My two cents
Back in Madrid and headed back to the states tomorrow. And thus concludes my European Saga. I truely have been there and back again. A couple of words here. Thanks to my parents, UB, AB, and Granny for helping to make my trip to and around Europe possible. I'd have been very hungry come Venice if not for their help (or I wouldn't have been able to get around!)
To those of you planning to travel or starting to, I have a couple of words of advice:
1) Don't shave, no one does. Its a cultural thing, you are a backpacker, a poor traveler who barely has enough to make ends meet. You are lucky if your hostel has a toilet, much less a sink. And if you see someone who shaves, be suspicious of them. How does he have the time to shave? He's a fake back-packer.
2)Stay in Hostels and Be open-minded. I guess the latter is more for people who plan on travelling in groups. I travelled alone and somehow it never felt like I was ever actually alone. You will run into so many people from all over the world and get to know them all. Honestly, one of the pleasent surprises of my trips was discovering its as much fun meeting people as it is seeing the sights.
3)Have lots of money. That one is self-explanitory. Anything less then 1500 is pushing it for two weeks (believe me).
4)Don't plan too much detail. Your plans are going to change. Accept it. As a matter of fact, what really makes an adventure is showing up in a city without any idea where you are going to stay, buying a map, finding an internet, and finding a place to stay, all in another language. You'll learn the city in the process. Don't do this if you get in after dark though, thats overwhelming and irritating. You might end up at a Korean Youth Hostel where Italian with a strong Korean accent is the lingua franca.
5)Spend more time then I did in each city. I know its tempting, but dont bite off more than you can chew. Its tiring to always be on the move and to run through the sites day in and day out gets old. If you do go for the whirlwind like I did, make sure you give yourself one day every 4ish to do NOTHING but read or relax or meet people. You'll be refreshed the next day.
6)Don't forget.. you are in EUROPE. Its easy to lose sight of that when running around from place to place. Step back and take it all in at some point
7)Learn basic manners in every country you go to. I don't speak more than one word of hungarian, but the one word I do know (phonetically spelt here) is gusanum, which means thank you. It goes a long way to atleast make a small effort in every country you go to, and its a pleasent surprise to the person you are talking to if at the end of the conversation you throw in a word in their native language.
8) Don't judge sketchy people too harshly, remember you look just as sketchy with your ugly beard.
So there are a couple of tidbids. I think I have one more post left in me where I will rank in order the diferent cities I went to in a number of diferent categories.
Saludos y Hasta Mañana