About the traveler Following my own trails

A map of countries I’ve visited so far in my life time.

Drinking Thai beer :-)

Drinking Thai beer 🙂

Hi all. I am a –what you may call– “seasoned” traveler by now, although I feel I have not traveled that much. The traveling virus in its full effect. No matter how much you travel, it is never enough. There is always a place you haven’t visited yet and there is always the next dream travel you long and plan, sometimes even before the last one has ended. This particular virus has brought me to some of the weirdest and most beautiful places on earth. This particular virus also gave me some of the most basic realizations about the world, myself and my position in the world. But let’s start from the beginning.

I guess, from a very early age I had the fleeing mentality and one of my early planned escapes was to leave my hometown in Greece and go study in another town, still in Greece, but it was already something for me. Of course as it is customary in Greece, most of the population has visited various beautiful places in the country, which are not that hard to find. While being a university student, my preference was the Greek islands of course. I do not consider this traveling, rather vacation, but still I have very fond memories from this period. My first attempts to go abroad was via some university summer exchange program –a kind of summer camp– where I visited Hungary for a couple of weeks. But I guess the catalytic event for my travelling adventures was the opportunity I was presented with, from a Dutch university exchange program. That program brought me to the Netherlands for six months, after which the traveling virus grew steadily in me and started tele-porting me to several places in Europe at first. UK and Ireland were the first places to explore. I crossed England, Scotland, North and southern Ireland by hitch-hiking and sleeping in budget youth hostels.

After that I had to return to Greece. That was a great opportunity to try Interrail, where I crossed half Europe from Holland till Italy by train and eventually took the ferry to Greece. I had to stay some months in Greece and another nice opportunity came across my path where I got myself a job at the university of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. So abroad again, with more opportunities for travelling, but this time with less time available, due to my job obligations. I managed though to visit Poland by bus for a few weeks and my first intercontinental trip for three weeks in Venezuela and Colombia was my “big” achievement in that period. Backpacking, buses, budget hostels, tropical beaches, the jungle and crossing of borders, kept my adrenaline in such levels, that it was inevitable for my mind to start planning the following trips already.

My next more extensive travel was in Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, backpacker’s style of course, which in total added up to some months. You have to keep in mind though, for countries like Georgia and Armenia, back then, there was not even one printed traveler’s guide. I explored everything as if I was the first foreigner in the country. Very exciting times there, indeed. After that trip I had to work some time in Greece and in the Netherlands to gather some funds and I was ready for my big breakthrough.

I traveled in total for seven months in Asia by getting a plane from the Netherlands to Beijing, China and then straight to Mongolia, with the Trans-Mongolian train. I spent almost two months in Mongolia, returned to China, did some traveling there for about a month and headed for Central Asia: Kazakhstan and mainly Kyrgyzstan. After a couple of months there, I returned to China, went to Hong-Kong and flew to Thailand in order to blow some steam out of my head and experience the party atmosphere of the main hub of travelers in south-east Asia. After a couple of months there, it was time to return to Greece with a last visit to Holland of course.

After this extended trip, I decided to settle a bit, my wife and my daughter came to my life and this hindered a bit my traveling urges, but never managed to subdue them. My wife and I visited several places, for only a few weeks though, but always with a backpacking traveling philosophy and style: Turkey, Bulgaria, Morocco, Thailand, Portugal were a few of our visits. When we moved to the Netherlands, we managed to visit the neighboring countries of Belgium, Germany and a little bit of the Alsatian part of France.

Lately I’ve done some road trips with my loyal 4×4 Pajero Pinin jeep, dubiously named “buggy”. I did 3 overland trips from Greece to the Netherlands with buggy. The first was the mainstream and fast route: Holland, Germany, Austria/Switzerland, Italy, Greece. But the other two were my favorite ones via the Balkans: Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, FYROM (that is Macedonia for the rest of the world), Greece and back. The last trip was done with my daughter and me, which I think was a cross-road for her, where her daddy managed to pass the traveling virus to her. What a dodgy character for a father!

The last years, I am exploring my own country, I have traveled either alone or with my family, mainly visiting the mountainous areas of Northern and Western Greece, in order to find some place to settle. So it is both traveling and surveying in a way. “Settling down” is a big word of course and it seems not the easiest thing for me to manage. According to my past, the odds are slim, but you never know. I guess I will find another way of traveling even in a settled down situation.

Leela beach in Thailand

Leela beach in Thailand