Beyond NY Kayla Jardine

Two Backpacks and the Adventure of a Lifetime

My best friend Rose and I, a fellow Wagner student, decided that after our summer studying in Dublin, we would backpack through Europe. (Because it's as easy as that, right?) We figured out where we wanted to go, planned a detailed itinerary of what places we'd visit, bought our plane tickets and train passes, and we were off! (Oh, I can't forget the important activity of buying two brand new hiking backpacks! "Brand new" being the key words here.)

Our first stop: Barcelona

Barcelona is an amazing city, but it seems our "luck of the Irish" was failing us. Upon arriving, we realized the communication barrier was quite real. After multiple attempts of trying to figure out the way to our hostel, we finally got on the right train, or so we thought. After spending way too many Euros on a cab to take us in the right direction, instead of a train going the opposite way, we made it to our hostel. The words "not what we expected" immediately come to mind when recalling our accommodations.

The most picturesque place ever: Holland

For imagery's sake, let me paint you a picture. The hostel was located in the middle of the mountains, far, far from the city center. Once inside, we discovered some interesting decor. For example, walls that were covered in tables and chairs (honestly something out of The Twilight Zone) and lamp shades made of books. After finding a table, thankfully on the ground, (we had been traveling for nearly 11 hours and it was already 1 A.M. when we arrived) we tried to unwind. Not even 5 minutes into our relaxation did we see a wild boar and her babies run through the restaurant. No one even moved an inch.

The country with THE BEST waffles: Belgium

Later the next day, after sightseeing and delicious tapas, we went back to our hostel to sleep since we had to get up early, 3 A.M. to be precise, the following morning for our next stop: Holland! The alarm goes off and both of us wake up and begin getting ready. (In different sleeping areas because there was a mixup in our reservation.) After Rose finished getting ready, she comes to my room prepared to leave. Little did she know I had lost my key and couldn't get into my locker to retrieve any of my things. A deck of playing cards, a 40 Euro fine, and 6 hours were enough to jimmy the locker open. With my stuff in hand, we made our way to the train station!

The most wonderful infrastructure: France

An hour before our train was set to depart, Rose's backpack was stolen. I kid you not, it was stolen. Have you ever tried to backpack without a backpack? I'm sure Rose will be the first to tell you, it's hard (but surprisingly doable if you have a best friend who packed enough clothes for an entire family).

The craziest views: Switzerland

The point? Barcelona is beautiful. The 8 countries we visited were beautiful. Life is beautiful and messy and absolutely crazy. The point is to never let it discourage you. I traveled Europe with my best friend and despite Murphy's Law, we had the time of our lives. Despite one stolen backpack and one ripped to shreds backpack, that we had to sew every day so it would stay together, we have memories that will last us a lifetime.

PIZZA: Italy

I hope that in this world of craziness, wild boars, and broken backpacks, you never lose your ability to laugh it off and prepare for the next adventure life throws your way.

Our final stop: Greece