June 28, 2008

RTW by the numbers

number of countries visited: 16
continents: 6
flights taken: 21
pictures taken (and kept): 1978
days traveled: 157
hostels and hotels stayed in: 52
books read: 21
cheapest internet I found: 30 baht (about $1) per hour, Bangkok; or 1 Euro for unlimited time - stay on long enough and it's essentially free! - Dublin
most expensive internet I found: 2 NOK per minute (about $24 an hour), Berge, Norway (I didn't use theirs...)
games of ipod solitaire played: 187
movies seen: 8
new scars acquired: 6

June 27, 2008

hello scandinavia!

All my photos are now updated. Two weeks in Denmark, Sweden and Norway yielded a whole lotta picture-taking, too. Because: so pretty!

Even though I am now home, if you are at all into this sort of thing, I do recommend taking a look, because Scandinavia is gorgeous

both out at the fjords

and in cute towns like Bergen

and in places like Copenhagen.

Actually, I am not going to lie. I am uploading and organizing all of my pictures on my computer right now, and oh my god. I saw so much pretty stuff. It's really extraordinary to see it all laid out like that. I love the way my little thumbnails of pictures take on a whole rainbow of colors, depending on where I was.

June 25, 2008


Sorry the post yesterday was not my most forthcoming. At the time of writing, I was nearly delirious with tired. People on my dorm in London for some reason started getting up for the day at 4:30 am -whatever there is to do at 4:30 am. So I got about 4 hours or so of sleep, and then maybe 2 more hours of plane sleep, and by last night I was up for almost 24 hours and feeling every second of it.

But now I'm home! It's awesome. Last night when I went to bed, it was like one of those scenes in a rags-to-riches movie where I flail around on the luxurious bed. It was spectacular, all those pillows, all that space, the snuggly down comforter and the fact that there was no one else in the room. So very swank.

I have had two Diet Cokes, a burrito, a visit to Target and some quality TV time. I have already blessedly washed everything I own and put my backpack outside to be aired out, but oh my god, will unpacking will take me like years. I have no idea what to do with any of the stuff I brought home at all.

I am still not adjusted to the time difference, but tomorrow after getting a valid driver's license and getting my computer fixed, I am going to get all the updates going on here, and get my photos updated too. So even though trip is over, there is more to come!

June 24, 2008


is where i am.

June 23, 2008

traveling the world: a global perspective

Unsurprisingly, I can't sleep.

I even had some wine from the hostel bar to try to help me out, but it's not working so far. So I'll blog instead. But it's not a big deal - in a few hours, I will be on a plane, and I will have hours and hours and hours to sleep then. Which I think will help prospective jet lag? I am not really sure. But it will help pass the time.

I can absolutely not wrap my mind around the fact that I am going home. Whenever I try to think about it, I go pretty much blank, like I can't comprehend it or take it in. It feels just like I am going to the next new place, the next city, the next continent. I don't know if it will hit me, or how. In actuality, though, I am never really able to fully comprehend what I've done, this trip that I've undertaken. It never dawns on me, the enormity of it; it is constantly broken down into smaller bits, getting to the next hostel, seeing the next sight, taking in the next city. I only get glimpses of the fact of what I am doing, where I have been, and what I have done - generally it comes when I talk to someone else about it, and remember that I am not the norm. I wonder if I will have a collision, a recognition of both the trip and the homecoming all at the same time, and end up curled in a fetal position trying to process it all?

Even though I am really, really excited to be going home, and looking forward to so much both about being at home and about being done with traveling, I have a decent amount of trepidation, too. As I got closer and closer to coming home, I has also been away for longer and longer, and over the last couple of months, I have begun to feel increasingly disconnected from my life at home. I keep in contact with people, of course, but I think it has been an cumulative effect of being so far away and so erratically in touch. I know the big, monumental things that are happening in peoples' lives, but at this point, I feel like I know nothing about their day-to-day minutiae, and it makes me feel increasingly disconnected. I can't help but wonder what it will be like to come back, if it will be like I never left before very long, or if I will have to re-meet everything that I knew?

There is also the political aspect of it. It's an interesting paradox, but the fact is, traveling the world often means that you don't actually have to live in the world. I keep up with life and the world as best as I can from headlines grabbed in Internet cafes and actual headlines, when I can read them, but that really gives me that major bits and pieces. Now, though, I am back to being an American, back in a position where I feel I can and should do things about causes and issues I care about, back to a world where I am a participant and not a tourist. Coming home means re-engaging, and at a time when it feels like the world and America are at a pit of a precipice, and that is a bit of a daunting prospect on its own.

I am a worrier at heart, so I know that going home will mostly be about getting to hug my mom, and cook real food again, and sleep in a bed bigger than a twin wherein there will be no one else in the room, coming in at 4am or out at 6am (generally not the same people, but still), and watch television, and actually live a life rather than a temporary, transient existence. But the night before, I will worry that coming home will involve more than all the things I've missed while I've been away.

June 22, 2008

london daze

In the interest of full disclosure and honesty, I will now say that the bus rides in Norway are not the oh my god most expensive things ever. At 8 dollars US, they are the same price as a tube ride in London.

Yikes. So much for exemplary public transit in the rest of the world. I mean, I love the tube, but I will take a 2 dollar subway ride, thanks.

So, yay, London. It's lovely here. Once again, I get to spend the time someplace where I am familiar and feel relatively comfortable and like I know where I am and where I am going. Once again, I don't have much of an agenda - but since London is less atmospheric than Paris, now my agenda is mostly to shop; today was every bookstore I could find (why does Britain do even Borders better?) and tomorrow is Oxford Street.

But I can't shake the knowledge that I am going home in 2 days. It's surreal to me. I have been both loving where I am and loving what I am doing and missing home at the same time for so long that I don't know if I know how to not be like that anymore. As unreal as my whole trip has felt, the end of it feels almost the most significant and unbelievable part.

There is lots more to say, about going back to the States and about being at home, but I don't have the words. It is certainly bittersweet, and it is inexplicably sudden. I have known exactly how long I have for about the last month, and yet the thought of Mexican food and my own bed and a hug from my mother actually being as close as they are feels oddly abrupt.

I hope I'm ready for it.

June 20, 2008

bienvenue a paris

Huh. Interesting.

I read all the comments on here, and love them. It's interesting that the last post was the first one where I got something from someone who I don't know - or don't know that I know - and the person is being snarky. What's the point, random reader?

For the record, I do not, unfortunately, love every second of every place I visit. Sometimes I get to places that I don't like that much or go see things that don't meet up to the hype. It happens, fortunately not very often, but that's how it goes. Good with the bad, but I am not going to lie and profess amazement and wonder at every little thing I see.

Anyhow, I am in Paris, and I DO have wonder and love for this place. It's unintentional, but really lucky that I gave into the self-indulgent urge to come to Paris on my way home. In this entire trip, I haven't been to anywhere that I had ever been to before, so spending three days in Paris is like a halfway house. I have been before and gone to all of the museums and sights and know my way about relatively well, plus I (sort of, ish) speak the language, so a lot of the usual tasks and pressures and patterns from traveling don't apply. Besides wandering too and fro, there really isn't anything I need to get to in order to have a wonderful time in Paris. So in a way, I don't feel like I am really traveling anymore. But at the same time, I definitely am not home, with all that entails. I haven't talked about it much - though I will coming up, I am certain - but being home will give rise to a whole different set of observations, complications, joys and issues. So I get to ease into that some here.

As I was riding the train from Orly into town, I glimpsed a pretty, ornate white building, and I had a flash of wonder. That building was beautiful, but it could have been in Bangkok or Buenos Aires, or certainly Scandinavia. I wondered how Paris would hold up, coming from so many new and pretty places. Would it be as impressive?

Well, fortunately, Paris knows how to tart herself up. This city works it, with the lighting on the bridges and the buildings just so, with the antiquey signage and the atmospheric quais along the Seine. It knows good marketing, and this is still one of the most charming and lovely cities I have ever been to. It doen't hurt that my hostel is about a half a cobblestone street from the river and the Ile St Louis, and that the weather is nice and I have "wander" as first and last on my agenda, but still. I know it's such a cliche, but I do adore Paris.

I haven't been in years, and in some ways the city has changed a lot. I notice the effects of the huge influx of immigrants, and there is the inflation and increased international attitudes that I am sure have a lot to do with the EU. But on the other hand, I have gone looking for places I went to when I lived here for a summer, and my insticts just kicked in. I know when to turn, I recognize buildings, and nearly everything is just where I left it. I had dinner last night at a Tibetan place that I remembered vividly, and still liked it, and went shopping today at my favorite papeterie for new pens. I sat by the Seine and watched boats go by and drank excellent supermarket wine last night, and found the best creperie this block for nutella banana crepes. It's nice that some things don't change, and wait for me instead.

I notice how much English is everywhere, from a solid 75% of the people I pass - it is Paris in June after all - but I also don't remember there being so much English from the shopkeepers and restaurant staff. In some ways it's handy - after years disuse, my French speaking abilities are really, really bad. I can read everything perfectly, I can understand nearly everything, but speaking... not so good. I try, and they switch to English. I need to practice. But this is also new, and I wonder if it will put an end to the "rude Parisian" myth.

I go to London tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see. I have even less on the agenda for there, and have been more recently, so we will see where it falls on the travel scale this time.