work during the day. Janka knew I longed for a pączki and she just so happened to know the best place for that.

IMG_7399

Fresh out of the oven, warm, and just the right amount of fluff. I had two different pączki and they were delicious, even with the cream filling. It wasn’t too much.

Janka showed me all around the most populous area of Warsaw. I was surprised to find that the locals here were big fans of ice cream. There were ice cream shops around every corner! Not only that, but the cuisine was amazing. When we went to eat lunch, I asked Janka to order something traditional for me from the menu. She gladly accepted the challenge.

IMG_7383

IMG_7384

She explained to me how Poland used to be a communist state. She also had an eye for pointing out the differences between buildings that were constructed under communist rule and others that were built during the democratic periods. Communist buildings appear to be drab, a dull tone of gray, and is mostly made up of cement building blocks that are pretty much always completely horizontal and vertical in nature—rarely curvature and intricate in architect.

IMG_7408

Janka passed me back to Maria who took it upon herself to show me around the city and to even more delicious foods. All I could do in return was to show her how to ‘dab’ because she had no idea what that was.

IMG_4616

IMG_7522

That night, Maria invited me to a get-together she had with a group of her colleagues. One of them went out of her way to make dinner and supply a whole lot of alcoholic beverages.

IMG_7460

IMG_7465

IMG_7476

I wasn’t sure if I was drunk off the wine or the endless supply of sauerkraut. I didn’t think I drank all that much, but the mound of sauerkraut I vomited outside of Maria’s apartment, just a few meters away from her oblivious security guard, would say otherwise—much to Maria’s amusement. Since I’ve known Maria, she’s always been a puker. I consistently make fun of her for it and now was her opportunity to rag on me. Much deserved.

My time in Warsaw was extremely brief; only three days to explore, but I left on an uplifting note. Poland, from what I’ve experienced, is an easy and cheap country to explore with tons of rich history to dive into. There’s SO much more than just Warsaw, that I will have to invest more time into one day.

IMG_7430

As for me feeling beat? I still am, especially knowing what’s coming ahead. Seeing friends was a good, temporary fix. I’m still learning to deal. It just takes time I suppose. As I came to the end of this post, I do find that writing about the fond memories does serve a purpose, instead of concentrating on the tedious parts of travel.

Thank you, Maria and Janka, for giving me a taste of Poland!

Onward to another flight…

Has anyone else ever felt this way after extensive travel?