I have a lot of friends who are startup founders. Lately whenever we meet up, I find myself sharing the same story with them; it’s about a car accident.
I can’t remember where I originally heard this story, but it stuck with me as an important metaphor for startup life. It goes something like this:
The gorge that nearly killed my wife two years ago.
It’s been over two years since my startup got acquired. People to this day ask me what I felt the moment this deal closed. Was it some feeling of satisfaction after bootstrapping my business for seven years? Was it elation in seeing a large wire transfer come into my bank account? Or maybe, was it validation from proving all my naysayers and competitors wrong?
Nope, I wasn’t thinking about any of that. The only thing I felt was gratitude. Not gratitude about my little startup achievement, but gratitude that my wife was actually alive.
What do you think of our pitch? We could use your funding. 🙂
As I write this post I am sitting in the Caltrain, passing through various suburbs of the San Francisco Bay peninsula on my way to the city. It’s comforting to be surrounded by so many familiar sites once again.
My wife and I have had quite a journey: 17 countries, dozens of cities, and countless airports/train stations/bus stations. We’ve witnessed both staggeringly beautiful phenomena (Northern Lights in the Yukon Territories) and horrifying moments (a mob beating up some dude in the streets of Istanbul) along the way. Fortunately, my wife and I came out the other end of our trip completely safe and with a lifetime of memories.
I’ve delayed writing this post as long as I could; it’s been taking me a while to process what I’ve learned from this trip. The short answer is: a lot.
I may not be able to cover all the lessons I’ve learned in a single post, but let me share eight things that I discovered from long-term travel:
Travel achievement: unlocked!
With this leg of our European journey, I can now say that I’ve personally visited 30 countries. I’ve been really excited to reach this milestone for quite some time.
Why 30? No reason, it just seemed like a nice round number. Now that it’s done, 40, 50, or even 60 countries seems so possible. There’s still so much to see in this world!
The past week in Croatia and Bosnia was really fun. My wife and I, along with our travel buddy Jennifer Hu, treated this journey more as a vacation. It was less about Airbnb and more about treating ourselves to resorts and cocktails. We can’t afford to do this kind of travel long-term but it’s nice to splurge every once in a while to mix things up.
Croatia and Bosnia offer a lot for the traveler to take in. Here are some of the highlights of our past seven days in Croatia:
I’ve been looking forward to Berlin for quite some time. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Germany and the German people that fascinates me. Maybe it’s their tragic and resilient history; or the Germans’ ability to making fabulous meats in tube form; or maybe it is the incredible German language, where there is a word for even the most nuanced thing like: “walking in a forest alone thinking about how you treated your dog from childhood.” (note: not sure if that’s an actual German word)
For this leg of the journey, my wife and decided to slow down a bit and spend two weeks in the city of Berlin. We landed a cheap apartment in the suburbs, cooked at home, took public transit like Berliners, slowly explored the town, and made a few German friends in the process. It was mostly mudane stuff but some of the most satisfying travel we’ve done so far.
Here are just a few highlights from Berlin:
Krakow, Poland was described to me once as “Prague, like ten years ago.”
I have no idea what that means. But I love how pretentious it makes me sound when I say it to my friends. The truth, however, is that Krakow is way cooler than Prague.
My wife and I had low expectations when we decided to visit this city on a whim. It’s not discussed much as a European travel destination (at least in the US); but now, I would say that this city is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Central and Eastern Europe.
Some highlights from our six days in Krakow: