Clubbing In Europe
Having been a clubber in my teens and early twenties, I was excited to go clubbing in Europe. For me, it was not only about the music, but about seeing the cultural differences - how people danced in clubs, club protocol, what they dressed in, as well as seeing a lot of the history of electronic music.
The Top of Europe: Jungfraujoch
Claiming to be "the top of Europe" (but actually just the highest railway station), Jungfraujoch is a journey well worth your time. Located close to Interlaken, Switzerland, I took the earliest train from Interlaken Ost (taking the earliest train gives passengers a discount of about 25 francs) and spent the morning wandering around this beautiful mountainside. Clear skies are essential for your visit, so check the weather before you arrive. Local news stations broadcast pictures from the top of Jungfraujoch frequently, so you can get an idea of what the weather is like.
Solo: The Best Way to Go
"Don't you get lonely?" "Aren't you scared?" "That must be dangerous."
I've heard these and many other similar comments when I've told people that I'm traveling alone. I love traveling alone - at first I didn't, but at the end of my trip, I preferred it. Traveling solo gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want - it's selfish in some ways, but I love traveling alone. Decisions are quick, and no consulting, discussing, deciding, and worrying that someone's feelings had been hurt or wishes been compromised - instead you just do things your own way.
Saving Money Once You've Left
Okay, so you've sacrificed for months, perhaps even years, before your trip. You cut out all of the extras, like no longer eating out in restaurants, have limited your alcohol consumption, buying generic food at the grocery store instead of the fancy, popular brands, and are riding your bike to work instead of taking the bus. You do all this so you have a nice amount of money in the bank for your trip. But once you've left, is there a way you can continue to be wise with your money during your trip?
How to Survive Hostelling
It's not that rough. I've never slept on a dirt floor, always had some sort of mattress and running water, but even so, living a backpacker's life can get you down. Hostels mean a cheap place to sleep, and often, nothing more. Hostels can be dirty, loud, and lacking privacy. It might make you reminisce for family vacations when your parents let you keep the complimentary shower caps (what a frivolity, a backpacker might think) your family's hotel provided.
It's easy to eat at home-you go into the kitchen of your home and cook a meal of ingredients in your house, or after staring at your refrigerator for several moments without anything delicious magically appearing, you head to your favorite restaurant or ring up the best takeaway. When you're traveling, you don't have that luxury, and will find yourself staring at unfamiliar menus in a language you might not understand. You'll find yourself trying new and unfamiliar foods every day. It is fun-but it can be difficult if you have a dietary restriction.
Experiencing Iceland Through an Elder
Before I visited Iceland (which was the first stop on a several month trip around Europe), my old boss and friend, Eirikur, had asked me if I would like to visit his father. If Eirikur's father was anything like his son, I knew it would be an amazing and insightful part of my trip. I agreed, excited at the chance to spend time with a local. Before my trip, Eirikur made me a large map (a combination of various maps he printed from the Internet and taped together), showing me exactly where his father's house was. He also pointed out strategic places like where the bus station was, where his favorite pool was, and where he was born. Armed with my map, I was ready for Iceland.
Falling in Love: The Cinque Terre, Italy
In nearly every place I've ever been when traveling, I have never wanted to leave, even if I knew the next place I was going would be wonderful (which it usually was). In the Cinque Terre, I was depressed upon leaving, and nearly changed my plans to spend an extra night there. I fell in love: hard, fast. Everything was amazing-from the food to the views to the infamous Via dell'Amore to the people. I can safely say that this is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my entire life.
Running Across Europe
When I told friends I would be backpacking across Europe for nearly four months, everyone assumed I would quit running. No way. My running sneakers were one of the few precious items I put in my pack. As much as I despised wearing them for everyday use (something I don't do back home, and I dreaded looking like a typical American with white sneakers), I packed them along with running clothes (which, when clean, doubled as pajamas).
If you also want to see the hostel reviews I posted, search "cherie" on www.bootsnall.com and you should be able to find them.