Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The "Remember When" Series

I've been so lucky in life, having been able to have the means to travel the world, see things that many people won't see in their lifetime. I thought that I would do a short series of "Remember Then" so that I can remind myself that there were plenty of good times in the past 10 years, rather than think of how tired I am after cramming a lifetime of experience into a decade.

My first "Remember When" is when I found myself, in 2005, travelling around Europe on my own (as usual) and I had incurred a terrible trip coming from La Spezia, Italy into Milan, Italy. On the train trip to Milan, I found two girls who were going a different way. So I decided that I would travel with them. I ended up in Gryon, France (on the Swiss Border).

When I left Cinque Terre, I was covered in approximately 45 mosquito bites. The night before I had paid an excessive 80 euros for a tiny room in Vernazza, Cinque Terre and one mosquito came included in the tariff. During the night, the mosquito had a field day all over the top half of my body, munching its way from my right arm, up to my right shoulder, across my back and down my left arm. I wasnt feeling very well when it came time to leave the Cinque Terre and the train ride up to Switzerland via Milan was miserable. Given that I was less than well, and tired after a bad nights sleep, i wearily climbed onto the train and closed my eyes, desperately wanting to be back in Australia with a big bottle of calamine lotion - and forgot to fill out my eurail pass for the day. As a result, I had the pleasure of dealing with a train guard who fined me 30 euros for not filling the pass out properly. I wasnt a happy camper.

However, there is something special about backpacking. Even on your worst days, when you want to be home with family, life can take a turn for the better, with just a simple conversation with strangers. I was grumpy and annoyed when I climbed onto my second train for the day, in Milan, when I sat across from two American girls from Wisconsin. After talking to Ashley and Angie for a couple of hours, they convinced me to not go to Interlaken straight away, but to come along with them to a place on the Swiss/France border, called Gryon. Gryon ended up being the most beautiful mountain village, and with Angie and Ashley, I stayed up in amongst the Swiss Alps in the friendliest hostel (ie. Mountain Chalet) for two nights. My Mosquito Blues disappeared as I spent my days wandering around the Alpine villages and my nights sitting
around a bonfire with twenty other backpackers, toasting marshmellows. In between that, we even visited thermal baths, where we all swam relaxed in heated pools and spas in the open air (3 degree temperatures outside the water) looking across the Swiss Alps. The fact that I was at my lowest, missing home, missing my family, and then meeting two strangers on a train, my journey took an extraordinary turn for the better. It was a fun three days all up, three days that may not have occured had I not met Ashley and Angie.

(above: looking out across the Swiss Alps)

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