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The People You Meet On The Road

The People You Meet On The Road

Even though our Cork to Cape Town adventure has only just begun, I have already met so many interesting people on the road. Some times I fear with my blog that I am too focussed on showing off the destinations in a perfect light through edited Instagram pictures and snapshots of our best moments on this road. I’m hoping to go back to basics briefly with this post and give you a deeper look at what it’s like backpacking overland, taking no flights and meeting endless people along the journey. Ian, my travel buddy for this entire trip (the brave soul!!) will also be blogging his journey so check it our here.

From the moment we boarded the ferry in France, lifelong memories were formed. From the couple who offered us a place to stay to the man asking if we were on the wrong boat, I knew straight away that this 6 to 9 month journey to South Africa is all about the journey and not the destination.

Furthermore, it’s about those small, seemingly insignificant moments and the people we spend them with rather than the destinations along the way. Here’s a small glimpse at all the amazing people you meet on the road – or at least the people who we have met!

ferry to france

Meeting the lovely Ann O’Brien from Wicklow


The best thing about our two days and nights in Paris was hanging out with friends. I’m lucky enough to have two amazing friends, Sinead and Ann-Marie who have been living in this incredible city for many years now and always welcome me into their homes every time I’m passing through Paris. Staying with locals means you miss out all the touristy spots, but are rewarded with something much better – the true local experience. We drank wine by the River Seine, found the cheapest Creperie in Paris and had some Spritz on a boat – Sinead’s favourite bar! We got to hang out with Ann-marie’s amazing housemates and friends, wandering around aimlessly, having picnics in the park and simply soaking up the last of the summer sunshine. It was blissful.


Hanging with one of my best friends, Ann-marie, and her friends in Paris

Friends for over 10 years!

Our tour guide for our Secret Food Tour was also a character and a half – listening to him blaming the British for everything that ever went wrong in life and the world (even if we just jesting) was pretty amusing. His laugh was also the most stereotypical French laugh I’ve ever come across – I’m still unsure if it was put on or for real!


Three people stand out in my memory from our brief visit to this magical fairytale town. The first person that will probably stay in my memory as the trip goes on is the local cheese monger. He was so friendly to us despite language difficulties and even let us go behind the cheese counter to get a cheesy (excuse the pun!) tourist snap. He also sold us 3 big chunks of melt-in-the-mouth delicious locals cheese. Heaven!

My favourite cheesemonger

The second and probably most important person we encountered in Annecy was Pierre Philippe, a mad, hilarious, enthusiastic and seriously friendly man whom we hitchhiked with! He said he could drive us anywhere we wished – not even Italy was too far in his eyes. He also asked if we wanted to use his swimming pool and sang along to some great rock tunes as he drove along loving life. Total legend.


Lastly it was so good to meet up with a friend from Dublin who is actually from Grenoble. I met him a few times in Dublin at Couchsurfing meet ups so was brilliant to see him in Annecy and have dinner together.




The people staying in the room next to us at our hostel in Interlaken were…interesting. Ian and I are still unsure if it was a Father-Daughter holiday or a couple with a seriously large age difference! Either way this American twosome were in town to spend bug bucks. I’d love to know what kind of money thy dropped on their three-day adventure tour.
We also had a large group of youngsters (okay, they weren’t THAT young but early twenties I guess) staying at out hostel. For many it was their first trip out of their home countries and they were all very excitable. It was fun to hang out with such a great mix of different nationalities and to compare their trip to ours. They were spending up to 10 hours a day on a bus each day and the whole group said they felt very unsafe while in Paris, constantly scared about getting robbed. It was interesting to hear their stories as our experiences in the same places were pretty much polar opposites!
In Lauterbrunnen we bumped into this massive group of Korean tourists who asked to take a photo with me. I smiled, said Kimchee then said the only few Korean phrases I knew. They all just turned around, almost in slow motion, eyes wide and mouths wide open, shocked that some random Irish tourist in Switzerland was talking to them in Korean!
Our dorm in Zurich consisted of two English girls that seemed to never leave the hotel, going to bed super early and simple watching movies on their individual laptops.
Our dorm in Lucerne was little more interesting as we shared it with a Malaysian exchange student and a Korean on a month-long tour of Europe. Both were in bed by 10pm – about the time when Ian and myself were just waking up, starting to blog and deciding what type of pizza to order in for dinner. True night owls for life.
We met a super sweet Korean girl at the top of a mountain in Switzerland. I really hope we get to meet up with her again in Slovenia as she was a super cool chick. She reminded me of why I loved my time in Korea so much and I even got to practice a bit of my Korean with her.



Venice, Venice, Venice – Oh the people you will meet!! Our two days staying at Generator Hostel felt like so much longer thanks to all the crazy characters we met or encountered. There were so many I’m just going to bullet point the best of them!

  • Two American military dudes contracted to a hospital in Sicily. Their only comment on Sicily was how dirty it was. They were pretty well-travelled and one had some serious photography skills.
  • We met a vulgar French guy who thought everyone wanted to…well, I’m not going to get into details.
  • An awesome English guy called John who performed some of the most emotive spoken work poetry I’ve ever encountered. His parents had bought him the trip to Venice as a gift because a movie he starred in was shortlisted for an award at the Venice Film Festival.
  • An elderly Australian couple who travel like locals and should seriously have either a travel blog or a movie made about them. They were total legends who told us they partied too hard in Hong Kong, a mistake that landed the man in hospital in Vietnam for 17 days!! We spent an afternoon drinking with them!
  • We encountered a fat, obnoxious American with a signed Trump Hat saying “Make America Great Again”.
  • There was a sweet Chinese girl in our dorm who just stayed in the room watching True Blood on her iPad.

I hope to do similar posts every two weeks as a way to keep track of our encounters and share whatever funny stories I have with you all. Be sure to check back regularly for more updates on our adventures across Europe. My next post is all about Switzerland – land of the world’s happiest cows!

Janet x


Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Hi Janet, love your blog! I'm in Slovenia and I read you are coming this way.. If you want somebody to show you around Ljubljana or meet for coffee that would be super coo, let me knowl! :)

Janet newenham

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Hey Urska! That would be awesome! We are hoping to stay 3 days in Ljubljana from 11th - 14th September and would love to meet up. Feel free to find me on Facebook - name is: "Janet Newenham". :-)


Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Thank you for this excellent post! I can't wait for the the next post about the people you meet along the way.

Janet newenham

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Glad you enjoyed it Katy!! :-)


Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Sounds a wonderful experience, so true the characters you meet can make a trip. Look forward to following the rest of your journey!

Janet newenham

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

Hey Paul and Carole! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. You're so right - it really is all about the characters. I love meeting such interesting people on the road. :-)

Janet newenham

Tuesday 6th of September 2016

So true - people can really make or break your trip! :-) I'm lucky to have a great travel buddy to share my adventure with too.

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