2014 started off with backpacking around Portugal. I had a total of 6 flights in less than a month before I had to go back home. Obviously, I didn’t get sick on planes anymore. I even came to enjoy flying and living the airport life. By the time I got home, I had slept in the airports of Porto, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Prague, Munich, and Frankfurt.
I was back in Sofia, at last. But something had changed.
Home didn’t feel like home anymore. I had called another place home. I missed Portugal. Trying to go on with everyday life felt weird. I had to do something about it… I bought myself a birthday present with the last of my savings – a trip back to Portugal! I had the craziest 22nd birthday there with all my friends and roomies I’ll never forget.
I left Portugal for good in May. Came home happier and motivated to pass my final exams and find a job. And so I did!
I didn’t leave the city all summer long; I didn’t even go to the beach. I was fully concentrated in my job at the time and nothing could distract me.
Until my mom moved to Budapest in September. A city I had never been to. Secretly started thinking I should go visit. Six months had passed since my last trip abroad. A trip to Budapest with a quick stop in Croatia to see my roomies didn’t sound bad at all.
I took 2 weeks off work in the end of October. Spent one of them in Hungary with my mom, enjoying the beautiful architecture of Budapest, the history and positive vibe of the people, the delicious poppy seed sweets and thick hot chocolate. Walking down the river and admiring the bridges with all of the lights, I thought Budapest was one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
A train took me to Zagreb where I spent Halloween with Ines – one of my roomies from Portugal. Then I crossed Croatia to see Nina, another roomie. On my way home I had to change trains in Belgrade. I met a guy from Sweden at the train station. He was going to Sofia as well. David was on his way around the world and I was fascinated by his stories. We took the night train, chatting all the way, eating Swedish chocolate and drinking Croatian cherry liquor. We arrived in Sofia on an early November morning, had coffee at my place. I showed him a quick tour around the city and then had to go to work.
Meeting people like David along the way and traveling by myself gave me a new feeling of freedom. I got to know and understand myself better. I started craving travel.
Anyway, it was December again. I spent the holidays working. No travels.
2015 and January came without any plans for traveling either.
And then it all started –
I drove out to Croatia in February for a snowy weekend with Nina.
Ines moved to Barcelona and I went to visit her in March. We were drinking coffee and walking around in t-shirts. On the way back to save on flights, I stopped for a couple of days in Budapest (Hi mom!).
In the beginning of April I almost went to Istanbul, but the trip was called off at the last minute. I even had my hostel booked…
By the end of May it didn’t matter anymore, because I was half way across the world. In Alaska. Working on a moving train –
I was traveling for a living. Best job ever! Four months went by so fast – hiking, biking, and camping. Alaska is a playground!
The day it started snowing, I caught a plane and flew away to Hawaii. It was the start of a 3 week trip around the States –
- snorkeling and surfing in Oahu,
- volcano trekking in Maui,
- driving the Highway 1 all the way from San Diego to San Francisco and eating all the Mexican food along the way,
- biking the Golden Gate bridge, walking around Alcatraz, getting lost in Chinatown,
- eating only NYC style pizza for a day and doing a Once Upon in America poster retake in Brooklyn…
Flew home in the end of October, more lost and exhausted than ever. Slept for 18 hours and started figuring out what to do with my life.
A weekend escape to Romania’s castles in November was enough to get me back on track.
A bunch of friends organized the ultimate end-of-the-year trip. I couldn’t resist. The plan was to start off from Belgrade in the end of December, drive through Serbia, Slovakia, and Poland and finish the year in Krakow.
The highlight of the trip was the visit we paid to Auschwitz. I was walking quietly around the camp in awe. I am proud to say that my country is the only one who saved all of its Jews from the camps.
The rest of the trip was mostly New Year parties, Polish vodka, good beer, pierogi and wandering around the streets of Krakow.
In January and February I didn’t travel anywhere! It wasn’t a surprise at all. I was getting ready for a trip east of Eden…to the Land of the Rising Sun.
I’ve already told the story behind the reason why Japan. Long story short – I spent 2 weeks indulging in culture, food, scenery, people, religion and traditions. Japan turned out to be the most extraordinary trip I’ve done so far.
April is my month and this last one was quite busy. The best birthday gift – I got called in to work in Alaska earlier than expected. So in three hectic days I had to plan my trip, pack and get on the plane to the Far North. I landed in Alaska less than a month after I’d come back from Japan.
Anchorage already felt so familiar, it felt like home. Most of my friends were back there. The summer of 2016 I worked more, way more. I traveled more and partied more than in 2015. I had a blast.
Hiking, biking, kayaking, helicopter ride with a stunning view, hot springs in the middle of the night, the northern lights!!…Four months of adventure, happiness and hard work.
Of course, I had a big trip planned for the end of the summer – a week in paradise in Maui followed by road tripping around the national parks of Cali, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Sounds awesome, right?
Well, once we got to San Fran there was a slight change of plans after a series of unfortunate events occurred. My friends and I got robbed and our car broken in. When I look back now, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but it was one crazy afternoon…dealing with SFPD and a vandalized rent-a-car. We were put off of Cali and wanted to get out of there asap.
We drove all night long through the desert with what was left of our belongings. The next day we arrived in Salt Lake City where we stayed with friends for a few days. The time in Utah made me forget about all the material things I’d lost. It reminded me what actually matters in life – to have someone to call when you’re in trouble, to have good friends who’ll share their food and bed with you, to have a good time in spite of everything…
The cherry on top – we got a speeding ticket on the way back from Utah… We laughed so hard!
End of September – it was time to get back to reality… My Bulgarian reality didn’t seem real at all. All of my friends working from 9 to 5… in serious relationships or engaged and having babies…And there I was wondering where to go next! You’d say I travel so much to run away. I’d say it’s a way of life. I just can’t stay in one place. Not yet. Each year I try to find something that won’t let me leave – a full-time job I love or a soulmate… Maybe this year I should get a dog or a car.
No, I decided I’d stay true to myself. A month in, I planned a week long island escape to Malta. The pearl of the Mediterranean is a mixture of more than 25 ancient cultures. Literally, every empire has left its legacy there.
Every morning I had coffee and sweets at a little Sicilian cafe. Late October, I was walking around in flip flops and shorts eating all the seafood. Spent Halloween on the beach dressed as a mermaid. Just kidding, I was wearing a summer dress.
I needed a little time for myself in November. It was a crazy month and even though I was taking it slow, I couldn’t clear my head or set my priorities. Trying to keep a relationship going didn’t work either. I guess solo travel really makes you undateable.
So, after getting rejected and stupidly drunk, I finally got my sh*t together.
Here I am in December, at my new 9 to 5 job that I don’t like. Writing this post, counting the hours til Christmas (48ish). My December in numbers:
- not a single night to myself – events, concerts, dinners;
- 4 out of 4 weekends away from the city,
- 2 out of those 4 weekends out of the country,
- 3 trips up in the mountains,
- 2 fitness boot camps,
- 1 hot spring trip;
I wanted to keep myself busy and productive after all. And it worked. I just got back from chritmasy Budapest.
Now’s the time to say this – on my first day in Budapest I was walking around the biggest Christmas market, situated in the heart of the city in front of the Basilica of St. Stephen. All of a sudden, an alarm went off and there were a number of announcements in Hungarian. By the time I found out that there is a bomb alarm, the police was already clearing off the square. The Christmas market was closed and the tourists were advised to keep away. I understand the seriousness of the situation. However, it won’t put me off traveling. I still want to visit Istanbul, I want to spend more time in Paris and Brussels…
I’m going away for the holidays again tomorrow. I feel perfectly fine with the constant movement now that my unsettling soul has found order among the chaos. My comfort zone is somewhere down the road. Going out of it would mean settling, staying…
No, I’m not running. I just find purpose in traveling. You’ve probably heard D’Souza’s famous quote “happiness is a journey, not a destination”. My goal is not to arrive, but to keep going. “Happiness is the way” Souza says. My way is travel. For now.
With the magical time of the year upon us again, I wish for all of you to keep going no matter what is pulling you forward. Each and every day strive for the best! I hope 2017 will bring unknown adventures and destinations in life and around the world! Cheers