A Glimpse Into the World of Prostitution

Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession resulting in famous whores throughout history and biblical text.  Hollywood has even romanticized the profession in the flick Pretty Woman, but how many sex workers do you know that have ended up with millionaires.  Go ahead, I’ll wait, I just ordered another pint so we have time.  The sex world is an interesting one and it was through my basic curiosity that I was able to capture a glimpse of this world.  Here are my accounts of that journey.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District

amsterdam-red-light-district-lead
Photo Cred: Conde Nast Traveler

At the helm of the prostitution world is the red light district in Amsterdam simply out of popularity.  Not only is this a place where horny guys go to score, this is a place visited by every traveler out of a basic human feeling, curiosity.  It is a giant tourist attraction, and yes you will see grandpa and grandma waltzing through the red lit streets.  Of course it isn’t till the late hours of the night that the serious customers reveal themselves.  My fist venture here was during my first European excursion.  Like every tourist I went and checked out the girls flaunting their goods behind a glass window.  I couldn’t tell you price or what is negotiated as I did not inquire with one of the girls.  Instead I walked and stared in amazement for this world does not exist in mine.  I will say the girls are hotter than your average street walker in the states.

Pascha in Cologne Germany

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Photo Cred: Carpe Diem

During my time in Cologne I was informed of a famous brothel named Pascha.  After conducting my research through the worldwide web I discovered that Pascha is a hotel where prostitutes rent a room to conduct their services.  Revenue from clients is solely theirs and the hotel does not take a cut.  They make their revenue through entrance fees and alcohol sales. If you ask me this sounds better than working for an abusing pimp.  Yes, yes I don’t know what actually transpires behind the scenes, but if the information is accurate then it is a good deal in an industry that has a seedy reputation.

Pascha is the biggest brothel in Germany. There was no way I was going to miss it so I convinced my fellow hostel mate to join me in this adventure.

It was quite a walk from our hostel to the brothel but upon arrival we were greeted by a single bouncer at the entrance.  We paid our fee to enter the premises which wasn’t hefty, 15 euros I think.  This was two years ago so I apologize for my memory being a bit hazy.  The place didn’t seem quite populated, but it was early in the night.  At this hour most people are just arriving at the bars and the bros are testing their luck.  I’m assuming after failure and last call the place gets packed.

We made our way through the dim lit hallways, floor after floor.  If a girl is open for business she will have her door open and will usually be hanging by the doorway.  Some are quick to offer pricing and services while others gaze at you and wait for you to make the first move.  Starting price is 50 euros.  This can be many different things such as basic sex, blow job or hand job, all depends on what you negotiate with the girl.  Any additional services cost more.  Of course every girl has different prices but the standard I kept hearing was 50 euros.  We got to the final floor of regular services.  Any further up and we had to pay another fee.  What’s on these special floors you ask?  Why trannies of course.  I guess trannies provide a special service to that special gentleman with specific taste.  That was our cue to get the fuck out of there.

Hamburg’s Reeperbahn

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Photo Cred: Muncher Merkur

During my travels I had mentioned to a fellow traveler that I was headed to Hamburg.  She informs me of a place that is forbidden for women to enter.  Of course I asked why and she tells me it is Hamburg’s red light district.  Unlike Amsterdam, this place is closed off to women and according to her there were guards at the entrances preventing women from entering.  She was so intrigued by this that she encouraged me to go and give her a full report on what I had witnessed.  I was enticed.

My stay in Hamburg was short but I did manage to explore the forbidden zone to women.  It did not live up to the hype. It is exactly like the red light district in Amsterdam except it is only a small alley with girls behind the glass.  I didn’t see any guards at the entrances, but it is walled off to keep out of view from the public.  The district it is in is called Reeperbahn, and here you can find plenty of strip/whore houses and street walkers. Reepeerbahn is located next to the St. Pauli quarter which is popular with tourists/backpackers for drinking and partying.

Thailand’s Nana Plaza

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Nana Plaza

My visa in Vietnam had come to an end so I had to leave the best country in South East Asia.  I flew back to Bangkok so I can work my way North.  I booked a hostel far away from Khao San road because I was not in the mood to party. In my search for my hostel I came upon a street with a large unlit sign, it read Nana Plaza.  A friend had mentioned this place to me but during my initial stay in Bangkok I had no desire to visit it.  This time my hostel was a block away so fuck it why not.  I had time to kill anyway.

I returned later that night and oh man this place was something else.  This street was lit up like the Vegas strip. Everyone on this street were either prostitutes or clientel.  There are the few curios minds like mine who are venturing these streets but unlike Amsterdam this did not appear to be a huge tourist attraction.  This place is strictly business, you came here for sex, because “she will love you very long time”.

Unlike the other places I visited, the clientele here was much older.  To be more specific, older white guys.  These fuckers are everywhere, with whores half their age. I went through 3 phases of emotions:

  • Disgust: Bro these girls can be your daughters and for some of you, your granddaughters! The fuck is wrong with you? You old perverted fucks!
  • Humor: Hahahahaha you are about to get fucked by an old wrinkling dick.  Can he even get it up?  Oh man this is so gross it’s funny.
  • Sadness: Fuck, you girls are probably part of the sex trade and are not here out of your own will.  These old fucks are probably here for a reason we don’t see on the surface. Perhaps it is loneliness. For the first time I saw men paying these girls for their time.  They were out on dates and having casual conversations.  Sure the sex probably came later, but unlike their young male counterparts in Amsterdam, for these old blokes it was more than just sex, it was the pleasure of human company from the opposite sex.  At their age there isn’t much to look forward to but death.

I shook off my emotions and continued to explore.

Walking through the plaza the girls are more aggressive than others I had encountered.  They were constantly waving me over, blowing me kisses, showing me nipple, grabbing me and doing ungodly things with their mouth.  I played it cool of course, nodding no thanks to each and every one.

I wandered into one of the brothels where I was greeted by a hostess who sat me down.  In order to stay I had to purchase a beer, so I ordered the cheapest beer they had, good old Chang.  This place had a similar layout to a strip club with a stage in the center.  On stage were several girls with numbers pinned on their bra.  They moved around the stage like one of those pre-made sushi restaurants where the food revolves around a massive table.  Hmmm let’s see? Oh this one looks good. I’ll fuck this one.

The gentleman next to me had selected a number and the hostess brought the girl down to his table.  After a few minutes she brings the girl a drink. The gentleman perceives to pay. I can only assume a drink for the girl is mandatory for her time to talk to you.  Cheeky cunts eh.

After minutes of conversation or negotiation, they strike a deal and the gentleman disappears with the girl in hand behind some curtains.  Finished my drink, waved at the hostess who gave me a disappointed look for not ordering a girl, and took off.

By now you are probably wondering if I paid for sex.  I mean I must have after visiting these places right?  Wrong! I did not have sexual relationships with any of these women.  Man I’m starting to sound like good old Bill but unlike the 42nd president I’m telling the truth.  Hookers simply aren’t my thing, for many more reasons than the fact that I’m cheap.  If hookers are your thing, that’s cool, I’m not judging, I just ask to please do it in a legitimate place otherwise you are contributing to a much larger darker world of the sex trade.

Well that’s about it.  Like I said this was only a glimpse into this world.  I wish I could give you guys more insight but I dare not go any further in my research.  However, if you dare dive further into this world there are plenty of books and documentaries out there.  I’ll let you do your own research.

Till next time fellow travelers.

*photo cred for main photo: Rebel Circus,

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Hostel Etiquette

Hostels are one of the cheapest forms of accommodations when you are traveling.  My favorite thing about them is the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. Hotels, Airbnb or couch surfing don’t present this atmosphere as well as hostels do.

In a hostel everyone is in the same boat, traveling on a budget.  It’s a great place to establish some serious friendships and meet some interesting people.

When staying in a hostel there are universal rules that everyone should know just out of common courtesy, but of course there are those who are habitual rule breakers, or they were simply raised by wolves.

#1 Respect for Space

Hostels can usually be pretty crowded when staying in a dormitory. Space becomes even more limited when there is a lack of storage in the rooms, therefore forcing everyone to keep their belongings on the floor.  There is a simple solution for this, maintain everything in your bag and place it under the bed to allow room for walking.  Don’t be the person that has clothes thrown everywhere forcing people to tip toe around the room to avoid stepping on your clothes.  Ladies, I’m looking at you, for you are the biggest offenders of this crime.

#2 Noise

This is the mother of all fuck ups.  Some people seem to care less about the noise they make in a room they share with 10 other individuals.  If someone is sleeping you should be respectful and minimize all noise levels, even during daylight hours.  This is why hostels have common areas to chill at.  Now if you are staying at a party hostel you can almost throw this rule out the window, almost.  I don’t know about you guys but I’m even more of a ninja when I’m drunk, but if you are staying at a party hostel you paid to have a great time, not to sleep, so you can’t really complain about noise.

#3 Packing

If you are leaving in the ass crack of dawn don’t be a douche and pack your bags minutes before leaving, you are disturbing your fellow hostel mates. Be a nice cunt and pack your bags the night prior.

#4 Sex in Hostel

Ok ok so we have all been guilty of this, including myself (sorry bro sleeping right above me).  I mean when shit gets hot and heavy all fucks go out the window, but I’m here to tell you that fucks should be given. Karma taught me a valuable lesson, hearing others have sex is quite traumatizing, so do us all a favor and take it to the bathroom, common area, rooftop, park, alley, ocean, stairway, anywhere but the hostel room.

#5 Hygiene

I get it, you are a wanna be hippie and want to live that lifestyle to the fullest even though you have wealthy parents.  I guess you want to know what it feels like to live with close to nothing, be a minimalist, experiment with drugs, have an expensive organic diet, and not shave.  This is all cool with me bros and ladies, do you, but for the love of Zeus take a fucking shower.  You are staying in a hostel dormitory that usually has little ventilation so that means everyone can smell your nasty ass.  Even the true hippies from the 60s that originated in Haight street in San Francisco knew the importance of healthy hygiene and showered often.  You choose a healthy lifestyle by going vegan, well guess what, good hygiene is a major part of that.  We all know you can afford a bar of soap cause you’re buying craft beers from the shop.  Oh and guess what?! There is organic soap free of chemicals! We truly are living in the future ladies and gents.

#6 Theft

I have been fortunate not to have anything stolen from me throughout my stays in hostels, but my friends haven’t been so lucky.  Look, we are all in the same boat, just don’t fucking do it, don’t be an asshole.  There is no bigger asshole than thy who steals from his fellow travel mate.  I’m pretty sure this is the 11th commandment.

#7 Cleanliness

Hostels are typically not the cleanest, especially the cheaper ones since they mostly rely on volunteer staff, but hey here’s a genius idea to having a clean environment, PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF AND CLEAN YOUR FUCKING MESS.  The staff would appreciate it and so would your hostel mates.  Once again don’t be an asshole.

I’m drawing a blank right now but I’m sure there’s more.  Remember don’t be an ASSHOLE and follow these simple rules or Zeus, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or John Cena, will smite thy.

Safe travels cunts.

A Common Story

There is a common story amongst travelers, a story of risk that results in an expansion of something in your chest.  These stories revolve around those we meet and the sudden spark that happens.  These are my favorite type of stories, and every traveler has one.  How each one starts and evolves is different but how they end is ever so common.

My biggest advice for you is take the risk, and although it made not result in what you hoped, it will make for the most interesting story on your trip.

So how does it start. Very simple, like a story straight out of a book.  Two individuals meet in a foreign place.  The initiation is simple, “Hello, I’m (fill in the blank).

Two people from different worlds, different languages, different cultures, yet your conversations flow endlessly to a rhythm that never loses beat.

Day turns into night and you discover more about each other.  You begin to notice little details that make you more attracted to them. The wrinkle above her nose when she smiles.  His contagious laugh.

You both act coy, trying not to seem overly interested and even though others seek your attention you continuously engage in conversation with each other, eager to learn more about this perfect stranger.

Nothing is ever set in stone and even when a night is looking promising either party can still ruin these perfect moments.  The fact that we don’t know what the other person is thinking is what makes this ever so interesting and exciting.

Finally, the night is coming to a close, do I make a move or do I simply say good night.  Is he going to make a move?  Maybe he’s not interested.  Maybe I should just say goodnight.

The intensity builds up, you ago against your fears and kiss her.  She kisses you back.

The next morning you are asleep next to a perfect stranger.  Your arms around each other, finding yourself strangely comfortable.  You’ve been here before with an individual you’ve known for years, but this time you’ve only know this person for 24 hours.

A perfect sleep is ruined by a screeching alarm clock.  Reality sets in.  It’s time to go, your flight leaves in 2 hours, but then a strange thought hits you, “Maybe I should stay”.

You motion ever so gently to turn off the alarm clock and not wake her.  You failed.

She lays there and wonders, “Is he going to leave? Maybe he’ll stay”.

You make up your mind, “this is ludicrous, I’m staying the course……but maybe just maybe”

You lie there and watch him pack his bags reminding you that you both have different destinations, different paths, and different futures.

Neither wants this to end and both wish there was more time but they accept what it is, a perfect 24 hours, why ruin it.

They look at each other one last time, both hold back what they really want to say, “Stay!”, “I’m staying!”.

He kisses her goodbye.

All good things must come to an end, regardless if it last 24 hours or several days.  Both parties remain in contact, but eventually communication seizes as they return to their routine lives’.  Their moment together becomes a faint memory, but it will never disappear.

But every once in a while a song, an artifact, or a joke will remind them of each other and they smile is brought to their face.  They wonder, “I wonder what she/he is doing”.  They snap back to reality when their friend asks them, “What are you smiling about silly?”.  They respond, “Nothing….so what are we drinking?”

By now you are probably wondering if this has happened to me or if this story is directly from my own experience.  Perhaps, or maybe it belongs to a friend, really it’s a story that belongs to all us but in many different variations.  There are of course so many more details to this story that make it more intriguing and humorous, but I try to keep my blog posts short so I don’t lose your interest.

I have yet to hear a story that has ended differently, and although the ending is not what you want to hear, every traveler treasures these memories.  You can see it in their eyes and hear it in the enthusiasm of their voice.  This is why these are my favorite stories to hear, because they are real, touching, adventurous and straight risky.  Traveling exposes us to these experiences and trust me it will happen to you, it might even happen more than once.

Good luck out there fellow travelers, safe travels and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

 

Toro! Toro! (Pamplona, how to survive the bull run)

Madrid had been a blast and after several nights of partying with new friends it was time to move on to Pamplona to attend the festival of San Fermin.  The festival of San Fermin is most famous for its bull run where thousands of people gather together for a week long celebration of the famous saint.

Originally I had no plans to be at this festival, for my Europe excursion was not meant to begin till August, but in an interesting turn of events I found myself leaving a month early, just in time for the festival.

My day began with a sleepless night as I shared a bunk with a friend whose phone went off throughout the night, in a room meant for 4 but 6 of us stayed in.  Tired and hungry I stumbled into the bus where I passed out for a couple of hours providing hours of entertainment for my friends as my head tilted back against my seat with my mouth wide open. A ticket to Pamplona should run about 30-40 Euros.

The festival kicks off with an epic sangria fight, which unfortunately I missed, but I arrived that weekend which probably had the highest attendance due to it being the weekend. Highly recommend going for the start of the festival, after all why wouldn’t you want to be drenched in sangria with thousands of people.

As I awoke from my slumber, I began to see the traditional outfit worn during the festival. White pants, white shirt, red sash, and red pañuelo will either be the outfit you die in, or the outfit you had the greatest time in.

We arrived early in the afternoon and after dawning our outfits we joined in the festivities. The plan was to take it easy and pace ourselves but after seeing a sea of people passed out on any patch of grass they could find, and another sea of people raging, I thought to myself, “fuck, I’m not ready for this, oh well time to rally (pounds copious amounts of alcohol to the face)”.

The next couple of hours can only be described in a montage of drinking, bull fighting, dancing, applauds, roaring crowds, dance parades, death and more drinking…good times.  In my drunken state I was determined to walk the course the bulls were going to run the following morning.  I wanted to be a bit prepared, after all I didn’t come all this way to be gored by a bull, but there was no way I was going to miss it either.

Accommodation

Hostels and Airbnb are booked out months in advance so plan accordingly.  The rates are also much higher for the event so budget for that as well.  I was lucky to find an Airbnb for like $90 bucks a night.  I know expensive but so worth it.  You can also camp in the local parks or sleep in the bus station like my friends did.

The Route (El Encierro)

The route the bulls run is walled off so they can’t escape and it stretches just over 800 meters. The street is narrow, and paved in cobblestone. One thing nobody told me was that the Spanish wash the street prior to the race to clear it of any debris, so you’ll be running on wet cobblestone, good luck. The run ends in the arena where more fun is to be had.

pamplona-bull-run-map

The Runners

Runners are made up of nationals and foreigners. Once the run starts its every man for himself. I say man because very few females participate in the run. The Spanish also frown upon it and authorities might remove a female from the run, sorry ladies. Being to intoxicated and having any form of picture/video device to take selfies will get you excluded from the run as well. Fellow runners are also your other threat. They will push and trample you, anything to escape from being impaled.

Dead Man’s Corner

Dead man’s corner is a sharp right turn along the route. The most consistent advice I received was to stick to the right because the Bulls will take a wide right turn and smash anyone on the left side. I had originally placed myself at dead mans corner so to avoid it during the run. Bad idea, for the police will kick everyone out beyond this point. They try to manage the size of the crowd and will boot as many people as they deem fit. Best way to avoid this is to position yourself as close to the start of the run as possible.

The Run

I slept an hour before the run and was still drunk when I awoke. I had lost my friends the night before but we found each other prior to the run. It was 5am and the sun was creeping up over the horizon.  Note to future runners you don’t have to be up by 5 am for the run isn’t till 8 am.  I just wanted to ensure that I had a spot.  You should be fine if you get there right before 7 am.  I mentioned that I got removed from the race because I was positioned near dead man’s corner.  I pleaded with the officer to let me stay in but she said to me, “Regresa el proximo ano” (come back next year).  I noticed several of other runners hop the fence and work their way around the police to find another entrance.  I rallied the troops and we followed these renegades.

The Bulls
Bullpen

It was a mad dash towards the beginning of the race, the one place we did not want to be. We found an opening between the fence and once again we were participants in the race.  Two Canadians, an Australian and an American waited nervously for the first rocket to go off.  The first rocket signaled the release of the bulls while the second rocket signaled that the bulls had reached the crowd. A minute before the race the crowd intensifies and an eerie chant echoes through the street.  I later found out that this was a prayer to the famous saint.  It was eerie enough to frighten the foreigners as they began to take off.

Less than 100 meters from the start I stood alone as my friends said, “fuck this shit mate, I’m out”.  I was determined to see the bulls before I started running.

BOOM! The first rocket goes off.  I thought to myself, “Ok I have some time still, bulls aren’t that fast, right?”

BOOM! Second rocket goes off seconds later. “OH SHIT!”

I see the horns and pack of bulls spreading the crowd of people like Moses did to the Red Sea.  I take off with no single thought in my head.  I can hear, “TORO! TORO!” coming from behind me along with the ever growing sound of hooves stomping on the cobblestone.  Moments later I feel the rush of the crowd push me towards the fence where a group of people had fallen giving up any chance to stand up.  Instead they huddled on the floor protecting their head.  I leaped over them as several massive blurs passed my peripheral.  Just like that the race was over, and I jogged the remainder of the way into the arena.

At the arena I found my friend and we celebrated our dash from death.  The crowd in the arena cheered the victorious runners.  The gates are shut and an announcer comes over the loud speaker announcing the release of a bull.

After The Run
Right after the bull run in the arena

Wait! What!

A single bull is released into the arena. We spend the next couple minutes avoiding the bull before deciding to hop the fence, but as my friend and I make our escape a Spanish officer pushes us back in.  A simple grin is all he gives us.  We spend another 15 minutes avoiding the bulls that are released into the arena before finding an unguarded side of the arena for us to hop the fence.  For the rest of the time we become spectators and watch the crazy Spanish agitate an already frustrated bull.  This goes on for a good while.

The best advice I can give you future runners is………..run, simply just run.  Good luck.

If you find yourself in Spain during the festival, make every effort to make your way to Pamplona, I promise you won’t regret it.  I highly encourage participating in the bull run as well because it is an unforgettable experience.  Regardless if you run or not, the Festival of San Fermin is a must do and you will have a great time.

Till next time friends.

 

 

The Rough Plan (Europe Itinerary 2015)

July 7, 2016    

A year ago today I hopped on a plane on my way to Europe for a 3 month trip.  Below in blue is a snapshot of the planning process.  It was a rough plan and many things changed during my trip, but take a look at it because you might find something useful.  The notes on the bottom were meant for a friend who took a similar trip.

Europe Trip 2015 August 3/4 – September/October

  1. Pick cheapest airport to depart from and cheapest country to arrive in.
  2. Plan route and see which city you will see last so that you can depart from.
  3. Choose must see cities and how long you will stay in each city.
  4. Find hostels in these cities.

The route, recommended days to spend and hostels

Pamplona 2                 Festival de San Fermin (Bulls Bitches)

Madrid 3                    

Lisbon  2                     

Lagos   2                      The Rising Cock

Seville 2                     

Cordoba 2                   

Granada 2                  

Barcelona 3  (18)        Kabul

Paris 3-4                      The Loft Boutique

London 3-4                  St. Christopher Village

Bruges   2                   

Amsterdam 2-3          Flying Pig Downtown

Berlin 3                       Wombat’s City

Prague 2-3                 

Budapest 3-4              Retox party hostel

Vienna 2  (43)

Munich                        September18-21  Ancher Point  Okterberfest baby!!!

Interlaken 2                 Balmers Herberge

Venice 2                     

Florence 2                  

Cinque Terre 2

Rome 3-4                   

Athens remainder       Pink House

  1. Have 88 days total including travel time.  Take away 10 days for travel and to regroup,  have about 78 days to see Europe. 
  1. Planned budget 10k fuck!  Time to work my ass off.  Target goal reached, but KEEP GOING!!

Spain-places to go according the sweet Spanish couple I met.

Seville

  1. Alcazar – royal palace
  2. Catedral (Seville Cathedral)
  3. Giralda Tower
  4. Parque de Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park) (Within this park is la Plaza de Espana)
  5. Jardines de Murillo (another park)
  6. University of Seville (not sure why they added this, might be historical)

Neighborhoods where you can find places to eat and drink.

  1. Plaza San Francisco
  2. Alameda de Hercules
  3. Triana
  4. Tablao el Arenal (restaurant with flamenco show)
  5. Barrio de Santa Cruz
  6. Casa Roman (restaurant)

Granada

  1. Alhambra (Palace)
  2. Centro y Alrededores (I think this is some kind of downtown area)

Cordoba

  1. Mezquita Catederal (Mosque of Cordoba)

Madrid

  1. Zona de La Latina (center of Madrid)
  2. Plaza De Mayor
  3. La Taberna de la Daniela (this is restaurant, good but pricy though)
  4. Mercado San Miguel (this is a market with all kinds of food)
  5. Taberna Macieras (this is restaurant, really good apparently
  6. Huertas (Spain is divided into districts, this is one of them)
  7. Museo del Prado (art museum)
  8. Chocolateria San Gines (chocolate restaurant.  They serve fresh churros with fresh chocolate, hope you like chocolate)
  9. Mercado de la Reina (restaurant)
  10. All these places are located near each other in the “zona centro”, in other words the center of Madrid.

Barcelona

  1. Barrio Gotico (neighborhood with plenty of things to see, eat, and drink.) (Laseu Cathedral is here along with gothic alleyways)
  2. Paseo de Gracia (plenty of places to shop here but this is a pricey district, but still cool to visit because of its architecture)
  3. Barrio de Gracia (this is a district/neighborhood plenty of places to drink and eat)
  4. Tibidabo (this is the tallest mountain in the area where you get an entire view of Barcelona, there is also a sick church at the top)
  5. Villa Olimpica (I believe this is a hotel but they noted it as a zone/area to take a stroll through, and there’s a park there. Looks very industrial when I looked it up)
  6. Universitat (this is a stop on the metro, apparently there are plenty of places to eat cheap here)

This is all the Spanish couple wrote down, hope it is helpful.  They completely changed my itinerary.  I went from spending a week in spain to spending at least two.  Now that I am leaving earlier, I plan on attending the festival of San Fermin (the bull run).  There is more info for Barcelona that a friend who was just there told me about, I just have to write it down.  She also spent time in Paris so I’ll pick her brain about that.  I’ve also getting more info for Italy and Germany from people who have been there and have lived there.  Let me know if you are interested in any of this information. 

Northface Gear

Shoe:  Ultra fastpack goretex

Below is the actual route that I took with minimal back tracking.  I will post more specific information about each place that I visited at a later time.  I will also include hostel reviews along with it.  Sorry about lacking on writing, but life happens.

The Final Route

Spain – Madrid, Toledo, Pamplona

Portugal – Lisbon, Lagos

Spain – Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona

France – Paris, Normandy

England – London

Italy – Naples, Amalfi Coast

Belgium – Brussels, Bruges

Germany – Cologne

Netherlands – Amsterdam

Germany – Berlin

Czech – Prague

Poland – Krakow

Hungary – Budapest

Turkey – Istanbul

Greece – Athens

Serbia – Belgrade

Bosnia – Mostar

Croatia – Zagreb

Austria – Vienna

Germany – Munich

Switzerland – Interlaken

Italy – Lake Como, Florence, Rome, Vatican

For the most part I stuck to my plan but additions were made thanks to my fellow backpackers.  I rushed through the Balkans and missed the Greek islands, but it gives me a reason to go back.  I suggest not having a concrete plan, but a rough plan instead, because circumstances will change.  Also its more fun being flexible.

I have plenty of info and stories from my travel journal that I still need to transfer over.  Hopefully this is helpful for now for those looking to travel Europe.  If you have any questions feel free to ask, till next time friends.

 

Tips on Backpacking (Europe)

I had no idea what to bring on a backpacking trip through Europe so I took to the inter web in need of advice. There are plenty of sources out there such as the lonely planet, Vaga brothers, and several travel bloggers willing to give you some advice. One of my favorite sites is the Savvy Backpacker. You can find everything you want to know on their site and they break things down more elegantly than I do.  

The advice I plan on giving is based on my sole experience as a male solo traveler. Ladies I’ll shoot you a source at the end of this.

Luggage

Travel light, as light as possible. You want to be quick on your feet and be able to pick up your bag and go. There will be multiple times that you will be running late due to not understanding the native tongue, or because you drank to much the night before. I was fortunate to only miss my bus once in Amsterdam due to a late night of partying. With this being said purchase a bag that is no bigger than 50L. This is the largest bag you are allowed without having to check it in at the airport. I purchased a Northface Terra 50 top loading bag, because I got a great discount on it thanks to a family member. There are superior brands out there such as Osprey, but you’ll be paying a shit load of money for it. Don’t be cheap with the bag you choose either, for this thing will carry your life for the next couple of months.  

Top loading vs suitcase style backpack

The Northface Terra 50L held up really good for what I needed. Looks good and has sufficient amount of pockets to put things in. Top loading backpacks are not ideal for packing due to the lack of accessibility. However if you pack accordingly it reliefs the stress of finding things. Here’s what I did: I separated things into categories (shirts, socks, underwear)and stored them in ziplock bags to keep them together. This made things really easy to find. Another handy tip is to pack according to outfits. Keep the most current outfit on top and once it has served its use store it at the bottom through the bottom zipper access on the bag. Doing this will push the next outfit up. I personally brought a laundry bag to separate my dirty clothes from my clean ones.  

The Terra is technically a hiking backpack and has several straps that can at times get in the way. Easy fix though, just store them away. There are backpacks in the market that offer a suitcase style, meaning they fully open making things easily accessible. I have no experience with these types of bags, but I like the concept behind them. Whatever you do though, don’t actually bring a suitcase with wheels and a lil handle like my friend Dan did. Cobblestone streets will not be kind to you, and neither will the locals who you are constantly hitting with your bag. Dan’s suitcase lasted less than a month, and he purchased a bag similar to mine afterwards. Sorry Dan.

What to pack?

While we are on the topic of bags and packing another important question is what to pack? Like I said I’m a guy so I can’t help you ladies in this subject, but I will give you some guidance at the end.

Ok bros remember you are a man or better yet a “dudeman”, trademark pending, so you can survive on very minimal items. The lack of womanly products will save you tons of space. I recommend bringing at least a week worth of underwear and socks. You will need to change these daily with the exception of socks if you buy the right pair of socks. Wool socks with wicking material work great and will keep you comfortable, dry and don’t smell horrible after one use.

Buy a comfortable pair of shoes and wear them in prior to your travels. I wouldn’t go cheap on this either. You won’t need some extreme hiking boots, because you won’t be roughing it in the woods. Instead you will be navigating through several cities with small corridors and amazing architecture. The miles you put in will depend on you. On average I would put in 8 to 10 miles daily, mainly cause I almost never took public transportation. Once again I bought Northface brand simply cause I got a discount, but brands like Merrills or Solomans are great as well. I suggest buying a black pair of shoes because they go well with every outfit. One pair of shoes is all you will need. Dress codes to bars or clubs in Europe are pretty much non existent.

My shoes were gortex which are not necessary during summer but it did save me on some rainy days and when my trip extended into September. Also you might be an idiot and stumble into a fountain in the center of a city square. No I was not drunk.

I forgot to mention that I’m basing this packing list on a summer trip but still pack a light sweater/jacket in case you go to areas where it might be a bit chilly (London).

3 t-shirts and 2 button ups is all you will need. Two pair of slacks and maybe one pair of jeans. Honestly I wouldn’t bring jeans during the summer. Europe is fucking hot and your balls will thank me. I say at least two shorts and two slacks. I highly recommend Bluffworks for the pants. They are pricey but worth it. About 90 bucks for a pair. They are light, breathe well, wrinkle free and look good. I took a khaki pair with me which matched with every outfit, casual or dressy.

Flying vs train vs bus

By far the most economical form of travel is by bus. It is ridiculously cheap, convenient and there are busses leaving constantly. The busses in Spain and Portugal were not that great but as I headed more east the buses became more luxurious. I’m talking wifi and small screen TVs. Flix and Student Agency are some of the best buses I have ever been on. Use their apps to find tickets. There many others by now and I’m sure prices are just as competitive.

I didn’t purchase a rail pass but I hear it’s quite convenient. Purchasing a train ticket last minute is quite expensive, to the point where flying becomes more economical.

I did quite a bit of flying. I think I took 8 flights during my time in Europe. Flights within Europe are cheap. Airlines like Rynair, Vueling, and Easyjet are some of the cheap airlines you will encounter. The best way to utilize these airlines is through the app Skyscanner. It searches all the cheap airlines throughout Europe and connects you directly to the airline to make a purchase. These airlines make their money through seat preference and luggage check ins. This highlights the importance of having a bag no bigger than 50L and who cares where you sit. Also check in online and print your boarding pass because some airlines will charge you to print a boarding pass.

Navigation

Take the time to learn the basics of a foreign language, the locals will appreciate your attempt.  

“Sprechen English? Danke”

Hostels will offer you maps of the city and are great guides. When booking a hostel, they will usually provide you with great directions on how to get there as well.

We are quite reliant on technology but honestly you won’t need it although it is a great tool to have. I learned about an app called Citymaps that works with no satellite or wifi service. This boggled my mind and I was sure some type of sorcery was involved (not a word Liz). The app works by downloading maps of the area you are in. These maps of course have to be downloaded when you are connected to wifi. Usually you also have to establish your location through wifi when arriving in a new area. Afterwards the map will pinpoint and track your location. This is a very handy app and very few travelers knew about it. It also marks tourist locations and you can mark your hostel so you can find your way back.

These are the basics. I could go further in depth but then you probably be bored of reading. Also do your own research you lazy fucks. But seriously do your homework, because not only will you be well informed but you’ll get pumped about your trip. Ladies I know I promised you a better source so here it is.

Shegoesglobal.net

This blog is written by a girl name Heather who I met in Rome. A fellow Bay Area girl and inspiring writer. She’s traveling on her own for a year and has written some awesome pieces so far. I believe this will be a great source for you.

Final Thoughts

Act accordingly and be humble that you are seeing the world. Give up your seat on the metro, help an elder lift something heavy, open and hold doors, and if you see a woman trying to figure out how to bring her kid on a stroller down some steps, take action and assist her. She will give you the biggest smile and be grateful that a foreigner helped her when her own simply passed her by. Others will notice and their perception of the country you represent will change.  

Feel free to ask any questions. Till next time friends and safe travels.  

The Squad

While I was traveling I learned a very important rule, establish a squad or join one. For me this came pretty naturally since I’m a sociable guy, but it might be quite a struggle for you introverts. But no worries for this is a real simple thing to do if you stay at a hostel. Hostels cater to the lone traveler and host events such as bar crawls and family dinners to get everyone acquainted. Even without them travelers naturally want to connect with each other due to the commonality of being foreigners in a country.

I’ve established several squads and been part of many but my Madrid squad remains my favorite, not because it was the first but because of how easy we connected. It was simple and it all started with a “Hey how’s it going, I’m Carlos”, “Hey I’m Dan, pizza?”

It started with a simple young Australian mate to my fellow Australian soldier, the America girls and the Canadians.

Day 1: established names and got drunk together.

Day 2: day trip to Toledo, share the misery of our hangover and fell asleep on busses and restaurants. This of course was followed by another night of partying. Hey why not right, after all we are in Madrid.

Day 3: tour the city followed by some needed rest.

The weekend: go to Pamplona and run from some Bulls.

The one drawback behind this is the constant heartbreak. Eventually everyone goes their separate ways and you find yourself missing these people you only knew for a few days. Although the time spent with them was short, the experiences you shared will live forever in your memories.

With that being said, cheers to my Madrid squad, Granada, Istanbul, Berlin, London, Munich, Prague and so many others.

Prost!