Nicole Hendry / youthjournalism.org
View overlooking the city of Prague, Czech Republic
By Nicole Hendry
BIRMINGHAM, England – There is no better way to broaden ones horizons than to do so quite literally.
It definitely does not scream rest and relaxation, but if you can stand smelly travelers and long train journeys, there really is no other way to see Europe than via the InterRail system.
In just 11 days, I saw six different cities, used four different currencies and travelled 1,197miles.
The one consistent factor we found was the people. It seems no matter how far afield you venture, the Australian population will be represented in one form or another. One such Aussie we met after a game of ring of fire that had the hostel bar run dry of beer glasses estimated that there were “50million of us worldwide but only 23million back home.”
Our trip saw 10 post A-level teenagers teeter on the boundary of adulthood, torn between organizing the shopping kitty and climbing trees. We explored the cities by day and night, keen to soak up all we could in our short time in each one.
Travelers climb a tree in Berlin's largest park. From left: Luke Rostron, Nicole Hendry, Dominic Stevenson, Tom Lusuardi and Aarren Mannion.
From our home in Birmingham, England, to Liverpool, to Amsterdam, to Berlin, to Prague, to Vienna and finally to Budapest – it was an adventure for overgrown kids as much as anything.
One of the most interesting people we witnessed on our trip was in Prague. A small crowd was forming as we approached the main square, and as typical tourists, we were desperate to muscle in on the apparent action.
We found ourselves a spot with a perfect vantage point and familiarized ourselves with what appeared to be a drummer and dancer. They looked to be a peculiar pairing, but they put on a good show and passersby tossed coins freely into the strategically placed hat.
Nicole Hendry / youthjournalism.org
A dancer and drummer perform on a Prague street for passersby, who dropped coins into a strategically placed hat.
The drummer was incredibly skilled, unlike the male dancer who swayed and swaggered in a style reminiscent of the last man on the dance floor of a drunken British wedding. This was what was drawing in the crowd.
He continued on his own for a while before he surveyed the building crowd and spotted a woman bobbing her shoulders to the beat at the edge of the circle nearest to him. He shimmied over and pulled the rather alarmed-looking girl into the center and encouraged her to go. All credit to her – she clearly was a dancer – she pirouetted and leaped around for about a minute before his beckons became a little too creepy and she disappeared back into the crowd.
Not a man to be deterred, however, he dived in after her, pulling her out again. She repeated the short routine demonstrated previously before once again returning red-faced to her friends, who were doubled over in laughter.
The drummer, who had been going solidly for the last 10 minutes or so, paused to rest a moment, rubbing his palms against his legs and taking a sip of water. As he did so, the dancer took a bow, pointed towards the hat and clapped as a few of the nearer members of the crowd gave a few coins, and left.
The rest of the gathered tourists were as confused as we were and when the drummer began to play again without the dancer, quickly lost interest and dispersed.
It was only as we headed up the street towards the market that we saw the dancer, who had returned to his makeshift bed and dog. The most entertaining part of the duo had in fact been a completely random homeless man, who had nothing at all to do with the drummer. He had raised what must have been three times the performer’s average.
Ready for a night out, the travelers pose in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Pictured are Aarren Mannion, Tom Lusuardi, Chris Nock, Nicole Hendry, Michael Johnson, David Smith, Charlotte Harrison and Steven Glare.
It just goes to show the unsuspected stories and skills the people of the world carry. The ‘Aussie rule’ should apply to all of us – 6.9 billion in the world, but only 3 billion at home.
My short tour of Europe definitely gave me the traveling bug. Just the sight of a backpack now has me reaching for my world map, itching the get going again. It has inspired me for my gap year after my studies.
The world is such a diverse and exciting place, I can’t wait to experience it further.