Well, that's the story of my loop around Europe. I started in May 2000 in Germany, traveled through Germany to Poland, Lithuania, into Russia to St Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, through Lithuania back into Poland, then Prague in the Czech Republic in late July. I had to fly back to the U.S. from Prague for several weeks, but returned in early September to resume traveling in the Czech Republic, then heading to Vienna Austria, Bratislava Slovakia, Budapest and Eger in Hungary, the Transylvania region of Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Paris France, Belgium and finally Amsterdam.
I had managed to read several books in Europe; Poland by James Michener, Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, a collection of short stories by Kafka, The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek, Moby Dick by Melville, A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway (I can't imagine a greater contrast in writing style than between Hemingway and Melville. I definitely prefer Hemingway), the second of Joseph Campbell's four part series The Masks of God, The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and maybe one or two I'm not thinking of right now. That is more pleasure reading than I had been able to do in twenty years in the Air Force. I also read the "Economist" magazine almost every week; I missed one week while in Selcuk Turkey. I improved my mind, stayed informed on world events, met many interesting people, saw many important places, some of which I didn't know existed a year earlier, and in general enjoyed myself and learned a lot. I also developed a different outlook on life.
When I retired from the Air Force almost two years ago the plan was to spend a year traveling then start another career, probably in engineering. I haven't traveled as much as I planned; partly because the slower I travel the more I enjoy it, partly because life tends to throw in unplanned delays, and partly because summarizing my travels is much more time consuming than I anticipated. I need to get more efficient at these summaries, but want to continue keeping a record.
Now my plans have changed, I'm not done traveling. Probably Central America next, though that's not definite. Depends on the weather and what flights are available. After that I will think about my next career, though it may not be any of the rocket scientist stuff (all right, aerospace engineering, though most of it was in RDT&E). Right now I'm debating between joining the Peace Corps or becoming an unsuccessful writer. I could do both I suppose. Being retired is nice.