How I decided to travel alone in Europe last summer

It was May 2017. I was working at an architectural office in Malmö, Sweden, often travelling to Stockholm, since one of the projects I was working on was there. I didn’t enjoy those work-related trips in the beginning, first because I could do the same things from Malmö and second because it totally destroyed my routines of working out and making music after work. But eventually I learnt to appreciate them, after all, I was staying at some nice hotels, and after work, I had some time to explore Stockholm. The city is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to, and also one of the cities I would not willingly move to. I just can’t imagine myself living there for various reasons, even though it’s so beautiful. My adventures in Stockholm could be a subject of another story actually, but here I just aimed at describing my situation. So picture me, after one month of travelling for work every week, spending half of the week away from home, the end of May. Everybody around me sharing their plans for the summer holidays. Our office (as most offices in Sweden) was closed for a month in the summer – from the second week of July till the second week of August.

A view from the ferry I used to go to from the hotel to the office in Stockholm

I also had a plan for the holiday. My plan was to go to my home country – Bulgaria and to rent a place in Sozopol for the whole period, or at least for 20 days. Sozopol is one of my favourite places in Bulgaria, so if you stay tuned with my humble place on the web, you’re likely going to read more about it.

One of the hotel rooms in Stockholm

Sounds boring to be at one place for a month? Yeah, but not to me back then. I was tired of going back and forth to Stockholm, and I just wanted to relax somewhere with a nice beach and nice atmosphere – somewhere where I could rest all day, and party in the evenings. Also, a place where I knew some of my old friends would visit for sure. So it was my plan. But, of course, not being Swedish myself, I wasn’t talking about this and I didn’t have a plane ticket yet.

Then one of my colleagues – Marcus told me what he did the previous year.

In 2016 he and his girlfriend got Eurorail tickets and they travelled by train all around Europe for one month, booking Airbnb while travelling to their destination, which allowed them to be really flexible with their plans and destinations.

Empty bottles of cold brew coffee at my workplace. I really like cold brew in summer.

I hate making plans for travelling. I always leave things till the last moment and, yeah, I pay the price for that… I’m not saying it’s cool, it’s just the way I am…

So when I heard this I realised this is exactly what I have always wanted to do, but I never did, simply because I had neither the time nor the money for such things.

So even though it was love from first sight – I knew that this is something really cool and I would like to do it, it took me some time to officially make my mind enough to buy the ticket. The ticket itself was around 350 euro for 20 days of travelling in a month if I remember correctly. In Germany and Austria it’s ok to just jump on the train with the ticket, but in France and Spain, you need an additional reservation which costs 10 to 20 euro per trip. Still ok compared to the actual ticket prices. Little did I know back then that since everybody travels in July, those reservations were impossible to make the same day you travel, which kinda ruins the whole idea of freely changing your mind and destinations, but I’ll tell you more about this and how I got around it in the next posts which are going to be about the actual trips.

So maybe you are asking yourself why didn’t I take someone with me. Or maybe you’re not asking yourself anything, maybe you don’t care about me at all!

Well, I didn’t have a girlfriend. I also didn’t have close friends in Sweden, friends that I would enjoy with me for such a long time. My other friends didn’t have the time to do such things. Not that I’ve asked anybody. Sometimes people, especially men have this call for adventure. I have had it for years and it was finally time to act upon it.

So I finally got the ticket and made a rough scheme of places that  I want to go to.

It was crazy, since I wanted to go everywhere, and I knew that even with a month at hand I can’t really visit all those places and enjoy them. Cause I’m not a typical tourist myself. If I just wanted to go and shoot pictures of all the sights I could definitely visit more places. But what I really enjoy is to actually wake up in the new place in the morning, then go out and lose myself, not using any maps or navigation, until I find a nice and cosy coffee place. There I would sit and watch the people of the city, going to work or to school, the others like me – sitting at cafes in the middle of the day, the beggars, the workers, the students, the tourists,… I just want to have at least one morning to evening and evening to morning cycle in the city. I want to feel how the city breathes and lives. So 2 days is the minimum – one to enjoy the daily life and one for the nightlife. You can actually go through it in one day if you’re really hyped by the place and you get a decent amount of caffeine in your system. Actually, I noticed that being excited, I mean really excited by a certain place gives you so much energy and it doesn’t matter if you eat once or twice a day or if you had coffee or not. You just have the energy from within yourself. It happens when you get this feeling of freedom. It’s one of the coolest things a person can feel.

So that plan was just a plan “maximum”: I wanted to go to Amsterdam first, then travel south through France and Spain, possibly even Portugal, then to go east through Italy and the Balkans and to go back north through the Czech Republic and Germany,

I decided that If I pack enough clothes to get me through a week I can actually last for an indefinite amount of time if I find places to do the laundry.

My old personal phone was old. It was definitely not reliable and I also needed a subscription plan with calls and data in the European Union, so in the first week of June actually I went to Bulgaria and I got my Samsung Galaxy s8 which I’m still using now. Going to Bulgaria for a week only made me realise I took the right decision – travelling instead of staying in Sozopol.

Unboxing the phone. I really needed a new reliable device for the trip.

In the meantime, I talked to a friend of mine that lives in Berlin. Berlin was on my list, but it was supposed to be the last city I visit before going back to Malmö. But after talking to my friend I decided to actually go to Berlin first, and then to Amsterdam.

So I spent the last couple of weeks before the holidays in anticipation.

It was the end of June, but in Malmö, it was barely 20 degrees. I was told if I tried to go out wearing a t-shirt without a light jacket or a sweatshirt on top. I was so annoyed of that, it was almost as annoying as the long dark winter, ( the weather made an excuse the next year – Summer of 2018 brought 3 months of no rain and above 30 degrees temperatures to Sweden)

Bye bye, Malmö! See you in a month!

I was so eager to go on my adventure! My last day at work before the vacation was a Friday. I left for Berlin on that same Friday, just a couple of hours after I finished work.

I had to take a bus from Copenhagen.

The central station in Copenhagen with fireworks above the Tivoli park

I had my bag with clothes for one week. No laptop, only my 2 mobile phones. A light backpack that contained my sweatshirt.

I almost missed the bus from Copenhagen since I couldn’t find the departure spot, but I found it, showed my ticket and jumped in. It was a night bus to Berlin.

So that’s it! I said to myself with a grin. It’s the beginning of something epic!

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