Bonjour/Guten Morgen/Hallo! One month on the road and I'm finally back! It's nice to be back home (despite the weather) especially when you've fallen sick and are down with a bad cold. My right ear is still quite blocked and I can't hear well. Thankfully my cough has subsided and my running nose is well, less runny. Hopefully things will get back to normal in time.
I've thoroughly enjoyed my trip and I had such a good time, no regrets so I didn't miss it terribly. I do miss my travel and adventures. Moreover, I came to the conclusion that travel is a lifelong affair. No point rushing it because you won't ever complete it in your lifetime I believe. I wonder if anyone has ever finished "seeing the world"?
In any case, if you were wondering, this was the route I took:
Avignon (France) -- Bern (Switzerland) -- Interlaken -- Zurich -- Munich (Germany) -- Bacharach -- Berlin -- Amsterdam (The Netherlands)-- Paris (France)
When I was telling people about my travel stories I felt like I couldn't believe I went there as well. I went to these places?! And did those things? Prior to leaving, people have not ceased to remind me how unsafe it would be for a girl like me to be going alone. As my friend pointed out, I ticked all the boxes of risky travelling - Solo, female, Asian. Well, what can I say? I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was the only female Asian with a backpack.
What's more daunting about travelling alone? Going alone, without the company or the unfamiliarity of a new land? Or both? I found myself asking these questions as I sat alone on the train which didn't seem long at all. In most places I've visited someone would tell me that I'm brave to go on my own. First, it was the French lady selling gelato in Arles, then it was my hostel mate in Bern and Interlaken. I probably didn't think I was that brave but after the experience in Amsterdam and the metro in Paris I think I was pretty gutsy.
Having said so, I still think travelling alone is amazing. I've not felt lonely (at least not all the time) and rather enjoyed spending time by myself. Going solo gives you the chance to meet new people and gain new experiences. If there's anything I learnt, that is travel isn't a competition or a race to tick off all the famous sights. Either way, I learnt it's impossible to see everything in one trip. You are the traveler and you dictate your travel story. You don't always have to follow the opinion of a travel book. After all, travel is about creating your own adventures and adventures, your memories.
Some highlights of the trip:
- Paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland. Jumping off was the most amazing feeling. I was in mid air and all I saw below me were trees and the town of Interlaken with its 15,000 inhabitants.
- Zipping through the Rhine Valley via bike (Bacharach to St. Goar). There are many ways to explore the Rhine Valley- boat, train, hike or cycle but nothing beats cycling in my opinion. It was picture worthy moment everywhere. Castles, forts, vineyards and rocks adorn the Rhine Valley.
- Seeing Jungfraujoch from Schilthorn. The journey leading up to Schilthorn was an incredible experience. Think grass fields, snow capped mountains, valleys and cute cabin lodges. I saw snow for the first time and a kind Swiss man threw me some snow at the top of Schilthorn and suggested I throw it as far as I could. It's basically chilled ice (like ice kachang) but coming from a tropical island snow is a cool thing to grasp, no pun intended!
- Berlin. Berlin surprised me alot. I expected Berlin to be modern, expensive and clean. It is afterall, the capital city of Germany. There were cranes everywhere and the city was still rebuilding itself. Went on a walking tour and I learnt so much about Berlin from that. Saw the Berlin wall but it's fenced all around, quite ironically. I visited the Sachausen Concentration Camp north of Berlin and it was quite an emotional experience.
- Missing my flight and had to wait 12 hours for the next one. Reached Amsterdam city at 10pm and it happened to be Queen's Day on that day and the Dutch pretty much love to party. The city crowded, chaotic and people were singing and dancing and drinking at night. With some help I managed to reach my hostel at about close to midnight. It was truly one of the most memorable moments of my trip.
- Neuschwanstein Castle. Alas the fairytale castle of Germany that inspired Walt Disney! It was shrouded with fog on that day, which added to the mystery of the castle and King Ludwig II. I keep looking back at this picture and can't help but marvel at its beauty.