Saturday, 22 August 2009

Budapest to Istanbul

This entry is mostly flips - short videos with impressions from my trip - hope you can see it all alright.

Back in Budapest

Early August I arrived back in Budapest, travelling by train from Munich overnight in a wonderfully comfy sleeping wagon which I had all to myself. There were enough empty wagons, so the ladies from my cabin decided to take another one for themselves. That was probably the best travel comfort I ever had while travelling low budget and eco friendly.

Truong and Bettina - arrived shortly after from Berlin and as we made it back into town from the airport we went straight into birthday celebrations and a Hungarian warm welcome with Palinka. The day finished as it started with even more Palinka. (Sorry no subtitles yet on the flip below)

Palinka from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Romania - Transylvania
Few days later we sat in an overnight train to Bresov, Transylvania, where the hiking and journey to Istanbul began. Being in the South Carpathian mountains and forest - the largest mountain range in Europe with up to 2,500 m (8,202 ft) - has been one of the best experience of my trip so far. At some point Truong and Bettina moved on to the Danube Delta at the Black Sea and I continued another week on my own, enjoying the hike up and down the mountains through endless wild forests which still have bears and wolfes. I must have walked between 8 - 12 miles a day in average. I think I have never done that much walking in a week time and for me who has been more or less glued to a bike most of my life, this was quite an experience. I enjoyed the path more than reaching a particular destination, taking my own pace, sometime superslow and steep, sometimes running downhill or discovering interesting things along the way. Leaving Romania left me incredibly grounded and content.

Some impressions on the flip...

Tree hug from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Bridge over waterfall from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Dance in the woods from mokoflip on Vimeo.

- Transit
From Bucharest to Istanbul I took a train which took 20 hours in total, leaving noon on Friday and arriving 8 am the other day. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Bulgaria we had a little stop over. Some fellow travellers from Slovakia and great musicians with bikes gave an uplifting performance and helped change the mood immediately. All the people left the train curiously to see them. We all loved it and the music magically helped the people to open up and connect more easily.

Waiting for the train in Bulgaria from mokoflip on Vimeo.

On the train from Bucharest to Istanbul I met Matz. Matz is also from Germany and it turns out, that he lived in Istanbul for 1.5 years! He even spoke some Turkish, very impressive. We had a nice relaxing day on one of the islands in the Marmara sea.

Why Istanbul? from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Meeting Truong and Bettina back in Istanbul, we had a good last nights dinner before my departure to San Francisco - eating really good fish dürüms in the heart of Istanbul.

Fish Durum from mokoflip on Vimeo.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The first 3 months - Making decisions can sometimes be the hardest…

Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side won, and you had the society you wanted. How would you start living, you personally, in that kind of society, start living that way now! Whatever you would do then, do it now!" (Paul Goodman)

Speaking to people about my trip always triggers all these wonderful associations with taking time off from regular routine at home. People seem to immediately imagine amazing time away, where you are free to do whatever you want to, have responsibilities, lean back, relax and enjoy yourself and all the things you usually don’t have time for, like travelling around the world, meeting friends, reflect on where you are in your life etc…at least definitely I have imagined a lot of that and was part of what made me go.

I had some of my toughest times the last months sometime feeling totally lost in “the everything is possible space”, where I could speak about going to Israel one week and then think of Mozambique the other. Where I could think of having proper beach holidays at some point, but at same time see myself in Dojo for a month, meditating and practicing martial arts, see friends or spend a considerable time by myself in the mountains. It’s great to be on this sort of daydream- excursion when one sits in the bus on the way to work but actually sitting in front of my laptop having to make decisions arranging my route, knowing that I now finally have the time and some financial resource, freedom can be a burden indeed. Questions have been in the back of my mind…What am I REALLY drawn to do and WHY? Out of the huge list of the things I love doing and feel I want to follow, where do I want to put my focus? How do I invest my little money wisely?

Laying the path as I walk – enjoying the Learning Journey

As the sabbatical proceeded, I learned to slow down and be increasingly present to my intentions even in smaller every day activities. I learned a great deal about what my real purpose of the trip is and how I am crafting this learning journey as I am taking one step after the other.

“Paying attention to what we are doing provides a spaciousness that allows
self-inquiry to take place.” (Richard Strozzi-Heckler

I had to smile when I recently read the line above in a book, the first 2 months of my trip, every morning and evening I captured in much detail the activities and intentions of the day and reflections on those at the end of the day. This has helped a lot to shift my attention and awareness to be more sensitive to what enjoy in the moment. It's not a very forward looking energy, rather a very grounded in-the-moment-quality, most of the times pretty unconscious. I guess you know that feeling of when you least think about it you seem to have the best results or right decisions?. In retrospective it usually makes sense, I then ocassionally get some post-realisations like a “oh that’s why!” or “Yeah, all seemed to perfectly fit after all!”

Slowing down takes soo much time– after the first 3 months, basically 1st third of my trip, I can slowly feel at ease with the a more in-the-moment-focused attention and experience of living.

My legs are tingling to run but my sight is blurred – finding courage

The difficult part came when I needed to align or consolidate this approach to the actual material and commercial world of great deals or when getting involved with other people’s decision making processes that affected mine! How far ahead can I really plan while still make grounded decisions on future travel arrangements or any future plans?

It was a little disturbing to have wasted some money on good-deal-pre-booked train tickets within expensive Europe when then at that time my entire body really asked for something else than going French-Breton dancing in Moulins-sur-Allier (and I honestly was looking forward to go for months).

The urge or necessity to plan ahead in the world we live in, in the last couple of weeks increasingly turned out to be an incredibly uncomfortable place to be in especially after having experienced how much richer and aligned my life has become when not jumping ahead of myself too much. There were a couple of days when I was glued to the computer, researching flights and felt incredibly pressured to make decisions. I was still waiting to hear back from my contacts in India (a learning village I was going to visit) and in California (a ranch and great institute for Body work). I was very, very excited and felt quite special about visiting both places and from both I was still awaiting the final green light and ok about a last minute swops of dates from my side because “it felt right”.
At the same time a lovely and very patient travel agent, who by then has spent a lot of time checking flights, connections and deals and came down to ensuring me the final offer is an amazing deal which indeed it was. Travelling to all the remaining countries I wanted to go to (India, Brazil and to California) for only about 1000 bucks was hardly worth arguing about. Of course as life has it – it only lasted till end of day which was then about 4 hours remaining before the close of offices on a Friday afternoon and still had no reply from either India or California. Incredibly hectic! This whole felt marathon of arrangements, search for options and communication etc made me be stuck and numb for days – holding breath all this time and losing any capacity to make any grounded decision even though I so wanted to complete this, likethe last run of finalising a proposal or thesis. By Tuesday I finally had enough from sitting at my desk, I gave up went into the garden and started seeing the sky and breathing again. There was nothing I could nor even wanted to do anymore. I didn’t hear back from both places until coincidently both came back to me almost the same time, the Friday after only. By then of course the deal was gone but it didn’t bother me anymore. I felt absolutely content with the decision made to go for the swop of order, both confirmed they were fine with that too. Once all the clarity was in place, booking the remaining flights was really peanuts and probably done in less than 30 min.

I was really getting the complexity of not just aligning yourself but aligning yourself with your environment. More than anything else, I felt it is a lot about having the courage to go with something I was sensing is right to me but haven’t yet entirely comprehended or come to peace with in my mind to feel confident enough to run with it. Having the courage to change plans, go against my and other perceived rights and wrongs, my judgements, go with something that might be seen less popular, say no to friends, or to invest quite a lot of money into something which wasn’t part of the story or visible at the horizon in the first place but somehow quietly called me has been invaluable to me still feeling like I am on course, more strongly so than ever before.

Returning to the starting place – getting ready for the next 3 months

Being back in Budapest the place where my journey started 3 months ago, turns out to be a good move. Remembering how different my time and exploration has been then but also tapping back into the serene, nurturing and lively place that Budapest always is to me. I feel I have found a lot of treasures, a bit like puzzle pieces. The difficult part is not to isolate them and clearly define each piece but to put them together to a fitting, elegantly balancing colourful image, which makes up the life I want to live. It makes me think I shouldn’t zoom in too much to identify the details with much precision but keep maintaining a peripheral view as long as possible before working on the details – like an artist working on a picture over a period of time.

The treasures of my first three months in a nutshell

Honour and maintain building relationships with important people in your life. It’s been invaluable to spend time with family and stay in touch with friends. Reconnecting and deepening the relationship– meaning actually getting to know them with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
Staying in touch with home and everyday life to some extent to not run risk to disconnect too much from the normal world but rather strive for an embodied new experience and routine of living which I can easily bring back and integrate into my everyday life in London.
Keep telling your story as it is unfolding to be present to it and to keep it alive for yourself and others, but also to see how it is developing, like a song and a melody that is written and maturing overtime.
Tune in and keep being true to present moment energy. Am I really doing what I ought to be doing now? Just because I felt right about it yesterday or two hours ago doesn't mean it’s still right for me now. It is also important to keep paying attention to finding a balance between trusting and following your intuition while still knowing when to keep commitments, being grounded and down to earth when taking decisions.
Find balance between spending time on your own and time with others.
Turning criticism, fear and doubt – most of my own – into learning, a gate to overcome and grow. My shadows keep coming back and pulling me regardless where I go. It’s a bit like fighting the demons at a gate in a computer game where you gain extra powers once you manage to beat them and get to the next adventure. ]
Be protective about daily balance between routine, practises and fun times. Time to lean back to relax and enjoy my trip as if there was no tomorrow – Checking-in regularly with myself e.g. through centring and other practices to increase body awareness have helped me a lot to also get a better sense of my present mood and emotions.
Trust yourself like no other – following your intuitive pace and flow. Criticism and doubt from others can hurt. It can be spot on but also can be totally off the shore. Staying with my intent and energy, my pace and inner sense even , when I trust my friends and respect their judgement and plausible views about where I am at, - has helped me to stay in a grounded place, feeling right and content about the steps I am taking. Silence and paying close attention to how I feel about something is my secret union with my most trusted advisor.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Travelling back to Hungary

After leaving Dover, mid July I stayed at a friends place in Paris in a quartier (Maisons-Laffitte) which very interestingly has probably more horses than cars. It’s known for its horses, course, stalls and everything around horse sport. This was totally new to me. It’s nothing unusual to see people riding horses early morning in Hyde Park, near Buckingham palace. Obviously I thought, aristocracy in Britain is still more present in the 21st century than anywhere else in Europe, but France? Being in this part of Paris, indeed one could see horse trails, stalls and horses everywhere. Amazing. Walking down a park in a residential area, I passed this concours where some people practised horse jumping on Bastille Day.

In Maisons-Laffitte, a suburb in Paris

I couldn't find any place to stay in France and I decided to go back to Germany and see my family instead, which was a great decision. I got to see my brother the last week before he would be off to Argentina for 8 months. I wasn’t very innocent in his decision making process to go to Argentina. Argentina is fab, I could go visit him and really in the end it was a good chance to go abroad before he'll graduates from Uni soon and serious life and business starts kicking in. Being back in Germany for that long since I have left, and being around old childhood places, meeting old familiar faces rather surprisingly was odd and great at the same time. Reconnecting with places and people from my past, also allowed me see experiences, people and even myself in a new light.

Andrea and I studied archaeology in Bonn

Poppelsdorfer Castle in Bonn

Me on Mattes funky bike in Cologne

One night I went to a birthday and it turned out to be a proper pub night in Cologne. I thought I wouldn’t know anyone except for Mattes and didn’t expect to stay very long. The minute I entered the pub I stumbled into one friend I haven’t seen in 15 years and then another friend from elementary I haven’t seen in 22 years and like this a chain of further reunions and exciting conversations moved on and on. It was amazing, my whole mood and energy changed instantly from being a quick visitor to being very excited and super happy to meeting so many familiar faces, having hours and hours of talks and laughter, remembering times which were hidden under a lot of dust in the deepest corners of my memory, almost rotten to be forgotten forever. I ended up staying till early morning, chatting and playing my favourite during school time “kicker” – table soccer which I used to be really good at and hey nice surprise, still do pretty well in.

English Garden, Munich

My last stop in Germany was to visit friends in Munich, whom I lived with in Ecuador 8 years ago in an AIESEC intern flat and haven’t seen since. Their story is one of the most beautiful and touching that I could think of. When I was about to leave Ecuador in October, the two recently met and fell in love with each other. He was European and she Ecuadorian. It was all still very, very fresh and exciting but also difficult as they were facing difficulties to be with each other under the reign of a rather strict, traditional Ecuadorian father. Only a month after I have left Ecuador, in November I heard the news that two have married to free themselves from the restrictions they were facing otherwise and give themselves and their relationship the space to unfold more freely. Then they were both in their mid twenties, still studying in two different countries, having to face a long distance relationship for a period of time. Having had the chance to hear how they mastered all the challenges in the past years, moving countries, completing studies, reconciliating the divide and conflict in the family as a result of their courageous decision and dealing with complicated burocratic formalities and citizenship, I met an amazing couple and very strong love which has left me with huge inspiration for what their courage, trust and strong will could create for their lives.

Synchronise went life!

While I was spending some days in Paris I also finally got to finish my website synchronise, which promotes some of my work and the work of others, mainly coaching, learning design and facilitation. The further development of this platform and approach to mind-body work will be strongly influenced by the learning journey I am on and studies on Embodied Learning along the way. Regardless of its future developments, the timings seems to be just great to offer support to others as a “travel-coach” and do some of the work virtually while still enjoying my journey.
Speaking to friends, young professionals and other Londoners it seems with the current times of uncertainty and changes in our economical, ecological and even social landscape, more and more people are asking themselves who they are and what their life and work is about. Some even took of time, same as I to explore these questions while travelling and our paths might cross somewhere. Looking forward to supporting others on their journey wherever they are.

If you have any friends in your circles who are on a similar journey and might be interested in further support from a travel-cooach like me, please forward a hint orthe link to my website.

Many thanks!