Nomadic living was a dream come true. We had everything we needed tucked away in our compact van. We had nothing keeping us in any given place and we left no trace of where we had been. We moved at our own pace, rarely spending more than one night in each spot. The roads were ours to travel and the world was our backyard. We went to sleep in new scenery every night and woke up each morning to a world of possibilities. Living life on the road allows for a kind of freedom that I never imagined possible. I remember one morning early in the trip, we had just finished brushing our teeth and I turned to Joe and said, “What should we do today?”
He held the passenger door open for me and said, “let’s just keep going”.
Before leaving Lagos, we had comprised a list of all the places we wanted to see along the way. Our first stop was Pamplona, Spain to participate in the Sanfermines festival, also known as the Running of the Bulls. Lucky for me, we arrived in the streets of Pamplona just after they had closed the gates to the bullpen. I, for one, was relieved that I didn’t have to go through with it, but if we had arrived just ten minutes earlier I’m sure Joey would have made it all the way to the arena with the matadors.
Our second plan was to be in Corfu, Greece to reunite with some friends for my birthday at the end of July. We had only two weeks to make it all the way from Pamplona to Corfu so we drove nearly all day every day. We were just coming to the border between France and Italy, sitting just under 100km in 40ºC when I spotted a lake in the distance. We pulled a U-turn on the highway and head for the mountains. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we just happened to stumble into one of the greatest moments of our trip. To this day, we have no idea where we were or what the name of the lake was, but I can tell you that the moment our feet hit the water, we were in absolute bliss. The lake looked like a mirror made of crystals and reflecting off the radiant turquoise water were the French Alps! It was one of the most gorgeous sights I’ve ever seen and it was completely unplanned. It just goes to show that spontaneous travel can lead you to magical places… especially when you’re zigzagging your way in and out of the Alps.
Speaking of magical places, The Pink Palace Hotel and Hostel in Corfu is a must-visit for anyone who considers themselves to be young-at-heart! Situated in the beautiful village of Agios Gordios, the Palace offers travelers a place to relax, party and make lifelong friends. The staff at the Pink Palace showed me a way of life that I only ever dreamed of, and after just two days as a guest back in 2015, I couldn’t resist joining them. It’s a place where you are encouraged to be entirely yourself, let your hair down and just enjoy life. I’ve returned to the Palace three times now and I can honestly say it has changed my life for the better. If you’re looking for a vacation destination that will melt all your stress and worries away, this is it. I like to call it my real-life Hotel California; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. The memories and friends I made during my times there will last my lifetime and I have every intention of returning in the years to come.
The drive through the Balkans was especially breathtaking as there’s only one direct route; a highway that winds in and out of the mountainsides running nearly parallel to the coastline. We witnessed some eye-opening things along that drive, as well as a handful of hilarious encounters with the local farm animals. Stay tuned for details on the Balkan countries coming next Thursday; things to avoid and more things you can’t miss!