This will be my final post on this site and this journey before I upload photos, and one video (from the Hertha Berlin game) and pay for this blog to be printed into a book for me to look back on.
There is no doubt that I will be off exploring other places again. It's just too much fun for me to not include travel in my life from now on. For as long as I can afford to I will be planning my next trip. I probably won't be using this Off Exploring blog again though. Nothing's wrong with the site, in fact it's brilliant. I just don't want the hassle of doing one. You need internet connection, an hour or so of the day and a clear mind to actually put down something decent. It's just not worth it when I can carry around a diary, write in it whenever I feel (in a restraunt, in a hostel room, in a pub, in a park, on the train etc) without having to think about internet connection or if my laptop's battery will last, I feel the choice of the two is a no brainer. The advantage of this blog is it can't be lost and people at home can be constantly updated but the disadvantages out weigh the advantages so there will be no more online blogging from me while I'm travelling.
This was always an experimental trip, being my first one. I'm sure I'll learn loads about travel in future experiences but I doubt I'll learn as much as I did in the first trip. As well as the blog experience I have learnt not to take as much! My backpack was fill to the rim and so many items could have been left out and I wouldn't have noticed the loss. Why did I take a pillow sheet? Why did I take a spork? Why did I take sandwich bags? Why did I take ravors and shaving foam for an 18 day trip? Why did I take joggers for sleeping in when I could take cotton bottoms that would be far lighter? Looking back, it's pretty funny that I thought I would need some of these things!!
In terms of items that I took, never used, but I'm not surprised I wanted to take them - the sunglasses.
There were some items that, although I could have survived without, the trip would have been less relaxing if I hadn't bought them along. The Kindle and Ipod were great time killers and the Ipod was great for when I was feeling a bit down. I'm really glad I took my mobile phone, laptop and camera. The phone, for keeping in contact with home, the calender, video recorder, calculator and finding out Chelsea scores via texts if I couldn't watch the game. The laptop for the simple fact that it allowed me to upload photos from my camera when its memory ran out. The camera - I loved taking photos and at some point I want to invest in a really decent one so I take some better photos.
The sports bottle was perhaps the most vital item. The tap water in hostels was fine and this saved me so much money and time. Although next time, one that doesn't leak will be nice (note to self: cheap items in Sports Direct do not last long). The travel pillow was also nice to have for the overnight train to Budapest when the pillow they supplied stunk. The drawstring bag was also brilliant for carrying around items during the day - such as the water bottle, kindle and anything I picked up during the day.
The flip flops were also vital for showering and the travel towel, the bag it came in, and the travel toothpaste were God sends. The travel towel was great - dried quick and was compact and light. The bag allowed me to keep the towel and other toiletries that I used every day in one small place that was easy to find in my backpack.
The moneybelt that hid under the clothes was good and felt very secure without making me look like a dork but was uncomfortable during the overnight train. I'd need something like this to put my passport and train tickets in during train journeys - for security reasons and peace of mind. Perhaps one around the neck and under the clothes would be better.
The notebook and pen I'm glad I took, especially the pen for the Inter Rail ticket. The notebook wasn't needed as much, but was still used and good to have. Paracetamol, of course was important - especially after Amsterdam. The caffeine tablets were also a really good thing to take. Feeling low on energy? No food places about? Pop one of them and within 5 minutes I was wide awake again. The travel detergent was used once and was decent but if I was going for longer a proper washing machine would be needed. Plug adaptors, nail clippers, deodorant, shower gel, copies of insurance and passport, student card, driving liscence and the torch were all good items to take.
In terms of the bike chain and padlock to attach my backpack to something in a train to stop thieves was used only once - on the night train. It would be used more often if I used night trains more, glad I took it.
In terms of clothes - 3 jumpers, 4 t-shirts (to wear in bed and under the jumpers), 2 lightweight trousers, 1 jeans, 4 pairs of socks and underwear - I think was the correct amount. I'm also glad I took the lightweight jacket, the cap and beanies.
Any items I wish I did take? I can't think of anything I ever needed that didn't have.
I think it'll be pretty fun to work out what nationalities I stayed with in hostels.
Hong Kong: 2
Hong Kong: 2
So after all that I think the best way to summarise the other stuff I want to talk about is to do a Q&A session:
Q) What was the best location?
Probably Berlin but each place was brilliant in its own way. Paris and Munich were great for walking around, Amsterdam for its partying and Budapest for the sights and views. Frankfurt was the worst.
Q) What was the best hostel?
A) Hard to answer as each hostel was good in it's own way and each had negatives too. The Home Hostel in Budapest was the most friendly and best priced but not so clean, secure and had shared bathrooms, The Grand Hostel in Berlin the most comfy, secure and best for internet connection but had a poor location, The Globe Hostel in Amsterdam the best for partying and breakfast but not so clean, Wombat's Hostel in Munich for the people I met and the location but internet wasn't great, the Frankfurt Hostel for its convenience and security but no internet and the Square hostel in Paris for its location and Parisian vibe but again not great internet. In terms of what was inside the hostel, Berlin was the best - but it was so far from the train station and sights.
Q) What was the best meal?
A) Something in the German cities. Currywurst in a restraunt was awesome as was the meal I had in Potsdamer Platz. Bratwursts are also great!
Q) What was the highlight?
A) Watching Chelsea beat Sp*rs in the Munich bar with 3 Tottenham fans around me. The tour of the Reichstag was also incrediable as was just being around the Brandenburg Gate and my last day in Munich.
Q) How is solo travelling?
A) I'm glad I was by myself. I never missed the social side as I had hostel friends in the mornings and evenings but occasionally I would get lonely during the day but that was more due to just being in a bad mood due to hunger or tiredness - which can soon be solved. Eating in restraunts for the first few days alone was weird and almost embarassing but in the end I enjoyed this alot - but of course eating a meal out with someone else is always better than being alone. Being able to walk down any street, without consulting someone first, or go in any museum and eat when I want and just generally doing what I want without hopeing my friend agreed was without doubt the best advantage of solo travel. I was also forced to do things by myself and meet new people which is always a good thing for improving yourself.
Q) How was the whole trip?
A) BRILLIANT! When's the next one?...