In the early Spring of 2015 I quit my job of three years, booked a one way flight to Europe, and patiently waited for my departure date. The day came, and upon boarding the plane In Las Vegas and taking my seat — I began to reminisce on the previous five years of my life (20-25).
I worked at a sales call center for almost 2 years, and although being quite good at my job, I didn’t enjoy it. I quit that job to chase a better opportunity at a mortgage company, and although the money was good, again, I didn’t enjoy my job.
Something was off — a huge part of me was missing, I wasn’t fulfilled by any means. I wasn’t following my own inner voice, my own heart. Anxiety crept in, I started second guessing everything, and the more I resisted and put up with my job, the worse it got. It was becoming overwhelming, and I’m not necessarily blaming the job. It was my own inner intuition trying to guide me along, but I kept resisting.
Upon arriving home after another stressful and energy draining day at work — I went to my bathroom and looked at myself eye to eye in the mirror. I was miserable, and when I’m miserable I’m more apt to make quick life altering decision, and that’s precisely what I did… Intuitively, It was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made so far.
What did I do? I made a promise to myself that I would never work for someone again. I ended up going back to the office that night to let my boss know that I was quitting. I gave him a month and a half notice to give the company plenty of time to adjust and train people in. The rest was history. I took control of what I could, and learned from what I couldn’t. I turned to a new, more exciting chapter of my life — one that was going to be written by me. I was ready for some real life experiences…
Back to the plane, there was a beep, the plane Captain announced over the speaker that we were preparing for takeoff, and to please fashion our seat-belts — next stop, Frankfurt Germany. The 10 hour flight from Las Vegas to Frankfurt Germany went by relatively fast. I had a quick layover in Frankfurt, and then I hopped on a smaller plane (45 minutes) to Amsterdam. Which is where my backpacking trip started. This post will be focused on my Amsterdam experiences.
Amsterdam – Day 1
After landing and exiting the plane I made my way to the baggage carousel to pick up my backpack, once retrieved, I exited the airport. I thought about taking the train to my hostel downtown Amsterdam, but instead opted to take a taxi… Bad idea!
The traffic was horrible and a lot of the roads were blocked off. It ended up taking 45 minutes to get relatively close to my hostel. I got out and walked the rest of the distance not knowing exactly where to go as I had limited cell data with my international plan, but it was exciting, there was an energy in the air, a certain sense of freedom and uncomfortability mixed together. The city was busy — people, and bikes everywhere. It was a new feeling — a feeling I haven’t experienced before.
I ended up asking a few people for directions to my hostel, and eventually a group of English speaking people pointed me in the right direction. Upon arriving at my hostel, I checked into my room, got the keys, made sure my friend Filip was taken care of as he was due to arrive several hours later, and then made my way up the steep stairs to my room.
My room was a mixed shared dorm, It had 4 bunk beds which allowed for 8 people. When I walked in I was greeted by a younger man from India, he was studying in the Netherlands and had just finished a summer course. He had one day left to explore and party before flying out. He was very friendly — he told me about his travel experiences, his favorite cities in Europe, and what to expect. After talking for 20 minutes he said he was going out to party with some friends, and invited me to go. I held off as I was waiting for Filip to show up.
The hostel was empty after he left so I decided to take a nap. I woke up two hours later, went downstairs, and saw Filip, he had just finished checking in. I called out his name, and he turned around and said Curtis?? At the time Filip and I had been working on web related projects for over 5 years, but we never actually met in person — that would mark the first time. It was awesome finally being able to meet up with him and hang out for a few weeks.
Later that night Filip and I started drinking at the bar in our Hostel. Wet met a girl from Canada by the name of Julia who was staying in our room. Julia and her local friend ended up hanging out with us for most the night, talking and sharing different stories. She was flying to Turkey the next day to study archaeology. We ended up walking the narrow streets of Amsterdam checking out shops, canals, and different sights, and then ended up at a busy bar close to our hostel. I met a group of German’s at this bar, and ended up talking and drinking with them for a few hours. After that, we headed back to our hostel.
I wasn’t ready to go to bed, and it was a good thing because I ended up running into an Irish group at my hostel and hung out with them until 6 AM to watch the Connor McGreggor vs. Chad Mendez fight that was happening in Las Vegas. Needless to say… The Irish are crazy, they’re a lot of fun, and they REALLY like Connor McGreggor!
Amsterdam – Day 2
I woke up around 10 AM, and went downstairs to get the free breakfast the hostel provided. I ate with Filip and talked about the previous night. We were sitting at our own table, and once we finished eating a girl named Katelyn from San Francisco walked up and sat next to us. We exchanged names, and talked about traveling. At the time she had been traveling for a month, and still had another month to go. She told us some awesome stories and locations to consider visiting.
Katelyn hung out with Filip and I all day long — she also brought a hostel friend by the name of Daniel who was from Canada. He was College student traveling during his summer break. Daniel had some incredible travel related stories too. All four of us walked the city, checked out Vondel Park, and the I Amsterdam sign, ate food, and then took a break. We all met up again that night for beers, and then walked through the world famous Red Light district, and eventually ended up at another bar to finish the night off.
Amsterdam – Day 3
The next morning Daniel told me he was going to Paris for Bastille day (similar to July 4th in the U.S.), and that he was jumping on a train that afternoon and going down to meet a friend. He suggested that I go too. I had no other plans so that’s exactly what I did. Filip and I walked to Amsterdam Central Station and purchased a ticket for the high speed train at 7 PM that evening for 65 euro’s.
We explored the city more and hung out with Katelyn while waiting for our train to depart. Katelyn had a ticket for a van that was taking her to Scotland from Amsterdam for 17 euro’s, but it was a 17 hour ride… If you are willing to spend a lot of time in vans, buses, or trains, you can get around Europe at a very low cost. I connected with all my friends on Facebook and eventually parted ways and left for Paris… (to be continued)
I was blown away by the type of people I was consistently meeting out on the travel trail. Everyone was so genuine, open, and laid back. They never seemed stressed out — they were exactly where they wanted to be, and they were doing exactly what they wanted to do. Traveling is a beautiful experience that I plan to make a regular part of my lifestyle. Stephen King has a quote: “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” I edited the quote a bit and made it relatable to my traveling experience:
Life isn’t a support system for travel. Travel is a support system for life.
I’m patiently waiting for my next backpacking trip… Do you have any travel or backpacking related stories? Let us know in the comments!