Well after seven splendid weeks I have returned home in high spirits (and some major jet lag). I have finally recovered and am now reflecting on all that has past; the good, the bad, the unforgettable and the most influential. So here is what I have learnt from one hell of a travel experience:
1. Long haul flights stuck in cattle class are a nightmare
2. When you are a young and reasonably innocent looking girl you can smile your way out of certain sticky situations
3. Often it is wise to simply forget about your budget and spoil yourself
4. Speaking of said budget, maybe you should also check the bank accounts often
5. Don't be afraid to leap outside your comfort zone - you will be surprised at how much you can achieve and experience
6. And you might actually enjoy yourself in activities you would never think twice about doing back home
7. Either go budget backpacker or opulent traveller; never take the mediocre - hostels trump cheap hotels any day
8. Find time to just sit and relax, don't try and cram so many activities into one day, take it easy; you will admire places and sights much more and your body will love you for it as well.
9. Laugh as often as you can, even when trains fail you, service wrongs you, language beguiles you or luggage absolutely fatigues you
10. Try to see the beauty and unique colours in each destination, no matter how much it might disagree with you
11. Immerse yourself in the local cuisine (diets are strictly forbidden)
12. Learn a few phrases in the language
13. Stay in one place for more than two days; you can only then begin to appreciate and feel the mood of a city; try to blend, be a local
14. The people you meet along your journey come from different walks of life, embrace the diversity; you can learn so much about the world, people and yourself
15. If it is possible, walk as much as you can. It is the best way to get your bearings as well as seeing a place in its' most true and purest of ways.
16. If you are travelling with someone, always find time to be alone once in a while; swimming in your own thoughts can sometimes be peaceful and calming (especially if you sit quietly with a journal a pen and a steaming hot cup of coffee looking out onto a picturesque landscape)
17. Similarly take time to talk to each other seriously, happily and utterly carefree - the person you travel with will end up experiencing so many things the same, you become rather a like, dependent and extremely trustworthy of each other - you form a very strong bond.
18. Pop into supermarkets - they are a great place for a cheap bite and yet another place to explore a locals day to day scene
19. It is ok to be that crazy tourist taking silly photos (sometimes)
20. Play games like spot the asian, hear the aussie, see the red head...
21. Americans who travel are really lovely people who actually understand that there are countries apart from USA
22. Starbucks and Macdonalds can be a great comfort for tired eyes and lost souls - they provide familiarity when it is sometimes needed and of course free wifi
23. Pack as light as possible, so you have ample room to take more home
24. If you are on a budget save wherever you can but do not let this hinder your cultural experiences (it is perfectly fine that your clothes might reek a little, that's $20 saved by not using a laundromat)
25. Come home with the knowledge that you have seen wonders beyond your backyard and let all that you have experienced influence you for the better.
All the people I have met and all the times I have had whether they were bad, perfectly perfect or slightly mediocre I will remember them always. These experiences have changed and affected me for the better. I have learnt new ways of thinking and being. When you travel you get to know yourself wholeheartedly, you learn who you are and who you want to be. You get to know your preferences, your dislikes, your limits, your fears and your vulnerabilities. You grow as a person and you come home feeling that little bit more worldly and complete. At the same time you yearn to see more of the world but you also feel comfort in your safe little house, knowing you have friends and family waiting for you always.
Soon reality hits you, you must return to your grounded life, dutifully there are obligations and tasks one must fill in order to grow, learn, create a life worth living and one that will surely lead to more adventures.
So world, listen up: don't go closing your beautiful eyes any time soon, because this girl certainly aint done with you yet!
This marks the last of my European travel entries. Look forward to more frivolous writings on day to day observations and trivial matters soon!
Ciao for now.