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The Mobile Lawyer -- One Lap, No Jetlag: September 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hmmmm -- that's a lot of miles

OK, I spent all of today (since I screwed up my train ticket and didn't buy it for the right night train -- rocket scientist I am), working out my general plan to get from here to Hanoi by my target date of October 24th. Upon further review, I really do want to make that date now, if for no other reason that to see if I can. The last five or six weeks has been too easy (and expensive -- I need to get to Southeast Asia fast).

I think I left Berlin on the 25th of September, on the day I got my passport back with my China and Russian visas. I took a train from there to Malmo, Sweden overnight. Spent the night with my first couchsurfer ( -- really good travel resource I should have been using more). Took the bus the next day to Oslo. Then the train the next day to Trondheim, where I am right now.

I should have then taken the overnight train that left an hour later to Bodo, Norway, halfway up the length of this long country, but it turns out when I bought my train ticket out of the machine in Oslo, I punched the wrong date and actually had a ticket for the 29th, not the 28th, so they wouldn't let me on the train. So, I'm taking the "correct" train in a few hours.

From Bodo, I will hop on a boat for four days that cruises up the coast to Hammerfest, my destination, the northernmost city in the world. It then continues on over the top of Norway and I get dropped off on the Russian border, at Kirkenes. One of the bonuses of going this way (aside from the pictures I am assuming I will be snapping the whole way), is that it is a working ferry boat that stops at every little town along the way. There are some towns north of Hammerfest -- though they claim they are the northernmost 'city,' so whatever is the northernmost whatever. . . I'm hitting it.

that is the link to the ship I will be on for three nights/four days.

From there I take a bus to Murmansk, Russia. Then a train to St. Petersburg. Short stop there to pay homage to Crime and Punishment, which diligent readers with recognize as one of the banes of my existence on this trip. Then train to Moscow. Then a long, long train to Ulaanbaatar, Monogolia, where I will get off for a look-see for a bit. Then another train to Bejing. Then probably a place or two in China, and finally Hanoi.

In less than a month. This might not seem as difficult to you, as you sit there, as it now does to me, that I have finally researched it. That procrastination thing just puts off the pain of doing or knowing something, it never really does make it go away, does it?

Pull out a map or globe or check out googlemaps online. This is a long way.

I was able to get a very rough idea of the mileage by pulling up a website that has distances between places as the crow/airplane flies. Obviously, my route is going to be a bit longer, seeing as I am more the tortoise than the crow, but it will give you a reasonable idea.

I calculate it at approximately 7,300 miles (or 13,000 kilometers). Some perspective. That is L.A. to New York City. Three times. For my European friends, it is London to Cape Town. . . then back up to Harare, Zimbabwe.

If I make it by October 24th, I am celebrating with a great dinner. Perhaps some good local food, with a very nice bottle of French wine, to celebrate one of the cultures that has permeated Vietnam. And 'cause I love wine.

I'm buying. Anyone up for some eats? There is time to book a ticket.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Route question for everyone

I don't want to get fully ahead of myself -- still trying to find a way from Oslo all the way up north to Hammerfest (northermost city in the world. . .check). Taking a couple overnight trains tonight to get half way there. I think I can take local buses the rest of the way. But here is my question.

I have always figured I would find a way from there down to Helsinki, Finland, and then from there into Russia at St. Petersburg -- which I do want to hit. After doing a bit of research this morning though, it looks like I could go from Hammerfest to Murmansk, Russia. From there take a 30 hour train down to St. Pete.

Murmansk sounds kinda interesting to me. I think it was the main Soviet port on the Atlantic side during the Cold War, at least in summer. Not sure, but I thought I remember reading about it somewhere.

Should I skip Helsinki? Head back into a cheaper place that is a little more adventurous? Or see another country that I've never seen, Finland, although quickly?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blogging the bus

So I am currently on a bus from Malmo, Sweden (right across from Copenhagen -- you can see it from there) to Oslo, Norway. I am in the process of making a mad dash up to the northernmost city in the world, Hammerfest, Norway. That will make the southernmost and the northernmost on this same trip. I had to wait around for a damn long time in Germany, waiting on my visa company back in the U.S. to get my Russian and Chinese visas for me for the next stage in the journey.

The next four weeks are going to be travel crazy. From here, I need to get to Hammerfest (hopefully the buses are still running -- the internet says they run through September, which means I am cutting it close), then back down somehow to Helsinki. Down to St. Petersburg, to celebrate finally finishing Crime and Punishment. Then down to Moscow, where I will catch the Trans-Mongolian to Bejing, with a stop in Ulan Bator, on a good friend's recommendation. Then to Shanghi and, if I have time, quickly to Tokyo and back. Then from there down to Hanoi.

All in about a month. My target date for Hanoi is October 24th.

Not sure that is possible, but I do love being on the road. This stretch will be the true test of that, for sure. If I was any good with google maps or the various internet tools, I'd be able to pull up the rough mileage I am going for in this month. I know its going to be a high number -- perhaps I shouldn't try to find out.

And today brings another first for me. Internet on the bus. When I hopped on the bus, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were power plugs, so that I could write some and watch some video on the nine hour ride. Turned my computer on at the bus station and habitually hit the icon to see about internet, thinking there may be free internet at the station while I waited to leave. Voila. Internet on the bus. While moving. How cool is that??

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


What is it about someone’s foreign accent that adds so much to her attractiveness?

Australian accent? Yes. Irish? Yes. French? Yes. British? Mostly. Japanese? Thai? Romanian? Chilean? Yep, yep, yep, yep. Before I get the abuse that is on the lips of all of my friends (“So, pretty much any cute woman speaking to you works, doesn’t it?”), let me say that not every accent is adds to their sex appeal. Then again, don’t get me wrong; I am all in favor of any cute woman that does want to talk to me, but back to the accent conversation.

Something about someone speaking English in an entirely different way that you do, whether it is their native language with a different accent or their 2nd or 4th language, just sounds good to the ear. Some accents don’t work, but frankly, sitting here right now writing this, I can only remember the ones that do work. And the list is long.

The up and down lilt of a French girl giving you directions in English. The high-pitched excitement of a Japanese woman taking a picture of a good sunset. The low murmur, almost growl, of an Eastern European woman telling you what she thinks of that particular opera singer. A good British or Aussie letting out a rip-roaring toast at a local pub. Hell, I think a cute Irish girl telling me I am a lout is pretty hot.

Seriously. The list is long.

Alas, this does not appear to be a reciprocal effect. I have asked dozens of woman from other countries all over the world what accents they find sexy.

“Australian surfer” (not sure if that was the shirtless surfer part or the Aussie part that worked for her, but why quibble).
“Give me an Argentinean, but not from Buenos Aires.”
“Any romance language.”
“South African.” I think she actually let out a low moan when she said it.
“A German.” Yes, some women even find a German accent sexy.

Plain ole’ American doesn’t do anything for anyone. Anyone. I have had this conversation fifty times in fifty different places.

“What about a solid American accent?”
“Nah. Boring.”

And sadly, that’s all I got. I ain’t bringing anything else to the game. Now, I have heard some women say that an accent from the American South is sexy – both abroad and back in the States, as I’ve traveled around back there – but alas, unless I am drinking heavily and around other Southerners, I don’t really have that accent.

I love that I’m from the American South – adopted southern, to be sure, but fully adopted. The problem is that I moved around so much as a kid, that I have an almost totally neutral accent. Apparently, I’d be a hell of a lot sexier if I was drinking some bourbon and talking politics with my friend Miles, who brings Southern in multiple auditory layers.

Miles Goggans is the only person I have ever heard who says “beans” in three full syllables. Beee-aaa-nnnns. And when I am around him, with a few drinks in me, I drawl it out with the best of ‘em. Our conversations take a little extra time, but its worth it. At least, it seems that way to my drunken ass.

Miles, ya’ got any plans for next week? Up for Scandinavia? Bring some Makers Mark. And a warm coat. I say we go meet some Norwegian girls.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Notes from a French Cafe -- Berlin -- Nicaragua

"Drunk in a French café. My ipod. Great music – as well all think. Elvis Costello. Remembering san juan del sur, Nicaragua. Powerless nights. Ipod dj’s. then the disco”

So, I was recently getting fairly drunk on some pretty good red wine in French café in Berlin and the note above was what I jotted down. My journal is going to be absolute gibberish to anyone but me.

Not sure if I have mentioned this before in the blog, but I am semi-psychotic about rating all the songs on my iPod. The ratings are on a simple one-to-five star basis and then mean absolutely nothing, except that your four and five-star songs get automatically put on a play list called “My Top Rated” on your iPod. I should preface this by saying I have 7,789 songs on my iPod. My top rated play list is currently at 1,738 songs.

I say currently, because I haven’t rated all the songs on my iPod, though, as I said, I am semi-psychotic about doing it. So, I fairly regularly will run through some albums or artists that haven’t been played in a while, just to rate songs that are not yet rated, even if I don’t really want to listen to them at that particular time. I also regularly debate, and change, ratings on songs that I have previously rated, some times bumping them up from three to four stars to get them on the list. Some times knocking them from four to three and knocking them off.

Even more oddly, sometimes I have a long internal debate about changing a song from a four to five star or vice versa. . . although that has absolutely no difference in meaning for any practical reason at all. But I am sorry, if a five-star song on my iPod is an honor not to be taken lightly.

Is that only semi-psychotic or all the way around the bend?

If it’s not all the way ‘round, I think I might be able to see a curve in the road.

To make a long story short (“too late!”), that is what I meant by the ‘Great music – as we all think’ note. For those of us that love music and have rated songs on our iPod, randomly playing songs off your top rated list invariably at some point causes you to stop, look up and say to no one in particular:

“I have great fucking taste in music. My iPod rocks.”

Of course you do – you self-rated the songs. And this was after you bought them or ripped them to your iPod in the first place. Not exactly shocking that you’d think your own music is fabulous, but I think I’ve said that to myself, while my iPod is on random mode on my top rated list, at least a hundred times on this trip.

And yes, I do have great fucking taste in music.

The San Juan del Sur reference was a couple nights out of the month that I spent there in December of 2007 and January of 2008. There was a nice restaurant in town owned and run by a couple in from Northern California. The food was good, though expensive for Nicaragua, and I really enjoyed their company. She was in her late twenties, and a very outgoing, talkative hippy (though not in appearance) who was the bartender, main waitress and hostess. He was in his mid-30s and a quiet surfer and more importantly, the head chef.

San Juan del Sur was the first time I’d ever been in a town where the power completely went out in the entire town. It happened four or five times in the month that I spent there. Two of those nights were spent in this particular restaurant. As in all locations subject to power outages like this – as I have learned on this trip, being that I’ve been in many more of them – a good business is prepared with its own generator. They, of course, had one.

For some reason both nights, the power going out signaled some internal signal in the three of us that it was time to party. Both nights, I ate dinner up at the bar, read my book by candlelight, and occasionally talked to Claire, when she wasn’t running around. John would occasionally come up in down moments and chat a bit. I let the both of them order not only my meals every time, but also my drinks.

I think Claire took it as a personal challenge to get me wasted. That particular Olympic routine had a very low degree of difficulty, but even the Russian judges gave her good marks.

Side note: as I was just typing this, ‘London Town’ by Wings just got bumped down from four to three stars. Sorry, Paul, you lost one song off the top rated, but I still love ‘ya. Next song up is ‘Personal Jesus’ by Depeche Mode. Solid five stars. Time out while I sing along and freak out some Germans on this train.

OK, so after dinner both nights, the customers would slowly file out as I continued to drink at the bar. When everyone in the place had finished eating, John would close the kitchen down and come up to have some drinks with Claire, me and a few others that had stuck around to beyond the bitter end. Eventually, a few other of their friends that worked in other local restaurants also wandered in, until the total crowd was about seven or eight or so.

I have no idea how it started both nights, but I do seem to recall that it was John’s idea that he and I would have a “Battle of the iPods.” And so we did. The emphasis was on 80s music, because after a dozen drinks, that genre fits the mood for most everyone and he and I had grown up with that music. Bonus points for one hit wonder songs, which was a deep field to mine in the 80s. One iPod got plugged into the stereo for a bit. Then the other. Wine. Drinks. Music. Everyone telling their stories that the songs would pull up from depths of their memory banks. At this point in the drinking, some of the stories were even uncensored.

Both of the iPods gave it their all. And both preformed with aplomb. I must say that he also had great fucking taste in music.

While those two nights would have been memorable if they’d just ended at that point, neither night did. At about two in the morning both nights, their generator ran out of gas and the power finally gave out. He suggested both times that we relocate down the street to an after-hours, all-night, locals disco. The place was about 40 feet by 20 feet. One-third was the bar, one-third was the dance floor and one-third had a few tables and places to stand.

The music came from an iPod plugged into the stereo. There were about twenty-five people drinking and dancing when we walked in the first time. He and I walked up to the bar to order some beers, he reached over and grabbed the iPod they were using over to the two of us and turned to me.

“You ready to take the battle to the people?”

O yea. It’s on, brother.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Playtime and Pictures

This afternoon, I was watching some kids run around and play in the way that only small children can – without care, without thought, without worry.

It reminded me of conversations that I have had with my married-with-children friends about how much they enjoy rolling around and playing with their kids (when they aren’t whining, crying and otherwise doing what they can to destroy what little sanity we all have left by mid-life).

Although I believe that we all think we can still play like children, especially when we actually are playing with our own kids, I just think that we are fooling ourselves. Even when you are running around chasing your kids around the house, or playing hide and seek or rolling in the freshly cut grass, the true reality is that we are all adults. With responsibilities. Bills. Mortgages. Jobs (well, most of us).

I think we all like to think that being around kids brings the kid back out in us, but its part-reality, part-mirage. The reality is that being around carefree kids invariably makes you smile and feel better about things – its hard not to be a little contagious. That part is not to be ignored. Hell, I feel it, and I don’t have any kids of my own. . . that I know of.

What I was wondering today, while watching these particular kids play was what I did in my life that most closely approximated ‘play.’

Well, I thought that and also thought that if I was back in the U.S. watching kids play in a park like I was that my danger-obsessed/constant-crisis/fear-driven fellow Americans would have probably called the cops.

For me, the closest I think I come to ‘playing’ is photography. Its certainly not ‘play’ in any typical sense of the world, but I think on those days when I just wander around, almost aimlessly, taking pictures of people and things, it is as close as I get these days to being mindless.

Mindless in the best sense of the word.

So in the honor of the playing children and the European parents that didn’t freak out and call the police, I thought I would post my favorite pictures from this trip, so far. I’ve taken thousands upon thousands, but I’m going to scroll through for an hour or so and choose out some of the ones I like the best. If you aren’t aware, I post a lot of them on Facebook and I have tried to keep up posting them also at Picasweb. My address there is

I am going to make myself a coffee table book at the end of the trip with my best pictures. If you see some that you think need to go in it, I’d love your input via comment here or email.


p.s. Side note that may only be amusing to me. I just sat down in a café in Berlin to write this blog, ordered a glass of red wine, and when the waitress asked me if I would like to see a menu said: “That’s OK. You just choose something for me.”

“I’m sorry?”
“I’m not picky. Whatever you think is good here will be fine with me.”
“Really? Me? Choose?”
“Yep. That would be great.”

I’d like to say that I do that – which I do occasionally, when in a good mood – because it is a good way to get is whatever is the best dish. In reality, I think I mostly do it to see the expression on the waiter/waitresses face.

Without further ado, some of my favorite pictures, so far, on this trip:

starting with the one I think is my favorite so far

From Volcan Pacaya

From Chicken Buses - Part II
From Costa Rica

From San Blas islands

From San Blas islands

From Bullfighting in Medellin

From Bullfighting in Medellin

From Bridge Jumping in Banos, Ecuador

From Ecuador and Nazca

From Manchupiccu and Waynapiccu

From Manchupiccu and Waynapiccu

From Fin de Mundo

From Cabo Polonio

From Cabo Polonio

From Capetown

From Capetown

From Capetown

From Namib Desert

From Victoria Falls

From Train to Dar es Salaam

From Stone Town

From Chobe National Park

From Kilimanjaro

From Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest

From Laas Gaal

From Harar

From Sudan

From Dahab

From Lalibella

From Capadocia

From Damascus

From Petra

From Olympus, Turkey

From Istanbul

From Budapest

From Dresden

From Dresden


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Germany in one picture.

OK -- two pictures, but one is just a cropped close up.

There aren't many countries where you can summarize the nation's personality in one picture, but I think this does a pretty good job for Germany.

Simply put, Germany is a country of rule followers. This is no better shown that at any an average intersection in the country. You must be at an intersection to see it, because no one jaywalks -- that would violate the rules.

No one, I mean no one, crosses against the light.

As a side note, I dislike when people say something "never" happens or is "the best ever" or other authoritative statements of absolute truth. Look - its not the best pasta made on the planet. Its not the best song ever written. Its not the worst speech ever given or the most stupid managerial move in the history of baseball.

One of the best? Sure. Almost always? Absolutely. I've never had better? Great.

There is always room for a bit of flexibility in any authoritative statement. Nothing is the best anything. No one is the most evil person on the planet. And nothing happens every single time. Well, except that the sun will rise in the east, the tax man is going to want his share every year, no one will live forever, and . . .

Germans don't cross against the light. I have seen this in numerous cities and under numerous situations. Today in Dresden it was driven home once again -- about five or six times, I would walk up to an intersection, see the red light, look around, see absolutely no traffic at all (not a lot of car traffic in downtown Dresden), and walk across the road, usually a pretty small two-lane one.

And no one else crossed with me. In fact, they all looked at me like I was an alien from another planet.

I would so want to see what they think of Cairo or Mexico City. The thoughts running through their heads there must be priceless.

By the way -- here is the important part of that last picture.

And although you can't see far enough in this picture -- rest assured, there isn't a car, bus or other vehicle anywhere in sight.

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In the shower today, for the first time ever. . .

I always wanted to be a headline writer. Have always thought it would be a pretty easy, but interesting job.

So I am in Dresden, Germany now. When I was in Amberg, hanging out with Dave and Melynn Roberts for a few days before they moved back to the States, I asked them where I should go in Germany that I hadn't been. They suggested Dresden. I got up the next morning and got on a train and came here.

I had no idea is was way, way over in the former East Germany. I have no idea why, because I usually am quite good with geography, but I'd have guessed it was somewhere in the Rhine valley -- all the way on the other side of Germany. I didn't realize this until I was sitting on the internet last night, looking up places to see, and looked at where it was on a map.

On the entire trip, I don't think I've ever been that off mentally on where I thought I was verses where I actually was.

So, back to the shower today. You may recall from one of my long-ago posts
Germany Ingenunity
that I think Germany's efficiency pretty interesting. Now that I am back here for a bit, that particular feeling/observation has been renewed.

Almost all off the public area or community lights here are motion activated. I think that is a great idea that needs to be imported to the U.S. immediately (though the bathroom light issue that I wrote about back in my old blog needs some tweaking). Today was the first time I'd experienced a temporary shower. There has to be a much better name for it, but I only had one cup of coffee today.

Here's how it works. You have all seen the bathroom faucets where you push down on the faucet, water comes out for 20 seconds or so, then automatically shuts off. If you want water for more than 20 seconds, you have to keep pushing the faucet every time it stops.

Same thing today in the shower. Push the button. Get water for about 30 seconds. Water stops. Push again. Pretty good concept, though if you want one of those sexy, hot showers for two that you see in the movies. . . makes for some difficult stop-and-go action.

Leading back into my headline writing abilities. . . Alas, I was solo. But I am clean.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My guest blog

many thanks to the Travel Answer Man for posting a guest blog I did for him. Go over and thank him if you get a chance. Thanks.

My first guest blog


Saturday, September 5, 2009


I'vc been a bit contemplative lately. Must be the trains. And with that, on we go. ..

More times than I can count on this trip, I have had the “what is your trip” conversation with fellow travelers. “What is your trip” is the travel equivalent of “what do you do for a living” on the dinner party circuit. It is the standard opening question that you get greeted with when you meet anyone.

The question usually comes right after “were are you from” and right before “have you been robbed yet?”

Before my trip, at home, when people asked me my trip, they were amazed that I was going to go around the world. To take a year off to travel. It was almost unheard of. Frankly, I got a bit of a swelled head with all the reaction. I quite thought I was something unusual and unique out there in the world – a true adventurer. An explorer. A risk taker.

So, when I was asked the “what is your trip” question in the first few weeks, in Central America, I would subconsciously puff up my chest and go through the whole thing: “I’m going through Central America, down the west side of South America, back up the east side, over to Africa on a freighter, up the east side of Africa, the Middle East, then SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand. You are free to praise me now.”

Well, I didn’t say the last sentence, but the thought was certainly bouncing around my head.

The usual reply? “Cool. I’ve been traveling for about a year and a half now. You going to do India also?” Or “a friend of mine just did a similar trip. He/she had a great time. Would you like their email for some tips?”

On the road, I am just one of thousands, if not one of hundreds of thousands, out there on a long-term trip. And you are going to run into a ton of them on the backpacker circuit. Unless you are blind and doing the trip in a wheelchair, and paying for it by money you got from your good friend George Clooney (who is slated to do a documentary about the trip afterwords), you and your trip are not going to be any more unique than most everyone else you met.

So now I am much more circumspect about what I have done and what I am still planning to do. Swelled head (at least in this particular area) successfully punctured. Now I usually turn to just asking questions about their trip, after giving pretty vague answers about mine.

For the last few months in Africa and the Middle East, as I have run into more people essentially on vacation, I have realized the term traveler has a specific connotation out here. When I asked some girls in Jordan, “how long have you been traveling,” their quick answer was, “O no, we aren’t travelers. We are just going to be in Egypt, Jordan and Israel for about a month.”

Don’t know about you, but by my perspective, that sounds a lot like being a traveler to me. From my American perspective, a pretty exotic traveler at that.

That’s not the case out here. I think the rough cut off between ‘traveling’ and just ‘being on a trip’ or a ‘holiday’ is something in the area of three months or so on the road. There might also be a minimum number of countries visited that tilts you to traveler status also, but I’m less certain about that.

Regardless, to be certain, I have meet a few dozen people that are quickly at pains to make it clear that they don’t rise to the level of ‘traveler.’ They want to make it very clear that they haven’t made the time commitment to rise to that level of ‘traveler.’ I would have never put any particular thought into the specific meaning of this term, until I had a number of these exact conversations.

I didn’t know it was a bit of a badge of honor before, but I will take it with newfound humility and respect now.

Yes. I am a traveler.

But just to be clear, the way I personally travel. . . I prefer the term wanderer. Just sayin’.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Speed and Travel

A large number of people that I meet traveling are aghast at the nature of my particular trip. The aspect that mystifies them is that I am traveling so fast. They all seem to like the idea of my trip, but think that I should have probably taken two years or more to do it. Or not tried to hit so much in so little time. Or not been such a stubborn ass and taken one or two of those plane thingies.

I have yet to meet anyone that thinks my particular trip is a good (workable) idea, as I am doing it. The fairly universal reaction is that I am not taking enough time to stop anywhere and really get to know a place.

The traveler whose opinion I perhaps value more than anyone else these days is Jodi (and plug for her blog –

Legal Nomads
-- she’s a damn good writer). She has been on the road about eight months more than me and she has taken the time to settle down in spots for months at a time, get to know lots of locals and really learn about a location.

Excerpt from a recent email from her: “Are you sure that you aren’t emphasizing the journey to the exclusion of getting the whole experience?”

She turns a phrase a lot better than I do.

It is a pretty common question, though not often phrased from others nearly as well. Some of the other common variants. . . “You are going to fast – you won’t get to actually know anything about a place.” Note that is isn’t phrased nicely as a question (thank you again Jodi), but a statement. It is fact. My trip is wrong. They are right. I am an idiot.

Somewhat nicer is that “well, I personally wouldn’t do it that way – I like to find a place I like and stay there for enough time to get to know it.” In this variation, it’s just their opinion about what makes them happy. I’m not completely wrong, but then again, there is the undertone that I a bit looney.

The simple answer to all of these people, as I have tried to explain numerous times to little avail, is that they are undoubtedly right. 100% right.

There is no way that I will get to know a place as fast as I am moving. I have met some great locals, but yes, I will not be able to meet as many as I’d like. I won’t know the great little secret places to get a cheap beer in each city or where the best food is. I am missing out on a ton of the possible experiences of an around-the-world trip because of the way I have chosen to travel.

But that is my trip.

I’d love to settle down somewhere for a month or three. In fact, I’m very likely at the end of this trip to come home, sell most of my stuff, and do exactly that. I’d very much like to move to one place for six or so months, learn a foreign language, and actually live there.

Just not on this trip. This trip is about movement. As a matter of fact, this trip is almost entirely about movement.

I am trying to hit six continents, the southernmost and northernmost cities in the world, the longest train trip one can take in the world, the highest mountain in Africa, the iconic mountain of Japan, Mayan and Incan ruins, the Australian outback, camping in deserts in Africa, and a few other things. In roughly a year. Without taking single plane.

Of course I am going to be moving a lot. I’ve made the concession that I can’t manage to do all this in a year, so I’ve slowed down to a fourteen-month schedule. Regardless, it is really not possible for me to stay anywhere for more than a week or so. Just chewing up the miles that I have to do mandates that I make progress on the map fairly constantly. I have no idea, even roughly, what my total mileage will be at the end of this trip, but it is going to be a big number.

The analogy that I pops up in my head is being taken to a huge, huge building, filled with tables of food (and with tons of different wines, of course). I wander around, nibbling a bit of food here and there. There are thousands of different plates of food – from different cooks – with different ethnic styles of food. But I only have the time, and stomach space, to try bits and pieces here and there.

Do I want to just sit down at one great chef’s table, eat his/her food for hours, drink the wines they have paired specially with the food, quiz them about their cooking techniques and influences, and meet all the other people sitting there?

Of course I do. But that’s not for this trip. Perhaps next time.

I love moving. Every time, every mode of transport, every pre-dawn wakeup, every crappy cup of coffee before boarding the bus/truck/train/car. Every single time. . . every single time I am about to move on this trip, I get butterflies in my stomach.

Most of my happiest days have been just moving. Moving somewhere. Making progress. Seeing the world outside the window. I find this truly hard to explain, and I better figure it out a bit better before writing the book, but just the feeling of movement itself is so satisfying to me. So peaceful.

Perhaps I am just still the little infant that just needs to be put in the car seat and driven around the neighborhood to stop my crying and put me to sleep.

I am in a full train compartment right now on a daytime trip from Budapest to Prague (and on to Germany to meet up with the Roberts family). It is a bit cramped in here. Little legroom. IPod is kicking me out some Oingo Bongo. Air conditioning is working just a bit. Seats don’t recline at all. There are no power plugs to recharge my computer. The sights aren’t that great so far. My coffee this morning, indeed, did suck. The guy next to me is snoring.

And you couldn’t jackhammer the smile off my face.