Europe By Bus | Day One | Cologne

Note: This blog post has been adapted from the original post I made back in October 2016 when I embarked on my first ever proper backpacking trip around Europe. Click here to go to the original post.

These posts are half diary entries and half informational guides for transport, accommodation and things to do in these locations. I had very little experience with backpacking when I first started my Europe By Bus series last year (I have been doing it for a while now), but I wanted to leave the entries as un-touched as possible so you can follow my journey as it was rather than my recollections of it in hindsight.

This trip taught me a lot about Europe and the wider world and, whilst I would be hesitant to say it made be a ‘better’ person (I don’t think traveling by itself can do that) it definitely made me more confident, capable and open-minded.

I hope you enjoy this series and stay posted for more entires! I will also be adding details of my more recent trip to France, Spain and Portugal and even America (which unfortunately will involve some planes).

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October 24th, 2016

I’m currently in the downtown hostel in Cologne Germany. It is 12:46 am and the guy underneath my bed (I’m on the top bunk) is one of the weirdest snorers I have ever heard.

He’s quiet from brief intervals that are just long enough to give me hope, but then he starts again. It’s a mixture of aggressive bear-like snoring, sighing and snorting and it really is quite spectacular in the most horrible way possible. Each snore is more aggressive than the last and it’s getting to the point where I don’t know if I want to cry, laugh or jump out the window.

I left my house at 6:45 this morning and was on the Flexi bus/Mega bus until 8 pm. I do genuinely like buses but for some reason this one was so packed someone had to sit next to me, which was okay because they didn’t try to make conversation (buses are for quiet, reflective and anti-social time okay?) but it meant I couldn’t stretch my legs out across the other seat like the obnoxious creature that I am and so I ended up having to do stretches and back rolls in the Eurotunnel instead.

I had the misfortune of having a child sitting behind me today. Now I like children don’t get me wrong, but when there is a child literally kicking the back of your seat with all his might and then when you look over at the mother and she’s all “sorry… Do you want to sit somewhere else?” When there are literally no other seats it’s just like .. seriously?

I understand that you can’t control your child and little kids are going to cry, but you could at least apologize and try to make the journey better for everyone. I’m always torn between feeling sorry for the parent because there’s not really a lot they can do whilst also being filled with a feeling of extreme hate.

I read an article recently about having child-free zones on planes and me for one am totally for it. Kids are great, but they just don’t have the inner filters and sense of embarrassment that older people have.

Some of my friends say that it would be discrimination against children and it’s not different from discriminating against someone on because of their race, sexuality, or gender, but that’s obviously not true. If an adult were to kick the back of someone’s chair, scream for the entire journey and talk to themselves at the top of their voices then they may well be removed from the area.

Discriminating against someone for who they are as a person is very different from acknowledging that children can display behavior that can really ruin someone else’s trip.
When you’ve been on a plane for 14 hours with three kids behind you constantly screaming, chattering and hitting the back of your chair it does kinda ruin your day/ Parents have (and should have) the option of taking their kids on the plane or train or anywhere else, but we as sleep deprived irritable adults should have the option to avoid them if we so choose.

Let me know your thoughts on that subject, and please don’t think I’m hating against parents. I know it’s not your fault, but it’s also not my fault that I don’t find your screaming infant as adorable and tolerable as you do.

I finally got to Cologne at about 8:30 pm and walked into my dorm room to find two guys lying on their respective beds glued to their phones in dead silence. I’m quite glad I have work to do (I’m a freelance writer and I’m going to attempt to travel and work at the same time) as backpacking isn’t always the social Utopia people make it out to be.

Maybe it’s just a Europe thing or maybe our phones and tablets have kind of eradicated any need to meet real life people, I’m not really sure.

It’s not like you can’t meet people in hostels, last time I went to Germany there was a Polish guy who tried to kiss my legs (seemed to think that was a totally normal way to act around someone he’d known for about half an hour) and the most beautiful man I have ever seen who was from Chile and talked to me about fruit, but it’s just always a little awkward at first.

Phones are great as they take the pressure off actually having to try and be social and interesting but it probably makes it harder too. I can’t imagine what hostels used to be like before smartphones. That’s just a totally different world.

Aside from the snorer who is still fucking at it, I have to say I’m really happy to be traveling again. I always feel so confident and weirdly relaxed when I’m alone in a foreign land like you don’t know what’s going to happen but you know you can handle it.

I’m going to Berlin tomorrow and then heading to Prague and beyond so it’s quite exciting. After this trip, I should hopefully have visited ten countries this year, nine of which I had never been to before. I spent the last two years working in a call center and wishing I was traveling and I haven’t done as much as I originally planned so far as I was trying to establish my ‘career’ somewhat so I’m glad it’s finally happening even if it is just for a month.

I’m going to get my phone and blare some classical music into my eardrums in an attempt to drown out the snorer now. I can still kind of hear him but at least it’s just background noise now.

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