2013: Teach, Cycle, Get Arrested, Raft, Get Arrested, Start Again

2013 has been one of the most varied years of my life. Here is a run down.

I began the year in a very bad place: teaching English in Istanbul. My home was awful, my landlord was one of the worst human beings I have ever had the displeasure of meeting, and my job was less satisfying that ice sculpting in the desert. The best thing that happened to me in Istanbul (besides çiğ köfte) was the Gezi Park riots, when the centre of the town went into meltdown. I ran through the broken streets amidst the semi-chaos and hooligans who were jumping on the ‘bash the police’ bandwagon so that I could snap a few photos.


A building overrun by rioters

After gratefully escaping Istanbul, I wanted freedom. I, along with Leah and Daniel (two really great people), bought £30 bicycles and cycled from my family home in England, 1000 miles to Daniel’s family home in Slovakia. We slept outside almost every night (except when people invited us in), and foraged / went skipping for food when we could. In Amsterdam we were arrested for sleeping outside, although sadly couldn’t attend our court hearing.

From the UK to Slovakia on Bike

We washed in lakes, rivers, and fountains when we had the opportunity

From the UK to Slovakia on Bike

We slept in abandoned buildings, forests, and the homes of strangers along our way

4 eating breakfast in the unfinished building

We ate simple food and left no sign of our presence

7 cycling offer into the distance

Each day, our only responsibilities in life were to wake up and carry on cycling

From the UK to Slovakia on Bike

After breaking a toe and ripping the end of another, I cycled barefoot most of the way

After reaching Slovakia, the three of us and Patrick (our Danish addition) fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming pirates. What could be a better sense of freedom than getting onto a river and floating down it? We made our raft from old barrels and recycled billboards, trying to be an environmentally friendly as possible. We cooked dinner over open fires each night and slept on the side of the river until a couple of weeks into our journey, we were arrested once again, and made to dismantle the raft. We managed to recycle every part of it.

this raft is real (rafting pirates of the danube)-11

Before launching our 300+kg raft, we had no idea if it would float

Pirates of the Danube-5

Fortunately, we found out that it did float

Pirates of the Danube-6

Life on the river was considerably more relaxed than we had previously anticipated

Pirates of the Danube II-1

Occasionally we paddled, but mostly we floated

The End of the Pirates of the Danube (We Get Arrested)

Then things went wrong

The End of the Pirates of the Danube (We Get Arrested)

The police proved to be the final unwelcome visitors to our adventure

Pirates of the Danube iii

So we held a funeral for the raft and floating a single piece off to Romania

After the rafting, we split up. Leah and I hitchhiked through Poland, Ukraine (where we rented a cottage that caught on fire), Moldova, and Romania, before she left to teach English in South Korea. I then went to camp in the world’s second most haunted forest before visiting my family in the UK.

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-3

Ukraine is more beautiful that I had anticipated

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-13

Wondering through a small mountain village, we found a ski jump

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-39

I tried rock climbing in Romania

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-71

We met lots of lovely people

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-56

And sat in the garden in aeroplane seats

Hitchhiking Eastern Europe-63

It was a lot of crazy fun

My original plan was to then journey overland towards Asia. After a dramatic change of heart, I am instead going to Korea to work on some personal projects and to start walking. After leaving Korea a year and a half ago and starting this blog, I never ever thought that I would go back (in fact I publicly proclaimed that I wouldn’t go back to teach).

2013 has been an interesting year, but I am even more excited for 2014. It starts on a small island in South Korea. Watch this space.

This post forms part of the ‘Where Have You Been?’ series. Check out some of these interesting people and where they have been during the past one or many years.

Everywhere We’ve Been on the Globe by Gabi of The Nomadic Family
How Many Countries Did We Travel in the Last 574 Days by Erin of Travel With Bender
Everywhere I Have Been in my Life by Alyson of World Travel Family
No Schengen Visa by Heidi of Wagoners Abroad
2013 Review by Manfred of Renegade Travels
2013 Country Run Down by Amy and Andrew of Our Big Fat Travel Adventure
How Many Countries Have We Been To? by Renee of RambleCrunch
20 Years of Travel by Emiel of Act of Traveling
Our Favourite Family Spots by Laurel of Capturing La Vita

By | 2013-12-21T12:35:35+00:00 December 20th, 2013|Thoughts and Inspiration|12 Comments


  1. Laurel- Capturing la Vita 15/01/2014 at 13:38 - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this so much. It took me back to my college days, traveling with my free-spirited friends, finding adventure wherever we could. You are making such wonderful memories. I am grateful to now be sharing my adventurous traveling spirit with my kids- we just sleep in hotels now, instead of old abandoned bldgs 🙂 Gorgeous photos.

    Keep doing what you are doing and try to get arrested less.

  2. Ross 27/12/2013 at 20:37 - Reply

    That is a crazy adventure. The raft was really the cherry on top. Brilliant idea, pity the police ruined your fun!

  3. Emiel 27/12/2013 at 14:43 - Reply

    I really loved your 2013 rundown! Great pictures. I am staying tuned to find out about Korea… Happy New Year!

  4. Gabi (The Nomadic Family) 24/12/2013 at 01:34 - Reply

    love your adventures. love the pics. if we wouldn’t kill each other in five minutes, that raft would be amazing! you’re making me want to go to eastern europe instead of africa. hmmmm….. love your life outlook and how you share it friend. continue to live in the wind young tom sawyer. we’ll be following. gabi

    • Jamie 02/01/2014 at 09:08 - Reply

      Too many choices in this big world, right? It’s like ice cream: have three flavours to choose from and it’s great. Have 300 flavours and you always feel that you have picked the wrong one.

  5. Raul (@ilivetotravel) 23/12/2013 at 14:10 - Reply

    Wait, if you floated on a raft, you didn’t bike from England to Slovakia! 🙂 What a neat adventure. Hope your 2014 is as much fun!

    • Raul (@ilivetotravel) 23/12/2013 at 14:12 - Reply

      OK, I realize now the raft was AFTER Slovakia. Comment withdrawn! By the way, I saw the Ukraine from Moldova (but didn’t cross the river) and I agree it looked beautiful.

  6. Erin 22/12/2013 at 07:50 - Reply

    You guys are freakin’ nuts. I really enjoyed reading that since I travel completely differently. This is insane. What a year! What a Great Big Scary Adveture! Merry Christmas & Happy 2014 travels! 😀

    • Jamie 02/01/2014 at 09:05 - Reply

      Alice Kingsleigh: Do you think I’ve gone around the bend?
      Charles Kingsleigh: I’m afraid so… you’re mad. Bonkers. Off your head… but I’ll tell you a secret… all of the best people are.

  7. Amy 22/12/2013 at 04:02 - Reply

    You have had the most unique travel year I’ve ever read about Jamie! I’m very intrigued to see what you get up to next year, in particular to hear about why you’ve chosen to head back to Korea.

  8. Manfred 21/12/2013 at 03:31 - Reply

    Now that’s what I call a an adventure. You’ve proved that will even just a little money you can still have a great time. Love your raft. Reminds me of when I lived near a river as a kid. We were always making rafts.

  9. Heidi @WagonersAbroad 20/12/2013 at 20:48 - Reply

    Wow, you are really a free spirit! What a fantastic adventure and the bonds you have made with these people must be for life. I remember when you posted about those riots and building the raft, but I must have missed the police bit before. Your photos really capture the moment as well. Thanks!

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