Saturday, 27 June 2015

Europe Backpacking Travel 2015

“How was your trip?! Was it amazing?! Tell me everything!”
Ever since I finished my backpacking trip in Europe, I’ve been asked those questions over and over again. Depending on the situation and how much time I have, my answers vary, from a few words about how the trip was awesome or a few funny/unfortunate stories.  People expected my trip to be amazing, so I felt I had to make it seem amazing. Even in my stories about facing obstacles and challenges on my trip, I wanted to tell them in an amusing and entertaining way. Now don’t get me wrong: I learned about the tragic history of WWII in depth in Berlin, scaled the old Devin castle in Bratislava, basked in a mint-infused sauna room in the biggest bathhouse in Budapest, watched the most majestic sunset in Prague, ate an incredibly unhealthy amount of gelato in Italy, and kayaked in the Mediterranean sea into a deep cave, amongst many other things. But to be honest, my trip wasn’t entirely amazing.
Unintentionally matching (except our bags, we bought the same ones from a guy on Kijiji), this is when we just started our journey in London, super excited to tackle on the trip!

Just over the other side was a fall onto an eletric sheep pen. I was told to get off soon after…

Segway by cliffside! Definitely buying segways for my family in the future so we can go on family segway trips.

We (my best friend and I) ran into many challenges. We lost a lot of money from bad planning/tardiness, and most of it felt like a blur (not in a good way). We traveled Europe for five and a half weeks and saw eleven countries (twelve including our brief moments in the Vatican). We visited each country for 2-5 days, and none left a deep imprint on me. We wanted to see so many things in such a short amount of time that I (I won’t speak for the both of us) didn’t get to know any city well enough to fall in love with it. The previous summer, I studied in Hong Kong for a month and a half and then backpacked in China for two and a half weeks and, even to this day, the flavours, the sights, and the people are on my mind. I really believe that’s mostly due to spending an extended period of time in one place. While not as glamorous as traveling to so many different cities, it allowed me to fully immerse myself into whichever city I was in, and really get to know it for its intricacies. So three weeks into my Europe trip, when some friends asked me how it was going , I realized I had nothing to say. I didn’t know what I was getting out of the trip because I was going through everything so fast.
One of my favourite things about traveling are the diverse people we meet. The girl beside me, Giselle, was traveling by herself for 5 months so we ended up traveling together for 5 cities!

I jumped over.

Legs were totally trembling.

Another negative component of my experience was actually the reason that I was extremely excited for the trip –  my camera. I didn’t enjoy a big portion of my trip because I felt like I had to capture everything or else it wouldn’t last in my memory. I felt that as a photographer, it was my duty to take pictures of everything, to show the beauty of a place or a person to the rest of the world. I used to hear people talk about just being/enjoying/taking in the moment all the time, and that technology was the great disconnect between us and the moment. While I agreed with the sentiment, the camera was supposed to be an extension of myself as a photographer. Yet I realized it also made traveling feel like work. And while my dream job is to be a traveling photographer, the camera made my leisure traveling feel like a chore.
Missed flight to Malta, had to buy another flight for 3x the price leaving the next morning. Then missed the last train going back to the airport. Proceeded to accept own failures and slept outside.

Morning yoga before trains arrive. Is it weird that one of my bucket list items has always been to be on active train/subway tracks (without the incoming train)? Please don't judge me.

The graveyard of my camera...

My trip took a complete turn when my tripod leg gave out while I was filming a time-lapse in a Budapest bathhouse, resulting in my camera hitting the cement ground before falling into the pool. That was probably the worst day of my trip. After some sulking, I wanted to believe that this was a sign to start enjoying my trip rather than desperately trying to capture everything. In reality, whenever I saw beautiful sights, all I could think about was how I should be capturing this on my camera. It was a very hard mindset to overcome, and I couldn’t enjoy my trip until a few days later, when we rushed through three different cities in Italy, and met amazing people in each city. For the first time in my trip, I came home to three practically empty folders (every night I cleared out my SD card of pictures into folders labeled with the city that I was in), and I felt content. Then finally at the last stop of my trip, Malta, I got to experience glorious sunsets, crystal clear waters, and amazing activities; and while I took a few pictures using my best friend’s camera, I didn’t feel anxious about capturing those memories, but instead enjoyed each part to its fullest. It was very hard for me to admit that my trip wasn’t amazing, or that my passion was the cause of my discomfort, but now I am thankful that my camera was taken away from me on my trip, just so I could learn this lesson…in the most expensive way possible.
And of course, I bought another camera as soon as I came back.
(I also made a travel series documenting how a city became home for people, if you want to watch it, it's at

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