A Look Back to the Future -=EuroHop 15/16=- pt.3: Austria, France

This is part 3 of the article!

<— back to Part 2

Kirchdof an der Krems

Never heard of this place? ha! (me neither.) My train arrived, miraculously, on time, after 100 minutes of slowly wiggling and waggling through the mountains in western Austria. I stepped onto the platform just as the sun descended into the rolling hills. As I was panicking while looking around for anything not-German, I saw a familiar face: Miriam. We had a great journey together in Nepal, and most importantly, she is the only one who has visited me before I visited her! What blasphemy! I am like Russia, if you don’t visit me soon enough, I will probably visit you, and almost in all cases it is the latter. (Ha you get it? Visit Russia before it visits you? Crimea? haha? fine I will stop.) Miriam and her boyfriend Jakob visited me in 2014 in Canada, and I took them for a great day trip in Vancouver! And now, at the very tail of 2015, we are seeing each other again in a town with 0% tourist population, and 100% home. This place is Jakob’s family’s house, and we quickly settled into the huge cozy wood mansion. Jakob’s parents were very welcoming, with the mom crying aloud “SUPER~!” every time something happens. I love that kind of passion. The house is situated on a mountain, facing the valley. The place is heated by a traditional wood fireplace, and powered by solar panels installed upon rooftop. All things are recycled either as compost, fireplace fuel, or by other governmental projects.

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The living room facing the valley, taken from the second floor. This is what I call homey.

Jakob’s mother designed the house decades ago, and I cannot stop but acclaim her outstanding artisan taste. The house is very energy efficient, with just a small block of firewood providing heat for every room all night. During the day, light comes down to the common areas, providing spectacular views of the valley, as well as a great area for gathering, and at night, the moon can be clearly seen on the mountain side. The little cat bounces around in the garden during the day, trying many times catching wild bunnies, mice or birds. She loves anything with blood in it, though her efforts are usually in VEIN. (hahahahahahahahaha okay I will show myself out) Deer and bears are common here, yet they never feel disturbed.

We had a spectacular meal, and hey, it was December 30th, it was holiday season, we all deserve some wine and fun! We talked about almost everything, from jobs to politics, from how Miriam and I got to know each other in that country far, far away to why here is also the first time it has no snow for the holidays due to the goddamn global warming, from why Miriam has managed to find a great companion yet I am still Single as a craft cheese packet to what kind of sausage we would have tomorrow. (that is some next level single joke, even I myself am amazed) We cleaned up and quickly dozed off to sleep.

We woke up to a fantastic day: the sun penetrated the clouds and straight into the cozy living room’s sofa. This is it, the last day of 2015. For breakfast/brunch, we went down the hill for some great sausages. Again, as I have mentioned in other blog posts, for me, it is either go hard or go home when it comes to travel and eating. I was likely the only Asian in the entire region, as I attracted quite a few eyeballs, and I was genuinely surprised by the sheer amount of meat presented here. The butcher’s shop has so many different types of ham, sausages, salami, raw meat that I could barely imagine Miriam eating vegetarian with me in Nepal was real.

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When it comes to sausagefest, these guys are not fooling around

After stuffing multiple big thick sausages in my mouth, I went with Miriam and Jakob for a ride, bringing me to local points of interest. First stop was a medieval castle on top of the hills. Now, it is a community center. The view into the valley was stunning, with misty layers of clouds floating below.

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the castle basking in its former glory

Next, we drove around the ridge land and passed many beautiful little houses dotted around the area. Then we stopped at the very last mountain of the ridge, and climbed to the top. There was an unobscured view into the northern plains, and the hue of blue was truly mesmerizing.

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The only tree on top of the last mountain, it has been struck by lightning multiple times

After we got home, I decided to join Jakob’s parents in the local church. (remember? for Young it is always go hard or go home. If there is anything for me to become ultra-local, sign me up.) It has a magnificent facade and a beautiful mosaic in the back, featuring Jesus’s return and other biblical stories. The church is designed to have light coming through the enormous mosaic during the day and the candle light coming out during the night. A local choir group performed multiple songs during the sermon along with the local orchestra. It was December 31st, and this performance was considered a tradition. I believed it should be considered the best around the group since the high C was hit perfectly on Hallelujah, despite I understood nothing the entire time. Well, at least I can never do that. It was incredibly long, though, as I only signed up for a sermon and it turned out to be over 2 hours long. I was completely shocked by the number of pious believers there were, as the church was filled with people sitting and standing during the whole time. After the ceremony, I greeted all the local villagers/townspeople with my new Mom and Dad, and we returned home to prepare New Year dinner.

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Fog formed during nightly cooling freezes upon contact with trees, creating these frozen popsicle pines.

As we got home, it was already late, and we quickly delve into action. I did my part cutting, cooking, baking and cleaning, and soon enough, we had a fondue set up for the special night! Champagnes were popped, gifts were exchanged, happiness was received. Five people in a wooden house sitting by the boiling fondue and the burning fireplace, along with the cold wind quietly tapping the windows outside, brushing through the frozen trees, made me feel warm and fuzzy again. My parents were generally very busy during this time of the year, coupled with the fact that Chinese don’t celebrate New Year that much, so I have never celebrated New Year’s Eve. In 2015, however, I found another family in Austria. We had the best time in our lives, well, at least I did, and I was feeling more free than happy: I broke the tough situation set in front of me. I had busy parents, lived in boarding schools for 15 years, and always had difficult time making long term friends; I overcame all of them by traveling, by building a bond that time and distance may never diminish, by being the best I can possibly be. True, it is very tiring, sometimes even lonelier than staying back home, but I try. I try hard. I try so very hard. And now, it finally starts to come back to me. I am finally having a feeling of family with Miriam, Jakob, and his parents. I am finally home, outside of my home.

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if there is true love, I think it is called fondue

On the table, there were more than just normal meats. I had another crazy kind of meat added to my list of Strange Food I have eaten: deer. It is relatively common to hunt deer in this region, because you sometimes get them hopping in your backyard and eating your spinach! It tastes like a smoother version of chicken, with a bit more fat.

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I may be gone, but this picture brings me back every time: my distant home in Austria

It is customary to give each other pig related things during New Year’s in Austria, (please don’t ask me why, I have no idea at all.) and of course, I was given a cute little pig to put in my wallet! Till this day, it still remains in my pocket, helping me by oinking its way through any sadness I have. Thank you, little Mr. Pig~!

After the literally and figuratively heartwarming meal, we sat together and talked about history of China, diversity of the cultures, origins of the universe, and our future. It was deep, as deep as my fondness of all-you-can-eat sushi buffets. We emptied so many bottles of champagne, and sipped so many mugs of rose tea…. Before long, I realized the sound of fireworks started echoing in the valley: it was 11 pm! Before the last hour of 2015 ended, what should we do? We needed to eat more food! Jakob’s mom made some outstanding open sandwiches (smørrebrød???) with caviar and eggs. I ate almost a dozen of them. #noregrets

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Mr. Pig with the sandwiches. I don’t know why I took this picture, but here it is.

After either 15 or 25 of these delicious little devils (I stopped counting after 7 due to my limited math capabilities), the firecrackers could be heard everywhere in the valley. We put on our coats and went out to watch the show, as the clock is almost about to strike 12. The mist had descended upon the valley, giving almost 0 visibility. We stood in the darkness, with just distant echos of firework sounds, and waited, for 2016 to come. The digital screen of my phone suddenly jumped from 11:59 to 12:00:

Gutes neues Jahr!!” I yelled, and the echos from the other side of mountain yelled back.

I realized I have never done that before, calling aloud my excitement with a new year greeting. I have never done that before, either in German, English, or Mandarin. I had never been this happy, this involved, and this free.

After we returned home, I was unable to sleep. While the rest of the family rested their heads on soft, warm pillows, I sat beside the fireplace. I was simply too ecstatic to even lie down. I was filled with optimism, believing I would make 2016 an even better year than this! Though it might be very hard to top the experience I was having, I still need to try. The cat jumped down, rubbing her head against my arms. I reached out to balance myself, and I touched something. It was a laser pointer.

And you know what will happen when I have a laser pointer in one hand, and a cat in the other: absolute destruction.

After who-knows-how-long of fun, I was tired, and so was she. She again nudged into my arms, and slowly crawled into a little furry ball. I stroked her hair, her paws, her tail, while she quietly purred. The fire had just gone out in the fireplace, but the fire of happiness had just been kindled in my heart. The moon had dipped below the mountains, illuminating only some of the trees. I fell asleep by the window, while the misty clouds floated by the slopes of this remote Austrian town. I dreamed for the first time in a long, long while……

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On the train through the southern Austrian mountains

We woke up next day to the brand new 2016. We had more sausages, and prepared to depart. Miriam, Jakob and I got ready to depart for Graz, and I found myself dejected, almost depressed, to abandon this place and move on. In my life, lingering has always been my strong suit, but moving on is always the hardest. However, I chose to be a wanderer, and I found myself hating this path I chose more often than not, because of I am in a constant state of leaving somewhere, something, someone…

“Wish you all the best.” Jakob’s father gave me a firm handshake, and the next thing I remember was me sitting on the train, looking into the distance, with my mind completely blank. It was all my very intention to meet as many of the wonderful human beings on this planet as I can, but it was never on my plan to leave them. I simply cannot acknowledge that. I refuse to leave them.

The train slowly stopped in the station on the other side of the mountains. The sun had dozed off below the horizon, and I was already in another city.

Graz

Graz is where Miriam and Jakob go to university, and indeed it is a giant student town, with over 5 large universities dotting the town no bigger than west-side LA. We decided to cook sourcrout (oh my old friend we meet again), and wash it down with some great bread and sausages, yes, more sausages. We watched a movie, with me and Jakob calling bullshit on all the plot holes as big as the potholes in Nepalese highways, and Miriam shouting “SHUT UP!!!” whenever we did so. It was good time, well, not for the neighbors though.

After a sweet slumber on the couch-bed, I was ready for a city tour. Graz has a beautiful history; this southern city has endured so much brush of time since the 1600s. The famous clock tower and Schloss Eggenberg have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. We walked among parks, gardens, ancient murals, churches and many, many others.

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Graz main walking street

After the great city tour, I had to get to the bus station and head for the airport: my next destination awaits. I hugged Miriam and Jakob, and the bus slowly started. I was waving so hard that I could barely feel my hand, but I didn’t care. They quickly disappeared from my vision, and I don’t know if it was the bus taking a turn at the corner, or my eyes became a bit fuzzy… Thank you, Miriam and Jakob. I never thought that I would be able to see you again after Nepal. We simply sat on the rooftop, looking east into the mountains, into the urban smog, into those imminent storms. I never thought I would meet that ultra-tall Austrian girl again. I am so, so happy that I was wrong, twice. 2012, in Nepal; 2014, in Canada; 2016, in Austria. I hope I continue to be mistaken, for many times to come in the future.

The bus slowly docked into the tiny airport of Graz. I checked in and waited in the room, but I was not so eager for the plane to arrive, as my next destination would be my last. After the next stop, I would soon be on my way home, leaving the best moments of my life behind… The plane eventually did arrive, casting aside my fantasy of staying here forever.

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I love you so much that I can finish ya in one bite~!

After a transit in Munich, one of the most functionally well-thought airport I have seen, and I was on my way to the city of love, though I am alone.

France

Paris

The plane landed around late afternoon. Thanks to my French reading skills (much better than my speaking), I quickly found my way to the RER train towards city center. At the elevator to the RER level, a lost fellow traveler came to me asking for the direction to take the train.

“Well, I am also going downtown, so why not join me?”

And like that, I got to ride the train to center, not alone! Her name turned out to be Valeria, and she is from Moldova. She studied in a university in a town nearby, and majored in economics. (hello, my fellow death row inmate, the graduation date will be the day that our fates are sealed with unemployment) We talked about our lives, and I was really glad that I was able to get to know another person even on my ride from airport to town! The long ride to Gare du Nord suddenly felt much much shorter, as I was struggling to say goodbye to Valeria upon arrival.

After sadly bidding her farewell, I started eagerly looking for another face in the crowd: I was looking for Sophie. We got to know each other in the beautiful city of San Jose, Costa Rica. She was working as the receptionist in the hostel I was staying at, and the entire journey was simply fantastic because of her warm welcome. (well, partially because the hostel was really, really nice) I was quite elated because I just finished the travel a few months ago, and I never expected to meet anyone twice in one year, because we are both wanderers in this large, strange world, and we are both poor and jobless. (also mostly because I never have any friends in any regard) When that familiar face appeared around the corner, I jumped so high and yelled at the top of my voice: “grwaeeeaaaaaa!!” I still have no idea why such horrendous sound still managed to escape from my mouth, maybe it never was processed by my brain. Sophie was caught aback, but quickly started running towards me, and me towards her. We were both making weird sounds when we hugged, and that definitely attracted some degree of attention of the security personnel in the station. I was extremely excited, and apparently Sophie was even more so. This kind of reunion is why I love making new friends, and going everywhere to find them again.

We took the local bus back to Sophie’s house. But just before we get back, Sophie took a sharp turn into a bakery.

“Une baguette s’il vous plait.” She said.

She paused for a while. “non, deux SVP.”

And just like that, we got home with two baguettes, each over 2 feet long.

Home was an apartment in Montmartre, in a quiet building. It was very narrow but very long, with a small corridor connecting all the rooms ranging from kitchen to the balcony. I helped the household by putting the baguette, no, baguettes, into the special drawer. (yes, the French have a special drawer just for baguettes, and yes, there were 3 more baguettes lying in there.) I greeted Sophie’s mother and we had a great dinner together. Of course I had to have a whole fresh baguette since I am so blending in!

I was really tired, so after some catching up with Sophie, I dozed off in my room, which used to be her brother’s.

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Sophie’s cat Chipie, fat like a ball, eager for attention, loves the sleeping bag, just like me!

Since we are both lazy cats, (along with the feline friend it made 3 in the household) we woke up late. Sophie decided to make me a tea, and since traveling for so long fried her brain, she decided to make it in a big bowl instead of in one of the 15 mugs lying in the cupboard. Since traveling fried my brain as well, I did not realize I was drinking tea by holding a bowl until I was chewing on the teabag. I could hear the cat laughing at us already. It was a relaxed Sunday, and we decided to pay a visit to the local flea market. I have had my fair share of flea market experience (I sold egg dumplings in one for 4 years in Taiwan), but this one was ridiculously huge. From leather bags that only lacked a “marchandise volée/I am stolen”tag to boutique antiques that are worth millions of euros, from fresh produce to retro comics (Sophie’s favorite), from Asian cookies to computer hard drives, it had everything that had ever existed in the world. (still, there is no Young’s girlfriend, I triple checked.) We later met up with the rest of the family, and had a fantastic lunch in a restaurant in the market called Chez Louisette. The restaurant only opens on Sunday, and serves unbelievably scrumptious French home food.

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A band, old photos, singers, 0 distance between tables, this was anything but a restaurant.

The service was almost just as friendly and homestyle as the food, and I had such difficult time choosing my entree. We also got a bottle of wine: well, I was in France after all! The band played songs just as classic as the pommes frites, and the singers sang in turns, and asked for tips in turns as well. They were absolutely fantastic, and they made the dining experience more of a carnival ride than eating. (Don’t fret, I still love you, food .XXXX )

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bœuf bourguignon avec des pommes frites, somewhere in heaven Julia Child screamed

After the meal, Sophie and I went for a walk in the city. It is the city of love, and the streets still smelled like leftover happiness from the holidays that just passed. We first visited Place André Tollet at République station. The statue of André Tollet used to be one of the many normal statues in this beautiful metropolis, but now it was surrounded by flowers, prayers, and condolence. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting on January 7, 2015, this plaza became the center of activities against terrorism. It was amazing as almost one year had passed, people still continued to put flowers, candles and prayers amongst the photos of their loved ones. Love never expires.

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je suis Young, mais Je Suis Charlie

We paid our respects to the victims, and continued to a local cafe. Since I was blending in so well, I guess it was a must for me to drink some coffee at this hour. The sky had darkened, but the fun had just began. Sophie and I talked about life and death, stars and moons, future and past…. We sat there so long that we saw people appearing around the corner, coming in, going out, and disappearing in the drizzle, again, and again. It was the best afternoon coffee I have had. I never thought I could talk with someone for so long, but we just did.

We continued to the direction of home, and before I knew it, we were in Sacré-Cœur, the most iconic Roman Catholic basilica in the country. The weather was still miserable, but the light cast into the mist gave it a holy halo.

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Sacré-Cœur, awe-inspiring

We continued as we discuss how to get the best meal we could have for 10 euros. (we were are poor okay?) The result was…… go home and cook!

We bought crêpes, fromage, champignon, and more baguettes in a Carrefour (when you can go full française, you always go full française), and we made dinner for the family at 11 pm!! (okay actually Sophie did most of the work, I helped by finishing the extra cheese left on the side~!) The French truly have a bizarre meal schedule. After a hearty meal of crêpes, and watching the cat getting fed a horrific amount of food, I dozed off to another sweet night of dreams.

I woke up on January 4th’s morning earlier than the other lazy cat named Sophie, and I decided to quietly retaliate by making her a HUGE bowl of tea, with 3 cubes of sugar in it, with half a baguette of course. After watching her gulping down the entire tray of lunacy without saying a word, I admitted defeat, to a French. We left for more exploration in the city. The Monday appeared to be much sunnier than the day before, and our designation is Place de la Concorde!

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Place de la Concorde in the morning rush hour

There weren’t many people in the line for the ferris wheel, and we had a great ride on top of it, munching on a ridiculous amount of churros. (we saw it, we bought it. It is that simple)

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It is not Paris if you don’t put Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumphe in the picture?

Since I have already been in Paris before, we opted to be more relaxed and slightly less touristy, avoiding the notorious photo of holding the Eiffel Tower by the tip. (almost as bad as leaning on the Leaning Tower of Pisa or holding an ice cream cone high in front of the Statute of Liberty) Instead, we continued our way along Seine towards east, passing Jardin des Tuileries/ Tuileries Garden, Le Louvre (I won’t post pictures as I believe you have seen it so many damn times) and turned south passing Pont des Arts, the bridge that used to have so many locks on it. Lovers carved their names on the locks, and locked them on the bridge, tossing the key into the Seine river. I remembered how lonely I felt when I visited it last time, and thank goodness the government had to remove all of those thousands of locks since their weight was crushing the bridge. Imagine how sad I would get this time if I saw more of them everywhere! (well, very likely I would have burned down the bridge instead. Yes, I am an angry cat filled with searing hatred.)

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Seine with Pont des Arts

We eventually reached the famous Notre-Dame. As usual, it was filled completely with a ridiculous number of tourists, and we swiftly avoided it: it was lunchtime, and we both took it very, very seriously. My philosophy is: the 3 meals in a day is like a person’s life. Breakfast is your birth; you should eat enough to rejuvenate and energize, since it is the one meal that starts them all. Lunch is life, as you need this meal to maximize your happiness and enjoy whatever you can find. Dinner is death; basically, YOU EAT LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW.

We found a touristy restaurant with a great combo menu that allowed me to try the French-est food. Of course I needed to start with moules à la crème, and climax at canard confit, with a finishing blow of a crème brûlée.

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canard confit, now you know the true appearance of happiness

I felt so, complete, after this meal. I could not believe I was not 130% French after this française trifecta. Thus, from here on, j’écrirai ce journal en français. Peu de temps après, nous…

Okay, okay, I am kidding.

We continued back to the south bank, passing Saint Michel. A bookstore caught our eyes, and we continued to spend a whole hour digging through all kinds of books. I felt quite excited that I was able to read kids’ books designed for Grade 6.

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no caption suits this level of beauty, so I will leave it as it is

On our way to the next destination, which I specially requested to put in our agenda, we passed by another cafe. Sophie took a look at her watch, and we went in: it was coffee time again.

*3 HOURS LATER*

We emerged from the cafe, into the dimming dusk of Paris. We passed by a flower shop, and we bought some yellow chrysanthemums. We needed it for our next place, it was also a cafe, but a very, very different one now: Bataclan.

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Bataclan’s daily special board paused at the date of 13-11-15, its lights forever dimmed

Humans did not do this. Hatred did. There were a huge amount of prayers, notes, candles, flowers, from all over the world. We put down our flowers, paid our respects and read everything. We are strong only when we are together.

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Nous sommes toujours frères

We then continued to a Chinese hot pot restaurant, in which we had a great time meeting two long missed middle school friends of mine. We drank; we laughed; we cried. We talked all the way till the store closed, and we continued our conversations in the streets. When I hugged both of them goodbye, I realized: this is it, my 23-day journey. Everything came to a sudden halt, as my head tried its best to slow down time and squeeze out every single last second out of this day. However, nothing beats the strongest corrosive called time, and I found myself packing my bags in Sophie’s home.

On this clear moonless night, I could not fall asleep. Too many things was going through my head. However, the thought of going back to school tomorrow gave me such a large shock that I passed out almost immediately.

Return & Epilogue

January 5th, 2016, Montmartre, Paris.

I woke up with Chipie purring right beside my pillow. It was 4:10 am, and the sky was still as dark as what this day signifies: the end. Sophie, unbeknownst to me, set an alarm and insisted to send me off to the airport bus. I quietly went to the door of Sophie’s mother’s room, and I tied a Chinese knot on the door handle, thus putting down my best wishes to her. We walked towards the local bus station, shriveling in the cold Parisian wind. The air blew across my face, bringing me to shudder uncontrollably, but I would never know whether it was because of the wind’s fierceness, or because of the fact that it would be the last time I experience anything in this trip. I felt so cold in my extremes, but my heart had never been warmer. The bus came, and we boarded the night bus towards city center. It was almost empty, and the moving street lights cast 2 shadows sitting side by side, gliding through the carriage in silence. I didn’t want to speak, afraid that any topic that I brought up was going to become another epic conversation, since we share so much in common, and thus making me forget how much time I had left. I wanted to remember I was on my way to the airport, going home. I wanted to know this kind of feeling, a strong mix of sadness and gratitude. I don’t know why I wanted myself to feel this, but it made me remember this day.

The bus slowly came to a halt by a station, and we got off into the darkness. I needed to transfer to the bus to the Charles de Gulle airport, and we were again, in an awkward silence. I did not know what to say. There were too many in my head, yet none of them were coming out. I was speechless, either by sadness or gratitude, it didn’t matter anymore. We hugged goodbye as the airport bus came, and I saw her waving goodbye even after the bus took the turn.

Now, I am alone, again. For the first time in this journey, I am not expecting to meet anyone else. I suddenly realized the metro would not start in another hour, and Sophie had to stand in the cold for another 30 minutes for a train to go home. I asked myself: what did I do to deserve such wonderful people in my life? I simply cannot pay back what they have all done for me in this journey. It is surely depressing to know that you are almost certain to travel alone in your life because of your travel style, but it is on another level when you just left a travel during which you met so many people you thought were long-lost in space and time.

The bus slowly docked at Terminal G at CDG, and the bus driver was so nice that he did not want my money. After thanking him profusely in my crappy French, expressing what kind of travel I had been on, I walked inside the terminal. It was almost empty, exactly like what I felt in my heart, and I reached the door that goes into security. I turned back my head, and saw a little waxing crescent just rising above the horizon. Everything had a beginning and an end, just like the moon, but it all comes back.

On the flight back, I was still so full of emotion that I could not sleep at all. An Air France A320 took me to Copenhagen airport again, and then passing by London Heathrow, I flew back to Los Angeles in the big bus A380. The school had already started, but I wished that I booked my ticket for a week, a month, or a lifetime, longer. I don’t care; I want to stay.

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British Airways A380, LHR-LAX, designation “LEE”

The air hostess passed by, and seeing the rest of the cabin were asleep, asked me if I needed any drink. After she passed me my wine, and I gulped the entire bottle down. I started pondering: why did all of these happen? As I have discussed before, maybe it is a special tie that can only be built amongst travelers like us. Anna, Markus, Wouter, Pinar, Betty, Miriam, Sophie… Every moment of time I have spent with every single one of them flashed before my eyes, and I quickly came to a conclusion/reassurance: we all share a bond, a special kind of bond. It is more than traveling; it is sharing the same spectacular experience. No matter it is climbing to the top of a little Peruvian boat cruising in the highest navigatable lake in the world, or making creamy vegetable melange soup in Costa Rica, or sharing a cup of Nepalese tea right before an ominous monsoon storm, or munching corn tortillas in a local bohemian farmers’ market in San Jose, these experiences all made us one. No matter how far we have traveled, how much time has elapsed, that kind of memory can always evoke the same feeling in both of our hearts. Sometimes even the love between a couple cannot reach this level. It is more than simple friendship, it is a connection, a camaraderie, a bond. I have never been so proud of myself before. Before this travel, I always felt a loss in my heart. Unlike other people, I always found it hard to find love. I had no good friends in kindergarten all the way till high school. I was always the one isolated in the corner with nobody to play with, nobody to partner up in a group project, and nobody to have lunch together. I tried to fill my loss of friend with more studying and work, giving me a facade of a “try-hard”; but down in deep, there is just a yearning to find someone to talk to me. I ventured in Nepal, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, and others, all by myself, literally traveling all over the world looking for something I have never had, and likely will never be able to have, yet I never realized it had always been by my side, with Markus, Betty and Miriam in Nepal, with Anna in Peru, with Pinar, Wouter and Sophie in Costa Rica, and with many, many others in many, many other places…. True, it is sometimes very saddening to be a lone wanderer on this world, as I have discussed in my journals to Tokyo and Panama, yet I realized: I would never be too far from what I have been looking for…

Mange tak, Markus, for being a spectacular host for my brief stay. Though we both don’t have much, but we have so much together.
Tack så mycket, Anna, you are the big sister that I don’t deserve. We were family for 7 days, and we are family forever.
Hartelijk dank, Wouter. I will never call bullshit on your sleek motorcycle outfit, never.
Dank u wel/sağ olun/Merci beaucoup, Pinar. Whenever I lost my direction towards happiness, I will look at where you are heading.
Schönen Dank, Betty. May the god of hiccups shield you from all sadness, and may your Chinese god (me!) be ever in your favor.
Schönen Dank, Miriam and Jakob. I owe you guys exactly 20 euros, 2 sausages, and a bottle of juice, and of course, everything else. See you soon.
Merci beaucoup, Sophie. If I were a French (I am, right?), then you will be my baguette. This is how important you are.

Thank you, every single one of you have proven it to me that though I almost always find myself lonely, I am never alone. With your help in this journey, you made me better as a human being, and you will continue to do so. And this itself, is worth my gratitude of a lifetime.

 

In this journey, I started in Denmark, then Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, and ended in France. I met 7 friends I made in 4 other countries in 3 continents. I slept in hostels, someone else’s bed, someone else’s sofa, a tent, the lobby room of an apartment complex, airports, and in all kinds of transportation. I took trains, buses, planes, boats, bikes… If this is not an epic voyage, then none is.

If you are still reading this, I am very thankful for your patience of blasting through over 15000 words. This is truly a wonderful journey. I have been to dangerous places, seen miraculous occurrences, done some unheard deeds, but this experience can never be put into any of those categories. You probably already have a very good perspective of this feeling, and again, thank you for all the support by reading this monstrosity of an article! If you want to share anything, please feel free to comment below, or directly contact me! Till next time!

 

-=ForeverYoung|EuroHop 2015/2016=-

6 thoughts on “A Look Back to the Future -=EuroHop 15/16=- pt.3: Austria, France

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