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.
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 🇲🇪
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 🇧🇦
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
Maps.me – great for navigation & works offline🙌🏽
Units Plus – metrics converter. From American to European units: Length, temperature, weight etc.
Bla Bla Car – best car pool app in Europe
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.
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.
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.
Mismanaging my funds & going broke on the road
Losing my passport
Getting mugged & robbed – most places I visited were relatively safe
Falling critically ill
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😊
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.
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!