Backpacking Trip in Europe! From the beginning…
Backpacking Trip in Europe! From the beginning…
After surpassing the reasonable amount of hours one can spend in a car and expect maintain their sanity, my friend and I arrived in her hometown of Sequim, Washington. From there, I would spend the night and get on the ferry to Victoria, Canada the next day! (So far for transportation methods we’re at train, car, and ferry). The realization of what we were about to do was slowly starting to hit me, with the intensity of a speeding train but the delayed comprehension of a slow motion clip. What were we thinking!? Were we really about to go backpacking around Europe by ourselves? Two 20 year-old females with zero traveling experience, overconfident but underwhelming Spanish, and just a loose folder of bookings, plane tickets, and a lightly researched itinerary. All I kept thinking was what if one of our hostels doesn’t work out? What if we booked the wrong bus? What if we get lost and stranded with no money and never make it out of Canada??? All of these worries were half valid, but it was easier to accept that this trip was happening, whether we were ready for it or not, and just plan to make it up along the way. We double and then triple checked out bookings, making a few adjustments and fixing mistakes, and on the next day we were back in the car driving to the Port Angeles Ferry Station.
I don’t think I took a single normal breath that day. From the long car ride, to showing our reservation tickets at the ticket booth, to waving goodbye to my friend’s family and boarding the ship. We were off. We waved goodbye to the U.S., once again questioning our sanity, and looked ahead to the first of many steps on our long journey to Europe.The ferry ride was quick, cheap and convenient, a great way to travel! We arrived in Victoria, Canada on time and ready to see the sights and get to our airport. Which takes us to the next part of our adventure…
All adventures start somewhere…
As I set out on the first of many transportation methods of my trip, I floated through a daze of excitement, fear, and an overall disbelief that I was embarking on this adventure. I managed to touch the ground just enough to locate my correct train and board on time. I took my allotted seat and stared out the window, frozen by anticipation and the overzealous air conditioning. The train ride up the Pacific Coast, leaving from San Jose arriving in Portland, Oregon, is a beautiful ride. The sunset reflecting off the water highlighted the palette of graffiti that painted the walls beside us into a colorful tunnel, leading to somewhere new. A perfect rainbow shone in the sky, born at the blood red horizon, layered by orange, yellow, a foggy green, teal and topped with deep blue. It was a picturesque journey. In the morning we passed a slight canyon with dips and brown hills, whose textures caught a portion of light from the rising sun. After that we rode by Mt. Shasta, a huge blue mountain sprinkled with snow. Oregon struck me as extremely green, something I’d only previously ever witnessed in Maine. The roads were closed in by trees and hills, all that same shade of bright, healthy green.
Three things I learned from the train: number one; pack a heavy sweatshirt with you if travelling over night. And socks. And maybe a blanket. I didn’t sleep a wink because I was too cold, absolutely shivering all night with no way of warming myself up. Everyone else on the train seemed to have gotten this memo, since every unknown travel companion I had was swaddled tightly in nothing thinner than a quilt. Second, I love chocolate covered pretzels with a passion and I highly recommend them as a travel snack / road to happiness. Thirdly, never leave your bags unattended! I learned this the hard way, leaving my backpack in my paid for, ticketed, reserved seat as I went to the observation deck for an hour or so. When I returned someone had stolen my seat and passed the bag up to be “claimed.” I then had to recover my bag from the snack bar as a lost item. This led to an embarrassing intercom retrieval call and an overly-thorough investigation of my personal belongings executed by the unfamiliar male snack bar guy. Not fun.
However, all in all, the train ride was scenic and educational, and when my friend picked me up in Oregon I was ready to travel to Washington!
For those of you who love San Diego but are looking to get a little more adventurous, don’t forget about our neighbors! I recently visited Tijuana, Mexico, and it was a great time. Here are some tips on how to make your trip fun and safe.
Go in a group. This seems obvious, but you want to make sure to have a somewhat ratio of guys to girls for extra caution, and also keep in mind large groups are safer but tend to split up if too big!
Pick a nice club. If you go on a weekday night, ladies night, or other special night, fancy clubs in TJ are not expensive to get in to. Plus, nice clubs are less likely to be seedy, have better drinks, and a more enjoyable environment. We went to a club my friend had been to previously on their ladies night where girls drank for free. Entry was $10 and it was a perfect place to spend the night. My advice is to do some research before hand and ask others who have been there for club recommendations, don’t wait until you get there to pick a club or bar
Carry cash but not a lot, mostly small bills. DO NOT bring a lot of money or a debit/credit card, as well as anything extremely valuable. Bring what you’ll spend and maybe $20 extra in case of an emergency. Cash is best for entry fees, drinks, cabs, gambling, and small meals
DO bring your passport and have a small bag or pocket to carry it in. We had a couple friends who left their passports at home and did get across the border, however they had to go through special security and the process of entering the country took a lot longer
When you first get across there will be a lot of vendors trying to sell you candy and paraphernalia, as well as taxi drivers trying to lead you to their cabs. DO NOT use these cabs; they will charge you more than if you walk further down the road. Try making a club that is walking distance your target, and only use a cab to get back to the border
Lastly, have fun! As long as you stay with a big group, be aware of your surroundings, and follow normal night-out safety precautions, you’ll have a fun, unique adventure!