I had wanted to visit Europe for a while and could not believe I was actually on a plane from Buenos Aires to Barcelona that 22nd of January of this year. As a matter of fact, I wrote that day somewhere over Brazil:

“Flight OK, did not sleep a single hour (…) cannot stop realizing that I am really flying to Europe for the first time.”

Europe held somewhat of a mystical meaning for me. It had always been that place that I wanted to visit someday when I could, but never really got into planning my trip until mid-2017, when I got determined to work, save the money and leave in 6 months’ time.

The plan was to travel almost exclusively by train and visit those friends that I knew were living there, particularly those in central Norway. Besides, I would visit other cities in the company of my cousin and a few friends of his. I did Barcelona, Rome, Berlin and Amsterdam with them, while doing Munich, Copenhagen, Malmö, Trondheim and Hamburg by myself. It was a total of six weeks and I am glad to say that it was fantastic experience. I would even dare to call it a life changing one. I had waited for a long time and was really there. It was quite surreal for me at first. Was I actually there?

I think that one can be in a place or really be in a certain place. Many times we just hope for things to move on fast in life and don’t stop to appreciate what is around us. With all of its problems, stress, and fears but also with its beauty and simplicity. Europe was a good chance to see and feel all of what was around me and it helped me do this when being in the “normality” of my home. Things may be “normal” but they can be extraordinary if we want them to. When in Europe, everything was extraordinary; from my meal at La Boquería in Barcelona to cross-country skiing in the woods of Norway, stopping also at drawing and watercolouring whatever was in front of me, just to capture and keep it with me, forever.

Around the 27th of January I wrote:

“I am not sure who I can thank for this, but just, THANK YOU.”

Sometime in mid-February, whilst on the train from Amsterdam to Sweden, I can read in my journal:

“I just want to write about the beauty of the places this train is travelling through. THANK YOU. Many emotions. I am not sure if I want to cry out of happiness. (…) I am fine and filled with gratitude. But it is more of a conceptual gratitude. I like to think about it but feeling it is more complex (…) I may be felling it.”

Train travel was an extremely convenient way to do my trip, since I had a EURAIL Global Pass. I went to the train station, which was always centric, ten to fifteen minutes before and hopped in the train without answering any questions or doing any queues. I even made unnecessary reservations on certain trains “just in case” but the truth is that most of the time; you do not need to do so. Besides that, it was a beautiful way to move from one place to another, since you visit and see Europe while travelling. It is a different way to visit such a varied and wonderful place. If you have the time, please do so. You will not regret it.

Watercolouring and drawing were also a big part of my experience, since I attempted to get back into drawing and colouring after an unnecessary long “halt”. I took my sketchbook and drawing tools wherever I went and tried to capture what I saw. The result was not only me discovering once again how much I enjoy doing this, but also intriguingly deep conversations with strangers that looked over my shoulder and asked “may I take a picture?” or just said “this looks nice”. You can see some of these drawings at the end of this story.

I discovered a stunningly beautiful place in this world when visiting all of this but especially when in Norway. It is an already popular country for its beauty but I saw it from a different place since I spent ten days with locals, living their life and seeing and feeling what they saw and felt. The woods, the weather, the language, the food and the people. Everything was just perfect and seeing my two friends again after such a long time gave a feeling of everlasting and indifferent happiness. Nothing else really mattered. I was with them and there. What else could be important?

Living with the locals is yet another way to visit any place you go to. Not only can they show you places you would have never thought of visiting by yourself, but they can also show you a small piece of their culture by opening you their doors and letting you live with them. Maybe it is a good thing to take into account the next time you travel.

It was a magical first trip that filled me with life and experiences that I treasure deep with my best memories. I grew and learned much more than I ever thought I would and discovered places that I never thought I would have the luck to see. It made me happy to be alive.

I hope I could at least transmit how important this was for me and maybe encouraged you to go out as well and travel for the sake of adventure, because good things will come out of it. You just need to get out there. Once you take the first step out, everything will happen.

This changed me.

Thanks for reading.

 

Ignacio Agote enjoys writing and blogging about life and how to live a more meaningful one. His new blog “freeingthought” features essays, stories and poems that seek to provoque opinions and thoughts on those who read it. He wants people to find new ways to live a better life, while discovering himself how to do it. 

You can read more at: http://freeingthought.com/

 

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