Euro Trip 2017

My Euro trip adventure came to an end last week – Dec 12th, 2017.  At the end of the trip I was sad to leave but also excited about the next adventure to come.

Split, Croatia was a great base to access various European countries at a slow traveling pace.  I chose my destination based on budget.  Being in Eastern Europe allows you to stretch your funds as most cities are quite affordable.  I visited the following cities throughout the trip: Split, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Kotor, Budva, Mostar, Prague and many more towns & villages.  I visited 7 countries over 3 months.  Traveling slow takes the pressure off having to check off how many countries you visit at a time.   It allowed me to truly immerse myself in each experience as I was in search of quality not quantity.

CURRENCY USED

Croatian Kuna, Hungarian Forint, Czech Koruna, Bosnian Convertible Marka and Euro

BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE: CROATIA🇭🇷❤️

Zivjeli/Cheers!  Hvar, Croatia🇭🇷

I spent the most time in Croatia.  My love affair for the country runs deep! What a beautiful country and wonderful people to match! My friends made my stay incredibly comfortable.  I also met strangers who were extremely kind & enthusiastic to show me around to take in the beautiful views.  From a coffee shop owner, local guides, Uber drivers etc.  The best recommendations on things to do came from them. I traveled in Croatia extensively and had an amazing experience.  Look out for a separate post/video on Croatia.

BEST SOCIAL SCENE:  BUDAPEST, HUNGARY 🇭🇺

Pretending I’m not freezing in the streets of Budapest! Brrrr 🇭🇺

Had a blast! Best nightlife I had while in Europe.  Met the most interesting & generous people from Denmark, Naples, Tokyo & Kyoto.  My AirBnB loft was pretty swanky! Loved it so much that I extended my stay.  I have had the most unique and amazing rentals throughout my travels with AirBnB.  I can’t sing them enough praises.  Click here to receive $40 off your next AirBnB booking.

A visit to the thermal baths/pool/spa is a must!  Visit the New York Cafe which is dubbed the most beautiful cafe in the world for it’s decor and ambience.  Budapest deserves a solo post. Coming soon…

MOST SCENIC:  MONTENEGRO 🇲🇪

Perast, Montenegro🇲🇪

Montenegro was a beautiful surprise.  I have never experienced such exceptional natural beauty!  The fauna, flora, stunning coastline and the mountains. It brought me to tears! I had the pleasure of visiting Lake Skadar and National Park Lovcen. I enjoyed the drive to both locations immensely due to the scenery.

Major shout out to Plautilla Travel Agency from Solin, Croatia, for an amazing tour to Montenegro.  Though it was a Croatian speaking tour, our guide/coordinator, Ines, went above & beyond to ensure I always felt included & translated the tour details making my experience wonderful.  Everyone on the tour was very warm & hospitable.  I have a new appreciation for Dalmatian music for road trip playlists.

Battle wounds – mysterious facial scar from Montenegro😕. I will always remember Montenegro for more than the views.  Souvenir of sorts.

BEST ROAD TRIP:  COUNTRY SIDE OF AUSTRIA🇦🇹

The views were picturesque!  The hills do come alive with the sound of music (road trip tunes against the stunning backdrop❤️). I never made it to Salzburg for the Sound of Music tour which means I’ll be back.  The locals don’t really care for the movie!  Apparently Hollywood romanticized it.  Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies that also inspired my travel to Austria since childhood.

I ended up in Vienna which is a beautiful city with so much history, music & art to offer. A visit to the Belvedere Gardens and Schönbrunn Palace is highly recommended.

Taking in mass in Vienna was transcendent and I’m not catholic.

“I’m here your grace” Schönbrunn Palace gardens🇦🇹

I almost got into a fight with a bouncer at a bar in Vienna. Over smoking🤦🏽‍♀️  I remembered I wasn’t a fighter and had to let it go.  Continue reading see the bit on challenges experienced.

LEAST FAVORITE:  PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 🇨🇿

Beautiful city but I was on the second Croatian speaking tour – because I saved some serious mulah.  Hello budget travel! I understood nothing obviously. I have never felt more isolated in my life! And I’m an expert solo traveler🤷🏽‍♀️. Plus the emerging cold weather didn’t help the cause.  I just couldn’t seem to connect to the city. My new friends on the tour, two ladies both named Ivana, tried to make up for what the tour guide lacked in hospitality. The tour would have been a total flop without them.

I did enjoy the visit to the town of Česky Krumlov which is straight out of a fairytale. With a gothic castle & renaissance elements.  I was in awe😍

Česky Krumlov – Magical town🇨🇿

SAD MOMENT IN HISTORY: MOSTAR, BOSNIA 🇧🇦

Mostar, Bosnia🇧🇦

Seeing many graveyards where war victims were laid to rest in 1993 was heartbreaking.  There were many buildings with visible bullet holes from a very turbulent time in recent history.  Never forget 1993😕

The people’s resilience & urge to rebuild was heartwarming in the end.

The food was delicious!

ESSENTIAL TRAVEL APPS

XE currency converter

Trail Wallet – managing my budget because…OCD😬

Google Translate – lifesaver at times

WhatsApp

Maps.me – great for navigation & works offline🙌🏽

Units Plus – metrics converter.  From American to European units: Length, temperature, weight etc.

Flix Bus

Bla Bla Car – best car pool app in Europe

AirBnb

Entertainment: Netflix, Audible, iBooks, Podcast

Uber – Croatia has an option for Uber Boats as well.

Uber boat anyone?

Never got to use local SIM cards.  My TMobile service worked great at no extra fees for 2G network.  Slow but efficient when needed where WiFi was unavailable.

TRANSPORTATION:

Bus, Train, Private Car, Luxury Boat and Speed Boat.

 For Bus Travel in Europe

The road trips were amazing! Distance didn’t matter.  Most of the drives were quite scenic. I had the same child-like excitement I did as a kid on road trips with my family in Kenya.  I did many long distance road trips between countries in Europe.  It was simply the best way to see the countries visited and also catch up on Netflix shows.

MOST EFFICIENT TRANSIT SYSTEM: VIENNA, AUSTRIA🇦🇹

It is very impressive though I could never pronounce the German stops.

A friend’s amazing apartment in Split, AirBnb in various cities, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton Hotel, Renaissance Hotel, Le Meridien, Kenyan Ambassador’s residence in Vienna & a friend’s rustic cabin in the village of Potpoletnica, Croatia.

HONORABLE MENTION

MOST INTERESTING TOUR ACTIVITY: a visit to the museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia.  My Uber driver tried to speak ill of it and told me lower my expectations on the tour.  I enjoyed it as it was more than what you think it is.  Heartbreak comes in many forms.

MOST MEMORABLE MEAL: Israeli cuisine at Miznon in Vienna.  I also ate Burek (layers of dough with filling) & Cevapi almost daily while in Croatia.  RIP to my waistline.

BEST OF TIMES:  Hard to pick one out of many BUT the 7 night luxury boat cruise on the Dalmatian coast was a pretty awesome way to visit the islands in Croatia.   Seeing the spectacular coastline up close was amazing.  Made a ton friends on the cruise.

BIGGEST FEARS

Mismanaging my funds & going broke on the road

Losing my passport

Getting mugged & robbed – most places I visited were relatively safe

Offending locals

Being scammed

Falling critically ill

LESSONS

God is always faithful.  Just trust & believe in him. I have experienced miracles while on the road.

Humanity exists.  People are inherently good. I have met some of the most kind & selfless people who made my travels so much better.

Benefits of minimalism.  As a nomad it is critical to travel light.  I’m a chronic over-packer who is still learning how to live with just the essentials.

You don’t have to do everything on your must do/visit guide.  Slow down & take it all in.  Take the time to smell the roses.  I had the best times when I was spontaneous and was in no rush.

Slow paced travel is great! You never need a vacation from your vacation.

Most of the advice in guidebooks or blogs is recycled and will deny you the chance of a unique experience.  Don’t over plan.  Allow room for spontaneity.

Most cities in Europe are very much alike.  You’ve seen one church, public square, museum – you’ve seen them all. IMHO.

Solo travel truly rocks BUT the best experiences are shared.  If you have a great travel partner/squad hold ’em dear.

Every travel experience does not need to make it to social media platforms.  My best moments never made it online. I had a social media blackout in November with great reason.  Unplugging was amazing as I got to truly immerse myself in every experience without the distraction of the phone/camera and without the pressure of having to post anything.

Our world is incredibly beautiful❤️.  I can’t encourage people more to visit unpopular destinations! I was on a mission to explore cities/villages I’d have never considered.  It was incredibly rewarding. Keep exploring and be amazed.

The best way to experience a country is by driving across it.  Austria and Montenegro had so much to offer in that aspect.

I have a new appreciation for public transit & walking.

No risk, no story😊

PET PEEVE

Smoking indoors and in most public spaces.

I have grown to resent the habit thanks to my Euro trip.  Seems like almost everyone chain smokes! From high school students, parents around their children, the elderly & everyone in between. I came close to being burnt by careless smokers in small spaces a few times:(  The air quality was just terrible as a result.  This was the main reason I preferred to stay indoors & avoid the night life.

CHALLENGES (KIND OF)

Living out of a suitcase.  Packing cubes have helped a great deal in keeping my belongings organized & not having to rummage through things BUT I missed having my clothing/accessories laid out.  Really small inconvenience for such an incredible experience.

Routine is oddly comforting.  I did miss a sense of being rooted, home/normalcy.  BUT I would snap out of it at the realization that I was creating unforgettable memories.

Traveling is amazing and I got to meet many people from different parts of the world.  You say hello/goodbye so much as most travelers you meet are on the move.  You repeat your story & hear many other similar ones that it becomes tiring! Not being able to form lasting bonds because you are transient can take a toll on you. I missed my family & friends.

How to balance the freedom of being jobless without worrying about money running out.

Leading a healthy lifestyle.  I packed worked out clothes that were never put to use😬. Pretty difficult on the road.  Upside is I did a lot of walking to explore when I could.  Averaging about 20K steps most days.

SKILLS LEARNED

How to make home made wine & liquor (Rakija).  Necessary life skills right?🍷🍸

All in all it was nothing short of AMAZING! I would do it again 10 times over! Minus the cold weather in the end.  No regrets whatsoever! Europe was good for my soul.

Onto the next destination😎✌🏽

Here’s to taking more chances in life and loving it!

 

 

Related Posts

  • alee December 21, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    thank you for all the tips always!! cant wait to take my next trip, you’ve inspire me to see tbe world 😘

  • sallygworld December 22, 2017 at 1:49 am

    Thanks lady:) Happy travels in 2018!

  • Lee kitazi December 22, 2017 at 4:00 am

    “Battle wounds – mysterious facial scar from Montenegro”…🤔

    Awesome reading and thanks for sharing! I’ve always been curious about the eastern bloc!

  • sallygworld December 22, 2017 at 4:29 am

    It’s really beautiful in Eastern Europe. I highly recommend it.

  • Joan Mwangi December 22, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Montenegro and Austria are definitely on my list of places to visit.

  • Buxton Migwi December 22, 2017 at 6:01 am

    My dream is to be you.😀

  • sallygworld December 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for checking out the blog. You would love both destinations:)

  • sallygworld December 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Trying to live the dream. Thank you:)

  • Kemkem December 24, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Great recap of a marvelous holiday. We are also slow travelers. We actually moved to Europe so we could save ourselves from long flights :-). We are based in Spain right now. I love your outfits, they fit you to a T. I agree with your take on Budapest. Love it. We have heard so much about Croatia but have yet to visit, hopefully 2018. Prague is already booked.

  • sallygworld December 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Hi KemKem,

    Thank you for your input. Isn’t slow travel amazing? You must add Croatia to your list:) Must be great living in Spain!

  • Tshyro December 28, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Living vicariously through you darling thank you for sharing your adventures – I’m still lol at RIP waistline! Awesome blog!!!! 😘

  • MsBee December 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Oh wow!! Great read, beautiful pics and as always gorge outfits!! Always inspiring! Keep travelling and doing you girl! Some of these beautiful places I never even knew existed, can’t wait to hopefully one day visit.
    So when are you putting those Rakija making skills to use? LOL

  • sallygworld December 28, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Haha! The waistline is gone:( But the experience was totally worth it!

  • sallygworld December 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for checking out the blog MsBee:) I was surprised at how beautiful these places were. You must add Dalmatia to your list of travel destinations to visit.

  • Janet December 30, 2017 at 12:01 am

    You are BRAVE! And now I have more places to add to my bucket list 😂. Please be sure to let us know which places are not too accommodating to black folk. This is my biggest fear 🙈. Can’t wait to see and follow your 2018 adventures!! Btw, your camera takes really really good pictures!

  • SallyG December 30, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Janet,

    The Balkans would be a great place to start… they love black people:)

  • Liz Njenga January 8, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Great read and well captured memories. I feel like I travelled with you. God is truly faithful ..May you continue to experience the wonders of His works. It’s a beautiful world this one yet He loves us more than anything . Grace to you in your next trip.

  • SallyG January 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for checking out the blog Liz. Thanks for the kind words:)

Leave a Comment