Diary of a Single Girl

Ria

Single Girl Ria decided to keep her wardrobe simple – here’s what she plans on wearing for the next 12 months.


I’m Maria Argyropoulos, a Greek-American kukla (Greek for chica) who’s been fortunate enough to have the perfect job and great friends, and to live in a fabulous city. But as great as Chicago summers are, I’m not genetically made for the nine-month winters and had forever dreamt of a year of nothing but sun, sand and sightseeing.

So after finally realizing I ought to live my dream (see Why I’m Traveling), I decided to put the career on hold, sell the condo, hug my friends goodbye and hope my funds held out while I worked on the perfect tan.

In April 2001, I embarked on a 12-month trip around the world that includes five continents. It will be spring or summer for 9 outta the 12 months (try as I might, I wasn’t able to figure out how to hit everywhere in the summertime and still keep going in the same direction).

My plan is simple: see everything I’ve ever wanted to see, swim in as many oceans as possible, get as dark a one-tanline tan as possible, and meet as many fun-loving, club-hopping backpackers and locals as I can. Oh, and not work at all if I can help it…

I’ve been sending emails home about my adventures, and so far no one’s blocked me from their email, so I figured I’d give it a go on BootsnAll. I’ll get you caught up first, and then keep going while I’m on the road.

Oh, and I’m always on the lookout for someone cool to travel with, so if you’re headed my way in the next seven months, give me a shout. Next up for me are Africa, Asia and Australia.

You can reach me at grandtour2004@hotmail.com. As you read my travelogue, I’d also be happy to provide any info I can on places I stayed or agents or tour companies I used.

Why I’m Traveling ‘Round the World

As a child Ria’s globetrotting Aunt Evy passed her the travel bug, but Ria’s trip is a dream she’s never made come true – until now.

Intro: How I Figured Out Where in the World to Go
Between shots, visas and plane tickets, Ria did some mad researching and planning for her year-long trip.

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34: Kindness of Strangers
After all the chaos and hassle Ria had experienced in India thus far, she was amazed and appreciative of the kindness shown to her by locals in a time of sickness.

33: Hooray for Bollllllywood
In a country where 90 percent or more of marriages are still arranged, Ria found the dominant themes of romantic love in Indian films a little odd.

Catch Up On The Journey

32: Will the Real Traveler Please Stand Up?
Imagine a garbage dump, barnyards of cows, wild half-starved dog packs, seas of manure, Los Angeles’ pollution (x 100) and nearly the population of China – and you have a glimpse of India as Ria sees it.

31: A Temporary Haven
In juxtaposition to the brown air and grey buildings of Agra, the snowy whiteness of the Taj Mahal is like seeing the light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel.

30: Just Another Day…
It takes just one micro-second for tomorrow NOT to be another day. And that’s why Ria had to get back to her journey.

29: The Email
A 16-word email from her mom is enough not only for Ria to wait on talking about her own bad news, but to immediately head home.

28: Diving with Sharks
The night before she is to confront her fear of sharks, in South Africa Ria meets up with a couple of backpackers with a tale.

27: Dancing in the Dark
Her African braids might not give Ria dancing feet, but at least she’s able to miss most of the cow patties.

26: Walking Victoria Falls
If you have trouble finding the falls, just ask the waiter at the restaurant in the middle of river.

25: Africa Wins Again Today
Police checkpoints are a great way to hone your storytelling skills, and the fiercest predator in Africa is not in the wild, it’s in the airport lounge.

24: Sunset on the Zambezi
Things in Africa are rarely what they seem, but tell that to the guys wanting more coolers and fewer crocs on a 3-hour booze cruise.

23: "Rasta Maahn"
Getting a new perspective on life, travel and self can be as simple as torturing yourself into a new hairstyle.

22: "You’re Kidding about the Crocodiles"
On the Zambezi River it seems most of the boat-flippings are caused by class-7 guides.

21: There’s an Elephant Where?
Cockroaches and other animals test Ria’s bladder control, but game wardens are the most ferocious creatures in Masai Mara National Park.

20: The Masai Monkey Murders
No matter where you go, you cannot escape the violence of man.

19: The Giraffe Near the Airport
In Nairobi never trust a tout, look out for hookers and muggers, and remember that sometimes tears are all you need against predators.

18: You Know You’ve Been Partying Too Hard in London
Eat your heart out Dave Letterman, Ria’s taking over the Top Ten. Once she wakes up. Could someone get her a Lucozade?

17: Learning to Ride
Den Bosch has a better type of buzz, and Ria learns there’s more than one way to ride a bike.

16: Velcro Squirt Gun Man
The Flying Pig Hostel is a cure for writer’s block, but it isn’t exactly good for one’s opinion of other people.

15: Savor the Small Moments
Travel isn’t always about funny stories. It’s about moments, sometimes small and brief, in all about life, and all to be treasured.

14: The Day I got Dutch National Pride
Taking a break from the sun, Ria lands in Amsterdam in the middle of a heat wave. Here she felt the vibe of the connected and was overcome by Dutch national pride.

13: The Rave Continues
You can even groove while buying groceries in Ibiza, but when you head to the loo, look out for the half-naked guy dancing in front of the mirror, okay?

12: Raving Mad in Ibiza
All Ria wants for her birthday is a black catsuit and the dusk-till-dawn-till-dusk parties that make Ibiza the raving mecca of the Mediterranean.

11: It Was Bound to Happen
A jaunt from Seville to Morocco turns into a warped version of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Let’s call it "Scams, Strikes and Stalkers".

10: "Do What You Want! Take It All Off"
Five women and two weeks in the Greek isles make for a massive overdose of sun and sand, dancing and flirting.

9: "No One Told Me I Needed a Bathing Suit"
Ria doesn’t care how hot and steamy it is, she turns a cold shoulder to stripping off in the German spa.

8: Did I Tell You I’ve Never
Fun abounds in La Fortuna: lava-boiled hot springs, toxic sulfur fumes, mutant cucharachas. You can also swing around the forest and wham-bang into a tree at high speeds.

7: Hey Mon
Life stays pretty hazy on CR’s Caribbean side, but Maria’s clear on one thing: just because she likes the chicken doesn’t mean she likes the chef.

6: Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
It’s hard to stay out of the gutter, when you need a ladder to climb from the street to the curb, and a rowboat to reach the hotel’s front door. And all Maria did was cross the Equator into Costa Rica.

5: The Booby Dance
Take notes, boys and girls. Ria’s playing Darwin and Dr. Ruth as she studies mating on the Galapagos Islands.

4: Peter Was Sharing His Dinner with the Fishes
Ria hopes she brought enough clothes for her 3-hour tour, when the weather in the Galapagos Islands starts to turn as stormy as Gilligan’s Island.

3a (Interlude): What Little Blue Paper?
Setting land speed records in the airport is easy when you cast off extra weight, like blue papers that you also happen to need to leave Peru.

3: Everything in This Country is Uphill
Peru is a country and people of contrasts, but more importantly, how in blazes did they build Machu Piccu anyway?

2: Internet Cafes Abound, But No Toilet Paper Anywhere
Yeah, altitude sickness sucks, but coca-leaf tea is great! And so is Cuzco, Peru, despite the Coca-Cola signs and cold toilet seats. Maria’ll have some more tea now…

1: And Then He Sucked on My Ear
The diving in Hawaii didn’t exactly turn out foreplay. Oh well. Time to hop in the car, and do some driving instead, Maria says in her first entry.

 

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