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.
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.
Athens confronted me with a problem that I had anticipated earlier but had been spared: Language barriers
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.