Ahh… How did that grab me. So there I was going around asking friends on how to travel around Europe, the things to do and other myriad gory details. “Check out the chicks,” the guys said. Yeah, sure…
So how does one prepare for a European tour?
Simple. Get a Eurorail ticket, the cheapest way to travel, they said. Its valid on most trains in Europe for 30 days.
Lodging shouldn’t be a problem either. Cheap youth hostels are available all over the continent or take night-trains and sleep onboard, a friend advised.
Remember to visit the museums, theatres and entertainment venues – EuroDisney, Eiffel Tower and Amsterdam’s many love museums. Check the love-scene too, said one hedonistic friend.
Passports and currencies, etc.?
Get visas where required (call the embassies) or Schengen visa from the French consulate covering entries to most countries.
Do get some currencies too - Holland’s Guilders, German’ Deustchmark and France’s Franc – and travellers cheque, normally Thomas Cook cheques in US Dollars.
Maps, traveller’s guides and bilingual dictionaries in the main languages – English, French, Italian and German – are also a must especially for those looking for company.
And then, there’s the rough and tough jeanswear, travelling boots and a backpack along with clean underwears and a ton of deoderant. You’ll need it.
There, its bon voyage time.
“Wait a minute, what’s the cost,” I asked a friend.
“Not much. A Eurorail ticket cost 245 Pounds (about RM900). One night in youth-hostel cost at least six Pounds (roughly RM25). So’s the food per day,” she replied.
“What about tickets to Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and classical concerts in Prague?” I pestered her.
“Not to worry, 700 Pounds (about RM3000) should cover most expenses and provide a fulfilling trip. That should be affordable,” she assured me.
“Uh… Em… Er… 700 Pounds. OK, should be peanuts,” I answered.
Yeah… Sure… Some peanuts. I only had 150 Pounds in my accounts… Time to get another advice.
“Joe, can I tour Europe with 150 Pounds?” I asked another.
“Sure, go to Amsterdam or Paris, you can spend three days there and enjoy yourself with that much money,” he replied.
“But I don’t want to see just one or two cities, I want to visit at least ten countries in at least 30 days,” I said. “How then?”
“Uh… Em… Er… Work for a few more weeks and save money or get some from your dad,” was the wise advice. Not exactly a solution. I don’t have much time. My London to Malaysia flight was due in 6 weeks time. Dad wouldn’t give me money either.
After a few nights of brainstroming, I arrived at a solution.
This was what I did:-
(a) Sold the old Samsung microwave to an Iranian friend for 30 Pounds.
(b) Bought a 50 Pounds Euroline round-trip London-Amsterdam bus ticket, the cheapest to Europe avaiable.
(c) Get the arsenals; a rucksack, sleeping bag, clothings and towel, guitar, cheap camera, some guts and a thick-face.
The travelling plan was:-
(i) Go to Amsterdam.
(ii) From there, hitchike, clockwise through as many countries as possible before returning to Amsterdam.
(iii) Go back to London.
Sleep? Any place, with a sleeping bag.
References? Any bookshop and petrol station would do.
The guitar would be handy for company or busking (= extra money) or if worse comes to worst can be sold (= more extra money but that’s it. It’s only for one shot).
The 130 Pounds left will cover the meals plus any contigencies. Piece of cake isn’t it? Not exactly… Once, I was thrown in a lock-up in Lyon for no apparent reason. More than once, some gangsters tried to mug me. So’s the thieves who tried to reap my things.
First morning in Europe and I got stripped of my travelling gears! The rucksack, sleeping bag and the guitar; the mobile home and accessories, vanished, kaput, nyilek!
It was at a rest area on the outskirts of Breda, Holland. The bus made a pitstop on the way to Amsterdam.
Breakfast at a restaurant nearby and a visit to the toilet and the bus was gone! What’s left was an empty spot between a tree and a red car in front where the bus was on.
So much for the travel plan. At least the passport, bus return ticket, wallet and cash was on me.
But how was I to conclude my travel without the mobile home and accessories? The only solution was to catch the bus or check the things at the next station. Either way it means getting to Amsterdam as soon as possible. But how?
Then I realised other Euroline buses were around. I approached one. Luckily the driver let me on the bus heading for Amsterdam.
I sat beside the driver’s seat facing the back with thoughts fixed on the guitar and the rucksack. Will I see it again?
Three hours later, we arrived in Amstel, Amsterdam. No other London-Amsterdam bus was there.
I looked around walking to and fro in front of the station watching and scanning the surroundings. Where was the bus? No sign of my belongings at the Euroline office either.
Despair was setting in… Suddenly came a bus with some familiar faces onboard. They recognised me too. Some waved their hands frantically asking where had I been. What a relief!
It was ironic. I departed twenty minutes later, arrived twenty minutes earlier… And recovered my belongings too!
Well. Let’s see what Amsterdam has to offer…
Next... The thieves at Amsterdam or something like it. Coming soon... :]