1 August, 2017 – 23 September, 2017
I visited ten countries in seven and a half weeks. Well, twelve if we also count airport/bus stopovers.
England (four times), Italy, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates. Then add on Belgium and Thailand as the stopovers. That’s not a bad run, if I do say so myself.
I have done this a couple times now, this grand ‘travel the world’ sort of thing. In the past two years, I have spent nearly eight months in Europe, and about ten months travelling internationally and domestically. Needless to say, I like to be moving and when I do move, I like to see as much as I can.
When I told friends of my plans for my latest escapade – two weeks in England, two weeks in Italy, a ten-day Topdeck tour, a week in Denmark, six days in Scotland, and three in Dubai – the most consistent response was “You are crazy”/”What’s wrong with you”/some other variation of disbelief/shock/trepidation.
Yes, friends, I am crazy and there is much wrong with me, but when I am travelling solo in Europe, ain’t nothing gonna prevent me from making the bloody most of it!
At the end of the trip, everyone asked me the inevitable question: “What was the best part?”
For months, I haven’t been able to properly answer. Watching the sun set over gorgeous Prague, soaking in the desert sun while riding a camel across the Emirati desert, playing part in a traditional Italian biscuit festival – there are too many amazing experiences to list.
Though I think I have now come to some sort of realisation. The best part of my trip was not any of these experiences, but the people who I was with. What made the trip was the fact that my roomie and I were able to gasp together over the beauty of Prague at twilight, and the American couple who shared the camel train with me in the desert, and the family members I met who, like me, had returned to the tiny Italian village to participate in the festival.
When I think back to this trip, it will be with fond memories of giggles with my Melbourne roomie on the Topdeck tour and the copious amounts of tequila and Jägerbombs we drank with the Mexican group on our bus. It will be with memories of chatting and drinking coffee in the various houses of all my grandmothers’ friends in Sorbo, the Italian village in which she was born. Of dancing with my uncle in the piazza of that village, spinning gracefully over cobblestones as festival-goers clapped and cheered us on. Of staying up late in the rooms of college friends across Italy, of being welcomed into the homes of the parents and grandparents of my Danish bestie, of trying to help my college sister prepare lunch and ending up with Scotch tape holding my bleeding finger together. I’ll think of being woken by my little cousin poking her sweet blonde head through the door, of morning snuggles and whispers in bed, and hours of fun trying different Snapchat filters in the car.
In undertaking this trip, I was able to both reconnect with family and revisit all my friends from when I was on exchange, as though no time had passed, and connect with their families.
I met so many amazing people on this journey. Really cool people with awesome stories, like the Aussie manager of the hostel in Copenhagen who lived in a suburb not far from mine before he moved to Lebanon, then Denmark, seven years ago. One of my roommates who is the same age as my sister just finished six months of work at Disneyland, Florida. The guy who sat next to me on the bus in Scotland was actually taking footage for the bus company and was previously a successful musician and songwriter. During my trip, I was able to meet people who had known my grandmother and mother from the years that they lived in Italy, decades ago.
So yes, it was a crazy idea to cram so much into such a short time. However, in this way, I was thrown in amongst so many wonderful people who took on adventures which I could not imagine. I trekked and narrowly missed a deadly viper in the Dolomites, and drank Pimms while watching the sun cast peachy glows across the English countryside, and I did these things with the brilliant people who took me there. Without the people I met up with and the people I met for the first time, my trip would not have been nearly as exhilarating as it was.
So, in the end, it became a no-brainer. My trip was made by the people who joined me along the way, and there is no doubt that the relationships I solidified and those that I formed were my favourite part of the incredible blur of activity and fun that was my seven-and-a-half-week adventure.