My 30 day interrail trip around Europe had taken me to amazing sights, enabled me to meet fascinating people and forced me to face myself and grow in the process.
My travel companion had disembarked in Budapest and decided to let me sleep, therefor leaving the door unlocked. The conductor asked me to secure the latch, which I complied with drowsily. And in hindsight, I am grateful that he did ensure that I did.
And even though I did not speak Turkish and they did not speak German or English, we ended up having a full fledged conversation with a mixture of basic words and body language.
After Athens, I took a train to Thessaloniki (Greece) and from there a night train to Istanbul where I arrived on Sep 20th. And honestly, even though the weather was grey and gloomy, the city and its people were amazing.
On the ferry, I encountered two other backpackers around my age, one from Sweden and one from Japan. We had interesting exchanges about our home countries and travel experiences over dinner on deck, sharing our travel provisions.
A Catholic priest, a Vatican assistant and a German backpacker are sitting on a train... Sounds like the beginning of a (potentially inappropriate) joke. But it actually happened.
People like to think in stereotypes. And the only way to confirm or dismiss them is for you to meet people. One of my most striking impressions of Italians (especially in Venice and in Rome) during my visits was... how friendly and helpful people turned out to be.
Due to the early starts of fall, my first day of exploration in Rome was mostly grey and drizzly, but I was still fascinated. Rome feels like an open-air museum and has so many different styles of architecture to offer. You can just walk down a street and suddenly be faced with ancient Roman ruins or an old renaissance building.
After Venice, I headed south to the eternal city of Rome. What stuck with me most during this visit were the interactions I had with other travelers.
My train route to Venice involved a train change in Milan and in theory, there would have been enough time to get to the connecting train. But, as you know, life (and travel) does not always go as planned.
I started the first leg of that journey on September 9th, 2008. I had prepared to spend the 11h30 hours of the train ride reading and doodling. But somehow things came differently.