Yups, I'm back. After the craziest 3 and a half weeks of my life.
Reading my post from a month ago, I can still sense the excitement and thrill I felt before I left. One month later, I'm sitting here trying to grasp and put into words the whole experience, now that I've been, seen and done. It almost feels surreal thinking about it.
People have been asking me all week how my trip was and I haven't yet found a single word or phrase to describe Europe; it was amazing and crazy and unbelievable and exciting and tiring and beautiful all at once.
My first memories of Sweden: The pine trees out the window of the plane and the crisp and cold spring air that hit me when I stepped out from the airport. Seeing the hospital where I was born was as special as I thought it would be. Walking into the neighbourhood where I grew up and having flashbacks of myself playing in the park, scraping my knee falling down on the tar road, and remembering peeping out of our old apartment window, was both scary and amazing. I think I somehow felt connected, a strange sense of belonging to a country I hadn't been to in 17 years.
Visiting 11 cities in 15 days was incredible.
I saw the inside of so many trains that I lost count- we missed a train, were early for several, made it with a minute or two to spare for some, caught one only because it was delayed by 10 minutes, took night trains with compartments all to ourselves, with families, with people from as far as Nigeria, and a train that crossed the sea on board a ferry. We took the TGV, had train delays, even snuck into a first class cabin before being 'politely' kicked out.
And the hostels. Between our 'pseudo' hotel room in Paris and the 10 bed dorm in Vienna, between the smoky and relaxed neon-lit lobby of the hostel in Amsterdam and the basement hangout in Budapest, I think we probably saw it all. And we owe a lot to our friends who lent us their couches and sofa beds to crash on.
The journeys between cities and countries were an experience on their own; the long stretches of green and yellow fields, wind turbines in the distance, cows and sheep (!!) grazing and lazing in the grass, and the little red farm houses nested cosily in the sprawling countryside. The graffiti at train and bus stations all over Europe and the homeless in little pockets and corners of the cities. Friendly faces and not such friendly ones; a melting pot of different people and cultures. We met so many old friends and made quite a few new ones.
Memoirs of the trip: Ripley's Believe it or Not in Copenhagen, Madame Tussaud's and the coffee shops in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the bouchons in Lyon, the Alps and lakes in Switzerland, the architecture in Vienna, the Sound of Music manor in Salzburg, the castles and palaces in Budapest, the beer, dumplings, the city and vineyards of Prague, the train station in Berlin, the sunny walkways and coastlines of Malmo, and the historical feel and expanse of Stockholm. My personal favourites: Prague, Lausanne (Vevey), Stockholm and Amsterdam.
There's so much more to it, but this post can only be so long... Pictures to follow soon, I promise :)