I am now back in Vienna. Back in Vienna, where my trip started. I am back in Vienna after 16 months on the Road. Sixteen months, or nearly 72 weeks, 499 days. According to the map I updated, I have covered approximately 48800 km, of which only 16500 were airborne. The remaining 32300 overland kilometres were covered with buses, trains, boats, motorcycles and hitch-hiking all sorts of vehicles. I have made nearly 150 stops. I have slept on the floor, on trains, in buses, on couches, in my tent and in someone else’s tent, in a cave and on a restaurant’s floor, in a truck, in a mosque, in a museum and a TV station, at altitude camps, in small beds and big ones and I have had a few sleepless nights. Those are the fun facts, making lists, counting this and that. It’s great, it reminds you of everything you’ve experienced during that time. It might even look impressive and adventurous to some of you. But to me this is far from being the most important.
I had started, during the very first days of this trip, to make a list of each person who had somehow helped me out. But after just a week of travelling, it was already too many. It turns out, you cannot count the most important. During this trip, nothing touched me more than people’s generosity -yes, it’s about to get (slightly) cheesy, beware!
I am not making anything up, I am not pretending, I am writing this from the bottom of my heart. I still can’t grasp and believe, in these 499 days, how kind people have been to me. Whatever the country, I have encountered true heart-felt generosity. I hope the vibe of these few words will somehow travel to everyone who was nice to me during this long adventure of mine. So dear you all, dear human beings whom I have met on the way and you recognised me as a fellow human, I extend my gratitude to you. In no particular order, my gratitude goes…
- to each and every kind car-driver who stopped for me when I was hitch-hiking, to every person who made a detour so that I wouldn’t end up stranded in a bad place
- to all the drivers who have entertained me with chats about everything from God to pigeon-breeding
- to every truck driver who stopped and took me along, to those drivers who fed me and to the Polish drivers who always made sure to find me the next truck
- to the Chinese drivers who spent 30 minutes trying to figure out what the hell hitch-hiking was before taking me on board
- to everyone who offered me shelter for one or many nights – to all the great hosts of my hospitality network
- to all the hosts who patiently waited for me when I had no idea when I was going to arrive
- to those who went out of their way to help me find the next host, to each person or family who took me in completely unannounced
- to all the families who took me in right away and made me feel like I had always lived with them, be it in Serbia, Armenia, Iran, India, in China and everywhere else
- to the little Chinese man who kept talking to me at that bus stop even though I obviously had no idea what he was saying
- to all those who cooked delicious food for me and to all those who fed me
- to every stranger who smiled at me
- to the two guys who wrote me a song each
- to each person who shared a laugh with me
- to each older woman who had a motherly gesture with a glitter in her eye saying “we are the same and on the same side, no matter where you come from”
- to the two Polish men of the Strawberry Night
- to every person who made me feel good about myself by laughing at my silly jokes
- to every one along the Silky Way
- to all the people who helped me out by giving me a direction, a metro, tram or even train or bus ticket
- to everyone who ever said “here is my phone number, if you have any problem, call me”
- to all those who patiently suffered my linguistic endeavours, to each person who taught me a new word or helped me improve my writing or reading skills in a new language
- to those fellow-travellers whose company it was a pleasure to share for a few hours, a few weeks or a even a few months
- to those who gave me gifts, be it jewellery or clothes, a pen, a notebook or snacks for the Road
- to those who helped me and stood by me the rare times I was sick
- to the near-stranger who gave me his VPN codes so that I could update this blog in while travelling in China
- to my family who never complained even though they were worried about me and to each one of you who sent a kind email at some point
- to every person who supported me by giving a little money at the start or along the way
- to every person who rejoiced upon seeing me again
- and to to you all and everyone I am forgetting in this far from exhaustive list…
To all those people, THANK YOU! I couldn’t have done it without your help and it would have been so different without you.
But… let’s not forget also every one who is reading this blog, every person who showed enthusiasm for either the texts, the sound-mixes or the pictures, thus helping me keep motivated. Thank you, and do not go anywhere, this is the end of the trip for now, but not the end of this blog, many stories are yet to be told! I’ll hope you’ll stay around for some more and would be thrilled to see you leave a comment.