Western Europe has been travelled over, and travelled over again. There are few places that see as much tourist traffic as the region. In fact, in my time in the region I found myself at odds with my adventurous side. Things just happen so easily. Trains arrive on time and generally arrive on time as well, buses follow their schedules, and even the taxis are fairly reliable. Thus, I’ve compiled a bit of a list for some alternatives, in case you find yourself with a little bit of a need to make things difficult.
Ah the age old trick of hitchhiking. In most of western Europe the cars will likely fly by you as if you don’t even exist. However, once you get out east, there are plenty of cars and trucks that are looking for a little bit of company in the form of a backpacker. Despite all the hitchhiking horror stories your mother will tell you, this is generally safe and actually a nice way to get in touch with some of the locals as well. Your biggest danger, actually, is having your ear talked off by a lonely truck driver in rural Croatia.
The ferry system in Europe is fairly underused by travellers it seems. For example the ferry to France, like the one I took from Dover to Calais, was almost void of backpackers. Along with the direct ferry to France there are a number of other cross channel ferries as well. From the UK you can get yourself by boat to Belgium, France or even Holland. If you find yourself in the Mediterranean later in your voyage you’ll find it a great way to get out and explore some of the lesser visited islands or perhaps get yourself across from Italy to Greece.
Vespa or Motorcycle
As you well know, I’ve become quite fond of scooter travel. One of the classic ways to travel through Europe is on the back of a Vespa scooter. Imagine cruising through the hills of Italy, bouncing through the narrow streets of a French village or perhaps coasting along the seafront of Croatia. There are few ways of travel more beautiful than on the back of a scooter or motorcycle, I’m fairly sure of that. The wind glancing off your cheeks, the warm sun on your face, and the freedom to get to where you want to go, when you want to be there. There really is nothing sweeter.
I think we’ve become too trained for speed in the modern world. We’re all about getting from one destination to the other as quickly as possible that we often forget about the journey and how important it is. Though you’ll find all sorts of “fast trains” in Europe, I’d recommend opting for some of the slower trains. You’ll see more, take in the experience a little bit better and for me there is nothing more peaceful than staring out of a train window and watching the world float by. If you’re not in much of a hurry, there are few things more relaxing than slow train travel.