So let’s do a real quick #tbt to two summers ago (ugh was it really that long ago, brb, gonna go cry my eyes out and maybe teleport there real quick…), when I was gallivanting through Ireland and just basking in the Irish-ness of it all.
I’d thought about hitchhiking (seemed like a cool way to meet people and have some unique experiences) but I was like ahhhhh I’m a solo female traveler and that. Is. SCARY.
[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 when I went to Europe first time abroad. 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.
Full disclosure: this article is NOT encouraging you to be an asshole and to be disrespectful in other countries. This is more like a chronicle of my mistakes for your reading pleasure. And to let you know that it’s OK TO MAKE MISTAKES. Just go, and deal with them as they come.
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.
[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!!!).
[Typical perfectly perfect street in Copenhagen]
So the answer is a resounding YES. I could actually live in Copenhagen. And I could totally deal with the winters!
Like I actually, really could and might someday in the future. Who knows! My friend actually wants to move there now so I might just hop on board (literally) with her and make it easier. Especially because I thought I would die in the winter, but I didn’t, and it actually really wasn’t that bad, sooooo I have no excuse now!
[Bikes are literally EVERYWHERE in Copenhagen! Everyone was riding them, even in winter]
I didn’t have to use my giant puffy jacket like I did in Stockholm, and I think it stayed in the 40’s Fahrenheit. It also only rained a little bit – not sure if we just got lucky, but we had a great time! I don’t even remember being cold walking to bars at night (and trust me, I am not one of those people that gets warm from drinking).
Okay, so – WHY exactly would I want to go to Sweden in the dead of winter (with minimal daylight) and call it a “vacation”?
Well, the main reason: stupid stupid cheap tickets. Like $440 round trip cheap from San Francisco to Stockholm. Not too bad, eh?
So, we went in January, and I was real worried that the lack of light would leave us bored to tears (when I looked online, it said it would only be light out from like 10AM-1PM), but I thought it was fine! It actually ended up being light from more like 9-2ish, and I had blog stuff to work on, so it wasn’t a huge deal.
It’s also not that bad walking around in the dark though, as long as you have a head lamp. However, if you still want to see the northern lights but want longer days, go during February!
[The Roussanou Monastery]
This’ll be my last Greece post…BUT OH MAN you should 10000000% go to Meteora if you’re in Greece.
I don’t care how out of the way it is for you (It’s about a 5 hour bus/train ride from Athens), or how little time you have – YOU. NEED. TO. GO. Like stop what you’re doing right now, buy a ticket to Greece, and go to Meteora. Then probably an island, because it wouldn’t be a trip to Greece without going to one.
Okay, actually, maybe read this guide first – THEN buy your ticket.
[I got this perfect Santorini shot by wandering alllll the way up the Caldera from Fira; I even saw a wedding shoot taking place later on!]
Santorini is a lovely island, but maybe not what you expected! At least it wasn’t for me. I thought it would be all sandy beaches and annoyingly romantic and gross.
BUT surprise, surprise – the beaches were not all that great! If you want beautiful beaches and whatnot, get your ass to Paros or Naxos.
Santorini does have beaches, don’t get me wrong – I went to the red beach, which was cool and all, but it didn’t have that super soft sand that you may picture. It was more like fiber-y chunks of tree bark.
The black beach and white beach are supposedly cool, too (I didn’t go) – but again, not what you expect. Santorini is a raised island, so it’s like up on a platform. Hence the not so great beaches and rockiness.
[Harbor in Paros – I don’t remember the exact name of it, so if someone does let me know!]
Because it totally makes sense that I’m posting this in winter, when I’m currently in the middle of planning a trip to Stockholm. LOLZ.
But I miss Greece so so so much. And thus I’m going to talk about my trip there from like a year ago. There is something in the air in Greece that just screams CHILL (just like that, in all caps).
Especially Paros. I could go back there again and again – they spray Xanax or beaver tranquilizer vapor in the air. How legal that is, I’m not sure, but how super CHILLED out I was, that I am sure of!