So, we are home now and have told everyone we know and love how much fun we had on the trip, so no one is obligated to read this post. But, in case you need something to pass the time, we have compiled a list of the things we will and will not miss about traveling Europe for two weeks with only a backpack.
Let’s start with the positives. We will definitely miss the following things:
Communicating with non-English speakers. We really enjoyed learning the tiny bit of French we knew, and welcomed the challenge of communicating with those people that did not speak English. We found that our “bonjour” was incredibly convincing as it often resulted in people starting conversations in French while we stared back blankly.
Train travel. While it can be uncomfortable, and hit or miss when it comes to the other people in your car (see the post on the stinky folks on our train from Paris to Berlin) it is the quintessential European experience, and really convenient. Without it, there would be no way we could’ve seen five countries in two weeks without breaking the bank on plane tickets.
Everything being so close. The US is really huge and there can be very little differentiation from state to state, but Europe is totally different. In comparison to the states, Europe is tiny. And, despite all the countries being so close to each other (and thus so accessible), they all seem to have a distinct culture.
Globetrotting. Neither one of us has ever had an experience that allowed us to see so many incredible places in such a short amount of time. Backpacking around Europe seems to be a right of passage for a lot of Americans, and we feel lucky that we were able to do it.
Now, let’s be honest. This sort of travel is not glamorous. Now, what we will not miss:
Wearing the same three outfits. Carrying only a backpack doesn’t allow a lot of room for “options”. You pretty much have to bring two or three outfits and wear them over and over. This was especially difficult for two girls who tend to be chronic overpackers. We managed to make it happen, but were both thrilled to get home and wear clean clothes (five countries in two weeks doesn’t allow a lot of time for laundry). We both hung our North Face softshell jackets at the back of the closet. We’ll think about busting them out in a few weeks.
Hemorrhaging money. The cities we chose to visit were some of the most expensive, and we definitely felt it. In addition to that, we never quite mastered the conversion from Dollars to Euros and Danish Kroners so it was as if we never knew exactly how much money we were spending. It’s nice to be home and have a grasp of whether or not we are overpaying for something.
Feeling like an idiot. Something about us (probably the matching North Face jackets, or maybe the flips flops) screamed “Americans!!!” and we got funny looks a lot. This was especially true when we stood together on street corners with a giant map open, trying to orient ourselves. It is nice to be back in a place where we know where we are, how to get around, and what all the customs are.
All in all it was a great trip, and we are excited to go back sometime soon, but next time, probably in hotels. The hostel experience is a must, but once is enough. Thanks for following our trip!
Mandi and Bekky
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