Back in September I left my country not knowing where I would go and when I would return back home. Yesterday though, after having spent exactly 100 days on the road, I arrived back in The Netherlands all safe and sound. Here is my small wrap up:
Where did I go?
In the first 54 days of my trip (read more about it here) I travelled the Balkans, where for the first time in my life I visited Albania:
In the second phase of my trip I travelled to countries I had never been before: Egypt and a small part of the Middle-East (Jordan and Lebanon):
Why did I decide to come home?
I realised on this specific trip first of all that slow travel is not for me. I more like the adventure of being on the road and going to new places, which gives me the feeling of being alive.
Moreover, I realised that travelling without a goal is a challenge. The only actual goal in my life at the moment is to start my professional career. For that reason I felt that coming home for Christmas seemed right as it is time for this new phase in life.
How much did I spend?
The exact figure is hard to tell, but all-in-all I can say I spent €2,798.89 (±€10), of which 26% was spent on flight tickets and a ferry:
- Eindhoven to Skopje – €44.99
- Athens to Cairo – €164.58
- Nuweiba (Egypt) to Aqaba (Jordan) by ferry – €99.00
- Amman to Beirut – €163.65
- Beirut to Brussels – €171.27
Tel Aviv to Amsterdam – €81.00
The flight from Tel Aviv unfortunately I never used because I went to Lebanon instead.
This makes it that I spent about €27.99 euro per day on average. Without the above listed flights and ferry though, this will be €20.74 average on daily expenses.
The most expensive stay for me was in Lebanon (>€35 per day), mostly because I stayed only in hostels and drank alcohol. A minimum price for a hostel in Beirut is either €13 or €18 per night and a small beer costs at least €3.65 in a bar. Also, to get into a night club expect to pay at least $30.
Jordan costed me much less, mainly because I only Couchsurfed, hitchhiked and did not drink any alcohol. I reckon that there I spent on average (much) less than €10 a day.
Did anything bad happen to me?
I never lost anything, never got anything stolen, was never robbed and did not get scammed by anyone apart from a hostel in Cairo who sold me a train ticket for too much money.
READ MORE: How to Avoid Getting Scammed at Egypt’s Great Pyramids
Some intimidation happened in Serbia outside a refugee camp and at the Giza pyramids, but they never stood a chance. Also, in Jordan an Arabic man gave me some problems when I was hitchhiking but also that situation I safely managed to get out of. It was a scary moment though.
What items did I pack?
When I came home, my 50-litre backpack weighted in at 11 kg. In terms of clothes I never brought much: one pair of trousers, one shorts, one swim shorts, a pair of walking boots, six shirts, a rain jacket, shawl and hat, ten boxer shorts and five pairs of socks. For the rest, I only carried a toiletry bag, a small sleeping bag, flip-flops, a lot of (backup) tools, a backup 1TB hard disk, various chargers and two travel towels.
My hand luggage was my camera backpack, the Vanguard Up-Rise 46. In this one I carried my camera equipment (Canon 5dmii, 16-35 f4, 50 f1.4, 85 f1.8, 430EXII flash, two radio triggers), a 13-inch macbook retina, a 500GB hard disk, my wallet and some small accessories. Total weight: 10kg.
What were my weirdest moments?
There were a lot of weird moments. A small selection:
- Albania – My story about the Tirana derby was published by a news paper the day after, but without me knowing about it. All of the sudden I was recognised by random people on the street.
- Albania – I was interviewed by a radio channel in Tirana to talk about tourism in Albania. Some tough questions were asked, mainly because I did not really spend my time as a tourist in the country.
- Greece – I bumped into an anarchist riot in Athens on a Saturday night. There were Molotovs and stun grenades flying around and an illegal rave taking place in a squatted university building.
- Egypt – After facing serious delays with the ferry from Egypt to Jordan, I got offered a free night in a 5-star resort, where I was the only customer at that time.
- Jordan – I let someone take a beautiful photo of myself at the ancient city Petra, which then got retweeted by Jordan’s minister of Foreign Affairs and many others. Definitely an all-time record.
- Lebanon – While visiting the Baalbek ruins, I heard the sounds of shelling in nearby Syria. Apparently the Lebanese army was bombing front positions of al Qaeda’s Syria wing (al-Nusra Front).
What was my favourite place?
I have always liked the Middle-East and Balkans for the great hospitality and good food so it’s a tough one to answer. Let me give you some comments per country:
- Macedonia – Been there before already, but it’s a nice little country with good hostels and an affordable lifestyle.
- Serbia – Only been there on this trip because of the refugee crisis, but on my previous 4 visits I always highly enjoyed everything. Great food, drinks and people.
- Albania – Unbeaten coffee culture, affordable and awesome people. A must-visit to anyone.
- Greece – A tough one for me to appreciate since it was hard to connect with the locals. The Meteora monasteries near Trikala were absolutely stunning though.
- Egypt – Egypt is good for adventure, especially when it comes to eating street food, but you must be a bit immune to the touts in the touristy areas.
- Jordan – Cool country with super easy hitchhiking and Couchsurfing, though I never enjoyed the capital too much.
- Lebanon – Beirut is an awesome city known for its diversity, vibrance and nightlife. The rest of the country offers cool historic places, but for a general tourist it’s difficult to know where not to go due to safety issues.
Some special moments?
There are so many that I will need to find the time to share them all. But being able to talk my way into an historic football game between Albania and Serbia as a photographer was definitely unique.
READ MORE: Photographing Albania’s Most Anticipated Football Game Ever
What will I not miss?
- Special treatment – Being treated differently just because I am a foreigner, e.g. having to haggle over every price just to be able to pay the same as the locals. This happened mostly in Egypt.
- Guns, armoured vehicles, military checkpoints and the sounds of shooting and shelling – Countries near to Syria are suffering a lot from the nearby war and tensions there remain very high. I came close to Syria a couple of times and heard the sound of war at a distance. Also in Egypt the threat of terrorism had a considerable impact on public life.
What is your next destination?
For the first time in years I do not have any next trip confirmed. Does this mean I will quit travelling? Of course not. But for now it’s time to first find the right job and a place to live.
My next trip will most likely be a short one. On my list is definitely Central Asia but also Ethiopia, Lithuania and Belarus.
Some final words?
I would like to thank all of you who made my trip special. The tons of people I met along the way, the ones that hosted me, the ones that travelled along, the ones offering food, the ones offering me a ride, and simply those who read my stories from a distance and gave me (safety) tips.
In the upcoming month you can expect a backlog of stories, so please stay tuned and follow me on my Facebook page as well.