Last Loop of Poland

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Skyscrapers and smog abound, we pull into Warsaw central station surrounded by the jungle of industrialization and communist blocks. We’re thrown from the cute and the calm of Kraków into the big city, and walk through a busy street to our room for two nights. We worry that we’ll be sleeping above the busy street, but our room lies in a square inside a larger building so it’s nice and calm. But I can’t help but wonder if Warsaw will be a severely metropolitan city. 



This thought leaves immediately as soon as we enter old town.


Warsaw (and most of Poland) was nearly completely destroyed in the Second World War. Since then, Polish cities have been painstakingly restoring the glamour of the Poland that was. Poland’s old town may have been build in the 1950’s, but you still feel as though Copernicus could be staring down at you from the windows above.




It’s not the same charm of Gdańsk or Kraków, but Warsaw offers plenty of old town charm underneath the high rises.

We dine on a hummus picnic in the park, and walk across the river to the up and coming Praga neighborhood. Buildings are smaller here, and everything certainly feels a bit more livable.



There’s a good amount of grunge on the streets, painted on the walls and on the cigarette butts on the streets. There isn’t the same Hobo-chic feeling of some Berlin neighborhoods, but there’s good energy here.




Some photo creds to Ivana.

Warsaw isn’t the highlight of Poland but it’s worth a stop, and I’m glad to see the industrial side of Poland. The sky at sunset here is bizarre, painted with oranges and purples in a way I’ve never seen before. I don’t know it it’s the heat or the smog, but it’s certainly beautiful.


Another Ivana photo cred.

The next morning we have a plan of seeing Warsaw’s best museums. Then we read, and find out all museums are closed on Tuesday’s. So we walk and walk and walk, with no general direction in mind.


We stroll into a neighborhood reminiscent of some streets in Paris, lined with little boutiques of scented candles and hip cafes and plenty of tall trees. We bide our time and enjoy a coffee, since there aren’t any museums open.


 We were hoping to see the Jewish History Museum and the Warsaw Uprising Museum. But bad luck had us. One museum we were sure would be open was the Neon Museum, featuring a collection of neon signs. The website says it’ll close at 18:00, so we wander there and arrive at 17:02 to see them closing up shop for the evening.


We re-plan, and head for a bar in an old rubber factory. I love repurposed buildings, so this is a great opportunity. We arrive and get excited by the graffiti and urban feel. We approach and see:

Closed Tuesdays

Don’t come to Warsaw on a Tuesday…

We’re a bit bummed out and hungry. I grab a kebab and Ivana gets some hummus and goodies, which we enjoy in a little park while watching dog walkers and kids on jungle-gyms. We feel a little bit defeated by the day, but I can’t really complain. I don’t mind wandering around cities, even if I don’t end up going anywhere in particular. This is a cliche example of life being about the journey rather than the destination, of course.


But one thing can certainly cheer us up: cheap beer. We head to a little area of bars made out of a small pavilion. Bars here are small and cheap but lively. We grab a couple good beers and go to one of my favorite chain bars for a good shot of Polish vodka. We feel good, and go back to the garden outside our room to eat some sunflower seeds and enjoy the Warsaw night.

We wake, pack everything up, and head to the train station for our final leg of the journey together.


Photo cred to Ivana.

The next stop is back to Gdańsk for one last night together, drinking in every moment of Poland and each others company. The train ride is only 2:30 hours, through nature that’s definitely getting a bit more Denmark-y. Marshes, flat fields, plenty of hay, and beautiful forests.

Now, we’ve also made a full loop. It does feel like a good amount of closure to our journey together (geographically, at least).

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We arrive at the familiar station and head to our Airbnb place for the night. We walk through one of the nicest malls I’ve ever seen and arrive in the quiet neighborhood where we’re staying. It’s adorable, just like everything in Gdańsk. We arrive and get inside before absolutely torrential rain and hail thunders down from the sky. It’s one of the craziest out of nowhere storms I’ve seen, creating a river in the street. So happy to be inside.

Now that it’s raining, I’m not certain what will become of our final day in Poland. It’s certainly calm, sitting inside with tea watching the storm. But it does all feel a bit bittersweet as well. I’ve had such a great companion and travel buddy this past year that it feels so odd to part ways so early in my trip. Tomorrow, Ivana will go back to Aalborg to hold down the fort and go for a job interview Friday morning. I, on the other hand, will be flying to Western Norway for the end of my time in Europe until next February. For me, this is just the beginning of a longer half year journey studying in Hong-Kong and experiencing Asia. But for Ivana, life goes on.

The rain quiets down eventually, and we walk across our lot to see some bizarre sculpture work.


We realize the damage the storm has created. A cacophany of sirens surround us, and we see torn tree branches in streets and an uprooted tree in the park in front of our apartment. Yet even with all of the destruction, everything feels calm as we walk the old streets of Gdańsk. I love this city so much. Everything about it is so charming and perfect. Quieter than Amsterdam, and farm more charming the old town Copenhagen, Gdańsk is one of the prettiest cities in the Baltic Sea, and probably Northern Europe. Even though this is now my third time in the city, it feels strangely prettier than all of the other times I’ve ventured here.



The city is bustling with people today. There’s an open air craft fair, and little stalls our selling handmade goodies in nearly every street of old town. It’s eclectic and exciting, with amazing street musicians around every corner and the smell of grilled sausages in the air. We keep wandering all evening and catch the sunset. It’s the best atmosphere I’ve felt here, and a perfect way to end our trip together.



The next morning we linger a bit, enjoying our Airbnb and eating breakfast on the patio. We head out and walk the streets a bit, grabbing the final hummus picnic together for a little while. I don’t want to leave Gdańsk, and the costs of things in Norway scare me a bit too much to make the journey worth it. But I’m excited to see it, and get on my way.

Ivana is nice enough to wait with me for my flight. Her flight back to Denmark leaves about two hours after mine, and I will have landed before she even lifts off. It’s difficult to find someone you can spend 100% of your time with for a month and a half. But we’ve found that, and that’s extremely valuable to me. It’s been a long journey, hitchiking in Polish rain, dealing with hot marshrutkas, and getting stuffed in Slovakia. But it’s been a journey I’ve treasured, one that has allowed me to grow in ways I’m still figuring out. But as I’m still on the go, my reflextion time is a bit limited. I have a flight to Haugesund to think about life and travel a bit. I walk to the stairway, wave and blow my final kisses, and board that plane to Norway.

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Košice to Kraków

Our final day of Košice was a whirlwind of getting to see as many people as possible in as little time as possible. Exhausting? A bit. The first stop was a bike ride into town to pick Papa Rovská up from his office and go out for a beer. He’s made a stop at the morning market, where he’s picked up a few antique communist coins for my collection. He even picked up a little bag to put them in with a traditional Slovakian pattern on it. I love how he views the world through such romantic lenses, and I’m so glad to have been able to meet him and be welcomed into his home.

He takes us to his friend’s bar, where they serve Ivana’s favorite beer, Bernard. It’s a delicious beer, even at noon. A lot of Czech and Slovakian pilsner’s mix in my mind, but Bernard is definitely the best. Some are too bitter and some are a bit too carbonated, but Bernard balances everything. We share a beer and talk, or I do more of listening. Papa Rovská understands a lot of English, but he’s still a bit too shy to try it out. But I don’t mind listening and people watching.

We finish up our beers and Papa Rovská heads back to work while we go to the craft street in Košice. I was pretty excited, as I heard they had a blacksmith and a local potter that used to be pretty nice. I have a romantic love of blacksmithing. Having done it in the past, I’ve fallen hopelessly for the fire and smoke and feeling the piping heat off glowing hot steel. So I enjoy watching it and appreciating the effort and artistry behind making something as hard as iron turn malleable and beautiful. But now, the rent has been driven too high and the artisans have left in search of cheaper workshop spaces. So now, the blacksmith shop only has a couple small pieces for those tourists that wander in. But the architecture of the craft street is still pleasing, and worth the walk.

It’s around 15:00, so we head back home to make a quick stirfry of mushrooms and eggplants for the upcoming bike ride. Next, we have to ride our bikes to the cottage out in the forest. Last time we were caught in the rain and drenched. Today is a much sunnier day, and the ride through the forest road is serenely beautiful. Even though half of it is a pretty tough uphill ride, I revel in the light peering through the treetops and play my portable speaker on high through the road. Near the end of our journey, Ivana’s tire pops and we have to walk the rest of the way. I think she needs a new bike.

The grandparents don’t know that we’re coming, but they warmly welcome us with grapes, cakes and coffee. Uncle Roman is there, and he switches his bike tire our for Ivana’s popped one in an incredibly lucky turn of fate. We sit with the grandparents and talk, and they’re in awe over the ridiculousness of my upcoming journey’s. I think I have their approval, even if I’m going back across the planet soon. I’ve enjoyed sitting and talking with people raised during communism, especially those raised in it. Talks with my Berliner friends parents, who lived on the East side of the city are equally interesting. Some of the stories do seem enticing. When you graduated, you were essentially given a job in your field that pays you enough to support a family and purchase a flat of your very own. Now that my graduation is coming up in less than a year, I have a nearly crushing fear that I won’t survive. I would be extraordinarily lucky to get a job in any field that pays more than minimum wage. Let alone, find an internship in anything I’m interested in. Let alone, rent a room in a shared apartment that I can afford while still paying for monthly expenses.

But then again, I can buy oranges and nice Levi blue jeans whenever I want…

Of course, the life I’m currently living would be absolutely unimaginable under communism. The process of getting out of your city to study abroad, even in Moscow or Prague, seemed extremely difficult. Free speech and human rights are also another massive privilege with the life I currently lead. I’m extremely grateful for the privileges endowed with growing up in 21st century North America and Europe. Especially, those endowed with graduating in a nearly socialist state. When I graduate next year, the Danish government allows me to job hunt and apply for a fresh residence permit for six months. Along with that, I receive unemployment benefits as long as I’m on the job hunt and showing up to regular job center help sessions. Then again, the competition in Denmark makes it increasingly difficult to find a job. Even being a native English speaker is nearly useless, as every Dane speaks fluent English. That on top of the extraordinarily competitive and expensive apartment rental market in Copenhagen (where I may inevitably have to move in order to find a job in English) will make my post-graduate self a very stressed man. Some Danes say I should begin looking now if I want to move to Copenhagen, because waiting lists can take 1-2 years. But that’s all for future Carter to worry about. These are the things running through my mind as I sit across from two individuals who lived on the other side of the Cold War.

We linger a bit longer than we perhaps should, as we’re on a schedule of meeting people. But staying with the grandparents and being able to say goodbye is precious. At around 19:30, we get back on the bikes and head down back to Papa Rovská’s house for another beer. We wait in the bar outside his house, and he calls and says to come up to his flat. We arrive, and I say hi and head to the bathroom. When I come out, Ivana is smiling and holding her brand new bike, a beautiful classic Austrian bike restored and ready for a ride to any picnic spot or farmers market. Funny, how the universe works.

He offers us a beer, and we sit around listening to music and looking at classic car books. Papa Rovská’s baby is an old Czechoslovak Škoda, beautifully restored. Maybe one day I’ll be allowed to go for a ride in it.

But for now, we overstay again and have to head to another bar to meet a friend. It’s beginning to be a trend to go get a beer with people here. But I can’t complain, when Slovakian beer is so delicious and so cheap. We head to a microbrewery down the street and meet Ivana’s high school friend Peter in the brewery garden. We talk and have delicious conversation over delicious beer. It’s getting quite late, and we have to get back home to visit with Mama Rovská before she goes to bed. We get back just in time and get to talk for a while before getting some much needed sleep.

The next morning, we give a nice goodbye to Mama Rovská before she goes to work. Papa Rovská is picking us up and driving us to the bus station, he picked up some stamps for my postcards on the way, because that’s just the kind of helpful guy he is. I’ve been received with such loving arms since I’ve been here, and I’ve truly felt at home in Slovakia. It’s rare that you’re welcomed with such love, and I’ve felt it here in such an amazing way. We hug goodbye and get on the bus to Kraków, where we’ll be for the next few hours. We pass right by Ždiar, and feel silly that we didn’t plan it out a bit more. But it’s good to say goodbye to everyone.

We drive through Slovakia and it’s cute Tatras mountains once again. I’ve really enjoyed Slovakia. It’s not a country I often give too much thought too, honestly. Before I met Ivana, my only Slovakian experiences would have been minimal. I may have come to the Tatras on a day trip from the Southern Polish town of Zakopane. I may have also done a day trip to Bratislava if I were in Vienna, as it’s only an hour away. But I wouldn’t have spent too much time in Slovakia, and I may not have given it much of a second thought. That’s why I’m so glad and so lucky to have received such an immersive Slovakian experience. It was certainly worth experiencing, and I’m happy that I’ve done so. I would recommend the Tatras to anyone traveling around Poland or the Czech Republic, and Košice is worth a stop as well for anyone in the area.

For now, I’m excited to see more of Poland. I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent in Poland. Weird, right? My first time was a day trip to Szczecin from Berlin last year. It’s not a big city, but I loved walking around all the adorable buildings. When I came back last winter to see Gdańsk and Poznań was when my adoration became fully fledged. I just walk around with a smile. Everything is so nice and cute, so wonderfully priced, and so devoid of tourists.

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Kraków is no different. If anything, it’s maybe one of my favorite cities in Europe. We walk to our hotel from the bus station and I do so with a smile for the whole walk. It’s so calm here!


All of the buildings are unique and adorable. I’m so happy. We drop our bags and head straight into the old town. Our place is just outside town in a nice quiet neighborhood. But even the center isn’t insane. There’s so much green in the city. Where the city walls used to be, there lies a calming garden that surrounds the entirety of the old city. It’s an intelligent and calm way to transform what once served as a barrier.


The main square is surrounded in cute buildings. There are a lot of people, but it isn’t overwhelming. It doesn’t feel bustling, it feels alive. Alive with happy smiling Polish people and tourists just as happy as I am to be in this city.



We immediately stand and watch an accordion trio play classical music with insane precision. The accordion isn’t an instrument I could play. There’s far too much going on all at once. Watching them with the main cathedral in the background is a treat. We walk around the corner and watch another amazing street band. This time, some kids about our age our playing polka-tized versions of pop songs. They have so much energy and they’re rocking it. Especially the tuba player. That boy was born to play tuba, more than anyone else on this planet. He owns it like no other, and the tuba becomes a part of him as he rips out the base lines for Polka and Michael Jackson songs and everything else in between.

Our ‘destination’ is a hummus shop in the Jewish district. Just like Budapest, the Jewish district is the hip side of town. I was a little bit biased, and expected the drunken stag-parties and annoying tourists of Budapest. To my delight, this was not the case.


Everywhere we went in the Jewish district was pleasant and calm. There’s so much green, and so many well made pieces of architecture or art.



There is still the occasional drunken bachelorette party or drunken hoard of British tourists, but that’s sort of unavoidable in the side of Europe where you can get a beer for $1.50. We go to a nice square and eat vegan burgers, then wander around into a communist bar followed by a relaxing candle filled bar for another pint. We walk out and I grab a zapiekanki, the local drunk food which is just a baguette cut in half and covered in sautéed onions and mushrooms and cheese. We stand and watch a lunar eclipse, and revel in the fact that we’re the only people in the square watching the eclipse.

We wander back to old town and stumble into an outdoor animation festival. I love animated short films, so we sit and enjoy and eat some sunflower seeds under the stars.


My introduction to Kraków exceeded my expectations completely.

The next morning we get out and head to a quiet neighborhood second-hand store. We don’t find anything, but I like walking through residential neighborhoods to see how people live. This one is pretty nice, even though the buildings in the residential side of town are Soviet and blocky they aren’t entirely unattractive. There’s a certain amount of charm in some of the cubes. We head back to the square and meet with Ivana’s friend Dana, a Romanian who lives in Copenhagen but occasionally has to go to Kraków and anywhere else for some work. She’s going to an Iron Maiden concert tonight, and it seems like the entire city is filled with metalheads. There are tattoos, long hair, and black band t-shirts in every corner of the city. But it’s really nice to see. As a non-metal head working at a bar frequented by Aalborg’s punk and metal-head community, I think they’re some of the nicest people. They get out all of their aggression out screaming at concerts and thrashing around in mosh pits that they become puppies when they’re out in the world. It’s nice to see so many of them too because I don’t see metal head all over town too often. They have better things to do, I guess.

Since Dana comes here so often, she has some good stops for us. We head to a vegetarian restaurant for a great lunch, and then up to the Wawel castle for some views of the city.


We go to a nice garden bar with a natural roof made of grape vines. It’s cool and comfortable, and we talk for a while. If I every make it into a position of power, I’d consider making a law that every newly built building has to either cover the roof in solar panels or a rooftop garden. Tenants can use the gardens to grow some veggies, and actually know where their food is coming from. Would it help with air quality? Hopefully. Honestly, I just wish my roof had a little garden or a place to sit. Because why not? It’s a little utopian and it wouldn’t work but it’s a nice thought. Who wouldn’t want to eat fresh grapes and sit on the roof with a beer. No one I want to be friends with.

Dana has to head to the Iron Maiden show, so we say goodbye and grab ourselves another wander around town. The weather is so perfect and the light is so nice that all we want to do is walk around. We find a good hummus bar for a big bowl of goodies, and then walk around a while. I don’t feel much like beer, so when it gets late we head back and have a quiet night in.

Our last day in Kraków. The hope was to go to Auschwitz. We looked, but we didn’t book ahead nearly in advance and spots to visit the museum fill up extremely quickly. So we have to save ourselves the depressing moment and see it as a reason to come back. We walk around, and as the forecast says rain I figure it’s a good museum day. We walk through some drizzle to a flea market with soviet goodies and then head to the MOCAK center of contemporary art. The exhibition is about statehood and the identity behind nationalism, and it’s extremely topical in recent times of more nationalistic outlooks.



Especially here in Poland where the country is becoming increasingly more nationalistic, like most states here in Europe. One part of the exhibit caught my eye in particular. A photographer went around Poland to take photos of Synagogues in line for demolition. He then presented a photo of the warm down building, along with the remarks of the people that would confront him about the building. Owners of shops would come out and tell him to leave, or yell at him or make anti-semitic remarks. It was surprising how feelings still haven’t changed in some places.

We spend a while and leave, and the forecast is once again wrong. It’s sunny and beautiful, so we walk around to the square were Jews were required to place all of their belongings during the Polish occupation. Now, chair statues stand to commemorate it.


It’s a sobering sight, as the buildings surrounding it don’t seem to have changed since the 1940’s. They’re just as bleak and grey as the ghettoes must have been. Poland experienced the war worse than many other nations, and you can certainly feel it. It’s not overwhelming, but walking around the Jewish quarter seeing homes inhabited by the same family for centuries suddenly emptied of all life is quite powerful. Even the simple art project of the brass tripping stone, where brass cobblestones inscribed with the name of a Holocaust victim is placed outside of their home. They can be seen across Europe, in Berlin or Prague or Kraków or Oslo, and they serve as a daily reminder of the lives uprooted. It’s not overwhelming in any way, and I’m glad little reminders exist so that we may never forget.

Now, the Jewish quarter is alive with happiness and life. Bands play music, museums are filled, and bookshops teach and preserve Jewish and Yiddish culture. We walk to another candle and incense filled bar for a coffee. It’s calm, and relaxing like seemingly everywhere else in this city. We grab some hummus and veggies from a shop and have a picnic along the river before walking around a bit more. We walk to a park and see a hill in the distance covered in people. We realize they’re watching the sunset, and get to the top of the hill as soon as possible.



This seems to be the local kind of thing to do, and we watch the sunset with a perfect view of old town. We ponder over the existence of sunsets. Maybe they exist so that we may pause for a moment after a busy day, and appreciate the beauty of nature with others. It’s the perfect way to close our time in Kraków. I’ve enjoyed every moment in this city, and I have yet to find a city I don’t enjoy in Poland. It’s so cute and so happy and I just can’t stop falling in love with Poland. It’s not a place I could imagine myself living, but I can’t stop appreciating it.

Now, I sit writing on a train to Warsaw. Even the trains are so nice here. It cost me $16 for a 4:30 hour ride from Kraków to Warsaw. There are comfortable seats and chargers, and decent views. A 4:30 hour train ride in Denmark may set me back $50, so I appreciate decent forms of travel. We should arrive in two hours, and I’m excited to finally see the capital. Everything seems a bit bigger in Warsaw, and I’m hoping it doesn’t lose its charm in the industrialization and skyscrapers. Kraków was a pleasure, and Warsaw will be the next adventure.

As well, Ivana is far better at photography than I am. Check her out here:

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Košice Family Time


Here’s me with a random bar dog friend I made.

Today’s trip is to Hollóháza, a Hungarian town on the border with Slovakia where Papa Rovská has a summer house. It’s a good thirty-minute drive from Košice, and we stop for ice cream along the way. The hills are rolling and covered in trees, and I’m pretty jealous I don’t have a summer house here. But I guess I’ll take one anywhere.

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We arrive and are greeted with lovely weather and a berry and apple covered garden. There are apples strewn everywhere, and it’s a beautiful garden. It’s constant upkeep for Papa Rovská, and there’s always something new every time Ivana comes to visit. Papa Rovská hunts for goodies at flea markets across the country, so his house is tastefully designed and covered in cool momentos of the past.


Photo cred to Ivana. We drink some Slovakian wine and wander around the garden.




We spend a good thirty minutes picking gooseberries and raspberries, too.


While we pick and clean up some dropped apples, Papa Rovská assembles a veritable smorgasbord of goodies for us to snack on before dinner.




Soon after, dinner comes in a delicious plate of squash and sweet potato pasta.


Hot damn, this man can cook. He brings some homemade slivovice, a hard alcohol made from the plums in the garden, for us to sip with the perfect pasta. After the pasta, we head back to Košice. It’s a quick trip, but well spent regardless.

For me, the next few days sort of blend together. Such is the case when one is home. Days are spent being overstuffed with cake, visiting friends and family, and getting as much time to yourself as physically possible. However, there are of course some highlights for the next few days.

The first being a walk through the forest to the Košice castle. Mainly, the walk through the thick forests up to the castles ruins. Posed on top of a hill, views of the entire city can be seen from outlooks around the castle. They also have some captive ravens, which is a bit sad but they’re extremely interesting to watch for a while. Surprisingly huge.


On Saturday we go for Ivana’s favorite walk up into the hills. We go with both parents and have a nice time. The views are nice, and we enjoy the fresh air and rolling tree covered hills together while flicking off adventurous ticks. 


Next, we go to the cottage to visit the Grandparents who are having a barbecue. Uncle Roman is in charge of the meat (and Ivana’s vegetables), cooking by a hot fire with his shirt off. Ivana’s aunt Katka and two little cousins come by too (there are three little blonde guys, but the littlest three-year-old is home sick), and the two of them immediately run into the stream next to the house and start throwing rocks at each other. I spend most of the time sitting and listening, which I honestly don’t mind. 


Photo cred to Ivana. Here, I am very deep in thought while Ivana’s sister, Petra, realizes she’s on camera. This time, it’s not raining so we’re sitting outside and I can at least enjoy the flowers and beautiful trees around.



More photo cred’s to Ivana. Grandma’s goulash and local walnuts. We begin eating, and as soon as we start the rain begins to pour. We get drenched bringing everything inside, but that doesn’t stop us from feasting. Nothing like soggy grilled turkey and sausages.

We get back after the barbecue and Ivana and I head downstairs to the grandparent’s apartment. When they’re not at the summer cottage, they live in the apartment below Ivana. We get downstairs where Ivana begins to play piano and I take pictures of the amazingly retro apartment. I’m shown photos of the apartment in the 1990’s, and the decor hasn’t changed at all since then. Amazing.



I peruse around grandma’s pickle storage and think about how close this family is. Living above your grandparents must be amazing, but also a little strange. I haven’t really lived closer than a three-hour flight from my grandparents. I was always jealous of people that lived so close to their grandparents, but of course, maybe all of that family creates drama as well. But the thought of having the family so close was something I always craved as a child.

At the barbecue, Aunt Katka tells us she’s taking the kids up to her friends’ vacation home in the Tatras mountains. She assures us there will be space, and that her friend would love to have us. She also invites me to a photography class through the Moroccan Sahara next February. So many adventures, so many wonderful people. But for now, we can’t deny a great opportunity like this.

So the following Monday, we board a train to Poprad, in the middle of the country, followed by a bus to the mountain town of Ždiar.

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The whole journey takes about two hours, and by the end of it we’re walking along a beautiful blue and clear mountain stream and sipping the sweet clean air. It’s perfectly serene. 


Katka’s friend, Emma, lives and works in Vienna with her husband and two kids. But they have a restored cottage here in the Tatras mountains that was originally built in 1947. They rebuilt it in the traditional Slovakian style and improved it to the size that can take in a good fifteen people at once. It’s simply massive and so beautiful. Ivana and I have our own room and bathroom (to keep the five kids quarantined on the other side of the house), and the experience is so extremely humbling and unique. We’re offered mushroom soup, cooked with mushrooms foraged just up the hill. 





Photo creds to Ivana. I take notes particularly on the grouting between wooden logs. They fill them with straw, but they roll the straw into tightly wound balls and decoratively arrange them. Insulating and interesting.

At night, we drink wine outside and watch the kids play while talking and meeting each other. Emma is an incredible host and makes sure we’re well fed and cared for while we’re here. She’s the kind of person that loves hosting, and she’s taking some more friends in as soon as we leave in a few days. It’s something I wish I could do, but whenever I host someone I need at least a day to myself before taking someone else in. We sit and enjoy the night mountain air, and get a good nights sleep.

We wake up, surprisingly not to the sound of screaming children, and go down for breakfast. Of course, the house is as one would expect with five children under the age of ten living under its roof. But I think the kids are pretty well behaved. Yes, they’re little crazy monkeys and they’re constantly making messes and hurting each other, but they’re kids so whatever.

We eat enough fresh picked wild blueberries to turn our tongues indigo.



Ivana and I finish up with breakfast and get outside into the hills. We walk through forests and wander aimlessly for several hours, enjoying the view of the Tatras. They’re “Europe’s smallest mountain range”, meaning they’re the smallest mountains but the biggest hills in Europe. They’re pretty adorable. They’re rocky and craggy but in a very cute size.



Houses in Emma’s neighborhood are all done in the traditional style, so we spend time just looking at the gorgeous wooden houses. The whole time I’m taking more notes on future dream houses.



We get home and relax with some more wine and play with the kids a bit. They’ve found some thistle heads that like sticking to fabric, and they use me as target practice. These are the kind of kids you want to be the fun uncle for. They’re awesome, but god damn raising three little blonde boys has to be crazy. Great job, Katka. We have a more ‘peasant’ dinner of roasted potatoes with mounds of butter and salty goat cheese on top. It’s delicious, but I eat way too much and get a cheesy potato related food coma. It’s been perfect up in the mountains.

We wake up to a pack of tiny elephants tearing the house down the next morning. But it’s alright, and we switch the sheets out for Emma’s next set of guests. It’s been a fantastic time up in the Tatras, and I feel like it was such a unique ‘Slovakian’ experience for me. Even Ivana felt like it was pretty unique. This is the Slovakia I want to remember, up in the clean air surrounded by adorable mountains.

We head to the bus stop, where we meet a couple that has been waiting there for two hours and hasn’t seen a single bus pass by. They call a taxi, and we hop in as well. The buses are coming from the Polish ski resort town of Zakopane, and the taxi driver says that if no one shows up to ride, the drivers don’t bother to even drive the route. Sounds like Eastern Europe. So the driver takes us a town just a few kilometers away where we can get a Slovakian bus, charges us a good ten euros, and goes on his way. We make it just in time for the next bus, and get out in the little town of Kežmarok.

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Ivana has been here a few times and recommends we see the unique church in its downtown. We arrive around 13:00, and find out the church is closed until 14:00. So we walk around and stumble into a castle that is having a falcon show.



We sit and watch giant eagles and owls eat chicken meat. I can imagine a falcon on my arm. Pretty perfect accessory, really. Handsome, badass, and it can catch you a rabbit dinner.


We wander back into town and grab a coffee before getting to the church. It’s beautifully done, covered in wood and featuring a painted sky ceiling. It’s protected by UNESCO, and I promptly whip my phone out for a photo. A stewardess, who’s giving a tour, comes over and gets very upset that I’ve taken photos and that I’ve interrupted her tour. I didn’t realize that the ‘no camera’ sign meant no photos rather than no flash. I apologize, and she says that it’ll be two euros. This is in Slovakian, so my interpretation was a bit off. I interpret this as two euros to take photos and put a two euro coin into the little indulgences box at the entrance of the church. We go outside for a bit, and I re-enter just to walk around and see it a bit better. She gets mad at me in Slovak, and I say I speak English so she says “3 euros to enter”. I suppose she forgot my face or didn’t see I put in two euros inter her indulgence box, or plainly didn’t like me. Terrible misunderstanding. Rather than argue that I already paid, I leave before I interrupt her tour once again. Spectacular church though…

I’ll place my one forbidden photo here (even if I may go to hell) and hope it’s okay with the Lord that I share the beautiful art that was created to house his people, even though his people may not appreciate me doing so. But hey, I paid two euros for this photo. Forgive me, and enjoy.


Now we sit on a train back to Košice. Today is Wednesday, and we leave for Krakow on Friday. So we’ve got one more day to be stuffed with cake and enjoy Slovakia before heading on to the next adventure. I’m excited for Poland but enjoying not having to carry my giant IKEA backpack around. Guess I’ll have to suck it up. 

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On to Budapest

Tired, hungry, sore neck, sore throat. All things that make for a cranky combination, and I currently possess in my array of emotions upon landing in Budapest. The flight was a good three hours, and I haven’t had proper sleep in a while. But we’ve gotten pretty good at not sleeping (taking a night bus to Vilnius and sleeping in a cafe, spending the night at the Vilnius airport), and I’m sure that I’ll be able to take hold of Budapest just like any other sleep-deprived city adventure I’ve partaken in. We get into the city and head to the hostel, which won’t let us check in until 15:00. However, they’ll gladly take our money so I fork up a 10,000 forint (about $36) note and she gives me an absurd amount of change. Hungarian forints are a lot like monopoly money. They’re colorful and huge and in ridiculously large values. So for the $12 room I’ve purchased I receive a clump of money and coins that I have no space for. This both excites and irritates me. Paying 1000 monies for an item makes me feel like I’m making a sturdy investment. But I’m literally just buying a coffee.

With a mound of money in pocket, we head to Apricot coffee for a quick cup and relax. I’m a little delirious.


So we drink our coffee and continue. Budapest is one of those cities that gets hyped up a lot. There are some that deserve the hype, like Prague or Paris or Berlin (in my opinion). But I’m not sure Budapest is all there for me. We walk around the Jewish quarter, stumbling into some very overpriced and trendy “second-hand” stores that sell completely new items. I jumble through hoards of American tourists and stag parties getting drunk off cheap beers at noon and wonder what all the hype is about. Honestly, the next few hours is just a conglomeration of me being irritated by listening to the conversations of American tourists.

They just complain so much. Which in turn, makes me complain so much. But to be honest, I don’t want to complain about these silly American tourists, because I really enjoy eavesdropping on their nonsensical conversations like; “ya, I mean like, I guess we could. I guess I’m just like, completely exhausted, you know?” or “do you think there’s running water?” or “I have NEVER thought about tying my shoes that way before”. Such strange dribble from the mouths of my lovely kinfolk. I know I shouldn’t get annoyed, they’re just trying to have fun on vacation. But I don’t know, it’s fun to make fun sometimes.

So we wander around the touristy hipster jungle of the Jewish quarter and get back for a quick nap since we can finally check in. Our hostel room is so nice and so cheap, and we sleep a perfect nap away. We arise fresh and renewed and go back out to hit the town. Our neighborhood is actually pretty nice. It’s a bit more local and there are few tourists, so we wander the streets and grab dinner in a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. We stroll along the Danube and cross the bridge into Buda to peer at the Parliament building in the dusk light, and that’s quite nice. Budapest does have lovely architecture. It’s a bit like Prague but with larger street sizes. So it’s nice enough.

I find myself weeding through hoards of tourists as we get to a famous ruin bar in the Jewish Quarter. It’s a concept of bars in a run down place, but there’s a line far out the door so we skip it and go to a much chiller bar next door. They have their own beers on tap, and we pretty much have the place to ourselves aside from a talkative drunken Hungarian at the bar.

Hungarian is an odd language for me, but perhaps that’s because I’ve never heard it spoken on a regular basis. It is weird though. As a language, it just sort of popped out of nowhere. I guess if I close my eyes really tight and let my mind wander, Hungarian sounds a little bit like Finnish…but even that’s a stretch. ‘Thanks’ in Hungarian, ‘köszi’, sounds a bit like ‘kiitos’ in Finnish (at least they start with the same letter…). It’s one of those languages I probably will never wrap my head around, so the basic hello and thank you will do for now.

The next day we stroll a bit more. It’s a lazy Sunday, and not much is going on. We go to a cafe that Ivana’s friend from University recommended, and it’s extremely decadent. I get a hot chocolate thicker than a chocolate mousse and go into anaphylactic shock while feeling like an Aztec prince. The place is kitschy galore, covered in old dusty teddy bears and beanie babies and nonsensical Soviet paraphernalia. It’s difficult just to walk through the place. We leave and go back to the ruin bar with a line out the door, as they have a local farmers market every Sunday. I’m glad we eventually went because it’s a cool place.


It’s covered in nonsense and rubbish and hipsters but it’s a nice atmosphere. We just have a little walk around and then go to a ramen shop across the street. I know, ramen in Budapest. But Budapest is cheap, and hipster ramen places are usually expensive. This is Ivana’s first ramen too, so I found it more interesting than getting a goulash from a touristy place.

Ivana’s parents are coming to pick us up soon, so we start making our way to a mall on the edge of town which we agree to meet at. They rent a place on the Southern Croatian coast every summer, and the drive home conveniently runs through Budapest. They’ve been driving since 6:00, so that Mr. Stavrovsky can watch the France-Croatia final this afternoon. He’s a man on a mission, and we get picked up and hurriedly make the three-hour drive to Košice.

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The Hungarian countryside is pretty flat, so I spend my time listening to Slovakian being spoken at intense speeds. It’s a pretty language, certainly a lot prettier than most Slavic languages (but maybe I’m biased). We get into Košice and before I can sightsee, I have to watch the second half with Papa Rovská. I’m welcomed with open arms and care, and a non-alcoholic beer to enjoy the game with. Croatia was the obvious favorite, as the Stavrovska family just returned from there.


Now we’ve watched the game, and take a walk just to the grocery store to pick up some veggies for dinner. Grocery stores are always one of the first places I visit when I arrive in a new country. Just wandering the aisles aimlessly, looking at cheeses and spices and candies and whatever else endlessly excites me. I learn so much about a place when I see what people eat on a daily basis. Slovakia, for example, loves its cheese and pickles and seeds and right now has a love affair with fresh berries. Beautiful.

We eat our roasted veggies and get to bed. Everyone’s pretty tired, and I have to get some rest before stepping into a new country.

Slovakia is my fifty-fifth country. Lithuania was my fiftieth, and I absolutely should have done something special for the occasion but instead did nothing. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to make it to so many places so soon in life, and I’m so incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to do so. For me, travel is something that helps me get out of bed in the morning. When it’s cold and dark, and snowing icicles in the cold Danish winter and I have to get up at 6 am and go to a class I hate, travel is the only thing getting me out of bed. I wake up and linger in bed a while, cursing my life choices and educational path while feeling trapped. Moments like that make you want to linger in bed forever. Then I think, “wake up, you haven’t even been to Scotland or Portugal or India or so many other places yet. Get out of bed and see the world.” It’s travel that makes me move, the possibility to see and experience new things. The desire to meet new people, make lasting impressions with amazing individuals from around the world and be a part of their journey. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning.

Several months ago, I hosted two Frenchman from Cannes in my flat. They found me on Couchsurfing on a walking tour from Cannes to Nordkapp, the most Northern point of Europe all the way in the tip of the Norwegian tundra. One of them, Rémi, texted me the other day that he just made it to Nordkapp in time for sunset. It’s taken them seven months, overcoming the Swiss Alps in winter, the boring Danish countryside in Spring, and the Norwegian wilderness in summer. Meeting the two was a highlight of my year, and I am so honored to have been a part of their journey. At the same time, Rémi remarked how much of a highlight it was for him to stay with me, and how excited he is for me to visit one day in Cannes. It’s these exchanges I crave most in life, that make me keep exploring and continuing to travel and meet people.

I am left with this thought as I journey into Košice, my first city in my fifty-fifth country. There’s a promenade lined with bars and shops and a central water feature.


It’s been raining a lot and because of that, nobody is out. We go to a local cafe with 1 euro espresso (I love Central European prices) and wait for our mutual friend, Slavomir, who grew up just a few streets away from Ivana. They only met for the first time in Aalborg, and I met Slavo before I met Ivana. It’s weird to see a friend from Aalborg all the way here, but it’s so humbling to be shown someone’s hometown. People also have a completely different air about them when their home. They just seem to smile more, and breath a bit more deeply. We walk together, walking to Europes Eastern most Gothic cathedral.


Nice, no?


It’s lovely architecture, it reminds me a lot of towns around the Czech Republic. But for Slovakia’s second biggest city, it certainly isn’t that large. Still, it’s a relaxed atmosphere and I appreciate any form of beautiful architecture around a town.


Here’s a monument of all the victims of the multiple plagues taking place in Košice history. We go and grab an ice cream, and eat it next to the Russian liberation memorial.


Full of ice cream, we part ways with Slavo and head to a high school friend of Ivana’s for dinner. Shoshana and her boyfriend, Pali, have been cooking us her mother’s famous beef cheeks in wine sauce for hours.


They live in a perfectly kitschy Central European apartment (well it’s her parent’s apartment), with orange furniture and fake apples everywhere. Her mom just likes apples.

Dinner is served, and I get really quiet for a little bit because I fall in love with what’s in front of me.


I licked that goddamn bowl clean. Perfect tender and savory, with mashed potatoes to sop up all the goodies. Shoshana’s mother knows how to cook some beef cheeks. We sit back and drink some whiskey, and have a relaxed night. The first day is a nice intro to Slovakia.

We wake up and have a massive breakfast. Ivana’s mother is spoiling me rotten with cakes and goodies. I haven’t been this full in a while. There are brownies, fresh cake, delicious cheeses, fresh perfect fruit. I simply can’t eat it all. Yet I’m clearly not eating enough to be polite. I force myself, as I will probably continue to do for the next week, and eat as many goodies as possible without succumbing to type 2.

The plan is to ride bikes to Grandma’s summer house in the forest. We hop on our bikes and ride through a perfect forest road for about 45 minutes, getting caught in a massive monsoon downpour along the way.


We could stop and wait for it to pass, but we’re already soaked so we keep on moving. Ivana’s great-grandfather built this house back in the 1970’s, and it’s been her Grandma and Grandpa’s summer getaway ever since. It’s beautiful, and I take notes for my future forest dream retirement house.



It’s been raining nonstop (until we arrive, of course,) and uncle has raided the forest of all its mushroom goodies.


Ivana’s father, aunt, and little cousin are in the living room with the grandparents talking and eating cookies. I don’t understand what’s going on, so I just look around and enjoy the atmosphere.


I really enjoy spacing out and listening to other people talk sometimes. Luckily I surround myself with people from exotic lands. I’m still dripping wet, and Ivana’s grandmother has placed a little rug under my feet so I don’t get the floor wet. Ivana and I raid grandmas closet and come out looking like Japanese hipster tourists.


This summers hottest new fashion. Babushka pants, dad’s old shirt from when he was fat in the 90’s, and uncle Roman’s torn shoes from the 1980’s. I look beautiful and feel beautiful. We leave while it’s sunny, hoping it’ll stay sunny, and of course, get caught biking home through another dowsing of rain. Why not, our clothes were still wet anyways. In the evening, we meet up with another high school friend for some board games at a board game bar. We then grab dinner at a nice bar and get a beer at a movie theater that’s also a cool bar. The Slavic word for beer is really satisfying to me. ‘Pivo’ just sounds a lot more like beer to me than ‘beer’ or ‘cerveza’ or Danish ‘øl’. I like when words kind of sound like what they are, and pivo kind of sounds a little bubbly and malty to me. We talk over the beers and eventually head home.

The next day is relaxed, and we meet up with Papa Rovska for lunch. I get the local specialty, halušky. They’re potato dumplings, a bit like gnocchi, with a goat cheese sauce topped in chives, bacon, and sour cream.


Although, if I didn’t tell you what it is you may tell me it looks like a bowl of maggots. I wouldn’t disagree with you. But the right flavors are there, and the trifecta of cheese, potatoes,  and bacon make any meal delicious so I enjoy a hearty bowl of it. We meet up with Shoshana and Pali for a coffee, and head to a craft center where Shoshana’s aunt is a teacher. Here, kids learn woodworking, textile, pottery, and other crafts in the traditional fashion. It’s really interesting watching kids work on tiny looms and other kids mold clay. It’s amazing to see kids work in the traditional fashion as well, and I’m glad to see them preserving traditional art forms. We say goodbye, actually get kicked out by one of the other teachers of the school, and go around town for a bit of second-hand shopping. Košice is a working town, so there are a lot of second-hand stores. US Steel has a huge factory that employs a lot of people, so it’s a big presence here. Tonight we have roasted veggies with the family, and stay in. I’ve been welcomed so warmly and had such a wonderful time so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next week holds.

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The Black Sea

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We wake up early, and get to the bus at 7:30 for a long long ride to Batumi. It was supposed to take five and a halfish hours, but our marshrutka driver was the most popular man on the planet and was on the phone for the entire drive. I was worried he would run out of battery, but luckily he brought a charger.

We arrive at the seaside city around at around 15:00, to a drizzly rain and tempestuous clouds. But there’s something strangely satisfying about weather like this at the beach. It seems out of the ordinary, like a warm day in the depths of winter. It’s oddly refreshing, and all I can do is enjoy.

Batumi is a weird city. I honestly didn’t have Batumi on my list at all. It looked like a terrible mix of Las Vegas and Monaco, and not appealing to anything I enjoy. But Georgia’s second largest city offered a lot that I wasn’t expecting, and I ended up enjoying it more than a lot of Western European cities. Yes, there are some casinos and Russian tourists filling the beach, but it’s got a certain weird charm to it.

Simply from an architectural point of view, Batumi is bizarre. Just five minutes from our hostel is the European square, featuring a giant art-deco statue of Medea holding a bright gold fleece, and some other strange assortments of buildings.



I’m particularly fascinated by the architecture of the Batumi Tower.


It towers over the landscape, and was apparently supposed to be a University but is now being renovated into a hotel and apartments. What’s that golden spinny thing? My hope is a Ferris wheel. What’s that giant gold Nike swoosh? No clue. My guess is maybe Jason’s and the Argonaut’s sail. I don’t know, it’s a weird building but I adore its weird post-modern craziness. It truly doesn’t give a shit, and it doesn’t care what you think about it.

We walk towards the tower, which is right by the coast and dip our toes in. Since it’s raining, the coast is completely free. This is rare, as apparently the coast is packed in summer months. The water’s a lot cleaner than I was expecting, and it’s perfectly warm.




I just like sitting and listening to the sound of water playing with smooth stones.


We wander through the city and find a little park cafe to sit for a drink. Suddenly a downpour begins, so we settle in and enjoy. Some Georgians make eye contact with me, and point to their beers. I smile and wave back and point at my coffee. One of them comes over, and starts rambling in Russian at me. I get the point that he wants to buy me a beer. He’s a little perplexed by the fact that I’m refusing, and says “No pay. No dollars. I buy.” Neither of us really want a beer, to which he can’t understand, so he goes back and starts talking with some other locals.

I’m programmed to be a little distrusting of random people offering me free beers, but perhaps I have to let that go. I kind of regret not getting that free beer, even though I wasn’t at all in the mood for one. But maybe adventures would have ensued. Georgia is a place where one can trust strangers. Not once have I felt in danger, or in jeopardy (other than the intense marshrutka rides), nor have I felt that I would be subjected to pickpocketing or robbery. People are happy and honest here, much more so than a lot of other places. It certainly is giving me some faith in humanity to travel through here.

But we continue drinking our coffees and listening to the rain. I have to run to the bathroom and find this in the doorway.


The bathroom attendant babushka had a mound of kittens. Every bathroom should have a mound of kittens.

As we arrive late, we start to get a bit tired and make a hunt for some food. Dinner is much more affordable here, and we find a nice Georgian place with great prices, good food, and huge portions. It’s in the main square, and they’ve put together a little live band. They’re playing some legitimate Georgian folk music, with a lot of instrumental noise, clapping, and loud chanting as vocals. A guy is playing a drum with subdivision rhythms reminiscent of an Indian tabla. Another is playing a string instrument looking like the crossover of a Russian balalaika and a Turkish saz. A guy with a cool hat is on the accordion, and everyone else is chanting and clapping.


A guy at the front row keeps getting up and dancing, and a waitress just randomly steps in to dance with him.


They  do a circular dance with a lot of twirling and peacocking from the man, and it’s pretty cool to watch a guy do it in flip flops in the rain. When he gets tired, he just strolls back to his chair nonchalantly and gets back to eating his chicken barbecue. I wish more people could just randomly stand up and start dancing, because why not? It’s fun and looks good and everyone enjoys it. Screw it. It’s probably healthy to randomly dance in public every now and then.

We wander around some more, and look at a famous statue of Nina and Ali.


The statues are constantly in motion, and every now and then pass through each other. The story goes, Ali is from Azerbaijan and Nina is from Georgia. Because of religious differences, never truly be together. So every night, they move around in circles and pass through each other but can never truly be one.

It’s weird, quirky art and statues like this that make Batumi worth the visit for me.

The next day, we plan on making a journey to the Botanic Gardens. They’re about a 20 minute bus ride outside the city, so we hop on the bus (which are just minivans with a ceiling handrail) and head out of town. When we get there, we discover that the fee for the garden is $8, when we had read on the internet that it was only $2-3. That perturbed us a bit, along with standing in line with a hoard of Russian tourists to even get into the park. So we bailed and headed to the coast which is conveniently right next to the gardens. Here, we ate sunflower seeds and watch a storm come rolling into Batumi.



The coast is chill and quiet, maybe because it’s raining and no one wants to be on the beach. Or perhaps every tourist is in Russia watching the World Cup. Regardless, no one is on the beach. I notice how sweet people are with their children here. They smile a lot, and seem to be really loving. A dad sits in the water, smiling and trying to lure his little son in with him. But the waves are a bit too much, and the kid says “no sir”, but it’s still a cute moment to watch. There was an Azerbaijani baby on the train from Baku that would not stop crying, but other than that Georgian kids have been really well behaved. On our marshrutka ride to Mestia, a little girl about 6 years old sat on her babushka’s lap for the entire five and whatever hours. She was so relaxed and just napped in her babushka’s heavy field working arms. I’m not sure what goes on behind the scenes to raise these good kids, but I’m glad their so relaxed and well behaved. I also don’t know if you’re born just being a cool baby, or if your raised to be one. Perhaps being cool is in your DNA a little bit? An evolutionary mechanism to pick up chicks and pass on the coolness genes? I guess cool people usually make cool babies, so that theory could hold up. But I digress.

We sit for a while and head back into town, and I want to do something a little bit American. I want to go to McDonald’s.

But this isn’t your ordinary McDonald’s.


It’s the coolest McDonald’s in the world. Part of the building is a living wall with outdoor eating, and it’s really well designed inside and out. Why is it here? Great question, but it’s just another weird piece of architecture to add to the Batumi landscape. We wander more, finding another great cheap restaurant for dinner and head into a craft beer place for a decently cheap pint of good local beer. Beer, in general, is really good here, and we honestly haven’t had wine. Aside from a bottle of wine our host in Kutaisi gave us from his vineyard, we haven’t had a single drop of wine from the country that invented it. That’s a little bit crazy, and I kind of regret that. But it’s just a reason to come back!

We wake up to our last day in Georgia. It’s a bit bittersweet, as we’ve been out for nearly two and a half weeks in Georgia. But the experience has been really memorable. I always wonder what I’ll take away from a trip, and this trip is no different. The biggest thing I wish to take away is to just be a more hospitable and welcoming person, a bit more Georgian in life. Smile at more strangers, say bless you when someone sneezes, held old babushkas carry their giant bags of potatoes. Simple things like this go a long way to make someone’s day great, and I can easily incorporate more of it into my life. Georgian’s go above and beyond, and living in Denmark for three years has hardened me in a lot of ways. I’ve grown a lot more secluded than usual, and I don’t necessarily open up as much as I do in other environments. When I move back to Denmark next January, I hope I’ll be able to open up a bit more and bring a bit of warmth to the Arctic north.

Our flight to Budapest is at 5:50 am from Kutaisi, and we’re still in Batumi. Luckily, there’s a company that drives directly to the airport at 1 am for $6. We arrive at the bus stop, and sit and wait for passengers to show up. There’s one minibus with a nice young driver and a lot of people. The driver gets on the phone and calls people for about 20 minutes. The website said “don’t worry, we’ll have space for you!” so I guess that’s what he’s doing. He gets off the phone and ten minutes later a low riding Mitsubishi with a cracked windshield and neon hood lights vrooms up behind the minivan. Guess that’s our ride.

The next two hours pass in a haze. I was sitting in the front of a lunatic Mitsubishi driver who wanted to go back to bed. It was probably just the minibus drivers friend, who could use a couple extra lari. So he was flying. Luckily, I was dead tired. It’s the only time in my life I’ve almost felt so tired that I was drugged. I physically couldn’t keep my eyes open, and every time I would I would nod my head a couple times and then pass out again. It made the ride a lot more bearable. Eventually, we arrive in one piece in good time at the Kutaisi airport. I love that convenience, something like that would never operate in Denmark. If I want to fly from Billund, the biggest airport in mainland Denmark, it takes me about 4 hours to get there from Aalborg. That’s a train and a bus. If I drove, it would take about 2. It also costs me about $30/40, and the flights leave early in the morning so you have to leave equally early. It makes no sense that’s there’s no minibus driving there. Here, a guy has a minivan and a friend in a Mitsubishi, drinks a cup of coffee, and makes a decent amount of money by Georgian standards.

It’s early, and we have to wait for security to open. It eventually does, and we wait in one of the tiniest airports I’ve been in. But they’ve designed big leather beds in the dark shadows of the corners, with fake grass outlining the beds. So about ten people can snuggle up on it, and I take a quick nap before getting on the flight. For me, this is just another flight of many. But for Ivana, we’re soon going home. So this is a moment of passing vacation, and soon to be family craziness. We sleep our way through the flight to Budapest, and awake back in the ‘civilization’ of Central Europe.

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