People are kind and generous if you just give them the chance to be. I learned this lesson ten times over while traveling through Europe.
My trip was unique in that I wasn’t doing the standard hostel/guidebook/drunken Eurotrip thing; instead, I traveled to visit people: people I had met three years ago in Sydney; people I had met a month ago in Thailand; people I had never met besides online through Couchsurfing. I met up with my cousin from New York City, a friend who played on my high school soccer team with me in Atlanta, and a girl I met in my hostel dorm room in Sydney when she stayed there for just six days on her way out of the country.
They were my resources, my guides, my lens, if you will, through which I viewed each of their respective “hometowns”.
I didn’t research anything before going to Europe. Just let it all happen. Whether this means I’m a big lazy bum or not, I will say it amounted to one of the best travel experiences of my life.
I want to single out my hosts individually for their kindness, flexibility and hospitality. I also want to single out all of the other people who made it a priority at one point or another to meet up with me in Europe. I also want to single out the new people I met while I was over there for simply letting me know them. YALL ARE AWESOME. Seriously, though – you guys are the majority of the reason why I had so much fun in Europe.
I’m so glad you exist. I was desperate to get the hell out of India and you were my salvation. Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t offered me your couch in Frankfurt? I might still be wandering the streets of Delhi, lassi in hand, sprained thumb on the other hand... And besides serving at the final push for me to get out of India and into Europe, you’re also just a really good Couchsurfing host. You’re the Couchsurfing Queen. Wear that crown proudly, do your thing, and come on over here and visit me in America some time!!
I reckon if I counted the number of times I promised you I would visit you in Germany during our intermittent Facebook chats over the past three years, that number would be greater than the number of days we spent together in Sydney in real life (6). But how cool is that? How cool that we actually made it happen? Thank you for showing me around your charming little uni town. I loved every minute of it.
Thomas and Julia
Thank you both for being so patient with me and exceeding my accommodation expectations. Thomas, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed with someone who has given me their entire apartment before. That was absurdly and completely unexpectedly generous of you. And my god, Julia!! Thank you, too, since of course your sleeping arrangements were affected by my presence as well! I had a blast with you guys, between the dancing, exploring the city, eating yummy food, and of course bouldering for my first time ever…Can’t wait to see you two again some day, somewhere in the world 🙂
So I had to do some serious digging to find this old photo of us – it’s disgusting, but I also find it somewhat hilarious at the same time. Anyways, I’ve been thinking about why oh why my time in Paris was such a blissful dream, and I think it’s because you were loving the shit out of every last moment you had there. You were in that super-connected-to-the-moment-here-and-now place that I’ve known from times past (Koh Tao – Aletta knows what I’m talking about). Or maybe I’m wrong about that? But that’s how it felt. And it was great that way. Overall I just had an awesome time. We’ll shoot for more awesome now that we’re both in the same place again, yeah?
GIRL. I almost can’t believe you drove me around on the back of your BICYCLE for four days. There’s physical proof that you’re a committed friend, as if letting me crash at your house and feeding me and wandering the streets of Amsterdam looking for Internet for four hours wasn’t enough! It all started in Koh Tao where I think we both hit our stride – and I really don’t think it’s over. I’ll see you again somewhere in this world, I can just feel it. And this time we’ll have you try a proper root beer float 🙂
What can I say? You’re a lot of the reason why I went to Europe in the first place. It’s true blue, Rebecca. I love you to pieces. You were patient with me (as always) when plans changed last minute (the addition of my cousin, not meeting up on the day we had originally intended to, etc). I want to thank you for making your way to Berlin to see me – Whether the next time is in Italy or America or somewhere completely random, I will do whatever it takes, my dear, to be with you.
My sister. I love you always. Thank you for changing your plans to come see me last minute. You are the exact person I wanted to be with in my last days abroad. You make me laugh, you challenge me to think and to try harder in everything I do. One day we will live closer to each other and I can spend every birthday with you henceforth. I can’t wait to see you in November. I love you.
Steffen and Manu – Thank you boys for your hospitality, delicious dinners, and fun singing times 🙂
Lola – Thank you for letting me crash at your beautiful Amsterdam apartment. Our sunset rooftop picnic was amazing – you make a damn good pasta salad!
Arnold – Thank you for the ride to Amsterdam and all of your help during my little Berlin-transportation-frustration extravaganza.
Mackenzie – you’re a great sleeping partner 🙂 I enjoyed getting to meet you, walking around Paris, having [really bad] wine by the Seine, and going out dancing…Can’t wait to see you around in America. I’m sure it’ll happen at some point right??
Paco! Paco, you are the kindest soul in the world. I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I want to especially thank you for getting out of bed at four in the morning to let me in to your apartment even though you had to wake up early the next day for work. Seriously.
Adrian – Thank you so much for showing us around your neighborhood, celebrating my birthday with me, and sharing your beautiful art-filled wonderful world that is your apartment with us strangers. Amazing. Amazing.
Kristoff – I know I thanked you already a billion times, but I love my birthday gift to pieces. Wear it every day.
Taylor – What an awesome surprise to get to spend my birthday in Berlin with you! Thanks for making the trek out to meet up with me. I had such a fun night. I’ll be seeing you in Athens very soon!!
Joe, it still feels surreal that I got to see you in Berlin, but I guess it shouldn’t surprise me given our track record of surreal coincidences. I had such a fun night – which also shouldn’t surprise me given our track record of fun nights. Thanks for making it happen. I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing you again somewhere in the world some day.
I miss you all from the deepest place in my heart. I want all of the people I love to live here with me (but then again if that were the case, I wouldn’t have anyone to visit in Europe then, would I?)
GET YOUR ASS DOWN TO ATLANTA-EFFING-GEORGIA AND BE MY GUEST!! You’re all invited. All of you – even if I didn’t say your name here, you’re invited. Just come on over.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, you just wait; I have a series of posts coming up that will melt your face from grinning so hard in anticipation of coming to visit me in THE COOLEST PLACE EVER (ATLANTA, GEORGIA). Okay. I’m done now.