By: Amy Aed
A couple of years ago, I read a book about a man who had walked the length of the Nile, becoming the first person to do so. I then read about another man who had walked the length of the Yangtze, again setting a World First. I’d spent my whole life wanting to become a real life explorer, traversing new lands and writing killer travel articles, but had been led to believe that quite simply, there was nothing else to explore.
But then, if that was so, why were these guys on the front page of every news channel and Instagram advert?
I began to research the world’s rivers, and in doing so, realized that actually, rivers are pretty sick. There were some super cool ones which would have been impossible to navigate as they were entirely un-walkable, or had a road running alongside them the whole way. But then there were other rivers that shone like pretty little golden nuggets, gagging to be walked.
That’s when I read about the Danube.
1,771 miles long, winding through 10 countries (the most out of any river in the world), it seemed like a pretty miraculous river. And here’s the best bit: no one else had walked it before.
Amy Aed is the First Person to Walk the Danube
That’s what flashed in my head when I first realized that I could become the first person to do something. I imagined big, flashy articles, hoards of camera crews, and immediate book deals whenever someone heard a whisper of my name.
Clearly, I had some issues to overcome.
But the point was: the Danube could be walked! I found out that for the first third of the walk, there was a neat little cycle path that I could wander alongside. What came after that I could figure out along the way, using Google Maps to guide me (turns out that that was a BAD idea). It would be easy, would take less than three months, and would be a pretty novel-worthy trip. Right?
The Beauty of the Danube
As it happens, I am way too full of myself. Walking all day every day is actually pretty difficult, not to mention almost impossible to maintain for three months.
Plus, I had overestimated how quickly I could walk – the expedition is now looking like it will end in March, rather than… now.
I also couldn’t do this trip alone. My girlfriend Emily decided to walk it alongside me, bringing her own secret weapon: Couchsurfing.
I’d never used Couchsurfing before but was intrigued by the premise. On our first night, we stayed with this incredible Michelin star chef who shared all of this delicious Taiwanese tea with us, and we whittled the night away sharing stories and experiences. It was the first time I’d ever done anything like that before – and I loved it.
It quickly turned out that whilst the Danube was a banging river and I loved walking alongside it with my wonderful girlfriend, it wasn’t going to be the highlight of the trip. Instead, my favorite bit would be exploring all of the beautiful places alongside the river, trying as many local dumplings as we could, and staying with new people each night.
The Upcoming Expedition
Unfortunately, we had to fly home for Christmas, arriving only a couple of days ago. But we plan on resuming in early 2022, starting from where we left off and completing the rest of the river. As you can imagine, we’re both so excited to get back out there, see our favorite river, and meet plenty of new people on Couchsurfing!
To follow the journey, check out my Instagram and travel blog, where I talk almost constantly about the Danube.