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Travelling Europe

A lot of things have changed in my life recently and I’ve always wanted to do some travelling. The end of my tenancy is looming and I decided now would be the perfect time to live this dream. It is a now or never situation so i’m not renewing the lease on my flat and i’m going to travel across Europe for three months. That or until my money runs out, lack of planning trips me up, I fall off a mountain or die of alcohol poisoning.

I love my job, my life and I don’t need the time to go find myself. I just want to challenge myself and experience new things across Europe.

What I’d like to take away from travelling

  • See some beautiful places
  • Meet some new people, improve my social skills
  • Learn about and experience the local culture
  • Eat lots of cool food
  • Explore some abandoned architecture (i’ll cover some highlights of that later)
  • Stick it out if the going gets tough

I’m going to stop in hostels the majority of the time and although I have a rough plan of the route I want to follow and some of countries I want to visit, I mostly want to just go with the flow. I will purchase an Interrail pass which means I can just hop on a train when it suits me.

The opportunity

Thanks to Jamie I have been granted the opportunity to take a sabbatical from work to realise my travelling goals. I have the upmost respect for the company I work for and the people in it for allowing me to do what I need to do at this point in my life.

When I decided I wanted to take the plunge, I deliberated for months on requesting permission. I needn’t have worried so much as the response to my request was overwhelmingly positive. The attitude that work should not get in the way of life is wonderful and only inspires me more and fills me with excitement to come back and continue with the great work we do.

Fears

There’s a fair few things I’m worried about, being a first time traveller.

Social aspect

I’m ecstatic about going and at the same time I’m terrified about the whole thing. I’m not great with meeting new people, I can be quite shy and reserved at first. A lot of activities I want to do will possibly be dangerous alone. I was thinking about hiking up the Fjords in Norway, Attempting to Ski and mountain bike in the Black Forest in Germany. Being a beginner I think it will be important to do those tasks with some other travellers. I will need to overcome my fears and just get involved. I guess not so dissimilar to when I first arrived at University halls.

I’ll be setting off early March and it will still be Winter in many countries. A lot of hostels will be quiet if not closed. There may not be as many travellers around thus restricting my activities. There’re quite a lot of unknowns here, so I guess I will just have to see!

Hygiene/clothes

After reading it seems apparent that my hygiene is going to suffer a lot, with many recommending to take only 1 t-shirt and wash and clean it regularly. Travelling light is apparently very important in order to stay comfortable. I think I will struggle here, being pretty materialistic with clothes and possessions. I will probably take my laptop with me, I won’t be able to stay off GitHub for 3 months! But as I mentioned before, I’m not interested in shutting off from the world, that’s not the point.

Perseverance

I’m pretty worried some of the above will accumulate and I might not be able to stick it and will want to come home. Hopefully some of the amazing things I will see and partake in will stop this fear from becoming a reality. It will be a great character building test for me and one I’m determined to concur. I know if I abandoned my journey early I’d be really angry with myself.

Not being to control myself and go to every zoo I find

This is a real issue.

Rough route

There are a few places and things I want to visit but I’m mostly going to just wing it. Hopefully I will meet people, get involved with activities and just find things along the way.

I am starting in Norway as it should be the perfect time to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and climb in the Fjords. From here I’m going to descend through Denmark stopping at various places to the Netherlands where I will meet some of my friends in Amsterdam for a few nights around my Birthday (April 12th). After that I could maybe visit Belgium, Luxembourg or anywhere else that seems appealing at the time. Germany is next on the cards, in particular Berlin where my sister and her partner are coming out to visit for a long weekend. I’d like to visit Auschwitz so we may end up travelling there together. This is a huge part of world history and I think it’s important to experience both good and bad historical events. This will be a brutal and emotional visit although something that will evidently leave a mark for the rest of my life.

Soviet History

I’m particularly interested in some of the Soviet history in Bulgaria after purchasing a book by an english photographer, Rebecca Litchfield, who’s speciality is to visit and photograph abandoned buildings, particularly from the Soviet era. See Rebecca’s Facebook page.

I would love to visit some of these places if I can find some other travellers to experience it with. Apparently a lot of places are quite dangerous and heavily guarded.

In and around eastern Europe there are plenty of other things that I’ve had a look at, and depending on circumstances may visit or get involved in. Romania sounds like an incredibly interesting country and not your regular tourist destination. Transylvania in particular looks beautiful with some amazing architecture, including gothic castles and churches.

Greece

Originally I glossed over going to Greece having just been there recently for a holiday, however, there are a few places which really interest me. One of them is a place called Santorini, this place has become quite a tourist attraction in recent years. This puts me off a little bit as I want to be immersed in culture and not surrounded by a lot of tourists. It is important that I have an authentic trip. Having said that the place looks too beautiful to pass up on. One of my main issues with touristy destinations is the food, quite often (not always the case) it is hard to find real authentic food, lots of destinations cater for tourists who are not open to eating the local way, which I find quite narrow minded!

Another activity I’d like to participate in, is climbing Mount Olympus. This will be quite a challenge as the highest peak I’ve climbed is Snowdon in Wales. Olympus is almost 3 times the height. I have a friend who is a massive inspiration for this trip, he has travelled around a lot, hiked the whole Pennine Way and took part in various other gruelling activities. I’ve challenged him to climb Olympus with me. With the mountain being shrouded in such Greek Mythology I can imagine it being quite the fulfilling experience.

Croatia look like another fascinating country and I’m sure I will stop there. I don’t want to plan too much more than this and maybe I won’t even visit some of the sites I’ve mentioned. I think the magic will happen when making inspired decisions, taking random trips and just being generally sporadic.

I would love to visit a ghost town, apparently there are a few in Croatia and Bulgaria, although I’ve not done a lot of research in to that. There’s something eerily beautiful about those types of places that I’ve always been intrigued to see.

Istanbul

My final destination will be Istanbul in Turkey, from there I will probably fly back to England.

Being from a Turkish origin (well Turkish Cypriot) I’m thrilled to be visiting this city, the architecture and beauty of the city is awe-inspiring. Whilst here I would like to take the opportunity to learn a bit about the history of the country including some of the language. I would love to keep some Turkish culture in my family and pass it down to my children one day.

I already love Turkish food and I’m really excited to learn some more tricks and sample local food. One of my favourite dishes my Grandma used to make when we visited her in Cyprus, were Börek’s.

I can’t wait to eat hundreds of these like I used to do with my little sister and then feel sick and regret it for hours after.

Off on my adventure!

This is an exciting time for me and I will surely learn a lot, witness spectacular sights and meet amazing people. Thanks to JH, I can come back home and not have to worry about my job. Who knows what the next adventure will be!