Backpacking through Europe – My Journey
Backpacking is not easy. Especially if you’ve just come out of college and it’s your first trip to Europe, and you decide to go ahead with your plan all alone. It’ll be fun, you say to yourself. But it can end in a total disaster, on the other hand.
Fortunately for me, it was much more of the former than the latter.
The main catalyst for this trip was a competition my college participated in – the Formula Student Germany. But we’re not here for that.
Six days of hard work later, having said my final goodbyes to everyone, I found myself all alone in Munich – the first stop of what was to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
When you’re all alone in Europe, you’re more aware of your surroundings suddenly; there’s no one to guide you. Surely you may make mistakes, lose your way. You may curse yourself for not having a concrete plan of where you want to head next. But, as I found out, your mistakes and indecisiveness may just turn out to be your spontaneity in action.
When I reached Berlin, I was quite disorganized; my friends thought I wouldn’t last the entire duration. But as time went on, I was getting the hang of it. Ok, my first night in the city was spent on a bench in some park, but that in itself was quite memorable, and I met someone just like me to share this experience with.
Being on your own, you come to realize what kind of personality you have. You try to be more outgoing, more social, if you’re already not. You want to meet new people of a similar wavelength, to share your stories, to create a bond. Berlin taught me some of that – I sang to a group of lovely ladies, and took a walk along the Berlin Wall with an Israeli who seemed to love everything about India.
Prague was probably the most unforgettable part of my journey to Europe. Joining me was a French gentleman, whose company I will never forget. He taught me some valuable lessons and made me take my life a little less seriously. Life is too short, but there are so many things to be done!
I managed to reach Spain, more specifically Valencia, just in time for the La Tomatina, an annual tomato festival held in the quiet little town of Buñol. Never in my life have I encountered such frenzy, such madness ensue in a matter of moments. Watching all the people around me covered in a squishy puree of tomatoes, struggling to keep balance and yet putting up a happy face reminded me that happiness is found in the smallest of situations, when you least expect it.
An inevitable downside of travelling alone in Europe is getting into trouble. And I managed to do just that on my way to Paris (from Barcelona), though I’d rather not go into details here. At this point, some good company in a hostile environment goes a long way, and I’m glad I found such a host in France. Although I was in Europe only for a short time, I can say that France is not for everyone – some of the people can come across as very arrogant. But one suggestion – do check out the Eiffel Tower at night; the ambience is much more charming then.
A crazy couple of days in Amsterdam was the perfect way to round up my excursion. Saying it is a colourful city would be an understatement. Don’t pass on the opportunity to explore this city while kayaking through the canals – witness the sights and sounds from a different perspective.
So that’s about it – my first backpacking experience of Europe. It wasn’t flawless. There were times I felt completely helpless. But, some rich experiences and unforgettable friendships later, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.