Since arriving in Italy I’ve been so excited about the prospect of 2 years traveling Europe. I came with full lists of countries I wanted to visit, things I wanted to do, and the only limiting factor since arriving has been how many leave days I have on the books.
With so many ideas and a clock that has already been set in motion (this is the first count down I’ve ever begun and I dread it every day) where do I go, what do I do, what should I see?
Here’s the major difference I’ve seen between Japan and Italy. In Japan I was on sea duty and most people there are, which doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for travel when you’re working onboard a ship and sometimes 18 hours later you’re still working and you haven’t eaten lunch or dinner.
Even with that rigorous of a schedule I did everything I could to take as many trips as possible. Hopping countries in Japan is not nearly as accessible as what I like to call “The Playground”, AKA Europe. As mostly everybody knows, Japan is an island. Although I’m not trying to travel Asia from America, trips even from Japan aren’t dirt cheap.
A standard ticket cost between $700 and $1400 (at least that’s what I saw in my 2 years there). To New Zealand we paid $500 to get there and $900 to get back. That’s what you have to look out for, buying one way tickets instead of round trip ones. That’s what I did for the cheapest fares. The cheapest fare I found was to Korea, A round trip to Korea was about $197 and its the closest country to the Kyushu island of Japan.
What I also found out was that most people didn’t travel on their own in Japan. They just expected the ship to take them where they went. The only places the ship took me was Australia, Okinawa, and Guam. On the weekends some sailors wouldn’t even leave the base, they were completely content staying at their barracks room playing video games and even when they did leave, the farthest they would go was the Ginza (a shopping strip 10 minutes away from the base) to get Starbucks or McDonalds (I’m being a little facetious as there was a McDonalds on base).
I think the problem was that they were a little intimidated by the culture and they didn’t want to see and be a part of it. Do you know how many different types of Japanese foods there are? Trust me when I say there is something for everyone in Japan. Not just raw fish, they have 100’s of other dishes to enjoy and try. Yes there was a huge language barrier, but if given the opportunity don’t you want to take as much advantage as possible?
When I arrived in Europe, it was a whole different ball game from the word go. Here in Naples there are no ships which means pretty much everyone stationed here is on shore duty. The community is mostly comprised of officers and chiefs. People with pretty hefty incomes. But even still, all of the enlisted guys stationed here are always on the run. From day one all I could do to keep up was just listen. Every single weekend people are hitting the road, flying to any country in Europe (you don’t have to take leave to go unless you’ll miss work).
On my first travel weekend, when I arrived at the office on Thursday, literally everyone I work with was going somewhere different. I was flying to Barcelona, a first class I know from my first ship was flying to Belgium, P was in Isreal, J was headed to Poland, and one of the Chiefs was going to Sardinia. (It was a pretty early day if you know what I mean).
Then, when I was on the plane to Barcelona, I ran into three enlisted guys who were also headed there for the weekend. Can you imagine the mobility? Everyone traveling everywhere. When I started looking at my travel plans and what I wanted to do for the next 2 years I started to get overwhelmed. Yeah I went to Barcelona, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t say I’ve travelled Spain because look how big it is. If I’m trying to enjoy the culture I’m going to have to do a couple more trips and stop in some small towns too. Plus when I travel, I only have 4 days per trip unless I take leave and I’ve got to save my leave for the big trips, so time is limited.
Forgetting Spain, on my first road trip in Italy up to Tuscany to visit Florence and Pisa, research shows that pretty much all the small Italian cities are a must see. Here I am trying to plan trips outside of Italy and I’m missing some of the best kept secrets of Europe. Located only 40 minutes from the Amalfi Coast and I still haven’t been there. What is a girl to do?!
So for the 4th of July I head over to Dubrovnik Croatia and find out that I can drive to another country (Montenegro) which ended up being a last minute add on to our trip. While there, my eyes were opened up to not only Dubrovnik Croatia, but also Split, Plitvice Lakes with their beautiful waterfalls, and Zagreb. I’m thinking alright I went to the medieval city of Dubrovnik, I’ve seen it, but after leaving I’m wondering if there will be time to go back.
2 years is definitely not enough time for the monstrosity that is “The Playground”. I mean good grief. On top of all that no matter which place I’ve talked about, someone has already been there and has such good advice for my trips. I’m surrounded by travel addicts and I don’t think they even realize it. I’m going to see and do what I can and not worry about what is missed but if I end up getting out of the Navy after this, I have a feeling I know exactly what I want to do. There’s quite a few journey’s in Europe that I need to complete!
This Article appeared first on Dyanamic Soarer.