The End?

15,567+ miles

9 flights

13 trains

16 buses

6 ferries

16 countries

28 cities

75 days

10 weeks

 

I’ve been putting off writing some kind of wrap up from my trip. I feel like I just came home and that it wouldn’t fully be over until I wrote this post. Part of me is glad it’s over. I had some really difficult times on my travels and vowed I would never do something like this again. Then there is this other part of me that can’t help but think of the incredible people I met and the beautiful places I saw.

Being alone traveling through Europe was hard because of a few things. One was my ankle. Just to update you, I did have surgery on it. I’m doing ok now, currently resting it, but I am finally able to walk again making life a little bit easier. The pain that came from that really impacted how I saw things physically and mentally. Instead of walking my way through European cities all day, every day, I had to take breaks and not walk as far. There were a lot of things I didn’t get to see because of my ankle that I really regret not getting to. It also gave me some bad attitude days that I’m certainly not proud of. I would wake up and immediately feel pain and was just angry about it. I feel like I almost didn’t appreciate some things as much because I was focusing on pain instead of what was right in front of me.

Another thing that made it tough was loneliness. Don’t get me wrong, I met some incredible people, some I don’t remember the names of, and others that I just talked to this morning, but there were days where I didn’t speak to anyone. I would go about the city or town and no one would even look my way. Sometimes the conversations at the hostels would either end at the door or they wouldn’t even begin. It’s one of the most difficult things to be alone like that. You are left thinking about everything from how to say something to your new roommate to the one time you said that not so nice thing to your friend on the playground in 2nd grade. I can honestly say I have reevaluated every part of my life at this point.

One that is a little personal for me was my anxiety. I figured out I had an anxiety problem a few years ago when I would get so worked up, I would cry or get a migraine headache. I started doing exercises to curb those feelings when I started recognizing the feelings. Traveling puts you in some of the most stressful and mentally difficult situations and as much as I tried to prepare myself for that, I still had panic attacks. Those moments of panic can make you feel like you’re dying. At some point, I stopped caring if people saw me having these moments. I would never see these people again (most likely), what did they care if they saw some girl crying in the street? I’ll write more on this later, but it was really a big factor in this trip that I didn’t foresee.

Even though I had those difficulties, there were so many amazing moments that outweighed the bad. I spent the past few weeks going over the trip and even though I thought about the moments that weren’t the best, I love remembering the fun times I had. Like the time I spend the afternoon in Vienna admiring the artwork along the Danube, eating a bratwurst, and forming a new friendship. Or the time I bonded with some Norwegians over hockey, which actually cured some homesickness. Then there was the time I met someone in my hostel in Berlin who lived in Brighton, England who I was able to meet up with when I ended up there six weeks later. I loved exploring Galway with new friends and getting a spur of the moment tattoo to remember this trip by every time I glance at my wrist. The bottom line is that no matter how bad it could seem at the time, there’s a lot of good that comes out of it.

I know I can handle anything now. I’ve survived the most stressful and mentally testing times in different languages at that! I’ve gained a better appreciation for the world we live in and was able to hear from people from other countries about how they felt about things. I loved some places and hated some places, but I appreciated them all and the wild adventure it all was a part of.

I don’t think I’ll ever be done traveling, so this isn’t really an ending, but more of a pause in the story. I’m back working, but always reflecting on the places I’ve been and dreaming about the next destination. I’ve never been afraid of foreign places and even after everything that has happened to me and in these faraway places, I’m still not afraid. There are amazing places and people all over the world just waiting for you to experience it all and there is no need to walk around the world afraid.

This summer was the best summer of my life through all the blood, sweat, and tears and I would never take it back for anything in the world. I have a craving for new places that I cannot seem to satisfy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to the adventure of a lifetime, that will never truly be over. Until then, I’ll just start planning for the next time I get to find the world in a suitcase.

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The Final Countdown

The short trip from Armagh to Dublin was still a beautiful one. Even though I’m colorblind, I can tell that the green of the Irish countryside is unlike anything else in the world. I’ve been to Dublin before, but it’s one of my favorite cities and deserved another go.

The first day I got there, all I was craving was some good, hearty Irish food and a Guinness. Trust me, Guinness tastes 100 times better in Ireland than anywhere else. My hostel was right on the River Liffey in Temple Bar. It was nice being that close to everything and getting those views. I spent that afternoon essentially hobbling around Dublin getting reacquainted with the city. Walking past familiar places and some new ones as well, I realized that I should make the most of the next day in Dublin.

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The next morning I took the free walking tour offered at the hostel and got to know more about Dublin. The last time I was there, I took a free tour with my friend, but we ended up being on a tour that was primarily about the Viking influence in Dublin. This time around, I learned about the more modern history of Ireland. I just fell in love with Dublin all over again. I wanted to make my way over to the Guinness Storehouse, which was something I had never done before. BUT it was a bit of a walk and I wasn’t really up to the hike after the walking tour.

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I found an Irish pub near the end of the tour, but on the outskirts of Temple Bar (which is pricey) and got myself another hearty meal and a couple pints of Guinness to wait for the rain to pass. The rain is not exactly a pouring down rain like what we get back in Michigan when it rains, but it was heavy for Dublin. Once it let up a bit, I made my way back to the hostel singing Molly Malone to myself (thanks for getting that one stuck in my head, Adam!) and taking in the city before leaving the next day. I didn’t feel too bad about it because I knew I would have one more quick night in Dublin before flying back to the UK. Anyways, it is never goodbye for me when it comes to Dublin…always a see you later.

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The next day brought some more rain, but lucky for me the bus station was literally outside the hostel. I loved Abigail’s Hostel and would definitely stay there again, but I heard some really great things about my hostel in Galway. Trust me when I tell you, a good hostel makes a HUGE difference in your trip. The bus ride to Galway was calm with only a little bit of rain along the way. It’s a surprisingly short trip and only takes about 2 and a half hours. I didn’t know what to expect with Galway. I had never been there, but anyone I met on my travels who had been there said that I would love it. After leaving the bus station I was confused. I expected something much bigger, but after about 45 minutes there, I fell in love.

The Barnacle’s Hostel there was FANTASTIC. I was right in the heart of it all and steps away from the water. I ended up being in a four-person room and roommates with a guy who was actually in my hostel in Dublin while I was there and our paths didn’t cross. We went out with yet another guy who was in the Dublin hostel (clearly I’m bad at meeting people) and some girls from his hostel. It was so nice to actually hang out with people and while that did make a big difference, I still loved Galway. It’s small, but it’s a perfect size and has the best people.

The next day was rainy, but that didn’t stop me from going on a walking tour. I think my tour guide in Galway was one of the coolest people I’ve met and with her accent, I could listen to her talk all day. Stories just sound better with an Irish accent! We only had about 6 people in our group but it was fun to walk around Galway and hear all the stories of the wealthy merchants of the past and the Spanish princes who swept the local women off their feet.

As the group from the night before starting coming back from our day’s adventures, one of my new friends and I decided to get some tattoos. HUGE shout of to Galway Tattoos because the spur of the moment tattoo that was hand drawn for me is amazing and I’m in love with it. It doesn’t necessarily stand for anything, but I am reminded of my entire journey when I look at it.

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My last night in Galway was filled with friends, Guinness (of course), and Irish music! One of my favorite things about pubs in Ireland is that they have live music most nights, which I think just adds to the whole experience. I was sad to leave my new friends the next day but Facebook is there for a reason and I have a feeling we’ll see each other again someday. It was totally a turkey, guys!

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The next day, I caught the bus back to Dublin for one more night on the Emerald Isle before heading to Brighton. The trip was really coming to an end and I was finally starting to feel it. The flight to the UK was short and I was just really ready to get to Brighton. I had been here once before but it was a less than thrilling experience. Brighton in the summer is definitely the way to go. The beach is filled with people and vendors, the pier is bustling, and it was gorgeous outside.

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This hostel wasn’t the greatest and I actually was considering going anywhere else to get away from it, but it didn’t tarnish my view of Brighton. I was lucky enough to have met a girl in Berlin that lived in Brighton and she took me out for a lovely dinner at the Brighton Marina. It was so nice to see a familiar face after months of strangers. It was great to catch up on what we’ve been up to since Berlin, but even better to talk about the future. Sometimes you meet some really awful people while you’re traveling, but you also get some gems that you get to meet up with later and they introduce you to Pier Doughnuts! The important things, right?

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My next day was all about shopping through the Lanes and spending some more time down at the beach. It was a great close to my solo adventure. I remember sitting on the beach with about 200 other people watching the sunset and I felt so relieved that I had made it this far. It was definitely an uphill climb, but the view from the top is amazing.

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