Backpacking around Europe
Summer has almost ended so I thought I would give a quick update of what I have been up to. Over the last 4 years I have been working every single day doing my degree in Industrial Design at Brunel Uni and TU Delft, so before starting work at Seymourpowell in October, I decided to take a break from freelance work and do some travelling around Europe.
Travelling has always been engrained into me since a young age, and after countless family holidays I have managed to go abroad every summer since I was 18. I have never been a huge fan of going away for 7 days alone, as this is nowhere near enough time to experience the culture and really relax into the new country. However as a student, affording an extended holiday is near impossible. This has mean I have had almost endless working holidays! Before university I took a year out and taught sailing/windsurfing in Greece and then worked as a Chalet host in the French Alps. After my first year of study I travelled to Turkey, again teaching sailing/windsurfing on a hotel waterfront. The year after I worked as an Activities Manager in the French Alps over summer, taking people on hikes, climbs and mountain biking. And I then returned back to Turkey the following summer.
But after Uni I decided to spend almost every single penny I had and actually travel. Not spending a long time in a single place, but dipping in and out of various countries experiencing different cultures and having a great time. So I decided to backpack/interrail around Europe for a few weeks with some mates. If you don't know what this is, it is where you buy a single ticket that allows for unlimited rail travel around Europe. If you haven't done this before. You should!
First stop was Slovenia. I flew into Ljubiana, which is not only hard to spell but also hard to say, and this city/town is the capital. Quite small, very touristy but also incredibly beautiful! The majority of buildings have incredibly interesting architecture and there are many examples of Art Deco architecture. This photo is taken from the Castle right in the centre of the city.
A short 45 min train ride away was Lake Bled. A stunning alpine mass of water surrounded by epic mountains and a little castle on a cliff (top right).
Nearly every single tourist takes little rowing boats and paddles around the lake, visiting the island in the centre of the lake. As we were tourist, we of course rented out a boat.
The island in the middle is tiny and has nothing but a small church and a few houses there. It's almost fairy taleish and whilst we were there the island was hosting a wedding, which looked amazing....but incredibly expensive!
From Slovenia we took a few trains across the country. Rail travel has to be one of the best modes of transport around!
We spent most of our time in the town of Rovinj which is on the coast to the North of the country. Staying in the old town gave us a great feel of the country and, with everything in Croatia being so cheap, ate out every night at some fantastic seafood restaurants.
The town itself was a typically small European port with lovely quiet local areas alongside the standard noisy tourist bars. We spent a fair amount of time in each.
The three people I travelled with. Needless to say, massive backpacks are effort.
After Croatia we spent a night in Trieste and this is where I left my mates to continue travelling alone. The city seemed amazing but with only 12 hours there, I didn't get to take much in at all.
I have always wanted to visit Venice, and was lucky enough to spend 24 hours there on the trip. It was enough time to take it all in, and also enough time to realise it is exactly like it looks in the movies, but with a stupid amount of tourists. And I mean endless tourists queuing for absolutely everything. So, so many people.
However it is Venice and there is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. Worth a visit, but don't expect it to be a peaceful one!
Obviously if you're into canals it is the place to go. Shelling out £80 for a trip on a boat didn't seem too worth it, but walking around was easily inspiring enough.
The main square at nice is incredibly impressive, and the live music a quaint café's make the atmosphere exactly like you expect it should be. The 24 hours I spent in Venice was awesome.
Taking a train from Venice to Salzburg, Austria means going across the Alps which means awesome views and a complete change in temperature and scenery. In a few hours it went from 25 degrees next to the sea, to about 15 degrees in the mountains. Salzburg didn't seem to offer much more than some more amazing views, and I have to admit after being spoilt by Lake Bled and Venice, they were getting a bit tiresome!
The culture there was great, and with kids playing in the streets and extremely apparent wealth in the city, the visit was quite relaxing. Especially after the craziness of all Italians and tourists in Venice.
From Salzburg I took a train to Munich, and from here I visited some of the mountains nearby.
I hadn't been back into the Alps in summer since my time working in France, and it reminded me of the sheer epicness of these places. If you have only ever been to mountains for skiing/snowboarding, you have to go in Summer. The scenery is awe-inspiring and the hikes surprisingly fun. I'm an avid snowboarder and have to admit walking up is surprisingly enjoyable......but still not as good as flying downhill on snow.
I spent the final few days wandering around Munich looking at some of the architecture. Above is one of the stylish BMW buildings. If you are ever in Munich be sure to check out theses facilities as they are full of classic cars, race cars and high end motorbikes. I
This was my last stop and at this point I was completely exhausted. Backpacking means you get to take in parts of Europe you would never normally see, and covering so much ground in a matter of weeks is a load of fun. But never feeling settled and staying in a different bed almost every night, really does take it out of you. So returning to the familiarities of London was very much welcomed. If you have a chance to take some time off and want to properly experience what Europe is actually like, grab an interrail ticket, plan a start and end point, and then just wiggle your way through some of the amazing cities and scenery that there is to see.