Then and Now

I’ve traveled long-term before. By long-term, I mean I have quit my job and packed my bags. The last time, however, the trip had an end date. It was just about two months and all of my destinations were planned out. I knew when I returned, I would just find another job. No fuss. No muss.

I was 24 years old and wanted to see Europe. To afford this trip,  I moved back in with my parents and worked three jobs. Having just returned from living in New York City, you can bet that bank account was on E. I spent months leading up to the trip scouring travel forums (when forums were the big thing, travel blogs weren’t really around yet), reading hostel reviews, researching locations and attractions, and planning my Eurail transportation.

It’s interesting comparing our planning now to my planning then. One big difference, of course, is that there really isn’t a plan now. We aren’t buying return tickets and our itinerary is a rough sketch at best.  At the same time, I think back on my solo trip often during this time. How my expectations are different. What I want to see, how I want to travel, and of course, having Jake with me is a whole different experience already.  I thought it would be fun to share my journals as I explored the world outside my own country for the first time as a mini-series called “Danielle’s Europe Trip” … or something not quite as lame.

Care to join me on this journey of reflection of a 24-year-old Danielle?
The following will be a series of journal entries that I made when I traveled around Europe for the first time as a solo backpacker. I reserve the right to insert comments from my present self- which will be notated by a different color- but other than that will attempt to stay as true as I can to the original  journal entries.

Day 1: Part 1 – Arrival

I just got off the longest flight in the world! After the 9 hours from Seattle to Copenhagen, I can’t imagine a flight to Australia or New Zealand! I’m in the Copenhagen airport now trying to use the first chance to write in my journal in another country… not much to report yet… the first thing I noticed, though was smoke when I got off the plane. I’d heard about “smoky Europe” but I still thought it was funny that the smoking “section” was a few chairs in the hallway with a sign saying “Smoking”. The signs are all in two languages. That’s fun 🙂
I’m not as tired as I thought I’d be. I only got a couple of hours of sleep on the flight. I think I’m too anxious to get to London. I think I will cry the first time I see Big Ben!

Day 1: Part 2 – London

lonon red phone booth IN LONDON!! YEAH!! My hostel is great so far. There’s a really nice Australian that works at the front. I think I was still a little nervous being in a new country and you know, the brits are not always the nicest of people. Maybe I expected too much… :-/ Anyway, I’m sure a lot of it was how nervous I was. I’m feeling much better. 🙂   – I’m not sure why I thought that English people were rude. It may have just been my experience from the airport to the hostel. Or just nerves…

After I checked into the hostel, I walked around the neighborhood, the Hyde Park area, and now I’m at this cute little Italian restaurant watching the rain pick up outside. It’s a Seattle-like day, perhaps a little muggier (is that a word?) My waiter is this cute little Italian man. He just walked by and commented on the rain saying that tomorrow is his day off, and then took off downstairs singing something in Italian. I can still hear him and he has to be in the cellar. Hee hee!

I’m hopeful that my writing has gotten better over the last 12 years. I also recognize that these entries were never really intended for anyone other than myself to read. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for more entries from my 2-month solo backpacking trip!


  • Kate Witton says:

    Thanks for sharing your old journals! What a great idea! I love reading back over my old journals, reminiscing, having a good laugh and realising how naive and idealistic I was . . . and I guess how much travel has helped me grow. I’m sure this trip will be so different. It’s the best thing having no plans . . . and even better having no end date 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Kate! Yeah, it’s been so weird looking back on those pages, but so great too. There was so much I was learning and so much that I take for granted now!

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