The Backpacking Series: Part 1

Recent futile Google searches: “synonyms for the freaking best experience of my life.”

This past summer I went backpacking in Europe, which turned out to be this insanely fantastic adventure so amazing that words are useless. It’s one of those things where I’ll say, “Oh gosh it was so awesome” and then I’ll turn around and say, “Oh gosh those pancakes were so awesome.” I can’t lump pancakes and a European backpacking adventure into the same lame adjective category. I can’t articulate the level of awesome it was, so I decided that I could just tell stories about what happened while I was over there. That way you can decide for yourself on a scale from pancakes to why can’t plane rides be free.

Logistics-wise, I was in Europe for 17 adventurous days with my super cool cousin, Erin. We started out in New York City (hey that’s not in Europe!) and flew from there to Dublin, where the accents were enough to send me into an excited fit. We only had 10 hours in Dublin, so we drank some Guinness, napped in a park, saw Trinity College, and got directions from an elderly lady we met on the street, who was kind enough to walk us to our destination. From Dublin we flew to Rome, spent a few days there, then made our way to Pisa, La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Switzerland (Gimmelwald and Lauterbrunnen Valley), Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam. So nothing too rad (she said dripping with sarcasm).

I’ve never seen so many old beautiful churches, people, streets and side streets, monuments, mountains, parks, and shops. And thinking about the food makes me want to spaz out.

But it wasn’t just the famous hunks of stone that changed my life (whoa dramatic); the people I encountered were so fantastic. Some were brief encounters, like these food truck vendor guys that sold me pretzels and meat in a train station, and since they were beautiful, I told them they were beautiful. Then I ate the meaty pretzels and my idea of beautiful was redefined.

Some encounters were hours of a train ride long. On our way to Pisa we met a friendly German marine biologist named Felix who told us about his cool octopus tattoo and wore sunglasses the whole time so I never saw his eyes.

One of the best people I met over in Europe was a tiny elderly woman from Australia named Bev, who would probably beat me with her gardening hoe if she ever found out that I described her as elderly. Bev (not Beverly) was our hostel roommate in Rome who explored the city with us, along with another woman named Angel from California that we met in the hostel too. Bev bought me coffee and talked about her beloved garden and taught me Australian slang (for example, rubbish means trash and trash is used to describe the quality of a person which I found really amusing). She accompanied us to the Pope’s general assembly (POPE FRANCIS IN REAL LIFE) and an evening trip to the Trevi fountain, where I did the whole Lizzie McGuire wish-making shebang. Bev also gave me a glass of boxed wine for lunch that turned out to be 11% alcohol. Knocked me right out.

This is just a tiny window into the experience I had that still doesn’t seem real. Other encounters included macho Italian navy men, Drew Seeley, and a Swiss woman who asked me what would happen if I had a bunch of student loans to pay off and suddenly got pregnant (apparently the American education system was a little too much for her to handle). More stories will be told but unfortunately a different backpacking expedition awaits me aka all the homework I didn’t do over break. **insert student angst here**

Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on writing a persuasive speech when things like the Swiss Alps exist.



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