Goodbye Europe

Posted: August 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Phase one of my “Darren takes a year off of work to travel the world” is now complete – I have left Europe and am now in Turkey. I can formally say goodbye to Europe as I am well and truly off the continent, writing to you from the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Before leaving Budapest I tried to write out some thoughts on leaving Europe, and had meant to post them days ago, but Istanbul was a crazy whirlwind of sight-seeing, meeting people, and generally being overwhelmed by the chaos of that city.

In short, Europe has been a mixed bag for me, and I’m afraid I now know just how much the weather impacts my enjoyment of a place. Rainy and cold weather just doesn’t do it for me when attempting to explore a new city, and for much of the start of my trip that is what I had. In cities where I had good weather, I had a good time, I hate to be so damned easily influenced by the meat robot I ride around in, but there it is. I guess it’s a useful lesson in it’s way, knowing just how easily influenced by the weather I think I feel less guilty about not enjoying things to their fullest… sometimes the weather is shite and that’s just how it is.

With that realization in mind, I have put several places on the “to go back to” list – Holland, Germany, and Czech Republic, and I’m super happy I didn’t end up doing my original plan of an all Scandinavia tour this year as the weather there was even worse!

As for the parts where the weather was cooperating, some days in Prague were good, and when the sun was out Prague was like a fairy tale city with a castle on the hill, a cool park with a bunch of skaters hanging out, and very very good beer. The bicycle ride through Czech, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary was challenging, frustrating, and fantastic all at once, I’m already thinking back to some of the hills on the first day and saying to my self “it wasn’t _that_ bad”, which just illustrates the power of the human memory to gloss over pain and suffering. Overall I had a great time in Europe but I think if I’m going to be honest Budapest was my favourite city.

Budapest reminds me of the Montreal of my youth. Apartment blocks full of people right next to abandoned factories, train yards, and other abandoned infrastructure. And unlike the Montreal of the present, all of this stuff has not yet been gentrified into expensive loft conversions or offices for software startup companies and advertising agencies. The people are friendly, unless they’re driving at which point they become homicidal maniacs, just like in my native city.

There are of course significant difference between Budapest and Montreal, there’s no history of communist dictatorship hanging over the heads of Montrealers to start with, but when it comes down to the feel of the place, there is something that is just comfortable about Budapest to the Montrealer inside me.

Leaving Budapest I was faced with Istanbul, the physical and metaphoric bridge between Europe and Asia, and between the Mid-east and Europe. I’m not sure what I can say about Istanbul, it was a crazy whirlwind of getting lost, getting found, seeing ancient wonders, and eating lots and lots of kebab. I’ll try to put some words together on it in the future, perhaps when I am leaving Turkey it will make more sense. For now I’m continuing my travels slowly towards the south coast of Turkey, where I hope to find a beach with actual sand, a friendly dive shop, and perhaps some place where I wouldn’t mind spending a week or two before heading back up the coast to Istanbul and onwards to Jordan.

I leave you with the a bunch of photo albums:

Leave a Reply