A reflection 2 weeks later

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say to really wrap up my trip. I posted on facebook asking for questions so as I wait for some, meaning hope I get some, I’m going to take some pictures of things that I’ve taped into my journal and just talk about what they are/stories about them.

First off. About my journal! So my journal is this leatherbound dark blue/green hand made journal that I got for christmas last year from my cousins. I orignally used it for some planning, meaning there are SO many lists in here, things like places and hostels that looked cool, packing lists, prices of rail passes. I never actually wrote about the trip in it. But I did have tape with me and put so much random stuff in here. So this is some of it!

These are a variety of tickets! This page specifically has a Paris Metro ticket, My Ticket to Versaille, My ticket to the Louve, and my London pass which let me get into things like the Tower of London and Hampton Court along with a few other places!

I really loved going to the Louvre and seeing all the sculptures. The paintings were cool but not as interesting to me, it was really cool seeing the vermeer that they have there! Unfortunately… I accidentally deleted all my pictures from the Louve. So that was really unfortunate. I believe there is a picture of me and the Venus di milo on my instagram… here. That is (VERY SADLY) my only picture from the Louvre. I heard a lot of people who didn’t like it or thought it was so big. I just think you just had to figure out what you actually wanted to see.

Versaille was a little er… disappointing for me. I did enjoy it. But I found that the outside was so gorgeous that the inside could’ve been so cool but it just felt like it was a ton of not too cool paintings shoved into rooms. I wanted to hear the history and see more of that. On top of that we had 4 hours (I think) to go look around and about an hour of that was spent waiting in line to get in and we had our tickets already. That frustrated me quite a bit. We didn’t make it to the gardens because we only had about 10 minutes until our bus left.

Overall that day that we went to Versaille was great. We saw the Eiffel tower, Got an amazing burger from a little stand, oh and saw a ton of pickpockets get arrested which was really cool to watch. A bunch of cops ran after them and the whole time I was picturing some of them being regulars and being like “Oh joe. Again? C’mon dude. Lets go”

As for London, I basically loved everything I saw and did in london so I don’t have many specifics to say about that…

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These are tickets to St. Pauls Cathedral which I’ve already talked about how much I loved that. It was so amazing to go to. I cried. It was beauiful. Go if you find yourself in London. Worth it. A ticket to Parque E Palacio Da Pena in Sintra, Portugal. And to Westminster Abbey. Also the map of The Tower of London.

Pena was incredible. My phone was dead and I forgot my camera so I couldn’t take pictures but It was this really cool palace on a mountain. It’s colorful and all tiled and was just super cool. If you’re in Lisbon for even just a day you should go! It’s about 20 minutes outside of Lisbon.

Wesminster was cool but seemed like they just kept shoving things into the Abbey but seeing Poet’s Corner was super cool!

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These were mostly all transit cards. Green is Lisbon, White is Venice, White and green is Barcelona, and blue is London. The little white one is Paris again. The blue pamphlet is El Duomo in Florence and The tan is Sagrada Famillia in Barcelona.

I’ll talk about the transit in a few minutes because someone did message me about that!

El Duomo. I went there on the last day that I was in Florence and while the day overall was kinda shitty, That church is amazing. It’s really old and really cool looking! I climbed up all the stairs and looked out over Florence. When I was there I actually got my only injury, besides the countless mystery bruises, I hit my shoulder on a big cast iron hook… and bruised the bone in my shoulder. It hurt for 2 weeks and now just feels weird with some serious lack of range of motion right now. For an overall bad day seeing that church was definately a high point!

Sagrada Familia… I kinda have no words. It was so incredible to see in person. The church wont be finished for at least 10 more years but seeing it in its unfinished state just makes me more excited to see it in 30 years which is my prediction for when it will be finished. If there’s a pool on when it’ll be done I want in on it!

Also in my journal are tickets for trains and boats, a few other maps, pamphlets, postcards, and more tickets.

ON TO THE QUESTIONS!

  1.  Was it worth going on the trip (Not just cost wise but time wise too)
    • YES! 100% yes. I did feel like I missed some stuff and some people from back home but mainly I’m so glad that I went. I did for sure catch the “Travel bug” But the best thing was that I got to see and learn about places that I don’t know that I would’ve ever seen otherwise. Also I learned about myself. I learned a lot about growing up and how to take care of myself and that alone made it so worth it. That’s not even mentioning the friends that I’ve made that I hope are going to be a part of my life forever, even if they do live far away.
  2. What did I learn?
    • I learned that it’s okay to be on my own. That no matter where you are there are always people around. I met some people just asking what time it was and others just because I heard english being spoken. I learned that things that don’t go according to plan often lead to the best experiances. I learned to loosen up a little. Most of what I learned I can’t really describe.
  3. What was your favorite part?
    • Croatia and Budapest were incredible. Barcelona the first time was also just amazing! I don’t think I have one favorite memory but the Baths in Budapest and the beaches in Croatia were both really high up there. Also the Ferry from italy to Croatia was so much fun! Really picking a favorite part is impossible because it all was so great. I wouldn’t change anything!
  4. What was your favorite place?
    • In no particular order
      • Dubrovnik, Croatia
      • Hvar, Croatia
      • Budapest, Hungary
      • Middle of nowhere, Hungary (JOKES it wasn’t fun)
      • Barcelona, Spain
      • Madrid, Spain
      • Sintra/Lisbon, Portugal
      • London
      • Florence, Italy
      • Venice, Italy
    • One thing about the Cinque Terre, it was great however I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it way more with a friend or something.
    • One thing about Paris, Both Suzanne and I were sick in Paris so that kinda ruined that… also there were concerts going all night while we were sick that kinda dampened that…
  5. Most Beautiful Place
    • Again in no particular order
      • Dubrovnik, Croatia
      • the islands just around Hvar, Croatia
      • Cinque Terre, Italy
      • Sintra/Lisbon, Portugal
  6. Favorite thing I did
    • I can’t do it! I can’t! I don’t have a favorite thing. I loved just spending time on the water in Croatia and Italy. I loved going to churches. But what I did a lot of my free time was just walk around the cities. Sometimes I got lost but it was amazing to see the places that weren’t neccessarily in the touristy areas.
  7. How was the transportation?
    • Getting between cities was pretty easy. I mostly took trains. I took 3 flights (Madrid-Lisbon, Lisbon-Madrid, and Budapest-Rome) within Europe. The trains varied a lot in comfort and age by country and by type. The highspeed trains were generally pretty nice and they go between the big cities and between countries. The local trains or the ones that go shorter distances tended to be a little more run down and less comfortable. The worst was the one that took me from Zagreb, Croatia, to Budapest. That one broke down twice which led to me and my friends being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no food for about an hour and a half. By the time we got to Budapest we were starving but it worked out! We got there! The other way that I travelled was by boat which I did 3 times as well. Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia which was a 10 hour overnight ferry and was a TON of fun! We all hung out and played cards. Had some drinks. And piled 8 people into my tiny 4 bed cabin. It was a blast. The next was SUPPOSED to be from Dubrovnik to Split… But we got off at the wrong stop and ended up in Hvar… which is an islanded. The next evening we took another ferry (the worst) from Hvar to Split which I felt super sea sick on and it wasn’t fun.
    • Within cities there are 4 options.
      • Metros, not everywhere has them. But when they do they’re amazing and quick and once you’ve figured them out once they’re basically all exactly the same.
      • Busses, I hate them. Sometimes they work sometimes they take forever. I did take them if Metros weren’t available or didn’t go where I wanted but mostly I just went with Metros.
      • Taxis, I only took these when I was going back to the hostel from a night out or going to and from airports/trainstations. Occasionally if I got really lost I took one but that might’ve only happened once and it was in Croatia so it was super cheap.
      • And last. Walking. I did this alot because I never realized how far places were from eachother… also I like walking and the cities I went to generally were really good for this. For the record the most I walked in one day was 10miles and that was in Barcelona! Go me!
  8. How was communication?
    1. It wasn’t too bad. Sometimes doing things like getting train tickets was hard but generally if they didn’t speak english I could point or use google translate. I did learn how to say thank you in every language EXCEPT Hungarian.
      • English – Thanks (Obviously)
      • French – Merci (Already knew this too)
      • Spanish – Gracias
        • Sorta funny story about this one. I knew how to say it because of Mexican resturants but when I was in Madrid I picked up their accent so now I say Gra-th-ias. The guy that worked in the conveniance store next to my hostel in Barcelona (who hated me to begin with) looked at me so weird because the first time I was there I said it how I always have. 2 weeks later I’m saying it differently.
      • Portugese – Obrigado or Obrigada
        • I think it has to do with gender but I never figured it out… oops…
      • Italian – Grazie
      • Croatian- Havala or Fala
        • For a while I thought it was K-vala. Like Koala but with a v… I was wrong. Its Fah-la.
  9. Cultural Differences?
    • The things I did notice were things like Italians and Hungarian drivers are crazy, being able to buy ONE bottle of water and just sit in a cafe for as long as you want is cool. Drinking wasn’t as big of a deal for people because they can do it quite a bit younger. Some stores close in the middle of the day for the siesta which freaked me out. Dinner is later and bars never seem to close. People somehow always seemed to know I spoke english even if I wasn’t talking. But after a while everything felt so normal that I barely noticed. Oh but I always noticed the speedos and tiny shorts that guys wore. I never got used to that.
  10. How were the hostels?
    • Surprisingly good! Some were better but all felt pretty safe and secure. Most were clean. The people were all nice! I prefered ones with AC, Wifi, and an elevator. but most weren’t that nice.
  11. Scary things?
    • Being out at night in Rome was freaky. I was staying right near Termini station which is known for being a bit sketch. Same in Portugal. Besides that I always felt really safe. There was one instance that wasn’t scary but there was an old guy in portugal who heard me say excuse me or something and he asked where I was from. I said america. We had a little conversation and I turned to leave. This is the day that I was flying back to Madrid, and I was all “I have to go…” He proceeded to try and get me to go to the beach with him. I politely said no and started walking away. He then yelled at me “Oh. You don’t like sex?!” And at that point I ran. Took a few random turnes and kept looking back to make sure he didn’t follow. He didn’t and now it’s a kinda funny story.
  12. Worst and best moments?
    • The worst was when I missed a train that was taking me to a boat. That sucked. I cried and called my parents waking them up at 3am their time. The best. Everything. It was amazing.
  13. Worst moments that turned out for the better
    • See previous question! Because I missed that train and boat I ended up on the next one and ended up meeting 4 guys from England who invited me to Budapest and I ended up getting really close with them. If I hadn’t missed that boat we never would’ve met and I can’t even picture that! That was one of the best segments of my trip was that week and a half with them!!!
  14. What to expect if you take a trip out of the country?
    • I think you should expect to not know anything that’s going on and take it day by day. Planning ahead is good in some cases but always make sure you remember that you can change those plans. I think the best euro I ever spent was when I’d reserve a hostel I paid that extra euro so if those plans changed I got my deposit back (minus the dollar) and now I have amount of hostel reservervation credit so next time I don’t have to pay that first 16% or whatever out of pocket.
  15. How did I change?
    • I don’t know. I feel more independant and more confident but I think that because I was there I can’t really see how I changed so I guess I don’t know.
  16. Which Culture surprised me the most?
    • Probably Croatia because I didn’t know much to begin with so I didn’t have any preconceived notions. Croatians were so nice and open.
  17. What do I miss the most?
    1. The people
    2. The freedom
    3. The endless NEW things to see and experiance
    4. Going out at night. I said it. I miss it.
    5. Just all of Europe in general. I miss the vibe.
  18. Most importantly: Favorite Foods
    • Patatas bravas from Tapas Victor which is a tiny hole in the wall across from Sant Jordi Rock Palace
    • Pizza. specifically this one IMG_4881
    • Pasta. Just all the pasta.
    • Kababs were good. WHY IS THIS NOT A THING HERE?! Is it? Am I nuts and I didn’t know it was? So good.

Thats it on here for now I guess. If you read all of that go you!

I’ll be posting pictures soon I hope. And I need to figure out what to do with this now that I’m home. If I go anywhere I’ll post and I’m planning on having a tourist day here soon so I’ll post about that when it happens. But what else? As I’m planning trips I can keep updated on that. But if you have any other questions let me know and I can do another post or something!  Again thank you for your support while I was gone and I hope to see you soon if I haven’t wether you’re here or there.

Maddy

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I guess this means it’s nearly done.

In the last 61 days I’ve been to 8 different countries. I’ve seen museums and churches. I’ve danced in clubs on the beach. I’ve gotten off of ferries on the wrong stop. Swam in the Mediterranean. Through all of that I think my favorite memories that I’ve made are of the people that I’ve spent time with. I’ve met so many people and a lot of them are people that I know I’m going to keep in touch with for the rest of my life.

I leave tomorrow morning to head back home. I have a 15 hour flight from Rome to Chicago and then from Chicago to Seattle. I’ll be home 10:30pm Seattle time.

I’m not sure what to think about heading home. Don’t get me wrong I miss my family, my friends, and real life. Yet at the same time I’ve been having such a good time here and there are so many things, so many people, that I’m going to miss.

After 2 months of being on my own being a real adult it feels weird getting ready to head back to a more… regular life.

There have been things that I meant to do but didn’t. Places I wanted to go but didn’t. But at the same time I did things I never imagined, went places I didn’t expect. I really want to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s supported me in any way.

I’ve heard so many people say that they couldn’t possibly do what I did. And to be blunt, that’s crap. Admittedly I didn’t think I could do it. You can ask Taylor how many times I freaked out and said that exact thing. But within a week I’d figured it out. I’m not claiming to know everything about this trip and I’ve certainly screwed up quite a few times. But everything that I did I learned from. I believe that anyone who wants to can travel and even if it’s as simple as going to a place you’ve always wanted to go you should do it and tell me all about it!

I don’t know what I’ve really learned from this trip other than how to take care of myself and deal with those mistakes that I did make. But I do know that I feel more like an adult.

I left home for this trip before I really got a chance to really think about what I’m going to do in the next year or so. I guess when I get home I really do have to think about it. I do know that as soon as I can I want to come back and see the people I’ve met, do the things I didn’t do.

I never expected that after two months I’d want to stay so much. Before I left I was so scared about the little things. I was convinced that by now I’d be so ready to come home and now I’m actually leaving. It’s like I’ve been gone forever but at the same time I just got here.

I’ll be posting some pictures soon and maybe I’ll post again soon. I’ll try and keep posting on here!

Hopefully I’ll be headed on another trip soon!

To everyone back home I’m excited to see you!

To everyone I’ve met here, I’m going to miss you guys and thank you for making this trip amazing. I hope to see you soon and if you’re ever in Seattle (Or on the western half of America) please let me know!

To everyone thank you for supporting me in this whole thing. It’s been the trip of a lifetime although hopefully it’s really just the beginning.

Maddy

5 days in Croatia and a change in my itenerary!

So getting to Croatia ended up being a bit of a pain but there were some silver linings. I was supposed to get on a boat from Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia on Tuesday July 28th. That didn’t end up happening. Long story short there was a missed train, a very early phone call to my moms, a bit of crying in the Venice train station, and it ended up that I was scheduled to take the next boat from Bari which left two days later. My amazing mom booked me a hotel because I wasn’t feeling great and needed to relax a bit before heading on. I spent a day in bed relaxing, went to a movie which I didn’t understand and ended up waking up early to try and head to the ferry terminal. After getting lost near the luggage terminal and finding out I had over 6 hours before I could even pick up my tickets I set off to find food. I explored the old town, by explored I do mean got lost, got some food and headed back.

When I got to the boat terminal again I still had 2 hours before I could do anything so I sat outside and started talking to the four guys that were on the next bench. They were headed to Croatia as well and it ended up that I hung out with them all night

Eventually we all did get on the boat and set sail for Croatia. The boat was overnight and we stayed up pretty late eventually ending up in the cabin that I’d got because no one else was in there. We somehow fit 8 people in my tiny cube of a cabin that was  meant for 4 people. We got to Croatia at 8 am and all piled off the boat and headed to get food and try and see if the guys could get rooms in my hostel. They did and we left our stuff at our hostel.

Just for the record if you’re in Dubrovnik stay at the Dubrovnik Backpackers Club. It’s family run. Everyone is so hospitable and They make you breakfast every morning that’s incredible! Website is here

We basically spent  2 full days on the water getting slightly burned but also having a ton of fun. On our second day we attempted and failed to get a boat but ended up just swimming again. Our third day it was time to head to Split so we caught a ferry (Barely) And headed off. Got off the boat no problem start walking around trying to find our hostel… and we were on an island… we’d gotten off early and that was the last boat. It was 9pm and we were stuck in Hvar. Not a bad place to be stuck. We did find somewhere to stay and the next day we finally got out boat!!! We headed to Split that evening and a train the next day and here I am in Zagreb.

The change in my itinerary is that I’m now going to Budapest. Not entirely sure how it happened but the guys invited me to tag along so I am. So tomorrow I’m off to Hungary!

Maddy