I can’t believe it. My month-long trip from Budapest to Athens is at an end.
It’s been awesome. From the hospitality in Albania, to the Greeks who kept trying to overfeed me; from the architecture of Budapest to the “too cool for school” vibe of Zagreb.
As I spend my first 24 hours after returning home to the UK, I’m having a little reflection time – café latte in hand – on what I’ll miss most from my time in SE Europe.
It’s been a sunny month in SE Europe. Factor 15 has been applied on a regular basis. T-shirts have been worn. I sit writing this wearing a jumper. And it’s not technically even “cold” yet. Boo.
Outdoor coffee culture is alive and kicking across SE Europe – from the streets of Zagreb where seemingly the entire city is on a coffee break, to the wine bars of Ljubljana and the street-side dining in Greece.
It’s no good something being as cheap as chips if it’s rubbish. The whole SE Europe region was good value, with Meteora and Athens in Greece, and Ljubljana standing out for me.
At no point in my trip did I feel as though I was being ripped off. Example: a 0.75 litre bottle of water at Athens airport was €0.50. Try that in the UK!
Albania was the cheapest destination I visited; and also good value (with the possible exception of bus travel on some journeys – always cheap, just not always cheerful with it!)
Castles, galleries, new cuisines, the local firewater, meeting new people, learning about history of different places, wandering and getting lost, lakes, the sea, alternative architecture, cool street art. It’s gonna be hard to keep up the same level of wide-eyed wonder back home.
I felt welcome throughout my travels, even where language has been a barrier. It’s not as though us Brits aren’t friendly to people visiting our country, we sometimes just need a little more warming up.
And, for balance …
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of good coffee during my month on the road. I’ve tried all the local concoctions: Turkish style in Albania, strong Greek coffee, to the practically inhaled variety that purveys on the streets of Zagreb. I’ve enjoyed them all, though I’ve drawn the line at coffee and a cigarette for breakfast.
Now though, I need lashing of lattes I can linger over a little longer in the British autumn. I’ve been back home less than 24 hours, and I’ve had two already. Bliss.
The simple pleasure of cooking food. The food on my travels has been plentiful in the extreme and tasty to boot, but the freedom of making my own dishes is calling me. I’ve been to my local deli, butcher and greengrocer this morning to stock up.
Steps up to numerous castles in Albania and up the 498 steps of Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna have been good for my fitness, but only in a sporadic kinda way.
Plus I’ve walked everywhere; but … I miss the gym. God, there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever write. I’ll be buying pay-as-you-go membership for the couple of months until my next trip.
In Albania I reacquainted myself with school-girl German and Italian in an attempt to find a mutual language in which to converse. I got by. Kind of. However, I felt a bit rubbish when I was only able to communicate in basic greetings – which has been the whole month if I’m honest. And knowing the Albanian for car wash hasn’t got me too far.
I’ve missed you 🙂 I have a pub-filled social calendar for the rest of this week, where I’ll be raising a toast or two:
Hi, I'm Julie, a York (UK)-based travel blogger and comfort-zone pusher. Join me as I bring you pics and musings from my mildly adventurous travels around the globe. My mission is to hear you say, "I"m so glad I did it!" instead of, "I wish I could, BUT ..."
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