Two Months Backpacking Europe: The Summer I’ll Never Forget

This review post of my travels is something I’ve been subconsciously putting off since I came back, as it feels like the end of one of the best times of my life. Now I’m back, the trip almost feels like a dream and I have to remind myself that it happened and that for two months I lived every day to the full, seeing some of the best destinations the world has to offer!

As I tell everyone who asks, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s made me more confident, independent and willing to try new things. I now talk to strangers happily and am interested in hearing more about people’s lives because this is how I made conversation abroad where I knew no one. Perhaps the best result of this trip is that I feel I can now go anywhere and do anything, all whilst knowing my limits for things such as heights… but not being worried about these limitations, just seeing them as part of who I am. I achieved so much without them getting in the way, how much of a problem can they be?

Fran Atkins in Veliko Tarnova

Upping my steps as I explore a Bulgarian fortress.

Backpacking Europe Summary

To put it in facts and figures as I did for my one month review, here’s the summary of important numbers:

Days: 60

Countries: 17

Destinations: 33

Trains journeys: 31

Coaches/Buses: 4

Cars: 3

Boats: 2 + too many to count in Venice!

Trams: 1

Flights: 2

Hostels: 17

Hotels: 11

Apartments: 1

Total steps: 857, 001

Best daily steps: 32,530

Miles walked: 352

Walking tours: 7

Bus tours: 2

Boat tours: 1

Private tours: 1

Souvenirs: 4

Bug Bites: 48

Photos taken: 10,908

Budget: £2,914.08

As I look at these from the comfort of my sofa in the reborn luxury of clean clothes, I’m pretty pleased! I stuck to my route and plan pretty much religiously, apart from a day trip or extra night on a few occasions. In sixty days I saw seventeen countries and had the pleasure of visiting thirty-three destinations. BOOM.

I walked 352 miles… 352 miles including the two miles of the length of Monte Carlo, Monaco. This is the equivalent of walking from London to Amsterdam with 20 miles spare for a bit of extra fun, should legs allow.

The other figure I smile about is the budget – I set my cost for the trip at £3,000 before I left and it turns out this was accurate enough as I came under by a relatively minuscule amount of £83.92! Money well spent and I hope it shows if you’re thinking of doing a similar trip, that is doesn’t have to cost the Earth. I wasn’t particularly frugal; I stayed in hostels, as most solo travellers would to enjoy the company and social atmosphere, and I saw the attractions I wanted to and ate local treats that I wondered if I’d get a second chance to enjoy.

Baking in the French Riviera heat, Roman style.

Best Memories

Simply walking into the unknown and finding my way through new streets with just my backpack and Google Maps for company. The excitement of not knowing what was around the corner made every day unique and kept me going even when my legs were tired. It’s a feeling of freedom I’d never experienced before.

As a more singular memory, conquering the fortress in Veliko Tarnovo was a brilliant day. Amazing views and great photos from that area to keep the memories alive. In a similar way, my time in Transylvania was equally rewarding as I visited Dracula’s Castle and got to see the Romanian countryside, complete with towering mountains.

Fortress at Veliko Tarnovo.

Fortress at Veliko Tarnovo.

Worst Memories

I’d hesitate to say anything was particularly bad as it was all part and parcel. However, an eight hour coach to Split, Croatia in the heat wasn’t the best time, especially when the toilet breaks were holes in the ground to be avoided at all costs!

In Florence I got trapped in a narrow staircase near the top of a Cathedral dome, and in this city I also got hit by a falling fire extinguisher during a storm… also in a narrow staircase (perhaps I should just avoid them?) Another memory that comes to mind is being woken up in the early morning in Marseilles, France when a girl or a laptop or a girl’s laptop went missing from the open door policy hostel where I was staying. There was much confusion and it was very scary at the time.

Spilt. Croatia

Split was definitely worth the journey.

Destination of the Trip

The key contenders are destinations in the Balkans where I felt so welcomed and was fascinated by a new view on history and Europe, Split in Croatia where I relaxed by the water and walked through Roman streets that hadn’t aged a day, and of course, Lake Bled. And Venice.

For me however, the winner has to be Monte Carlo. It was everything I hoped for and watching the sunset from the Palace was a magical moment that’s impossible to forget. It was so serene and beautiful but I couldn’t have imagined that evening I’d also get the pleasure of seeing a shooting star across the harbour as I headed to the Casino. It felt like it was just for me. Bliss.

Monte Carlo at night.

Monte Carlo at night.

Photo of the Trip

There is obviously no one photo that captures it all, but the following photo taken in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo is one that reflects my need to explore, take in the view and also refuel for the next adventure in the day:

Yello Bastion, Sarajevo

Deserved coffee at the Yellow Bastion, Sarajevo.

Where’s Next?

It’s actually Brighton, England for an extended weekend with my family, but looking further afield, Switzerland in on the cards for early in the new year. My future for travelling will involve a lot of weekend breaks and I hope last minute surprises. I would travel solo again without hesitation, which also leads me to think I’ll go to Poland soon as I’ve yet to find a travel partner for this trip.

Exploring Translyvania.

Exploring Translyvania.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to thank everyone that’s followed me on this adventure. To date I have nearly 1,000 followers across all my social accounts and hope that I can engage even more with you now I’m back. I’ll continue blogging, reviewing and sharing cool places I find around the world in an ongoing mission to get jaunty 🙂

I didn’t really have a romantic notion of travel before I set off, it was quite a normalised event for short stretches throughout the year; fun but not life changing. I now have that understanding most travellers get that it can change you, or at least reaffirm that you are who you are and don’t need changing at all.

2 Comments

  1. Samantha at Our Traveling Blog 31st December 2015 / 9:22 pm

    HI there. Enjoyed your post. It can be hard to decide what was the best destinations. Each place has such amazing and fond memories it’s hard to decide. I have to say I also enjoyed a trip to Monte Carlo that will stay with me for quite a long time. I also remember all the HUGE yachts that cost more than the house we had just bought, lol. Awe, happy memories. Thanks for sharing.

    • getjaunty 1st January 2016 / 7:04 pm

      Hi Samantha, thank you. Glad you liked Monte Carlo, it’s one of my favourite places to visit. The yachts were ridiculous! I’m off to some new places in Italy in Feb 2016 so I’m hoping to make some more memories and these best destination decisions even harder 🙂

Leave a Reply