[The Duomo in Florence was amazing and all, but what no one tells you is that it’s SO WINDY at the top! Soooo don’t wear a really loose shirt like I did LOL]
Continuing the shitfest from Arizona with a summary of how much I fucked up on my first Europe trip. I’m sharing because I want y’all to know that travel isn’t always perfect – in fact, most of the time, it’s far from it. But that’s all part of the beauty – you get into shitty situations, and you get yourself out.
And that feels good, somehow. Even though it might suck in the moment.
Okay, so I wouldn’t describe my recent trip to Arizona a shit fest per say, but. There were definitely some hiccups. And hiccups that I couldn’t just scare away ya know.
So, to start off, getting to and from AZ was A MISSION. Just LET ME TELL YOU.
So, we left at like 2PM meaning we drove almost all damn night and didn’t arrive until 3:30AM.
SO FUN RIGHT.
Lots of gas station stops and some casual peeing-on-the-side-of-the-road stuff too. Because we gotta keep it classy AF up in here.
And then we slept in the parking lot of Horseshoe Bend until sunrise. Ok well – a little after because we were so so damn sleepy.
Health problems in general suck, but having them while traveling is THE WORST. I’ve had a bad cold in Ireland, a UTI in England (and had to be on a 2 hour bus ride with no bathroom…NOT FUN, I legit was about to pee my pants in front of my whole class), and a shit ton (lol) of stomach issues (although not food poisoning, thankfully!). Sometimes, getting sick or having health issues is unavoidable, but often, very preventable! Here’s my game plan next time I travel:
[Hanging out at Hag’s Head at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland]
What to do when you’re down to travel, but you’re an introvert? When you’re on a budget, and have to stay in hostels, but need to balance time with meeting people and recharging? When you’re easily overwhelmed by busy situations?
In my opinion, solo travel is a great way to travel when you’re an introvert – BUT I was nervous that I’d meet basically NO friends, because I can get hermit-ty and lazy as far as socializing goes. BUT – I actually met more people than when I traveled with friends!
However, it was nice to be able to CHOOSE when I could make those friends, ya know? Like I could be like, mmmk, today it’s just gonna be me and my DSLR and RBF (resting bitch face), and the next day I could put on the RNF (resting nice face) instead and try to not look so pained in social situations. (And somehow that worked, although I’m sure I looked constipated at times).
Belgium is SUCH an underrated country! I wish I’d had more time to explore – lots of beautiful scenery and lovely architecture. If you do make it over to Belgium, promise me you’ll try to put more in your itinerary than just Brussels!! (I wasn’t the bigggggest fan of Brussels – but then again, I’m not a huge city person, so…). Admittedly, I don’t think I really went to the “off-the-beaten track” destinations in Belgium, but maybe I did compared to the average tourist? I’d love to go back and explore more of the countryside – my train rides to Dinant and Durbuy were absolutely beautiful.
[The Grand Place in Brussels – I’d argue that it’s the main tourist attraction in Brussels, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also just fancy AF]
As far as communication goes, many people speak English, but there are 3 official languages: Dutch, French, and German. However, most people speak either Dutch, French, or both, depending on the region.
And the food is GOOD. Between the chocolate, waffles, fries, pastries, and sandwiches (they have so many specific types of sandwiches there! They’re usually in long baguettes, and have a very specific yummy flavor – one of the chains is Panos, and their sandwiches are actually pretty good quality), I was happy happy happy.
Ok, so the Madonna Inn is pretty damn expensive. We all know that. But – you can still check it out even if you don’t have the funds to stay in a room (still a dream of mine – one day!!). We went to their cafe and grabbed a slice of cake (yep, that’s it – we broke) and then walked around this gem of a hotel.
[It’s already so cool! A PINK SIGN!]
You can check out the restaurant, bathrooms (of course lol but you really should look at them, even if you don’t have to go! They are fancy AF – the dude’s bathroom has a freaking WATERFALL in it), shop(s), pool area (although I don’t think you can swim unless you’re actually staying at the hotel), tennis courts (they’re also PINK!), garden, and the outside of all the pretty hotels. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and someone will be leaving theirs when you walk by and you can get a glimpse inside! (I’m actually the creepiest)…
[Lower Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon – another reason to hike to the bottom, instead of just checking out the rim!]
In my humble (aka always right) opinion, Arizona is such an underrated state and vastly misunderstood. (At least it was by me?)
[Look at all those lush desert plants! And that beautiful red desert rock! And that kinda sorta desert sunset! Side notes: Desert sunsets really are some of the most beautiful! This was near Saguaro National Park]
Like, did you know that not all of Arizona is desert (which is what I originally assumed #dontassume) and that it actually SNOWS in some parts? Like what.
[On a plane somewhere in Sweden]
Doesn’t everyone have these sorts of stories? Or is it just me? Awkward? Am I the only failure of a traveler? I feel like the #1 travel tip ever is BE EARLY TO THE FREAKING AIRPORT and yet I’ve missed a decent number of flights and had quite a few close calls…
So, without further ado, here are some stories of me being a total dumbass, enjoy!
[Stockholm was dope. And really not that cold. And so pretty!]
Ahhhh Stockholm. To be honest, it wasn’t really on my radar of “dying-to-see” destinations like Abisko and Copenhagen were. And I kind of only went because we found cheap tickets (about $440 round trip from Oakland, CA to Stockholm!! Would’ve been more like $300 if we’d bought in advance and hadn’t insisted on picking our seats, for you wanderlusters who are considering checking it out next winter).
But I came away loving Stockholm! I’ll be honest, I liked Copenhagen a bit better, but I also feel like we didn’t get to see as much of Stockholm as we did Copenhagen. Stockholm was at the beginning and end of our trip, so at first we were too jetlagged to do much (we were there for a day and a half before heading to Abisko), and then at the end we were pretty tired from a week and a half of non-stop (cold) travel. But, I did enjoy it, and would love to see it in the summer (especially to explore the Archipelago!!!).
[The overlook from the hike up to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh]
I feel like I’m qualified to talk about this topic because I’m just going to go ahead and say I am. Which is pretty much the reason I’m qualified to do anything! No certifications or degrees needed here. Lol but really, I’ve traveled with 3 good friends in college, random people that I’ve met while traveling solo, a man friend, an old friend from high school, my mom, etc.
But okay, so – here are the things that I feel like makes traveling with another person and not strangling each other so much easier!