When I made the decision to go on this trip in May of this year, I had absolutely no clue what would or for that matter, could, lie ahead. I, of course, had dreams of grandeur, but I lacked any real knowledge of what Europe was even like besides what I had seen in movies and magazines. As Americans, we live in a bit of a bubble when it comes to countries besides our own. Our borders are so broad and the European continent so far away that the idea of ever seeing it seems like a dream at best. Always discontent, I decided that a dream wasn't good enough. I loved seeing the various landscapes, cultures, and mindsets that were housed within the US and decided that I wanted to broaden my horizons and see the world as a vagabond. I know that doesn't sound ideal, but for me, the best inspiration comes when I'm uncomfortable. Living comfortably has its obvious appeal, but in the end, what good is life if you waste it (even if you're comfortable in the meantime)? I want to be a great artist and until you see the world, you can't represent it accurately in brushstrokes or pigments.
So as I said, in May I came to the decision to put off the move to Portland, OR and instead cross the ocean to the great land where people speak funny languages. I tried to plan everything out to the best of my abilities, but in the end, it really didn't matter. From predicting the costs of transit and housing to food expenses, it was all a waste of time. All the way up to the ride with my mom to the bus stop for O'Hare Airport, I was still worrying about having everything that I needed, enough locks, and the weight of my bags. All stupid things of little to no importance. The problem with trying to be scientific with planning is that cities aren't scientific. They're chaotic and unpredictable. Their costs differ and although sometimes you save some money, you spend it elsewhere. I tried being stingy with my money but there are some moments in life where you have to experience everything and spending a few extra pieces of paper is necessary. Iceland was a great example of this. I saved money while on the road because we camped and I bought food that would go a long way. I wasted a ton of money because we rented a car for rates that were exponentially higher than any other country and restaurants are over-priced. This pattern would be continued as my trip continued.
In terms of sights, I've seen ancient cities, castles, mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, oceans, lakes, rivers, beggars, performers, tourists, and just regular people. I've paid for places to stay, slept at friends' houses, surfed couches, and now volunteered in return for a place. I've drunk more beer than in the past few years combined, eaten food from every culture that I've encountered, and smelled scents that will forever remind me the precious moments where I was introduced to them. Best of all, I've kept a journal where I've written my experience as well as drawn people, places, things, and ideas from my entire trip (and dated every sketch). I remember every moment that I've photographed and/or recorded in ink. Every image takes me back to the place where I was when I laid pen to paper and I can tell you what was happening for each and every scene/page. Drawing everything has been one of the best choices that I've made so far.
Hardships for this trip? From not having a place to my ride canceling last minute, this entire trip has been full of crappy moments that made me worry about where I would be at the end of the day. Money has been tight quite a few times and I've had some very basic meals from time to time. Language barriers have made it difficult to meet new people and learn their stories. The thing is, those things are all so insignificant! No matter how many times I've been inconvenienced, I've never had to sleep on the street and I've always made it to my destinations. I count that as being lucky.
Best of all, I've met some amazing people and forged some amazing friendships. This entire trip has been, you guessed it, amazing. It's only been 100 days and I'm already at a loss for words. I feel like my mindset and ideals have been constantly challenged and for the first time in years, I'm REALLY learning something. My drawings are improving day-by-day, I'm always learning new languages, and my patience is being tested without end. I'm so glad that I had the idea of making a European trip in May and can't wait to see what lies ahead!
Here's to 100 days and many, many more!