Forgive the turn of phrase but f*** me, 500 days! It should come as to no surprise that I’ve loved the past 500 days travelling. This has been one very long scratch of my itchy feet; I love the planning, the arriving, the exploring and then moving on to the next place. It’s not for everyone but it makes me happy!
Without a doubt, there have been bad days. Thankfully and invariably limited to 1st world issues such as bad weather, poor sleep or wi-fi withdrawal symptoms. I relatively quickly ‘get a grip’. Only 1 major sickness (D and V in a hostel is not fun) due to a Scottish curry of all things! Weirdly I’ve experienced many aches and pains from a neck issue [except a neck pain ;-)] which I’m 100% sure is due to the many beds I rest my head, hunching over a laptop and carrying the backpack. Oh and let’s not forget the extra pounds I’ve put on from ‘feeder’ help exchange hosts. Of course, I was force fed the cheese and the chocolate! I sent for more… I mean help.
Where on earth have I been? Not holed up in a bedsit in Croydon stealing photos from the internet I promise. Here are a few facts and figures:
Where have I stayed longest/visited the most….. drum roll, please. Poland is the winner! I kept going back for more; a country that surprised me. Much more developed, exciting yet easy to explore, relaxing, green, and welcoming than any stereotype I may have subconsciously created. 82 days equals almost 3 months; sounds crazy when I rephrase it. Check out the photos! Wroclaw and Gdansk especially recommended – I’ll be going back very soon I hope.
I fell in love with part of my own country, the Outer Hebrides are spectacular. White sand beaches for 1, in the UK, the UK! A total of 62 days in Scotland.
I was lucky enough to spend a month or so in each: Austria, Greece, Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary, France, Italy and where I am now – Malta & Gozo. I am in country number 22 since leaving London on Monday 5th June 2017. I still have to pinch myself that I have been able to achieve this and explore Europe to such a degree.
I could not have stayed on the road for this long had it not been for the wonders of help exchange – I cannot recommend it enough! I give a little of my time [average is 25 hours a week] and energy in exchange for a bed and food. 243 days to date – think for a minute how much of a money-saving that is. Two of the most expensive costs when travelling – food and shelter – and no one can be a tourist every day! It’s just not possible to keep the pace.
I relied heavily on my background and stuck primarily to hospitality – reception, housekeeping, social media, and marketing. In no particular order, the fabulous places I volunteered in Scotland, Wales and North England. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring places that are on my doorstep.
Throw in over 50 days of conversational English tutoring with people who love to learn, in gorgeous Polish and Czech surroundings with cheap, deliciously tasty red wine. That was 243 days of my time ‘well spent’.
All but two of my help exchanges were brilliant. About 10 days too long in both the yoga retreat and the Athens’ hostel; that’s not bad odds really. Sometimes things just don’t gel.
I do kick myself that I didn’t take photos of my fantastic hosts from all of my volunteering, another reason to return. Little did I know that 3 of my volunteer locations would also be ‘on the telly’! Watch 2 of the Chateau des Jalesnes’ hosts Jonathon and Michael in Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau: DIY. Stunning!
Graham and Sonia from Loch Ness Glamping had fun in Series 8 of Channel 4’s Four in a Bed (episodes of 21-25) – hilarious viewing however strangely offline currently so alternatively this video shows you how fantastic the site is, worth a visit!
Lastly, The Anglers Rest has featured in so many media platforms and yet I cannot find one video! BBC One Show, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 just to name drop a few.
The rest of the time I was in recovery or tourist mode, most of the latter you see in my active insta-fakebook-life… follow me 🙂
Places I highly recommend you investigate next time you’re holiday shopping – Budapest, Lisbon, Nuremberg, Cesky Krumlov, Prague… I could go on. Places I just didn’t click with – Paris, Innsbruck, Rotterdam. It would be suspicious if I loved every city and town I visited.
At the moment, I’m sunning myself next to the pools above, well, when the thunderstorms pass. Topping up the tan at any moment the glowing yellow ball in the sky shows up. I’m back in London from last week in November, who knows what will be next! But for now, night night, sleep tight, on my 500th night.