This adventure has been a long time in the making and it’s nearly polar opposite from what I usually do or how I normally travel.
More than a year ago, my work mate DJ said “I want to go to Europe with you” and like everyone who says that I say OK and figure absolutely nothing will happen. Because nothing ever does. So I was somewhat surprised when she brought it up again, and this time my response was ‘where do you want to go?’ because if someone only wants to go to Rome or Paris, I’m not the person they should go with.
Her response “I don’t know… I’ve never been to Europe…” Great… I have got a geographically challenged person with no idea of what they might like to do. Europe is pretty big, I say. It include Istanbul, Greece, London, Moscow, Stockholm, Barcelona, and many places in between. I begin to think that this may not be happening.
Over time, DJ and I become good friends. She cons me into running a 5k at home and a 10K in Charleston; I con her into staying in a hostel while running said 10K. And driving. It was a wash. Eventually we decide on summer 2015 as when we should go. My vote was May or September (shoulder season and not 1000 degrees); her vote was July or August, based on kid’s school schedules (hers, obvs). We finally decide on last week of August and first week of September. I should mention that I’ve never been to Europe in the summer and what I know I know from reading and talking to others.
We probably did about 50 trip combinations before settling on out actual route. She wanted to go to the beach; I wanted to go somewhere I haven’t been before. Croatia, Italy, and Spain were some of the finalists, but in the end, the planes, trains, and boats just wouldn’t work out financially. DJ really wanted to go to Barcelona, Paris, and London; I explained that those cities were probably the most expensive and with the budget were were working with, we could do one, maybe two, but not all three.
I got an email alert for a really good price on a flight to Budapest. Normally, I fly into one city and out of another, but this time, we did a round trip for <$700 in August/September. I call that a win.
Now from Budapest, we could go south, or north. I was pushing for South… Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece. DJ was deterred by the lack of tourist infrastructure and the Cyrillic alphabet so we went North. We eventually settled on Budapest–>Vienna–>Prague–>Berlin–>Copenhagen–>London–>Budapest circuit over three weeks.
I was a little bummed to be missing out on Spain… yet again, but London for the 5th time was an acceptable substitute.
Because London is awesome, and no matter how many visits I have, there will always be more things to do. And Berlin is awesome too. So I knew that at least those two cities were going to be OK. The other cities were a toss-up. Even more interesting would be the accommodations. I’ve always stayed in hostels and if I am really feeling flush, I’ll get a private room. DJ was a hotel girl. We settled on guesthouses and apartments plus a hostel in London with two beds and a bathroom.
Different styles… different expectations… let’s hope the friendship survives.