Backpacking Europe: What I Learned

Hello Everyone!

So, this post is a bit late, sorry about that. But hey, I am back from my 20-day trek around Europe! I don’t know if I’m excited about that or not just yet since I am currently in the process of studying for finals. (boo) But for this blog post, I thought I’d share a couple of major things I learned over the course of those 20 days. You know what they say, you can’t learn everything in a classroom.

1. You don’t need half as much as you think you do.

Here’s a bit of a backstory: Before leaving for my European backpacking trip, I had the task of choosing the most essential item to possess when you are backpacking – A BACKPACK. (I know, ground-breaking discovery, right?) I scoured the internet, seeking for the perfect luggage to fit every one of my requirements as well as the airlines. When choosing this backpack, I made the conscious decision to choose the smallest backpack I could manage. I wanted to challenge myself and see just how little I could bring with me. This is quite the gutsy move for me as I am usually the family member who packs a 50 pound bag all by herself, and I usually struggled to do that!

So, I choose the Ebags Weekender Junior, which is a 40-liter backpack. A challenge is what I asked for, and a challenge is definitely what I got when I received this little pack in the mail. But after the most tortuous night of trying to pack this little bag, I had done it. I was going on the longest trip I had ever been on with the least amount of clothing I’ve ever brought.

Nothing could go wrong, right?

But people, this was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. Sure there were nights where I thought about burning some of my clothing items, and sure there were times where I actually wanted to look cute, but I have never felt as free as I did with just carrying all of my belongings on my back. It was difficult, it was challenging, it was incredible, and it was everything I ever imagined backpacking to be and more. Folks, you don’t need half as much as you think you do.

Here’s my new motto: Pack Less. Live More. (I don’t know where I got that little motto but it’s pretty good if I do say so myself.)

2. Be completely open-minded about everything.

On this trip, we went to seven different destinations – Copenhagen, Denmark; Milan, Italy; Rome, Italy; Venice, Italy; Nice, France; Geneva, Switzerland; and finally Brussels, Belgium. The one thing that I’d say that I loved the most about a couple of the places we visited is that I almost no idea what it was going to be like. See, we had divided up the destinations between three of us and each person chose what to do in their destination. So for the destinations that I wasn’t given I had almost no clue as to what that place would be like. No expectations. It was AMAZING, you guys. Every place seemed like a surprise and I enjoyed them all for their unique qualities. So my advice to you is, whenever you’re going to a new place, definitely do research on what you want to do there but leave the rest for you to discover. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy a place much more if you have no preconceived ideas on what it will be like.

3. Always bring a journal with you.

Before I left the states, I invested in a nice leather journal to document my thoughts, emotions and experiences while I was abroad. I’ve fallen deeply in love with journaling, so why I decided last minute to not bring my journal with me on this little journey, I have absolutely no idea. If I could go back in time to the minutes before I left my flat to the airport, I definitely would have slapped myself for not bringing my little journal with me. If you’re reading this and haven’t tried journaling, I definitely would recommend you try it at least once in your life. It took me a few times of really pushing myself to sit down and write in it, but once it became a habit it has become a piece of me that I will never lose. Always bring your journal with you, especially on life-changing adventures. You won’t regret it, I promise you that.

Alright, so that was a short little excerpt of the things I learned while I was backpacking. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 

Erica’s Espresso Exploration

IT’S BEEN SO LONG SINCE I’VE BEEN ABLE TO DO THIS! Hooray! So I’m sorry that this week isn’t a cute little local shop, but I have to talk about Costa. (All of the British people reading this are like what? What’s so special about COSTA?) To my American pals who don’t know what Costa is, it’s a British coffee chain, similar to Starbucks or maybe Caribou Coffee, although I think it’s better. 😉 There’s this huge Costa literally a five-minute walk from my flat here in Edinburgh and I love it! Here’s why –

Coffee: 5 out of 5 Stars

I feel almost stupid giving a coffee chain a 5 out of 5 stars for their coffee, but Costa’s cappuccinos are TO DIE FOR folks. The foam, at least at my Costa, is absolutely perfect and the flavor is just wonderful. I literally get the same thing every time I go there: a caramel cappuccino. So simple, so good, and just the right amount of sweet. I want one now…

 

IMG_6344

And the barista there (who know’s me now, it’s so great) gave me a cinnamon umbrella the last time I stopped in, how great is that?! I just love this place, even if it’s a coffee chain.

Atmosphere: 4.8 out of 5 stars

People, this place has just the right amount of background noise, a good selection of music playing, and it’s never too busy. The only thing that I downgraded it for was that it’s a coffee chain and I just wish there was something more unique about it. Oh well, you can’t have everything in life I suppose.

Electronics: 4 out of 5 stars

Costas normally have wifi and the one right by my flat usually does as well, however, they’ve been having major issues with it lately. The plug-ins, however, are rather frequent throughout the shop and I’ve found a spot in the place that is right next to a huge window and right next to a plug-in. It’s great.

Food: 4 out of 5 stars

I usually toasties and crisps whenever I stop in for lunch at Costa, and they’re always good but nothing to shout on the roof tops about. I definitely will still be eating there though, it’s a standard British lunch spot!

Alright, I hope you enjoyed this bit of banter that I had about my backpacking experiences and my usually coffee rant. Thanks for reading!

 

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