3 Months Later

Wow! How is it possible that I already finished the Te Araora three months ago? It was a challenging, albeit short, transition home. Then, I packed up for a summer in Europe! In this post, I want to contrast trail life to home life to backpacking through Europe life. 

First, the transition from trail life to being back home. That was tough. To start, I had to leave the trail early because of back pain. It was the strangest pain; during the day, it went away, but after sleeping for a few hours, I would wake up with excruciating pain in the middle of my back. After taking a couple weeks off for rest and recovery, the pain hasn’t lessened, so I decided to fly home early. There was no point in attempting to finish the hike. 

When I first arrived home, I dealt with jet lag for a solid week and a half. The pain in my back wasn’t as evident since I wasn’t walking every day. I was questioning why I came home, and I was struggling with accepting the fact that I was no longer on the trail. My month at home was difficult. I missed New Zealand like I was missing my best friend. The trail life, trail community, and trail rhythm felt like home. I now understand why so many hikers deal with post-trail depression. It took me about three weeks to feel like myself again after arriving back to the states. 

With the short amount of time I had left at home, I enjoyed spending time with friends and family! I got back into my CrossFit community, and I was just about to find a new rhythm when it was time to leave again: I started my summer job in Europe at the end of June!

I’ve lived two different types of backpacking lives this year: one took place mainly in the mountains and the other is primarily in cities. My summer job took me from Prague to Vienna to Slovenia to Croatia. I then had a short four-day break where I took a trip with a colleague to Kotor, Montenegro. My next trip for work went through Italy (Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Rome) and Greece (Athens, Paros, and Santorini). After a month and a half of traveling and working, my summer job ended and my summer vacation began! I flew from Athens to Budapest, then took a bus for a few days of adventuring in Bratislava. I’m now on a plane from Budapest to Brussels. It’s been super fun to see so many new places, and before my European summer is over, I’ll have visited 17 countries!

Backpacking through Europe has been such a massive contrast to backpacking in New Zealand. For one, I’m staying in hotels, airbnbs, and hostels. (I have to admit – I actually miss my tent!) Hiking and backpacking through New Zealand brought me to a few bigger cities, but I was mostly in the wilderness. Contrast that to many cities in Europe (Prague, for example) that are completely covered in cobblestone and void of any grass. Also, transportation looks very different! In Europe, I’ve been taking planes, trains, ferries, buses, metros, and trams. The furthest I’ve walked with my backpack on has been around a mile. I’m still getting my steps in while exploring the cities, but it’s a very different experience! 

After three months, I still find myself longing to be on the trail. I’ve been looking at how to get back to New Zealand. I wasn’t able to complete the trail this year, and I’d love to return to finish what I started! 

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