I am finally here in The Hague!
5 months, 12 days of travel. 8 countries. Thousands of trains, a few cars, one boat and 6 planes. What feels like thousands of hostels, and for sure thousands of names, happy hour chats and introductions. But travel couldnt be so unbelievably life changing if it werent 1) for the people you write home to and 2) for the people you write home about. This is a thank you to the friends and family from home who kept me sane and took the time out to support me and enjoy my journey with me. But it's also a thank you to the people I have met along the way, the ones who really went out of their way to befriend a random American girl who accidentally entered their lives one day. These people saved me from the city tours, the long lines for museums that weren't really that good and brought me into their real lives. They opened my eyes, challenged my perspectives, fed me, drove me ,took care of me, taught me and changed my life. We joke about this trip being turned into a book one day, but, a lot of the time, these characters came in to my story as if it had been written that way. They were there when I needed them, whether I realized it at the time or not.
Friends and Family from Home, thank you for
1. Mom and Dad- There were days we talked every day, weeks I didnt have time to find a compter and skype. You let your daughter trot around the world and were never anything but supportive. Thank you for letting me do it my way and not saying anything.
2. Cassidy and Michelle- the best friends a girl can hope for. I think you commented on every blog, were on g-chat right when I needed you, inspiring when I needed it, funny when I was too serious, supportive when I was a hot mess, laughed when I was laughing. Know that everyone I mention below knows you too bc of how much I talked about you.
3. Matt, Peyton and Tyler- you guys are the best, nothing else to say. Made me laugh and smile everytime I heard from you. Thank you for reaching out.
New Friends, Thank you for...
1. Devon Stern- being a beech away from beeches and a breath of fresh air. Kayema Farm reunion with a pre-planned dance routine and a recital of Georgeisms? Maybe when Iri is 18? Remember when we rode motorcycles with boys in the desert?
2. Adi and Ynon Rapaport- for being a family in Israel and the best hosts ever.
3. Sam and Richard- for pretending to be my husband in the West Bank so I wouldnt be questioned and hastled wherever we went. For agreeing that the Market party in Jerusalem could have been cooler.
4. Goats with the Wind- for teaching me how to work and how to enjoy the little things. Shout out to Pan and Tina, I miss you!
1. Elly and Kathy McGregor- for teaching me how to farm and for trusting me to do it. For showing me that cats arent really so bad.
2. Danchu- for helping me with EVERYTHING while Elly and Kathy were away. Enjoy Istanbul!
3. Shane- the professor from Atlanta. Thank you for spending hours telling me what its really like to be a professor and telling me that you think I could be one too. Remember the robots?
4. The robots- you will never read this, you probably dont even remember me- but I remember you. I have told your story to almost everyone I meet and I will never forget you. Cheers to radically different perspectives on and in this world.
1. Norma- for being the person I needed most after Bulgaria. For slapping me in the face and bringing me back down to Earth. For showing me that a young girl really can be a boss in politics.
2. Yelena- for taking us out and showing us the best of Belgrade.
3. Random Hippy cab driver- for getting me there on time
1. Nedim Plasto- For kicking me out of my compartment on the train :) and for being there in Sarajevo to pick me up. For taking me all over Sarajevo-cevapi, the mountain cafe, the bars, the park. For introducing me to honey rakija. For taking me to the mountain house and introducing me to your amazing friends. For loving Pitbull more than anyone I have ever met and being proud of it.
2. Nadir Madzarevic- Nadir, nadir, nadir...where do I begin?? THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING. For driving me all over Sarajevo even when hungover. For being there in Trieste when I couldnt stay in Poland any longer. For bringing me to Umag and making sure I didnt have to pay for anything. For encouraging me to swim in the sea everyday because you knew I would feel better. For driving here, there, everywhere in the former Yugoslavia. For being open about the war and sharing your stories. For putting up with me when I was grumpy from hunger and talkative from excitement. For telling me I could be Bosnian (my dream to be Eastern European). For giving me a family in Bosnia I know I can always come back to.
3. Amir Draganovic in Bihac- for taking Nadir and I out for what was one of my favorite nights in Bosnia, so much fun. Thanks to your mom for making us the best breakfast ever the next morning and for taking us in at the last minute. Shout out to our friends from the bakery and the best Burek EVER.
4. Other people who made short appearances but long impressions-Vehid Veispahic, Asra and Amara, Mladin, Harris and Amir
1. Vjeren Dlaskovic- For being a boss. For the coffee and movies. For being the first person on this trip I could really talk philosophy and politics with. For the waterfall trip. For the place to stay and your amazing taste in music. For feeling guilty about having two phones.
2. Ivan, Rok, Krusho, Nikola, Matteja, Jimmy Woo, PANCHO....took me in as their line judge groupie and set the stage for the most fun and crazy week I have ever had.
1. Mattej- for lunch at a Chinese restaurant so I wouldnt have to have one more cevapi. For meeting at the drop of a hat.
2. Random dude in the outdoor library- just for being an interesting guy and for being so friendly. You stuck with me for some reason.
1. Karen- O Karen. For making me realize just how lucky I am for having the family I have. For the good conversation and entertainment.
2. Alessandro and Antonella- for the best Italian home cooked meals ever. For driving us and picking us up, for showing us the best restaurants and beaches in Manfredonia and just for being fun.
3. Last but definitely not least- Virgil Pop- For keeping in touch ever since Romania, for dealing with my procrastination about when I would arrive and being flexible about it. For letting me sleep 15 hours a day and saying nothing. For letting me chill. For making sure I ate the best food, drank the best wine and didnt worry about anything. For being my translator. For teaching me how to drive :) For driving me to the mountains and hiking to the most beautiful lake we have ever seen. For getting really drunk in Pfelders with me and eating all you can eat grill night. For laughing about Virgilio with me, actually just for laughing with me in general. For loving our balcony as much as I did. For taking care of my eye when I woke up Chinese. For being someone I could hang out with 24/7 for one month and have it feel totally normal.
If there is one thing I can take away from all of this and pass on to you- please, travel. Not because each city has a vibe and rhythym unique to its streets, listen and you will hear it. Not because some parts of this world are so beautiful you will cry when you see them, you will. Not because the food is great, it is. Not because the wine will make you laugh and carefree..and too lazy to go anywhere the next day- it will. Not because the people are different, they will be. Travel because it restores your faith in humanity and reminds you of how unbelievable it is, I promise you it will.
Come Visit Me!