Yes I know. I should have written about this whole trip every week. That was my intention, but things were so intense and racing that I did not have time for it. Now I am almost in my last week and finally I sat in front of the computer with the intention to tell how was my adventure. So get ready: this post will be long!
And I want to say that most of my fun would not be possible without the help of the internet and the dating site. I met some really cool people and made lots of friends! Did I have any romance? You will only know if you continue reading!
The last time I posted, I was in London, about to meet an English guy. Do you want to know how it went? It was very fun! He was with some friends. We drank, we had fun... and we exchanged a few kisses, of course. I returned to the hostel with the sun rising. The next day I had a little hangover and slept until lunchtime. I had lunch and began to pack my things to go to Paris, according to my itinerary.
Actually, from London, the best tip is to go by train to Paris - it's a 2h30min ride aboard the mega comfortable Eurostar, leaving and arriving in the heart of the city. The French capital is the consumer dream of every European tourist, and it is only on Parisian soil that everything is justified. Just start walking (and, believe me, walking is the most perfect way to discover and enjoy Paris) to come face-to-face with one postcard after another. It is also worth taking a day trip to Reims (the wine region of the true champagne).
I soon met, at the train station, a group I had arranged to meet online. I met them on the dating site when I posted my itinerary. I said that I wanted to have a lot of fun until January 3rd, but that day I was still tired of New Year's Eve.
Oh, Paris! Yes, the city is all they talk about and a little more. But you must see for yourself. Forget everything you've ever heard about the place, give up any expectation and just go. Try it. Use the subway, discover the underground scene of the city and, mainly, walk. Paris is beautiful during the day, but it is at nightfall that the show takes shape. It may sound silly, but seeing that gigantic tower flashing and turning the overhead lights is something memorable. Of course, it will be difficult to have a closer moment with the Eiffel Tower to make that cool photo to show to your virtual colleagues. But if you can, go there more than once and draw your own conclusions.
All the time I spent in Paris I stayed with these people. I had so much fun! We went to bars and places that are not so obvious to tourists. Thank you for showing me a different Paris!
Let’s go to Rome! Mamma Mia!
After a quick flight, I arrived at another European classic: Rome. The chaotic traffic in no way compromises the charm of visiting a city that breathes history and mythology. With a catalog of open-air monuments, the land of pizza and gelato still has the Vatican "toast" - a brand new country to include in your trip, right around the corner.
It looks something, but it’s the opposite. No, Rome is not big. You can go almost everywhere on foot. For the Vatican, it is good to take the subway, but for the other places, it is worth walking! Driving there, no way. The streets are narrow, the traffic is terrible and there is never anywhere to park. It also has a bikes rental scheme, but get ready, Rome has several hillsides!
I confess that I wanted to have an Italian romantic adventure! I know the fame of the Italians, and I was very curious. Since London I was chatting online with an Italian from the site. As soon as I arrived in Rome, I left my things in the hostel and went to the place where we arranged to meet: a delicatessen. When I entered, I was already amazed by the beautiful and almost handmade products. He was there and soon recognized me (foreigner looking all amazed).
We ate, we talked and we got along right away. He was so hot! Result: After a few lazy walks on foot through the city, we were having a really good and rough sex at his house. Do not judge me! After much insistence on his part, I agreed to pick up my things at the hostel and spend the days I had left at his house. It was wonderful and romantic! He showed me the city as only a native can do and... other things too. Many thanks, internet!
But on January 5th, I had to leave. He insisted that I stay, but I had an itinerary. We agreed to meet again: in Vienna.
It was then that I went on to the second part of my trip: Iberian Europe: Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona.
The beautiful Lisbon
Everything is pleasant in Lisbon - the weather, the food, the people and even the prices - because of this, people feel so at ease in the capital of Portugal. Surrounded by history, it is enveloped in a vibe as bewildering as it is inviting to its visitors. Impossible to resist.
From Lisbon, it is easy to take the same day round trip to Sintra or Cascais, for example, both about half an hour away. You can still quietly change countries, going to Seville (6h30min by bus or 1 hour by plane) and from there to Madrid by train (my case), if the idea is to avoid the plane.
Gateway to Europe, Lisbon is multicultural, full of attractions and history to be explored by travelers. One advantage of the city is, like the rest of this itinerary, the possibility of going anywhere by public transportation. There are four options: subway, bus, tram, train, and the most charming of all, which deserve a special ride: the cable car.
I found a girl who arranged to go out with me on the internet. However, we only managed to meet on the last day I was in town. She decided to take me to see the beautiful Cascais, beach area near Lisbon. We took the train and quickly got there. We visited a little of the Historic Center and we entered the Fortress of Our Lady of Light, with a super cool exhibition about the history of the Fort and a beautiful view to the beach. Then we continued walking through the marina until we started walking along the beaches there.
Next destination: Madrid
Two cities as beautiful as they are different in Spain and certainly must be present in the itinerary of your trip to Europe. Madrid is the capital and behaves as such: intense traffic, internationally renowned museums and a rich gastronomy. Leaving from there, the tip is to make a drive back to Toledo or Segovia (about half an hour by train).
Madrid is more than the capital of Spain, it is a place with life. Day and night, Madrid is in constant motion. Public transportation is one of the best in Europe and the city has incredible museums, sights, restaurants and a night life that has no time to finish.
A group of Spaniards talked with me on the dating website and said that they would show me a Madrid that few tourists know about. I was called to a Pub Crawl. Do you know what a Pub Crawl is? If you do not know, it's time to know what your nights will look like. Pub Crawl is a movement where several people get together and go to various bars. Everyone meets at a set time and place and together they go to several bars. The end of the tour is a ballad, so you need to be over 18 years old.
One of the places they took me was Chapandaz, a place known only to the Spaniards and a few tourists. The small entrance does not seem to have a bar, much less one that looks like a real cave. The drinks, made from panther's milk, come out surprisingly. Go with several friends and decide on the size of the drink that can be ordered in a glass of up to 6 liters.
Relaxing in Barcelona
Drinking so much affected my trip to Barcelona. I was very hung over, making me grumpy and I had to wear sunglasses until I reached my destination.
For my luck, Barcelona has a totally relaxing climate, and mixes culture, beach and nightlife like few cities in Europe. From the architectural marvels of Gaudí to the lively sands of Barceloneta, the order is to have fun in the Catalonian capital.
I explained to the people I would find (who contacted me through the site) that I was not very excited about the nightlife. I needed a more relaxing script.
Barcelona is one of those cities where you will always find something that will surprise you. Capital of the region of Catalonia, the city has several tourist attractions that are certainly different from anything you have ever seen.
I decided to take a more tourist tour. We went to Plaça de Carles Buïgas, where the Catalan Art Museum is, then we had lunch at the Arena Shopping (old Plaça de Toros de les Arenes) and then we went up to enjoy a beautiful view of Barcelona. From there we went to the beautiful Park Guel, an urban park designed by the modernist Antoni Gaudí, which is an obligatory stop!
We still enjoyed the morning of the next day to know a little more of Barcelona, walk along Las Ramblas and surroundings. We saw the Gothic Quarter in the light of day and we went to the Cathedral of Barcelona.
I'll stop my story here, or it'll be too long. The third part of my trip (from the 13th to the 20th of January) was the Beer Route: Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dublin!
I imagine you are curious about this next part of the trip, watered by alcohol, but it will be on the next post.
My most valuable tip is: find travel companions before the trip starts
Now with the internet, it is easy to find people with the same affinity who are planning trips to the same destination and are seeking company. Just use a dating site, put it where you're going and talk a little bit about yourself. So the interested parties can contact. Same thing on the other way around. Take a look if there are people going to the same destination as you will go. After that, just get in touch.
I'll give a tip inside this tip: it is difficult to travel with someone you know. So imagine traveling for some time with someone you met on the internet! So think carefully and research the person who will be your companion. If possible, meet in person and have a beer (or coffee) to see if there is affinity between you, so do not make the mistake of making a trip with someone who is boring!
In order for you to succeed in meeting people on your travels and having fun, some considerations are important to help you with this task:
- Do not be afraid to talk to people! Even if you are relatively shy where you live, do not forget, you will be in a place that no one knows you, and will probably never see these people again in your life (unless you want to). So take a chance! In fact, some people even find it easier to talk to strangers during their travels than in their daily lives;
- Stick with it and invite people to a beer or explore the city together after a little chat. The most you can hear is a no, and then you go to the next person;
- Do not get stuck on your computer or cell phone (that's why my posts took a long time). If you are not open to meeting other people, they will not come to you;
- Have an open mind to talk to anyone. Whatever the gender, nationality, color, religion, sexual preference, age, etc. If you are traveling, it is not to meet the same kind of people you already know where you live. Open your mind;
- If you do not want to be alone, give preference to tour itineraries where there are many travelers. This makes it easier to meet new people;
- Take initiative! Do not wait for people to come and talk to you, because this may never happen if they are shy;
- Beware of prejudices and what you talk about certain cultures and countries. Listen more and ask more questions about the country of the person than to state your opinion (because he probably knows more about the country than you). Do not come up with preconceived ideas like, "Ah, you're Spanish, so you should do X, or you're Portuguese, so you should like Y." Try to know a little about the country, capital, language, etc. Being ignorant of the world is not attractive;
- Do not make so many plans and be flexible. If you are totally restricted to your itinerary and do not have free time to take a walk with the people you have just met, you will end up following only your schedule, but alone.
And to conclude, be friendly and always keep a big smile. This is the best postcard to represent you and your home country. See you on the next post!