Okay, so first I shall admit, this wasn’t part of my plan. At least, not on paper. On paper, I was supposed to go from Stockholm, Sweden directly to Warsaw, Poland, and continue on to Budapest after a day or two.
But even when I was planning my 10-country-Europe-hop, I knew I would come back to Munich after Stockholm to see my best friend Raphael.
And, as circumstance happened, the events turned out just so that could happen.
Call it coincidence, call it feelings, call it intuition, call it rebelling against your limits of control, call it whatever you want: I just had a bad feeling about going to Warsaw. Not that I have anything against Warsaw. It’s just one of those things you should listen to in your gut, when you have a voice telling you in your mind ‘do this. Your soul will be happy later.’
Dear readers of this blog, I had chosen earlier not to go to Munich because Warsaw was the cheaper option. However, I can say that this ‘mistake’ was probably one of the best ones in my life. I got to see my best friend at exactly the right time, at exactly the right hour. Listen to your heart when it tells you to do something, because that is your soul telling you it is exactly the choice you need to make to be truly, utterly happy!
So, here’s what happened that led to this mishap:
I stayed in Acco Hostel, in Stockholm.
I do not recommend this hostel. The reason is because while the photos on the website look amazing, with lots of white light and wide-angle camera shots, it is in reality quite small, crowded, cramped, and most importantly to me, it was not so clean.
Cleanliness in a hostel is really important to me. I don’t like taking showers in places that are dirty, for example, or going into a toilet/Water Closet/bathroom that is not spick-and-span. Who does?
Especially if you are paying for somewhere to rest your tired body and find some refreshing sleep and peace of mind. It’s hard to love anything that makes you go ‘ew.’ Cleanliness is extremely important. And unfortunately, I was disappointed by Acco Hostel. It cost $26 for one night in a 6-bed all-girl dorm, and while the people there were absolutely friendly and polite, and I was able to rest for a while in a warm, clean room without bad smells in a cozy bed, it was the lack of staff who was cleaning the place that made me feel unsettled.
I was told once when I was in Venice that there is a hostel on the island that has 150 beds when there is a permit of only 45 or so. That places a huge strain on the bathrooms, because the bathrooms only have one toilet and one shower for all those people. Imagine 150 people using only 6 bathrooms every day and night! It’s incredible.
I sometimes wonder if hostels elsewhere do the same thing as the one in Venice: take advantage of their permits. I can understand cutting costs and hiring less staff. But quality of service suffers, and that, dear readers, means loss of reputation and future guests! And no business wants that if it wants to survive!
So, as it turned out, I had a 2 hour journey ahead of me to get back to Skavsta airport, about 56 miles outside of Stockholm. Relying on the train and bus, I managed to get there right in time to still have a chance at catching my plane to Warsaw.
But it was not to be. As soon as I got to the security checkpoint, I was denied access because the ‘gate was closed’ even though they were clearly doing a ‘final call’ right in front of me at the gate. So, not really worried, I went back to the service counter and after some deliberation, bought a relatively cheap ($70ish) flight to Venice Treviso, from where I would catch a Flixbus back to Munich.
All in all, the deviation from my carefully planned trip cost about $200, for the flight, the Flixbus ($50 for an 11 hour ride through the beautiful Swiss alps), the bus shuttle from the airport ($12), food at the airport ($6) and a night in a hostel ($26) and another Flixbus to get to Budapest from Munich to resume my travel plans ($40).
But, what is $200 in the face of love?
There are times when you must make those decisions that your heart tells you to make. There are the decisions that are important, like ‘get a job’ and ‘pay your bills’ and so on. But then there are also the choices, such as ‘seeing this person is important to me at this time.’
Sometimes, you simply have to deviate from the ‘plan.’ Having once been a solider following strict orders, I have since become someone who is slowly learning how to balance the tightrope of following what I have to do, and what I want to do.
I told myself when planning for this trip that I would never deviate my course again for anyone, like I have done in trips past. A few more days in one place. A week in another. A few months in another. Staying for years for friends.
Yes, there is a time and a place to follow the plan that you make. But I have to say, sometimes, when your heart tells you it is right to deviate, you should pay the money and deviate. The reason why? Because for me, what matters most in the end is not how well I followed orders, but how well I can live with my soul. And that, my dear readers, is a life-long journey of self-discovery.
And, you know what? I am so glad I took the bus back to Munich. The 8 hours that we spent winding along on the road through the Italian mountains into the Swiss alps into the beautiful flowering plains of southern Germany is one of the most precious and beautiful experiences of my life. And leading up to seeing my best friend one more time, it is a combination I would never regret. For moments like that, it is truly priceless.
Just don’t look at the credit card bill immediately afterwards :-)! (But pay it on time).
Now, time for the photos. The pictures of the alps are not so good because I took them on my cell phone, but you can see why it was truly a magical experience.
I was glad I was able to spend a couple days refreshing my soul in Munich. Sometimes, after all the stress and worry that comes with the joy and happiness of travelling, we all need somewhere that we can call home. A home away from home. If you can find one of those, then travelling all over the world will never be so hard, because after all that time spent out in the distant lands soaking up the ideas and culture of change and curiosity, there will always be a road back home.