The unknown, the place which puts doubt into your mind before you have stepped out of your doorstop. Resting in your head like a heavy fog. Questions, so many questions, the what ifs. The fear.
Rubbing my finger along the rim of my coffee mug whilst the sun
Our first step into the unknown
When we stepped onto the deck of the ferry, and the first site of Rotterdam caught our eyes; the only part we had planned, we were in the mercy of the unknown. We brought everything. Fully loading our van with adventure gear. Kayaks and mountain bikes on the roof, loads of clothes and cooking equipping crammed in on top of our bed. After departing the ferry, we had no plan. The panic hit. What are we doing in the unknown? With no plan? In Panic mode we decided to stay in the closest campsite we could find. A place of security.
In the morning that was it. We had to take a leap of faith. Unexpectedly, we thrived in the unknown and never looked back. Slowly travelling along the coastline, hugging the security the glistening sea gave us, it became us. The fear of it had lifted and the freedom that came with it was enlightening. Google maps
Our European Adventure
For 4 months we travelled this way, visiting 8 countries along the way. For the first few months we headed up to Scandinavia, slowly travelling through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Europe was our oyster and we could spend as long as we wanted exploring, learning and taking in each countries culture. In Sweden, I saw my first moose and learnt about the midnight sun. Waiting all night on the beach with our BBQ just to see what happened, the sun doesn’t set in the summertime it just sits on the horizons and then comes back up again. A constant golden hour throughout the night which produces some beautiful colours. A photographers paradise.
Scandinavia’s beaches surprised me I didn’t expect to find so many beautiful spots. This is probably my own naivety about this beautiful area of the world. White sand beaches situated next to mountains which were covered in beautiful greens, some still capped with traces of snow, slowly melting into waterfalls running through the creases of the mountains and down into rivers and lakes which had shaped the scenery over thousands of years.
When we headed into Norway we were hit with pure freedom. Everything just clicked into place and we embraced it. One of my fondest memories is picking mussels from the seabed which we then soaked for the night and cooked on a fire pit the next day for dinner. The fire pit we cooked them on happened to be next to the Saltstraumen; a location which has the strongest tidal current in the world. Meaning each day at low and high tide you can experience natures phenomenon, whirlpools! I have never experienced the water moving as fast as it does here, crowds watch in awe with an admiration of nature. Make sure you add this one onto your bucket list!
We made friends as we went and had some magical moments. They didn’t always speak English however we always managed to communicate with them. Picking up a few important words in each country helped and pleased the locals who appreciated you trying to embrace their culture and language. In Sweden, a family even invited us into our home and embraced us as their own. We stayed with them for a week and then met them further up north in Sweden. Without them, we would have never travelled through the scenic Abisko mountains and headed to Narvik and Lofoten in Norway.
Life after Scandinavia
After Scandinavia, we headed back to mainland Europe and through Germany to Austria. A small regret I have is that we didn’t explore more of Germany but at the time it didn’t appeal to us. This is also another positive of adventuring the unknown, you can explore wherever you want whenever you want too. Even if it didn’t appeal to me then I may head back there soon.
Austria lived up to expectations, we travelled from lake to lake throughout Austria. Trying local beer and food at the famous markets. The atmosphere and vibes within Austria made me feel at home, I felt welcome. As with the majority of Europe but Austria had an extra something too it. What I loved the most were the mountains which surrounded the lakes, they caught the light when the sun rose and set, glowing majestically and reflecting onto the still water.
Slovenia was next on our hit list. I didn’t have any expectations of Slovenia or what I would find but we entered through the Triglav National Park and was taking a back by its beauty. Learning how many picturesque waterfalls the country has within our first few days being there we then travelled through Slovenia ‘Slap’ hunting. Slap is the Slovenian word for waterfall, we found ourselves hilariously searching for slaps everywhere!
We finished in Croatia and spent a few weeks sticking to the glistening coastline and headed down to Pula. I only spent a few weeks in Croatia but the salty sea air, surreal sunsets and historic roots have left me wanting more. Pula was full of history and culture. The Roman amphitheatre was one of the more touristy attractions I visited whilst travelling Europe and it was a sight to behold; and one which I enjoyed despite my doubts!
This is when my 4-month adventure ended and I flew back to a life of normality. Since then I have been lost. Living a life of stillness when I am born to move and be free. House life is not for me right now. I enjoy the changing sceneries and cultures. For me the unknown is what I strive for, I have several travels ambitions I hope to achieve in the next few years. Freedom and adventure. For most of you reading this now your fear of the unknown is the only thing stopping you.
The unknown (noun) ‘A place where there is no expectation, a place that is waiting to be ventured, explored and discovered. A place that will leave you wanting more’.
Lauren Barratt, 2019