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The "12 Month, 12 Different Countries Challenge"
Posted on February 02 2017
So I haven't posted anything in quite some time now, mainly because I really didn't have anything to write about. Until now that is. I'm currently on my flight to Dublin, Ireland. To give you guy’s kind of an idea where I have been the past few months I’m just going to give you guys a quick rundown. So I've spent a few days in Denmark, Sweden and France in December. I have to say that Copenhagen and Stockholm are both beautiful cities that definitely deserve for me to come back again in the summer time. I'm so glad I've finally had the chance to visit Sweden. I must say it was very high on my 'wish-list' of countries to visit. Scandinavia in general is a gorgeous part of the world.
The term Scandinavia always includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. However, the Danish Faroe Islands are sometimes included, as sometimes are Iceland and Finland. Even though Denmark, Sweden and Finland are part of the EU, they each have their own currency. So just be aware that if you decide to travel to that region of the world, which I strongly recommend you do, to not expect to be paying with euros. Although some places will change your euros or even accept them they are not obligated to.
Overall Denmark and Sweden were amazing countries to have visited for the first time. I have the uttermost respect for their culture, way of living, economic and social structures and ideologies. Even more so now that I have visited and experienced them to some extent. Getting around Stockholm and Copenhagen was pretty easy. Public transportation is reliable and generally affordable. I mainly used Uber throughout my stay which worked pretty well in both cities. If you're traveling within Scandinavia, Scandinavian Airline is incredible; fantastic customer service and fair prices. You won't have problems getting around by air, security is lax and open borders make it easy to travel. The one thing that I will say about both cities is that it's very expensive as far as the food and shopping is concerned. Just be prepared to spend money if you're planning on visiting.
I went on this trip with two good friends of mines and when we were in Sweden they needed to spend an entire day sleeping to recover from a long night of drinking. I on the hand had other plans so I said screw it, got dressed and headed into the city by myself. I literally had no idea where I was going. But I wasn’t scared or uncertain; more like excited, intrigued and exhilarated. I found my way to the nearest train station and with some little help from a local metro employee I managed to acquire a one way ticket towards Stockholm’s central station. Twenty minutes into my ride towards the city I decided it was time to continue my journey on foot. I would spend the next few hours exploring, sightseeing, and getting to know a few locals. To be honest, throughout this whole entire trip I never felt better. No one to rely on, no one to please, no strings attached. And even though I loved spending time with my friend, I won’t deny the fact that wandering off on my own in a new city was an extraordinary experience.
It was that experience in fact, that actually sparked an idea in me that has been going through my mind. For the past few months I've been playing with the thought of starting a “12 month, 12 countries challenge” beginning in January 2017. I will visit 12 new countries throughout the year. Four to five day trips, with friends or solo, I honestly don’t mind. The biggest challenge I've realized that comes with traveling isn't the planning, or even the cost of the trip, it's finding someone to go with you. And they obviously can't just be anyone. A person you travel with is someone you trust; trust that goes far beyond the capabilities of a regular friendship. Now, let’s say you have that special person in your life, the next question you have to ask yourself is “Can they travel around the same time as me”? “Do they want to visit the same places that I want to visit”? “Are they even able to afford this trip”?
I mean the questions go on and on. But you get my point. When you travel alone all that goes out of the window. It will be all up to you. “Where is it that YOU want to go”? “When can YOU go”? And that’s the bottom line. Sometimes in life you need to be selfish. Especially when it comes to the idea of who do you want to be in life and what do you want to get out of it. Your friends can’t answer that question for you, and certainly not your partner either. Some things you just need to figure out on your own. I believe traveling plays a huge role in that. It shows you who you really are and you cannot put a price on that type of self-enlightenment.
So instead of waiting around to find people that will be able and willing to travel with me where I want to go, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and hop on a plane.
I already started with Reykjavik, Iceland in January, which happened to be my first solo trip. Truly a live changing experience which I will go more into depth in my next article. I also went to Medellin, Colombia the week after I got back from Iceland, which brought my number of countries visited thus far to a total of 10. 2 new ones this year which means I have 10 more to go until December 31, 2017.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’m on my way to Ireland right now for my 3rd new country this year. And once again I’m flying by myself. Should be a great trip and I can’t freaking wait to land.
I’m not quite sure where my next destination will be but I will definitely be visiting the following countries this year: “Finland, Norway, Czech Republic, Belgium, The Ukraine, Greece, Italy and over half a dozen other countries.