This isn’t a travel blog, so I am not going to pretend that it is.
That’s a good thing, too, because travel blogs are detailed and should point you in the right direction when you are exploring a new area – and navigation has never been my strong suit.
I accepted my lack of spatial reasoning long ago and, as a StrengthsQuest advocate (and certified facilitator!), I am all about embracing what I naturally excel in. For me, that might not be recalling the precise logistics of my travels (how we got there, where we ate, the best taxi company in town, currency conversions…), but rather my ability to remember the connections felt while traveling, both with my companions and to the places I have gone. Most of my Strengths fall into the “Relationship Builder” category and I see them come into play not only in personal relationships, but also in my relationships with locations. Too me, relationships with places are just as real as those with people – I get butterflies like a schoolgirl with a crush when I think of laying on the beach in Perast and I slip into a nostalgic trance when I hear “Walking Far From Home” by Iron & Wine because it reminds me of my time with the plane trees in Trebinje.
I remember the things that move me while I am traveling. The moments and feelings, but not always the tiny details curious travelers are likely to be searching for. So, aside from what I have written in my personal journal, I have not taken the time to write detailed entries about each and every place I explored these past four months.
However, I promised a few people that I would give an update about some of the places I have been lately that didn’t make the blog. So, here it goes… quick summaries – fragments really – of the things I will actually remember when I think about each place:
- Dubrovnik is early morning coffee and conversation, successfully walking the “wrong” way on the Fortress walls, ridiculous crowds, expensive juice, and sunbathing like goddesses on rocks – feeling so beautiful and at peace.
- Herceg Novi is reconnecting with a friend, laughing, and getting splashed by the sea while drinking crno vino under the stars.
- Cetinje is sunshine, history, and dancing with an old metal smith named Bogdan in the city center.
- Trebinje, BiH is a river walk, beautiful bridges, autumn leaves, children laughing, late-night cevapi dinner with an elderly couple, and writing under majestic plane trees.
- Rogami is a walking down a long dirt road, harvesting grapes, eating priganice in the vineyard, and pretending I am an actress.
- Niksic is kuvano vino, good conversation, long walks around the lake, homemade family meals, various types of dance parties, and waking up to roosters crowing.
- Tivat is happy fullness from family dinners, seaside walks with a sleeping baby, and having Baba read our fortunes in Turkish coffee grounds.
- Ostrog is fearing for our lives as our “taxi” raced up the curvy, mountain road and laughing hysterically because otherwise we would cry…. and immense gratitude because we miraculously made it home unscathed.
- Ulcinj is sandy beaches, a lonely old town, heightened anxiety, and an adorable little boy who helped me when I got lost.
- Virpazar is train tracks and belly laughs. Eating bleak and olives and taking in beautiful views while drinking wine from a goat gut.
- Belgrade is gray buildings and grogginess. Sore muscles and laughing with friends while overlooking the Danube River.
- Krakow is feeling surrounded by history – both my family’s and the world’s. I felt connected to the past and, because we were celebrating the New Year, excited for the future. During the day, I explored on my own and at night I danced with my friends. I felt a beautiful balance I hope to maintain throughout 2014.
- Finally, Bar is the sound of waves crashing, writing on the beach, and wandering through a ghost town all alone. Stari Bar was the most beautiful kind of eerie. (It’s also an overpriced taxi with a driver who asked me on a date – a less appealing kind of creepiness I’d rather forget.)
I found sights worth seeing and food worth eating in each and every one of these locations, but I would be lying if I told you I knew the “best” parts of each because there was always so much more to explore. However, I can tell you that they are all unique and beautiful in their own way. All are definitely worth a visit.
I hope wherever you travel this year, you make sure to put your smartphone and Lonely Planet travel guide down – at least for a little while – and trust that whichever direction you choose is the right one for you.
Onward to 2014!