Trip Start Sep 30, 2007
43Trip End Jan 08, 2008
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Traveling has taught me so much about this world that we live in as well as myself. That was my goal from the beginning to learn about different cultures and meet as many people as possible. Precisely, I wanted to know what we share in common and understand the differences. Obviously visiting each city for few days to a week is not nearly enough to understand different cultures, but I did my best to learn the history and the people of all the places that I visited.
Europe is a fascinating place, exceeding my expectations by hundred miles. Continent full of cultures, languages, history and conflicts, Europe has seen it all. While all the countries are shoulder to shoulder, there are clear distinctions between each country and some are much more visible than others. For instance, you can feel the passion of Italians. You can see the quality of life in Switzerland. You can notice German's efficiency, Spain's laid back lifestyle and Ireland's friendliness. Characteristics of each country are well represented in their daily lives and my goal was to bring some of them back home.
Before I left, I've seen pictures of Eiffel Tower, Berlin Wall, Buckingham Palace and it was nice to finally see it in person. But ultimately, it was the interaction with people that I'll remember for many years to come. I've found inspirations in small places and through all the people I've met. It's difficult not to be inspired by other backpackers who are all traveling to understand the bigger picture in sort of speak. I met countless number of travelers daring to step out to the unknowns and explore new grounds. I met a tiny girl from south korea who walked 500 miles in 40 days from French border to west coast of Spain. An Argentinian who came to Europe to work through his travels to finance the trip. Catalonian doctors who volunteer in Africa to give hope. I will remember their stories and experiences.
As backpackers, we all go through tough times, facing adversities daily and learning to cope with unfamiliar elements. I believe it's through those experiences that change how you view the world and see yourself. Although I still have many questions, I found many answers along the way and I can notice the shift in my reactions and perception. When you start to question the very basics and open you mind to see things differently, you begin to collect new sets of paradigm in your life. In essence, the last 100 days have shown me the things that I once thought were so important in my life are less significant now.
Looking back at my travels, I enjoyed every single moment and that's quite different from how I lived my life in the past. I was too caught up in the past or the future and as a result, I didn't recognize of all the beautiful things that were happening right before my eyes. Either I'd let my past hold me back on moving forward or in anticipation of things to come, I'd let the moments drift away. Because I knew how extraordinary this opportunity was, I made a strong effort to stay in the moment and truly enjoy every passing minute.
Through it all, I couldn't be more satisfied with the result of my trip. Before leaving for Europe, I really wanted to do two things which was go snowboarding and attend a soccer match. I've been fortunate enough to do both and had the best time of my life. Watching Spain vs. Sweden in Real Madrid stadium was a lifetime experience and riding the Switz mountain was about as good as it'll ever get. But I can say the same for this whole trip. I've been wanting to backpack for so long and to be able to finally live the dream was unreal.
So, here I am, back in LA, having major post-vacation depression. I'm already thinking of my next travels to SE Asia and I believe I'll continue to backpack as long as I can. So, until next time, I hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for coming with me to Europe.
*Special thanks to Benj, Mike, Jaume and Greg for inviting me to your homes and allowing me to experience your respective country's culture from inside out. Thank you and I hope to see you all in LA. :)