Back in 2009 I was teaching at local junior high school and I was renting an amazing little seaside cottage just outside of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.
I was able to stay there for the winter months for next to nothing as it was actually a summer rental for tourists. That meant I had to be out by the end of June. I had no real idea what I wanted to do for that summer so in February of 2009 I made my mind up that I was going to backpack Europe.
Let the planning begin. I planned everything down to the last detail. All flights were booked, hostel stays were arranged and everything was paid for in advance. Trust me on this when I say that advance planning was the best thing I could have done. It made things so much easier when on the road.
I was a budget traveler, which is a bit tricky to do given that I was traveling to some of the more expensive cities throughout Europe. My itinerary included Paris, Pisa, Florence, Rome, The Amalfi Coast, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. I did manage to do it quite frugally though, so I know first hand that backpacking Europe on a budget can be done.
In Florence I was booked at the incredible Plus Florence hostel. This group of hostels has some amazing hostels in various locations. Jesus they are more like boutique hotels. The one in Florence has an indoor swimming pool, Turkish bath(steam room), sauna, its own nightclub, and an amazing rooftop bar and patio which overlooks the city. All on a backpackers budget! It is breathtaking. You owe it to yourself to stay at one of their locations. They are very well done.
So one evening (July 7 actually as I was also watching the Michael Jackson memorial on the rooftop flat screen TV) I am up at the rooftop bar enjoying a cold beverage and enjoying the view and I strike up a conversation with a group of travelers from Australia. We hit it off and after a few more drinks we decide to venture out on the town and try and find a club for some dancing.
We walk a few blocks and as we are making our way along we hear a lot of loud music coming from an alley way and figure this is it, just the place we are looking for! There are people outside the location drinking and laughing, so we walk closer.
It turns out it was not a club but a young man’s private residence and he had just graduated from university and was having a celebration party. He invited us all in to join in the festivities! There was food, drink and a DJ spinning discs in the corner. I mean come on! And this is were we stayed until the sun came up the next morning. Partying with the locals in Florence.
As we stumbled back to the hostel we just looked at each other and smiled.
So yes we travel to lose ourselves and to find ourselves. We want to see sights and experience history first hand. But that night of partying in Florence was something I will never forget.
This is why we travel.
“Quit Your Job. Travel. Die Happy”