Today marks three years since I left North America for my crazy Eurotrip. It’s hard to believe that time has flown so quickly, and so many things have changed! However one thing is still certain – I’ve still got the travel bug. Two weeks today I’ll be off to The Philippines and exploring more of this beautiful world we live in. May seems to be my get away month, I wonder if there’s a reason for that… spring fever?
Anyways, this trip was a bit tricky at times and required extensive planning. The first month was planned as there were friends that were only going to be in certain places at certain times, but then after that it, well, escalated. The list of ‘Where do we want to go?’ just kept getting bigger and bigger until we said ‘Screw it, let’s hit as many as we can!’ Anyone who knows me can imagine just how large this list got. Mind you I didn’t get to hit all the stops on my list, but I visited a fair number of them!
The Route, City by City: Reykjavik > Höfn > Akureyri > Reykjavik > Glasgow > Edinburgh > Madrid > Pamplona > Barcelona > Nice > Monaco > Nice > Antibes > Eze > Nice > Torino > Florence > Venice > Ljubjana > Zagreb > Sarajevo > Budapest > Vienna > Munich > Zurich > Geneva > Paris > Vimy > Brussels > Bruges > Amsterdam > London > Berlin > Hamburg > Berlin > Helsinki > Luhanka > Helsinki > St Petersburg > Helsinki > Tallinn > Helsinki > Stockholm > Oslo > Copenhagen… dare you to try and say that all in one breath. Or for those of you that are visual people like myself, here’s a map.
Yes it was crazy and yes I’m still in awe that I managed to not only survive that trip but yes I would totally do it all over again. I’ve heard many people say you truly don’t experience a city or a culture until you’ve stayed in one sport for a long time, but trips like this are their own kind of animal. There’s something to be said about changing cities every 2-3 days. The sheer adrenaline keeps you running on high and makes you strategic on what to see and what to do – no day is ever wasted! The amount of things I did in these 3ish months are more than some people do in their lifetime, and I’m grateful for every experience. It’s because of life events like this crazy trip that I’ve become into the lady I am today, and it has only made me hungry for more!
The biggest question I got upon my return (and that I still get) is ‘What was your favourite city/country?’ and honestly, it’s so hard to choose one! So I refuse, however I will give you my top three as well as my bottom three. Mind you this is all personal preference and you may go ‘Girl, you cray!’ with some of my responses, but if everyone liked the same thing, the world would be boring! The lists are in chronological visiting order, because I honestly cannot pick a true favourite.
Lindsay’s Three Favourites
There are just so many wonderful things to say about this country, and it makes me eternally happy to have heard so much about Iceland since I travelled there. This country is one of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen in my life, with so much natural beauty. Iceland was probably one of the first times I truly had my breath taken away by the sheer allure of the countryside. Driving around the entire island I was able to experience so much of it – the black sand beaches, the numerous waterfalls, the geysers – but in my opinion, if you visit Iceland but don’t go to Jökulsárlón in Vatnajökull National Park, you did Iceland wrong. Google it, and you’ll agree with me. This along with the Reykjadalur hike is unmatched, and the personal natural hot spring is worth the trek. Iceland also has some pretty crazy food, a few of which you can check out in one of my previous posts.
Maybe it’s because I’ve got a bit of the fatherland in my blood or it’s just that I felt immediately at home upon arrival, but Germany is my jam. Berlin is hands down one of my favourite cities ever as history has influenced it so much and given it so much character. The street art scene is huge, and I could spend hours in Mitte, Kreuzberg, as well as admiring the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately I’ve only hit the hot spots, Munich and Hamburg in addition to Berlin, but I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to explore more in July! I know my love for Germany will only continue to grow as I consume more beer and watch more football.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Scandinavian countries and it was tough to choose, but Finland was just too good to me not to have it as a highlight. Helsinki is great as it has the hustle and bustle of the country’s capital but the familiarity of a small town. Named the World Design Capital in 2012, after going into some of the art galleries and studios, you quickly understood why with so many innovative, elegant, and functional designs. I was also spoiled by having the opportunity to head to a friend’s cottage where I could truly appreciate the country’s beauty and Finnish hospitality. (Anni, if you read this, I am still thankful to this day for everything! I hope we cross paths some time soon!) To top it off, Finland’s close proximity to Stockholm, St Petersburg, and Tallinn is what makes it stand out from it’s Scandinavian counterparts.
Lindsay’s Three Not-So-Favourites
This may have been from a bit of climate shock since I had just come from Canada, Iceland, and the UK, but the heat was absolutely unbearable. I also don’t speak a word of Spanish, so when it came to needing directions I found that people were extremely reluctant to help. Luckily we’d find the odd individual that spoke English who would give us a hand, but it meant for a few extremely stressful days trying to navigate back to our hostel. Speaking of, in booking our hostel none of them were above 70%, and the one we stayed in (which was a high 60) was barely that. The beds themselves were okay but the bathroom facilities were definitely subpar. At least we were only there for two nights! The redeeming factors? Delicious paella and the Reina Sofia Museum so I could get my art on and see so many original Salvador Dali artworks!
This place is legit a royal pain in the tuckus to navigate. Even with map in hand, retracing steps, I still managed to get lost more often than not. Adding to this frustration was the aspect of buskers at every third turn which got me all flustered and even more confused. Luckily there was lots of gelato to keep me sane, and I was able to geek out at the Veince Biennale Grounds and check out all the country pavilions. Pretty cool for a kid studying fine art!
My first mistake was booking two nights before really looking into what there is to do there. In all honesty? The place is BORING. Unless you’ve seen the movie In Bruges – which to this day, I have not – then it might be a bit on the exciting side. If not, you can see the full city in about half a day, MAX one day, and anything more is just too much. Plus, on a backpackers finances its tough to eat cheaply, especially when your hostel doesn’t have a kitchen, nor a fridge. I knew I should have stayed for two nights in Brussels!
So that’s a short summary of the Crazy EuroTrip of 2012. You’ll have to wait until future posts to hear more! Until then, if you’re heading to any of the cities mentioned above and are looking for tips on things to see or places to eat, or just travel tips in general, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message and I’d be happy to help!