My first trip to Europe was an epic bike trip that took place the summer after I graduated from high school, a trip that lasted two months and spanned 5 countries. My friend and I had been planning the trip for almost 2 years, scrimping and saving at our high school jobs to put the cash together for our adventure. We had intense training rides for the entire month before we left, with a week of 70-mile bike rides right before our departure. We were as ready as we could possibly be, or so we thought.
We arrived in Paris, wet behind the ears and speaking only some basic French phrases. We rebuilt our bikes in the train station, got hounded by a security guard, and made it to the streets jet-lagged and only a little worse for wear. From there our adventure began, one that would eventually total almost 1,700 miles of riding.
We made from Paris to Amsterdam in two weeks, spending our time biking through the breadbasket of France and pitching our tent in farmers’ fields. Contrary to what we had heard from others, the French people we met were very warm and helpful (it may have had to do with the Tour de France being held while we were riding!).
From Amsterdam we flew to Barcelona and then on to Sevilla, where we bike along the Atlantic coast all the way up to Lisbon. That was my favorite stretch of the trip, because our days consisted of biking along beautiful coastline and resting on beaches when the mood struck us. The trip was probably the best preparation I could have asked for when it came to college, because I had learned to survive on my own with no support network for two months already!