Tuesday, March 11, 2014

23 Countries in 23 Years

        Last week, I was so excited to have my friend Becca come visit! Becca is a current EMU student who is studying this year in Germany. We had several classes together and share a lot of the same friends, even though we became very close at EMU. But still, when I knew that she would be in Europe, I convinced her that she should come on over to Croatia… and she did! She flew into Zagreb and then took a bus here to Osijek. We spent a day wandering around Osijek before taking a bus up to Pecs, Hungary.
         In Pecs, and then in Budapest, we stayed with couch surfers! For those who do not know, Couchsurfing is an online community in which people who love to travel and learn about new places and cultures join. Then you can do three different things: HOST – if you have a couch or an extra bed, you can let travelers come stay with you; SURF – instead of staying in a hotel or hostel, you can stay with local people on their couches; or just meet-up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been meeting with local couch surfers here in Osijek.
          For this trip, I had read through different profiles of couch surfers, then sent out requests for us to stay with local hosts. It was a great experience! We did not have a lot of time in Pecs, but our host served us breakfast and then gave us a city tour. I really enjoyed seeing the city from a local perspective and being able to ask all sorts of questions about Hungarian life. I also loved our host in Budapest! He was our age and lived in a great part of the city and I really enjoyed the conversations we had and the places we saw with him.
          After just a short time in Budapest, we took an eight hour train ride to Belgrade. Although it was long, we were in a really nice train car and I got to have a good conversation with a Serbian. (Having good conversations with strangers and getting to know new places and cultures through them is one of my favorite parts of traveling!) In Belgrade, we took a walking tour, explored an old fortress, ate local food, and enjoyed relaxing in cafes. I immediately fell in love the city and am already planning my next visit so I can explore more. On Wednesday afternoon, we caught a bus back to Osijek (only 3.5 hours) and then Becca caught an early bus back to Zagreb the next morning to fly back to Germany.
         We had a really good time and it was nice to show someone my part of the world. Plus, I was really excited to go to Serbia for the first time. You see, Serbia is the 23rd country I have been in and I am 23 years old! I think this is pretty cool! I thought it would be fun to share with you all the countries I have traveled to, along with the year in which I first visited.

1) Canada - 1999     2) Mexico – 2006     3) Bahamas – 2009     4) Nicaragua – 2009 
5) Belgium – 2011     6) France – 2011     7) Germany – 2011      8) The Netherlands – 2011
9) Italy - 2011     10) Switzerland – 2011     11) Liechtenstein – 2011     12) Austria – 2011
13) Luxembourg – 2011     14) Ireland – 2011     15) Northern Ireland – 2011          
16) Turkey – 2012      17) Iraq – 2012      18) Slovenia – 2013     19) Croatia – 2013            
20) Bosnia and Herzegovina – 2013      21) Slovakia – 2014     22) Hungary – 2014            
23) Serbia - 2014

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