2 Months in Europe – Your Questions Answered!
As I was frolicking around Europe this past summer, an influx of daily questions came through. I promised I would answer them at some point and now is the time! Here are your questions answered!
Why did you do it & Why Europe?
First, I encourage you to read my blog post Project Me where I detail my motivation behind taking an indefinite break from corporate and living a more fulfilled and purpose-driven life, abundant in travel.
After reading this, you’ll see why I needed to take time for me. As I approached this new found freedom, I realized I wanted to explore a lot, with no limitations. Prior to this journey, I had only been to Europe a handful of times and it always left yearning for more. With that, I decided I wanted a full summer in Europe. With no plan in sight, I ventured off!
How did you plan it?
Best part – I didn’t! I booked a ticket in and out of Milan and planned to figure it out week by week. I wouldn’t have changed this approach for anything. I had been confined by structure for far too long and I wanted pure freedom. I planned for my new country as I was finishing up with the current one!
This also made for a more affordable trip! Because I wasn’t bound to anything, I was able to book as I pleased, chasing deals as they came. It was pure bliss!
Where did you go?
Well, my first stop was Italy. In Italy I visited Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Pisa, and Rome.
I then flew to Greece where I went to Santorini and Athens.
After Greece was Croatia – I was able to visit Hvar with a quick stop in Split.
I then went to London, England!
After England, I went to Portugal where I spent time in Porto and Lisbon.
My trip ended back in Italy where I spent 2 more amazing weeks exploring the south. I visited Naples, several towns along the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, and ended back in Rome.
What was your favourite country/city?
Without question – Italy. Prior to this adventure Spain had always been my favourite European county, but I have to say Italy has stolen my heart.
My favourite region was Tuscany – if you’ve been, you know why.
How much did it cost you?
I estimate the full 8 weeks cost about $8000-8500 USD. This included 3.5 – 4.5 star accommodations, food, experiences, and all flights. I don’t have an exact figure or breakdown of expenses but this estimate will give you an idea.
Flights within Europe cost me about 100-120 Euros. Hotels cost me about 50 Euros a night when I was sharing with a friend, but was closer to 75 Euros when I was on my own. And each day I spent around 40 Euros in cash. Some days far more, some days far less. The biggest ticket item was of course my return ticket from Hong Kong to Milan.
You could probably do it much cheaper, but this was my approach! I refused to half-ass this experience. I opted for decent hotels with gyms in them or nice AirBnb’s (shared accommodation isn't really my thing anymore as I promised myself no more hostels after 30! ahaha). I was determined to eat at nice restaurants and have incredible experiences. Most of my accommodations were found on booking.com. Most of my flights were booked on skyscanner.com (my absolute favourite!).
Were you scared/did you face racial discrimination?
At no point was I scared for my safety. If anything, I was more protective of my belongings. Pickpocketing is real, and I witnessed many accounts where people were victims of this heinous act (specifically in Italy). I was extra cautious with my purse and only brought the money I needed for the day with me. Side note: Another reason I book nicer accommodations is so I have more assurance my items are safe while I’m out exploring.
As for racial discrimination – not nearly as much as I was mentally preparing for. On a few accounts, I was mistaken for a prostitute… like old creepy men flashing hundreds at me…winking with a disturbing smile (eye roll). I took it with a grain of salt. I wanted to scream and educate them, but I opted for politely declining and going about my business. I decided I didn’t want any form of negative energy in my space this summer.
Otherwise, I just received a lot of male attention. WOC (Women of Colour) are fetishized in many of the countries I visited so at some points the attention was overwhelming. Example: In Italy, while waiting at a stop light, a man (whom I’d never seen before) came out of no where and approached me... he then cupped my face and attempted to embrace/kiss me…. Yeah.
Those were the only two major examples where I felt annoyed/irritated about traveling while black in Europe. Overall, I was met with the most kindness. Locals everywhere wanting to help me and there were smiles all around. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had while traveling.
What did you pack?
Can you imagine I packed only 1, mid-size, 18kg, suitcase and a backpack?? My total journey on the road (Europe include) lasted a total of 4 months and 1 suitcase was all I had. It really was an interesting experience. I plan to write about it in detail, but it helped me completely detach from “stuff.” I’m a minimalist in training and this was the exact experience I needed to get my mind right.
I packed only clothes, shoes, and workout bands. Anything else I needed (i.e. toiletries) I would just purchase along the way. For my attire, I opted for mix and match items so I could have variety in my outfits.
I plan to do a more detailed post on this soon, but all I can say is, I have a new perspective on the items I used to hold with such value. I have (without a doubt) experienced the best 4 months of my entire life. I’ve had the most fun I’ve ever had – all free of fancy things. It was just me and my suitcase!
I highly recommend you read the post Project Me, Update where I go into much detail of my next moves. High level, after 3 years in Hong Kong, I’ve decided to get rid of my flat, sell all of my stuff, and set up shop in a familiar place…
I’ve decided to move to Bali for the next while! Frolicking around Europe was fun for the summer, but I’m longing for stillness and normalcy. I’m dying to get back into an intensified healthy lifestyle. I’m itching to build a community. I’m ready to put my clothes on hangers for good and I’m in DIRE need of a gym and a kitchen.
I can’t say how long I’ll stay for as I’ve learned not to plan beyond 3 months. But I will say with assurance that I will stay for as long as I need to get back to me – mind, body, and spirit.
The travel won’t stop, though! I’ll just slow down a bit. I’ll plan a trip somewhere dope in October, but for now, I’ll be still and explore all of Bali.
More to come on this, but the adventure definitely continues!!