On the bus from Budva to Kotor this morning I realised that I now only have one more bus journey left: from Kotor to Dubrovnik. As recently as a week ago when I counted out my remaining bus journeys, the prospect filled me with nerves. Now I feel sad to think I only have one left.
It's not that I've suddenly fallen in love with buses - I most definitely have not - but the sense of freedom? Absolutely. I wish I could bottle this feeling.
I'm not the only one: talking to other travellers on the road they say the same thing. Regardless of whether they're travelling with an itinerary, a vague idea, or completely on the fly. It really makes no difference.
I worked out my route in advance, pre-booked my accommodation (but all with a "free cancellation" option), had an idea of key things I wanted to do and see. Aside from my flights though, none of it's been set in stone, and I've been free to tweak and change things as I see fit. To decide what I'm actually going to do in each new place once I'm there.
Yesterday I travelled up the coast from Budva to Kotor. Turned up at the bus station and jumped on the next bus out of town. When I got here I spent a few hours finishing my latest book (what would I do without my Kindle?) before I even thought about finding my latest "home" and checking in. Just found a shady spot for myself. No hurry, no schedule.
It was about 6pm by the time I headed back into Kotor to explore. I set out with the intention of having a bit of a wander, getting my bearings and grabbing a bite to eat.
Instead I found myself staring up at the city walls snaking up the mountainside looking over the Bay of Kotor, and headed to the entrance to the walls, where the woman informed me it was a 40 minute walk to the top. So off I went. All previous notions of a plan for the evening gone.
It took me longer than 40 minutes - unsurprisingly, considering the number of times I stopped to take in the views over the bay. And to catch my breath. Only 1350 steps to the top.
I encountered people coming back down, but nobody else going up. Probably because they were doing the sensible thing and having dinner instead.
However, all of this had a couple of outcomes, which, for me, made yesterday perfect. And completely encapsulates the feeling this trip has given me.
I arrived at the very highest spot I could reach just moments before the sun dipped behind the mountain on the opposite side of the bay. And I had my mountaintop entirely to myself to drink it in. Had anybody else been around, they would have heard me squealing with excited delight at the absolute perfection of that moment, in that astonishingly beautiful place.
(I may have jumped up and down a bit too. It was just that perfect.)
Someone I once travelled with used to say that she always worried one day I just wouldn't come home again at the end of a trip. I suspect that, one day, that may well happen. And it won't be for any one place - it will be for the feeling, the journeying, the experience. Because I have yet to find a way to bring that home with me.