Revisiting an old post : “Remaining Payments”

backpackandboyfriend:

With my trip only 69 days away, I’m trying to make sure I’ve paid everything off! These are a few excursions I am missing.

  • Tour to the Cliffs of Moher
  • Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets
  • Pompeii + Napoli Excavation
  • London Eye
  • Heineken Factory
  • Disneyland Paris 
  • Stoke Travel to Pamplona
  • Camp Nou
  • Guided Tour of the Vatican City Necropolis + Gardens
  • Tickets to Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel

Purchasing everything ahead of time was such a good move! Saved me from many headaches.

Revisiting an old post

backpackandboyfriend:

For me to say that I’m excited for this trip is the world’s biggest UNDERSTATEMENT.

20 something days to go.

So happy to say that this trip exceeded my expectations and more. Absolutely thrilled I took a chance and followed my dreams.

Revisiting an old post : “Minimalist Packer Problems”

backpackandboyfriend:

Packing less than 17lbs of clothes…for TWO MONTHS…is IMPOSSIBLE.

Too bad that I actually packed too much! Wish I could go back in time and say, less is more!

Revisiting an old post

backpackandboyfriend:

All the people on my tours this summer are white, Australian or both.
Where are my Hispanics at?

I FOUND HER IN DUBLIN.

LADAWN.

June 19, 2014 - Day 14

Early departure to Stratford Upon Avon, home of Shakespeare.

BORING. I don’t know why EF bothered to bring us here. We could have whizzed on to London, but no, we stopped here. I guess I’m biased because my day here kind of sucked. 

My first impression of Stratford was sad. It was like a less impressive version of a Disney set. It’s a total tourist trap, with minimal value and overpriced souvenirs. Whatever.

So we go to Shakespeare’s house, which is claustrophobic. Something tells me this isn’t the original structure. They have way too many people cramped in here, many more than a house over 400 years old should have. The commentary is sparse and it just kind of sucks. Afterwards, we are shepherded into a courtyard, where I get a massive nose bleed. I give up on the historical and find a place selling EMPANADAS. Heaven, or so I thought. They wont accept my pounds because they’re an older edition. 

I go to the post office to exchange and it’s another nightmare. They make me wait for 15 minutes, and start questioning me over the whereabouts of the damn note. “It looks fake, so we can’t accept it”, they tell me. Fails fails fails. I’m just ready to get the fuck out of Stratford.

We make it to London before nightfall. Our hotel, the Mercure, is amazing. Compared to the campsite in Rome and the hostels in Dublin & Liverpool, this is genuine luxury. I’m rooming with Blake, who is pretty easygoing. Filippos organized another meal to cater to the stupid American stereotype (at a diner of some sorts), so I set off with a few people in search of Indian. We didn’t find any, but we did find Thai food. Close enough (but not really).

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel. Upon getting on the tube, we hear a huge commotion. Some guy fell under a (non-moving) train. Oh Lord. He was really drunk, and barely notices the good Samaritans who put him on the train. Naturally, he’s in our compartment. We all try not to die of laughter as he slowly falls towards a girl in our group. It was too much for us! Great first time in London!

June 18, 2014 - Day 13

An early start with the EFCB group as we made our way to the port. Here we would be grabbing a ferry to Holyhead, Wales. As we were leaving (and waking up a few irresponsibles), someone mentions that one of the Jersey Girls never made it back home. And guess which? The one we had to pull off of a guy that night at Whelans.

"Maybe she fell asleep on a stoop" says our wonderfully optimistic tour guide. No, she fell asleep on something, but not a door step. So we wait and wait and wait. I give up and go wait outside. Too many people in this tiny hostel. Right outside the door, a few girls are either grossed out or cracking up. We find a seagull eating a crow. Andrew mentions that the club next door caught a seagull at about 3am, trapping it. His night was spent listening to seagull shrieks.

We are so ready to leave this place. Dublin is gorgeous, but not my cup of tea. It was boring to be honest. This mornings scavenger hunt for the missing girl is the most fun I’ve had. We’re bonding over her misfortune, and the amount of gossip coming out at 7am is astounding. Anywho, Filippos receives clearance to leave Little Ms. Door Step behind and we make off for the ferry.

It looked like a damn cruise ship. Restaurants, a movie theatre and an outside deck = amazing. What do my friends and I do? Gossip and lay down on the floor. It’s amazing what happens when people from Miami find each other overseas. Reminiscing, flashbacks and random information entertains our gringa friends for a while. 

We disembark 4 hours laters, jointly deciding that we preferred ferry travel to bus travel. No sickness, more space and overall more exciting. Take note, EFCB! Now we’re in Wales, on our way to a castle. Donna is already planning her 1 million pictures, telling us “we’ll appreciate them after the trip” (we did!). 

Our bus driver, Ali, is Scottish and hilarious. We barely understood him, and when we did, he was either cursing or being inappropriate. Loved loved loved that guy. He drops us off at Beaumaris Castle, a massive structure next to my new favorite restaurant in the world (more on that in a bit). As we enter the castle, we’re all warned to steer clear of the swans. Being from Miami, I have never seen a swan. Apparently they’re mean, and one starts following us as we walk. Queue freakout. 

We run into Beaumaris like 12 year olds on a field trip. The castle is massive! I wasn’t to fussed to be visiting when I saw it on the itinerary, but being there changed everything. The pictures we took were breathtaking. We climbed to the top of the castle, and behind us was a gorgeous lake and these amazing mountains. We took pictures, dodging the most aggressive birds ever. In Miami we have crows. In Europe, the birds are eagle sized. There are even signs at Beaumaris saying to watch out for the birds, or you’ll be knocked off the ramparts.

Our last picture as a group was one where we stood on a huge rock (former floor) and posed a la Kardashian meets Game of Thrones. It was so fab! Afterwards we made for some food at the Spinning Wheel (something like that) next to Beaumaris. It was a tea house with ridiculously yummy food. I had a salad that was mostly bacon, with house made croutons. I’m not a foodie, but this meal had me ecstatic. Afterwards, we boarded the bus for Liverpool, home of the Beatles. 

After traveling through 3 countries in a single day, we needed some down time. Filippos arranged a night at a burger restaurant (awful service, took the staff 3 hours to make 30 burgers). We then took a much needed break from the group and set off looking for some nightlife. Andy, Donna, London, Anna and I got some great advice from the hostel concierge to avoids CHAVS. He gave us some complicated directions, which we quickly forgot, and set us off.

We found SOHO, a club that I actually liked. Our 4 girls: 1 guy ratio ensured that we didn’t pay cover, and drinks inside were 2 for 1. Unfortunately, the club was mad empty. Not that I could even socialize with guys, but there was a definite lack of dudes. We did find chavs though. These chicks looked straight out of a trailer park, and were alternately beating on some guy and then hugging and laughing with him. It was time for us to go.

We then went into the 80’s club, where anywhere else in the world we would have had a good time. But not in Liverpool. It was empty, tacky and had a fog machine. Kill us now. Had I known how the night was going to end, I would have just skipped the dinner and gone to the pier area. Sounds much better.

We went back shortly after entering the 80’s club. Liverpool, honestly a gorgeous place, was like a quiet Dublin, or a mini-London. We had so much fun exploring.

June 17, 2014 - Day 12

Using the company, Paddywagon Tours, we rode early to the Cliffs of Moher. The company was great, with huge green buses and leprechauns everywhere. Our bus driver was a trip as well, cracking jokes, singing, and making fun of everyone on our bus. Kate was with us, and it was a nice relaxing day.

We saw most of the Irish countryside, enjoying landscapes I’d never seen before. We stopped in a few small villages before going to the Baby Cliffs, a smaller, rock version of the Cliffs of Moher. The water off the cliffs was a gorgeous royal blue. It was one of the prettiest sights on tour. We almost got left by the bus though, since Andrew decided to walk as far away as he could. 

Then off to the Cliffs of Moher. They were miles long, and absolutely breathtaking. The drops were terrifyingly high. We took pictures, visited the museum and I successfully harassed a cow.

Back to Dublin after that, for some clothes washing and packing. We board a ferry in the morning for London!

June 16, 2014 - Day 11

Filippos took us on a walk through Dublin today. I still wasn’t able to orient myself. It’s especially frustrating because in Rome I was able to get around, but here I’m so lost.

We went to Dublin Castle/Palace (a waste of my time, honestly), and then to the Chester Beatty Library (another waste). After we ditched Filippos, Andy, Kate, Sam, 2 guys from the hostel and I went off idk where. My plan was to go to the Leinster House, but Andrew vetoed it. Instead we lost the group and went off in search of a meal. 

Leave it to Andrew to have me walk all over a city to find rice, beans and meat. But he did it. We went to the shadier parts of Dublin and found a Moldovan grocery with everything we needed.

When everyone came back from the Cliffs of Moher, we set off on a bar crawl. Big mistake. We are not bar crawl people. This is definitely not a Miami thing. We were barely drinking (not big drinkers) and people actually asked if we were broke. Mortifying. Then some old Irish guy called me a whore. I lost it. I actually cried in front of Filippos and Deena. I wanted to dig a hole and die. We ended the crawl early, needless to say.

June 15, 2014 - Day 10

We both woke at 4:30am thinking that we had missed the flight. The reality was that the sun sets at about 10pm and rises only a few hours later. I fell back asleep for about an hour, packed everything up, and got ready to go.

Suddenly, I got so viciously sick to my stomach that I couldn’t stand. I was all nausea, cold sweats and aches. It was the food from the pub that did me in. After a week of eating fruits, veggies and sandwiches, the worlds greasiest fish and chips plate did me in. Once I felt a bit better, I weighed myself and saw that I had lost about 8lbs in only a week. Not going to lie, I was beyond happy.

We ran to our terminal, as we were a bit late, and got pulled aside at security. Worried I would miss my flight, I started to feel sick again. But no worries, we were (I think) put in an expedited line for flights that were leaving soon. After security, we walked through what seemed like a mall in the duty-free area, with H&M’s and a bunch of other fab stores. Better than anything we have at home. As we were waiting to board, I reviewed my receipt from the Hilton, and saw that we were overcharged about 7 times what I actually owed. What a nightmare.

Later

Touching down in Dublin was an exciting new part to our trip. We were finally joining our EFCB group. The first girls we ran into were Cata & Elyse, who we would later start calling the Doctors. We were 3 hours early, so our tour guide Filippos had us wander about and make friends. I just sat in a corner and tried not to vomit. 

Once we finally got on the bus and started to make friends, Filippos realized that we were missing a girl. How that happened, I have no clue. She was with us the whole walk, and then she wasn’t. It was hilarious watching our tall, lanky and already stressed out tour guide trying to locate this chick. We finally did and made off to our hostel.

The Camden Times or w.e it was called was actually great. It was centrally located, so we could make our way with ease. Filippos showed us how to navigate, and let us explore before dinner. I really didn’t soak anything in this day, and I was still disoriented from all the new places. Four countries in three days? Kind of a mess. 

That night we went to a mixer with all the girls (and Jake and Andy). There we divided off into a few different groups. Ours included Donna, Jordan, Anna and London. We went around to a few bars. We were ripped off at one, kicked out of another and then finally harassed at the last. The last, Whelans, ended up being such a fun/creepy place to hang. It was definitely an older crowd, much older than our age 23 average. The guys were awful and way too old, but the drinks and music were fun. We saw the Jersey girls trying to bartend, and finally ended the night trying to get a belligerently drunk one back to the hostel.

It was 3:30am when I finally fell asleep. It couldn’t have been a better first day on tour.

June 14, 2014 - Day 9

Writing from FCO after an early start today. We took advantage of the campsites transfer service, and made our way over to the airport. Note to self: Always carry food. We skipped breakfast this morning, and got stuck eating overpriced McDonalds in Fiumicino. A sausage McMuffin & 6count McNuggets cost us 8 euro (or over $11). Ridic. It was bad, but at least Andrew sees why I am such a nut about carrying food at all times. My strict budget is for a damn reason! Anywhoo, we’ll be boarding soon. Omw to Denmark!!!

Later

Copenhagen is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! What a clean country. It seriously looks like God dropped it out of the heavens. I am in LOVE. After an awkward moment in the airport (we got stuck in a chamber like exit that didn’t seem to open), we made our way to the Airport Hilton. Super pricey at $200 a night, but worth every penny. We literally walked out of the terminal and into our room. After a week in a campsite, we were just really happy to have reliable aircon and a big, clean bathroom.

We went back into the airport to exchange some euros into kroner so we could buy the bus/train ticket to Malmo, Sweden. What a mission. For those of you using multiple currencies, I suggest you learn the exact exchange rates. I have no idea how much money I changed today, and I have a nagging feeling that it might have been too much. 

Whatever. So we buy our tickets and go searching for the train….except there is a strike today, so the train isn’t running. Queue panicked expressions and frantic couple fights. This isn’t going well for Andrew and I. Thankfully, everyone in Denmark speaks English, so we just asked a few people. We learned that we’d need to take a bus and then the train.

Later

We finally made it into Malmo, but not before passing the gorgeous middle earth that lies between Sweden and Denmark. So clean, green and beautiful. Malmo itself looked like a fairy tale medieval city come to life. I hadn’t done any planning for Malmo, so we just randomly walked around, taking cutesy pictures and admiring this great little city. One thing we did have planned to do was find a gift shop to collect our shot glass and country patch. In it we were profiled (tan skin and random spanglish did it I guess) by the guy working in there. He asked us if we loved football/soccer, and pointed at his pants, which had his “favorite team” that he “didn’t know the name of.” We bought our stuff and spent way too much money (another currency exchange issue, about $20USD) and made off for lunch.

We walked into Lilla Torg, a plaza with tons of little shops and yummy restaurants. But instead of searching out genuine Swedish food, we went straight into a pub where we spent waaay too much money on a burger and fish and chips (about $54 USD). Feeling way too full, we made our way back to the hotel for a nap, but not before running into the only South Americans in Sweden on that train.

That night we jumped on the metro (conveniently a five minute walk from the hotel) and went into central Copenhagen. Our goal was Tivoli Gardens, but after the amount we spent on bus tickets and food, we figured we would call it a quiet night of exploring.

The metro is super efficient, moving blonde Danes (yes they are all blonde) from one area to another. Copenhagen doesn’t seem to have a “hood” of sorts. No ghettos, nothing where the poorer people are marginalized. We jumped off the train and walked past an area with a long canal and gorgeous colorful houses, boats and houseboats. We were searching for the famous Little Mermaid, which we never found. We did, however, see the Amalienborg, an impressive royal palace for the Danish Royal Family. We wandered about until the sun went fully down (around 10:30pm) and went back to the hotel. Off to Dublin in the morning!