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!
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.
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!
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.
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!