We love good travel stories! We want to keep it simple and to the point. Therefore, every Short Travel Story is written in less than 200 words.
Real-life Travel Stories (less than 30 seconds)
Every traveler has their own unique story he or she loves to share. It is one big, important part of the travel experience.
Whether it is a funny or special story about a hostel experience, or an interesting adventure on the road. Hostelgeeks features unique stories from backpackers and travelers from around the world.
Hardcover Books with Crazy and Fun Travel Tales
A great story belongs in a book. We had a look around and found a bunch of very fascinating travel books you will love too.
- How not to travel the world
- A Thousand New Beginnings
- Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
Especially “How not to travel the world” by Lauren Juliff will make you want to travel the world even more. With little to no life experience like never riding a bus or even eaten beans, she goes out to explore the world. She shares her failures, her travel mistakes of full of bad luck and near-death experiences. Lauren was scammed, assaulted, caught up in a tsunami, had the brakes of her motorbike fail.
How Not to Travel The World is about following your dreams, no matter how many curveballs life throws at you. It is about learning to get out of your comfort zone, finding the humour in messed up situations, and falling in love with life on the road.
Funny and Crazy Travel Stories
When travelling the world, you will live beautiful, weird, unique and other experiences you would not believe. Bring your own travel journal and take your notes. Get your own travel journal sketchbook and simply use an app like Polar steps. Find here our guide to best travel apps in 2024.
And now: Keep scrolling.
Best Short Travel Stories
From Hell to Heli-pads
From monkeys climbing on my head to sleeping on train floors to cocktails on top of the world… Travelling gives you the greatest opportunities and the weirdest lessons, both teach you a lot about who you are (and what you can handle). One night it’s an overnight bus with jagged metal arm rests, A/C in your face and two Asians crammed on one seat watching you sleep and the next night you’re being taken for cocktails on a helicopter pad overlooking Kuala Lumpur.
12 hours can make a big difference.
One night we were sleeping in a floating bamboo shack on the River Kwai, no electricity and completely at peace with nature – until a cockroach crawled on my face at 4am with no light available to find it, so while my buddy Hannah is screaming I’m shooting the toilets “bum gun” blindly all around the room. The next morning and we are bathing an elephant called Wandii in the river, bliss! The Thai trainer asks me, “Are you brave?” Daring me to ride Wandii (with her permission) and I decide I am brave, and I climb into the new situation as nervous and excited as the day I boarded the plane.
Take the bad with good, it pays off as memories last longer than scars.
I have been to Merlin’s Camelot – Château de Pierrefonds in France
I’m a HUGE film and TV fan! It’s why I work in the industry for goodness sake! So when I was able to visit Château de Pierrefonds in France I was thrilled! Many of you may know it from the TV series ‘Merlin’ where it served as Camelot. Let me tell you, it is as magical as Merlin himself! I was just in awe of the castle! It’s tremendous and magnificently beautiful!
Tucked in a small town in France, it’s not a big tourist attraction so I felt as if I had the castle to myself. I’d love to go back again some day!
In a Mosque we discovered the Silence of Cairo
When I first visited Cairo with an old friend of mine, I immediately fell in love with its noise, food smells, and sense of identity. But it was almost too hectic at times, and in the afternoons when we were tired from having merchants constantly calling to us and children tugging at us, my friend and I would duck into one of the many mosques in the “City of Minarets”.
Our regular haunt was the massive al-Azhar Mosque in the center of the city. We stayed out of the way, often just sitting in the shade, journaling quietly, people-watching, or praying to ourselves. I loved that the mosque was a place where people lived their everyday lives, it didn’t feel separate from daily errands or social visits. We were welcomed in the mosque, to enjoy the peace and recharge before diving back into the city.
The little Asian Spot in Orsigna, Italy – Tiziano Terzani
Tiziano Terzani was a famous Italian journalist and writer. He traveled across Asia and he witnessed important historical events like the Vietnam War and the coup d’etat organized in Cambodia by Pol Pot. Old and ill, Terzani decided to spend the last years of his life back in Italy, in the ancient town of Orsigna.
Here, in the woods, he found a big tree, decided to attach two small eyes on it and called it “the Tree with the eyes“, in order to teach his son that the trees are alive and they have a spirit. Nowadays people come here and bring souvenirs and letters to thank Terzani for his inspiring books and teachings.
First 24h in Hanoi – an introduction to the city by English-Students
“Are you busy?“, she asked us, and 6 more pairs of eyes were looking at us.
We arrived in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. We just slowed down from our first wander around the old town of iconic Hanoi. We got a first glance of the city, and tested the waters for buying a motorbike in Hanoi. After all, this is the plan: getting two motorbikes and drive them from the North to the South of Vietnam.
We just bought a soft drink, and sat down at the famous Hoàn Kiếm Lake, when these 7 young Vietnamese approached us.
“Are you busy?“, she asked. “Well…“, we replied only hesitantly, looking into the excited eyes of young men and women.
“We are students, and we want to talk with you. In English. We are looking for foreigners we can talk to.”
“oh, yes, sure“, we replied. They sat down next to us, and we started to chat about so many topics. Hanoi, food, our heritage, their heritage, their language school, motorbikes, and they even shared the legend of the Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
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Our travel tips Vietnam here: 27 Best Things to do in Vietnam – including motorbikes, tractors and monkeys
I found my favorite Café in Barcelona – thanks to a book!
I dislike entering bookshops. Every time I walk into a bookshop, I will end up buying one.
I entered an international bookshop in Eixample, Barcelona, while looking for some cool things to do in Barcelona. And as expected, a book named “The dead alleys of Barcelona” got my attention, a crime novel. Long story short: I bought it, went home, and started reading.
In this book, the author Stefanie Kremser talks about a special part of El Born, downtown Barcelona. She describes this magical square, this narrow street the main character lived in.
I didn’t know this exact street, and I was curious. I went downtown, wandered around the square and saw this café with the few tables on the terrace. Until today, 7 years later, it is still my favorite café in Barcelona – thanks to this book!
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This Short Travel Story was written by Matt, the guy behind Hostelgeeks. Here at Hostelgeeks we award and collect 5 Star Hostels around the world.
Fancy more coffee?
Find the 13 best coffee shops in Barcelona here.
We also compare the 7 top bike tours of Barcelona.
The very last moment changed my Impression of Saigon, Vietnam
The city of Saigon, Vietnam was tiring to all five senses, and I was looking forward to an escape.
With a few hours to kill before our overnight bus, my friend and I wandered the streets in search of food. It wasn’t long before we were approached by two young, fresh-faces students who wanted to practice their English.
Suddenly enthusiastic Vietnamese surrounded us and the next two hours flew by so fast that we almost missed our bus. Our exchange may have been brief, but I walked away with a brand-new outlook on the city – I hope they can say the same about the UK.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame for Two
My daughter and I spent a week in Paris together with my cousin and a work friend. We splurged on an evening boat ride on the Seine to celebrate my cousin’s birthday, we shopped, we walked, we ate croissants, and I took photo after photo of the City of Light.
On our last day, my daughter and I woke up just before dawn, so I could photograph the sunrise at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It is absolutely my favorite spot in Paris. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. just as a janitor stepped outside the massive front door to smoke a cigarette. We chatted briefly with him, and then he just stepped aside and asked if we wanted to go in.
The church was completely empty except for a lone woman on the altar with a carpet sweeper. I was so awestruck that I forget to take out my camera.
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Heading to the French capital? You can find +24 fun things to do in Paris, collected by us. Rollerblading, boat party, and pizza picnic – enjoy! Also, make sure you enjoy one of the 3 best hostels in Paris.
Fat-Bike with Ninja – my 3h Stars Tour in the Italian Alta Badia
Spending an entire winter in the mountains has its perks; an invitation to fat-bike through the snow being one of them. Ninja, as he is known, is notorious in the Italian Alta Badia region for his outdoor skills.
During our 3hr Stars Tour, my friend and I experienced cycling on a frozen lake, holding on for dear life as we sped down a piste and learned what it takes to control wheels as thick as tree trunks. After cycling home in the thick, falling snow, we smiled and huddled up with a hot chocolate to toast our unique, thrilling experience.
Our morning traffic was a herd of goats – Rural Petrich in Bulgaria
Having spent 6 weeks in the small village in Petrich, Bulgaria, I must say that it was the biggest cultural shock I have had to date. We went there (11 other students and I) as part of our university course, with the aim to create a geological map for our dissertations.
We were staying with a Bulgarian family, who didn’t know any English. Hence, the past few weeks before our departure was spent learning the Bulgarian language. The Bulgarian community in Petrich were lovely, and we were warmly welcomed upon arrival. One lady came up to us and hugged us all, which was a bit of a relief as we all felt a little nervous.
A humble, old, Bulgarian lady who we called ‘Baba’ (Bulgarian for Grandma), cooked our meals, 3 times a day for 6 weeks. We were shocked, to begin with, to learn that her house was made from chipboard, only had two small rooms, and she cooked from her stove located in her bedroom. Amazingly, she produced lavish 3-course meals for dinner and we were always full!
After a few weeks, we all felt really settled; we were used to the morning traffic – a herd of goats equipped with brass bells trotting down the road; we had gotten used to the strong taste of the locally-made Rakia and used to the way of life in Petrich.
It was a sad day when we had to leave Petrich, but I will always remember my time fondly, with the hope of returning one day.
Freezing Christmas Sea Swim and I survived
The annual Christmas sea swim has been taking place for almost 60 years on Clacton beach, Essex, United Kingdom. The low mumble of excited folk, showing off their Santa hats whilst sipping mulled wine, increase the tension as everybody stands, half naked and raring to go.
Without much warning, hilarity sets in and the crowd go storming towards the calm sea’s chill – the low-risen sunshine flickering on the tide, screaming his invitation to jump right on in. Arms flail and cameras click; toes hit the water, and it is now or never, keep running or quit? Within what feels like seconds, it is all over.
Looking out to sea it’s hard to believe anybody had disturbed the water this morning.
Except for that one head I can see still bobbing around, his body now comfortably numb; he must look back at me and my quick escape, and think by god how incredibly boring.
The Sleeping Dragon – Dalai Lama, Salzburg, and Me
I can feel the snowflakes softly falling from the sky. They land gently on the tip of my frozen nose. At the top of this mysterious peak, famously called “sleeping dragon” by the Dalai Lama, I am alone. It is just me and the mountains. Okay, that’s not exactly true. It’s just me and a dozen yapping crows soaring through the mist. Up here on Untersberg, as I look down at Salzburg below, I know that it’s me against the world.
That it’s just me and the silence that threatens to engulf me whole.
Getting Lost on Purpose in Tokyo – Discover Hidden Tokyo
When we headed over to Japan, we wanted to totally immerse ourselves in this wonderful country we had traveled half the world to experience.
With awe and wonder, we decided instead of being intimidated by the complexity and challenges of this new land, that we would embrace its exhilaration.
We set off to wander, with no particular destination in mind other than exploration.
To see the details, to come across the unexpected and to embrace the idea of being totally lost and the thrill of expectation.
Getting lost is part of the adventure, it is when the city takes you on a journey where you are never sure of what you might find or where you may end up.
We wandered the winding streets, jungle crows cawing from the tangled wires above. This was a Tokyo we hadn’t expected and loved discovering.
Little electric cars buzzed around us at the beat of a monk’s drum, and the smell of incense filled the air. Amidst the glowing signs and the melody of sounds, we found the wonderful hidden world of a tiny, ancient Shinto shrine.
We watched as locals came and went, wafting themselves with the sweet smelling smoke, washing their hands and clapping before bowing in the ornate temple.
We took our own turn to pay our respects, writing out our own “Ema” plaque and sending our wishes for continued travels and peaceful wanderings up to the “Kami”.
Furthermore, we discovered the quiet passion of Tokyo beyond the technology and modern metropolis, we sat and learned the ways of a new culture and shared someone else’s daily routine with wonderment and appreciation after stepping out of the safety net of certainty.
Traveling to Tokyo? Check out 3 best hostels in Tokyo.
Cycling to a hidden Waterfall in Baños, Ecuador
It was a glorious afternoon in Baños, Ecuador, so we decided to rent bikes to cycle to a waterfall. We headed out of town and turned off the main road onto an impossibly steep track, following signs to “la cascada” (the waterfall). We pedaled past tiny houses with children playing on the front steps. Furthermore, we heard the thundering sound of water falling down a sheer drop, and a beautiful waterfall cutting through the thick vegetation came into view.
We hid our bikes in some bushes, took off our shoes and climbed as far as we could up the rocks at the side of the waterfall. I love getting off the beaten path, and the views across the valley in the bright evening sun were breathtaking.
Read: best hostels in Baños
Rishikesh, India – meat, eggs and alcohol are forbidden
Located at the foot of the Himalayas, crossed by the river of the Ganges, Rishikesh is an important pilgrimage city. From here the Ganges heads to the Himalayas, and from here pilgrims start their voyage to the holy places in Garhwal Mountains – like we did on our trip “On foot to India” (originally in German: Zu Fuß nach Indien).
Like in many sacred places in India, meat, eggs and alcohol are forbidden in Rishikesh – an absolute dream destination for vegetarians and vegans.
Lakshmana, this lion among men, one of three brothers of Rama, whose deeds are written down in the epic Ramayana, once crossed the Ganges here in Rishikesh by just using a rope made of jute. At this point they built the bridge called Lakshman Jhula.
Not far from this bridge, one morning we sat down at the rooftop of a temple to eat some delicious fruits while enjoying the beautiful view to the Ganges.
Spontaneously, some gray languor joined us for breakfast, and we decided to share our food with some more primates.
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We wrote up a big new guide to the best hostels in Rishikesh.
Find the best hostels in India here.
Trying Aperol Spritz for the first time in Venice, city of Refuge
This short travel story is an excerpt from the new novel Exquisite Hours by Joshua Humphreys. Set in New York, Bangladesh, Bangkok, Venice, London, and Vietnam, Exquisite Hours is the story of Anaïs Spencer, a beautiful young woman who travels the world lying to men.
‘What brings you to Venice, then?’
‘I, Octavian, have always felt that I would end up here. And somehow I have, ended up here.’
‘Is this the end?’
‘Do you think it is?’
‘How should I know? Taste that.’
She pushed the skewer back with her finger and drank. ‘That’s amazing.’ Astonished, she broke into a smile. Then she moaned with pleasure. ‘That…’ she sipped again. ‘Oh. … It tastes like sunshine. You could drink that all day.’
‘And so we shall,’ he assured her.
‘What’s it called?’
‘Spritz Aperol,’ he said with a very attractive Italian accent.
From within was brought a large plate arrayed with every deliciousness that Anaïs had yet tasted from the lagoon. ‘The fish and chips are cold,’ she said, touching them with the backs of her fingers. Then she had some. ‘That’s amazing. It’s delicious.’
‘You just ate mermaid tail.’
She cackled and then tucked into the grilled vegetables.
‘All mermaid stories aside, you’re in Venice, why?’
‘Yes. How did you come to be sitting at Paradise Lost?’
‘Well you walked into that gallery today didn’t you?’
‘Not today. I mean, how have you ended up here? What have you fled? All strangers who come to Venice have fled something. The city was founded by refugees. You’ve fled something, no? Was your heart broken, Anaïs? Declare everything.’
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When heading to Venice, make sure you take a look at our tips to discover the hidden Venice. Does it still exist? Yes, and we will help you find your own piece of Venice.
Here is our guide to eat on a budget in Venice.
It covers 22 restaurants to eat like a king without paying a million euros.
In The Footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and Napoleon
They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
When you walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the journey begins with a day-long hike through the Pyrenees, starting in France, ending hours later in Spain. Most pilgrims continue to Santiago de Compostela, another 790 km away.
My son and I wanted to be like most pilgrims, even though our plan was just to walk for another two days, ending in Pamplona. We climbed high into the mountains and came down through a thick forest, arriving late afternoon. But my feet were covered in blisters, and I was sunburned to a crisp. We hailed a cab to Pamplona.
Even though we didn’t keep walking, for the rest of my life I can tell people about the day I walked through the Pyrenees with my son: in the footsteps of Charlemagne, St. Francis of Assisi, and Napoleon.
Are there wolves in Umbria? Nicola did not reply
“Are there wolves in Umbria?” Just silence from Nicola while the howling was still coming from the valley. We were alone, sleeping in a tiny tent in the wood along Spoleto – Norcia, Italy abandoned railway. We had been too adventurous, cycling along the hills and camping in this isolated spot. Maybe we (and by we I mean Nicola) could have learned how to light a fire to protect from the animals; maybe we were going to be attacked by a pack of wolves.
“Nicola?” He quietly answered, “A few”. Wolves sounded far from us, but I felt frightened and could not sleep for hours.
Howling stopped only before dawn when hunters started to shoot in the valley. Waking up, we smiled as we felt like little red riding hood saved by the hunter.
10 Hours of Big Boys fighting – Sumo in Japan
Japan is not only the land of cherry blossoms and sushi: it has also the home of sumo, a traditional fight that resembles more to a sacred Shinto ceremony rather than to a wrestling sport.
We arrived in Fukuoka, Japan during the November tournament and bought a ticket to see some Sumo fights. We ended up spending a full day at the stadium and over 10 hours watching big boys practicing ancient ritual gestures and fighting against each other to be the last one standing on the Dohyo (Dohyo is the ring in which sumo wrestling bouts are held).
When you see them on the ring they look so cold and powerful, but if you meet them in the corridors or outside the stadium, you’ll be impressed by their humble and sweet smile more than by their physical stature.
This is exactly the way Japan looks like: strong, fierce, noble but also kind, gentle and with an unbreakable inner strength.
Travel Memories as a Child vs. Adult – different world in Milan
I’ve travelled to Italy several times with my parents as a child but, until now, haven’t returned by myself. On the plane I couldn’t wait to see it all again: the old men sitting on the street, beautifully dressed ladies strolling around, laundry drying in front of the windows, gelato everywhere.
When I reached Milan, I was confused: Where were the people who had been sitting on the streets? When did the ladies stop wearing nice dresses? All these pictures in my head – I couldn’t find them.
Then, on my third day, I walked into a supermarket to buy some water. And there they were, right next to my water in the fridge: these tiny bottles of coke I’ve never seen outside of Italy.
I saw my mother standing in front of me in her bathing suite, handing me this very special treat I was only allowed to have on vacation. Colorful umbrellas on the beach right behind her, the feeling of sand stuck to my skin with layers of sunscreen.
The Italy that probably never existed the way I remembered it, a little part of it was still there, hidden in the fridge of a tiny supermarket in Milan.
Psst! Check out our 5 Star Hostel in Milan, Combo Milano.
Hitchhiking in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
No transport, no rush!
Hitchhiking: the golden answer to budget travel! It doesn’t cost a dime, plus you can meet interesting people, and get a sneak peek into their lives.
In Fuerteventura, we were hitchhiking from Lajares to the beach in El Cotillo. It’s only a 10 km ride, and hitchhiking is very common across Fuerteventura and the Canary Islands. However, it was our first time ever.
The very first cars had big yellow and white corporate stickers on them. The tourists that were driving them looked at us with big scared eyes…”No, dear tourists, we are not planning to kill you, we just want a ride.”
After a few minutes, a beautiful camper van appeared. Anna said, “This one would be fantastic!” The camper stopped and gave us a lift. It was a woman from Berlin. Together with her two kids and husband, she was spending two weeks of holidays on Fuerteventura.
This beautiful old camper van had come with their apartment rental. They explored the island of Fuerteventura and even hopped over for a night to Lanzarote.
It’s an old saying, you always meet twice in life. The next day we ran into each other on the beach in El Cotillo. This is when we took this photo of her beautiful automobile.
Meeting a new friend while Hitchhiking in New Zealand
Our first attempt at hitchhiking was from the suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand, into the city. Almost immediately, a car pulled over to pick us up and as we climbed in, full of elation, we met our (Saint) Helen; who insisted on driving us ALL the way to our destination. We left the car, thinking our paths would never cross again.
However, the very next day, on Christmas Eve, while enjoying our picnic of chips, guacamole and Pico de Gallo—along the Hutt River— when our Saint Helen strolled by! We eagerly invited her over to join our picnic. While talking naturally, as old friends would have, she invited us over to her friend Clive’s. Claiming she didn’t want us to be alone on Christmas. We sat in Clive’s Jacuzzi, drinking in the city view, and some wine! Helen came to our rescue a week later, letting us crash at her place before our 2am ferry to the south island, and even paid for our cab too!
The power of spontaneity – College, friendship, and travel!
I live in Fullerton, California and attend CSUF with my friends. None of us knew each other before coming to college, but we were all brought together by sheer luck. Our friendships have blossomed, and we have been on so many adventures together throughout the first semester of school. It was sad to be heading home for winter break, but when we returned to school it felt too good to be reunited!
Our first weekend back, we decided to take a trip to Santa Monica, which is about an hour away from Fullerton (depending on traffic). We found a parking spot, and strolled to the pier to find florescent lights and ocean smells. I am a videographer, so naturally I filmed some of the fun moments with my friends and later turned it into this video.
We had dinner at Urth Café, and took pictures at sunset with the beach in the background.
This night of spontaneity is now one of my favorite memories with the girls, and I will cherish it always.
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To Lauren, Lindsey, Jessica, and Naomi – You have made my freshman year so unforgettable, and I cannot wait for the adventures and great times to come.
Love Always, Nevada
We smiled and laughed with Children in Zimbabwe
Walking 1 mile down a straight dirt road in the blistering 40 degree heat would usually cause most people to grunt, especially when it had to me, trudged twice a day. But not here; not in Zimbabwe. Instead of a monotonous route where you’d expect to walk head down, hands in pockets, primary school children brought color to the picture.
Sure, they were cheeky asking for sweets and stroking my freckled skin, but all they wanted was interaction.
Each day we’d bring something new to entertain and by far the simple game of passing a rugby ball between them was the favorite – generating smiles so big, their faces could barely contain them.
A clean beach is a good beach – Nyang-Nyang Beach in Uluwatu, Bali
“Can I take a photo?”, I asked the
street beach vendor.
“How much do you pay me?“, he responded, smiling friendly, his white teeth showing.
“I buy cold water from you, ok?”
We hiked down the rocky trail to Nyang-Nyang Beach, near Uluwatu in South Bali. Only experienced surfer come here to enjoy the thrill of a wave ride.
Here, at the beach with the colorful name of Nyang-Nyang Uluwatu, we met Bagus. Since a couple of years now, he comes to the beach to sell cold drinks and snacks. The surfers trust him, leaving their belongings with him while catching waves.
We are not experienced surfers, but experienced beach-goers. So, we sit down and watch the surfers doing their job. Bagus constantly picks up the trash at the beach. Once he’s bored, he sits next to us and starts chatting.
“I always have to clean up. Nobody else does. The trash comes from the sea, some tourists forget their trash as well. It’s annoying, but I do not want to have this beautiful beach dirty.”
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Find more than 180 Short Travel Stories with Hostelgeeks. We visited Nyang-Nyang when reviewing Bread&Jam Hostel in Kuta, Bali.
Read here our complete guide to the best hostels in Ubud.
Also, read our guide to the top hostels in Canggu with Boutique and Luxury Hostels.
Coronavirus Travel Stories from the Community – Hostels and Traveller
In March 2020 and during the ongoing crisis due to Coronavirus, we asked our community on how they were holding up.
10 Months Backpacking cut short – we will all be back
I was in the middle of a 10 month around the world journey when C*v** began to effect countries around the world. I was in Southeast Asia when the world began to find out about what now has become a travelers nightmare.
I somehow managed to get from Thailand to Vietnam to Trinidad and Tobago to Curacao to Colombia before the worldwide lock down and border closings. I was heading into month 8 of my journey before I decided to go back to the States.
I am grateful for all of the help I received in getting back home, only 1 day before the Colombian President decided to stop all entry and exit from the country. I hope to finish my journey one day but for now I am truly blessed to be back home with family. I will say that being on stay orders in my country was the best decision for me, but my hats go off to my travel friends who are sticking this out in other countries. The world is a beautiful place, can’t wait until we can explore again!
Stuck in a Hostel in Quito
I flew to Quito, Ecuador the beginning of March.
I was here for about a week before the quarantine started. I’m staying at this really nice hostel called Community Hostel, really great food and staff.
They kept up to date with cleanliness procedures, and always made activities so we wouldn’t go stir crazy.
Read: 3 best hostels in Quito including Community Hostel
Last Minute Flight from Bali to Berlin
We had to catch a last minute flight from Bali to Berlin. It was not easy, and the flight was full up to the last seat. We thought it would be half empty. The stewardess were our heroes. Although they were overworked and not as friendly as usual, you could tell they were giving their best.
The atmosphere at the airport was strange. People were nervous. Some were wearing masks although they are not sick at all. We are now home safe, happy to be back.
Trying to find a job in New Zealand – when C*v** hit
Hey fellow travellers,
I’m a young female from Czech Republic.
I came to New Zealand with Working Holiday Visa, thinking I’ll travel a little and then find a hostel job. I manage to do the first part and travel around the North island of NZ. While I was living in my van I was constantly dropping my CV’s around the country, but didn’t have any luck with finding any hostel position.
Another factor was that hostels in NZ are not a really big thing ’cause everyone travels in their vans.
Anyway, I decided to settle in one of the towns I really liked and admitted I might have to lower my expectations and find another job.
I lived in a hostel for while tried to impress few more mangers but no luck again. At that time things got really bad in Italy and people started to talk about C*v** much more.
I printed approx. 20 CV’s and dropped them personally in almost every cafe, bar, restaurant and diner in area I moved into. Luckily I found a job in a Burger diner just 2 weeks before the lock-down. I got a job, moved to a house and everything seem to be on a stable path at that moment. After a week working first cases of C*v** showed up in NZ and that was the start.
I just finished my second week of working when the PM of NZ announced that we will move to Alert 4, meaning everything apart essential businesses have to shut down. So after 2-month long hunt for a job and only 2 weeks working I was unemployed again. Luckily I had a house to stay in and amazing people around me.
NZ’s government also released a wage subsidy for those effected and that was another lucky moment that allowed me to stay in this amazing country. But the money I received barely covered my rent. SO job hunt again!
Before I came to NZ I said that I really don’t want to work in any kind of farm or orchard. Where do you think I work now? Yep the universe gave me a lesson again and here I am working as a kiwi picker.
Let me tell you it’s a hard job, I don’t like it at all, but what I realized is that I should be grateful for all of it. There’s so many people out there that have no chance of any kind of income that would do anything to accept any kind of job.
I complain, I cry but I also consider myself lucky at this stage.
Zagreb hit by Earthquake and Corona Crisis
***Support your favourite hostel and plan your future trip now***
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HOW DOES IT WORK?
Contact us directly to mint[at]swanky-hostel.com with subject ‘Voucher‘ and we’ll send you info about the payment via email and you’ll get your voucher and our staff’s eternal gratitude 🤗
Airbnb in New Zealand
Currently working remotely in New Zealand, I’ve been moving between housesits, volunteering placements and hostels for the past 6 months. The day after the announcement of a 4-week ‘lockdown’ in NZ, I was set to head to a new Workaway to help build a winter veggie garden.
Luckily for me, I happened to be staying in a VERY posh Airbnb and the owners came round to offer my partner and I a chance to stay for a very reasonable price.
Thanks to the generosity of strangers, I now get to enjoy my own space and unlimited WiFi so that I can continue my online work. I am full of gratitude and have no doubt that this situation will bring people together rather than pull them apart.
Helping each other out – Free Self-Run Hostel in Iran
by Golnar from HI Tehran Hostel
This story is a bit different since we weren’t stuck ourselves. But we had many guests who were stuck in Iran. In Hi Tehran Hostels, we stopped accepting new guests immediately after hearing about the start of epidemic in Iran to play our part in reducing the risk for everyone.
Yet, we continued monitoring the new chaos, and acknowledged the remaining foreign travelers, who were confused and clueless about when and how they could fly out, were facing many difficulties.
Unfortunately, with the closure of borders, frequent cancellation of flights, and poor support from many embassies in Iran toward their travelers, we started to notice there were still numerous travelers in Iran who couldn’t fly back home any time soon and they were very tight on budget or out of money since they didn’t predict such a long stay.
Of course it wasn’t our job to take care of that and the related offices should’ve managed these conflicts to control the risks.
However, we decided to stand up and provide a help by offering a FREE SELF-RUN accommodation to tourists who were still in Iran with cancelled flights till they can fly home. There were of course, safety protocols which was and still is checked by health ministry that the residents should follow seriously.
Otherwise, staying with us would’ve been meaningless and not different from staying in individuals or Couchsurfing!
Hostel in Delhi, India helping out
by Aakash Ahuja
As part of the hostel community, we run Podstop Hostel in Delhi, India.
Due to the C*v** 19 situation all over the world, many travellers are either unable to go back to their respective countries or don’t want to move from their current location. We have hosted people from 18 countries since Delhi/India went into lockdown.
We’ve been accepting and inviting any and all travelers from around the world who need a friendly, safe and secure place to stay.
Following WHO guideline, we are monitoring, actively checking each of the hostel resident under supervision of trained staff. Although delhi is under complete lockdown, we are arranging for food and other supplies through our network to provide basic food for our guests. Please let us know if anyone in Delhi/surrounding reaches out to you.
We’ll be happy to accommodate. We do charge each guest just enough to cover our basic cost at this time. This means we put down our prices for accommodation by 30% and for food by 50%. Every 4night the travelers stay for free at the moment.
Our flight has been cancelled, no surprise there, but KIWI.com is guaranteeing a 20% refund on our flight costs. This is seriously taking advantage of the current events in 2020 and because of this paltry refund policy, we will never use the service again and will not recommend to friends.
Staff helped us out in Cartagena, Colombia
We stayed at Life is Good Hostel in Cartagena. All the staff members stand out as fantastic members of staff – my friend and I had a nightmare with trying to get back home due to coronavirus and they both went out of their way to do everything they could to help us – could not be happier with the service!
Our Scary and Risky 3-Day Journey from northern Philippines to Berlin
by DJ from Dreameurotrip
I am at a loss for words on how to describe what we are going through at this moment. We are currently on the 2nd day of our 3-day journey back to our home in Berlin. The riskiest part of our journey. We’re waiting at NAIA airport to board this rare direct repatriation flight from Manila to Frankfurt sent by the German government.
There are only 350 seats and almost 500 registered people trying to get into the flight. We arrived at the airport at 1PM and got thrown into the middle of the chaotic crowd managed by only 1 guy from the embassy. It’s a super risky hot mess. I wanted to cry. Everything we planned to do to protect ourselves from being exposed is thrown out the window.
We were unsure if we will get in. The guy is using a “prioritization” system that is unclear. I don’t have a German passport. Even Filipinos holding German passports are asked to line up with other Filipinos. We worried that he would let my husband board the flight and ask me to stay.
After four hours of waiting surrounded by hundreds of people who act like social distancing is a foreign idea, we got in. Finally. A big sigh of relief. But super stressed with the hours of exposure we had outside.
We’ve been at the airport for almost 10 hours now, exhausted and a bit scared. We try to keep it positive. We talk about recipes we will cook and shows we will binge watch on our projector. We online grocery shop in Rewe to deliver food to our apartment in time for our arrival. This is happiness for us now.
We should be boarding soon. We can’t wait to sleep and recharge. Lord knows we need all our energy for this 14 hour flight and the 6 hour train ride to Berlin after.
Send us protection as we make our way back home. We hope you’re all healthy and safe at home.
Hang tight! We will survive this rollercoaster.
Update: We are safely in Berlin now and feel fine.
Moroccan Street seller in Granada
This was a simple dialogue with a street vendor in Granada, Spain.
“Which photo do you like? I have the most beautiful posters from all over Spain!”
“I love this one with Felicidad (Happiness). How much is one photo, though?”
“Sorry, here are the prices. The police just passed, and I had to put everything away.”
Sharing Rum with New Friends in Cuba
I tell time by looking at the sun’s position. Spanish, Italian, French, German are my mother tongues for a beautiful moment.
An island of poetry in every wave that crashes on the Melecon. Humble and proud, humid and alive. Pilgrimage of Hemingway, home of heroes, this is Cuba. Don’t hesitate to share the shade of a palm, don’t hesitate to pass around the rum with strangers – now friends. Get on the bus heading anywhere and stop where it pleases you, you will be welcomed. I came filled with stories of precaution, and left, left my heart in Cuba.
What’s not to like about Texas? I laughed
I stared out the window as the bus crossed the state that had the most pride. I tried to like Texas. Not only that, but I wanted to see why Texans were so proud of Texas. But I saw nothing but empty, parched land.
I headed to the Backpacker Hostel in Irving. I saw an overweight girl with Texas stars dangling from her ears, wearing a Texas T-shirt that clung to her spare tires.
At the hostel, I talked about it with my new friend Gabrielle, from Holland. She pointed to signs on the walls of the kitchen: “American by birth, Texan by the grace of God,” and “Texas, it just feels right,” and “Don’t mess with Texas.” I marveled at the attitude: it just didn’t add up with what I had seen of the state.
Gabrielle said, “You have to laugh at the Texans because they take such a militaristic pride in their state.”
So I did.
Stumbling across Live Piano Music in Matanzas, Cuba
There is always noise in Cuba. In the countryside cockerels crow and dogs bark, in cities drivers honk their horns and reggaeton blasts from the bicitaxis.
Strolling through the busy streets of Matanzas, I glimpsed the sparking of sun on the surface of water and I went to the bay hoping for quiet. The noise of the car engines seemed to die down as beautiful piano music drifted out of an open window. I laid on the wall, closed my eyes, basked in the afternoon sun to the wonderful sound, and said to myself again that I love this country.
The Triangle of Life, my food in Japan
Move over, Elton John! Japan just proved that life is a triangle. Anyone who has been to Japan knows how good the food is. No matter where you go. Whether it’s a Michelin restaurant, a hole in the wall place, or a convenience store, you can never go wrong with food when in the land of the rising sun.
My three weeks in Japan were packed with travelling from one city to another, which is why I was able to see 9 different places. You know those days when you just don’t have time to sit down and eat while travelling, and you pack your bag with energy bars? Well, my three weeks in Japan were all about that, and I found this great replacement to bars – these triangles shaped rice snacks stuffed with meat or fish and wrapped in seaweed.
These triangles (I still don’t know what they are called) became lifesavers; they were quick to grab, easy to eat, and filling thanks to the rice. I may have missed out on some great restaurant food, but at least these snacks kept me on my feet in what was once-in-a-lifetime-dream destinations.
Lost in Translation? Not in Japan!
We’ve all heard about the kindness of strangers, but you’ll never experience it in quite the same way anywhere in the world as you would in Japan. During my one-week stay in Tokyo, my brother and I ended up in the over-crowded Shibuya district looking for a well recommended restaurant by our friends. Now, anyone who has been to Shibuya will know that finding a specific restaurant is tougher than finding a needle in a haystack.
Needless to say, we were lost, and what’s more worrisome in Japan is that you are always worried that your request for directions from strangers will get lost in translation.
We had no choice but to stop someone, who already seemed to be in a rush. We asked him about the restaurant, and he had no idea what we were saying till we showed him the name on our phones. He had no clue where it was or how to get there. At this point, most people would apologize and walk away, but not this stranger. He started to walk around asking people about where the restaurant was; and once he figured it out, he actually walked us to it! Only in Japan do people treat tourists like guests to a home.
So don’t worry about the language barrier if in Japan – the people there know how to break those walls.
Lanquín, Guatemala: Home to the Sacred Waters of Semuc Champey
We arrived in Lanquín, Guatemala, after being packed like sardines on an 8-hour bus trip from Tikal. The scent of burnt foliage from the ubiquitous slash-and-burn stung our noses as we exited the bus onto the orange mud road that had led us into the depths of the Mayan jungle.
We’d come for Semuc Champey (Mayan for Sacred Waters). The clear, turquoise lagoon flows from an underground cave in the middle of the jungle, beckoning visitors to bathe with the fish. Colorfully-clad Maya sat at the water’s edge, observing us with reluctant fascination as we graciously explored their sacred oasis.
Find all the best hostels in Semuc Champey here.
Stealing a Shower on The Roadtrip to San Francisco
It was four in the morning, my friend and I were driving through endless towns on our way to San Francisco. We had been crashing in my car the last 3 nights and at the start of our third day of driving I had only one condition.
“Wherever we end up tonight, it has to have showers.”
My friend had begun making phone calls that afternoon. But it was a home game in San Francisco and everything was booked solid. It looked like another night of restless sleep in the car, and even worse, no shower.
Suddenly fate intervened. We drove past a sign that read “RV Park, laundry and showers.” I didn’t hesitate. Grabbing our towels, we stole like thieves across the RV Park, giggling quietly. I took the longest shower of my life that night, terrified of being caught breaking in yet reveling in my rebellion.
100.000 Crosses at The Hill Of Crosses
Breathtaking. That’s the only word that came to my mind when standing on the hill of crosses in the middle of the Lithuanian nowhere. Wherever I looked, there were crosses tucked in the ground, on top of each other, with rosaries dangling from them in all colors. Not being religious, this place still overwhelmed me simply by the number of crosses people have brought there one by one. Tiny ones stacked on top of each other and huge ones, several meters over my head.
No one really knows who started it and why it’s there, but it keeps growing, and there must be a hundred thousands already on the hill and on the surrounding fields. And all I can really say is: Breathtaking.
Shooting Stars in Wadi Rum (pun intended)
Jordan is a strange country. There are big cities, forgotten majestic mausoleums, mountains and depressions, but most of all there are deserts.
My boyfriend and I traveled around Jordan in August (not so hot as people said) and we lived for more than ten days in a Bedouin tent camp in Wadi Rum desert, southern Jordan.
We put ourselves in some awkward situation with our guest Kaled, who is quite a notable person in Bedouins village, especially struggling to eat with a single hand and annoying him with our Italian chitchat, but he was so kind not to kick our butts out of the house…
Anyway, Nicola is a photographer, and he immediately fell in love with desert starry nights and shooting stars. Kaled took him to a quiet place near the camp and, with his tripod, Kaled taught Nicola how to take unbelievable pictures of the night sky and stars. When we saw the photos, it was a blast! It felt like looking right into the universe! If you look closely, you can see that Nicola captured some shooting stars scratching the sky above the tents. Of course, we made a wish…but it’s a secret!
Welcome to Remedios, Cuba – a small Concert at a tiny Square
We trudged through the streets of sleepy Remedios*, Cuba, our rucksacks feeling heavier under the midday sun.
In search of a Casa Particular*, we stumbled onto the main plaza, where the town’s band was playing a slow march under the dappled shade of the band stand. The loud brass felt like a regal welcome, as though we were being rewarded for making it to this tiny place that tourists don’t bother with. The music was wonderful, and I smiled at the thought that some experiences cannot be planned. They just happen and you have to simply enjoy the moment.
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Good to know about this Short Travel Story:
Remedios in Cuba is located in the northern east coast in the center of Cuba. This town is famous for their “parrandas”. This is Christmas festivity where – and get this – 2 different districts compete with each other showing off the best fireworks the all night long.
*Casa Particular: A Casa Particluar is the Cuban answer to a guesthouse and budget accommodation. This property is managed by a local family. Beside finding mostly private rooms, they also offer home-cooked meals, and sometimes even more like events, and tours! Staying at a Casa Particular can be easily seen as the Cuban version of AirBnb and Hostels.
We visited the old witch bath house – Miyazaki’s Animated Film
We were walking in the narrow streets of Shibu Onsen, a Japanese village in the mountains near Nagano. A lot of people going around after having thermal baths. We stopped in front of a big old hotel, with a few people taking pictures. We looked at the hotel, illuminated in the incoming night, and it was that bath house from Spirited Away anime (a famous 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film)!
Actually, in Japan it is recognized as the inspiration for Miyazaki, the director, to create the old witch bath house of the anime and you must visit it if you are a Miyazaki fan!
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Here you can find the best hostels in Japan.
Losing my Shared-Taxi at the Togo-Benin border
Usually, problems crossing borders involve corrupt officials, visa troubles, or unexpected closures…
I’m not sure what the locals thought when they saw a tall hairy white man running barefoot from the border in the morning sun, with no luggage, clutching his chest pocket to ensure his passport didn’t fall out – asylum seeker or drug dealer maybe.
Truth was, I’d managed to lose my shared-taxi. I was traveling from Benin to Togo, and being a ‘foreigner’, I’d had to be stamped in/out of both countries, rather than doing as the locals do & showing ‘ID’ in the form of small-value local currency. I’d left my luggage in the taxi & jumped out at the Beninese post – but by the time I’d been processed, got my Togo visa, and crossed over, the taxi had disappeared.
I wasn’t too worried at first – I hadn’t paid him yet – but it meant I had nothing on me other than a shirt, trousers, my passport, and a small amount of money; even my sandals were in my backpack. After waiting for 15min, the border officials suggested that my taxi might be waiting at the car park some 200m up the road. Turns out, it wasn’t.
Several thoughts crossed my mind; I’d lost pretty much everything – tablet, phone, clothes, power leads, debit card – & figured I’d have to go to the British Embassy in Lomé to plead my case, then realized there wasn’t one. Was I going to be stuck in a country I was only visiting because it was ‘in the way’?
Luckily, within fifteen minutes my taxi returned – he’d been waiting for me to get through immigration, got bored, & dropped off his other passenger before coming back to find me. Crisis narrowly averted, I headed on towards Lomé.
Sunrise at Worlds Deadliest Mountain Annapurna, Nepal
Full of the crowd, waiting for that moment and then finally click after click… Yes, that was the scenario of Sarangkot in Pokhara, a most popular tourist spot to view the spectacular sunrise of the world’s deadliest mountain, Annapurna.
All are looking at the sky, it was very cold. But who cares?? I have never seen such crowd and love for the sun and the sunrise among peoples before. Nobody wanted to miss a single moment of the beautiful sunrise view and capture. I was amazed, I was blessed and I was super happy for being able to view my dream mountain sunrise for the first time in Nepal. Miss you SUNRISE!
My love to Nepal
I never thought and still can’t believe what happened recently with Nepal (Earthquake 2015). This natural disaster made me speechless and decided to dedicate this story to entire Nepal and people around there. I wish to see my loving Nepal once again like before. Let’s pray for the best. – Nafisa
Speechless in Khao Sok: No WiFi, No TV, and electricity for only a few hours at night
After spending four days in the craziness of Bangkok, we set off on the very long and smelly train journey to Surat Thani, Thailand.
I was so glad to arrive in Surat.
The smell from the toilets and even though we had pull down beds, I was constantly whacking my head off the top of the bed (if anyone reading this has done the journey and they are over 6feet tall they will understand) every time the train hit a bump. And trust me there are a lot of bumps.
When the train arrives, it is not like at home.
There was no call of which stop you were arriving at. You had to do a quick run to find a worker on the train, hoping he understood what you said, grab your bag and jump off.
After a quick snack, we jumped on the minibus and headed to the National Park Khao Sok.
On arrival, we jumped into a long tail boat, within minutes of the boat setting off I was sat there in amazement.
It’s not often I have been left speechless, but Khao Sok had done it.
While on the way to the floating raft houses I must have taken about 50 photos.
As soon as we arrived, our bags were straight in the room and we went for a swim in the fresh lake. Going from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to this place made you appreciate it even more: no wifi, no TV and electricity for only a few hours at night.
And the food, let’s say, the fish is very fresh. A paradise!
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Find all the best hostels in Thailand here. We wrote up complete guides for
- best hostels in Bangkok
- best hostels in Phuket, South Thailand
- best hostels in Chiang Mai, North Thailand
1 1/2 Month of Travel and Work in France
I was studying abroad in Strasbourg, France and wanted to do the travel around Europe and find myself deal. While I was planning, a friend in the programme introduced me to HelpX, a network that lets you work internationally for room and board. You typically work 4 days out of the week and travel for the rest. After some searching, I decided to go for it!
For a month and a half, I worked at an organic hotel and restaurant in the tiny village of Tichville, France. Population: 10 people and hoards of ducks, chickens and cows. I worked as a waitress in the restaurant and general garden help. I picked tiny strawberries, fed chickens, made elderflower syrup, laughed with guests as they helped me with my French and had colourful conversations drinking cider and staring at the stars.
On our days off, we could go wherever. I biked to Camembert (where the cheese is from), couchsurfed in Caen, had our hosts’ friends show us the D-Day beaches and swam in the river. I just went with the flow and it worked out fabulously! Sometimes less is more.
Walking a Waterfall and Meeting Up with Local Students
One of the best moments of our trip to China was in Dehang, a traditional Miao Village in Hunan. There we met a Chinese couple who led us along a trail to the tallest waterfall of China, and we walked behind it: so exciting!
Back to the village, we were looking for something to eat, but nobody could speak English. Seeing us in troubles, a class of students dragged us in a traditional restaurant with them: they ordered tons of food we never could have been able to, they were so friendly, and they offered us some local rice wine as well. Definitely the best lunch of our trip!
Warned about the Children in Cambodia
Be careful and judge each situation for yourself! We were warned about the children of Cambodia asking for hugs and stealing your watch, yet we saw none of this.
The children we’ve met so far are blind to prejudice, race, gender, religion…
They simply wanted attention, and we spent afternoons in Sihanoukville, Cambodia throwing them around the ocean, chasing them up and down the beaches, we taught them card games, and they smiled proudly as they practiced their English. They had little but were content, it was beautiful to see. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m so happy living in the moment and am very lucky to meet someone new and interesting every day.
Read: the best hostels in Cambodia
The monk who didn’t want money but silence
We were visiting Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, surrounded by hundreds of pilgrims all dressed in white. Suddenly we noticed a Buddhist monk staying silently close to a Stupa: he was still, his eyes to the sacred monument in front of him, at his feet a handwritten sign:
“Do not give me money, it’s no use for me. If you want, you can take a picture, I don’t mind. But please do not speak to me“.
We had the camera in our hands but decided to turn it off and respect this monk, his silence and his faith. His message made us think about the vacuity of our lives and the depth of the message he was trying to convey.
Read: our guide to best hostels in Sri Lanka and unique things to do
You are not a man if you haven’t been on the Great Wall
As they say in China, you’re not a man if you haven’t been on the Great Wall. In November 2011, during my honeymoon, I visited the Mutianyu site, which is 90 km from Beijing. Mutianyu is one of the best choices to see the Great Wall because it is beyond the tourist circuits, but good for everyone that would like to see the famous bastions and 22 control towers.
The part of the Great Wall in Mutianyu is 2 km long. Even if it seems to be short, it could be very difficult to climb it at all because there are a lot of steep sections.
Take your time and enjoy the magnificent view (especially if you’re there very early in the morning): the Great Wall looks like a dragon hiding in the fog!
At the end of your visit, take the Toboga, a slide that runs down the mountain, to reach the end of the valley. I promise you an exciting experience!
Chasing Koalas on the Great Ocean Road
We were quietly eating breakfast in the morning sunshine at a picnic table at our Great Ocean Road campsite. We’d hired a camper van for a few days, and it had been our first night on the road.
All of a sudden, a fluffy ash-coloured koala walked across the grass in front of us without a care in the world. It was our first sighting of a wild koala, so we left our brekkie and followed the cute creature across the woods, where it decided on a new tree to climb. He loved the attention!
Free Henna Tattoos For 100 Dirham – Marrakesh Travel Tip
“Lovely lady, let me give you a present from me to you.”
I’ll admit, my friend and I were both skeptical as the two Moroccan women grabbed each of our hands and began painting. As I hesitated and attempted to pull away, she reassured me it was a gift.
Within minutes, what was once plain, white skin had now been transformed with beautiful black swirls which supposedly resembled my name. It is not something I’d desired to get on my trip to Morocco, especially as I was starting a new job only one week later, but you can’t turn down a freebie, right?
As we began to walk away, the woman’s tone suddenly changed: “That will be 100 dirhams!“
This Self-Educated Highway Builder in China impressed me…
While taking a 20-hour train ride on the perimeter of the Taklimakan desert in northwestern China, I had the kind of humbling, education, and above all else, wonderful encounter with a local that all travelers crave. A young Han Chinese man approached me on the train. My new friend spoke virtually no English, so I gleefully relished this chance to practice my Chinese.
Over several hours, he would tell me about how he had attended a two-year professional school to quickly find a job building highways in order to help pay for his younger sister’s school fees. She was going to start college the next year. Perhaps most remarkably, however, was the fact that this man spent hours studying every day after hard manual labor. Without batting an eye, he would quote a translated Emerson passage before asking about the literary prestige of American writers as a whole. “And what do you all learn about Russian authors?” I recall him asking at one point.
It would have been easy to rely on my preconceptions about this fairly dirty highway builder who had never been more than a couple of hundred miles from home. But this highly informed, self-educated, and admirable person prevented me from doing so, and in the course of a couple of hours showed me just how much one has to gain from traveling with an open mind, and a willingness to engage locals from all walks of life.
3 Travel Stories from the famous Camino de Santiago
What is the first thing that pops in to your mind when you hear „Santiago de Compostela“? This smallish city in the North-West of Spain, is the final destination of thousands of pilgrims every year. They walk the Camino de Santiago, the world’s most famous hike.
We, Anna&Matt from Hostelgeeks, went to Santiago de Compostela, and beforehand we were not really sure what to expect. But we knew many pilgrims will arrive at „kilometer zero“, the spot right in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The place where people from around the world will come together, to celebrate their victory with the new friends they found along the trail.
Update: Movie about Camino de Santiago
STRANGERS ON THE EARTH, a documentary film about the Camino de Santiago.
This “deeply moving” (NOW Magazine) and “marvelous” (Globe and Mail) documentary film about Europe’s most popular pilgrimage, el Camino de Santiago, debuts in the US after storming across the international festival circuit to much acclaim. A tapestry of pilgrim narratives, STRANGERS ON THE EARTH examines the inner life of the myriad intrepid wayfarers who walk the ancient path in search of meaning, notably including Cleveland Orchestra cellist Dane Johansen, who ventured to walk the 600-mile path with his instrument on his back, performing Bach for his fellow travelers along the way.
Wondering what is the Camino de Santiago? Here is an extended guide to Camino de Santiago.
We sat down at the „Plaza del Obradoiro“, watched and listened.
It is the end of October, and the weather is getting cooler.
This time of the year „only“ hundreds of Pilgrims arrive every single day to visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is very emotional! As we are talking with many hikers, it turns out it is not necessarily emotion brought on by religious beliefs.
Many of them teared up a little because they had succeeded in finishing a long, painful but joyful journey.
We talked to some of the pilgrims, and what we heard is inspiring and impressive.
Here we are keen to share with you three Short Travel Stories by Pilgrims from Santiago de Compostela and the Way of St. James.
Walking the Camino for the 3rd time – Alex from Montreal, Canada
3! That is the number of times Alex has done the Camino. „Every time the path is the same, but the experience is different.“
Back in 2001 and 2009, he walked the path with a friend during summer.
This time in 2015 it has been different. Alex was not satisfied with his job in Montreal, Canada, so he quit. He needed time to slow down and to think, and before long the camino started to call.
Alex decided to go by his own, and instead of summer, it became autumn.
„When you walk, sometimes you do think a lot and sometimes you don’t think at all. Which is also a relief.“ – Alex
„What is the difference between the other two times and now?“
„Technology! Back in 2001 internet access was very limited and every now and then you could find a computer with slow access. Nowadays it can happen that someone walking next to you calls the office giving instructions.
Also, now it is way more popular.
This time I tried to sleep in smaller towns outside the bigger towns on the trail. This way I had more time for myself. Sure there were days I joined the groups in the bigger cities, as human contact is also part of the journey.“
Changing a young life – Joao from Portugal and Holger from Germany
In front of the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela we met Holger, a social pedagogue from Osnabrück in Germany.
Holger works with teenagers in the need of help due to family issues or general problems teenagers have nowadays.
The most common problem: not finding their way and place in society.
Instead of talking theory, Holger decided to take the next step. He started the initiative to walk the St. James’s Path with his teenagers. It is the perfect metaphor, and as it turns out a great way to teach teenagers valuable lessons in life.
“You have to undertake the journey on your own, nobody will walk the way for you, but many people along the way will be there to help you! You have to take different steps, face several challenges, and walk towards one big goal: Santiago de Compostela.”
One of the teenagers from Holger is Joao, 18 years old with a Portuguese heritage, speaking perfect German.
He and Holger started the Way of St. James together in Pamplona.
They hiked side-by-side for 7 days until Holger had to take a flight back to Germany, so Joao continued his journey by himself. Three weeks later Holger and two more of his teenagers took a flight back to Spain.
They walked the last part of the Camino de Santiago, and met Joao on the path.
775km later Joao stands with his certificate in front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, clearly proud and happy.
Holger tells us the story of Joao’s biggest challenge along St. James’s Path.
The day before he had to walk up a mountain with a height of 1500 meters, he came down with a serious fever.
He was feeling weak and tired but kept on walking instead of resting.
He climbed up the mountain and prayed. A fellow hiker passed by and as Joao did not look too well, he gave him some colorful pills. Joao took those pills, and feeling better he continued his hike – but not for long.
Luckily a German bus tour came his way and helped him.
They would be happy to take Joao with them in exchange for a favour: if he would talk to the bus about his experience on the Camino de Santiago.
So, what did he do?
He took the microphone, stood up in front of a big group of strangers, and started talking about his biggest adventure of his very young life.
We asked Joao about his next plan.
He wants to do Work&Travel around Australia and maybe New Zealand.
We didn’t know Joao before, but the confidence he gained from walking the Santiago de Compostela spoke through him.
Finishing High School, and then Walk – Ireland and the Netherlands
Sitting in front of the cathedral, and enjoying the sun and view to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
We talked to these two girls from Ireland and the Netherlands who have just finished the Route of Santiago de Compostela.
„We met on the Camino de Santiago.
When walking you keep meeting people along the trail, and the last steps before arriving to Santiago de Compostela we went side-by-side. Now that we have arrived, I feel both very happy and sad at the same time.“
„Would you walk again?“
„For sure, but maybe not now. Maybe at the age of 50. It would be the most amazing thing if we could walk again with all the people we met this time.“
„Why did you walk the Camino de Santiago? Are you religious?“
„More spiritual. I just finished High School in Ireland and I wanted to travel.
The trail is very safe for a woman traveling alone. All my friends are already working, or not up for this adventure. So I thought, why not go on my own?!“
„Same goes for me! I started with a friend who is currently in the Hostel. We finished High School in the Netherlands, and we wanted to travel before starting university.“
Summary Short Travel Stories from Santiago de Compostela:
The Plaza del Obradoiro is a very emotional spot for people around the world. You will see people crying loud, crying silently, feeling sad and happy at the same time, hugging, laughing.
Every single pilgrim has its very own story, background, motivation, but they all have something now in common: they are all unique, and have found new friends whilst walking the most famous path in the world!
Keep on walking!
Falling in Love with Paris, these moments are forever
One evening, my husband announced that we were going away the next morning. At the departure gate, people gathered for two flights: Birmingham and Paris. And then of course I knew.
We arrived in Montmartre and started exploring its cobbled streets. I looked over the Parisienne roofs, thinking about Lautrec and other artists who walked the same paths.
Around sunset, I spotted the Eiffel Tower on the horizon. The skies were cloudy and reflected the sun in shades of the palest peach and pink. I looked at the view for a long time, wanting to memorize it forever.
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Heading to the French capital? You can find +24 fun things to do in Paris, collected by us. Rollerblading, boat party, and pizza picnic – enjoy!
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