The End?

15,567+ miles

9 flights

13 trains

16 buses

6 ferries

16 countries

28 cities

75 days

10 weeks

 

I’ve been putting off writing some kind of wrap up from my trip. I feel like I just came home and that it wouldn’t fully be over until I wrote this post. Part of me is glad it’s over. I had some really difficult times on my travels and vowed I would never do something like this again. Then there is this other part of me that can’t help but think of the incredible people I met and the beautiful places I saw.

Being alone traveling through Europe was hard because of a few things. One was my ankle. Just to update you, I did have surgery on it. I’m doing ok now, currently resting it, but I am finally able to walk again making life a little bit easier. The pain that came from that really impacted how I saw things physically and mentally. Instead of walking my way through European cities all day, every day, I had to take breaks and not walk as far. There were a lot of things I didn’t get to see because of my ankle that I really regret not getting to. It also gave me some bad attitude days that I’m certainly not proud of. I would wake up and immediately feel pain and was just angry about it. I feel like I almost didn’t appreciate some things as much because I was focusing on pain instead of what was right in front of me.

Another thing that made it tough was loneliness. Don’t get me wrong, I met some incredible people, some I don’t remember the names of, and others that I just talked to this morning, but there were days where I didn’t speak to anyone. I would go about the city or town and no one would even look my way. Sometimes the conversations at the hostels would either end at the door or they wouldn’t even begin. It’s one of the most difficult things to be alone like that. You are left thinking about everything from how to say something to your new roommate to the one time you said that not so nice thing to your friend on the playground in 2nd grade. I can honestly say I have reevaluated every part of my life at this point.

One that is a little personal for me was my anxiety. I figured out I had an anxiety problem a few years ago when I would get so worked up, I would cry or get a migraine headache. I started doing exercises to curb those feelings when I started recognizing the feelings. Traveling puts you in some of the most stressful and mentally difficult situations and as much as I tried to prepare myself for that, I still had panic attacks. Those moments of panic can make you feel like you’re dying. At some point, I stopped caring if people saw me having these moments. I would never see these people again (most likely), what did they care if they saw some girl crying in the street? I’ll write more on this later, but it was really a big factor in this trip that I didn’t foresee.

Even though I had those difficulties, there were so many amazing moments that outweighed the bad. I spent the past few weeks going over the trip and even though I thought about the moments that weren’t the best, I love remembering the fun times I had. Like the time I spend the afternoon in Vienna admiring the artwork along the Danube, eating a bratwurst, and forming a new friendship. Or the time I bonded with some Norwegians over hockey, which actually cured some homesickness. Then there was the time I met someone in my hostel in Berlin who lived in Brighton, England who I was able to meet up with when I ended up there six weeks later. I loved exploring Galway with new friends and getting a spur of the moment tattoo to remember this trip by every time I glance at my wrist. The bottom line is that no matter how bad it could seem at the time, there’s a lot of good that comes out of it.

I know I can handle anything now. I’ve survived the most stressful and mentally testing times in different languages at that! I’ve gained a better appreciation for the world we live in and was able to hear from people from other countries about how they felt about things. I loved some places and hated some places, but I appreciated them all and the wild adventure it all was a part of.

I don’t think I’ll ever be done traveling, so this isn’t really an ending, but more of a pause in the story. I’m back working, but always reflecting on the places I’ve been and dreaming about the next destination. I’ve never been afraid of foreign places and even after everything that has happened to me and in these faraway places, I’m still not afraid. There are amazing places and people all over the world just waiting for you to experience it all and there is no need to walk around the world afraid.

This summer was the best summer of my life through all the blood, sweat, and tears and I would never take it back for anything in the world. I have a craving for new places that I cannot seem to satisfy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to the adventure of a lifetime, that will never truly be over. Until then, I’ll just start planning for the next time I get to find the world in a suitcase.

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The Final Countdown

The short trip from Armagh to Dublin was still a beautiful one. Even though I’m colorblind, I can tell that the green of the Irish countryside is unlike anything else in the world. I’ve been to Dublin before, but it’s one of my favorite cities and deserved another go.

The first day I got there, all I was craving was some good, hearty Irish food and a Guinness. Trust me, Guinness tastes 100 times better in Ireland than anywhere else. My hostel was right on the River Liffey in Temple Bar. It was nice being that close to everything and getting those views. I spent that afternoon essentially hobbling around Dublin getting reacquainted with the city. Walking past familiar places and some new ones as well, I realized that I should make the most of the next day in Dublin.

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The next morning I took the free walking tour offered at the hostel and got to know more about Dublin. The last time I was there, I took a free tour with my friend, but we ended up being on a tour that was primarily about the Viking influence in Dublin. This time around, I learned about the more modern history of Ireland. I just fell in love with Dublin all over again. I wanted to make my way over to the Guinness Storehouse, which was something I had never done before. BUT it was a bit of a walk and I wasn’t really up to the hike after the walking tour.

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I found an Irish pub near the end of the tour, but on the outskirts of Temple Bar (which is pricey) and got myself another hearty meal and a couple pints of Guinness to wait for the rain to pass. The rain is not exactly a pouring down rain like what we get back in Michigan when it rains, but it was heavy for Dublin. Once it let up a bit, I made my way back to the hostel singing Molly Malone to myself (thanks for getting that one stuck in my head, Adam!) and taking in the city before leaving the next day. I didn’t feel too bad about it because I knew I would have one more quick night in Dublin before flying back to the UK. Anyways, it is never goodbye for me when it comes to Dublin…always a see you later.

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The next day brought some more rain, but lucky for me the bus station was literally outside the hostel. I loved Abigail’s Hostel and would definitely stay there again, but I heard some really great things about my hostel in Galway. Trust me when I tell you, a good hostel makes a HUGE difference in your trip. The bus ride to Galway was calm with only a little bit of rain along the way. It’s a surprisingly short trip and only takes about 2 and a half hours. I didn’t know what to expect with Galway. I had never been there, but anyone I met on my travels who had been there said that I would love it. After leaving the bus station I was confused. I expected something much bigger, but after about 45 minutes there, I fell in love.

The Barnacle’s Hostel there was FANTASTIC. I was right in the heart of it all and steps away from the water. I ended up being in a four-person room and roommates with a guy who was actually in my hostel in Dublin while I was there and our paths didn’t cross. We went out with yet another guy who was in the Dublin hostel (clearly I’m bad at meeting people) and some girls from his hostel. It was so nice to actually hang out with people and while that did make a big difference, I still loved Galway. It’s small, but it’s a perfect size and has the best people.

The next day was rainy, but that didn’t stop me from going on a walking tour. I think my tour guide in Galway was one of the coolest people I’ve met and with her accent, I could listen to her talk all day. Stories just sound better with an Irish accent! We only had about 6 people in our group but it was fun to walk around Galway and hear all the stories of the wealthy merchants of the past and the Spanish princes who swept the local women off their feet.

As the group from the night before starting coming back from our day’s adventures, one of my new friends and I decided to get some tattoos. HUGE shout of to Galway Tattoos because the spur of the moment tattoo that was hand drawn for me is amazing and I’m in love with it. It doesn’t necessarily stand for anything, but I am reminded of my entire journey when I look at it.

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My last night in Galway was filled with friends, Guinness (of course), and Irish music! One of my favorite things about pubs in Ireland is that they have live music most nights, which I think just adds to the whole experience. I was sad to leave my new friends the next day but Facebook is there for a reason and I have a feeling we’ll see each other again someday. It was totally a turkey, guys!

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The next day, I caught the bus back to Dublin for one more night on the Emerald Isle before heading to Brighton. The trip was really coming to an end and I was finally starting to feel it. The flight to the UK was short and I was just really ready to get to Brighton. I had been here once before but it was a less than thrilling experience. Brighton in the summer is definitely the way to go. The beach is filled with people and vendors, the pier is bustling, and it was gorgeous outside.

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This hostel wasn’t the greatest and I actually was considering going anywhere else to get away from it, but it didn’t tarnish my view of Brighton. I was lucky enough to have met a girl in Berlin that lived in Brighton and she took me out for a lovely dinner at the Brighton Marina. It was so nice to see a familiar face after months of strangers. It was great to catch up on what we’ve been up to since Berlin, but even better to talk about the future. Sometimes you meet some really awful people while you’re traveling, but you also get some gems that you get to meet up with later and they introduce you to Pier Doughnuts! The important things, right?

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My next day was all about shopping through the Lanes and spending some more time down at the beach. It was a great close to my solo adventure. I remember sitting on the beach with about 200 other people watching the sunset and I felt so relieved that I had made it this far. It was definitely an uphill climb, but the view from the top is amazing.

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Westeros, Finn McCool, and Murphy’s

Skipping out on Greece was a sad thing to do, but I knew I couldn’t handle the heat so I opted to go to Belfast and spend more time in Ireland. I have been to Ireland before, but Northern Ireland was a whole new terrain. I met a couple people from Northern Ireland while I was in Porto and they were giving me tips on things to do, like go to Giant’s Causeway and do a Game of Thrones tour of the filming locations, and they also gave me some tips on what to eat.

I got to Belfast after a layover in Edinburgh and was pleasantly surprised by how small the airport was and how rainy it was outside. Now, I love rainy days and I hadn’t seen rain in weeks so I was pretty excited about it. The airport had a direct link to the bus station downtown which wasn’t too far of a walk from the hostel. I was staying right near the university so there were loads of restaurants and bars along the walk to my hostel. Once I got there, they had tons to offer. I was feeling pretty lazy and they had a tv room where there were a couple of people hanging out watching Netflix and having some snacks. They also had a game room and offered a ton of options for things to do in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Since I had booked a rental car for the next day, I didn’t have to book any tours but it was cool to see them offer so much. If you can’t already tell, Global Village Belfast is one of my favorite hostels.

I watched countless movies, including one of my new favorites from New Zealand (Hunt For The Wilderpeople), and having food with people from all over the world. To be honest, I don’t remember anyone’s names, but it was kind of fun being anonymous. I had an early day the next morning.

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I had an early day the next morning and I rented a car. I decided to do this instead of doing a tour because it would kind of be on my own pace. I was able to see a bunch of filming locations from Game of Thrones as well as the Giant’s Causeway. There is a drive from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway that goes along the coast and really has some beautiful views. I might have felt a little lonely but I wouldn’t give up those views for anything.

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I made it to the Giant’s Causeway and learned all about Finn McCool. That is something I love about Ireland. They have all kinds of stories to go along with things and places that are passed down through the generations. They could be stories about giants living in the seaside cliffs, but they still bring a smile to your face. I can just picture people telling that story in a pub on a rainy evening!

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After a cold and rainy afternoon there, I got in the car and headed back to Belfast through the wind and rain. It felt like a fall day when I got back there so I had a cup of tea and spent another night in.

The next day was also rainy and I was heading to the city where my (Murphy) family came from. Honestly, I didn’t do much in Armagh, but it was really cool to see the place that my family came from. I did find a little pub that came highly recommended by my parents called the Hole in the Wall. The owner actually remembered them and their trip around Ireland from when she first bought the pub. I got to talk to a few locals and got a few drinks bought for me simply because I was a Murphy (and not technically related to the other Murphys around me).

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My hostel in Armagh couldn’t even compare to the place I stayed in Belfast. Actually, it was pretty awful. I do not recommend staying in Youth Hostels in any city because I never had a good experience in any of them. It is really cool to see the places where your family comes from though because it gives you a weird connection to that place. I never knew the family that lived there, but I still felt connected to it.

The Flag Is A Big Plus!

I arrived fairly early in Zurich but having napped on the plane, I was pretty ready to explore when I got there. The airport was extremely well laid out and the train schedule was easy to follow. I had to walk a little bit to get to my hostel, but the bonus is that Zurich is absolutely gorgeous! The water in the river is a really pretty blue color (not sure if it’s good or bad) and the mountains in the background made it seem like something out of a fairytale.

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The air also smelled really fresh, which really is not that common in a lot of the cities I was in. I was quickly falling in love with Switzerland until I went to get something to eat. The street where my hostel was had tons of cool restaurants that smelled amazing as you walked down the street. I went to look at some of the menus outside the restaurants and the prices were insane. A Swiss Franc is almost the same as a US dollar…and a bowl of spaghetti was about 34 CHF. I don’t know about you, but that’s a bit high for me so I opted for a cheaper and less filling option from a grocery store. Everything in Switzerland is expensive, but walking is free.

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I walked along the river and found some really beautiful spots. Like most European cities, there are lots of churches. I had my fill of going inside churches a long time ago, so I didn’t go in any. I did admire the architecture though, and how calm the city felt. If it weren’t for the insane prices, I would love to call Zurich home!

The next day I had a fairly slow morning but got myself on the train to Basel. Basel is about an hour and a half train ride from Zurich and I really didn’t do much when I got there since I had an early flight again the next day. The whole reason I went there instead of stay in Zurich is that my flight was from Basel airport and it was so early that there was no way I was going to wake up at 1 am to get there from Zurich.

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One day, when I’m rich, I’ll go back to Switzerland and actually be able to do more. I wish the prices weren’t so high because I adored Zurich and Switzerland in general. I did get to have some Swiss chocolate (I splurged for that) and it was divine!

Putting the Port in Portugal

After a long day of traveling, I made it to my hostel in Porto around 9:30 at night. I liked the area already. It wasn’t too big of a city but there was plenty of nightlife and restaurants. The hostel was nice so I felt pretty good about this.

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The hostel offered a free tour so I took that and met some pretty fun people to spend the day with. Porto is beautiful. So many buildings have tiles on the outside which is apparently to help with the humidity, but it adds so much color and character to the buildings too. Porto wasn’t a major tourist destination until Ryanair started flying there a few years ago. Since then, the city was opened up to the world and there were a ton of tourists roaming through the city streets. It was Sunday so a lot of things were closed, but it was so pretty I hardly noticed.

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There are a lot of places in Porto for good food, good views, and good Port. Along the river, there are some bars with views so I went for lunch and Porto with some new friends before heading back to the hostel. Because I had a 6 am flight the next day, I was definitely trying to go to sleep a little bit earlier.

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The next day I went to Madrid, but sadly I was so ill that I couldn’t even make it there. Instead of my hostel in the city, I got a hotel next to the airport where I was able to take care of myself. It’s tough when you’re not feeling well when traveling. You have to make the choice of whether you are going to push through or if you’re going to stop and take care of yourself. I made the choice to take it easy, but I don’t regret it. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the next few days of my trip if I hadn’t.

(ROME)ing My Way To Pompeii

Rome is a place that I never really needed to go to when I started planning this trip. I had my key places I wanted to see in Italy (Venice, Florence, and Pompeii) and I figured Rome was going to be too busy and too crazy. But the more I thought about the trip, however, I started thinking more and more about it.

The most important thing to keep in mind about Rome is that it is HUGE. It is a big walking city too. Because of my ankle, I was rethinking Rome as soon as I got there. Most people thought I was crazy for only planning one day there, but it was all I could probably handle. The trip was getting a bit exhausting and the more I kept going, the easier it was to get through. I did have a moment where I nearly lost my nerve and went home. No one fully understands how difficult traveling like this is until you do it. I was tested in every way.

Since I was trying to see as much as I could and there really wasn’t any way for me to do it all in one day, I booked an open top bus tour. Plus, it was hot so I was welcoming any amount of breeze as possible. The bus actually worked out pretty well because I was able to see a lot. It also talked about some of the history of Rome.

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The weird thing I found about Rome was that the food was all really expensive. Italy itself has some expensive food, but everything was more in Rome. You can get two scoops of gelato anywhere else in Italy for about 3 euro, but in Rome, it is more like 5 euro. Since it was so hot, that’s all I ate and spent a bunch of money on gelato. I’m not complaining though!

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Rome was great but I was really looking forward to the next city in my journey. Since I was a kid I was fascinated by the story of Pompeii and when I started planning this trip, I knew I was going to make a trip to Naples to see it. I spent a couple days in Naples so I could take a day and have a little bit of relaxation and laundry before starting to travel pretty rapidly. My main reason for going to Naples was to go to Pompeii so I decided to spend my money on that experience instead of some random things around Naples.

I woke up in the morning, ready to go and excited for the day! The bus picked me up for the tour and drove us down along the coast so we had a perfect view of Mount Vesuvius. The tour guide was telling us some of the background information of Pompeii and how it was a major city until the explosion. she also told us that it was not a volcanic eruption like we would think of with lava flows. Basically, the entire volcano exploded. What we see now of Vesuvius is only a portion of what was there before.

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It was thankfully a little bit cooler of a day so there was some breeze and I didn’t feel like I was overheating. It made it so much better to take everything in. My tour guide (who walked around in heels) was really knowledgable about Pompeii and everything that has happened since they started uncovering the city. She showed us the major areas of Pompeii like the port, the brothels, and the bakeries. It is really incredible to see the inventions of the people that were in Pompeii. I was almost in tears because I was so happy to be there. The best part? The whole city has not been dug up yet. There is still a large chunk of the city that they have not uncovered yet. I will definitely be following this closely, especially now that I’ve been there and walked the same roads that the people of Pompeii did nearly 2000 years ago.

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I rode the high of seeing Pompeii for the rest of the day as I got some pizza and gelato to celebrate a full 12 days in Italy. The next day I was about to go to Portugal so it was my last night in Italy. My thoughts? Lovely country, some really beautiful cities, but maybe go in April instead of August.

Bridges and (Un?)bearable Heat

After about a week of solid sweating, I was heading into a few of the hottest days so there wasn’t going to be any relief. I went through almost an entire 1.5L water bottle by the time I got to the bus in Verona and it was only getting warmer. My 11 am bus got there about 15 minutes late and it was already in the high 90s by then. Italy, you’re beautiful, but man it is hot in August!

I was very excited to be going to Florence next because I know so many people who went there, studied there, and basically just adored the city. It was going to be the hottest city so far but I still had high hopes. (Keep in mind I was thinking this on an air conditioned bus!)

It took a few hours to get there but once I did, I was actually a little relieved to be getting off the bus. I have never been someone who gets travel sick before, but now, every time I get on a bus that lasts more than an hour, I start not feeling well. The hot breeze was better than sitting on the bus at this point. I quickly bought yet another 1.5L water bottle (and silently cursed myself for not bringing a refillable water bottle) and made my way to the next hostel. Turns out this one had air conditioning, but for some reason, it wasn’t very cold. I still had to sleep with no sheets on at night, but it was at least shady on that side of the building. The street we were on had TONS of restaurants and it smelled amazing when I was getting there around dinner time, and since I was feeling a little better with the heat, I went in search of an air conditioned restaurant.

I will definitely be going back to Italy at some point in my life because I am pretty sure I hardly ate anything but gelato. The first night in Florence I got some spaghetti, but other than that, it was too hot. I sacrificed for the coffee there because if any of you know me, you know that I cannot live without it. It was just too hot to really eat anything warm so I went for a sweet, cold treat instead of a substantial meal most nights. Definitely a cheaper option in the short term, but considering how many times I actually got a gelato throughout the day, it probably was pretty even.

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I woke up fairly early on the full day I had in Florence mainly because of the heat, but I took advantage of it and went out for the day. There was a lot to see and the sooner I got out, the sooner I could get out of the heat. I had this idea in my head that Florence was this major city and it was pretty big so it would be difficult to walk (literally on my mind 24/7 with this stupid ankle) but it was actually really easy to walk around. The river wasn’t too far from my hostel and the way back presented me with some pretty awe-inspiring things to see.

The river was calm and serene, even though there was a line for about a mile to get into a museum running along it. The markets weren’t all open yet because of how early it was, but it was nice. Italy is such a busy place in the summer and being able to see it in a moment of calm was lucky. I walked along and saw the famous bridges of Florence all perfectly reflected in the smooth waters below.

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I could hear bells in the distance, but I couldn’t figure out how far the Duomo was and just how many churches there were in Florence. If you ever go to Italy, be prepared for a LOT of churches. I started my walk away from the river and found a bustling square with all kind of art around it. I had a look around and noticed some very familiar sights! I made my way to a side street (in search of gelato of course) and walked into the Duomo. This is such a habit of mine. I start looking for something to eat or drink and instead I find the most beautiful, historical places. I really need to pay more attention!

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The Duomo is gorgeous. It looks like it isn’t a real building and looks like a paper cutout. I sat there and wrote a postcard to a friend and just kept looking up at it. I couldn’t believe I was actually there and seeing the thing that my friends had all talked about. I sat there longer and enjoyed a cappuccino or two while the bells tolled and people from all over the world flocked to see it. It really is nice to just sit somewhere and appreciate something like that, even if it is 105 degrees outside.

Naturally, I went off in search of some more gelato and found a place that made the most beautiful gelato cone I had encountered thus far. I would have been fine with just a big scoop on a cone, but of course, this is Italy, so it’s artistic and beautiful food.

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By this time it was mid-afternoon and I was pretty warm and ready to take a shower and cool off back at the hostel. I stopped for a spritz drink (excellent recommendation!!) and settled in for the night. It’s funny how traveling through this heat makes you so tired. I probably could have fallen asleep at 7:00 pm but I made sure I stayed up late enough where I wouldn’t wake up at some ungodly hour of the morning.

But since Murphy’s law follows me, I woke up at 5:30 am and was ready to go since it was already so hot! I do think Florence was my favorite place in Italy, though, and I think that no matter what the weather is like, I will definitely be back.

A Merchant And Two Gentlemen Walk Into A Bar…

I took an early morning ferry out to Venice from Pula. It was fine all the way there and I got to sleep most of the way too. It was already fairly warm when I left Pula, but when I got to Venice I felt like I was walking into a sauna. I wasn’t sure how long I could handle the heat. I then had to go through immigration and find the water bus. Instead of buses or a subway, they have boats in Venice that are jam packed with people at all times. I had to go to the other side of Venice to get to where my hostel was. I finally got there in the middle of the afternoon and was very ready for some gelato and lunch.

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I really should have called this my trip through every flavor of gelato. It was too hot to eat anything else! Venice is a city that I’ve always wanted to go to. I heard a few years ago it was sinking and the realization that it wouldn’t be there forever made me immediately need to go there. It was hot and the canals smell a little odd, but it is beautiful. There is so much to see in Venice and it’s also really easy to walk around. I was looking for a free tour but I made a decision to just wander by myself. That way I could get up early and take the water bus to the touristy area of Venice. It got hot pretty early, but it was at least bearable and not up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit yet.

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I walked around and saw some of the picture perfect areas. I wound up walking through some of the nicest shopping streets as well, finding my way to Ponte Rialto, then all the way back to the hostel. It probably took less time to walk there than it did to take the water bus.

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Something really interesting was that I never saw a car until I was leaving. Everyone uses boats. Even ambulances are speed boats. It was a weird concept to get used to but it makes sense. Everywhere is within a few feet of a canal. I really liked Venice, but when 2pm hit, it was too hot to be outside anymore. I got a gelato (again) and went back to the hostel and took a nap. The only problem was that there wasn’t air conditioning there. It was still really hot in the room so napping wasn’t going to happen. I decided to sit in the air conditioned bar with a glass of Prosecco and read.

I wandered out to get dinner eventually and decided I needed to try a real Italian pizza. I wasn’t a huge fan. BUT I found out later that each area of Italy is known for a type of Italian food and Naples is actually known for pizza. Lucky for me that was where I would eventually end up!!

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The next day I had a fairly early start trying to beat the heat and make it to the bus station. I was revisiting the stories of Shakespeare as I prepared to head to Verona. It wasn’t very far from Venice, actually. It was going to be even hotter in Verona, but it was going to be really cool to go to a place where one of the greatest writers places his plays. It was also pretty nice to be in the air conditioning in the bus before walking through the heat.

It was actually more like Arizona heat. It was warm, but the heat didn’t completely overpower you. It wasn’t too bad to walk over to the hostel. Unfortunately, this one didn’t have air conditioning either. It must not be very common in Italy yet. But I did have a roommate from Canada who was nice enough to show me around Verona a little bit. We didn’t do the touristy stuff as I was going to get up early and do that the next day when there were fewer tourists and it wasn’t as hot. Of course, we got gelato and wandered around before we found the next gelato shop.

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The next morning I woke up and immediately went to the main square. It was early enough for some of the street vendors to be out selling some things, but most were just opening their shops. Verona is a relatively quiet place. It wasn’t riddled with tourists like Rome, but it was refreshingly quiet. It was nice to wake up early and go walk around a new place without having to fight through tour groups.

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One of the most popular places was Juliet’s house. You really can write Juliet a letter like in the movie and there are people who write back! It is a fun little touristy thing to do so when in Rome, right?

All in all, I loved Verona. It was much calmer than Venice and had just as much history and beautiful places. Most importantly, they have gelato shops on every corner! Next up…FIRENZE!!

Buda – Pula

Well, I’m officially too far behind so I’m going to crank these out while I have some time.

The next stop was Budapest. I actually loved Budapest and I wished I could have stayed longer! I got there and was immediately hot since it was on the warmer side. I got there relatively late in the day too so I only went out for dinner that first night. Nothing too crazy. However, there was a swimming championship meet happening in Budapest when I was there and much to my delight, it was on every television.

I took a free tour the next day after a chill night in, which many of my nights seem to be nowadays. Free tours are always my favorite. This time, my tour guide was a very small lady and I would have lost her so many times in the crowds if it weren’t for the booming voice that didn’t match her stature. We started in a small square that wasn’t too far from my hostel. We then walked down to the river where you can see the Buda side of the city since we were on the Pest side.

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We then walked back to go around the Pest side. What I liked about this tour was that they told us the in’s and out’s of Budapest from what to order at a restaurant to what currency exchange offices to avoid. It was a lot of information and a LOT of walking. My ankle was screaming in pain by the end of it. We ended our tour on the Buda side after going up way too many steps.

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Budapest was really cool. I think the whole vibe of the city was much more chill than other places I had been. It was also pretty cheap which was a huge plus for the budget traveler! I will definitely be going back to Budapest, but the only problem is..which side do I stay on??

The next morning I woke up already running late. I had an hour to cheap out and get to the bus station from my hostel. I was attempting to run, but I couldn’t with my ankle, as fast as I could to get to my 8am bus so I could get to Croatia on time. I was praying the entire subway ride, shedding a few tears, and getting increasingly more panicked the closer it got to 8am. Spoiler: I made it with 8 whole minutes to spare. Thank god too because I wouldn’t have made it to Pula without that first bus.

I had a half an hour transfer time in Zagreb and finally got on the bus to Pula. It was hot in Croatia so I was sweating a ton, but then was freezing on the bus. I eventually left my towel I was using as a blanket on said bus. Great. I got to Pula at about 6pm on a Sunday but was lucky enough to find a pizza place that was open still. Pizza in Croatia is shockingly amazing. Who knew it was so good there?

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I only went to the beach in Pula, but oh my god did I love it! I will definitely be going back to Croatia. I think it is also extremely important to go on a vacation like this though. I’ve been traveling so much and going non-stop that it was nice to take a day and just relax by the sea where the water is clearer than anywhere I’ve ever seen.

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Wienerschnitzel For All!

My bus ride to Vienna wasn’t too bad. Maybe I was getting used to this? Probably not, but I’ll keep telling myself that! It was still a bit on the cloudy and rainy side in Vienna, but I still wasn’t mad. I knew that I had a hot couple of weeks coming up in Croatia and Italy so I threw my leggings on and trekked down to Austria.

Like I mentioned in my Prague post, I booked myself a hotel for one night instead of spending a night in Bratislava. I think that I bit off more than I could chew with all that. I needed a good night’s sleep and a good shower; both things that you take for granted until it’s hard to come by. Hostels are a great way to see Europe on a budget, don’t get me wrong, but they come with some sacrifices. You can splurge and get a private room for yourself, or you can go for a dorm which is usually better to meet people. Dorms can be really loud though and you can sometimes come across some, for lack of a more precise word, unique people. My sleep hasn’t been very good since I’m usually awake until the early hours of the night with the people in my room who refuse to turn lights off, or the noise coming from the street or the bar downstairs, and sometimes even the heat. Then I wake up when the first person is rushing around trying to pack their stuff up to get to their flight or bus or train. I was craving a solid 8 hours of sleep. After weighing the different options, I cancelled my bus to Bratislava and the hostel there and opted for a relatively cheap hotel two blocks from my hostel in Vienna. That way, I could leave the next day at checkout and easily walk to where I had to go. It was so nice to have a good shower and a room all to myself. There was a fan in the room that I didn’t have to share with anyone else and I could sleep in a bed bigger than a twin. My first day in Vienna was not that thrilling because I spent the day relaxing and enjoying some decent wifi and binged on Netflix laying in bed.

I woke up the next day feeling refreshed since I slept for probably a total of 12 hours in the time I spent at the hotel. I wandered over to my hostel where I could (finally) do some laundry to prepare for the next chunk of my journey. I had stayed at this chain of hostels before and I honestly love them. The Wombats hostels are so nice and have a really great sense of community. I’ve had a really hard time getting to know and even talking to fellow travelers but these hostels have been the ones where I meet people. My first night in the hostel, they had a comedy night in their bar so I went down on my own to have a couple Austrian beers and hopefully meet some people. I ended up chatting with an Australian guy who was also traveling on his own and later a girl I recognized from my dorm room. Both had mentioned they were going to take the free walking tour in the morning which I was also planning on taking so it was already looking up.

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The next morning, I was ready for the walking tour, but once again it wasn’t too warm. I was really grateful I did laundry and had a clean pair of leggings I could wear because I’m pretty sure I would have frozen if I wore shorts. Our tour guide was hilarious. He made lots of puns and “dad jokes” which is exactly my brand of humor. He was fantastic and he knew so much about Vienna. Humor and history…should be my elevator pitch if someone if trying to get to know me!

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We walked quite a ways through Vienna but it turns out, the city itself isn’t that big. I thought we were really far away from the Danube, but it was only about ten to fifteen minutes walking from the Danube to Naschmarkt. My new Australian friend and I went to walk down by the Danube since that is where all the street art was and we were not disappointed. After a brief stop for some Bratwurst, we walked along the banks admiring all the art. Vienna itself doesn’t have a ton of street art and it has been contained along the banks of the river. It’s very colorful and even has some other types of art as well. We walked and talked for a while before turning back and heading back toward Naschmarkt.

After a tiny siesta and a delicious dinner of Wienerschnitzel and Austrian beer, we met up with our other new friend from London and hung out at the bar at the hostel. Cheap drink prices are definitely a way to keep people. I can honestly say that one of the best times I had was in Vienna because I finally got to meet people and not feel like I was completely alone. Vienna itself is gorgeous, but I think what made it great for me was finally not feeling completely alone.

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