It’s been nearly two years after I’ve returned home to Northern California from my adventures in Europe, and I’ve only just revisited my poor, lonely travel blog in hopes of revamping it for my next adventure. Lo and behold, I realize now that I left off in Budapest, and didn’t even make note of any of my adventures beyond that point! So, to briefly address my European adventures from Budapest on:
- Zurich: I wandered about by foot, enjoying the sun and sights in the beautiful Swiss city. While visiting, I decided to wait for my train overnight rather than get a room/bed in an overpriced hotel/hostel, since my train departed bright and early the next morning. Little did I know, I would be able to cross off “sleeping on a bus bench” off my list of life accomplishments, as the train station closed in the wee hours of the morning for cleaning. Though it was safe enough, and I certainly wasn’t the only traveler attempting to catch some Zzz’s outside of the train station, the experience was still rather eerie, and I was glad when I was finally able to get on my train and get some more solid rest.
- Prague: Unfortunately, Prague was rather uneventful. I had already been limping around in Zurich due to some severe blisters on the balls of my feet, and by the time I arrived to Prague, my ankles were swollen and I had muscle cramps in both of my legs. Hello, amateur hour backpacking! Thus, I spent most of my time catching some R&R in the hostel, making friends over game nights and dinners spent in nearby establishments. Indeed, my most memorable moment of this trip was the dinner I shared with a lovely lady from Liverpool, who absolutely despised The Beatles but had an absolutely brilliant sense of humor and adventure for such a young thing (19 at the time, if I recall correctly).
- Warsaw: Goodness, Warsaw was something else! Truth be told, visiting this city was the major goal of my European journey, as I had made plans to meet with my lovely friend from high school, Erinn, while I was still back in Madrid. Truth be told, this beauty is full of wanderlust and is my absolute inspiration in all things travel- and English teaching-related — I truly can’t wait to follow in her footsteps! We shared a Cousurfing host by the name of Marius, who was so kind as to share the history of his city with me and let me relax comfortably in his home as he went to work. Other than seeing one another for the first time in ages, Erinn and I had made plans to see the glorious Paul McCartney perform, and the journey was absolutely worth it. I’ve never been so thoroughly moved by a concert before – I was alternately laughing, smiling, crying, and, of course, enjoying the camaraderie between myself, Erinn, and the English fellow we were seated with. Though we ended up having a communication conflict with our Couchsurfing host that nearly left us stranded in Warsaw proper, we overall had a lovely, yet brief, visit in Poland’s capital city.
- Berlin: Berlin was yet another city that I wandered alone; however, considering the city’s history, I was happy to be exploring solo – indeed, one of my earliest souvenirs from my parents is a piece of the Berlin Wall from when it fell in 1989, so I was eager to explore the local museums and witness the divisions between East and West Berlin. I felt so overwhelmed by the tragic history surrounding the wall (photos I took of the wall in 2013 held messages screaming “madness” and “why” across what is left of its face), while also stunned by the beautiful artwork portrayed on sections of the wall that were displayed about the city. I also stumbled upon the German Humboldt University, which was such a fun discovery as a student of Humboldt State University in the USA!
- Amsterdam: While in Berlin, I was hoping to have the opportunity to tour one of the concentration camps housed in Germany; unfortunately, I was informed that I was on my last day of my train pass, and had to utilize my pass in the next 24 hours or pay for my transportation costs myself. Considering my financial situation at the time, I opted to head straight to Amsterdam, where I was already due to fly out to London in a week (and then on to the beautiful USofA on July 4th). My first night was spent in an overpriced hostel, but I was lucky enough to get a host via CouchSurfing for the majority of my stay in the city. While in Amsterdam, I took a walking tour of the city, explored the Red Light District (of course), visited the Van Gogh museum, enjoyed a cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer, and also enjoyed a walking tour of the local area provided by my Couchsurfing host and her young son. On my last day in Amsterdam, I was lucky enough to find another host located closer to the airport who took me on my first bike ride in over ten years! Though I definitely toppled over when we stopped at a local windmill (a comical fall, to be honest), I managed quite nicely, proving that riding a bicycle is truly a life-long skill.
- London: By the time I made it to London, I was truly on my last handful of change from my travels. I had enough pounds for a cheese sandwich (as the immigrations officer was kind enough to ensure that I had, after I informed him I was just trying to get home), as well as for the bus fare from Gatwick to Heathrow, but was otherwise broke as a joke. I ended up spending the night in the airport, and was ever so thankful for the moment that I walked through security and boarded my flight back to the States. Though I’m disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to visit London proper, I was incredibly grateful that my last night in Europe was made so thoroughly pleasant by the kind transportation and airport staff of London!
To see photos of most these adventures, I highly recommend having a look at my Facebook page, Wanderlust & the Girl, which shows photos from my adventures from Madrid on. I obviously won’t have photos to share of the areas I didn’t explore, but at least you now have the “these are the pictures that I didn’t take” (in brief) of the major events that transpired in my travels. And for those moments that I couldn’t put into words, my deepest apologies…in trying to keep the post brief, it’s impossible to share every magical moment of my journey — because, truly, every single moment of travel holds a touch of magic. But, as with magic, and as my beloved Neruda says, some things are meant to be kept close, in secret, “between the shadow and the soul” — and I’ll keep those moments close to me for the rest of my life.