So I think it is important to lay down some ground rules for my travel. Many of you have requests such as "send me pics" and "you have to write a blog! I want to hear about your travels", and I'm happy to do so, but I must submit these conditions:
1. I am a terrible picture taker. I don't mean I lack photography skills and capturing the essence of a moment (though I do), I just never think to do so. This isn't news to most of you, as you are friends and understand I am on the whole, completely useless and basically a 34 year old child who's allowed to drink. I will take as many pictures as I can though...but expect about 3 or 4 a day(and that's laughably high).
2. I am traveling the world to experience different cultures, reflect on life, and appreciate that I will NEVER get 6 months off in a row again in life. I am NOT traveling to experience every sight I can squeeze into each destination. Most of you know I hate the idea of being a tourist, and I most certainly hate seeing sights because "I HAVE to go see it". Why? I can draw you a picture of the flocking Eiffel Tower. The Pisa tower leans. So what? I will not have an itinerary that is jam-packed with daily departures and loaded with destinations. This not hospice care. (or is it? worth it if so! I digress) I want to enjoy my 3 months of travel in new places and that's it. I could spend 6 months in an Oklahoma trailer park and be pretty happy. (and still might. better than working!) As a result, you will find I will spend at least 2 days in most of my destinations, and at least 3 days in each country.
4. I will try my best to save money on lodging through b&bs or hostels that somehow have private rooms, but even if I do this, I will have to book hotels once in a while. I don't want any chiding because I'm wasting so much money. I have learned a lot from Rick Steve's travel advice, but I have also learned 2 things: 1. That guy is one cheap bastard, and 2. He is a monumental dork. (seriously, I appreciate the advice and respect how he turned frugal travel into millions of dollars, but why keep boasting HE STILL TRAVELS CHEAP? If Rick Steve comes into one of my hostels I am stealing his credit card and staying at the Ritz. And how is a guy named Rick Steve not a porn star? Just wondering)
5. While I like beer far too much, I am not allowed to drink for 3 months straight. In NY on my first month of the extended leave, I actually behaved fairly well, maybe 3 nights a week, although my last week was a bit much. ("I'm surfin, screamin cowabunga, TOTALLY DUDE! Party like a rock...party like a rock star...okay I'll stop)
6. I am not allowed to sleep all day, but I'm also not allowed to set a schedule where I'm getting up too early. Yes, I know how vague that sounded. I just wanted to brag that has been my life since July 1st. He heeeeeeeeeeee!
7. I am also not allowed to become a fat pig. I am required to jog 4+ miles at least once every 3 days, and 100 push ups is also required over the same time. I mention this since I'm already gaining weight like a Wisconsin bride DESPITE running a bunch and doing said push-ups. I would set a weight maximum but I never have a scale and even if I find one, I refuse to convert kilograms to pounds. (or convert to moles, as my chemistry teacher Ivan Sutton would attest, as he should have failed me back in 89)
8. Similar to catching all the sights, I do not feel the need to load up on each country's culinary tastes. Sure, I will dabble here and there, especially when at a non-touristy spot, but I shall eat whatever my craving tells me to do. Fish and chips, bangers and mash? All excellent dishes, but see point #7. But also, eating certain dishes in certain countries is also totally lame to me. (like the cheese steaks in Philly, or the gumbo in New Orleans...eat them when you want but don't make it a part of your travel) And frankly, I want answers to questions like "how is the thai food in Ireland?" and "does the ketchup not suck anywhere in Europe?" and "what will be my fall-back meal since Chipotle hasn't spread to Europe?"
9. Also, I have developed a very generic rating system for rating each city. I welcome advice on other metrics:
The scenery: 1-10
The "local feel": 1-10
The bars: 1-10
The friendliness of bar patrons: 1-10
The ladies' presence: 1-10
Are the dudes cool? 1-10
Desire to return 1-10
Value for Money 1-10 (not according to Rick Steve, but me, who has no relevance)
Opinion of Americans 1-10 (seriously, I hate politics but the current administration have been such pricks from the get-go, I really worry we are total dicks to the rest of the world...I want to get the real scoop...though of course I will not improve diplomacy...unless pyrotechnic flatulence and drunken exclamations of "Nevahh!" do the trick)
I miss you guys and realize I sound like a Nazi, but I want to set expectations and remind any of you who forgot I am totally useless. Sure I will take travel advice on destinations and deals, but I cannot follow touristy itineraries. Get it?