Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2 Weeks Spent....Surviving

If you're curious about the title of this post, it's because for the past two weekends I've literally just been attempting to survive.  Two weekends ago we decided to go Canyoning down the Cetina river.  We were asked if we wanted the extreme version or the standard version, and since we've never done this before we went for the obvious choice of extreme.  This is after almost four months of no hiking or outdoor activities since arriving to Europe.  Athleticism of South America was traded for cheep booze and luxury here in Europe.  After four hours in freezing water, I safely made it to dry land and in time for football Sunday (GO PATS)! Video footage of our adventure is available here thanks to fellow remote Jeff (won't work on mobile).

Then, this past weekend I survived a weekend of European style fun - Oktoberfest.  I've never consumed more beer or cheese in my life, but I've made it this long after without a heart attack so I think I'm in the clear.  There have been three cities I think I could ever live in for an extended period of time (or just longer than the month I'm currently averaging) and Munich is one of them.  The city is so beautiful (so are the men) and the German's do NOT mess around.  German efficiency is something I can get on board with.

Before we get to pictures...a few more videos of interest (again these won't work on mobile):
Footage from our Yacht Weekend courtesy of the Nomad Drone
Footage from Machu Picchu Hike day One
Footage from Machu Picchu Hike day Two Courtesy of our personal YouTuber TJ Lee.   Follow her @CupOfTJ for beautiful pics & videos.

The crew we went Canyoning with.  Going in a large group assures that if
the current is too strong and you miss the exit someone is always there to
pull you back in by your pony tail (thanks Dustin). 


I let it slide that this man made the mistake of touching my knee caps because
repelling down a cliff is pretty terrifying. Even when you have a man this
handsome holding your life in his hands.
Now this is what I signed up for. A leisurely float with my significant otter.

We made a quick trip back to Dubrovnik before flying out to Munich.  I ended up
getting sick (again) so the only real activity I managed to participate in was
the cable cars to the top of the hill which gives this view of
Old Dubrovnik - more commonly known as King's Landing.

And finally, OKTOBERFEST! After a 3 hour wait in the freezing rain we
got into the tents where I met up with two of mine and my brother's
friends who live in Munich.  They arrived after our wait in the
pouring rain and before I was too drunk to remember them. Clearly, not their
first rodeo.

In case you haven't caught on, we never do anything with less than 26 of
our closest friends.  This is after we finally got some beer (tents opened at 9
but no beer until 12) on day one.  This is in the Schottenhamel tent where the
ceremonial tapping of the keg happens by the Mayor.

Day two I met back up with Tom and Marie for brunch at the Hoffbrauhaus and
Marie brought me this lebkuchen (gingerbread necklace) as a gift.  You
DO NOT eat these. No matter how drunk you are. PS. how cute is Marie?
You should see her dirndl (dresses we're wearing).  They're GORGEOUS.
Will definitely be arriving early next year to get some real authentic ones like
hers. 

This is the HB from the outside.  Did I mention Germany is super cute?
More impressive than these stunning cobblestone streets were the women
who managed to wear heels in the rain on them.
We spent Sunday in the Hoffbrau Tent which was a lot
rowdier than the Schottenhamel tent.  People hop on the
tables to chug a beer and if you don't do it fast enough
you get food thrown at you and boo'd down..  This was
my attempt to carry the beers like the servers.  They have
to carry at least 10 1L beers at a time to work there. I
managed 5 half beers.  If anything will get me in
the gym it's my new goal to be an Oktoberfest bartender. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Split is LIT


We've been in Split, Croatia for a little over a week now and it's been one hell of a week.  I landed at the airport to my parents waiting for me at customs and in true Remote Year fashion headed straight to the bar.  OK we made a quick pit-stop at my new apartment which is the nicest one I've had to date - then went to the beach bar.  I'm a 30 second walk to the workspace and as soon as I walk out my front door I see the beach.  I also some how scored a NYC theme'd apartment to make me feel really at home. Below are some of the pictures of our explorations during week one!


We spent our first day lounging at a beach club and sipping
a few cocktails by the water. This is about a 3 minute walk
from my apartment.
Day two we got a little culture in and stopped by Diocletan's palace.  Pictured
here is a portion of the castle that's in a bit rougher shape than the rest but
a great view of the bell tower.  Unless temperatures drop below 75 I'm not
climbing it.  You can also live inside the castle walls.  I wonder if rent is more
than NYC...
We made it back from our day of culture to take a little booze cruse to the
Remote Year welcome party.



If you haven't seen my instagram then  you might not know about my love of
sunsets.  This was the sunset at the welcome party where we had a BBQ,
drinks, and water sports.
Also as beautiful as the sunsets are the sunrises.  Don't ask how I made it til
sunrise.

We spent another day driving to Dubrovnik aka King's Landing for you GoT
fans.  The views along the route were stunning and filled with little seaside
villages. 
This is the port of King's Landing. We spent about 1.5 hours walking along the
top of the wall that surrounds the castle.  You can also live within these castle
walls.
Things to love about Croatia : their rest stops on highways are wine tasting stops.
After we accidentally crossed 4 borders illegally, we decided to celebrate.




Dinner inside Diocletian's palace.  This place is a maze of
old apartments, businesses, shopping, and tiny little restaurants.


I also hosted family dinner at my apartment.  What's usually 10 of us from
my Buenos Aires apartment unit turned into about 40 at one point.  Shout out
to Dad for making delicious pasta that helped coat all the wine in our stomachs!



The last day here we went to Krka National Park which is
about an hour away from Split and filled with gorgeous blue
water and waterfalls.

These are the falls from the bottom where we swam but not for very long.
The water is SUPER rocky here. 

And finally we rounded out Labor Day Weekend by chartering a few boats
to take us island hopping for the day.  I was bummed my parents couldn't make
it but I think they'd had enough of partying with the crew.
After hopping around 4 islands on Saturday and a night in Hvar Saturday
night, we hit another 3 islands Sunday which included a blue cave..



Last awesome thing about Split: We have a blob. And sorry Dad but
you had the most graceful landing so your video is being featured.
Cannot figure out how to flip this video so just turn your head. It's
been a long weekend!


video

Monday, August 22, 2016

Serbia, Our Weirdest Stop Yet

We have about 4 days left in Serbia so this will probably be my only post from here.  Who would've guessed this place would keep me so busy?  Belgrade is a pretty awesome off the grid city which has been a nice change from all the tourist destinations we've had thus far.  It was the first time we got dropped in a city and didn't have to worry about fitting in all of the sights and museums in one month.  At least to me, we got here, moved in and just lived.

The food is shockingly good, it's the cheapest city we've been to by far, and aside from the fact that we're now in the Cyrillic alphabet and I can't tell anyone where I live - it's a clean and cool place to be.  Kind of has a 90's grungey feel that I really dig.  Also - the fashion is still in the 90's and makes for some serious people watching.  Jorts anyone?  At risk of actually saving some money in this cheap city, I made the last minute decision to hop to Montenegro for a long weekend and get away from everyone for a few days. I also had my brother's 2nd visit which always takes a few days to recover from.

Below are some of the pictures from the last few weeks.  On the line-up for this week: BBQ, escape room, going away party, and traveling to Croatia where I'll meet up with my parents for a week!

Sunset over the Sava river.  About one mile to the right is where the
Sava & Danube rivers connect.  Those boats across the river from our dinner
are all nightclubs that rage every night of the week.

This was where I spent a good chunk of my time in Montenegro, another small
Balkan country on the coastline.

Montenegro is BEAUTIFUL.  I've been told it looks a lot like Split, Croatia
which is where I head next weekend.  It's still off the grid as far as tourism
goes which makes for a nice relaxing weekend away. 

I took a little cruise around the coast and stopped in a few port towns.  This
Church called "Lady of the Rocks" is built in the middle of the water on
a man-made island made of rocks and sunken enemy ships.

This is part of the Belgrade fortress built by the Romans a LONG time ago.
It's right on the merger of the Sava and Danube rivers.  Most countries would
go way out of their way to protect something like this but being that Serbia
is super weird - they have a basketball court inside and a nightclub.
Ball is life. 

This is the view of the fort from the other side of the Sava.  A few of us spent
the afternoon at this club/pool called Hot Mess to wait out the heat. 

We also attended Belgrade Beer fest which is the largest in South East
Europe. Whatever that means. Spoiler alert family : Todd has a girlfriend
(pictured above). 

Better than beer fest was our discovery that there was an amusement
park just behind the vendors.  Cue drunken rainbow ride selfie. 

This past weekend we headed to the South of Serbia to explore this working
monastery (which is actually a convent so, as always I'm confused by
religion).

The tour also felt this massive waterfall was worth a stop.
Impressive.

The highlight of the trip was this massive cave we explored at the end
of the day.  The pictures don't do it justice and I can't say much about it
because our guide only knew the words stalagmite and stalagtite. 

Finally we had a little Sunday Funday at the local man-made lake
called Lake Ada.  Played some catch, had beers, and just laid out around
the water.






Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Six Month Mark

Apologies in advance for a long post!  In my last post I mentioned that Remote Year - while wonderful - isn't all wine tastings and welcome parties.  Straight up: t's not easy being on the road for six months non-stop.  You miss weddings, the first of your friends having babies, birthdays and just normal family or friend get-togethers.  You go to South America and the rest of your world goes on.  I know it's hard to complain - I get to travel the world and do things most people don't do in a lifetime in one year.  But reflecting on six months (a mark I wasn't sure I'd make given how long I lasted in Boston) I thought I'd share some of the feelings that come with picking up your life, leaving it in multiple family members basements (thank you) and hitting the road.

There were times in New York where I felt like that line in the Dave Matthews song "All the little ants are marching".  It just felt routine, safe, and dare I say NYC of all places was boring me. And while it's true that there's comfort in routine, that's exactly why I joined Remote Year.  I needed out of my routine.  Best way to do that? Twelve countries, 8 languages, over 3 continents in one year.

Part of the appeal of this program is that they plan your travel for you. You're picked up at your apartment, handed a breakfast snack, driven to the airport, handed your ticket, handed a SIM card when you land and dropped off at the door of your new apartment. You get a welcome packet that tells you things like how to use local transport, avoid local scams, what standard tipping is, etc.  But that same exact ease of travel is what makes this program hard.  You hand over control of where you're living, working, how you're traveling and maybe even who you're living with.  Someone hand picked the people you'll hang out with for a year and they might not be who you'd pick for yourself.

You have 75 new friends but not one who just knows you.  Not one who knows the same people, same places or same things that you can just say something to them and they get it. For the most part, it's refreshing to be around all new people. But sometimes you feel like you live in a social experiment. There are days where I'll work from my room and not leave because it's just a LOT to work, live, travel, vacation, party, dine, etc.etc.etc. with the same people.

This being said, I wouldn't change the last six months for the world. I've challenged myself, gone SO far out of my comfort zone, and learned a lot about myself and the world around me.  So, in a quick summary, here's a round up by month of some of the ups and downs that were probably sugar coated by pretty pictures in earlier blogs.

Month One: Montevideo, Uruguay 
The Pros:  I met the crazy, ridiculous, diverse and insane group of people known as Batutta - my fellow nomads - for the first time.  We took side trips to hippie communes and lived without power, we tried surfing and tango, mostly we failed at learning Spanish but we did it together.

The Cons: Leaving home was hard. I've never gone somewhere permanent that was more than 3 hours away from my family.  The whole way leading up to leaving I kept thinking, I can always just stay.  Boarding the plane knowing I might not see home for a year was hard and the only reason I think I made it was because I had a fellow Batutta on board and couldn't bitch out. I missed my friends. A lot.  It was hard missing the jokes, weekends out and still trying to facetime everyone all the time.  It took me a little while to find the balance of both worlds.

The sand dune house we lived in in our hippie commune, Cabo Polonio. 

Some of the girls I met the first week of the program at the Goddess Festival!
















































Month Two: Buenos Aires, Argentina 
The Pros: We had beautiful apartments, in an amazing city filled with delicious food and incredible energy.  I met my "Botanico Family" which was the name of our apartment building.  They paired 10 people who had barely interacted month one into one small apartment building and it was magic.  We turned into a mini-family making pot-luck dinner once a week and drinking cheap wine (or cheaper fernets) until 2 or 3am laughing our asses off.  A tradition we still hold every month. I also had my first visitor with my brother coming to visit for a long weekend. I could finally have someone from home understand the people and places and things I was doing.

The Cons: I got pick pocketed at a concert and lost my cell phone.  And some cash. Knowing me there's a chance I spent it on beer but I'm pretty sure it went with the phone. The first member of our tribe left who was one of the most interesting people I'd ever met.

Botanico Family Dinner taking awkward family photos.
Cue a weird song just as the timer snaps, cracking us all up. 

My brother and I taking selfies in the Recoletta Cemetery.
Classy as always. 










































Month Three: La Paz, Bolivia
The Pros:  I jumped off a cliff, biked 40 miles down death road and finished thanks to the cheering of my fellow bikers (it was not easy, especially when you have a not so good hand to start), I hiked for 4 days in the Uyuni region of Bolivia which was one of the most if not the most beautiful places on earth.  I realized how supportive our group is when (see cons) I had someone stocking our floor with gatorade, someone else bringing toilet paper at 2am, and seeing messages on our group app at all hours of the night that someone needed a ride to the hospital and people jumped up to go.

The Cons: We had too many occasions where people needed to go to the hospital.  Bolivia life was rough.  Anyone who's lived at 13,000ft would get it - you can't breathe, you're constantly exhausted, dehydrated and cranky.  The food was always a risk and we had almost every single stomach bug there was including a few I think the doctors made up to mess with us and provide more butt-shots.  I caught it my last week and had I been anywhere in the world but Bolivia I probably would have gone to the doctor but I stuck it out and called in a TP run at 2am.  The times you're so sick and want to call your Mom and you can't. We were stuck in shit. Literally.  Did I mention you can't flush toilet paper here? #ThirdWorldProblems

Exploring the Salt Flats. That's me looking like I got some air at 13,000ft. 

Volunteering as traffic zebras for the day. And sweating profusely.

The start of death road, I can assure you we weren't this happy 40 miles later.





















































Month Four: Cusco, Peru 
The Pros:  I went to a wonder of the world by hiking 4 days across the Inca trail which kicked my ass but was incredible.  I flew to Lima and met members of Remote Year 1 and Remote Year 3 (I'm on 2) and learned from a bunch of skill-share workshops. My best friend from NYC came to visit and met all of my friends here.  Something about your home-life meeting your travel-life brings it all together. I now have friends here who get a little bit about the people I talk about from home, and I have a friend from home who can put faces to names here.

The Cons: Our living situation was ROUGH.  My first apartment was lucky to have hot water, we had spiders everywhere and we were basically living in a treefort.  I hated it so much I packed up my stuff (which is a lot) and lugged it to a someone's apartment who was traveling for the rest of the month.  This month morale of the group was really low - the honeymoon phase was officially over.  People who were struggling booking clients or realizing that travel wasn't for them left the program.  Our tribe started to shrink and after living on top of each other for four months, each loss was hard. I left the month questioning whether or not this program was for me.  When you have someone control every aspect of your life you expect them to treat it the way you would. At this point none of us felt Remote Year put the same faith in us that we put in them.

The  view from our campsite at 430am on the Inca Trail 

All of my favorite things in one picture: best friend, snacks and llamas. 






































Month Five: Lisbon, Portugal 
The Pros:  I passed up on Remote Year this month.  I spent 2 weeks living on the beach with my good friend, eating seafood and getting away from everything and LOVED it. Then I went home for the next two weeks and finally saw my family and friends.  I was lucky enough my cousin and two-friends decided to get married a week apart so I could be there for both.  I spent time on the beach, went to a concert (thanks Dunny), ate all the pizza NYC had, and just got to reconnect with my home life.

The Cons: It wasn't easy going back.  I missed home, I missed being able to pop 2.5 hours upstate and hang out with my family, eat real food that I recognize and the next weekend pop on the LIRR to Long Beach.  It also was a real hard realization that - a month on my own out of the program caused a lot less stress.  It made me further question if I wanted to continue. In fact, it wasn't until a call with my psychic that I decided to continue onward.  I returned to the group skeptical and anxious for what the next month would bring.

Ladies night booze cruise in Lisbon
My family at my cousins wedding in June 






































Month Six: Prague, Czech Republic 
The Pros: I was back with my group and it felt good.  Maybe a month away was the little refresher I needed. The city was beautiful, and it turned out I really had missed everyone.  Two of my girlfriends from NYC came to visit, and I somehow made it to Vienna, Paris, and Italy all in the same month. Literally hard to believe my life is real.

The Cons: I came back to a group of 50 people.  They've all left for multiple reasons both personal and program related but it's a much smaller group.  Everyone was a little on edge still and not trusting the program so while it was much better than Cusco it took awhile to get the group rolling again.  While in Prague, our community manager who makes sure our group has activities, immerses us in the community, and basically sets up everything we do was diagnosed with MS.  He has a huge personality and is the center of our social lives here so to say we all took it pretty hard is an understatement.  Spin this to a pro though: the way we all came together to make his going away gifts solidified my decision along with many others decision to stick it out til the end.  Seeing how everyone came together, including almost everyone who'd left the program to let Dave know we all love him, seeing us all get (very) emotional over a video we made for him made me realize this is a weird little family.  Sometimes it takes something really shitty happening to realize that it's not the housing, length of a bus ride, or who you room with that's why we're here. It's the people we're here with that are worth it.

My girlfriends and I visiting Vienna's Belvedere Castle.  Disclaimer:
Not related to the vodka brand :( 




















Really cool live art display at our last professional junction

























So to sum it up, the last six months have been a lot of ups and downs.  Mostly ups, but sometimes the downs are rough when you're on the road.  Our group of 75 is down to 50 and will most likely drop more in the coming months.  BUT for now I'm sticking out this weird journey with this weird tribe I now consider family.

Did I mention we're weird? We now travel with a cut out of Dave's head
to ensure he reaches his goal of 30 countries before age 30.  I can't imagine
this was the first or last time this has been done at the Louvre.



























The Six Month Mark

Apologies in advance for a long post!  In my last post I mentioned that Remote Year - while wonderful - isn't all wine tastings and welcome parties.  Straight up: t's not easy being on the road for six months non-stop.  You miss weddings, the first of your friends having babies, birthdays and just normal family or friend get-togethers.  You go to South America and the rest of your world goes on.  I know it's hard to complain - I get to travel the world and do things most people don't do in a lifetime in one year.  But reflecting on six months (a mark I wasn't sure I'd make given how long I lasted in Boston) I thought I'd share some of the feelings that come with picking up your life, leaving it in multiple family members basements (thank you) and hitting the road.

There were times in New York where I felt like that line in the Dave Matthews song "All the little ants are marching".  It just felt routine, safe, and dare I say NYC of all places was boring me. And while it's true that there's comfort in routine, that's exactly why I joined Remote Year.  I needed out of my routine.  Best way to do that? Twelve countries, 8 languages, over 3 continents in one year.

Part of the appeal of this program is that they plan your travel for you. You're picked up at your apartment, handed a breakfast snack, driven to the airport, handed your ticket, handed a SIM card when you land and dropped off at the door of your new apartment with a welcome packet that tells you things like how to use local transport, avoid local scams, what standard tipping is, etc.  But that same exact ease of travel is what makes this program hard.  You hand over control of where you're living, working, how you're traveling and maybe even who you're living with.  Someone hand picked the people you'll hang out with for a year and they might not be who you'd pick for yourself.

You have 75 new friends but not one who just knows you.  Not one who knows the same people, same places or same things that you can just say something to them and they get it. For the most part, it's refreshing to be around all new people. But sometimes you feel like you live in a social experiment. There are days where I'll work from my room and not leave because it's just a LOT to work, live, travel, vacation, party, dine, etc.etc.etc. with the same people.

This being said, I wouldn't change the last six months for the world. I've challenged myself, gone SO far out of my comfort zone, and learned a lot about myself and the world around me.  So, in a quick summary, here's a round up by month of some of the ups and downs that were probably sugar coated by pretty pictures in earlier blogs.

Month One: Montevideo, Uruguay 
The Pros:  I met the crazy, ridiculous, diverse and insane group of people known as Batutta - my fellow nomads - for the first time.  We took side trips to hippie communes and lived without power, we tried surfing and tango, mostly we failed at learning Spanish but we did it together.

The Cons: Leaving home was hard. I've never gone somewhere permanent and been more than 3 hours away from my family.  The whole way leading up to leaving I kept thinking, I can always just stay.  Boarding the plane knowing I might not see home for a year was hard and the only reason I think I made it was because I had a fellow Batutta on board and couldn't bitch out. I missed my friends. A lot.  It was hard missing the jokes, weekends out and still trying to facetime everyone all the time.  It took me a little while to find the balance of both worlds.

The sand dune house we lived in in our hippie commune, Cabo Polonio. 

Some of the girls I met the first week of the program at the Goddess Festival!
















































Month Two: Buenos Aires, Argentina 
The Pros: We had beautiful apartments, in an amazing city filled with delicious food and incredible energy.  I met my "Botanico Family" which was the name of our apartment building.  They paired 10 people who had barely interacted month one into one small apartment building and it was magic.  We turned into a mini-family making pot-luck dinner once a week and drinking cheap wine (or cheaper fernets) until 2 or 3am laughing our asses off.  A tradition we still hold every month. I also had my first visitor with my brother coming to visit for a long weekend. I could finally have someone from home understand the people and places and things I was doing.

The Cons: I got pick pocketed at a concert and lost my cell phone.  And some cash. Knowing me there's a chance I spent it on beer but I'm pretty sure it went with the phone. The first member of our tribe left who was one of the most interesting people I'd ever met.

Botanico Family Dinner taking awkward family photos.
Cue a weird song just as the timer snaps, cracking us all up. 

My brother and I taking selfies in the Recoletta Cemetery.
Classy as always. 










































Month Three: La Paz, Bolivia
The Pros:  I jumped off a cliff, biked 40 miles down death road and finished thanks to the cheering of my fellow bikers (it was not easy, especially when you have a not so good hand to start), I hiked for 4 days in the Uyuni region of Bolivia which was one of the most if not the most beautiful places on earth.  I realized how supportive our group is when (see cons) I had someone stocking our floor with gatorade, someone else bringing toilet paper at 2am, and seeing messages on our group app at all hours of the night that someone needed a ride to the hospital and people jumped up to go.

The Cons: We had too many occasions where people needed to go to the hospital.  Bolivia life was rough.  Anyone who's lived at 13,000ft would get it - you can't breathe, you're constantly exhausted, dehydrated and cranky.  The food was always a risk and we had almost every single stomach bug there was including a few I think the doctors made up to mess with us and provide more butt-shots.  I caught it my last week and had I been anywhere in the world but Bolivia I probably would have gone to the doctor but I stuck it out and called in a TP run at 2am.  The times you're so sick and want to call your Mom and you can't. We were stuck in shit. Literally.  Did I mention you can't flush toilet paper here? #ThirdWorldProblems

Exploring the Salt Flats. That's me looking like I got some air at 13,000ft. 

Volunteering as traffic zebras for the day. And sweating profusely.

The start of death road, I can assure you we weren't this happy 40 miles later.





















































Month Four: Cusco, Peru 
The Pros:  I went to a wonder of the world by hiking 4 days across the Inca trail which kicked my ass but was incredible.  I flew to Lima and met members of Remote Year 1 and Remote Year 3 (I'm on 2) and learned from a bunch of skill-share workshops. My best friend from NYC came to visit and met all of my friends here.  Something about your home-life meeting your travel-life brings it all together. I now have friends here who get a little bit about the people I talk about from home, and I have a friend from home who can put faces to names here.

The Cons: Our living situation was ROUGH.  My first apartment was lucky to have hot water, we had spiders everywhere and we were basically living in a treefort.  I hated it so much I packed up my stuff (which is a lot) and lugged it to a someone's apartment who was traveling for the rest of the month.  This month morale of the group was really low - the honeymoon phase was officially over.  People who were struggling booking clients or realizing that travel wasn't for them left the program.  Our tribe started to shrink and after living on top of each other for four months, each loss was hard. I left the month questioning whether or not this program was for me.  When you have someone control every aspect of your life you expect them to treat it the way you would. At this point none of us felt Remote Year put the same faith in us that we put in them.

The  view from our campsite at 430am on the Inca Trail 

All of my favorite things in one picture: best friend, snacks and llamas. 






































Month Five: Lisbon, Portugal 
The Pros:  I passed up on Remote Year this month.  I spent 2 weeks living on the beach with my good friend, eating seafood and getting away from everything and LOVED it. Then I went home for the next two weeks and finally saw my family and friends.  I was lucky enough my cousin and two-friends decided to get married a week apart so I could be there for both.  I spent time on the beach, went to a concert (thanks Dunny), ate all the pizza NYC had, and just got to reconnect with my home life.

The Cons: It wasn't easy going back.  I missed home, I missed being able to pop 2.5 hours upstate and hang out with my family, eat real food that I recognize and the next weekend pop on the LIRR to Long Beach.  It also was a real hard realization that - a month on my own out of the program caused a lot less stress.  It made me further question if I wanted to continue. In fact, it wasn't until a call with my psychic that I decided to continue onward.  I returned to the group skeptical and anxious for what the next month would bring.

Ladies night booze cruise in Lisbon
My family at my cousins wedding in June 






































Month Six: Prague, Czech Republic 
The Pros: I was back with my group and it felt good.  Maybe a month away was the little refresher I needed. The city was beautiful, and it turned out I really had missed everyone.  Two of my girlfriends from NYC came to visit, and I somehow made it to Vienna, Paris, and Italy all in the same month. Literally hard to believe my life is real.

The Cons: I came back to a group of 50 people.  They've all left for multiple reasons both personal and program related but it's a much smaller group.  Everyone was a little on edge still and not trusting the program so while it was much better than Cusco it took awhile to get the group rolling again.  While in Prague, our community manager who makes sure our group has activities, immerses us in the community, and basically sets up everything we do was diagnosed with MS.  He has a huge personality and is the center of our social lives here so to say we all took it pretty hard is an understatement.  Spin this to a pro though: the way we all came together to make his going away gifts solidified my decision along with many others decision to stick it out til the end.  Seeing how everyone came together, including almost everyone who'd left the program to let Dave know we all love him, seeing us all get (very) emotional over a video we made for him made me realize this is a weird little family.  Sometimes it takes something really shitty happening to realize that it's not the housing, length of a bus ride, or who you room with that's why we're here. It's the people we're here with that are worth it.

My girlfriends and I visiting Vienna's Belvedere Castle.  Disclaimer:
Not related to the vodka brand :( 




















Really cool live art display at our last professional junction

























So to sum it up, the last six months have been a lot of ups and downs.  Mostly ups, but sometimes the downs are rough when you're on the road.  Our group of 75 is down to 50 and will most likely drop more in the coming months.  BUT for now I'm sticking out this weird journey with this weird tribe I now consider family.

Did I mention we're weird? We now travel with a cut out of Dave's head
to ensure he reaches his goal of 30 countries before age 30.  I can't imagine
this was the first or last time this has been done at the Louvre.