Early 2014, I was in the process of planning an epic backpacking trip that started at the end of February. Thankfully I got all the visas I needed - and it was a wonderful 2 months in South America. Life as a Kenyan traveler is not always easy:-)
As I planned this epic 2 month adventure, it reminded me that I need to document all that happened on another backpacking trip I did with friends in end of 2012. It was overambitious, it was hectic, it was fun! We went to 12 European countries in 6 weeks. The funny thing is that we actually cut out some countries a few hours before we left Kenya because most of us only had single-entry Schengen visas - meaning if we left the Schengen area we would not be able to get back in. We bid a sad farewell to Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. The countries that remained in our itinerary were as follows - Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Netherlands.
Obviously when planning such a trip - one thing is key - you have to go with the right people. I love all my friends and family, but I am sure there are some people I would throw off a cliff in Hungary if I had to spend 6 weeks traveling with. 6 weeks of intense travel, close living quarters and communal tasks can either bring out the best or the worst in people. I have to say that the team we had was perfect!
For the sake of anonymity, I will give everyone in merry band of travelers a pseudonym. In total there was 6 of us. The first traveler, we will call "The Reluctant". The girl is reluctant at first, but when push comes to shove, she will get into the game. She is the type of girl who really wants to take that shot, but worries that she might get drunk and act silly. Thankfully by the end of the trip "The Reluctant" was cured of such worries that polite society places on us. The second traveler we will refer to as "The BARacuda". This name suits her best given her ability to always find the best bar wherever we were. She would sniff a bit, lick her finger and stick it out in the air and say "There! That basement. I can tell there is a fun club there." Her formula worked everywhere including in a random street in Bratislava, different parts of Budapest, quieter streets of Munich. This girl has a club radar! The third member of our merry band will henceforth be known as "The Little Toe." My cousin always tells us this story of how you are walking, and all your toes are apparently meant to be attentive to what the plan is - just keep moving forward - follow the rest of the toes. Somehow your little toe always goes against this plan. It is as if someone says, "Hey! Hey! Little Toe! Look here! Turn round!" Little Toe turns round and the next thing you know, you are writhing in pain on the ground. Your little toe somehow hit the corner of the couch! The Little Toe in our group usually seems to be going in a different direction from where the rest of the toes are going. It is never her fault, but she always seems to be following instructions that the rest of the band has not heard about.
Ok. Almost there. Now you know half of the people. The other three are myself (not really sure what my code name would be - The Frat Boy? The Bunjee Jumper?). Who knows? The other two people were "The Lady" and "The Safety Cord." The lady was the one person in our group we were never really sure would survive the backpacking trip. She was the person who wanted fresh croissants in Paris while the rest of us were content eating our bread and cheese on the train. She was the one who looked petrified every time we got to a hostel and she realized that "hostel" is not synonymous with "hotel." By the end of this trip, The Lady had undergone a transformation though. We would get into a train and she would be the first to say "Little Toe, hand me the bread! The Reluctant, pass me that salami! BARacuda, do you still have that plastic knife from the other day? Ok, gang! I am making us some sandwiches!" The last member of the group was "The Safety Cord." If it wasn't for The Safety Cord, we would most likely still be in Europe - lost in some remote town or in a club where time would stand still, and we would only notice one day when we looked into a pool of murky water on the ground and saw the grey hairs on our heads. The Safety Cord is amazingly fun but always rational (at least almost always:-). She lets you go bunjee jumping, but ensures you don't end up hitting the ground. She is the voice of reason that would say, "I know you are having fun. Yes, yes, I know you think he looks like Eric Northman. In reality, he is a troll. He is saying him and his friends will make sure we get home after the club, but have you realized they can't even stand upright? They don't even have shoes on! It is time to go home! We have an early morning train." Despite our protestations, we always had her to thank many a headachy morning.
Together with these lovely band of crazies, we went to take over Europe!