The Land Down Under – Sydney

Sydney is a great and beautiful city with lots to see.  I tend to compare every city I visit to San Francisco.  To me San Francisco ranks number one, but of course this is a bias opinion since I grew up in the bay.  However, every traveler that I’ve met who has visited the states ranks San Francisco as their favorite American city.  Like any city SF has its flaws, but it is the cultivating cities that make up the bay area that make it a great place to live.  Similar to home, one can escape Sydney and head over to Manly for a more relaxed vibe.

Walking through Sydney it’s tall buildings resembled those of the skyscrapers from back home.  As I walked from the ferry station to Bondi beach I stumbled upon many different districts such as the gay district on Oxford street.  I could have easily mistaken this area of the city with that of Castro in SF.  As I escaped the financial district of the city I entered a posh district, once again on Oxford street.  A series of suburban homes followed before I hit the infamous Bondi Beach.  Bondi did not strike me as an impressive beach and had more of an industrial feel causing it to lose its charm.  I suppose the hype over the beach also did not help, still this beach is better than anyone we have back home simply because you can enter the water without risking hyperthermia.

bondi-artwork
I did however find this remarkable (Bondi Beach artwork).

What I was looking for in Bondi I found in Manly.  Manly beach in my opinion is greater than Bondi and delivered the beach town vibe that I was looking for.  Regardless of what I say you should still visit both beaches and form your own opinion for I have encountered mixed reviews amongst fellow travelers.  I visited Bondi against the advice given to me by my fellow mates who said the beach was filled with tourist and not worth my time.  They forgot I was a tourist and wanted to do touristy things.  My advice to you is to always visit the major touristy landmarks of any new city you are in.  Don’t be that retard know it all hippy traveler that is to cool for that.  In my previous travels I was advised against Oktoberfest in Munich by fellow travelers (the retard hippy) and locals because of the same reason, “it’s too touristy and crowded”, my response, “ummm, I’m a tourist and I fucking love crowds”.  I had a great a time at Oktoberfest by the way.

In both places you’ll find several shops, eateries, and watering holes, but be warned Australia is not a cheap place to visit.  Unlike my Europe excursion, I actually find myself in the kitchen prepping meals.  I can definitely afford to eat out in Oz, but not if I want to make a year of traveling a reality.  I do enjoy the curious eyes of my fellow backpackers as they assume I am cooking for two and are left surprised when I consume the entire meal.  Typical American and his large servings.  Actually it’s just me, I’m a fat ass.

There were many highlights to my Sydney trip such as attending Field day and watching Chance The Rapper and Childish Gambino perform sick sets, two artist who have rekindled my love affair with Hip Hop.  I’m going to tell you about a personal highlight that might not be significant to you.  As I walked through Sydney, carefully choosing busy streets for the sole purpose to stumble upon city landmarks, I stumbled upon one rarely visited by tourist and locals.

ww1-memorial-sydney

From the moment I saw it I knew this building was special but I had no clue what it was till I walked up the steps and asked the guard many his post.  “It’s a memorial to the Australian soldiers who fought and died in World War 1”.  The inside was small and circular with a statue of a fallen figure drenched over a sword.  On the hollowed parts of the wall, battles the Australians were involved in were carved into the wall, with Gallipoli being one of the most famous.  It’s easy to forget that such a small nation who was just formed in 1901 was involved in such a large war.  Since then our Aussie mates have fought alongside us in every major conflict.  Let us not forget these top blokes.  Till Valhalla mates.

fallen-on-sword

I was fortunate enough to be in Sydney for NYE.  Entering the new year in a foreign city watching the fireworks from underneath the Harbour Bridge I stared at the Opera house with a smile on face knowing it was one of many to come.

Cheers! And safe travels friends.

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World Travel Itinerary

Just a rough idea of my plan to travel around the world.  4 days into Sydney and the plan is already changing, which I find is the best way to travel.  It’s good to be prepared but you have to let some of the pieces fall where they may.  (photo credit: @worldtravelfans) 

*get Vietnam visa online

*look at hostel bookers.com

Australia

Cheap Airlines: Tiger Airlines, Jetstar

Bus: Greyhound Australia Pass

Rideshare: Look at hostel bulletins to hitch a ride with people or look at Kangaride, Jayride and Gumtree

Things to see:

Uluru(Too far, towards Alice Springs), sail Whitsundays, hike the Daintree

Route:

  • Sydney – 3 – Opera house, Harbor Bridge
  • Melbourne – 4
  • Sydney – 2
  • Byron Bay – 3 – Aquarius backpackers hostel
  • Gold Coast – 3 Surf N Sun Hostel
  • Brisbane – 3
  • Whitsunday – 3
  • Magnetic Island – 3 base hostel
  • Cairns – 5 – Gilligans hostel, Great barrier reef, Kuranda Rainforest, mission beach, crystal cascades

Total days = 29

Philippines

  • Boracay – MNL beach hostel
  • Cebu

Thailand – must have passport at all times (law)

Bangkok

  • (5) NapPark hostel

Ayutthaya – Ancient City

Phitsanulok

Chiang Mai

  • (4) Spicy Thai hostel
  • Songkran Festival Thai new year, water fight (13-15th April) originated here

Chiang Khong

  • border with Laos
  • purchase 30 day tourist visa here, $30-$40 bucks

Laos

Houay Xai

  • Bokeo Nature reserve

Luang Prabang

  • (5) lots of shit to see here

Vang Vieng (4)

Sakura Bar

Vientiane – (5) capital city, visit Vietnam embassy here to get visa.

Tha Khaek

  • Do the Thakhaek loop on motorbike if possible. Takes 3 days but preferably do it in 4 days
  • Phou Hin Boon National Park
  • Konglor Cave
  • Tham Nong Pafa Cave

Savannakhet

  • Second largest city
  • Museum on dinosaurs and unexploded bombs from Vietnam War
  • City host many festivals (look them up).

Ao Nang, Krabi – Slumber Party hostel

Koh Phangan – The Nomad House

Ko Samui

Ko Phangan

  • Hat Rin, full moon party

Ko Tao

Krabi

  • Popular beaches – Ao Nang, Tang Sei, Rai Leh

Ko Tarutao National Marine Park

Vietnam

Dong Ha

  • A day is recommended here

Hue

  • Ancient city
  • Hue Citadel
  • Emperors tombs
  • Pagodas

Hoi An (4)

  • Riverside town
  • Party town
  • Beach is not far

Nha Trang

  • Backpackers house hostel

Dalat (4)

  • Lakes, forest and waterfalls (outdoors)

Mui Ne

  • Desert, sand dunes and beach (theres a desert in Vietnam? Da fuck?)
  • Not much going on apparently but great place to unwind. Probably will recharge my batteries here and regroup.

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

  • largest city
  • Pham Ngu Lao area, good place to find food, sleep, and drink
  • Lots of war sites

Hanoi – Hanoi backpackers hostel

Old Quarter, Hanoi – Central Backpackers

Cambodia

Phnom Penh

Koh Rong – island near Phnom Penh MUST GO

Sihanoukville

Siem Reap

  • Funky Flashpackers hostel
  • Temples of Angkor Wat

Israel

  • Jerusalem – 6 days, Abraham Hostel
  • Tel Aviv – 3 days, Florentine Backpackers Hostel
  • Day trip to the Dead Sea
  • Mediterranean coast
  • The North (???)
  • Petra – get there early, whole day trip,

Greece – Island hopping (link up w/ SF mates)

  • Santorini
  • Ios
  • Mykonos

Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb,

Hungary – Budapest

Czech – Prague

Germany – Munich

Spain – Link up with the moms.  Visit Madrid and Barcelona.

FUCK IT I’LL FIGURE OUT THE REST AS I GO

Morocco

Scotland

Ireland

Brazil

Bolivia

Argentina

Chile

Peru – Regroup in Lima.  Spend a month.  Link up with pops

Colombia

Panama

Costa Rica

Cuba

Home (Noooooooo 😦 

A Common Story

There is a common story amongst travelers, a story of risk that results in an expansion of something in your chest.  These stories revolve around those we meet and the sudden spark that happens.  These are my favorite type of stories, and every traveler has one.  How each one starts and evolves is different but how they end is ever so common.

My biggest advice for you is take the risk, and although it made not result in what you hoped, it will make for the most interesting story on your trip.

So how does it start. Very simple, like a story straight out of a book.  Two individuals meet in a foreign place.  The initiation is simple, “Hello, I’m (fill in the blank).

Two people from different worlds, different languages, different cultures, yet your conversations flow endlessly to a rhythm that never loses beat.

Day turns into night and you discover more about each other.  You begin to notice little details that make you more attracted to them. The wrinkle above her nose when she smiles.  His contagious laugh.

You both act coy, trying not to seem overly interested and even though others seek your attention you continuously engage in conversation with each other, eager to learn more about this perfect stranger.

Nothing is ever set in stone and even when a night is looking promising either party can still ruin these perfect moments.  The fact that we don’t know what the other person is thinking is what makes this ever so interesting and exciting.

Finally, the night is coming to a close, do I make a move or do I simply say good night.  Is he going to make a move?  Maybe he’s not interested.  Maybe I should just say goodnight.

The intensity builds up, you ago against your fears and kiss her.  She kisses you back.

The next morning you are asleep next to a perfect stranger.  Your arms around each other, finding yourself strangely comfortable.  You’ve been here before with an individual you’ve known for years, but this time you’ve only know this person for 24 hours.

A perfect sleep is ruined by a screeching alarm clock.  Reality sets in.  It’s time to go, your flight leaves in 2 hours, but then a strange thought hits you, “Maybe I should stay”.

You motion ever so gently to turn off the alarm clock and not wake her.  You failed.

She lays there and wonders, “Is he going to leave? Maybe he’ll stay”.

You make up your mind, “this is ludicrous, I’m staying the course……but maybe just maybe”

You lie there and watch him pack his bags reminding you that you both have different destinations, different paths, and different futures.

Neither wants this to end and both wish there was more time but they accept what it is, a perfect 24 hours, why ruin it.

They look at each other one last time, both hold back what they really want to say, “Stay!”, “I’m staying!”.

He kisses her goodbye.

All good things must come to an end, regardless if it last 24 hours or several days.  Both parties remain in contact, but eventually communication seizes as they return to their routine lives’.  Their moment together becomes a faint memory, but it will never disappear.

But every once in a while a song, an artifact, or a joke will remind them of each other and they smile is brought to their face.  They wonder, “I wonder what she/he is doing”.  They snap back to reality when their friend asks them, “What are you smiling about silly?”.  They respond, “Nothing….so what are we drinking?”

By now you are probably wondering if this has happened to me or if this story is directly from my own experience.  Perhaps, or maybe it belongs to a friend, really it’s a story that belongs to all us but in many different variations.  There are of course so many more details to this story that make it more intriguing and humorous, but I try to keep my blog posts short so I don’t lose your interest.

I have yet to hear a story that has ended differently, and although the ending is not what you want to hear, every traveler treasures these memories.  You can see it in their eyes and hear it in the enthusiasm of their voice.  This is why these are my favorite stories to hear, because they are real, touching, adventurous and straight risky.  Traveling exposes us to these experiences and trust me it will happen to you, it might even happen more than once.

Good luck out there fellow travelers, safe travels and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

 

Toro! Toro! (Pamplona, how to survive the bull run)

Madrid had been a blast and after several nights of partying with new friends it was time to move on to Pamplona to attend the festival of San Fermin.  The festival of San Fermin is most famous for its bull run where thousands of people gather together for a week long celebration of the famous saint.

Originally I had no plans to be at this festival, for my Europe excursion was not meant to begin till August, but in an interesting turn of events I found myself leaving a month early, just in time for the festival.

My day began with a sleepless night as I shared a bunk with a friend whose phone went off throughout the night, in a room meant for 4 but 6 of us stayed in.  Tired and hungry I stumbled into the bus where I passed out for a couple of hours providing hours of entertainment for my friends as my head tilted back against my seat with my mouth wide open. A ticket to Pamplona should run about 30-40 Euros.

The festival kicks off with an epic sangria fight, which unfortunately I missed, but I arrived that weekend which probably had the highest attendance due to it being the weekend. Highly recommend going for the start of the festival, after all why wouldn’t you want to be drenched in sangria with thousands of people.

As I awoke from my slumber, I began to see the traditional outfit worn during the festival. White pants, white shirt, red sash, and red pañuelo will either be the outfit you die in, or the outfit you had the greatest time in.

We arrived early in the afternoon and after dawning our outfits we joined in the festivities. The plan was to take it easy and pace ourselves but after seeing a sea of people passed out on any patch of grass they could find, and another sea of people raging, I thought to myself, “fuck, I’m not ready for this, oh well time to rally (pounds copious amounts of alcohol to the face)”.

The next couple of hours can only be described in a montage of drinking, bull fighting, dancing, applauds, roaring crowds, dance parades, death and more drinking…good times.  In my drunken state I was determined to walk the course the bulls were going to run the following morning.  I wanted to be a bit prepared, after all I didn’t come all this way to be gored by a bull, but there was no way I was going to miss it either.

Accommodation

Hostels and Airbnb are booked out months in advance so plan accordingly.  The rates are also much higher for the event so budget for that as well.  I was lucky to find an Airbnb for like $90 bucks a night.  I know expensive but so worth it.  You can also camp in the local parks or sleep in the bus station like my friends did.

The Route (El Encierro)

The route the bulls run is walled off so they can’t escape and it stretches just over 800 meters. The street is narrow, and paved in cobblestone. One thing nobody told me was that the Spanish wash the street prior to the race to clear it of any debris, so you’ll be running on wet cobblestone, good luck. The run ends in the arena where more fun is to be had.

pamplona-bull-run-map

The Runners

Runners are made up of nationals and foreigners. Once the run starts its every man for himself. I say man because very few females participate in the run. The Spanish also frown upon it and authorities might remove a female from the run, sorry ladies. Being to intoxicated and having any form of picture/video device to take selfies will get you excluded from the run as well. Fellow runners are also your other threat. They will push and trample you, anything to escape from being impaled.

Dead Man’s Corner

Dead man’s corner is a sharp right turn along the route. The most consistent advice I received was to stick to the right because the Bulls will take a wide right turn and smash anyone on the left side. I had originally placed myself at dead mans corner so to avoid it during the run. Bad idea, for the police will kick everyone out beyond this point. They try to manage the size of the crowd and will boot as many people as they deem fit. Best way to avoid this is to position yourself as close to the start of the run as possible.

The Run

I slept an hour before the run and was still drunk when I awoke. I had lost my friends the night before but we found each other prior to the run. It was 5am and the sun was creeping up over the horizon.  Note to future runners you don’t have to be up by 5 am for the run isn’t till 8 am.  I just wanted to ensure that I had a spot.  You should be fine if you get there right before 7 am.  I mentioned that I got removed from the race because I was positioned near dead man’s corner.  I pleaded with the officer to let me stay in but she said to me, “Regresa el proximo ano” (come back next year).  I noticed several of other runners hop the fence and work their way around the police to find another entrance.  I rallied the troops and we followed these renegades.

The Bulls
Bullpen

It was a mad dash towards the beginning of the race, the one place we did not want to be. We found an opening between the fence and once again we were participants in the race.  Two Canadians, an Australian and an American waited nervously for the first rocket to go off.  The first rocket signaled the release of the bulls while the second rocket signaled that the bulls had reached the crowd. A minute before the race the crowd intensifies and an eerie chant echoes through the street.  I later found out that this was a prayer to the famous saint.  It was eerie enough to frighten the foreigners as they began to take off.

Less than 100 meters from the start I stood alone as my friends said, “fuck this shit mate, I’m out”.  I was determined to see the bulls before I started running.

BOOM! The first rocket goes off.  I thought to myself, “Ok I have some time still, bulls aren’t that fast, right?”

BOOM! Second rocket goes off seconds later. “OH SHIT!”

I see the horns and pack of bulls spreading the crowd of people like Moses did to the Red Sea.  I take off with no single thought in my head.  I can hear, “TORO! TORO!” coming from behind me along with the ever growing sound of hooves stomping on the cobblestone.  Moments later I feel the rush of the crowd push me towards the fence where a group of people had fallen giving up any chance to stand up.  Instead they huddled on the floor protecting their head.  I leaped over them as several massive blurs passed my peripheral.  Just like that the race was over, and I jogged the remainder of the way into the arena.

At the arena I found my friend and we celebrated our dash from death.  The crowd in the arena cheered the victorious runners.  The gates are shut and an announcer comes over the loud speaker announcing the release of a bull.

After The Run
Right after the bull run in the arena

Wait! What!

A single bull is released into the arena. We spend the next couple minutes avoiding the bull before deciding to hop the fence, but as my friend and I make our escape a Spanish officer pushes us back in.  A simple grin is all he gives us.  We spend another 15 minutes avoiding the bulls that are released into the arena before finding an unguarded side of the arena for us to hop the fence.  For the rest of the time we become spectators and watch the crazy Spanish agitate an already frustrated bull.  This goes on for a good while.

The best advice I can give you future runners is………..run, simply just run.  Good luck.

If you find yourself in Spain during the festival, make every effort to make your way to Pamplona, I promise you won’t regret it.  I highly encourage participating in the bull run as well because it is an unforgettable experience.  Regardless if you run or not, the Festival of San Fermin is a must do and you will have a great time.

Till next time friends.

 

 

Chasing the Sun/The Great Escape (I don’t fucking know anymore)

Life is filled with “Goodbyes”.  I know this because I’ve had to say it way too many times.  Goodbye to family, goodbye to friends, goodbye to relationships, and goodbye to brothers who have made their final ascension into Valhalla.

But not every goodbye is a sad one.  Sometimes a goodbye is a closure to one part of your life and the beginning of another.  A new adventure or a fresh start, as cheesy as that may sound.  I’m not a fan of saying goodbye to people, so instead I say “see ya later”.  Goodbye sounds so final, so concrete.

This time around its no different, and I still don’t plan on saying goodbye.  As I get ready to embark on another trip I simply tell people, “see ya later, have a cold one waiting for me for when I return”.  Oh yea, did I forget to mention I’m going backpacking again haha!

This time I journey to the beautiful land of Australia.  Why you may ask?  Well that’s a silly question, its fucking Australia!  Also I made a promise to visit some good mates of mine I met in Europe, and I’m not about to stop breaking my promises.

I’m not sure why I named this blog post “The Great Escape”.  I’m not escaping from anything; I simply want to explore the world. Chasing the sun seems like a better title since I’ll be consistently chasing the sun this time around or perhaps, “Damnnnnn Carlos, back at it again with the traveling” is a more suitable title, I’ll let you decide.  Well now that I think about it I might be escaping from one thing, conformity.  You know that thing everyone wants you to do, get a degree, get a career, work, work, work, work (in Rihanna voice), get married, make offspring, retire, die.  As I reach my big 30, that pressure to conform increases. I guess by societies standards I should have a career and be married by now.  Been there, done that.

I’m no revolutionary, people today are steering away from conformity and doing great things.  The idea of marriage is dying, as more people stray away from it.  More people are choosing not to have kids, and focusing on personal development.  There is nothing wrong with conformity or normalizing to some standards. Its some people’s goal to get married and raise a family, shit it was mine there for a while.  I myself will eventually chase this goal as well, but not in the near future. I would like to tell you to do the same while you are still young, but hey it’s your life, live it how you want.  Personal development does not mean doing it on your own, for the company of different people and different cultures is the best way to grow.

If I ever get blessed with grand kids, who by the way will be a bunch of shit heads because I’m a shit head, I want to sit on a hovering recliner (it’s the future, they will have these) with a long wooden pipe for show, because I don’t smoke, stroking my grey beard and say, “Gather around young padawans, let me tell you about the time your grand pappy pulled a Hemingway” or the time I stood on the side of a mountain and watched a memorable sunrise in a foreign country where its inhabitants wanted to kill me.  (I’m going to terrorize these kids HAHA!)

I do have one final thought on this somewhat off track topic. I do believe one of life’s goals is to find someone to share these moments with, the person you can stand still with, enjoy sincere silence, and take in the moment.  This isn’t a necessity, but a nice compliment to your badassery (yup just made up a word).  I can’t tell you how to achieve this, but I do believe it can be done through personal growth, which can only be achieved by stepping outside the bubble of conformity.  Plus, life is to fucking awesome to live it by yourself, go share it with someone and make some kick ass memories.

Like before, this idea to take off started small, with a plan to save up and travel in two years, which turn to a small two-week trip in less than a year, to now traveling for several months.  I mean why not right, I’m already going to be in that part of the world, so why not keeping going. I knew I would travel again even before I left Europe, so I began to stash money away as soon as I landed in the states. Surprisingly I came back under budget and stored it in the travel fund. The gears in my head were moving but I had no date and too many destinations to choose from. Planning big trips like these are often daunting and time consuming, but well worth it.

Once again certain aspects in my life have push me towards this idea a lot sooner than I had planned.  Drawbacks, successes and failures have all created an opportunity for me to leave again.  I made up my mind several months ago to go full throttle with the plan, setting up a budget, watching my expenses like a hawk and working like a slave. Going to need three times the cheddar this time around.

So what’s the new itinerary?  Well let me tell ya! This plan will sound really ambitious, but fuck it, YOLO right.

Phase 1

First stop, AUSTRALIA!  I will be backpacking the east coast of Australia for a month. Somewhere along that route I plan on accomplishing 3 goals; fight a kangaroo, fight a koala, and not die. Assuming I’m still alive after all this I’ll be licking my wounds in Cairns before my departure to SOUTH EAST ASIA!

Phase 2

This is where it gets tricky and I’ll need help. I’ve already talked to several of you and thank you for the valuable advice. If anyone has any tips or information on SEA feel free to drop me a line. I’ve already started my research and have a rough draft on the route I plan to take.  Also any info on the Philippines (Boracay & Cebu) would help. I’ll be out of SEA by June due to monsoon season and plan on heading west towards Ireland and Scotland. Not sure how I’m going to get there but I WILL GET THERE. I’ve been dreaming about Ireland and the Highlands since I’ve been back, failure here is not an option. Also any info on Capetown and Morroco would help as well.

Phase 3

Phase three of the plan gets real ballsy as I plan to make my way to South America.  Now the chances of me reaching this continent are slim but hey, YOLO (I promise YOLO is not part of my regular vocabulary, but it seems appropriate. Just about every curse word known to man is).  This will simply depend on money, and how much I have left. I have not done ANY research on this yet, so definitely need all the advice I can get. Getting here means I budgeted just right, or I pulled a Rambo (sold live Cobras for snake fight club in SEA).

I’m also sending an open invitation to anyone who wants to join me on this adventure.  I’ve realize that most people are afraid to travel alone, so that’s why I offer people to join me on any part of my trip.  Money is also a factor and even though I can’t fund your trip, I can offer money saving advice.  The purpose behind these stories and blog is to encourage people to travel. Everyone should see the world through their own eyes. Pictures, videos and blogs don’t do it justice.

I’m currently working on anchor points, and so far I only have a few.  Life keeps me pretty preoccupied and most of my planning is done during my commute hours. I’ll be in Oz for NYE, which hopefully will be pretty bad ass. I fly out to SEA on the 27 of Jan after Australia Day (can’t miss that). Where I land first in SEA is still up to question but I will be in Thailand for SONGKRAN!! (Apr 13-16). I’ll be out of SEA by June. I’ll be posting a final itinerary as the date approaches.

Oh fuck I just realized that I leave in 5 months! 5 freaking months! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I still got so much planning to do.

Funny thing is I’m already planning what to do when I return, (get my iron horse back and tour my own country) got to stay focus.

Of course everything is subject to change as life continues to throw me curve balls, it just depends if I decide to dodge it, catch it or hit it.  Whatever happens I will choose the route that will provide me with a good story so I can write about it.

Safe travels everyone and I appreciate any tips/advice you send my way.

The Rough Plan (Europe Itinerary 2015)

July 7, 2016    

A year ago today I hopped on a plane on my way to Europe for a 3 month trip.  Below in blue is a snapshot of the planning process.  It was a rough plan and many things changed during my trip, but take a look at it because you might find something useful.  The notes on the bottom were meant for a friend who took a similar trip.

Europe Trip 2015 August 3/4 – September/October

  1. Pick cheapest airport to depart from and cheapest country to arrive in.
  2. Plan route and see which city you will see last so that you can depart from.
  3. Choose must see cities and how long you will stay in each city.
  4. Find hostels in these cities.

The route, recommended days to spend and hostels

Pamplona 2                 Festival de San Fermin (Bulls Bitches)

Madrid 3                    

Lisbon  2                     

Lagos   2                      The Rising Cock

Seville 2                     

Cordoba 2                   

Granada 2                  

Barcelona 3  (18)        Kabul

Paris 3-4                      The Loft Boutique

London 3-4                  St. Christopher Village

Bruges   2                   

Amsterdam 2-3          Flying Pig Downtown

Berlin 3                       Wombat’s City

Prague 2-3                 

Budapest 3-4              Retox party hostel

Vienna 2  (43)

Munich                        September18-21  Ancher Point  Okterberfest baby!!!

Interlaken 2                 Balmers Herberge

Venice 2                     

Florence 2                  

Cinque Terre 2

Rome 3-4                   

Athens remainder       Pink House

  1. Have 88 days total including travel time.  Take away 10 days for travel and to regroup,  have about 78 days to see Europe. 
  1. Planned budget 10k fuck!  Time to work my ass off.  Target goal reached, but KEEP GOING!!

Spain-places to go according the sweet Spanish couple I met.

Seville

  1. Alcazar – royal palace
  2. Catedral (Seville Cathedral)
  3. Giralda Tower
  4. Parque de Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park) (Within this park is la Plaza de Espana)
  5. Jardines de Murillo (another park)
  6. University of Seville (not sure why they added this, might be historical)

Neighborhoods where you can find places to eat and drink.

  1. Plaza San Francisco
  2. Alameda de Hercules
  3. Triana
  4. Tablao el Arenal (restaurant with flamenco show)
  5. Barrio de Santa Cruz
  6. Casa Roman (restaurant)

Granada

  1. Alhambra (Palace)
  2. Centro y Alrededores (I think this is some kind of downtown area)

Cordoba

  1. Mezquita Catederal (Mosque of Cordoba)

Madrid

  1. Zona de La Latina (center of Madrid)
  2. Plaza De Mayor
  3. La Taberna de la Daniela (this is restaurant, good but pricy though)
  4. Mercado San Miguel (this is a market with all kinds of food)
  5. Taberna Macieras (this is restaurant, really good apparently
  6. Huertas (Spain is divided into districts, this is one of them)
  7. Museo del Prado (art museum)
  8. Chocolateria San Gines (chocolate restaurant.  They serve fresh churros with fresh chocolate, hope you like chocolate)
  9. Mercado de la Reina (restaurant)
  10. All these places are located near each other in the “zona centro”, in other words the center of Madrid.

Barcelona

  1. Barrio Gotico (neighborhood with plenty of things to see, eat, and drink.) (Laseu Cathedral is here along with gothic alleyways)
  2. Paseo de Gracia (plenty of places to shop here but this is a pricey district, but still cool to visit because of its architecture)
  3. Barrio de Gracia (this is a district/neighborhood plenty of places to drink and eat)
  4. Tibidabo (this is the tallest mountain in the area where you get an entire view of Barcelona, there is also a sick church at the top)
  5. Villa Olimpica (I believe this is a hotel but they noted it as a zone/area to take a stroll through, and there’s a park there. Looks very industrial when I looked it up)
  6. Universitat (this is a stop on the metro, apparently there are plenty of places to eat cheap here)

This is all the Spanish couple wrote down, hope it is helpful.  They completely changed my itinerary.  I went from spending a week in spain to spending at least two.  Now that I am leaving earlier, I plan on attending the festival of San Fermin (the bull run).  There is more info for Barcelona that a friend who was just there told me about, I just have to write it down.  She also spent time in Paris so I’ll pick her brain about that.  I’ve also getting more info for Italy and Germany from people who have been there and have lived there.  Let me know if you are interested in any of this information. 

Northface Gear

Shoe:  Ultra fastpack goretex

Below is the actual route that I took with minimal back tracking.  I will post more specific information about each place that I visited at a later time.  I will also include hostel reviews along with it.  Sorry about lacking on writing, but life happens.

The Final Route

Spain – Madrid, Toledo, Pamplona

Portugal – Lisbon, Lagos

Spain – Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona

France – Paris, Normandy

England – London

Italy – Naples, Amalfi Coast

Belgium – Brussels, Bruges

Germany – Cologne

Netherlands – Amsterdam

Germany – Berlin

Czech – Prague

Poland – Krakow

Hungary – Budapest

Turkey – Istanbul

Greece – Athens

Serbia – Belgrade

Bosnia – Mostar

Croatia – Zagreb

Austria – Vienna

Germany – Munich

Switzerland – Interlaken

Italy – Lake Como, Florence, Rome, Vatican

For the most part I stuck to my plan but additions were made thanks to my fellow backpackers.  I rushed through the Balkans and missed the Greek islands, but it gives me a reason to go back.  I suggest not having a concrete plan, but a rough plan instead, because circumstances will change.  Also its more fun being flexible.

I have plenty of info and stories from my travel journal that I still need to transfer over.  Hopefully this is helpful for now for those looking to travel Europe.  If you have any questions feel free to ask, till next time friends.

 

Tips on Backpacking (Europe)

I had no idea what to bring on a backpacking trip through Europe so I took to the inter web in need of advice. There are plenty of sources out there such as the lonely planet, Vaga brothers, and several travel bloggers willing to give you some advice. One of my favorite sites is the Savvy Backpacker. You can find everything you want to know on their site and they break things down more elegantly than I do.  

The advice I plan on giving is based on my sole experience as a male solo traveler. Ladies I’ll shoot you a source at the end of this.

Luggage

Travel light, as light as possible. You want to be quick on your feet and be able to pick up your bag and go. There will be multiple times that you will be running late due to not understanding the native tongue, or because you drank to much the night before. I was fortunate to only miss my bus once in Amsterdam due to a late night of partying. With this being said purchase a bag that is no bigger than 50L. This is the largest bag you are allowed without having to check it in at the airport. I purchased a Northface Terra 50 top loading bag, because I got a great discount on it thanks to a family member. There are superior brands out there such as Osprey, but you’ll be paying a shit load of money for it. Don’t be cheap with the bag you choose either, for this thing will carry your life for the next couple of months.  

Top loading vs suitcase style backpack

The Northface Terra 50L held up really good for what I needed. Looks good and has sufficient amount of pockets to put things in. Top loading backpacks are not ideal for packing due to the lack of accessibility. However if you pack accordingly it reliefs the stress of finding things. Here’s what I did: I separated things into categories (shirts, socks, underwear)and stored them in ziplock bags to keep them together. This made things really easy to find. Another handy tip is to pack according to outfits. Keep the most current outfit on top and once it has served its use store it at the bottom through the bottom zipper access on the bag. Doing this will push the next outfit up. I personally brought a laundry bag to separate my dirty clothes from my clean ones.  

The Terra is technically a hiking backpack and has several straps that can at times get in the way. Easy fix though, just store them away. There are backpacks in the market that offer a suitcase style, meaning they fully open making things easily accessible. I have no experience with these types of bags, but I like the concept behind them. Whatever you do though, don’t actually bring a suitcase with wheels and a lil handle like my friend Dan did. Cobblestone streets will not be kind to you, and neither will the locals who you are constantly hitting with your bag. Dan’s suitcase lasted less than a month, and he purchased a bag similar to mine afterwards. Sorry Dan.

What to pack?

While we are on the topic of bags and packing another important question is what to pack? Like I said I’m a guy so I can’t help you ladies in this subject, but I will give you some guidance at the end.

Ok bros remember you are a man or better yet a “dudeman”, trademark pending, so you can survive on very minimal items. The lack of womanly products will save you tons of space. I recommend bringing at least a week worth of underwear and socks. You will need to change these daily with the exception of socks if you buy the right pair of socks. Wool socks with wicking material work great and will keep you comfortable, dry and don’t smell horrible after one use.

Buy a comfortable pair of shoes and wear them in prior to your travels. I wouldn’t go cheap on this either. You won’t need some extreme hiking boots, because you won’t be roughing it in the woods. Instead you will be navigating through several cities with small corridors and amazing architecture. The miles you put in will depend on you. On average I would put in 8 to 10 miles daily, mainly cause I almost never took public transportation. Once again I bought Northface brand simply cause I got a discount, but brands like Merrills or Solomans are great as well. I suggest buying a black pair of shoes because they go well with every outfit. One pair of shoes is all you will need. Dress codes to bars or clubs in Europe are pretty much non existent.

My shoes were gortex which are not necessary during summer but it did save me on some rainy days and when my trip extended into September. Also you might be an idiot and stumble into a fountain in the center of a city square. No I was not drunk.

I forgot to mention that I’m basing this packing list on a summer trip but still pack a light sweater/jacket in case you go to areas where it might be a bit chilly (London).

3 t-shirts and 2 button ups is all you will need. Two pair of slacks and maybe one pair of jeans. Honestly I wouldn’t bring jeans during the summer. Europe is fucking hot and your balls will thank me. I say at least two shorts and two slacks. I highly recommend Bluffworks for the pants. They are pricey but worth it. About 90 bucks for a pair. They are light, breathe well, wrinkle free and look good. I took a khaki pair with me which matched with every outfit, casual or dressy.

Flying vs train vs bus

By far the most economical form of travel is by bus. It is ridiculously cheap, convenient and there are busses leaving constantly. The busses in Spain and Portugal were not that great but as I headed more east the buses became more luxurious. I’m talking wifi and small screen TVs. Flix and Student Agency are some of the best buses I have ever been on. Use their apps to find tickets. There many others by now and I’m sure prices are just as competitive.

I didn’t purchase a rail pass but I hear it’s quite convenient. Purchasing a train ticket last minute is quite expensive, to the point where flying becomes more economical.

I did quite a bit of flying. I think I took 8 flights during my time in Europe. Flights within Europe are cheap. Airlines like Rynair, Vueling, and Easyjet are some of the cheap airlines you will encounter. The best way to utilize these airlines is through the app Skyscanner. It searches all the cheap airlines throughout Europe and connects you directly to the airline to make a purchase. These airlines make their money through seat preference and luggage check ins. This highlights the importance of having a bag no bigger than 50L and who cares where you sit. Also check in online and print your boarding pass because some airlines will charge you to print a boarding pass.

Navigation

Take the time to learn the basics of a foreign language, the locals will appreciate your attempt.  

“Sprechen English? Danke”

Hostels will offer you maps of the city and are great guides. When booking a hostel, they will usually provide you with great directions on how to get there as well.

We are quite reliant on technology but honestly you won’t need it although it is a great tool to have. I learned about an app called Citymaps that works with no satellite or wifi service. This boggled my mind and I was sure some type of sorcery was involved (not a word Liz). The app works by downloading maps of the area you are in. These maps of course have to be downloaded when you are connected to wifi. Usually you also have to establish your location through wifi when arriving in a new area. Afterwards the map will pinpoint and track your location. This is a very handy app and very few travelers knew about it. It also marks tourist locations and you can mark your hostel so you can find your way back.

These are the basics. I could go further in depth but then you probably be bored of reading. Also do your own research you lazy fucks. But seriously do your homework, because not only will you be well informed but you’ll get pumped about your trip. Ladies I know I promised you a better source so here it is.

Shegoesglobal.net

This blog is written by a girl name Heather who I met in Rome. A fellow Bay Area girl and inspiring writer. She’s traveling on her own for a year and has written some awesome pieces so far. I believe this will be a great source for you.

Final Thoughts

Act accordingly and be humble that you are seeing the world. Give up your seat on the metro, help an elder lift something heavy, open and hold doors, and if you see a woman trying to figure out how to bring her kid on a stroller down some steps, take action and assist her. She will give you the biggest smile and be grateful that a foreigner helped her when her own simply passed her by. Others will notice and their perception of the country you represent will change.  

Feel free to ask any questions. Till next time friends and safe travels.