During this past week, I traveled across the northern continental part of Europe exploring what wonders there are to behold. Through 8 days, I traveled to Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Brussels! For 5 of those days in Hamburg and Amsterdam, I traveled by myself staying in hostels and learning how to navigate the cities. I’m not going to sugar coat it; Traveling solo is not easy and it definitely not for everyone. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be navigating on my own and finding things to do as just a single person. But throughout the whole trip and even looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. It gave me a new perspective on what it’s like being in a different country by yourself with no one to help you out. As humans, we strive to find a sense of community. This feeling is comforting to us and gives us peace of mind. This trip really made me realize this and appreciate anyone who has to go through that experience outside of a vacation setting.
The other 3 days when I was in Brussels, I was with my girlfriend Maggy! She has been studying abroad in Spain and I was super excited to see her again after we met in Berlin 2 weeks before for a trip. To share my cool experiences with you I decided I’ll be giving you my little “Hitchhiker’s Guide” to traveling around Europe, especially if you decide to do it solo. Also, sadly I have not read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I have seen the movie but I don’t remember it, but I thought the title would was still be funny. Enjoy!
Trains are cool, but also scary
Traveling Europe by train? Well that’s what I did and honestly it was pretty fun. Turns out going from Copenhagen to Hamburg requires you to literally take the train with you on a ferry to cross the ocean. Usually you have lots of leg room, and it is a great way to see Europe from a different angle instead of the airport. Keeping all this in mind, trains can also be unpredictable. In Hamburg, my train turned out to leave 1 hour ahead of schedule due to construction work. If I hadn’t asked someone about that, I would have probably been stuck there for a considerable amount of time. Thankfully, I was able to get on the next train and make my connection to Amsterdam. Overall, highly recommend traveling by train. Just be aware of what’s going on.
Legs are useful tools
Legs. We have them. But what exactly can you do with them? Walk around! Using your legs to get around the city instead of by bus, train, or metro makes for a completely different experience. By walking, you can find new stuff to do that you didn’t think of, find new and exciting restaurants, or if you’re up for it walking around 8 miles through the biggest rural cemetery in the world (yes, I did that). In total, I walked 167,940 steps or 128.03 km or 79.56 miles over 8 days. I may have done a lot of walking, but I saved money, found new places I didn’t expect to see, and it was a great form of exercise!
Street Food=Best Food
If you want cheap, delicious food then look to the streets instead of a restaurant. Local bakery chains where you can get 3 chocolate croissants for 4 euros are usually really good deals! While they are cheap, don’t dismay the quality. Having tried the #1 Holland Fries in Amsterdam, all I can say is AmsterDAM. I don’t know what their fry sauce is but it is just absolutely delicious. Oh, and let’s not forget the Belgian Waffles on every street corner. I may have had a few too many…
Expect the Unexpected
This tip in combination with “Legs are Useful Tools” really make your experience one of a kind. The greatest example of this during my trip was walking to a square in downtown Brussels only to see the city skyline and this GIANT atomic structure in the foreground. I was so confused because I had never seen or heard of it. Turns out the name of it is the Atomium and it was honestly one of the coolest places I have ever been to. Also expect to find out that someone in your hostel in Hamburg knows your friend from Santa Cruz, California (don’t actually expect that but this literally did happen to me).
Au Revoir and on to the next galaxy!Myself