my mission: 100 countries in one year
Between August 2, 2017 and August 2, 2018 I'll be travelling around the world in an attempt to visit 100 countries in one year. Why, you ask? Why not? I decided I needed a break from school, work, research, and the emotional labour of being a trans person in a world filled with cis people and I was fortunate enough to be in a financial position where I could make that happen. Travelling seemed like a logical way to give myself that break because not only is it a physical and emotional escape from the daily grind of life, but it's also something I love and that helps me grow as a person. I like to day dream and as I was envisioning what a year of travel might look like, I conjured up the idea of going to 100 countries. At first it seemed like a wild dream, but as I ran different route and budgeting possibilities, I realised that it just might be feasible and I'm not one to turn down a challenge.
There are any number of things - positive, negative, or neutral - that might happen along the way that could change or impede that goal. I may arrive in a city or country and fall in love with it so much that I decide to stay for as long as possible. Money could run out. I might decide I'm ready to head back to the "real world" for school or a job opportunity I can't pass up. Perhaps I'll fall in love (unlikely, but you never know) and drop everything to be with another person. Natural disaster or political turmoil could force me to head home. Injury or illness may get in the way. Anything could happen. And that's okay. It'll all be part of the experience and I hope to learn from every moment of joy, frustration, disappointment, excitement, and uncertainty.
I first decided to blog my experience just so I can document it for myself - not only what I do but how the whole experience influences my. And that's still my main purpose. But I also hope to carve out a little space in the world of travel for people who don't fit the norm. Most well-known travel bloggers are cis, white, straight, men (or at last 3 of those categories). I am one of those - white, which is an important point of privilege to acknowledge - but I don't fit into any of those other categories and I want to help people realise that barriers to travel don't have to keep you from doing it if you really want to. You just have to get creative.
They say your body is a temple. To treat it well, nourish it, love it.
While I haven’t been as active in blogging as I would like to (it’s hard to keep up with when you are moving this quickly), one thing that I think I will put an effort into keeping up is my monthly reflection posts. It’s an opportunity to look back at where I’ve gone, what I’ve learned, done, seen, and experienced. Yesterday - as I entered my 37th country since my departure - marked three full months of being on the move across Europe so it’s time to do just that. So for this reflection post, I thought I would compile a list of 37 things that happen when you backpack long term and at a fast pace. Or at least 37 things that have happened to me.
Yesterday was the final full day of the Monsoon. We started off our day with a 2.5 hour walking tour of Vilnius, which included the self-declared independent micronation of Užupis, which is similar to Christianshavn in Copenhagen, sans drugs. There was a Tibet Square in honour of when the Dalai Lama visited, and the Backpacker Jesus statue.
Our final morning in Riga, we slept in before going to the bus station for our 2.5 hour bus to Siauliai, Lithuania. From there, we would be taking a 20 minute local bus to see the Hill of Crosses: a Catholic pilgrimage site that has been active since the late 1800s, and was repeatedly threatened during Soviet rule.
Yesterday morning we made our way to the food market, Balti Jamma Turg, in Tallinn for some street food and free time before our bus to Riga that afternoon. I mostly just relaxed with some coffee while the rest of the gang wandered off to do their own thing. But I did get to indulge in some Uzbek food for lunch, which was delicious.
Yesterday morning we packed our bags and headed to Linda Lines ferry terminal to drop them off in the luggage lockers so we would be ready to go when it was time for our express ferry to Tallinn.
Rupa, Carol and I all scrambled to get ready in our tight quarters, and then made our way out of the madness of disembarking. As soon as we stepped outside, we noticed how distinctly cold it was compared to our previous destinations. As Rupa put it, it was cold as balls.
Well rested after naps and a good night's sleep, this morning we got to see Stockholm in a non-zombie state. We left shortly after 11:00 and walked 20 to the ferry in Old City to catch the 82 ferry to the island of Djurgården so we could experience the most highly rated thing to do in Stockholm: the Skansen.
Have you ever been so tired that you feel like you're moving through molasses? Well that was our morning today as we sleepily took on Stockholm.
After eating a delicious, healthy and free breakfast at the hostel, Carol and I decided to go check out Sankt Jørgens Sø, a series of human-made rectangular lakes marking the western edge of the city. There were countless runners out and about, as well as families going for strolls with children, making it a quintessential fall Sunday morning in a beautiful European city. Soon we decided to grab some coffee and sit outside of the cafe people watching and absorbing the culture of Copenhagen, which included lost of talented and creative street performers.