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People say I'm crazy all the time. I take risks, I jump into situations with both feet first and no life jacket, I ignore warnings...I dig myself into messes so horrendous, I need a shovel to get out. With that in mind, let me introduce myself, I'm Nicole Hermatz, your new travel corrospondant overseas.

Technically I still live in Williamsburg. That's where all my stuff is, plus I still pay rent, so that makes me a resident of our illustrius, yet subversive community we call Little East Village. I spent the summer in New York City last year, and let me tell you, if I wasn't battleing little old ladies for the last A/C at PC Richards, then I was watching 3 hour summer blockbusters just to keep cool (there's only so many times you can
see Notting Hill and The Phantom Menace, before you decide to snort popcorn
butter just for the fun of it). So, I'm off to see the world. I quit my job, got a sitter for my cat, said goodbye to my friends and hopped on an airplane headed for Poland. And that's where my journey begins.

This summer I am traveling through Eastern Europe on a thumb and a prayer. So
far I plan to visit Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and
Slovakia. As a backpacker, I'll be able to pick up and leave whenever I want and go wherever I want (within reason). No called-in-advanced hotel rooms, no plane, train or automobile reservations, no being in a certain place at a certain time, no waiting for friends to hurry their sorry asses out of bed, no arguing with family members on where to go next. As you probably figured out I will be traveling alone.

Like many wanderers before me I will travel the countryside on my own terms with only my sturdy journal for company. Like many writers before me, I will document my trip with the curious eyes of an observer. I will visit war torn areas in Yugoslavia and mourn senseless destruction with the locals. I will witness a country's greatest devastation and I will help rebuild. I will discover the beauty and the misery of the places I visit and I will leave nothing behind except my urgent hope for their homes to be safe. I will take nothing but the knowledge that war is not a fantasy made up by the media. And I will give them the only gift I am capable of giving: The power to tell their story.


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