A Tripped Event
If you read this post, something happened. It’s been tripped by an event. But no, it’s not like a farewell letter designed to be read after my death. It only indicates that I’ve left for Portugal with my friends from Los Angeles. They’d invited me to join them for good old time’s sake and who am I to refuse? It was supposed to be last year but it didn’t come to pass. It had been rescheduled and rescheduled and finally it happened.
This is my seventh trip to Europe. Oh, I’m not rich by any means. Anybody can travel if that’s his or her trip (pardon the pun). It’s just a matter of having the will to save for it and setting up one’s priorities. In life you can’t have it all. In my case, because I love to go places, I have to make do without the other stuff. I don’t drive a flashy car. I don’t own an IPhone nor an IPad. I don’t go to the casinos. I don’t do drugs. I don’t have expensive hobbies like golf or skydiving. For some people, I live a boring life, indeed.
It helps that you learn to travel on the cheap without being dubbed a cheapskate. For instance, why book an hotel when you can stay at a hostel for a lot less money? The trade off is you get to share the room and bathroom with the other guests, but who cares? In return for the inconvenience and loss of privacy, you get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and exchange tips on places to eat, public laundromats, internet cafe, etc. Maybe they can even hand you an unexpired ticket or pass that they won’t be using anymore as they’re leaving town in the morning.
It’s wise to avoid museums and some ancient ruins if you have to pay an entrance fee. Trust me, it’ll drain your resources very fast. Ok, if you think that’s harsh, limit it to one or two based on your interests. Look for museums and sites where you can go for free. Take the British Museum, for example, which I consider one of the best in Europe. I can spend a week there without getting bored.
As far as meals are concerned, it pays to go local. Traditional food is always the best. You can also go to a bakery or pastry shop where you can buy sandwiches at reasonable prices. Soda is expensive, so consider it as a treat. Stick to water most of the time. I mean tap water. Most European cities have clean water systems. You’ll find water in public fountains safe to drink. Locals drink it, why not you? If you crave for a decent meal, you can save money by choosing a pub away from the tourist route and drink your wine and eat your food standing at the bar rather than sitting at the table where you’re charged a service fee.
Forget buying souvenirs. After a month or so, buyer’s remorse will set in. They don’t serve any purpose but clutter your drawers or somebody else’s.
And why take a taxi when you can take public transportation, and why take public transportation when you can walk? Walking is healthy and it gives you a deeper sense of the place. While in Rome, I walked all around the city for six hours visiting old churches and other points of interest. My feet took me as far as the Colosseum and the Vatican. I had gone to tourist attractions in other European cities in a similar fashion. I had added going around old neighborhoods and public markets in my walks, too. I find the latter as interesting as the museums and famous tourist spots as it has given me the opportunity to observe local life unfolds before my eyes.
I’ll be back in three weeks. I’m hoping that you, you, and especially you will miss me, but I ain’t holding my breath.