3 weeks down, 49 to go: A Reflection

Yes, this is my 3 week reflection. I haven’t even been gone a month and I am already reflecting. This is a completely random post, so dear friends and family, I can forgive you for having zero desire to read it. I’m currently writing from a pub called La Birra Pub in Vilnius, Lithuania. I have a week to relax here, so I’m hoping the weather gets a bit warmer so that I will actually want to leave the pub to go see things. I chose this particular pub, not for the free wi-fi (of which there is none, but I’m really wishing they had), but for the fact that they play football (soccer) apparently non-stop. It’s actually a little odd that they have “mood music”, think Luther Vandross and Mama’s and the Papa’s yet are playing France v Serbia on the television.

Anyway, some of the more interesting things I have seen/heard in Eastern Europe:

  1. The Baltics all have cricket teams. I shit you not. My couchsurfing host in Tallinn is an assistant coach for the Estonian National Team. I am currently staying at one of the many apartments of one of the co-captains for the Lithuanian National Cricket Team. The even more hilarious thing about it is that I was staying at a hostel in a tiny town called Siauliai (pronounced something along the lines of Shoo-lay or Shau-lay depending on who is saying it) and a pommy was talking to one of the Lithuanian staff members about countries where sports are rather obscure but they still do really well internationally (eg. Volleyball in Poland. Apparently no-one knows they have a team but they came second in the world championships. Go figure.) and he asked said staff member if Lithuania has a cricket team just as I was walking out of the kitchen. I was actually able to confirm that they do. I was also able to confirm that it’s made up primarily of expats. It’s still bizarre to me.
  2. Kebab shops all over the friggin place. None of them have pide, so I haven’t tried them, but I’m interested in testing the quality and seeing if they are actually run by Turkish or Lebanese people.
  3. Homogeneity- These countries have less diversity than Montana when I was growing up. Admittedly, Montana has much more diversity there now than when I was there (still not a whole lot in comparison to some places), but when I was growing up the population was predominantly white and you’d see Native Americans around with the VERY occasional African-American or Asian person. You definitely didn’t see anyone from say…India. This place puts Montana’s homogeneity to shame. I think I’ve seen 2 Asians the entire trip and they’ve been travellers as well. Even most of the travellers here are white. All the kids are blonde haired and blue eyed, the women are long limbed, gorgeous with high cheekbones and the men are all very distinctively Eastern European looking, even if they aren’t always attractive.

Things I’ve learned

  1. I’ve learned more about German and Soviet Occupation in the Baltics than I ever would have learned had I not travelled here. Seriously, I now know more about occupation in the Baltics than I do in Western Europe, which I learned about every year in school.
  2. I seem to be significantly better at making friends with men than with women. I don’t get it. Yes, I’ve made friends with girls on my trip, but I’ve got about 3 or 4 times the number of men I’ve hung out with/chatted to/made friends with over girls.
  3. You cannot go anywhere without meeting an Australian. If I don’t meet one in Belarus I’m going to be significantly disappointed.

Things I miss:

  1. Peanut Butter. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get peanut butter in these countries? I have to go to a special grocery store to find it and it’s about $5 a jar. Then I have to cart it around everywhere. Totally worth it to be eating extra crunchy Skippy.
  2. My wardrobe. Seriously, I have an extensive wardrobe. I miss my clothes, my shoes, and most importantly, I miss my Madam Sin dresses. And my shoes. So many beautiful shoes over here and because I have no space for them, I can’t buy them. Plus I didn’t budget for shoes. I really really really miss my wardrobe.
  3. Being able to call and talk to friends or my parents at non-bizarre hours and not having to worry about the cost because I have a ridiculously good phone plan in Australia. I’m working on prepaid here and have to pick up a new SIM card every country and unless I want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on it I don’t get to call home much and have to wait until both my parents, or my friends, and myself are online to use messenger or skype.
  4. Being able to sleep with 4 pillows. Staying with couchsurfers and at hostels, I’m usually lucky if I have 2 pillows. I miss sleeping with an unnecessary amount of pillows. Spoiled little brat, I’m aware.
  5. Western toilets. The further east I go in these countries the more public toilets I see that are squat toilets (holes in the ground). Thank goodness I have years of practice not sitting on public toilets while I use the loo. Still fairly disgusting though. Plus I disapprove of having to pay to use a hole in the ground simply because there is a door to give me some privacy.

Things I love:

  1. Seeing things I’ve never before seen and learning all sorts of new stuff. Enough said there. You can read the blogs for that.
  2. The food. It’s everywhere, there’s a lot of it, generally speaking it’s fresh. How I haven’t put on 10 kilos is beyond me. Though speaking to Ivo on Skype today there was definitely some criticism about putting on weight and having some extra body fat. Thanks honey. I’ll cut back on the food and up the alcohol intake.
  3. The people watching. They wear some ridiculous clothes over here, the men and women both are quite beautiful generally speaking and the beer is good so I can sit at a bar and watch the world pass by.
  4. The beer. Most places produce their own beer, and even the mass produced and the darker beers are good. Give it a couple of months when I’m down in Southeastern Europe and I’ll probably be saying the wine.
  5. And last, but certainly not least….the Freedom. I have no schedule here. With the exception of a couple buses or trains (which are flexible) and some things that have been planned for me, I have no obligations to be in certain places at certain times. I don’t remember the last time I was this calm or refreshed, and apparently it shows. I even went three weeks without having a single nightmare (usually I have 4-6 every week). Yes, I am getting a bit antsy because I am a complete workaholic and feel the need to go to work and really want to go to and miss work and have some source of income, but it’s still been great.

So there you have it, my three week reflection. Not a lot to reflect on yet, but the fact that I am on an amazing trip, am lucky enough to be able to take a trip like this, I’m lucky enough to be able to travel to such beautiful places in the world does not escape me and I reflect on that constantly.

Next up: Lithuania!

What I’m reading now: Amidst Latvians During the Holocaust- Edward Anders

What I’m listening to now: The same playlist at the random soccer pub that I’m sitting at.