One of the bonuses of working for a travel agent is that they encourage you to go abroad as you much as you can. In my job we are allowed up to 6 weeks unpaid leave every 3 years in addition to regular annual leave. 4 years ago I took my first sabbatical, visiting Las Vegas, the East coast of Brazil (during the football world cup) as well as Colombia. Most of this was done solo and it was nice to be able to return somewhat to my backpacker roots.
4 years have passed and I am now getting close to undertaking my 2nd sabbatical. Once again the football world cup was the genesis for the trip. I will begin by flying to Astana in Kazakhstan to meet up with a couple of friends who live there. Together with another friend we are then to fly up to one of the host cities for the world cup, Yekaterinburg. The little I do know about this city came from a relative who once dated a girl from there, he promises me it is a modern city complete with an Irish Bar! We have only managed to secure tickets for 1 match, the titanic clash of Japan v Senegal! But to be honest the actual match does not matter too much, it is more about being part of a global spectacle, particularly with the politics surrounding Russia at the moment, all eyes will be on this event.
After a week here I will head back to Kazakhstan and briefly into another Central Asian republic, Kyrgyzstan, where I intend to visit the capital Bishkek and Lake Issyk Kul, the 2nd largest mountain lake in the world, (Lake Titicaca in Bolivia being the 1st.) From here I will get to the modern city of Almaty in Kazakhstan before flying to Bangkok.
After a 3 night stay in Bangkok, where I plan to chill, I will fly to Indonesia to meet Vanessa who will be joining me for 3 weeks travel around this sprawling archipelago. We will meet on the tropical holiday island of Bali then on to Lombok, the Gili Islands and Komodo before heading back west to Java for Jogjakarta and finally the capital Jakarta.
Vanessa will fly home from there but for me the adventure is not quite over. I am flying with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to the Balkans region of Europe. I will start in the hip city of Belgrade before getting the famous Belgrade to Bar railway across Serbia and Montenegro. From here my plans are not quite finalised. I have a rough plan to visit the coastal town of Kotor before swinging south through Albania. I also hope to visit Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. A lot of it depends on the speed and reliability of the Albanian public transport system. Either way I have to find my way to Corfu for my flight home.
As you can imagine I am looking forward to this summer quite a lot. I plan on posting updates as best I can whilst away, be sure to check my twitter @flazinhotravels and Instagram account for progress reports!