War and Healing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

There’s something really uplifting in seeing what a generation can do to a place that looked downright hopeless twenty years ago.

After a few weeks of coastal relaxation in Croatia, we traveled north to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The apparently short journey (131 kilometers, or about 81 miles) ended up taking over six hours by bus. We crossed into Bosnia and Herzegovina, then back into Croatia, then back to our destination country once more – each time enjoying a long queue of vehicles and an apparent joke of a passport inspection. Hey, not all parts of international travel are glamorous!

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Early Retirement Didn’t Fix My FOMO

I wanted desperately to pack up my work bag, drive to the airport, and catch the next flight to Europe.

It was the summer of 2012, and three of my best friends had quit their jobs and were planning a luxurious holiday across the continent – from the canals of Amsterdam to the sun-soaked beaches of Croatia.

“It’s going to be epic! Fly out and meet us for a week,” the text messages read.

I toyed with the idea briefly, scanning the web for flights and trying to figure out how I could swing it with work. But there was no way. The company I had helped launch the year before had just made its first acquisition, and I was on the hook for the entire operations side of the business. I could hardly get a Saturday or Sunday to myself, let alone a week’s vacation halfway around the world.

I was disappointed, but the answer was easy: “I would love to, but I can’t possibly take time off right now.”

Later that month, I found myself sitting in the office after midnight one night, skimming through my friends’ Facebook photos. Boat rides in the Netherlands. Happy hours in Vienna. Nightclubs in Hvar. Seafood dinners in Santorini.

There was little doubt as to all the good times I had forgone.

“Someday, without this job,” I thought, “I’ll be able to say ‘yes’ to everything on a moment’s notice.”

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Gluttons for Negativity

We took these past few weeks off from the blog – and the internet in general – to enjoy the final days of our travels in Europe and prepare for the next leg of our adventures. We’re back online now and back in the van, this time cruising across southern Canada and the northern U.S. en route to a November wedding in Michigan.

While we were away, we were nominated for Best Frugal Travel Blog in the Seventh Annual Plutus Awards! It’s an honor just to be in the company of the other nominees, which include some of our favorite travel blogs: Bald Thoughts, Club Thrifty, Frugal Travel Guy, and The Points Guy. Thanks to the Plutus Awards Blogger Panel for including us!

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Back in early July, Daniel and I grabbed lunch one afternoon in Great Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It was the height of tourist season, and the food stalls lining the upper floors were packed with visitors and cruise ship tours. We found an acceptable place and queued behind an older British couple.

“What’s in this?” the man in front of us asked aggressively, pointing to some kind of stuffed cabbage.

“No, no, no,” he told the clerk, who had begun putting some on a plate. “I don’t want that! What is in this one? Is it meat? Don’t you have one that’s just beef and rice? I don’t want all that sauce.”

The annoyed woman behind the counter just stared. I’m not sure she even spoke any English.

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Coastal Relaxation in Adriatic Croatia

We spent late July and early August traveling along the Adriatic coast, slowly working our way south through Croatia’s many beautiful beaches, lovely islands, and well-preserved Medieval towns. Croatia is long past its post-independence lull in tourism (visits are up 300% since the mid-1990s), but it certainly hasn’t lost its charm as one of the most beautiful coastal destinations we’ve ever visited.

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The Croatian coast isn’t packed with tons of museums or attractions, so we instead spent most of our time lounging on rocky beaches, eating seafood, and enjoying the sunshine. I must admit, it’s not a bad way to spend a few weeks’ holiday.

Though the majority of short-term visitors stick to the famous coastal towns of the Dalmatia region in the south, we began in Istria, in the northwest corner of the country. After making stops in the towns of Rovinj and Pula, we traveled south to Zadar and Split, two of Croatia’s larger cities; took ferries to the islands of Hvar and Korčula; and finally ended our Croatian journey in the famous walled city of Dubrovnik.

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Don’t Press Fast-Forward on Your Life

It’s Wednesday. Whether you’re in the office break room or browsing social media, today always seems to generate the same chorus of calendar-based commentary:

“It’s hump day!”

“Halfway there!”

“Friday is in sight!”

That’s a nice, positive way to look at it, though in the middle of a grueling work week, I often preferred George Carlin’s more humorous take:

“T.G.I. Friday’s… If I had a place like that, you know what I’d call it? H-S-I-O-W. Holy Shit, It’s Only Wednesday. I think people would drink a lot more liquor if they thought it was Wednesday all the time.”

Whichever perspective resonates with you this week, the underlying message is basically the same: The work week is a slog. We suffer through five days of drudgery for two days of relief. But hey, it’s almost reward time again.

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