Oh mama. What a year I have set up for myself. Wandered into a Flight Centre office yesterday and wandered out close to 3,000 bucks lighter. Once they start telling you there are only two seats left on a certain flight you want to take, you start to get a bit cash happy.
These travel agencies have their uses, occasionally. I find it rather daunting heading into one though. Their walls covered in brochures. Set holidays off to beaches or resorts. Pictures of good looking people in fabulous settings. Instead of making me want to head off to these places, it makes me want to head in the other direction.
And so I am off in the wrong direction and you can forget that last post. Buying the SE Asia Lonely Planet was a bad idea. It flipped my travel plans on its head. Once I flicked to the best time to travel section and found out my idea of being mid year through the region was at odds with a certain weather phenomenon called the monsoon. Doh. Being in the rain for a few months can pass until the monsoon finishes at least towards the end of the year.
Sitting in the Flight Centre I scoured the walls of brochures and thankfully couldn't see my now changed destination on any covers. With SE Asia on the back foot in my mind I wanted to head somewhere I had never been or at least with a dash of the familiar to begin with. I was quickly purchasing a three month return trip to Eastern Europe and Turkey with a stopover and option for another three months in SE Asia on the way back.
Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, even Moldova and Ukraine are on the cards. Istanbul is first up though. Somewhere I have been before and loved. The large chunk between that old city and Western Europe was a void I had been wanting to fill. I am now getting round to it.
The previous furthest east I had got was to Vienna. A trip at that time to Budapest was thought about, but back in those days a visa was needed to Hungary and just about everywhere else in the east. Bloody Aus passport. Nowadays though, thank you mr European Union. Everywhere is almost visa free it has all opened up like a tin of beluga caviar.
But my plans are not all Transylvanian castles, tacky Black Sea beach resorts or sipping Turkish tea. Before all that starts in June I am off on another mini adventure. A little round trip for a month through Australia's closest neighbours. I head to East Timor for a week or so and for their independence day in May and then back again through Indonesia to Papua and then back over the border to PNG again.
Yes I am heading back to PNG. I just can't shake the place. There are people to catch up with and a couple of places that I haven't been, to visit.
Until that kicks off though, I need to fill in the next month. A trip to Melbourne will help in a weeks time. And then perhaps some more travel through Oz. I have never seen Uluru. Why not.
I have said previously I am travel junkie. This year should help me get my fix. Stay tuned.
Scenes from Istanbul, 2002