Jake, a DIS Copenhagen Student from Northwestern University, slow traveled to Italy and Austria over Study Break with his friends. Studying abroad can sometimes feel like a race in ticking off as many destinations as possible in the time given – on the weekends and on Study Breaks. Slow travel is an approach that encourages people to step back and adopt a ‘slow’ mindset and enjoy the journey, and not just the destination. It is a way to connect with the locals and be present in the moment, while remaining sustainable for those communities and the environment.
We asked Jake to share about his experience, and hope it will inspire you to consider slow travel – it definitely made us want to go hop on a bus and explore!
Read about Jake’s experience below:
We started our Travel Week in Sorrento, Italy. On our first day, we decided to take an hour bus-ride to Positano, Italy. It was a beautiful route, winding up and down mountains, all along the Italian coast. Although my fear of heights made me very aware of the size of the bus and the road’s lack of substantial railing, the views were spectacular, and its ticket price of 2 euros made it so worth it.
From Sorrento, we travelled via bus to Rome, Italy. We left our hostel at around 4:30am and began the half hour walk to the Sorrento bus station. Our bus left Sorrento at 6:05am, and we got into Rome at around 10:30am. Although the early-morning wake up left us pretty exhausted, the bus was fairly empty, and we all got some good rest throughout the four-hour journey.
From Rome, we took an overnight bus to Venice, Italy. The bus left Rome at 12:05am and arrived in Venice at 7:55am. The first six hours or so of the journey saw the bus filled to its brim. We were squeezed in, and the sheer number of people, coupled with the bus’s lack of legroom and the loud snoring of the person sitting behind me, made it difficult to get much sleep. However, by the last two hours, most people had already gotten off at their stops, and we were able to stretch out and get a little rest.
From Venice, we took an overnight train to Salzburg, Austria. The five of us had our own compartment, which offered more privacy compared to the previous night’s bus. However, with a 9:05pm departure from Venice, we were set to arrive in Salzburg at 4:04am. Thus, we had to be awake at 3:30am to get ready to exit the train – a tough wakeup, and a tough couple hours spent in the chilly Salzburg train station, as we waited to check in at our hostel.
In Salzburg, we took a 30-minute bus to the Cable Car Untersberg (or Untersbergbahn). From there, we took the cable car up to the summit of the Untersberg – 456m to 1,320m. The cable car offered a spectacular, 360-degree view of the Alps that surround Salzburg, and, as we climbed higher and higher into the mountains, we got to watch as the terrain changed from leafy greens to snowy whites. It was BEAUTIFUL. Upon arriving at the summit, we hiked along the mountain and actually ended up crossing the Austrian border into Germany – probably our slowest form of travel throughout the trip!
From Salzburg, we took a train to Prague, Czech Republic. Although its 6am departure meant another early morning wakeup, we were able to comfortably spread out and nap throughout much of the six-hour journey. Furthermore, the sun was shining, and the view from the train was beautiful- rolling green hills, a landscape beginning its change to fall colors, and sloping mountains erupting from the distanced horizon.
When you fly, you often only get to see the point of departure and point of arrival. However, through our slow travel, we got to see the in-between; the journey truly became just as much a part of the adventure as our different destinations.
All in all, I am glad we travelled the way that we did. Although there were certainly points of discomfort, and although our many overnight and early morning travels did not always lend themselves well to consistent sleep, travelling via train and bus (especially overnight) allowed us to visit all of the cities we wanted to in a cost-effective and time-sensitive manner. Furthermore, it was really cool getting to see so much of southern and central Europe. When you fly, you often only get to see the point of departure and point of arrival. However, through our slow travel, we got to see the in-between; the journey truly became just as much a part of the adventure as our different destinations.
Jake is a Student Photographer for DIS Copenhagen from Northwestern University. During his Study Break, Jake traveled with a group of friends via bus, train, and gondola, through Italy and Austria, ending in Prague.