Exactly 3 years ago, I was exhausted

Day #1: Auckland, New Zealand (2013–11–19)

Exactly 3 years ago, we arrived at the YHA Hostel at Auckland.

Jet lag, exhaustion and tense nerves. 34 hours of flight make you tired, no matter what.

We went for a bit of grocery shopping and then we headed back to the hostel to sleep. We will see what tomorrow brings us.

Yeap, welcome to the land of Lord of the Rings

It was close to Christmas, therefore the decoration at the streets

“Dear Sotiris,

Please remember: This trip is not just vacation! We are not spending two weeks eating and sunbathing in Greece to recover from work. No, we are on a trip to see new things, different places, nature and culture, to test our limits, broaden them, broaden our view and knowledge of the world, to experience thrilling fun, challenging adventures. This will not be boring. This is not a normal vacation. This is the trip of our life, and we will enjoy it to the fullest, one country, one island, one day, one sight at a time.

Please keep this in mind and just relax and enjoy!

Love, Alke”

This is the message that my girlfriend Alke wrote at one of the first pages of my diary. I believe that I asked her to give me some motivation, something to have as a reference point for the moments that I would freak out and question what the hell I am doing. Oh boy, I went through this passage over and over again!

A short background story to get an understanding of how I felt and the way I was thinking back then: I come from a small city of Greece and I grew up within a society that considers you successful if you go up the hierarchy at work, gain important positions within a company and have a good salary. A rather materialistic approach to lifewith very little space for exploration, internally and externally.

Now, take the previously described context and apply it on my current (back in 2013) situation: I had my own apartment with my girlfriend, a group of friends that I was spending time and enjoying it, a job that was paying me good money and basically no worries. What my girlfriend was advocating to do was leave all of this behind, put a few things in a backpack, board on a plane to literally the other side of the world and live an adventure with no clear plan, goal or aim. This sounded “messy” to me.

How would we do things there?

How would things work with the two of us spending so much time together?

What if we had a huge fight and we broke up right there, right then?

What if we got lost/mugged/abducted or something else horrible happened?

I was afraid, sceptical and unsure of what we were doing and how things would go. This note at the first day of the trip helped me keep myself together. Having a beacon that spits out self-esteem and reassurance when you need it is like chocolate in life: it might not be very good, but sure as hell makes you happy.

Today, on the 19th of November 2016, I went with my family and my girlfriend’s parents to a Christmas market at the small suburb of Farsta Gård. The market looked so miserable when we first arrived and the drive all the way there was so bad with my child crying at the back seat that I was wondering why everything has to suck. Why isn’t my child calm while in the car like most babies, why did the market had to be so bad, why the nature outside had to be so dead and empty. I was feeling sad, frustrated, angry and bad. We then started chatting and wondering at the small stalls around the market, spending most of our time at the ones that were inside some small buildings. It turned out that there were some very nice stalls with cute things, such as fluffy flippers made out of sheep wool for our baby, homemade honey, handmade mugs and coasters, fresh potatoes and eggs from a farm.

It was good. It felt good. It started bad and horrible but continued to be nice and fun. All I needed was to unblock my mind. Get myself unstuck from the misery that I was drowning into, relax and enjoy it. And I actually DID enjoy it. Just like I enjoyed the trip back in 2013 even though I was stressed and freaked out in the beginning.