Today is the one-month anniversary of starting our journey. Looking back, it’s incredible how much we’ve experienced, some planned and some not. Before we left, I had so many questions about what I would feel and experience: What would I do with my time? How much would I miss my family and friends? Would I be bored not having a job? The only question I really have an answer to is that I’m definitely not bored. There’s so much to do, we’ve even fallen behind and had to relinquish an event or two. Of the experiences in the past four weeks, here’s a list of some of my travel highlights.
Gogol Bordello show, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Peter and I made it a goal to see as much live music as possible on our trip, and we initiated this pact on June 24th. Saving for the trip prevented us from seeing many of our favorite bands over the last year. The crowd at Rotterdamse Schouwburg was so energetic, the venue staff had to stop the show and ask everyone to move back for fear of the dance floor collapsing. No joke.
Ever since visiting Holland for the first time in 2002, I’ve wanted to explore the country via it’s extensive network of bike paths connecting the cities. On June 25, we biked from Rotterdam to Leiden. It was as if the rain stopped and Holland crafted a perfect day, windmills, cows, canals and all, just for us.
Gay Pride Parade, Paris, France
Stumbling on the Gay Pride Parade in Paris is a perfect lesson in planning less. Sometimes the best things are just stumbled upon. Leaving Jardin du Luxembourg we were sidetracked by gate closures. Peering through the fence we spotted the parade: drag queens glittering in the sun, floats streaming rainbow ribbons and electro-pop, crowds of Pride-ful Parisians (and others).
I don’t really even need to do anything in Paris to enjoy Paris. I really just want to gawk. But the fine wine, the picnics, the fresh croissants, and sunsets on the Seine are also quite nice. The trip was a surprise Christmas and anniversary present from Peter, making it all the more romantic.
Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia
Slovakia’s High Tatra mountains are a great source of the citizenry’s pride. Rightfully so, as they behold some of the greatest natural beauty I’ve ever experienced. Peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, forested groves… And thanks to the chaty, or alpine chalets, you don’t have to pack camping gear (or your own borovička for that matter). Since I left the Tatras last week I’ve been trying to figure out when I can go back.
What does month two of the trip have to offer? Prague, Bratislava, and perhaps for me the Summer School of Slovak Language and Culture. Surely a few surprises await, too.