I arrived home yesterday from my 5-week trip across Europe and promptly fell asleep. Flying anywhere sucks, in terms of being treated like a prisoner for the sake of security theater, but it’s still the fastest/cheapest/necessary option for getting around. Traveling in Winter is getting annoying and I really am going to try not to do it again, especially in the coldest year out of the last 60. It was averaging 10-15F most of the time, but in Switzerland, it dropped to minus Fahrenheit temperatures and that just killed me.
My goals for this trip varied between catching up with friends and visiting some new places. Eastern Europe and Slovenia were completely new and quite exciting. Amsterdam/Stockholm I’ve visited before many times. Therefore, it was a mix between going out all the time and wandering around versus hanging out, grabbing a beer, and catching up. By the end of my trip, after having been to a dozen or so museums and galleries, I just was not interested in going to more. Having fun is the ultimate goal of my travels and sometimes relaxing and laying back is fun.
I really have to thank my many friends I stayed with on the trip, for offering a couch to crash on, but also for taking time to show me around and hang out. When I was kid, my dad worked for the gov’t, so I was a military brat and grew up traveling around. Moving around every couple years really limited my ability to grow long term friendships and as such, it’s an entirely new thing for me to “know” people for years at a time. I love having this ability now though! It’s such a great feeling to catchup with someone, see what has changed in their life, and congratulate them on their achievements. Friends are one of the many great things in life.
It was my first time in Europe in 3 years and since then, Europe has changed a bit, but I have changed a great deal. Graduating from college, living in 2 major cities (NYC/SF), and visiting many more has given me a wealth of things to compare. Biggest differences all around were size. Everything in Europe was so small and I never really got used it. You go to a bar, it fits maybe 20 people max, I’m feeling pretty cramped, and everyone is saying how large this bar is! Europe is a much smaller space than the US, but I feel the mentality to think small, or to perhaps think more conservatively about a space is definitely the norm, especially in the cities. I love my vast open spaces though. I felt on average, most people I met were happier. There was a certain balance that most cities had, in terms of food, life, size, housing, everything just seems more balanced. I can’t think of a “perfect” large city in the US, but certainly some cities in Europe come far closer. Europe cities are much more walkable and that is a big thing that helps.
It was great to talk German again while in Berlin, I am definitely going to look for some weekly meetings in my city, to try and keep speaking it. I have let my language skills languish and while everything seemed familiar when I was speaking, I definitely had forgotten some words.
Countries that I visited, in order of travel:
Switzerland (couple hours), Slovenia (2 weeks), Italy (couple hours), Croatia (8 hours), Austria (8 hours), Slovakia (2 days), Hungary (3 days), Germany (1 week), Sweden (5 days), the Netherlands (1 week)
Things Well Planned
- All of my gear: having a big clothes bag and a small daily bag, new hiking boots, right amount of pants/shirts
- Small hand towel for drying off after a shower. It doesn’t take long to dry out.
- Under Armour Cold Gear – I wore it everywhere, thin and light, just as good as a huge wool sweater
- Bringing along Woolite packets for cleaning my socks. At one point, I hadn’t washed my clothes for like 2 weeks, so I had to clean atleast my socks.
- Earplugs for hostels. ’nuff said.
Things Poorly Planned
- More socks. Cotton socks suck and get wet really easily, especially in Winter. A friend recommended Tilley Travel Socks, which are wool and apparently awesome. I am going to buy a bunch.
- Poor planning for New Years week. I didn’t book a hostel or anything and just imaged that everything would be fine. It wasn’t. Everything booked out, something I didn’t even consider. Very poor planning.
- I brought an extra pair of shoes that I never used. Hiking boots were all I needed.
- Only bring 2 books max. I brought like 4 and didn’t read any of them. If I had finished a book, there were plenty of places to swap them out or buy another.
Hopefully I will write some more stories and post some more pictures from the trip in the future, but if you really want to find out more, sit down with me a for a few hours and buy me a beer!