Today marks a year since Megan and I arrived home from our 27 day interrail trip around Eastern Europe, around this time last year we were on our way back to my house in Egham. We’d ordered an obscene amount of Indian food and were sad to be back in England.
I only realised the date when I was writing in my journal this afternoon, which was too late for me to prepare a proper reflective post on the trip. Last week I re-read the journal I kept whilst interrailing and now I’ve had time to sit down and reflect properly, my emotions are all over the place and I don’t think I can formulate my thoughts into a concise post. Instead I am going to post a few of my favourite photos from the trip and write down the memories, lesson or story related to them. It seems cliché to think of this trip as ‘the trip that changed my life’ but it did, that’s what this trip means to me, so without further ado, here are my reflections on Interrail 2015.
Tranquility in Warsaw – this quaint town was our first stop on our trip and was a really good place to begin my first ever backpacking trip, though it didn’t offer the hub-bub that Megan was after. We walked to and from the Old Town to our hostel in the Praga district everyday, but often found time to sit in parks and chat. This photo was taken in one of them, and I can just remember how calm and peaceful this woodland area was. One of the beauties of travel is that you have a lot of time for quiet reflection, I had come away from home where I’d spent most days that summer in my bedroom agonising over how I was feeling after a difficult year. Once in Warsaw and immersed in the calm atmosphere my mind started to slow down and clear, and the sense of clarity developed throughout the trip.
Coming out of my shell in Krakow – travel presents you with opportunities that you’re unlikely to get at home, and had I stayed at home last summer I certainly wouldn’t have found myself dancing on a bar. Travelling will get you out of your comfort zone one way or another, and looking back I really threw myself into partying that night. It had been a difficult six months prior, and that night when our hostel worker said there was a club that let you dance on the bar, I decided to go for it, when I read back on my journal I wrote ‘I don’t think I stopped smiling all night’. This was so much fun and I felt so free.
I’m going to try and write this next bit without gushing. Travel can be toxic for friendships that are homegrown. There’s the risk of your differences being exposed or that you find each other irritating after days and weeks of travelling together. I feel very lucky that it worked out for Megan and I, and we found we can travel well together. It wasn’t always plain sailing, but we were patient and open with each other and able to pursue individual activities. We had an amazing time, and I’m grateful that I was able to accompany Megan on this trip. I’m thankful that she introduced me to this lifestyle.
Of course this trip gave me ample opportunity to get to know myself, which had been one of my goals that summer. I was rebuilding and reinventing myself, trying to heal and trying to grow all at the same time. The trip allowed me to do all of those things. I discovered the importance of me time in Prague, where I took a day out to recuperate from our busy travel schedule. I rediscovered my love of food and history, as before the trip I felt I’d forgotten what my interests were. Interrailing saw me try out a lot of new things, I took this selfie in Budapest after I’d kissed someone and felt deliriously happy about it. It was on this trip that my journey to become my own best friend began, and I began to trust myself again, and is part of the reason why I look back fondly on this time.
Finally this trip made me appreciate the small things: the sunshine, blue sky, waking up, going for a walk and being with my best friend. Gratitude was possibly the most important thing I took from this trip, and as I travelled across the Romanian countryside on the train, I wrote that I never wanted to forget how grateful I felt whilst on this trip. It has stayed with me, and I do my best to appreciate the little things daily. I travel without expectations, and come away appreciating places for what they are, never expecting them to be anything more than what they are.
When I agreed to go interrailing, I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t hype it up in my head. The reality of the trip was more than I could ever have imagined it to be, and looking back on it a year later it is still one of the best things I’ve ever done. This is where I decided to go travelling after university, and sitting here right now I feel great that I can say I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I feel so lucky and so thankful for this trip and everything it did for me as a person, and I’m excited for my next adventure.