Backpacking Europe; How I Fulfilled a European College Student Dream

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Anonymous

I love travelling. I don’t mind (much) if it is in style or not, at times. But when I had started preparing my bags to come back to Nigeria, I wanted to see parts of Europe I have never seen before. I drew up an itinerary, from where I reside in East Germany to the south, passing through Munich, then Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Milan, Monaco, Geneva and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route. I was more motivated to start from Munich because Bayern Munich will be hosting Manchester city at their stadium, the Allianz Arena on July 20th. So I wanted to enjoy the game before going on my journey. Tickets weren’t easy to come by and so I changed my route, from Weimar to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route either, but I went for it.

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” -Lawrence Durrell

The itinerary looks full. But it’s nothing compared to what many students of colleges and universities in Europe do after graduation. They strap their backpacks and head out to see the rest of the continent and world. I wanted same. I wanted to see everywhere.


I didn’t know if I was suffering from ecedemomania (a morbid impulse or obsession to travel or wander around or a compulsive wondering away from home) but travelling makes me tick. I get motivated a lot, by the city, the people I meet and see, the experience, the culture shock and a lot other things that goes into your head when you travel.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

I did a bit of research, trying to know interesting places to see in those cities. I penned a few down. I also asked a few friends who lived in those cities what was interesting to see. I was happy I did as one of the places I later visited every single day for the 3 days I was in Amsterdam was recommended through this way.

I got my backpack and stock it up with a few clothing, toiletries, maps and my camera. Starting out was quite easy as I hitched a ride from the east to the west of Germany. More of the hitchhiking story in previous blog post here. Utrecht in the Netherlands was my first stop.

Utrecht seemed a small city, despite its big train station. But that’s how the Netherlands is. It’s a small country. I didn’t sleep in Utrecht, I proceeded to Amsterdam, a city I have always known as the first on the list on weather stations and of course, the home of Ajax Football club. It was amazing to be there. More of detailed story in Amsterdam subsequently. Subscribe to my blog post so you do not miss out.

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I had packed a mattress in my backpack. When the night came, I passed it out in a green Vondel Park. It was surprising. A Dutch couple, who had an apartment in the city joined me. Not me I mean, but in the park. They wanted to enjoy the cool natural breeze of the park. The night was peaceful, I slept with so much ease in my mind. By the time I woke up, the sun was up but the couple was gone.

Three days passed quickly in the Netherlands and I had a road trip to Brussels, the capital of Europe. Another city that has become familiar to me due to weather forecasts (is not that I watch weather forecast only on TV,  just that after the Sports News or some News Segment, the weather story always comes up). I know faintly that the European Union is headquartered there, from watching news. I met so many backpackers there. The night I arrived, Tomorrowland was happening. There were so many youths around. I lodged in to Urban Youth Hostel, about 2km from the city centre. I had made my reservations from Amsterdam already, I was so looking forward to sleeping in a proper bedroom, after camping in Veldermort Park in Amsterdam for two days.

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One of the many river alleys of Amsterdam

When people visit Belgium, they normally run to Bruges, a nearby coastal city. I wanted to see Brussels, as I had only two days for Belgium. I liked the city and remember so much of it, seven months after. Why? Because I walked only in the city for the two days I was there. It was the second time I took a walking tour. Her name was Kristin, a student and a worker. She loves her city she said, and organizes free walking tours for tourists like us. She narrated the story of Leopold the II, who was cunning enough to purchase Angola, with a company.

She also told us interesting stories of the Grand Palace Square, the original place we met. The mythical story of the Manneken Pis and a lot others. She knew so much of her city. I was glad I followed her. She was the one who told us French Fries aren’t from France but from Belgium.

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Panoramic shot of the Grand-Place
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A clothed (not common) Manneken Pis. Legend has it he peed to quench a fire the engulfed then Brussels

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The time came to say goodbye to Brussels. Paris was next. Again, I took the bus (yeah I like road trips). We zoomed off to Paris North Bus Station. It was the 6th day of my tour and I was in my third country already. I met with an old friend who I met during my undergraduate days in Zaria. He was working in Paris. So I didn’t need a walking tour from a stranger. He was perfect.

The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Buisness Centre all graced my presence. They were so many people around. So many tourists. So many shoppers and coffee drinkers.

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An empty street off Champs-Elysees
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Arc de Triomphe: Finish point of Tour de France

By that time, the idea was to proceed to Marseille then sail to Barcelona in Spain. I had seen and experienced so much in the last 8 days. I have walked in many European capitals and took a thousand photos. My brain was saturated with vigor, albeit, at the expense of my legs.

If not the Adidas Neo sneakers I was using, I wouldn’t have come this far with walking. I am quite sure if Suleiman Hashimu (the guy who walked from Lagos to Abuja in celebration of President Buhari’s victory) had them on, he would have continued to Sambisa Forest in Maiduguri.

But then there was a general body fatigue building on because for every single of the last 8 days, I was walking from this location to another. It was exhilarating albeit tiring. I resorted to go back home, to Weimar.

I used a Blabla car (car sharing app) to get a pickup. He was Pakistani if I remember well. He works for a Tabloid in Germany. We drove for 5 hours back to Frankfurt were I shared a car with another German training to be a policeman. When I arrived Weimar, I grinned so much. I was glad I travelled that far, alone. I will do it again, if I get the chance to.

What are your travel dreams? What’s on your bucket list? Tell me. I would love to know. For a detailed exposition of my experiences in the different European cities, subscribe to my blog and get instant notification when they are released.

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For more photos of the backpacking trip, follow my Instagram channel @sadiqgulma


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