A bit over a year later, I am back where it all started, in Brno and then even further, back to my hometown, to Bucharest, Romania. It is the end of a very nice chapter in my life, the time of wandering, of exploration, of meeting new cultures and making new friends. I have learnt a few important lessons during my travels, as some told me I “grew a lot”, but that’s not the purpose of this post. The epic end of my trip I consider to be Ecuador, but it took me a few weeks to close the circle and fly back home over the ocean.

First of all, I didn’t want to leave the states without saying good-bye to my friend John, in NC. But before reaching his house, Ryk hosted me for less than 12h in Fort Lauderdale. Picked me up from the airport, fed me well and gave me some beer from the oldest brewery in USA (Yuengling – founded by German immigrant David G. Yuengling), all with a very interesting conversation to go along. Thanks to him I didn’t miss the early flight due to the time change.

Those few days I spent in NC at John’s place were again very chilled with CBC beer – the freshly brewed Oktoberfest (Carolina Brewing Company), but I still got to help him with a small building project around the house. Also met his sweet parents once again, and saw Frankie (the black truck we used around the first part of the USA) one more time, still kicking! Thanks to him I got to fulfill two of my promises: rode a motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway (old as I am), and met Ana and Adi, my Romanian friends who moved to Tennessee and drove half way to Boone to meet me and share some laughs together over a thick yummie pizza (why would anyone move to TN, I don’t know). I also got the chance to greet my AT&T friends in Raleigh, but also my ex manager, Frank, who surprisingly still remembered my name 2years and a half later! I was in WOW! One of my last days there, John’s friend Rich and Lou had us coming for some grilling and hot sauce tasting – his own batch ready for a state contest. Check out his site here!

One night bus later I reached NY/JFK airport, where I slept almost throughout the whole day. The next day I heard Romanian spoken for the first time on the streets: in Copenhagen! That’s where Niklas (from Panama) met me for a short walk and a local beer in Cristiania. Damn Romanian gypsies everywhere, talking about stuff to steal next. Argh! But the layover was short and off I flew to Brussels, where I met again my good moto-club brother, Alex (aka Sisoie) and his lovely wife Irina! For a short night and half a day, but we had a good time catching up over some beer – do you see some recurrence already? Yes, yes, beer – everywhere, every time. And again in Prague, Brno, only with different friends, or former colleagues. Back to where it started, and soon back to work.

It’s good to meet your friends after such a long time on the road. But the new friends in the new found world will always be in my heart! I truly hope we’ll meet again at some point, because I only had positive experiences. As you’re reading this, you know I keep in touch with you, and this world will prove smaller once we meet again on a lonely road in a random place, like why not Vietnam?

Till that time comes, I’ll be living off the great memories of the past year+, sharing some great stories which most certainly will include you, along with some of the pictures I took.

The menu (in pictures) till next trip:

  1. Road trip to Romania
  2. NY – New York
  3. PA – Philadelphia
  4. MD – Severn, volunteering
  5. MD – July 4th in Annapolis
  6. Washington DC
  7. DE – At the ocean
  8. NC – With John
  9. NC – Wrighstville Beach
  10. NC – Blue Ridge Parkway
  11. NC – Charlotte (NASCAR)
  12. NC – Asheville
  13. TN – Crossville, Largest tree house in the world
  14. TN – Nashville, music city
  15. TN, KY – The Land Between the Lakes NP
  16. MO – St Louis, colleagues and friends
  17. KS – Kansas City and friends
  18. NE – Omaha
  19. IO – Iowa state fair
  20. IL – Chicago
  21. WI – Milwaukee
  22. MI – Marquette, UP with Ellisa
  23. MI, CAN – Wild Canada before Toronto
  24. CAN – friends in Toronto and Sandbanks
  25. CAN – Niagara Falls
  26. CAN – Montreal
  27. CAN – Quebec City
  28. ME – Acadia National Park
  29. ME – Acadia to Boston
  30. East Coast to Boston
  31. AZ – Phoenix, new car
  32. AZ – Sedona
  33. AZ – Grand Canyon NP
  34. CO – Lonely Rock, Horseshoe bend
  35. UT – Monument Valley
  36. UT – Arches NP
  37. UT – Canyonlands
  38. Salt Lake City (the mormons deleted all pictures, sorry I lost them)
  39. Yellowstone NP
  40. ID, OR – Boise to Portland
  41. OR – the coast and Crater Lake
  42. CA – Redwoods and US-CA1
  43. CA – Sacramento and San Francisco
  44. CA – Yosemite NP
  45. CA – Sequoia, Kings NP
  46. CA – Death Valley
  47. NV – Red Rocks, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam
  48. CA – Los Angeles, Santa Monica
  49. Mexico City – DF (Ciudad de Mexico)
  50. Mexico – Puebla
  51. Mexico – Oaxaca part 1
  52. Mexico – Oaxaca part 2
  53. Mexico – trips around Oaxaca
  54. Mexico – Pacific beach side
  55. Mexico – Chiapas, San Cristobal
  56. Mexico – Palenque, Chichen Itza
  57. Mexico – Valladolid, cenotes, Laguna Muyil
  58. Belize
  59. Guatemala – part 1
  60. Guatemala – part 2
  61. Salvador – part 1
  62. Honduras – part 1
  63. Honduras – part 2
  64. Salvador – part 2
  65. Nicaragua – part 1
  66. Nicaragua – part 2
  67. Costa Rica – part 1
  68. Costa Rica – part 2
  69. Panama – part 1
  70. Panama – part 2
  71. Colombia – part 1
  72. Colombia – part 2
  73. Ecuador

Whole journey map

And if you had the patience of scrolling all the way here, have some bonus facts:
– 12 countries visited
– drove through or spent some time in 32 US states
– 2 cars, 2 motorcycles, few planes, countless buses, one tuc-tuc, 3 moto-taxis, even more “colectivos” (technically buses)
– rough estimate 15.000 USD spent in 15months, so more or less 1000USD/month
– slept in cars, rain, jungle, beaches, hammock, yoga mattress, floors, buses and planes, but never in a tent, (paid for) hotel, campsite
– can’t even begin to write and describe all the local food I ate, as well as exotic fruits
– made few good friends on the way, with whom I hope to stay in touch, and a lot of friends I might never see again, no matter how much I want to; and one love lost half-way during the trip (offering reward to the finder)
– this is post #101, most likely the last one here.

And if you ever wonder what I missed about Romania, other than my parents and my friends, here it is:
(salad/spread of carp eggs / sort of caviar, mici – traditional grilled meat balls with mustard, traditional pastry, with focus on those called ‘merdenele’)