Friday, July 22, 2011

Taking the overnight bus towards home

[Top Gun's playing in the other room, as rain plunks down outside.
Take My Breath Away. It is strangely comforting.]

I've revised my schedule over and over but I think I finally worked out something that's logical and can stick for the last twenty days of my holiday. Traveling long term is like an art project, always a work in progress, but you have to know when to quit before it gets ugly.

Tonight I have an overnight bus to Lviv, where I plan to spend at least three nights, then will catch a train to Warsaw, where I'll have four nights. I'd gotten a Belarus visa but then got nervous about visiting Minsk (political unrest), and decided that Brest was probably the best option since it is five miles from the border of Poland and the EU and only an eighteen minute train ride. Brest will either be a day trip or just overnight couch-surfing.

After Warsaw, I head to the Masurian Lake district of Poland (three nights in fancier lodgings), then to Gdansk for five nights, then down through Torun or Poznan before heading back to Berlin, where I'll stay with my friend Ruth the night before I catch a flight back to Chicago August 10th. It's an apt send-off from Germany, leaving from the city I love most with a good friend who I met on the road.

So figuring out a schedule and the ensuing lodging reservations frees me to wander with mind and foot through the rest of my days here. It's like being in the clouds for a while, drifting from place to place, knowing soon I will be landing in the USA, dropping into the country which was home for thirty-one years.

People back home fear that I'm going to be bored or regret returning, but I feel the time is right, and I'm ready. I read somewhere that home is where people accept you. Or home is where people miss you when you are gone. In that case, I am headed home, to family, friends and my country.

This last day in Lithuania, the sky is falling again. Hopefully there's a break in the clouds so I can make it to the station without a free shower. If not, I have a raincoat and waterproof backpack, so I am prepared for anything (I hope). Next report from the Ukraine...

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