99 Days in Eastern Europe: Chapter One
Or; Ending an Adventure and Starting a Story
The thing that nobody tells you about going on an extended trip is that, like every other trip that you go on, it has to come to an end at some point. Nobody tells you about it, and nobody thinks about it, because there’s this big exciting thing right in front of you that you’ve been looking forward to for so long and is a lifelong dream and it feels like it might last forever because it’s so different from anything else you’ve ever done and well, why would you think about that coming to an end?
But it ends. Trust me, it ends. Real life beckons again. Adventure called, and I answered that call. Ireland called back, quietly creeping up on me, gentle nudges of nostalgia reminding me where and what home is. Home reached out to me, reminding me that Home can live in almost perfect harmony with Adventure anyway. Adventure acceded. My tastebuds yearned for familiarity. For stew, and sandwiches, and gravy chips. My body had gotten used to sleeping in different beds, but it was starting to want something more usual. My bank account was staring at me in absolute disgust.
And so I went home, with my wonderful wife and travel companion alongside me. Our plans were at an end, and our money was creeping uncomfortably close to the danger zone. And so we went home. It was time. And it wasn’t all bad. There are lots of wonderful things about coming home. There are great things about ending an adventure; closing down a chapter in your life – no matter how amazing that chapter has been. Possibility presents itself in a new way. Whatever part of our brain that is responsible for dreaming kicks into overdrive. Everything becomes the next step. Maybe I’ll become an architect. Maybe I’ll write a bestseller. Maybe arriving home will be the trigger that means I’ll actually win the lottery this time. Yes, that makes sense actually. Maybe I’ll just spend my days dreaming and drinking coffee and wine. That sounds nice. So many possibilities. And all of them gradually worn down bit by bit by bit by the ever-present, ever-expanding dark grey cloud that is Real Life.
Real life. The real world. A world where you can order in 7 nights a week if you like. Where you can go to the pub with your mates on a Friday and a Saturday if you want. Where you can get up in the morning and live your best life. A world where you have to get up in the morning and go to work. Where it’s not always easy to find a pint of beer that costs less than £5 a go. Where you have to watch what you eat because, well…biology. Remember those rules that you gleefully chuck out the window when you go on holiday? Yeah, they’re rules for a reason, and it’s time to lean out the window and sheepishly drag them back in. Try to ignore that smug look on their faces.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s not all good and it’s not all bad. It’s like most other things – about finding a healthy balance. But it is different. And it feels so much more different because you’ve been away living a lifelong dream and now you’re not. It’s exciting to get back to the things you love, to get back to building something else. But it’s different. And it takes time to re-adjust the lens through which you look at your everyday life.
But no matter what happens next; no matter what everyday life ends up looking like – the adventure that we went on can never be taken away from us. We have that now. It’s ours.
And I’d like to share it with you.
I’ve thought a lot about what to do with the blog since returning from our adventures. I’ve done loads of research into SEO and keywords and social media strategies and ranking on google, and the truth is I don’t really care about those things. I started doing this because it was something that I wanted to do. And here I am, trying to figure out what I now should do with it. Well, why change? I guess I’ll keep doing what I want to do.
So I decided to relive the adventure. Not because I’m yearning to be away again (although I guess I am a wee bit). Not because I think it will be great SEO super affiliate pinterest google clickbait content. This bit’s important: it won’t be any of those things. It will be what it is. A reflection on the journey we went on; a re-telling and re-framing of the story; an insight into long-term travel; a taste and flavour of the places we went to and what they were like for us. I’m mostly doing it for me, because I enjoy the writing, and I enjoy looking back on how much fun we had. But I’m also doing it for us. For Grainne and I. For some of our friends and family who may or may not read it. For the many friends I’ve made in the online community who came on the journey with us. This is for me, and for you.
I can’t promise that I’ll publish pieces with any sort of regularity, but I’ll try. The idea is that it’s just casual writing. I’m thinking and speaking and writing about what we did, how great it was, what the challenges were. That’s what I love, and hopefully that means I can commit to putting content together at least on a semi-regular basis.
So here we go. First up, Dublin airport, and brilliant Budapest…