First of all, one thing I learned in Peru that I'm trying my best to remind myself daily (when I'm getting lost in guidebooks late at night, highlighting roads and railways) is that though you can plan everything out for a major, multi-city trip to a new country, you really should not. (It can also be argued that you can not, either, but that's another blog post.)
This is very hard for me because I am a proud planner of epic proportions. It not only makes me feel more ready to take on the trip I'm going on, but I simply I love to do it. My friends will tell you (and I hope most will say they appreciate) that before a camping or road trip, I will make a color-coded googledoc for the group, assigning the food and gear, offering suggestions for hikes and activities. And for the record, this method has not yet failed us: there's always plenty of food and hardly ever two of the same thing.
When I got to Peru, I'll admit I was very happy to be in Lima with a sense of what I wanted to do and see. It did help to drive me towards the things I found most interesting. However, in retrospect, I could have allowed the last week of my trip to be free and opened, rather than planning out time back in Lima. I met so many people on the road who were coming from the jungle, or on their way to Lake Titicaca or Arequipa and a myriad of other amazing places and I found myself wishing I could follow in their tracks, rather than heading back to that big dirty city.
I'm trying to take this lesson with me and not actually plan all the details of the upcoming adventure. God, does that make me sad... I recognize the value in the unexpected, though, and know I will be pulled to much more exciting and worthy adventures along the way. All that being said, and to appease myself a little, honestly, a rough foundation of a plan seems like it will serve me well, not to mention there are some places I need to be at during a given time. For example, my WWOOFing sites (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I have arranged a specific arrival and departure date for my volunteering and my GAdventures tour is set in stone. Between all of that, though, there is plenty of room for changes and movement, and I'm using all of my effort not to hold too tightly to any one plan at this time.
So all of those disclaimers being put out there, the plan for the big trip is, for now:
July 7th (aka my 25th birthday): fly out from Minneapolis
July 8th-10th Iceland
July 11th - 14th Amsterdam
July 14th - 25th WWOOFing in Bavaria on a goat farm which specializes in goat cheese. They have gardens and orchards as well, along with horses they offer up for riding through the nearby national park.
July 26th - August 10th
Meeting Jezelle and my good friend Greg in Munich, and going through some semblance of Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade and Sofia
August 11th - 19th WWOOFing in Bulgaria in a small eco-community up the mountains from Sofia. In their description of how to get there, they suggest being prepared to hike up, but if you need it and they find time they'll come get you on a donkey.
I'll then make my way down to Greece and visit Athens before heading to the island of Lipsi.
August 25th - September 5th WWOOFing on a vineyard on the island of Lipsi. This very small island is where Odysseus was held for 7 years under the spell of Calypso and is said to be quiet and off the beaten path. The vineyard I'm volunteering at is just 150 meters from the sea and the end of August will be harvest season, so I'll be busy picking grapes, then dipping into the Aegean Sea to wash off the day's work (if you can't tell, I think I'm MOST excited about this part of the trip).
September 12th - 26th Tour through all of Turkey. I'm going with the same group that provided my Inca Trail adventure, GAdventures, a group which I truly cannot recommend enough to the adventurous traveler. I'll be doing their Turkey on a Budget trip, which will take me all over the country, from Istanbul to a few home stays to a night on a sailboat to Troy, among other things.
October - Mid January Northern Ireland. This part of the trip is a bit up in the air. I'm working on volunteering locations which will fit into my research needs for the book, and won't announce anything there until it is arranged. No matter what, I'll be staying somewhere, doing research, working feverishly on the book and enjoying my family's homeland.
I still don't have a plane ticket home. I'm waiting for some more things to materialize and come together before I make any decisions there, but my little planner mind has several flights on a tracker, just because it makes me feel good.
Help fund my artistic journey through Northern Ireland where I will be researching and finishing my book, working title Dear Bird for 3-4 months. Learn more about my campaign and donate here. Thank you!