Solo backpacking in Europe before Grad School takes over my life

Barcelona and Beyond

16 days to go

Hey everyone, I decided to make this blog to chronicle my travels through Europe this summer. I’m sure I’ve talked a lot about this trip, and if you feel like it, you can check in and see what I’m up to during my trip. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures from the road as well. My flight leaves on June 10th, and I will arrive in Barcelona, Spain at about 8 am on June 11th. I will be in Europe until July 9th, so I will have about a month to explore Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Feel free to post comments.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 05-26-2008 at 03:05 pm
Posted in Leading up to the trip... with 4 Comments

21 days to go

So the abdomen pain that I posted about has not increased at all, so I think it is just a sore muscle.  I will be getting a physical again before I go to Europe, so if it is still bothering me, I will get it checked out again.  With the school year winding down (I only teach another half day and then it’s just grading exams, proctoring, and some check out procedures until May 30th) and the pain subsiding, I am starting to get excited about my trip again.

My parents sent me some money for my 23rd birthday and that will cover the jacket I bought and probably some shoes that I want to get.  My brother got me a gift card to target, so I will most likely use that to get a smaller toiletries bag (the one I have right now is huge and impractical).   I don’t think I have to buy anything else now that I think about it. I might just need to get some first aid stuff and batteries for my camera, but I’m pretty set.  I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and picked up The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway.  I figure it’s pretty appropriate for reading when I’m traveling considering I’m going to Spain and France (although I’ll be going from Spain to France rather than the other way around like in the book). I’m thinking about bringing another book with me, but I don’t want anything that will take up too much space.  I’ll probably just leave them at hostels after I finish them for other people to read.

I’ve also been getting my apartment ready to move.  I passed on some of my furniture to my brother and I’m selling some more on craigslist.  I hate moving so much just because it’s such a pain.  I’m going to have to clean up around my apartment to make sure I don’t get stupid avoidable charges, especially since I didn’t have to put down a security deposit for my place.

I’ve been slacking with learning German and French.  I know how to say a handful of phrases, but things have been busy.  Hopefully I’m getting a better handle on how to pronounce some of the consonants and vowels, so I will most likely just print out some phrases that I might need and study them on trains.  Luckily I’m going to Spain first and I at least know that language better than the other two.

Well, that was a lot of random stuff, but with 3 weeks left until the trip, I’m starting to get excited again.  I’ve been looking at a lot of Gaudi architecture and I’m getting really psyched for Barcelona!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 05-19-2008 at 07:05 pm
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 2 Comments

Hopefully not a big deal

I started feeling a pain in my lower abdomen on Sunday, and my first thought was appendicitis or hernia.  Both would suck since they could potentially screw up my summer plans.  I went to the doctor yesterday and they said it didn’t feel like a hernia or appendicitis.  Plus the pain is only there when I’m walking or moving and it has not intensified at all.  The blood work came back today and my white blood cell count is normal, so I probably do not have any sort of infection.  I gotta keep an eye on this, but hopefully it is just a sore muscle and I’ll be good to go!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 05-13-2008 at 05:05 pm
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 0 Comments

Started picking up some traveling gear

I went to the REI store today to look at gear. I already have a great backpack, money belt, etc. I’ve been asking for a lot of stuff for my birthday, so that should cut down on some of the costs. I know a lot of people say you should go with the stuff you are used to wearing every day, but a lot of that stuff will not dry quickly at all. So I’ve been buying some stuff, but I’m counting on using them a lot anyways.

I picked up a rain jacket today, but technically it’s a gift from my parents to me; however they said it would probably be easier for me to just buy it from the store and they would pay me back. Plus my birthday is in a little more than a week anyways. I ended up going with the Mountain Hardwear cohesion jacket. I was also looking at the Marmot Precip, but I couldn’t find one in my size. I had a rain jacket already, but it was really crappy and it wasn’t waterproof at all. I figure I’ll get a lot of use out of this one anyways, and it will keep me dry. I picked up some other things that I didn’t necessarily need, but they will save me a ton of space when packing. I picked up 2 pairs of travel underwear and 2 pairs of travel socks. I have a friend who swears by these so that you can wash one while wearing the other. Pictured in the next picture are a lot of the clothes I have gotten together. In the picture I have a pair of jeans and a pair of khakis (one I will wear, one will be in the pack), a polo shirt, a tshirt (I’ll pack more, but I’ll probably take 3 total), the underwear and socks, a bandana,

the lock I will be using, and a long sleeve Patagonia wicking shirt. I’m asking for a small toiletries bag, a day pack, and some other small things that I’ll need that I don’t want to buy. I’ll pack a small first aid kit (thanks dutchmonkey) with bandaids, neosporin, aspirin, tums, and some other stuff, but I can buy that stuff abroad for the most part as well. Granted, I have about 31-32 days before my trip, but it’s just exciting to get everything together and see what it all looks like. As I get more of the stuff I need, I will do a test pack and see if I need to lose anything, but I think I’m already packing light enough as it is (besides the jeans, but I regretted not having them last time). The main thing I really need to do is get a good pair of shoes that are comfortable but could also look kind of dressy. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking about a pair of black Adidas, but I need to make sure they have enough arch support or room to put in an insert.

I can’t believe how close I am to this trip, and yet it still feels like I’m not going. I just can’t wait until that moment when I realize I’m in another country and this time I’ll have only myself to rely on. It’s a great feeling and I already know that even if things don’t go well (things are bound to go wrong), I will never forget this trip.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 05-09-2008 at 09:05 pm
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 0 Comments

Moving soon

In addition to this big trip that I’m taking, I’m moving since I’ll be heading to grad school in Nashville in the fall. This is exciting, but it’s also one big thing (besides the end of work) that stands in the way of my trip. Luckily, my brother and his roommates are moving into a house for their final year of college, so they will be taking some of my furniture off of my hands. My parents are actually coming down this weekend to help move some of this stuff and they will be coming down another weekend towards the end of May to move even more stuff. This helps out tremendously, and I am looking forward to spending part of the weekend with them, including a mother’s day dinner.

One of the things I want to do when I move into my new apartment in Nashville (still need to find one) is cut down on the amount of “stuff” I have. I feel like I have a bunch of useless stuff that I never use. I’m donating a bunch of clothes to goodwill just because I never wear them. I wonder if other travelers feel like living a minimalist lifestyle. When you travel and all you have are the clothes on your back and the backpack slung over your shoulders, it’s a great feeling. But then again, I do love coming home to some comforts and I don’t think I should deprive myself of things that I enjoy. I gotta have some stuff to keep me occupied when I’m waiting for my next big trip! So I will probably keep my TV. And my Wii. And I will probably need a new mac soon (I’ll wait til the student discount kicks in though). I like the minimalist lifestyle when on the road. I don’t need 5 star hotels and fancy restaurant meals. I will actually probably eat out less when I travel solo in June/July than when I went to Ireland with my brother. I also like buying stuff too much (including stuff for my trip), so I doubt I will ever completely rid myself of my material possessions.

A little less than 5 weeks until my trip. I’m getting some phrases memorized in German and French. Need to brush up on Spanish and learn some Catalan. I will also print out some cheat sheets that I can study on trains!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 05-07-2008 at 05:05 pm
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 0 Comments