Having gotten a better job that I can do entirely off my computer, I’ve been able to travel a lot more. This has given rise to occasional, spontaneous, grand journeys across the world. I love traveling a lot, I’ve had lots of new experiences, met new people, done new things, gone new places and have gained a much better general overview of what the little civilization we all share is like.

This, taking place in late 2022, was my first properly big adventure. It was around 15 thousand kilometers long, spread all across Europe, mostly using trains. What kickstarted this was me joining the DiscoverEU program that offered free Interrail train tickets if you win a competition… and, using ~10 minutes of Wikipedia-based statistics for the random guess part, I won.

It started on a trip to Bruxelles, Belgium with other friends from the Pirate Party, as part of a study visit to the European Parliament. This would’ve happened regardless, but I decided to start my trip here.

The Bruxelles European Parliament building, taken from the guest area

Having explored the admittedly beautiful country of Belgium for a few days, I separated from the rest of the group and went on my way, taking an underwater train toward the UK. The first place that I went to was the city Edinburgh, all on the same day as me leaving Belgium, which was admittedly quite stressful, but I managed it in the end.

A small village in Edinburgh

Edinburgh was really nice, much nicer than London and most other UK cities I’ve been to before. Basically anywhere I’ve been, including the city center, was all picturesque. Of course, there is the whole mass surveillance thing that the UK has going on… but I’ve mentioned that before and don’t really want to focus on it here.

Moving on, after a few days spent in Edinburgh, I departed toward Dublin through Glasgow. I had the time to get out for a few hours in Glasgow, and despite it being a much bigger(?) city, I didn’t like it nearly as much. Some areas were still nice, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the architectural beauty of Edinburgh.

A graveyard near the Glasgow city center

Anyhow, taking a 2 AM ship from Holyhead port to Dublin, Ireland, I met a Czech guy working as a monk in some little Wales area, on his way to have a study visit in rural Ireland. I think I still have his email address somewhere, it would be fun to see what his job is like sometime…

The Spire of Light Early morning in Dublin on the day of my departure

I spent a fairly long time in Dublin, somewhere around a week. Thus, I had plenty of time to explore all kinds of places it had to offer and still do work off my laptop. In the city center, there was the Spire of Light, which I still think is a really neat, intense name. I feel like angels start singing each time that name is said, hands spread in prayer and all.

A week later, biking through the early morning towards Dublin port, taking a ship back to Holyhead port and riding a train to London, I was back just in time for one event that I definitely wanted to attend during this adventure - a human chain around the UK parliament, in support of Julian Assange.

The human chain around the UK parliament. Source: Reuters

The protest(?) went off great, the chain spanned over a kilometer and went all the way around the river. I don’t think I’ll ever meet any of the people that attended again, but, still, we had fun. There was also a helicopter hovering in place the whole time, watching from quite high above… which was, at the very least, interesting to see.

London’s Chinatown

The next day, I went to visit a good friend in Brighton. I didn’t take many pictures here and we mostly just walked around, talking and having a good time. I also learned, firsthand, what “chavs” are.

A nice Brighton hill

Ending my visit to the UK with that, taking a ferry back to mainland Europe this time and experiencing my first bomb threat in Calais (France), I arrived to a midnight Amsterdam.

‘Master’ on my ferry ticket, I find doing this very fun Midnight Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a lot of bikes

I did a lot of exploring in Amsterdam as well, but the primary experience that I remember is having my first – and likely last – experience with any kind of psychedelics. I’ve touched on this more in the A brief dive into psychedelics article. Ending my visit with that very interesting and slightly traumatizing experience, I started heading toward the main destination of this whole adventure, northern Europe.

The only picture of Copenhagen i took

Taking a ~1 hour visit to Copenhagen while waiting for a connecting train, I first experienced just how the nordic countries get. Luckily, I had enough funds to last me, but, still, it was quite a shock seeing some of the prices.

Later in the day - or rather, night - I arrived to Stockholm. I headed straight to bed, and the next morning, I met up with my friend who came all the way from Latvia to visit as well. We had a super nice weekend, seeing all sorts of places and spending way too much time at an arcade with Taiko + DDR machines.

A lot of meatballs we cooked Taiko arcade machine

But, with him having to return to work, I departed from Stockholm with a night train towards Kiruna, a city well above the north arctic circle.

The main church in Kiruna Somewhat scary view outside my train

Waiting for a connecting train, I spent just one night here. The extreme colds in what were still fairly Autumn-y months and extra lights on most cars did have me a little worried, but, the show had to go on.

Station names I found quite bemusing

Now in Narvik (Norway), I got off what was possibly the northernmost train in Europe and headed to the destination, Tromsø, using a bus.

Tromsø, around the port area

I’m not ashamed to admit that the reason I know of this city is a Tom Scott video. I’ve wanted to visit for a while, and finally having the opportunity to, I decided to make it the primary destination.

A garden with arctic plants

Originally, I was supposed to spend a week here, but I ended up doing two. I nearly froze to death on top of a mountain while getting caught in a snowstorm at one point, which was a scary, but very valuable experience.

Me after somehow making it back to the base of the mountain, covered in ice and snow

I also got very lucky and saw what was very likely the best display of the northern lights that year!

Northern lights at the Norway / Sweden border The bus that took us there

A little dog named Burger, the hostel’s shared friend

Finally, going back through the same cities I’ve already mentioned, I took a ferry from the Stockholm port to Latvia and spent another weekend having fun with my friend there.

Nynäshamn port One of Ventspils (Latvia)’s cows

And that was it. I took a bus back home and, after growing a decently sized beard along the way, I finally headed back to my own bed.

The bus I took back home

Overall, I really enjoyed this adventure. But, as will be apparent in my next article, it was far from the last one…