Lake Ohrid
Greece, Macedonia, Roundups

Month in Review: June 2015

By the time June rolled around, I’d already been exploring Greece, my 23rd country, for nearly two weeks–and this was just the beginning of my whirlwind tour.  I don’t think I slept in the same bed more than 2 nights in a row, ever, a trend which only continued from there.  It was crazy, hectic, and exhausting, but at the same time a hell of a lot of fun.

As you might imagine, though, it also lead me to a point of near burnout both physically and emotionally.  When I popped over the border into my next country, Macedonia, I reached a breaking point.  I needed to slow things down in a bad way, because I simply wasn’t enjoying myself anymore.

So, June is turning out to be the month of compromise.  My plans have been up in the air just about the entire time meaning I’ve truly been flying by the seat of my pants every single day. Now, it’s all about taking my time and planning out my next moves a little more carefully.

Does that mean I’ve got things figured out going forward?  Not in the slightest.

Does it mean I’ve relinquished a little bit of control and, as a result, found more peace of mind?  Absolutely.

A lot of good things have come out of June, but so have a lot of not-so-great things.  It wouldn’t be true to my experience to paint a rosy picture of how the last 30 days went down, so this month I’ll give you both the highlights and lowlights–and a few fun little extras at the end.

In June of 2015…

Greece continued to blow my expectations out of the water.

I know I’ve only just glazed over my experience in Greece in recent posts, but it really was incredible.  By the start of June, I was back on the mainland spending more quality time in Athens before heading for the historical cities of Ancient Olympia and Meteora (Kalambaka).  Learning about (and photographing) each of these fascinating destinations was a major highlight of Greece for me.  The final stop in the country was Thessaloniki, a port city in the northern region.  Though nothing about Thessaloniki particularly captivated me, it was a great place to catch up on blogging, try some of the strangest burgers I’ve ever encountered and to finally get that long overdue pedicure.

Sunset in Athens, Greece

Sunset in Athens

Ancient Olympia, Greece

Ancient Olympia

The monasteries of Meteora, Greece

The monasteries of Meteora

I remembered why I prefer slow travel.

Not only did moving every two or three nights through Greece leave me feeling run down, I never truly felt like I got a good grip on any of the destinations I was visiting.  My preference has always been to spend more time in fewer places, and in Greece I did just the opposite.  Sure, I learned about the culture of each place in small doses and got to know people as well as I could, but I didn’t delve as deeply as I typically aim to do, and this left me feeling somewhat guilty.  This is why, since arriving in Macedonia by train two weeks ago, I have seen only two cities.  More time in fewer places.

Skopje, the capital of Macedonia

Skopje, the capital of Macedonia

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a hillside overlooking the magical Lake Ohrid at a hostel that some might consider “in the middle of nowhere,” where I’ve been happily stationary for the last six days.  Being away from the hustle and bustle of a city–any city–has given me the opportunity to breathe again without the pressure (whether self-imposed or otherwise) to be a tourist.  Instead, I just get to exist.  I get to catch up on work, I get to read for pleasure, I get to sip a beer while swaying back and forth in a hammock.  Yesterday I even enjoyed a sunset canoe ride, and every night I get to put myself to bed at a reasonable hour.  More time.  Fewer places.  Less stress.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Sunset canoeing on Lake Ohrid

I’ve been reminded that I still have major flaws and that self-improvement is a long game.

Surprise!  I’m not perfect.  Travel has a way of reminding me of this fact every so often, which, despite the temporary ego bruise, isn’t actually a bad thing.  It allows me to understand where improvements still desperately need to be made, reevaluate my priorities and redirect my energy.

I’m too sensitive.  I’m stubborn.  I’m disorganized.  I worry about things I can’t control.

The good news?  I’m also persistent.  And I’m fairly certain that as long as I continue to learn about myself as I go, take the time to reflect, and act with intention, I’ll one day become the tolerable human being I’ve always hoped to be.

Ios, Greece

I make mistakes. Buying this sweatshirt was not one of them.

BONUS!

Starting this month, to end these roundups on a light note, I’ve decided to throw a few warm and fuzzy things at you that I think you’ll enjoy.  Because if you’re not smiling when you read this blog, then I’m failing.

My Most Popular Blog Posts

TBEX Costa Brava: What I Learned and What I Would Do Differently Next Time

Friday Snapshots: Island Hopping in Greece

My Best Instagram

What I’m Reading

International Lifestyle: Moving Abroad in Your 20’s – Talk about a book that’s right up my alley!  This collection of short stories is a fun and light read.  I’m only about halfway through it, but I’m already feeling inspired!

Blog Posts I’m Loving

The Problems With the Question, “How Do You Afford to Travel?” – This post puts so many of my own thoughts into words.

7 Hikes in Spain You May Not Know About – As if I needed more reasons to go back to Spain.  Thanks to my friends over at Just a Pack, I’ve now got 7 of them, and I’m already scheming my next trip.  Camino de Santiago, anyone?

The Morality of Language – Does the language we speak influence our ability to make moral decisions?  One of my favorite writers takes on the subject.  Learn a new language, get a new soul, as they say!  A fascinating read.

That’s all for me this month.  How did June shape up for you?

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