September 2016 was a bit of a milestone for me. It was my last full month on the continent of Europe. On the 16th of October I’ll leave Europe to explore a completely different part of the world. I’m actually super excited and wishing slightly that I’d left a little earlier.
I absolutely love Europe- it’s super easy to travel, I always feel safe, you can always find English speakers and the hostel culture is awesome. But visiting European cities can become slightly monotonous; it’s a pattern of old town, cathedrals and castles. I’m excited for the new challenges that Mexico, Cuba and South America are going to bring.
That said, I couldn’t say I hated my last full month in Europe. After cancelled Turkey plans I found myself heading to countries that I hadn’t expected to visit. The Baltic Countries and Slovakia were awesome to explore, and I found myself taking things slowly this month. I also went through this month without planning; I had a general idea about which way I was going but I booked buses and hostels at the last minute and many of my plans shifted.
I loved the freedom this has bought me in my travels, and I loved the many slow days I took for myself throughout this trip. I truly feel rested and ready for new adventures!
1st-4th September- Prague, Czech Republic
5th-11th September- Berlin, Germany
11th-14th September- Riga, Latvia
14th-16th September- Tallinn, Estonia
17th-19th September- Vilnius, Lithuania
20th September- Warsaw, Poland
20th-22nd September- Krakow, Poland
22nd-27th September- Zdiar, Slovakia
27th September- Kosice, Slovakia
27th-28th September- Budapest, Hungary
29th September-1st October- Brasov, Romania
Some Interesting Statistics
Countries Visited- 9
Flights- 1 (Berlin-Riga)
Overnight Buses- 2
Overnight Trains- 1
Friends Stayed With- 1
Things lost – 1- I lost my raincoat for two days in Brasov but managed to reclaim it from the restaurant I left it at!!
- Visiting the Bone Church of Kutna Hora- ever so often you stumble upon something truly unique on your travels and that was the Bone Church in Kutna Hora for me. This macabre church is decorated completely in human bones and it was like nothing else I had seen before. My Grandpa and I both loved visiting it.
- Hanging out in Berlin- I had two completely different experiences during my time in Berlin. The first two days I was there I spent with my Pa and we spent those two days experiencing most of the touristy sites; the East Side Gallery, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the Memorial for the Victims of the Holocaust. But after dropping my Pa off at the airport I went to stay with my friend Bec from Melbourne. I took a slower pace to my last few days in the city- I spent hours reading and enjoying the beautiful weather in the Tiergarten park, I checked out the Turkish market and went vintage shopping in Kreuzburg and I managed to get to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Muzem island.
- Travelling the Baltics- I could have broken my favourite Baltic moments up into separates countries but I felt like the whole experience involved taking the Baltics as a whole. The three countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are amazing, and I fell in love with their capitals for completely different reasons. I loved the vibe and atmosphere in Riga and stayed at one of the best hostels of my trip (The Naught Squirrel), Estonia had the prettiest old town and Lithuania had the nicest people. These countries were super cheap and had such an interesting culture and history as former USSR controlled states. But one of the greatest things about travelling the Baltics was all of the amazing people I met- everyone was either going one way or the other so I ended up bumping into the same people in different cities!
- Hiking the Tatras Mountains and chilling at the Ginger Monkey- After a couple of weeks of visiting cities, I was keen to escape city life for a bit and explore some more natural parts of Eastern Europe. The Tatras Mountains, bordering both Poland and Slovakia seemed like a logical place to visit. Upon the recommendation of my friend I booked a hostel in the small mountain village of Zdiar called the Ginger Monkey. It was one of the coolest hostels I’ve stayed at in a very long time; everyone went out for dinner together, we spent afternoons watching movies and they had a dog called Wally that you could take for a walk. I booked three nights but ended up staying five. It was also the perfect base for exploring nearby Slovak Paradise National Park, and completing a 26km hike up through the Tatras. Mountains which was incredibly hard but also incredibly rewarding.
Favourite Food Moments
- Brunch in Berlin- I’d heard about the amazing coffee culture in Berlin, and arrived in Berlin armed with a list of cafes that were recommended for great brunch and good coffee. Brunch is one of the biggest things I miss about Melbourne, so I was very excited to get my brunch fix. I visited three cafes while I was in Berlin. It must be true that the best coffee in the world is in Melbourne, because even in Berlin a lot of the best cafes had Melbourne/Australians barristers. I visited Silo Café, Katies Blue Cat and Father Carpenter. My favourite of three was definitely Father Carpenter; their smashed avocado with poached eggs helped to qualm my Melbourne brunch cravings!
- The best kebab of my life in Berlin- So many people had told me about Berlin’s amazing kebabs but even that couldn’t prepare me for how good they were. My Pa and I headed out to ‘Gemuse Kebab’ on Schonhauser Allee which was meant to have excellent kebabs. It was seriously like a party in my mouth; the chicken was marinated in some magical sauce, there were caramelised roast vegetables in there, fresh salad with mint, cucumbers and tomatoes, three types of sauces including a hot sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and a squeeze of lemon. The balance of flavours was amazing and it was both the best and cheapest meal I ate in Berlin (€2.5 for a kebab!). I ended up returning more than once and I’m really hoping I can visit once more before I fly out of Berlin to New York .
- Saying goodbye to Pa- whenever I have a friend or family member come to visit, I find it incredibly hard to say goodbye to them. Saying goodbye to my Pa after 2.5 weeks of travelling with him was just as hard. I swear that the only time I get homesick at all is when I have to drop people off at the airport.
- Leaving my bankcard in an ATM in Vilinius- The bank machines in the Baltics give you your money first and then they give you your card. This meant it was really easy for me to do the stupidest thing ever and take the cash from the machine and walking away without retrieving my bank card. The result is that I have to wait for my Dad to meet me in New York before I get a new card and I’ve been relying on my credit card ever since. It also means I’ve had to face hefty cash advance fees whenever I need cash, although I have run into some Australians that have gotten out cash for me and just let me bank transfer them in Australian dollars.
- Injuring myself while hiking- I did two hikes whole I was in Slovakia and both times I came away with slight injuries. In Slovak Paradise I slipped down a river bank and rolled my ankle. But the worst part was having to wait 15 minutes for a local to come along and pull me back up onto the track. I was mortified. While hiking the Saddle in the Tatras Mountains I had to hustle down the mountain because I was running really behind, which meant I wasn’t as careful with my body as I should have been. My knee is still really painful to walk on especially when it comes to stairs.
Money Spent- $2,155
After two very expensive months in Europe, I was very relieved to discover that September 2016 was my second cheapest month of the trip. I only spent $30 more in September than I did in December last year, which is super good considering I spent a large chunk of December at my Auntie’s place in England not spending any money at all. This month I stayed at hostels the whole time (no couchsurfing), I ate out for almost every meal and I took a few guided tours and it still ended up being a super cheap month. That’s the benefit of travelling through Eastern Europe!
As always you can see all of my itemised expenses here.
I published 8 posts this month, nowhere near the amount I had hoped to publish this month. Hopefully I’ll have all of my Greece posts finished soon!
Instagram Top Five
A photo posted by Britt Jeffs (@adventureliesinfront) on
So happy to escape European city life and head into the Slovak countryside. I may have fallen down a riverbed shortly after taking this photo (nothing some painkillers and ice won’t fix), but the long hike was worth it for views like this one!
A photo posted by Britt Jeffs (@adventureliesinfront) on
My last couple of weeks in Europe will be spent in the Balkans. I’m visiting Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’m then heading up to Vienna to spend a couple of days with friends before flying out of Berlin to New York. Dad is meeting me in New York and we are spending a short five days in the city before heading to Mexico! Mexico has been the top of my list for as long as I can remember and I am beyond excited to visit!