Category Archives: Travel Journal

24.10.10

I saw the sun rise above the city center this morning here in Cadiz.  It’s a bittersweet feeling in regards to my visit.  I arrived with two Americans from Los Angeles, Valerie and Chris, who let me tag on to them after we strolled the streets of Barcelona for a night.  They were Americans, which was great because I had lost my energy to speak to Europeans.  For me, it takes much concentration to understand what the other is trying to say.  5 weeks on the road is plenty of time to attempt to communicate.  So, I was tired when I met them randomly in front of the bus station.  Something inside me felt bad because I was not as entertaining as I could be.  Travelling for this long has made me not care about if the other is having a good time or not.  However, I still was respectful and considerate toward them.  Maybe I was even too polite.  Valerie was quick to respond, witty and very outgoing.  This may be why I felt a little bad—I couldn’t seem to keep up.  They were considerate of my lethargy and didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to.  They eventually left, but my memories of tapas, beers, sleeping in front of the closed metro gates and the exhausting 5+ hour train ride stays with me.

I was having a great time being alone after staying with Uli for about 2 weeks.  I had much to think about.  I wanted to feel safe and secure about where I was.  Feelings of loneliness set it, but I maintained composure.  My trip to Europe was supposed to be fun, but between the fun I learned much about myself in the process.  Not only did I cry, laugh, and thoroughly enjoy myself, but I also discovered that I may not be a fully honest person—neither to myself, nor others.  I didn’t/don’t intend on lying about things but it seems to be a subconscious act.  But at least I know now.

I felt OK in Cadiz, well enough to party.  So some hostel mates from The Melting Pot and I went out for cervesas and tour the night-life scene.  At the bar, I met a small group of people, who ended up being English teachers.  We spoke in Spanish.  Bueno conversacion.  Vibes were good so I followed them out of the bar and into the night.  They later told me they were headed to a club.  I was game.  Three guys and two girls—they were all from the UK.  I’m not gonna lie, the blonde was a knock out.  I chatted her up and kept her interest just enough for her to come back for some more conversation…

Now at the club, the vibes change along with the music.  They brought me a beer, I accepted, cheered, and then I started to feel more adventurous.  The music was fun—beach boys flavor with a hint of Latin tempo, mixed with upbeat fun stuff.  I started to dance.  Club goers noticed me with a day pack and travel sweater.  Locals were casual and ready to party.  They accepted me.

We took pictures.  Fun was had by all.  I began to feel sleepy and proceeded to get my pack from coat check.  I say goodbye to the Brits and go in for hugs and shakes.  I get outside and prepare for the long walk to my bunk bed.  I tell myself that it was a good night.  I reach for my camera but to my surprise and fear, it wasn’t there.  I always keep it there.  Then the whole night flashed before my eyes and I realize what I did wrong.  I was too loose.  And I did not keep my belongings safe.  I fucked up.  But it’s all good.  So then in order to get over this loss, the next day I went for a walk by myself.  Saw the water, explored the city, exercised, jumped up some trees and practiced parkour.  It was great.  Oh yea, and I played a snare in a drum circle on the beach at sunset with 15 percussionists.  That really helped me forget about getting pick pocketed.  Bittersweet.

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21.10.10

This was a crash course in life, love, and harmony.  Constantly working toward a middle ground with others and, most importantly, with myself!

A desert sunrise, you warm my soul… It’s so strange that you are gone now.  It was only hours ago that you and I were together, to feel, so intensely, love.  But now that you are gone, I have already moved on.  My eyes wander to others as if you were never there.  Because I know that nothing lasts forever.

“And I’ve been waiting all this life in the company of one and I know I am young but I don’t want to be alone.  And if you could only just consider the two of us I know darlin’ that I could be so good to you.”  -Brett Dennen

16.10.10

Change.  Breathe.  Control your mind.  Believe that everything will be fine, because it will.  Adapt.  Listen.  Observe.  Notice.  Wait.  Patience.  Breathe.  Be honest—to others and yourself.  Try to be understanding with others.  Breathe.  Let the lies go.  Express yourself, but when is the time right?  When will that be?  When is it appropriate to let others know what is on your mind?  Consider the consequences and are you willing to accept the results?  Coincidences will occur.  Will it be different now that you know what you want with your life?  Do you want to stand up and speak with conviction about your desires?  Are you ready to change?  You speak with truth as your foundation but do you have the nerve to follow through?  Ask many questions and may it lead you to finding the answer.  Short phrases have much meaning.  The more you say, the less you have.  Keep what is yours and share what is not.  People are not yours to have, neither are the words that are spoken.  Thoughts will wander and people will wonder what they represent.  It is possible that they mean absolutely nothing, but they could be the ideas that motivate you to chase what you desire the most.  When the stars align, there must be some action that is taken, whether it is mental rearrangement or physical meditation.  Contradiction.  Eliminate.  Patience.  Breathe.  Relax.  Harness.  Release.  Slow down.  Tranquilo.  Lo mismo.  Es diferente.  Yo creo que el tiempo es ahora por action.  Make it work.  Work for what you desire.  Desire truth, honesty, and peace.  Peace only comes after war.  War can be internal or physical.  Physical attraction may be the first impetus for action.  Act upon your beliefs or else you will die.  Die for the morals you hold high.  High places—mentally or materially—can only be if you have reached  a low point.  Point yourself into a new direction if you feel it is right.  Right, left, back forwards; we should only look at the present and think about the future.  Future has not happened yet, so live in the now.  Now, just breathe.  Dance.  Connect.  Stretch.  Sit.  Love the Self.  Believe.  Faith in the universe.

Amsterdam Reflections and Notes to Self 09.30.10

Australian backpackers may have dependence issues; Israeli IT dudes are chill as fuck; Swiss-German Ph.D students may be too gossipy and can play the game of chess very well.  German dudes may not be willing to explain that the Swiss-Germans were talking about me.  Riding a bike in Amsterdam is the best attraction.  Stopping at local coffee shops allows you to see the diversity of the city. Amnesia is the best shop in Amsterdam.  There is a line between not knowing and not willing to be wrong.  I may be paranoid.  The words I hear and slight suggestions from the Swiss Germans matched with their behavior and my assumptions—but you will never really know.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  You could have gone with it and everything would have been fine, but it was up to forces beyond your control.  The only thing you can do is try because every missed opportunity is a lost one.

Take your time, if you wish to say something to the group, start with one person and the others will tune in accordingly.

Trip with Swiss-Germans was an interesting experience.  I did not fully know what their intentions were except to keep their friends safe.  Subtle moves can go a long way.  Keep your distance.

About my Travel Journal

Here I have digitized my travel log of reflections, notes, and scribbles which has been edited to some degree.  These passages are insights to what my experience was like as I was on a solo backpacking trip in Western Europe.  The entries, written between the dates 09.12.2010 and 10.26.2010, take the reader along on my adventure to a foreign land with foreign languages, foods, and cultures.  This portion of my blog will be a project of mine that forms itself over time.  I have numerous entries that need to be digitized and corrected for errors, so check back in to read my story.

–Thanks for reading.

England 09.21.10

I packed my bags last night after Dave and I ate Chinese buffet and was feeling grateful for the fact that Dave was the perfect host for my this journey.  I related with Dave in many ways, but one major quality we shared was our preference for comfort.  We lounged around the house, played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, drank English Tea with a splash of Irish scotch whiskey and went out for food and drink in town.  He drove us all the way out to Nottingham, the place that has the oldest inn in England (and possibly the world).  After we consumed our traditional British Meals (Fish and Chips, British Ale Pie, and a pint each) we had a smoke and walked a couple blocks, getting a feel of this Chicago-sized city. He spotted a pool table in a pub.  So we walked inside and played a couple rounds.

After we decided we’ve had enough, we started heading back to the car for a 1.5 hour drive home.

The rest of the weekdays I took it easy and attempted to recover from the jetlag.  It was not until Friday/Saturday I regained enough energy to go out again.  Destination: London.  We drove from St. Ives to Cambridge and took the BritRail to Liverpool Station and scurried like mice in a maze while walking though the underground passageways toward the hotel we’ll be staying at.

We wanted to dance, meet new people and London was the place to do it.  I see why it’s called a global village because I met people from all over the world, but not many Asians.  Nonetheless, people were kind, sweaty, dunk and on drugs; I didn’t care we were having a blast.  Dave and I were a powerful Pair; a Dominating Duo.  We went from set to set chatting up the beautiful ladies and connecting with gentlemen.  However, it did not stay that way when we changed the venue from Ministry of Sound to The Egg.  We caught a taxi—an illegitimate one—and arrived safely costing us 16 Quid.  People were outside begging to be let back in.  One guy hopped the barrier and was told to leave, “STRAIGHTAWAY.”  We get to the gate and the bouncer is giving us a hard time about our attire.  But we finally get let in and pass the metal detectors.  Looking and listening around, I wasn’t impressed with the scene.  We flew into a totally other vibe and the transition left a bad taste in my mouth after I experienced the aftermath of debaucherous drinking, terrible music, unattractive attitudes and a bunch of old geezers coming down off their drugs.  But I wasn’t going to let that mess up the rest of my night–it was just a bad look.  Dave and I were cheated of 30 quid for entrance, mixed with a congregation of unimpressive characters, and got a weird feeling after leaving that club.  Fail.

I finally made it onto the EuroStar, a privately owned company that takes its guests out of England by train.  I did not know that my EuRail Pass would not work; therefore, I paid about 80 Pounds to travel to Brussels, where I will transfer trains.  Destination: Munich.  It will be an 18 -20 hour trip with a transfer and a trip on the red-eye.  I have reservations at The Tent and hope to arrive on time.

The Journey Begins 09.12.10

Page I

Phone, wallet, keys… oh wait, I don’t need keys on this trip.  I’m all set.  I checked my oversized pack under the plane—something I was hesitant to do—and took the necessities: a book to read, a grip toy, deck of cards, the smartphone, all important documents, and my comfy, compressible pillow.  Looking at my Apple headphones, I thought to myself, “this is not going to be enough bass.”  Last night, I downloaded a whole bunch of Dubstep to my Palm knowing that I will need a Soundtrack to accompany me on this trip.  So I went to Brookstone and picked out a pair of ear buds.  Thunder Bass was the name of the product and it lived up to its name.

As I look around me at Gate D12, I notice mostly older folk and 1 or 2 female travelers, 2 young guys sit next to me, also on their way to Newark NJ.  I have not left anywhere yet, but I feel like I am already gone.  There will be many interactions with strangers and few of them will become more than acquaintances, maybe even friends.  But I am not on this journey to be friends with everyone.  I am not going out to expect something amazing or spectacular.  The fact that I am travelling alone to another part of the world is phenomenal in itself.  And to have friends and family to wish me luck and support me on my endeavors is a blessing.  Constant reminders: Take Your time.  Observe patiently.  Be open.  Be considerate.  Watch your step.  Breathe.  Be yourself.  B. Lee.

Page II

I walk into the gate to the plane heading for Newark and I’m surprised to find myself outside.  A 20 row puddle jumper looks a bit unnerving, but I proceed to the door so I don’t get anymore wet.  I finally find my seat and attempt to find comfort in the little space the plane provides.  A tall man walks up behind me, who also looks very cramped, signals to me that his seat is next to mine.  I comment on the literature he was reading.  It was an article from the Journal of Craniomandibular such and such and then I said, “I remember reading a bunch of those in college” –I meant journal articles in general.  He asked me if I studied Tourette’s syndrome.  But I quickly realized that I didn’t specify what it was that I remembered about his article.  He ended up being a college professor at Washington University in Seattle.  We talk about Tourette’s and about how a certain nerve near the joint of the human mandible and how a pinched nerve leads to motion disorders; what a smart guy.  We have great conversation leading into my travels and where I will be going.  I tell him, “I’m going to Munich for Oktoberfest and he suggests I learn German phrases if I am planning on performing street performances and make some euros.  I think of a great act.