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Europe On Too-Few Euros A Day

  • October 31st, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

eiffel-flag-2.jpg brandenburd-eu-flag.jpgAt any given time, it seems, half the youth of Australia can be found in Europe. Ever since large numbers began travelling over to the London  Overseas Visitors Club, on the Strathaird, Oriana or similar, in early post war days, It has become almost a rite of passage for Australian young to go off to the old continent with a backpack. For ,EUAustralia Online, Stephanie Lim made her journey, asking constantly: “What is it about Europe that attracts so many holiday-makers there? Is Europe truly the home of glitz and glamour that we see featured on television? And why are they laughing at me?”

brussels-street-cafe1.jpgThere might be something different in the European air that makes everything that much more exciting. Even the simple act of having a cup of coffee, with toast, is seemingly made more glamourous, and cultured. Every year, thousands of tourists seeking the greatest adventure flock to Europe, and so, what is it  that lures these excitement-hungry holiday-makers?

rhine.jpgVery possibly Europe’s popularity as the number one hot spot for vacationers has stemmed from media attention. Numerous television programs feature it in their main travel guide. Take for example, the highly popular Getaway in Australia, which for an entire season featured weekly sections on Australian youths travelling through Europe. Or the comedy-movie Eurotrip, featuring American teenagers on the backpacking trail.

However, the fact of the matter is that not many of us as youths have seen, or can afford to see, the glamorous side of a European experience, aside from what appears on the television. What can we afford to do? We can backpack. Which is what so many young people are wont to do in recent times. Their experience, as this writer witnessed firsthand, vastly differs from glitz and glam. Here are some key things to note when backpacking.

YOUR BACKPACK – STOP LAUGHING!

steph-backpack.jpgWhen you have chosen to holiday through Europe by backpacking, your backpack is the second most important thing after your life. It is your lifeline, and your rock. Without your backpack, you are no longer a backpacker; you no longer carry a two-tonne dead weight on your back that cries out to the seedy drifting persons of Europe to rob you. It is, to this writer, still amazing that no matter how little of your bare necessities you pack into your backpack, it still always seems as though you are carrying twice your body weight. If, like me, you are Asian and rather small in stature, and your backpack is twice your size,  (see picture), do take note -  you will be laughed at.

ACCOMMODATION

backpackers-1.jpg backpackers-2.jpg One of the many key things to remember when backpacking through Europe is to never have high expectations in regards to accommodation. This way, you will never find yourself disappointed. On many occasions, my travel companions and myself were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in more than satisfactory, and some even pleasant, accommodation.  Privacy, however, is a luxury a backpacker should not hope to be able to afford. As is cleanliness and tidiness. There is simply never the time.

FINANCES AND CURRENCY

backpackers-3.jpg  backpackers-4.jpgEuropean currency is tricky for outsiders. Certain countries, we learned through simple lack of research, still don’t use the Euro. My travel companions and I found out the hard way: our arrival at Prague in the Czech Republic became the first time any of us had considered the convenient, high denomination Euro did not rule everywhere. We spent half an hour feeding Euro currency into a ticketing machine that only wanted local Crowns.

However, on the up side, everything in Europe seems ridiculously cheaply priced due to their prices being stated in Euro  — even though, strong Australian dollar or not, they were not really that cheap. As one of my tour managers wisely advised: “don’t convert, and you’ll be very happy”.

THE LANGUAGE – AND CHARADES

strathaird.jpg  qantas-707.jpgCharades is a subconsciously, and self-consciously much-played game when in Europe. This is not due to lack of entertainment, more to do with the language barrier. Backpackers should be prepared to perform in charades at any given time when the spoken language is not their own. A simple act of buying a bath towel required considerable gesticulation on the part of my companion, whose desperate attempts at trying to convey his meaning to a sales assistant brought much entertainment to nearby shoppers. Suffice to say, he was happily able to purchase said towel, but not before having to perform a bathroom scene that included a demonstration of drying off between the legs. Folks did gather around!

THE MAGIC OF EUROPE

train-europe.jpgBackpacking takes you through the heart of Europe, allowing you to see something of life as it truly is. It allows the backpacker to come away with a sense of having truly accomplished something, of having experienced Europe from citizens’ perspectives. With that freedom of the road, no wonder it is so popular a  destination for young tourists wanting the experience of a lifetime.

Pictures 

Eiffel Tower; Brandenburg Gate; Rhine River; Stephanie Lim (and other backpackers); Times past – MV Strathaird, P&O; Times past – Boeing 707, Flt QF1 to London; Fast train 2010 …

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