I left for Europe thinking it would be all about the places I’d see. More and more, I’ve come to realize that it’s been just as special because of the people I’ve met along the way. The places I’ve been are inextricably tied to the people I spent my time there with — people with whom I’ve made memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. More than mere travel acquaintances, I’ve made genuine friends in the past several months. Europe wouldn’t be the same without them.
Below are just a couple reflections from people I’ve met along the way, in their own words, which I’ve found particularly insightful:
“One of the most amazing things about this experience is the people you meet, from all over the world and of all different ages. But we’re all here with the same goals in mind, and facing the same daily struggles. I’ve learned to love and care for strangers simply because they’re just as human as myself.” – Kristiana (met in Cologne)
“I can’t help but question where the time went. So much has changed, yet a lot has remained the same. As silly as it sounds, I sometimes feel as if I’ve lived a lifetime here, which makes it so hard to pack up and leave. It really is difficult to explain how badly I will miss [it here], and how much my time away has meant to me. But what I can say is that every moment felt perfect. And that’s exactly what it was. Perfect.” – Wyatt (met in Paris)
I couldn’t agree more. Now, for the lists…
Five things I’ve learned from backpacking:
1. When staying in hostels, there is always a snorer. Always.
2. No matter how much you pack, you only end up using a fraction of the clothes you brought — except for socks and underwear, which you can never have enough of.
3. A good WiFi connection is the most elusive and precious thing on the planet.
4. 90% of the time, you’re running off pure adrenaline and caffeine.
5. When sleeping in airport and bus terminals, backpacks make suitable (although admittedly lumpy) pillows.
My five favourite cities:
1. Paris, France
2. Barcelona, Spain
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
5. Budapest, Hungary
My five favourite smaller destinations:
1. Hallstatt, Austria
2. Capri, Italy
3. Worm’s Head, Wales
4. Howth, Ireland
5. Lindau, Germany