Saturday, 8 December 2012

After travelling the European continent for nearly four months, I have arrived in the 'Land of Smiles', literally.

I like to think that starting out in Europe was a way of teaching me some of the backpacker life style; the do's and do not's; how to read a map properly; how to stay cool and collected while lost in a city; etc. A lot of people have asked me "What is your favourite place that you have visited?" That is by far one of the hardest questions that I can possibly answer for each country has it's own beautiful uniqueness' to it. I have definitely liked more places than others, for example: When in Brussels it's better to reserve a hostel in advance and not just show up unannounced and expect a hostel or else you may be whisked away 5 kilometers out of the city center to sleep in a sports complex for a night. I'm not entirely sure if I wasn't quite fond of Brussels simply because I didn't get to see the city, or because of the sweet bitter taste of sweat from the tennis courts, badminton players, hockey rink skates lingering into my nostrils. I have come to the conclusion that I tend to like a place more if the place that I am staying at is decent.

I still find it amazing how fast does fly by if I'm not paying any attention to it, but why should I focus on time when traveling? Usually if I need to know the time I won't ask any other travelers because seven times out of ten they don't know the time either. Judging the time based on the position of the sun always works. For instance, right now it's not as sunny as it was two hours ago and based on my calculations that I woke up at 10:00, left the hostel around 11:00, roughly speaking, that means it must be around 3:30. Okay I admit that I used a clock this time to tell the time, but I hope you get the point. The tricky part comes when there are clouds covering the suns' rays. Forget it if I need to know the day of the week as that is nearly impossible to obtain from other travelers. With all that being said, it's a nice feeling to not care about the time of day or if it happens to be Saturday vs. Tuesday, and of course if I'm desperate to acquire that iınformation my iPhone always comes in handy.

That's just one of the many wise wisdom's that I have learnt on this trip, here are some others if they may come in handy to any of you later in life, possibly to save you from embarrassment in front of many locals, or to make a future trip smoother. One piece of advice that I can give right now is if you are thinking about travelling, particularly to backpack, is just do it! Stop thinking, just go. Buy a plane ticket, hop on the plane, well sitting inside of the plane is usually better than hopping on the top.
  • Don't pull the ticket from the buses in Northern Scotland or the bus driver will yell at you in an indistinguishable accent - just allow him to give the ticket to you.
  • When trying to look for all of The Beatles homes in Liverpool, asking a local may get you a free personalised tour from a 'fab four' fanatic herself. Just judge who you ask because there are people living in Liverpool who have never heard of Ringo Starr, nor The Beatles themselves... I know, I hang my head low in shame.
  • To watch the Changing of the Guards at the Buckingham palace, don't stand in from the of the gates, and arriving one and a half hours early is still not enough.
  • To score some one Euro beer in Paris, go to the Sacré-Cœur at nighttime.
  • I have already informed you about Brussels.
  • If you are lost in Luxembourg city, chances are you might need to take an elevator to get to the street you're looking for.
  • Don't get upset if you buy some revolting buttery-slimy yogurt looking drink if you thought you were buying milk - It's not your fault you can't read the language.
  • If you can afford it, Copenhagen's Christiania district is a must-see to anyone travelling there, just be prepared for an eye-opener.
  • When trying to hitchhike - do it at a bus stop. If you get picked up by a passer by, great. If not, just take the bus.
  • Vegemite is not as bad as everyone says it is, just don't allow those Aussies to put it on your slice of bread like peanut butter.
  • Try to have a day where you don't spend any money at all. Not a single penny. It's rewarding.
  • Use the bathroom on the bus/train because nine time out of ten the moment you get into the bus/train station you'll have to pay to pee.
  • Laugh at all of the things that just 'don't go your way'. Because there will be days when it seems like the world is testing you to the max, and trust me, it is. It's all about how you handle situations and your attitude.
  • It is possible to cook pasta with just pasta, water, and a kettle.
  • Wear shower sandals in the shower. I shouldn't have to explain how many peoples dirty feet have touched that floor you're about to step on.
  • Get away from the big cities and enjoy some of what the country truly has to offer.
  • In Budapest, check out The Market. I spent a whole day in there tasting all of the food. mmm.
  • Learn how to barter with people, it's enjoyable and honestly, who doesn't love to save money?
  • In Turkey, dialling 155 on a payphone will get you the Fire Department who does not speak any English when you ask them "Operator"?
  • After spending a full day at Mount Olympus and your legs feel like there about to fall off. You may have to walk 17km to the bottom of the mountain to the nearest town in the dark, or if you're lucky, you can hitchhike in the back of a locals truck.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • I could go on for hours about all of the little things I have picked up along the way, but I won't for your sake.
  • Most importantly, have fun, don't run, and no photos - wait, sorry, those were the rules to Christiania. Most importantly, have fun, smile a lot, make lots of friends filled with memorable memories. Don't be afraid to look like a tourist while snapping a photo crouched down on one leg while at an awkward angle you weren't sure a human being could have possibly twisted their body into just to get that perfect shot. Did I mention SM :)E a lot?
I am not saying I'm an expert at the whole backpacking, travelling life. I can just give you my two cents of advice. Not literally my two cents, I may need those for a bus fare.


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