Tuesday, August 23 – Not So Sunny
The weather matched my mood today as I woke up to cloudy skies and pouring rain. All the excuse I needed to work from home today to physically and emotionally recover. The combination of a work conference, emotional ups and downs and a full day of travel wore me out.
Wednesday, August 24 – I’ve Lost…that Travel Feeling…
Over the last week (and actually month) I’ve struggled with the question of am I still enjoying traveling? Is it still fun? Because while my blog and social media show the fun things and the pictures, this lifestyle is more tiring than luxurious.
This morning I attempted to rediscover the travel love and took a three hour walk around Belgrade. I dodged the dripping AC units, played frogger across the tram rails, took in the old parliament building and cathedral and came across the St Sava Church. It was beautiful against the bright blue sky, with the fountains playing in the front and people enjoying a break on the nearby benches. And then I walked inside..where the entire thing was under construction – scaffolding along the columns, emptiness where pews would have been…but the gift shop was open! And in this moment I had to laugh and felt a familiar sense of travel discovery as the scene before me was pretty ridiculous. I still am enjoying travel I think I just have to work a bit harder at it right now.
I continued my walk to the Tesla museum. Nickola Tesla is a Serbian born, world renown scientist. I would explain some of the stuff he worked on but I really don’t understand it. Lots of electricity and currents and pre industrial revolution thingys – this much is for certain, his ideas were before his time. I watched the presentation (70% of it I didn’t understand – allegedly it was in “English”… maybe science “English”) and a few of the electrical demonstrations but the museum was only 4 rooms and I quickly saw everything they had to offer.
I finished my morning roaming around old government buildings and parks and then headed home to start the work day.
Thursday, August 25 – Rooftop Wine and Cheese
After my work day today (local hours as opposed to those EC hours), I met up with Dianne and Natalie for dinner. We seem to be missing each other these past few months, one of us is gone on a trip or has friends in town – either way I haven’t seen them nearly as much as early on in our Europe leg. The love of travel and the program set in again this evening as I caught up with my friends – it’s nice to have people to come back to and it’s even nicer to bond with them over a bottle of wine, 10 lbs of cheese and 4 loaves of bread on a rooftop restaurant. Yes that was dinner and no, I don’t have any regrets.
Friday, August 26 – Classy Goodbye
I pretty much didn’t even bother unpacking my stuff from Dallas as it’s a whole 3 days later and I have to repack again. I don’t think I’ve been in the same place for more than 2 weeks since London. I feel like I need a rugsack over my back and a banjo. And a cool nomad nickname.
Today was washing and packing and working from my cute little apartment. Our personal washing machine is still a huge convenience.
This evening was our goodbye party and in the spirit of being social, Natalie and I went (Dianne was on a trip to Amsterdam because we can’t sit still). A brief pregame at her apartment and then we headed over to the restaurant for the party. This was one of the classier parties that we’ve had – the food was excellent (lots of meats and cheeses) and there was a quartet playing classical music. After dinner, four dancers entertained us with traditional Serbian songs and dances. It looked like a combination of river dance and Greek dancing – lots of intertwined arms and rapidly moving feet – I don’t know if they were actually keeping beat or if they were dodging hot coals. It was cool though and it was very tasteful…and then our group got behind the DJ stand and a normal RY party took place. Music, dancing, more drinks and plans to go out to a club afterwards. Natalie and I were clearly content on heading home but then our sweet friend Katie even said that she was going to the club…we can’t be shown up by sweet, posh Katie. So next thing I know, we’re in a cab hurtling along the river bank to another club on the river. One step into the club and I knew I did not want to be here. But, we powered through, found the group at their table and head bobbed to the dub dub dub of the club. Toes being stepped on, no place to move (not even a dance floor as Natalie pointed out) and US prices for a mixed drink, and we bounced after 15 minutes. It was 2am, and the only party I wanted to participate in was the kind that came with a slice of pizza in bed as I fell asleep to Friends reruns on Netflix. Pants optional.
Saturday, August 27 – Last European Travel Day
The easiest travel day we’ve had in months! We were originally supposed to take a bus from Belgrade to Split but after our 18 hour day from Prague to Belgrade, RY sent out a survey asking the max number of hours that we deem appropriate for a bus trip. Survey says: we’re now flying to Split.
Final packing, final burrito and we’re off to the airport. We’re flying Croatia Air which brings back memories of South America as they don’t open the desk until 2 hours before and had 2 people working to check in 100+ people on the flight. Sounds efficient. Also if you had extra bags, it was a casual 80 Euros per bag to check them. Yikes.
We flew on a propeller plane (my first time…and maybe Natalie and my last). You walk up four stairs to get into the plane, attempt to shove your carry on in the 6 inch wide overhead compartment, proceed to fail, shove it down under the seat in front of you and buckle up while calculating how fast and swift death would be if the propellers go out.
A solid shake of the engine (and my nerves) and the plane came to life – we barreled down the runway to the bumpiest and loudest take off I’ve ever had the fear pleasure of experiencing. Although I don’t love flying, I’ve gotten pretty used to it this year but I hated this plane. Luckily the flight was only an hour and we were welcomed into Split with gusts that made the plane sway back and forth. Every fiber of my body was like NOPE but when I looked around everyone else was calm, so I tried to unhinge my fingernails from the arm of the seat. We finally landed and my eyes resumed their normal position inside my head and I bolted off that plane. Hate hate hate. Dustin is a pilot and sat in front of me and was like yeah, on smaller planes you’ll feel the wind more. Also this is the safest form of travel – they serve you drinks and food for God’s sake! God can keep his sake, I’m happy to be back on the ground.
A 30 minute van ride later and we were welcomed into our UGA themed black and red apartment – I can smell the beach and hear the water from my room – this month is going to be good.
- This month was hard and I feel like since work took the priority I didn’t give Belgrade as fair of a shot as the other cities and countries. I don’t think I missed out on too much but I feel like I missed the potential for some fun discoveries. In the end, it was a big city with fun bars and cafes that you can find on each corner and a cool history that you have to uncover.
- High: Volunteering with the refugees – it’s not a high for being fun, it’s the high in that it was the most impactful experience of this month.
- Low: The resounding saying goodbye to Wes in the Atlanta airport. I hope security enjoyed the footage of another Kendall sobfest.
- I’m definitely feeling lower this month than the previous ones, I can’t put my finger on it exactly (except homesickness) but I think it’s a combination of not loving the city, missing home, and frankly just being tired.
- People still tease and say that I’m living a year of constant vacation. I take the teasing nature but sometimes it’s frustrating to hear. I’ll go blue in the face before I stop saying it’s not a vacation it’s a lifestyle. The balance of this lifestyle is ever changing as the scales tip back and forth between happy, sad, stressed, fortunate…obviously it’s a really big scale. Maybe Tesla could have built one. But this year isn’t just about discovering new cultures or amazing sights – it’s about learning a balance and how you adapt. It’s ten times the stress but also ten times the reward and a constant reminder of how lucky you are in any given situation.
- I have a fear this month that I’m losing motivation – that this traveling circus just isn’t fun anymore. Is it worth missing things at home? Is it still fun living day to day? Are new experiences still resonating or are they exhausting? Most of the time the positive responses to these questions outweigh the negative but the questions still linger.