After my breakdown the night before, I felt peaceful for the first time in months. This gave me the opportunity to wander around Granada while waiting for my actual day to visit the Alhambra. It was lovely exploring the streets, but it was especially memorable to climb up the hills and get an amazing view of the city.
Time and solitude are pure luxury for me nowadays, but back then this created a different kind of trouble. After a couple of hours in my hostel room, the full scope of traveling alone finally hit me.
When I arrived at the train station, I was surprised that I could not find any free city maps, something I was pretty much relying on to find my way around in that pre-digital age. I had the address of the youth hostel I wanted to stay at, but I did not know how to find it.
On August 31th, 2008, I boarded the first actual train ride of my Interrail journey. Switching trains in Bordeaux and Irún, it took over 12 hours to get from Paris to Madrid. I remember being slightly nervous at the first ticket control.
My last day in Paris came with gorgeous blue skies and amazing August weather. Perfect to visit some of the spots that were still on my list across Montmartre and the northern shores of the Seine. But for better or worse, that day came with a bit of a damper.
The Château de Versailles may be considered a masterpiece of baroque architecture and was the blueprint for Central European palaces for decades to come. Every time I heard about the palace or its creator, I dreamed of seeing it for myself.
I was feeling lightheaded and weak even though physically I should have been fine. Regardless, once I had secured myself a bunk bed in the youth hostel and freshened up a little bit, I felt way to exhilarated to stay put.
And suddenly, I got cold feet. Planning the trip had been the easy part. But when the plan was finally about to become reality, I was afraid of my own courage.
My struggle during the planning phase was how to figure out what to take and what to leave behind. After all, I would have to carry all of my belongings for a good portion of the trip. And every unnecessary kilo hurts eventually.
I did some additional research to figure out what would be a reasonable budget. I figured that some countries (e.g. Italy) would require a little bit more daily allowance while other's would be cheaper (e.g. Turkey).
Somehow I came up with the idea of booking an Interrail ticket and touring Europe. Additionally, I felt the strong urge to do it alone. Considering how sheltered I had been up to that point, it surprised even me.