There are many advantages to being a student. I’m not talking about free pizza on campus or the world’s permission to shirk reality’s responsibility for 4 consecutive years, but rather about the ability to sniff out adventure on a dime.

As a student, I have backpacked sans-electronics through eastern Europe purely on the direction and charades of locals who have only learned English by watching undubbed episodes of Walker Texas Ranger. I’ve had half-price, day old bread on the steps of churches in Italy and hitched a ride from a Greek and a Bosnian in search of a Master’s degree in Germany. Life is certainly open for the taking if we only open our minds to it and jump right in. Cliché as that sounds, I’ve had more adventures than I can count and they keep pouring in.

Eco Geek BLACKBURN 1Yesterday, my student budget and hunger for a new undertaking led me a sore “Popo,” (German slang for “bum”), a vegetarian’s nightmare and sand between my toes.

Eco Geek BLACKBURN 3Ladies and gentlemen, my first European Bike Tour. According to my rough sketches on Google maps, this journey with 8 Germanophones (German speakers) but 4 different passport origins took us approximately 22 kilometers (13.67 miles), over 3 hours through the hills and small cities, and to 3 sparkling lakes! In case you were wondering, the rocky descents to the lakes are where both the soreness and the sand came into play.


Though we numbered only 6 at the end of our journey, we arrived at the home of a local friend of mine, Anna, and were warmly greeted by 7 hungry friends freshly arrived by car. For the next 6 hours, we feasted on all sorts of German delicacies in flesh, flour, potato and hops formats. While struggling to switch between French, German and English speaking, I made several new acquaintances and filled my belly to the brim. Unfortunately, these festivities went so late that I had missed the last train home and biking would’ve been madness. After my Swiss friend heroically tried to fit my giant bicycle into his not-so-giant vehicle, I ended up having a lovely 12 year old version of a slumber party with my hostess, chatting far into the wee hours of the morning until we both passed out mid-sentence.

How did this adventure hit my pocketbook?
Free entrance to the lakes, free flowers in the fields, free sunshine, free laughter, 9€ for the 24 hour Deutsche Bahn Bike Rental and 4€ for food and beer pitch. Needless to say, I crashed into my apartment this morning with a sleepy grin on my face, just 13€ ($16) absent from my wallet but incalculably richer in experience.

-Otto-Maigler See: They offer a cafe and white-sand beaches with volleyball courts

-Bleibtreusee: This lake has a massive wake-boarding course that resembles a ski lift on the water

-Liblarer See: Surrounded by beautiful forest, this lake is quite extensive and is perfect for a day in the water.”

bethany2.1Bethany Blackburn is currently a senior at the University of Northern Colorado and is spending 15 months at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences coordinating and participating in a study abroad. She is double majoring in Business Management and French Language and is learning German as a third language. Her passion for traveling, writing and photography have propelled her through 14 countries over the last 4 years and only added spark to her globetrotting fascinations.