Every blog said to pack lightly. Every travel website recommended the max amount of weight should be 15 pounds. Everyone told us to avoid bringing too many clothes. But it’s winter, and we thought it was smart to have many layers. And it’s Europe, where people are always dressed so nicely, and we were going to be in so many photo ops it was impossible to pack lightly.
So now we have to carry 30-pound duffle bags on our backs and hope they don’t break. (Our backs that is.)
It’s only been four days and we’ve already had to run with them through the rain, trek them up what seemed like an eternity of stairs and lock them up in hostel lockers that were only half their size. Backpacking through Europe has been quite an experience so far.
And we’ve still got two cities to go!
The first place we went to was Geneva, Switzerland, where my friend, Jessica, is studying abroad. She landed herself an internship at a United Nations agency this spring and will be spending the rest of the semester in business formal attire proudly sporting her UN badge through the grandiose hallways of the Palace Des Nations.
During our time in Geneva, Jessica was busy finishing her finals week at the University of Geneva, so I had to venture out on my own to explore the city.
For all you travelers out there, here are two apps that I used and that will make your vacations a whole lot easier:
- Izi Travel will give you free itineraries, descriptions and audio tours of the main sights in a certain city and
- Visit a City will create custom itineraries for the amount of days you will be in a city.
I downloaded both of these on my phone, plugged in my headphones and went out to explore the little Swiss city.
Geneva is a tiny town that lies on the shores of Lake Geneva, a beautiful lake that is home to the famous fountain, the Jet d’Eu. What was most surprising was how the city was so clean and quiet during my whole stay there. Everything in Geneva works to perfection, from their bus system, to their laws and their conducts. Everyone is spotlessly dressed and on their best behavior around the clock. Definitely nothing like what I’m used to in L.A. The city is so orderly that is actually made me miss LA’s chaos and personality.
The day Jessica finished her final exams, we took an EasyJet flight to Berlin.
Our first impression of the German capital was scary. We got yelled at by not one, but two Germans and yet, to this day, we still don’t know what we did wrong, or what they were yelling about. Everything is gray, and the fact that it was raining and cloudy while we were there was definitely not helping. However, the rich history that the city contains cannot be compared to anywhere else. We stood where Hitler first declared war, where he allegedly committed suicide and where Ronald Reagan famously yelled “Tear Down This Wall!” In two days, we lived through decades of history, war and massacre and left the place in awe.
The next few days will probably be spent in a havoc, running through Prague, Budapest and Vienna, trying to handle all their different currencies and languages and, like always, laughing through it all.