Finally, I am going to put into writing my European and North African sojourn (on a student budget with help from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers) after shelving it for so long. I hope I can still capture every feeling I had with the aid of my travel tickler notes, scribbles and doodles on my e-tickets and maps, photographs, videos and other mementos I accumulated during the said trip.
Backtrack, last quarter of 2006 to first quarter of 2007. I was an exchange student at Stockholm University (living a dream of mine) and life was just like any other foreign student. After a few months, I realized that I've saved up enough from my grant. I was thinking on what to do with my savings. One option was to not spend a single kroner and wire everything back home. Another was to give myself a treat on my birthday. Obviously, I chose the self-treat option (otherwise, I wouldn't be blogging about it). The next big question, on what should I spend it on? I could have splurged on mystery and coffee table books by Swedish authors, Swedish handicrafts or apparel but that would mean my luggage tipping the scales when I fly home. I narrrowed down my choices to two: either get the newly-released Mac Book or go on a trip around Europe. In the end, the Europe trip won over. I was salivating over the then new Mac Book, especially since it was offered at a discounted price to students in some Swedish stores. But then I realized that being in Stockholm was already a chance to see the nearby countries without having to worry about tight schedules, visa and all. And I was raring to fulfill my teenage dream of backpacking around Europe.
What followed then were days of googling, reading travel books, getting travel tips from friends, emailing friends, relatives of friends and friends of relatives, and booking tickets. I was also waiting for my spring class schedule. Lucky me, I had a three week-break between my 3rd and 4th quarter classes. Skyscanner, BravoFly, Attitude Travel, Hostelworld and Google became my online pals. Thanks to the online searches, I got myself cheap airline tickets (others were on a zero rate so I only had to pay taxes) and made a to-do list of every place that I'll be visiting.
Preview of the 28 days:
Week 1: Vienna and Salzburg in Austria / Munich and Heidelberg in Germany.
Week 2: Germany: Berlin, Leipzig, Cologne, Bremen, Hamburg, Stuttgart
Week 3: Madrid, Spain / Morocco
Week 4: Morocco / Lourdes, France /Barcelona, Spain