"The man who goes alone can start today;
But he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready"

-Henry David Thoreau

Backpacking Across Europe with Seun

Dear NT Diary,

Who knew being a nice tourist could get you free tickets to Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona?

We met with Seun Aremu, a travel lover and a brilliant PhD Researcher at The University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) focusing on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in applications to Predictive Maintenance of Automated Systems. He’s also part of a project called Emerging Innovations which helps connect innovators interested in improving the quality of life of those in lower Economic countries with NGOs those countries to help them come up with solutions that will address needs of the communities and ensure proper implementing and distribution of developed solution. (http://www.emerginginnovationsllc.com/). Such a smart somebody.

His Instagram pictures got us excited so we just had to get him to tell us more about his travels and how to get free tickets by being nice. Here’s the scoop on the interview……………………………………..

Hi Seun, we’ve seen a lot of great picture on your Instagram so I guess our first question will be how many countries/cities have you been to?

So far 9 countries - Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Spain, Sweden, Greece, France-and approximately 45 or more cities.

Wow 45 cities. We’d love to be your suitcase. How often do you travel in a year?

While I live in the US I’d travel 4-5 times a year if not more but now with my PhD and living in Australia, it’s been limited to about twice a year.

What kind of traveler are you? Party animal, adventurer, beach bum, explorer, foodie, shopaholic...

I think I’m more the explorer. When I travel, I usually only plan as far as location and stays. I like to discover firsthand experiences (food, culture, environment and local entertainment) and try to interact with locals.

What time of year do you prefer to travel and why?

The time of the year to travel varies depending on where I am departing and where I am arriving. If I am leaving somewhere cold, I usually wait until it’s at its coldest around Dec- Feb. I find that most of my travels do tend to occur somewhere between Dec-Feb , May-June, or September.

What is the most interesting trip you’ve been on? Why did you make the trip? How many days was it? How did you go about planning it?

My most interesting trip was when I went to backpacking across Europe for about 1 month and 1 week in May of 2012 after graduating. Overall I was in three countries (Greece, Spain, France), and visited many cities per country. I flew into Greece as my home destination, and then took intercontinental flights to all the other countries and would occasionally return to Greece after spending about a week in each of the other countries. Not too much planning was involved, I only planned when I would arrive and when I would leave. The rest was very spontaneous. I decided what I would do as I entered the country. Very easy, as all the countries have popular tourist attractions, but I always enjoyed veering away from the beaten path and exploring the “real” cities and “normal” parts of the countries.

Give us the gist on this trip. Things you did/saw/places you went, stayed, ate etc. We want the play by play so go crazy.

On this trip, all I took with me was a backpack, a small duffle back for clothes, and a cellphone. No laptop or unnecessary accessories.

Upon arriving in Greece, I stayed in Athens (Hotel Novotel Athens) for a day. I should mention, the part of Athens I was in was VERY much non-touristy with mainly locals, so much so that I barely found people who understood English till I found my hotel.

The next day I pulled up a map of the Greek Islands on my phone. I did not look too much into descriptions, I just picked one that sounded fun, and had nice beaches. I ended up picking Mykonos Island. I hired a Taxi Driver to take me to the port where I can catch a ferry to Mykonos. I had no idea how the ferries transit worked or anything. In the process, made friends with the taxi driver and he ended up driving me to all of the tourist spots and famous Greek ruins while we were on the way to the port. I probably paid him 40 euros max for all that.

When we arrived, we found out all the ferries at the Piraeus port had departed for the day and the only possible alternative was Rafina. So, the taxi driver and I rushed back into the car-yes, both of us, as he was my translator for the day also…haha.

We made our way to Rafina, once again, stopping by places to take pictures on the way. Luckily we made it to Rafina with about 45 mins before the next Ferry departed for Mykonos Island. Again Rafina is not a place where English is commonly spoken, but I mixed in with the locals, ate some local dish that had tomato sauce with shrimp and bread in it (I forget the name now) before boarding. I stayed in Mykonos for about a week.

I rented an ATV and drove it around the island. My home while I was there was Mykonos Bay Hotel. I explored the island, from the most remote parts where I’d be the only one on the beach to some of the more popular beaches spots which were packed by other tourists. I explored Little Venice and of course partied in most of the clubs they had on the island.

After all the parting and exploring I went caught a ferry back to the mainland and spent about 3 days exploring Rafina. There was not much going on in city. It’s very much a local town. After the 3 days, I was off to the airport to catch a flight to Barcelona!

I took Spanish classes in high school for about 4 years and it was cool getting to use it while talking to the airport taxi driver to find my hotel (Casa de Billy Barcelona) at 2am! Woke up the next day and jumped on the public transportation and wandered around for the day taking pictures of the architecture and famous landmarks.

My favorite part was roaming the day, speaking Spanish with the locals. I made friends with the owners of the hotel, and they gave me free tickets to visit the Camp Nou. THIS IS HUGE. I am a BIG FC Barcelona fan! And it was great to get free tickets to enjoy the Camp Nou experience. I walked the Las Ramblas and ended up at the Barcelona beach where I took a nap after exploring the beach area.

After about 5 days in Barcelona, I met up with a friend in Paris and we explored as much of Paris as much as we could. Of course he made me do all of the tourist things- taking the city ferry through the canals, visiting Parliament House, Notre Dame Church, Eiffel tower, the shopping centers,etc. One thing I found was that Paris has some of the best Indian Restaurants I have ever visited. (I am big on Indian Food). I also visited the non-popular places of Paris and got to see the real side of Paris. I enjoyed great times meeting DJs and getting invited to parties.

It was interesting and at times confusing to navigate through Paris. I still remember a very beautiful Senegalese/Parisian lady who paused her day, while on her way to class, to help me find my hotel from the city center. Unfortunately, I did not remember her name and was not quick to get her number, so I never saw her again after that day… but she helped me find my friend and hotel located in Rue Republic Plaza.

My friend soon left me and went back to his studies in Malaga, Spain, a day later, I went back to Greece and spent the remaining time discovering more of Athens and other cities in Greece mainly on the Eastern shores south of Rafina. Unfortunately, I could not find my friendly taxi driver. I tried calling him, but his phone had been disconnected ha-ha.

Free tickets to Camp Nou!! Wow..you really are an explorer. What was the most amazing/unforgettable experience on this trip?

The best part of the trip was getting lost in the outskirts of the cities and meeting nice people that wanted to explore the city with me!

What would be your tip for travelers intending to take the same trip- Dos, Don’ts, etc?

I would say, in Athens, it is probably a safer option to stay in areas where they do speak more English and are more used to tourist. It was not hostile, but at the same time, some people were very reserved and reclusive. Again, this was 2012, when the riots/revolutions were happening so it’s probably less so now.

What’s on your bucket list? What have you checked off?

I really don’t have a bucket list, I’m usually find inspiration to do things in the moment, and I usually do them or schedule them in that moment.

What city/place/country do you absolutely have to visit in your life?

I really want to visit Tibet.

What journey is your wanderlust taking you on next?

Lool. Well Mumbai, Udaipur, and Goa in India in Jan 2017.

What do you love most about travelling?

Wandering around new cities and adding new places to my mental map.

New phone or plane ticket?

Plane ticket

Where can people follow more of your travels: Your social media pages, website etc?

Instagram: @tolaaremu

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There you have it! Wander some more, journey further, be nice to locals and make friends with the host hotel owners and you could get free tickets to awesome attractions. Have you gotten such nice treatment on your journeys? Leave a comment in the diary. Ciao 

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