I’m an extremely fortunate man. I’m able to do what I want with my life, and generally speaking my “lifestyle business” has created many new opportunities (like Selo Oils), the ability to travel, and just…well, a lot. I’m grateful.
But last year was bad on the travel front.
I got cooped up in Prague for a variety of reasons, and just didn’t see enough of the world that I wanted to.
And really, I have no one to blame for this but my own self. More, I really don’t know how it happened. It’s like the rut just came, the cycle continued, and just didn’t end until I packed my bag for Ukraine. From a sprained ankle to being cooped at the top of five floors with no elevator for weeks, to another sprained ankle, to a terrible bout of food poisoning, I just didn’t have the energy to start really planning and traveling much.
I got to see a bit more of the Czech Republic (Český Krumlov and České Budějovice) before I departed CR for good, but those were short train rides away. Nothing major. A day or two max.
Therefore, it was great to start the year off right and sneak in a mini trip to Brussels before heading out here to Canada and the US for business purposes. Even funnier—though not really—is that my travel plans were again thwarted.
Germany airports ever-ongoing strikes meant that my Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Seattle on Wednesday was at risk. So, rather than risk that, I instead skipped my ticket from Brussels to Frankfurt, and re-booked my ticket—hopping on a flight from Brussels to DC twelve hours after being ticketed.
What followed was Air Canada’s horrible experience, but that’s beside the point.
I enjoyed Brussels.
I am really glad to be back on the road again.
This is the first time in over a calendar year that I’ve returned to the Western side of the world. From January 9th, 2018, I stayed only in Czech, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and a day in Poland. So, while many of those places are quite nice and Westernized, they are still a smidge below a place like Brussels as far as the “Western vibe”.
So, without further ado, here’s five thoughts on Brussels, and on the West in general.
1. What A Difference The Cars Make
In Ukraine, half the vehicles on the road look like they might very well be down to their last days on the road. From missing hubcaps, to dented fenders, to a lack of any seat belts or general functions—most of the cars in Ukraine have definitely seen better days.
What a shocking surprise it was to see the majority of the cars in Brussels in good shapes, well maintained, and running on all four cylinders (and wheels).
Over time, you become numb to the realities of living in a place like Ukraine, and it takes that shock effect to bring you back and realize just how good some places in the world are from a financial perspective.
2. The More Money There Is, The More Dumb Tourist Things Pop Up
I mean, honestly, do any real Belgian people actually eat waffles and fries?
I’m sure some do.
But certainly not every day.
Just like no Czech people in Prague ate trdelníks, German people don’t devour sausage at every meal, and Italians do eat more than spaghetti and meatballs.
In a place like Ukraine, where tourism just isn’t there, you don’t see these kind of ridiculous food stands everywhere. Hungary is the same way. There aren’t too many ridiculous stands serving paprika, for example.
It just goes to show that the more a place has seen tourism, the more it attracts tourists, and the more money that those tourists have to waste, the more they will play up their “traditional items” in order to sell goods, because people want those experiences.
And you know what?
I had some Belgian fries. The girl had waffles. We tried the beer. It’s fun. When you go to a new country, you want to experience the food and the culture, even if it’s massively over-hyped and barely a local delicacy.
3. It’s Just So Bland
As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently in Victoria, British Columbia, and I tell you…
It’s just bland, as far as the women go. It’s not even that they’re that unattractive. It’s just that they don’t even try. Sweatpants and hoodies to class. No dresses. No style. No heels. Just nothing. A blob. The guys? Not much better, either, if we’re being frank.
I don’t know when and how the slob culture became so prevalent in the West, but it’s a shock when you come from most places in Europe.
It’s just there’s no effort.
Add in the bad diet.
Add in the bad attitude.
And you have a general recipe for disaster…
One that will lead towards both sexes being deeply unhappy in life.
I’m not saying women are the problem, nor that men are. Fact is, too many men have just become whipped beyond belief—doing and saying anything to get a woman. And naturally, women take advantage of this. It’s going to be up to men to change their attitudes—but honestly, good luck…
Something about being in Ukraine, and being around lots of cute girls in high heels—just makes a man happy. Even if I’m not pursuing them, because I’m in a relationship with one of those girls. Just the environment.
Beautiful girls dressed stylishly.
It does wonders for a man’s attitude.
4. What Makes A Man?
This blog has always been the place I’ve shared my journey, and what a journey my life has been thus far.
Here’s the thing:
Living in Ukraine, things are definitely not easy. I want to pull my hair out—often. But, at the same time, I know that the struggle is pretty good for me. I spend my nights watching Russian TV shows so I can speak, instead of rotting my mind with NetFlix. And if I was fluent in Russian, I’d find something else to be productive with. Dinners with my girlfriend’s parents last hours. I know them well by now. They know me. At these dinners, the phones are gone. We are focused on each other.
Life is a struggle in Ukraine, no doubt about it. But, it’s the struggle that makes the man.
Is this silly?
Could be, given how good and cushy life in the States and the rest of the Western world certainly is. Perhaps it’s insanity that I choose to live in such a place. At the same time, I’ve never really picked the cushy way, and look where I’m at now.
I generally think that if you are not challenging yourself on a daily basis—then what else are you doing? You’re just dying. You might as well learn as much as you can, see all the places you want to see, and if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows—well, that’s life.
5. Things Keep Speeding Up In The World
Mike Cernovich tweeted something similar to the below the other day, and it really resonated with me:
Nobody visits America and says, “This is the future.”
And you know what?
Visiting Victoria for business has showed me that.
Strip malls, parking lots, and suburbia.
It’s just all so bland to me now, and this is how a vast majority of America is. Big, sprawling spaces with too many places to waste money instead of focusing on making it. There’s a lack of family values. A lack of culture. A lack of unity. All of these things are certainly present throughout Eastern Europe.
It’s impossible to predict where the world will be in fifty years, or even five. Technology has changed the game. Our mere human psyches cannot keep pace. I will not even try to speculate on what will become.
All I know is that the West is not for me.