Now, I like my brain ok. It’s a pretty powerful organ. I’m glad I have it. It has some weaknesses for sure, but it’s gotten me through some tough situations. Being in new situations and new cities forces a person’s brain to adjust pretty fast. It’s actually a good thing, and something I was looking forward to. That’s kind of the point of travel, to experience new and different things.

I have a theory that when big changes are occurring in your life, it’s a good opportunity to make some of the smaller changes too. The brain is already forcing itself to recalibrate to the new normal, so you may as well take advantage of that. In fact, I’m kind of using travel to force some of those changes. Now is the time to create new, positive habits.

Here’s an example. I always used to brush my teeth only once per day. For years, I only brushed at night. Now that I have to make conscious decisions about things every day, I started brushing in the morning too. Ideally, that’s a habit that will stick. That’s just a small example, but hopefully you see what I’m saying.

I have some bigger ideas about what habits I’d like to establish, too. One of them is gratitude. I know I’ve got it pretty good, and it’s important to be able to appreciate that and remind myself. So here is a short list of some things that I’m grateful for from the period of time when I left Füssen, went to Salzburg for a couple of days, and arrived in Vienna.

Group train tickets. The public transportation system in Europe is phenomenal. The U.S. can learn a lot. I knew I was going to Salzburg from Füssen, which involved going back through Munich. I was about to buy the ticket at the automated ticket station for about 23€, when I  a guy tapped me on my shoulder.

“Wirst du nach München?”

“Yes. Yes I am going to München.”

“Do you want to get a group ticket? It’s cheaper.” I had heard of this, but didn’t think about just asking strangers if they wanted to share. So Tiago and I shared a pass for 28€ (14€ each) that was good for the entire day. He got off in Munich and I kept the pass and used it to get to Freilassing at the Germany-Austria border and then it was even good for the bus from Freilassing into Salzburg.

Tiago, I appreciate you! German mass transit system, I appreciate you too! 😀

Long walks My exercise schedule has not been as rigorous as it was at home, but I’ve been walking an awful lot. As good as the public transport system is, I kind of prefer walking everywhere. It gives me a better sense of where I am, and if I get lost later I can right the course because I have a better sense of direction. Also, I often stumble upon some little cafe or bar (or giant freaking castle) that I maybe would not have found otherwise.

In Salzburg when I first arrived, my accommodation was three miles away from the bus station where I got dropped off. I could have found another bus that would get me closer to where I was going, but instead I decided to walk (and carry my pack!) all the way through the city and along the river.

I randomly walked through this beautiful garden at Schloss Mirabell. I didn't know it was there until I was already walking and exploring.
I randomly walked through this beautiful garden at Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg. I didn’t know it was there until I was already walking and exploring!
Seriously, it was gorgeous.
Seriously, it was gorgeous.

Thanks, legs! Keep on carrying me!

Love Seriously, who can’t get behind love? Love is great. People in Salzburg think so. There’s a bridge over the Salzach river where people write the names of two people in love on a padlock and lock it to the bridge.

More power to people in love.
More power to people in love.

It’s a sweet concept. What’s striking though is just how many locks are stuck to this bridge. That’s a lot of locks, and each one represents two people.

Lots of locks equals lots of love.
Lots of locks equals lots of love.

Thanks, lovers! Glad you’re in love! I appreciate you!

Small reminders of home Many things are different here, but sometimes I look at something and it just feels like my home in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not that it makes me homesick or anything, it just calls up something fond and familiar.

This path that runs parallel to the Salzach and the lush greenery around it felt strangely familiar. It put a smile on my face.
This path that runs parallel to the Salzach and the lush greenery around it felt strangely familiar. It put a smile on my face.

I appreciate my past experiences and the place I came from!

Mozart Coffee Dang. Austria has some really good coffee. I didn’t really think of it as a coffee destination, but I can really appreciate a good, smooth, rich espresso. The best one I had was once I got to Vienna. They called it a Mozart Coffee (Austria was the home of the famous composer, so his name is on all kinds of stuff.). It was a double espresso with whipped cream and a delicious chocolate liqueur. I sat in an outdoor cafe and enjoyed every second of it. People must have thought I was crazy because I had a big grin on my face the whole time. Don’t care. It was the most delicious thing I’ve had in a while.

So fucking good. I'm salivating just looking at it and remembering what it tastes like.
So fucking good. I’m salivating just looking at it and remembering what it tastes like.

Thanks, Mozart!

Itchy Poopzkid I saw a poster in a bar for a band called Itchy Poopzkid. I thought that was pretty funny.

Itchy Poopzkid, I appreciate your hilarious name!

A friend with a boat It’s great to have a friend with a boat. I had a hostel roomie in Salzburg who is from Brisbane, Australia. He was talking about being in the Pacific Northwest this summer. I offered him a place to stay in Tacoma, WA where I’m from, and he counter-offered with a place to stay in Brisbane. He went on to say that his dad has a boat and if I do come to visit, we could go out on the boat. I’ll be in Thailand in December/January, which is really not that far from Australia. Having a friend with a boat might actually be enough to convince me to drop into Australia before heading home… It’s nice to have the freedom to be able to make that kind of decision if I want to.

Thanks, Craig from Brisbane! Let’s go to have fun on a boat!

Schmetterlinghaus On a random walk through Vienna, I stumbled upon a butterfly conservatory. A butterfly conservatory? Really?! That’s awesome!

It's full of butterflies! Whoa!
It’s full of butterflies! Whoa!
These guys just hatched from their cocoons!
These guys just hatched from their cocoons!
Oh yeah! It's lunchtime!
Oh yeah! It’s lunchtime!
You're not supposed to touch the butterflies, but that didn't stop this little girl from getting one to sit on her finger.
You’re not supposed to touch the butterflies, but that didn’t stop this little girl from getting one to sit on her finger.

Thanks, butterflies! You’re beautiful!

Today marks three weeks since I hopped on a plane. I’m starting to settle in and adjust to what is effectively a different lifestyle, and I’m doing my absolute darned-est to appreciate every minute of it. Being mindful and recognizing the small moments and victories is a practice worth cultivating.

It can be hard to make the changes to habits and mindsets that need to change when you’re in a routine at home. It’s possible, for sure, but travel is such a great opportunity to bend your own brain to your will.

I’m in Vienna now (writing from a random cafe that I walked by, in fact). I like Vienna a lot, so I think I’ll be staying here a bit longer than originally planned, at least for a few days. Just so you have an idea of where I’m going after that, the tentative plan is as follows: Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Pilsen, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin. All subject to change, of course. I might like to get down to Croatia somewhere in there if I have time. I’ve heard they have nice beaches. There are a lot of places I’ll go if I have time. 🙂

All the best! Get out in the world! Change your brain!