Warsaw, Poland
Hungary, Poland, Roundups, Serbia, Sweden

Month in Review: August 2015

August!  It always seems to be a pretty good month, don’t you think?  It’s the peak of summertime in the northern hemisphere when the weather makes for fun outdoor adventures and people are generally having a great time, making use of their vacation days, and spreading good vibes.

My August in Europe has been pretty great.  I’ve had some amazing experiences, some somber and sobering ones, and some frustrating ones.  I’ve made plans, I’ve booked flights, and I’ve said plenty of goodbyes.  I’ve learned SO much.  Here is a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of this month in nomad’s land (see what I did there?).

In August of 2015…

I reached new levels of frustration with hostels.

I welcomed the month of August in Novi Sad, Serbia. After a long stretch of feeling suffocated by the constant presence of other backpackers (and their need to belittle my work habits), I welcomed the quietude of a hostel that wasn’t known for its parties and where I was able to shut out the world for a short while by renting my own private room. Unfortunately, what started out as a pleasant stay quickly turned ugly and only seemed to get worse as time went on.

For starters, the owners of the hostel didn’t seem to understand why bringing their screaming infant into the building at about 4am wasn’t exactly the best idea. Nor did they seem to understand that allowing said screaming infant to throw pots around in the kitchen for fun (just a few feet from my door) was also not a great idea. When I was later walked in on in my “private room” while completely bare ass naked, I really started to get frustrated. The straw that broke the camel’s back came on my final night when, exhausted from lack of sleep (no fans and no airflow whatsoever meant if the heat wasn’t keeping me awake, the mosquitoes feasting on me from my open window were) and still mostly asleep, I stumbled into the bathroom at 3am to find every surface completely covered in vomit. Obviously this last part was no fault of the owners, but let’s just say I wasn’t particularly cordial when I left the following morning.

Hostel in Novi Sad, Serbia

My not-so-private private room in Novi Sad

Fortunately, I was relieved of such frustrations for the week that followed by an unexpected side trip to Vršac, Serbia (more on that soon!) followed by my first ever stay in an Airbnb in Budapest. For eight blissful days, I had my own bed, air conditioning, a place to cook (and even someone to cook FOR me!), time to myself to work on what needed working on, and lower stress levels than I’d felt in weeks.

But then came Poland, and it was back to more of the same. Nothing particularly egregious happened this time around and I did meet a few lovely people here and there, but good internet and quiet working conditions were hard to come by meaning I spent a lot of my time (and money) in cafes in order to get anything done.

The longer I’m on the road and the more time I find myself committing to work rather than play, the more I realize certain aspects of my travels are going to have to change. Going forward, I’ll need to have access to dedicated workspaces where I’m not limited by time constraints, compulsory purchases, inconsistent WiFi connections or distractions in the form of people looking to socialize. Hostels simply don’t fit the bill anymore.  Slowing my travels down is a step in the right direction, as I’ll be able to look for more long-term renting options which will hopefully solve these issues.

I jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon.

I’m really only including this bit as a form of shameless self-promotion. I was introduced to the way Snapchat should really be used by travelers when I spent a few days in Belgrade with the Snapchat guru herself, Adventurous Kate. She documented all of our ridiculous, rakia-soaked outings in gory detail using the app and I absolutely loved reliving our antics the following day. Even if you only use Snapchat to watch what other people’s stories, I still think it’s a whole lot of fun. I helped my mom download it the other day so she could follow along with my travels and now I hardly go a day without snapping something, even if it’s just the funny little culture shock moments or daily observations in my latest destination. If you want to follow along, add me by username: lamochilera.

Snapchat: LaMochilera

I mostly use it for stupid stuff like this

Some of my other travel Snapchat favorites (by username):  adventurouskate, gl0 (← with a zero), rtwdave, jeremysfoster, expertvagabond, drewbinsky, twodrifters.  Check ’em out!

I fell in love. With Poland.

When I first arrived in Greece back in May, Poland wasn’t on the itinerary. It wasn’t even hovering in the background, hoping to be noticed. Poland was for another trip, I thought back then. But things changed, as they always do, and instead of heading for Istanbul by way of Romania and Bulgaria (the next best option for an affordable flight to Bangkok) I found myself in the northern region of Serbia suddenly thinking “But Budapest is right there! Must. Go.

And then from Hungary, Turkey suddenly felt out of reach. Going back to the drawing board, I fumbled with flight searches until I discovered a stupid-cheap, one-way, non-stop flight to Bangkok from Stockholm, thus fixing my travels in a northerly direction rather than the deranged Balkan horseshoe I had imagined before.

Yet even then, Poland wasn’t my only option. In fact, every time I told people I was going to Kraków from Budapest, most were indignant. But what about Bratislava? Vienna? Prague? Berlin?? Copenhagen??! Obviously it would have been lovely to see all those cities, but a) not much time and b) too many places; so in the face of many a fellow travelers’ disgust, I booked that overnight train to Kraków anyway, and thus, the love affair began.

Krakow, Poland

Kraków, Poland

I can’t tell you what it is exactly that captivated me about Poland. As with most places I’ve fallen for quickly and passionately, the people certainly had something to do with it; the country’s history is heart-wrenching and heroic, and the architecture seduces with its whimsy. I arrived planning only to visit Kraków and Warsaw, and I left having also seen Wrocław and Katowice and wishing I still had time for Gdansk. A good travel romance never ends after the first goodbye, though, so I know I’ll be seeing Poland again.

Kickin' it in Warsaw after a day at the Uprising Museum

Kickin’ it in Warsaw after a day at the Warsaw Rising Museum

I reached a big travel milestone.

If you’ve been following along for awhile now, you might know which travel milestone I’m referring to…I made it to country number 30! Okay, okay, so technically I didn’t land in the big 3-0 until the first of September, but I at least put the plan into motion, mapping out my route and purchasing the flights to make it happen. But here I am in Sweden (!!) and I’m still two years off from the actual 3-0 (the birthday, that is) so I’m pretty excited to have already reached my goal.

Arriving in Sweden, my 30th country!

So excited to call Sweden my number 30!

My 30 before 30 goal was never a matter of collecting passport stamps just for the sake of it; rather, I hoped the goal would serve as a gentle reminder to keep traveling, to keep exploring, to keep learning and most importantly, to keep doing what I love. And it’s actually quite handy that I reached this goal when I did, because IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T SENSED IT I’m getting a little burnt out (evidenced herehere, and here). It’s time to find a place to settle into and focus on just getting to know one special city for awhile. It’s time to learn the ins and outs of a single culture and fumble through learning their language. It’s time to live in my own apartment. It’s time to build friendships and meaningful relationships. It’s time to find a place to call home.

So, what will the new travel goal be? 40 before 40? Nah. If things go the way I’m envisioning them right now, I’ll wind up back in Europe somewhere (possibly even in the dead of winter, the season I’ve been fervently avoiding for the last several years) to start working on all the things I mentioned above. Although, to be fair, part of the rationale behind making Europe my next home base is that it’s smack in the middle of a smorgasbord of new cultures that will all be a short plane ride away. I’ll be able to travel within Europe as well as have easy access to entirely new frontiers like the Middle East and northern Africa. I can’t predict how often I’ll be traveling to places outside of my new home base but I’m delighted by the possibilities and comforted by the fact that shaking up my routine will be as easy as keeping an eye out for Ryanair deals.

I made leaps and bounds in terms of income.

This summer has been very prosperous in the social media consulting realm. I’m making significantly more than I was just two months ago thanks to taking on three new clients and I breathed out a heavy sigh of relief when those contracts were signed. Consistency! Stability! Relatively speaking, of course. My blog has yet to become a money-making machine—I’m still only seeing a few dollars here and there from affiliate sales–but that’ll be my main focus in my free time as soon as I get to Thailand. This summer, I’ve barely been able to keep my head above water with posting on my blog, so needless to say, any attempts at monetizing have been relegated to the back burner. But soon.

And now, a few fun extras…

My Most Popular Blog Posts

My End-of-Year Travel Plans Revealed

A Train Ride with Syrian Refugees: A Lesson in Compassion and Perspective

My Best Instagrams

What I’m Reading

International Lifestyle: Moving abroad in your 20s (review coming soon!)

Blog Posts I’m Loving

Music to Make Your Friday Last Forever – Because new music is always good.

Why these two travellers need a break from travel – My friends at Along Dusty Roads are experiencing travel fatigue, and I know their pain all too well.  The route they’re taking to reenergize?  Housesitting!

An Important Message #bloggersforrefugees – I wrote earlier this month about my encounter in Macedonia with refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war–it touched a lot of people and spurred some into action and that’s amazing, but I want to make sure the conversation doesn’t end there.  Fellow blogger Katja of The Travelettes is using her blog as a platform to spread the message as well and I want to encourage everyone reading this, blogger or not, to learn what you can do to help.  Big gesture, small gesture, sharing their stories, sharing our blog posts, writing your own blog post, whatever–everything helps, everything matters.  In her post you’ll find more stories and ways you can contribute.

That’s all for me this month!  Onward and upward! 

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  • Reply Rachel September 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

    It’s crazy how your route has worked out, and I’ve been digging all your Snaps! It would be really awesome to settle somewhere in Europe for a while. Still thinking about Spain at all? Congrats on the $$$! And man, that Insta from the bathhouse is badass.
    Rachel recently posted…As of Late: Four Things I’m Loving + One That I DislikeMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 2, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Haha I’m happy you enjoy the snaps. They’ve been sparse since Stockholm because it’s rainy and cold and I haven’t gone out to do anything! I’m glad my route worked out this way 🙂 Couldn’t have predicted it though lol

  • Reply Katie September 2, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Such a shame when fellow travelers judge each other’s travel plans for what they insist must be missing. To each his or her own destinations and pace — cheers to you for doing Poland and loving it, and for not feeling pressured to do everything in between. I can totally relate on your hostel feelings, too. I had one of my best weeks ever at the hostel I’m making my long-term home for now in Australia, but it was also one of my least productive. The struggle is real.
    Katie recently posted…Week by Week 5: On Bangkok and Moments that MatterMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 2, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      The nice thing about being in a position like mine (flexibility to move or travel anywhere at anytime) is that I actually have the option to return to all of these places that I’ve “missed.” I can sort of understand why others with limited schedules try to pack everything in–they may not get another chance for awhile, if ever. But my lifestyle allowed me to stop having FOMO ages ago 🙂

  • Reply Justine September 2, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I can’t imagine having your workload and working out of hostels. When I work I really don’t like to have tons of distractions, so I’d probably get really frustrated. I would go for a private room too 🙂 And how annoying that you had so many hostel-goers pester you about working so much. Why did they care? That’s so odd to me. Also, congrats on the contracts. Look how far you’ve come!
    Justine recently posted…This Expat Life: Month 13My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 2, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      LOL it is kind of laughable. But Thailand is coming at a good time. I’ll be able to “splurge” on something private in BKK and then I’ll be staying with a friend until I find my own place to rent on Koh Tao for the month. And yeah, I don’t get why people care either…in most cases they just really wanted me to come out and party with them and they really thought I’d give in if they just. kept. insisting.

  • Reply Britt September 3, 2015 at 4:59 am

    I totally feel you when it comes to settling down. Sometimes we just move too fast and need to slow it down when we feel the travel burn out settling in.

    Living in Europe is definitely a great idea though! I can’t wait for November- I’ll be heading to Europe for 10 months!
    Britt recently posted…The Hunt for Comfortable and Fashionable Shoes for TravelMy Profile

  • Reply Oli September 3, 2015 at 8:09 am

    It would be nice to see you settle somewhere in Europe for a while! Maybe Germany or Austria. The Alps offer many opportunities to make your stay unique and fantastic. In summer as well as in winter!

    If it’s winter and you are freezing, visit one of our many Christmas markets and try a “Glühwein” (a hot beverage made with red wine and various spices). Just a few moments later, you won’t be cold! 😀
    Oli recently posted…Engalm & Großer AhornbodenMy Profile

  • Reply Michelle September 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

    That Budapest picture is AMAZING! What a great photo.

    I still haven’t hopped on the Snapchat bandwagon. Then, there’s Periscope too and I still haven’t even looked into that.
    Michelle recently posted…Monthly Online Income Report – $23,992 In AugustMy Profile

  • Reply Liz September 6, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Hey Leah! Loved the post! I can totally sympathize with your frustrations over your living conditions. The best ingredient for a successful blog is WIFI! I’m trying to build my travel writing in Chile and found myself annoyed at my constant purchases of Starbucks coffee in Santiago to try and get a good internet connection! Good luck with your September travels! Looking forward to more posts!

  • Reply Alana | Paper Planes September 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Just signed up for Snapchat as well…and totally don’t get it…
    Alana | Paper Planes recently posted…How I’ve Lived and Traveled Around the World for Four Years Without Going Broke – Part IMy Profile

  • Reply Madi September 9, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I have the same goal for 30 before 30 – I’ll be halfway in December and will have another 3.5 years to complete. Right now it seems close to impossible when juggling a full-time job but I did it for the same reason you did – to motivate me to keep traveling without excuses. Congratulations for reaching that goal!
    Madi recently posted…How to be a Cottage-erMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      3.5 years is a good amount of time to reach that goal! I think you can do it! I wouldn’t have completed my goal so quickly if I hadn’t gone to Europe, it’s so easy (and quick) to get from one country to the next! Good luck!

  • Reply Kinga September 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Next time you’re in Poland, consider Poznan on your itinerary. 🙂 It will be as big a surprise as the whole country itself.
    Kinga recently posted…Sunday hike on Arthur’s Seat in EdinburghMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 17, 2015 at 4:45 am

      Absolutely! There were lots of places in Poland I didn’t get a chance to visit, and Poznan was one of them. I’ll be back!

  • Reply Deb January 16, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Love your blog! I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Hungary and am going back this March. Looks like I’ll have to take a side trip to Poland based on all of your lovely reviews! Thanks, Deb

    • Reply Leah Davis January 18, 2016 at 6:57 am

      Thanks so much, Deb! I really do recommend Poland, it’s so, so beautiful! Happy travels!

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