This most recent adventure throughout Europe and South America was filled with everything one could expect from a lengthy trip. I experienced places that I had long seen in books and popular culture, and also discovered so many more that I never even knew existed. Simply seeing is unsatisfactory though, so my goal too was learning all that I could from the diverse cultures and histories throughout. Maximizing museum visits and conversations with all those I met along the way made that possible. There were numerous instances where my AP Euro history education failed to prepare me for Europe, and I knew almost nothing of South America before I got there. That left the door open for a lot of learning, and my brain was pretty full by the end.
Beyond the educational byproduct of this trip, there was also a great sense of accomplishment that spawned of as well. I set out, and avoided sacrificing sightseeing all while managing to survive on – and uphold – a shoestring budget. Also, because the whole thing was planned on the fly, I felt strong satisfaction with my ability to roll with the uncertainties and come out with an overwhelmingly positive experience.
This excursion brought my country count up to 57, and greatly shrunk the still vast world. I may never have a chance to travel on this scale again, but wont ever ever let myself stop completely. It is however with great sadness that I announce the retirement of my Sperry shoes. They were relieved in Frankfurt, seven shy of the 50 country goal I had set for them. The convenience of sans-sock use was outweighed by their falling apart every time I needed to catch a train, and the bitter cold that the holes were letting in. I assume that you can understand my reasons.
The other thing that I had to let go of was my Grizzly Adams-esq beard and locks. My return marked a transition into the professional world, and I was ready to at long last to look the part. I paused briefly to marvel at my mustache, something I might revisit when I’m older…