My last update came early in my backpacking trip from Lugano, Switzerland. After 44 days in Europe, I have just arrived back in the United States. I’m writing this blog from the Detroit airport.
I will begin by saying that I had the time of my life over the last six weeks in Europe. Travel has been catapulted to the top of my list of interests, and I intend on doing as much leisure travel as possible in 2013. I have major travel fever and am already planning my next trip. I felt like I became more open-minded each day that I spent in Europe, and I will never forget the experience—albeit too short. I learned so much about myself, and I will come back to America as a changed man. I entered my solo trip looking forward to getting out of my element, challenging myself and meeting new people. Another of my other goals for the trip was to not drag my feet in the slightest. I look back on my early twenties and wish that I had a lot of the time back that I wasted watching useless TV and being otherwise unproductive. I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish all of these goals. I am left feeling extremely enthusiastic about life and will work hard to maintain that attitude while Stateside.
During my stay, I met so many remarkably intelligent, genuine, cultured people. I’m excited to have made so many great friends from all walks of life. Facebook makes keeping in touch with everyone so easy, and I really hope to stay up with most of the people I met. I do a lot of travel for poker, but aside from a three-week vacation through Asia earlier this year and one other quick trip through Europe in 2007, this was one of the few times I had the chance to do true leisure travel for an extended period. I think it should be compulsory for Americans to do a couple months of Europe travel after high school. I strongly urge anyone reading this to get out there and do it! It’s as simple as setting the time aside, and it’s not nearly as expensive as you might think.
As I mentioned previously, I was worried about the isolation of the solo trip. It was a non-issue. Staying in hostels is so awesome, and it is unbelievably easy to meet people if you put forth an effort. I would suggest traveling solo as it forces you to interact with others that you otherwise might not meet if traveling with a friend from your hometown. One of the things I really love about Europe is how warmly the continent’s inhabitants welcome others. You don’t see a whole lot of the judging that sadly you often see in America.
Being 27 years old, many of the people I met during my travels were younger than me. So often while in conversation I found myself shaking my head thinking “there is no way he/she is 21”. It was almost as if there was a direct correlation between the level of maturity and the amount of time an individual had spent traveling. Two of the most confident, impressive people I met were these 20 year-old Dutch guys at the end of my trip in Amsterdam. I told them how much I admired how at such a young age they were completely confident in their own skin and didn’t live life worrying what others thought of them. They acknowledged how difficult an endeavor it was, but then one of them said something that really resonated: “When you’re there, you’re there.” At seven years their senior, I’m still working really hard to get there.
Some thoughts on poker:
I’ll add that this trip continued to help grow my passion for poker. More so than ever, I appreciate the freedom that the game has provided me. I’m also still very much in touch with how fortunate I have been to have the stars align for me in my time in this business. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and the plan for now is to grind another reasonable live tournament schedule in 2013. In addition I'll play a couple of the major online series and Sunday tournament slates whenever I'm outside the US. I’m going to stop stressing about moving on from poker and just let things work themselves out. It makes a lot of sense to continue playing poker since I absolutely love it, I’m okay at it, it’s my best money making opportunity at this time, and since I’m uninterested in settling down right now. I’m feeling a major shift in energy and can confidently say that I’m less concerned about the pursuit of money than ever before. I don’t intend on letting poker get in the way of me living my life to the fullest. It’s a little strange to say that, I know, since poker is my occupation. I’m not so foolish to say that I’m going to be able to just show up to tournaments and crush them without putting in the necessary time studying and grinding. It’s no secret that poker tournaments are more difficult than ever before. When I play I will be extremely focused, but I am content with sacrificing some equity in order to get the most out of my life. I’ll be in Birmingham for a few weeks and am headed back across the pond to Prague, Czech Republic for a great poker festival for the first half of December.
I could write a novel on how I spent my time in Europe, but I will spare you guys. Instead I’ve listed a breakdown of where my days were spent and then a few trip highlights: