Danik the Explorer: One year blogiversary
Where has the year gone? It has gone pretty fast. I can still remember publishing my first post on this blog, on the relaunch of ‘Danik the Explorer’ which was a travel blog of mine from 2011 to 2016. Why the relaunch? What happened between 2017 and November 14th 2018? Why was there a gap? Let me quickly explain before I start celebrating with my followers, my one year blogiversary.
Danik the Explorer stopped at the end of 2016 and teamed up with another blogger and launched ‘The C****** E********’ and life was good. At the same time I ended my marriage and started a relationship with this other blogger. However despite the good times and bad times, the ‘miserable times’ within the relationship ended on 1st November 2018 and so did the blog. Looking back after a year, I wish I never broke up my marriage and walked away from my daughter ‘Kiddo’ but luckily I manage to maintain a good relationship with a baby though ‘that’ period. It’s the biggest regret of my life & my advice for any men out there in relationships and thinking about having an affair with another, I wouldn’t do it, the grass isn’t greener on the other side. However I still wish ‘her’ all the best with her life, her new blog and hopefully finds happiness.
After the end of The C****** E*******, it was a bit of a mess, I mean life in general. And I had no blog either (but to be honest, that was the least of my concerns). The first thing I did after finding a sofa to sleep on for a while was to book a trip. Yes, for the heck of it, I just booked flight tickets. I was single, had a few days off, I knew I had to sort out my life but needed some time away to clear my head and have a few good drinks. Where did I go? Gdansk in Poland. Why not? It was the cheapest flight going anywhere from London on the days I wanted a few days later, got a hotel and I was off. I don’t know why I went there. I been there before. Oh well, so before I knew it I was touching down in Gdansk, checking into the hotel and then I was on the main street checking out the sights again and of course, having Polish dumplings and a few glasses of the Polish brew.
Back to England a few days later to sort some more s*** out before I went to Athens in Greece. I already had this trip booked as I entered the Athens Marathon. However I got injured a week or two beforehand but thought bugger it, I had the flights booked, hotel booked and car hire booked. Stuff it, I am going to have a long weekend away with no running at all. I met one of my travel blogging friends out there, Elena from Passion for Hospitality and Passion for Dubai (and her mother, can’t forget her), who gave me great advice while we talked for a while. Will never forget that and would like to express my thankfulness on clearing my head and making me see sense (followed by a great meal…will never forget that!).
On the day of the Athens marathon, Olga (my wife on paper but who I ended the marriage a few years earlier) came out to the Greek capital and we had a heart to heart and we agreed to give the marriage another chance (it was one of the hardest conversations in my life and not an easy one as you could imagine).
Back in England, now with things clearer, a lot of things sorted out, it was time to get crazy again. People who know me, know that I can’t sit still for a minute. I am like Miss Rabbit in the Peppa Pig stories, I don’t just do one ‘thing’ in life, I do several. I have a job at the ‘real job’ in Central London in Railway Higher Management but I also decided to start a business and relaunch the travel blog. It was a crazy few days. I mention the business now, I decided to start a Personal Travel Consultant business. It was a risk because not many people in my home country were spending, thanks to this thing called ‘BrExit’. I ploughed a lot of money into this but I pulled the plug in April this year. The money wasn’t coming in and as a businessman, I wasn’t going to keep ploughing money into a business which wasn’t seeing any return. A lot of people were ringing me up to see if I can find a good ‘Thomas Cook’ deal and as I have industry insight, I refused to sell them packages with Thomas Cook and got them onto one of the rival companies. How right I was, Thomas Cook went under in September. For me, Breathtaking Vacations, it was a risk, it didn’t pay off but I don’t regret it.
At the same time, I got my travel blog prepared and ready for a quick launch for the 14th November 2018. I spent two long hard working days, non-stop writing, sorting out photos and managed to get off to a ‘good’ start. I kept working hard at it, three-fours a day sometimes amongst my other tasks of running a business, going to work, being a father, trying to sort out a marriage and getting life back on track. In some ways it was keeping me sane. My first post was on Newfoundland in Canada. Even though I explored this beautiful island with ‘her’, I still hold very good memories and experiences. I even want to get back out there as soon as possible, this time with the family in tow as it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. That is why I choose Newfoundland to be my first blog for the new website.
Since the launch of Danik the Explorer, where have I been travel wise?
November 2018: not much after the trips to Gdansk and Athens. However I managed to get a Friday night out with my brothers and we drove all the way from our home town of Stevenage (just north of London) to Paris St Germain Football Club to watch my French team Lille in the top of the table clash in Ligue 1. It was a great game but Lille lost 2-1. As I had a spare ticket, I had the pleasure of inviting French travel blogger Lucie from Voyages et Vagabondages, who I first met in London a few years earlier at a travel event.
December 2018: I had another football game to go to, this time it was Lille v Lyon but this time Olga did come with me (after getting a babysitter for Kiddo). Before the game it was Christmas shopping ‘French Style’, so we loaded up the car with gifts, food and booze. Straight after the game (as it was a Saturday evening), it was straight to Brugge, over the border in Belgium which took about an hour. Before we knew it, we checked into our hotel, headed off to the centre and had a romantic evening out. The next day we chilled out, saw more of Brugge, to which Olga lived and worked here when we first started dating many moons ago before heading home. Otherwise December was a quiet month.
Then it was a short flight over to Minsk in Belarus for my third visit and to see great friends who I have known from my ‘TravBuddy days’ a decade ago. I also met Tanya for the first time, to whom we were supposed to meet a few years earlier in London at a travel industry event which never materialised. We met, had a great time, great talks and she showed me parts of the city I haven’t been to on my first two visits. Would love to say thank you to all my amazing friends here and hope to be back soon.
Like I said, Riga was the final stop of the January tour. Despite getting ripped off by a taxi scammer (my friends will know the story and I still want to slap that bloke until this very day), I still had a great time playing with Kiddo in the snow.
March came around and it was time to go to the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. This was a trip which was organised by the guys who I had a franchise with (the one I was talking about earlier), and had a great time. But I did do my own thing and manage to do some stuff with the Travel Blog, so I was working with the guys from Fairmont Hotels (in Jasper and Banff), The Crimson Hotel (Jasper), Jasper Tourism Board, Jasper Food Tours and Sundog Transportation and Tours (Jasper).
I also managed to finish first in a Parkrun in the harsh cold conditions (and a four hour drive each way from Banff, so I had to do an overnight stay, great times!) and checked out an NHL game between the Calgary Flames and Las Vegas Knights (to which the flames won 6-3).
April saw me compete in my last marathon race as a racer. I might do a marathon again but I wouldn’t be racing it. My body just hasn’t fully recovered (I had a glute injury) and it was time to stop competing, six years after making my marathon race debut. The venue would be Paris and the family came along. I did well to get a time of under four hours but I just had a blast with ‘Kiddo’, taking her to see the Eiffel Tower, seeing other sights and taking her to an amusement park on the outskirts of the city. However this was also a learning curve, the Paris Metro system is bloody awful if you have a buggy or are in a wheelchair. Compared to London, it’s s***!. I don’t think I would want to bring a baby or a toddler back here in a hurry, it was the only thing which puts me off on that trip. Also Kiddo had to do the Eurostar train journey back from London with Chickenpox!
June saw the big family vacation, a long drive from Stevenage all the way to Lido di Spina, which is a small coastal town between Venice and Rimini in Italy. We stopped off on the way to celebrate Kiddo’s third birthday near Fussen, Germany in the mountains.
We then spent ten nights in this part of Italy. As well as chilling out by the beautiful beach here, we also went to San Marino, Rimini (where I did a Parkrun of course), Venice and nearby Ferrara and had a blast. I also found a hidden delight of the small town near where we stayed at Comacchio.
On the way back we stopped off for an amazing lunch in the Austrain Alps before spending a weekend in Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, Germany (again, another Parkrun conquered). The castle here is quite splendid but wish I had more time here to check out the car museums of Stuttgart and maybe get some fine drinkies in before driving back to the island.
Whilst traveling and working hard over the summer months, I managed to start my quest of walking the Via Francigena, a religious pilgrimage route from Canterbury Cathedral to the Vatican City in Rome. I will be doing this in stages and not sure how long this is going to take me. I managed to walk all the way from my home town of Stevenage to Canterbury via London which was OK, nothing special but there were some good pubs and sights to see on the way and in August, I managed to complete the first official leg of the walk from Canterbury Cathedral to the sea at Dover. The next stage starting in Calais I hope to do early in 2020.
September the family and I decided to go on vacation again, this time to a new country all of us have never been to before, Cyprus. We checked out the resort of Paphos on the west of the island and had a chilled out time whilst also checking out the amazing Roman history here. Coming to Cyprus also meant that I have been to all the European Union countries before the UK leaves the EU (whenever that is!).
October saw me going back to Northern Poland and near to the area I was in nearly twelve months previous. I flew into Łódź for a long weekend trip and checked out a brewery, palaces, fine food and drinks as well as the longest commercial street in Europe. I also managed to go to Malbork and explored the world’s largest castle as well as four other castles nearby and I managed to go to Torun, one of the prettiest medieval towns still preserved in Europe (and again, another Parkrun was involved).
It’s now November. No trips are planned because not many of you will know that Olga & I are expecting our second child. It wasn’t planned, it just happened and we are very happy. Its nearing the end of the pregnancy so for the next few months, the traveling is going to be on hold (also gives me a chance to play catch up on writing a few new articles for the blog).
What does the future hold for the blog? It’s looking bright, very bright. I just can’t wait to share the world my experiences and to give you my advice. For traveling, a long drive back to Italy is planned for next summer (Ancona) with a few days in Switzerland as well as starting off the French leg of the Via Francigena. Is there any more adventures planned? None confirmed yet but hopefully trips to France, Latvia, USA and Canada will be announced soon. After an up and down first year with life, the blog continues to get stronger. To all my followers, thank you for sticking with me and following my journey. To my family and friends, you are all amazing and would like to thank you for all your support. To Elena (and her mama) plus Chrysoula from Greece, Lucie from Paris, Tanya from Minsk, to all my other blogger friends who have supported me online and when they come to the UK such as Mark and his family, Prince, Lara, Elena, Kay and Chris, you have all been amazing. Also to Ollie, the guys from my running club, Stevenage Striders and to all my friends and family who know me, again thank you for your support. And last of all, thank you to my wife, Olga, who gave me another chance and for putting up with me. Now for Kiddo number two…… Onwards and upwards.