Backpacking Across Europe: My First Steps

Chamika Sudusinghe
4 min readApr 10, 2020

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A continent, which is full of such beautiful places, is undergoing unprecedented shock. It is unfortunate how coronavirus has affected Europe as a whole.

Having visited there and seeing its beauty, this is my opportunity to appreciate the best of Europe going through the pages of my backpacking journey. I was fortunate enough to visit 27 cities across 11 countries in a span of 34 days, which I consider one of the best experiences that I had in my life yet.

Leaving Sri Lanka @Bandaranaike International Airport

14–15 Milan, Italy

It all started as I stepped into another country on my own for the very first time. Italy, it was and the city was Milan.

Malpensa Express — Airport Rail Service in Milan

I had to take a train from Malpensa Airport to reach the city of Milan, where I spotted a huge railway station, Milano Centrale, the largest railway station in Europe.

Milano Centrale, Milan

To be honest, I was shaken by my first impression since all I could smell in the station was smoke, which was not common back in Sri Lanka and it hurried me to the hostel, which was a 5 minutes walk away.

F.Y.I. : all my selected accommodation were near public transportation.

Throughout the 34 days I spent in Europe, I stayed at youth hostels with fellow backpackers from around the world. It was a great experience as few were on their third or fourth time in some cities and they were my tour guides. Of course, though I started my journey by myself I was never alone.

Later in the evening, I had a walk around the city of Milan, then dinner and back to the hostel. Since I was alien to their culture, I opted to have my dinner at Burger King, which was a familiar choice. But, instead of having the conventional dinner, I ended up drinking sparkling water instead of mineral water as I decided to buy the cheaper bottle of water not knowing of the options “gas” or “no gas”. If you find yourself in Europe, always ask “no gas” when buying a bottle of water.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Milan is a city based on the fashion industry. It caters to the world’s oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and major fashion brands in the world; Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, and Ray-Ban. I saw almost all these shops, entered a few as well, but buying stuff from these would cost me the entire budget for my journey.

Piazza Del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) is the heart of the city where we can find the largest church in Italy, Duomo di Milano, the crown jewel of the city. In the following morning, I had to catch a metro, which was the best option to travel within the city, to reach the cathedral square.

Duomo di Milano

I was wandering there till noon, and went to Sempione Park after lunch, for which I had Risotto, a northern Italian rice dish. My final stop for the day was Naviglio Grande, the most charming and vibrant area of the city, which was the final stop, since I had to catch a train to Florence on my journey to Amalfi and, of course, I had in my mind that I would be back in Milan.

I would say that Milan is a safe city to travel, but you have to be alert about your belongings because its a universal fact that the luck might not follow you everywhere every time. If fashion is your thing, Milan is the best place to be, just keep in mind that you can afford, unlike me, before walking along the elegant avenues.

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