There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
13 COUNTRIES AND ROUGHLY 6% OF THE WORLD
Truth be told when I was conjuring up this stats map I didn’t expect the world to be so big… To put it into perspective – one of the countries I visited not long ago – Malta – is SO small it doesn’t even show up on the map. It’s ridiculous considering I needed 4 days to properly cross it over and walk around. It’s also unfair because I checked it off my list and can’t even see it on the map
Anyhow, I’ve come across so many travel blogs that had at least 30% of the world covered OR MORE. Most of them had America/Europe crossed out and about. All this time I thought I had quite a solid experience in travelling and considered myself lucky to have seen most of Europe, but it’s time to face the truth, eh? Literally my travel experience seems so meagre in comparison. However, I did have a blast each and every time I ventured off somewhere and I did complete a few solo trips already by the age of 18! So… I’m still in the game
Let’s go ahead and try to remember some highlights of my trips.
Majorca (Mallorca), Spain
This was my first ever trip abroad, the same goes for my family. I was roughly maybe 5-6 years old so I don’t remember much. It’s alright because I didn’t do much else apart from constantly bratting about walking too large distances and it being hot and confusing. From my juvenile perspective I remember walking in caves and swimming in one of these nice bays this wonderful island is full of. My only regret was that the excursion we went on did not plan to extend the water play session for too long and we had to move on across the caves much earlier than I wanted to
Majorca was also my first encounter with a foreign language and such attempts to converse with the locals, like: ‘wher is my chikin’ and ‘I want ping pong ball’ – were made. Needless to say, it was embarrassing to deal with the chuckles but it entertained nearly everyone else (apart from me
The other thing I can remember about Majorca is that it rained and unlike everyone else shrugging in their hotel rooms I decided to splash around in a swimming pool as I loved swimming under the rain. My parents thought it was a beautiful time to do a photo-shoot so I bet if I searched enough I’d find some pictures of my careless self splashing around amidst rain and cold.
Some nice guides on what to do in Majorca
PORTUGAL – ALGARVE
Honestly Portugal is on a whole other level of beauty and not many people know this. No picture does it justice. You could call me biased because the love of my life was born in this very same country, BUT I’m not, trust me! Portugal 7 times out of 10 tends to be overlooked as just another shouldering country to Spain. Spain sucks in all the fame and glory, which is not only unfair but, guys, if you think that way you are missing out!
The first time I visited Portugal I was full of second-hand excitement that I got from my mother. Truthfully, I was not expecting much – just another southern European country, but I was proven SO so wrong
The first thing you just HAVE to do is get a car in Portugal. It is so worth it. We stayed there for roughly 17 days and had a car all that time. Thanks to it we managed to course all throughout the south western coast of Portugal, which is where all of those off-the-beaten-track gems lie in. We stayed away from the overly touristy places to the east, like Portimão or Carvoeiro. And I’m very glad we did. We stayed in Lagos near the famous praia Dona Ana in a German family lodging. From then onward we visited Sagres, drank their famous bear, saw their Fortaleza. Then we cruised to see Cabo de São Vicente, which truly deserves a post of its own. It’s the west-most point of Europe and the scenery is breathtaking. People there tend to lose all their cautiousness. It’s not uncommon to see tons of them sitting around on the rocky cliffs like mountain goats. We then continued northward to Amado and Bordeira beaches where I tried surfing for the first time in my life. I had the most awesome instructor from Australia that commended my English
All of that was an incredible experience and that’s just the south of Portugal. Hell, I haven’t even got started on the food! Portugal alone will deserve multiple posts on my blog! After all, I will be living here full time in a year and a half. Lucky, eh?
Some guides on what to do in Portugal
FRANCE – PARIS
Ah, oui oui Paris! Again, I visited France twice and was quite small when that happened. When I went with my family the biggest attraction I was looking forward to was Disneyland Paris. Now before you all get judgmental I was a little girl (in my defense)! I had Disneyland princesses engraved on my room wallpaper. The second time I went with my godmother’s family. This time I was more grown up but we were living in a villa and not exploring much. So, Paris, I am yet to come for you
Regardless of my inexperienced travel self, I remember climbing the Eiffel tower clearly. Overlooking the city with those crazy binoculars was amazing. We also lived in one of those super French looking hotels and tried the metro (to get to Disneyland, of course). In all honesty, that theme park was amazing! Crazy spinny cups, haunted houses, pirate boat tours, walking Disney characters everywhere. The girly girl in me was so impressed I had to fantasize about coming back for years.
The second time I went somewhere south of France and we booked a villa. We lived a luxurious lifestyle of personal pool, fresh home-cooked mussel dinners, sunshine and stress-free bliss! All was well until I got stung by a jellyfish. It’s very painful and I never thought jellyfishes can be such violent creatures. But since I’m assuming I sat on one I guess we’re even now.
All in all, Paris has something very sophisticated about it. Something of very good taste. When I think of France – I think of jazzy cafes, live music and dance. And I’m convinced you can have it all – the urban and the Provence. That’s probably why I feel very attracted to this country from time to time. That’s also why I will definitely be coming back.
Some proper guides on what to do in Paris
UNITED KINGDOM – ENGLAND – LONDON
I have now been to London almost too many times. In general, I’ve been living in England for 3 years already and currently residing in London. However, since I live in-between zones 4-5 it does not seem much like London to me. I have quite a controversial opinion about England that I’ll get to someday in my blog! But for now, let’s talk about London.
The first few times I visited London – I loved it! Mostly since I was tagging along with my mom in one of her work trips I lived in a very good location. I believe, it was a hotel right next to Oxford Street, so imagine it. I would wake up, go outside, all the parks/museums away by walking distance. Used metro only once, because – iconic, had to! Back then, during carefree travel I fell in love with London. All the streets had clear, accurate street signs, buildings seemed sturdy, stretching til’ the blue sky. Cashiers would call me ‘love’ and ‘sweetheart’ – something quite uncommon where I’m from. The British accent was a pain to decipher, but I managed!.. I think. Trafalgar Square, British Museum, National Gallery – all were top notch. I even fed some squirrels in St. James’s park. Right there – in the heart of London – you can see the most diverse bunch of people you’ve ever seen. It was a revelation to me and an eye-opener. I was chatted up by one chorister – kind of a funny story – and we ended up having a coffee.
Overall, England is weird. It can be one of the most fun or one of the worst places you’ve ever been to! I know I haven’t given you enough evidence to support the ‘bad’ side of it. However, London is a must-visit on anyone’s list due to its vibrant coloured lifestyle.
Some nice guides on what to do in London
ITALY – ALPS
Visited Italy twice already and not even once saw Rome, Venice, Milan or Florence. What on earth did I do then, you may ask? Well… I was fortunate enough to be guest shipped there and learn how to ski! I turned out to be a skiing natural and didn’t take long to conquer red/black coloured slopes. For those who are not versed in the lingo of ski – red/black is more or less as tough as you get in skiing. There are yellow slopes as well but, really, those are suicidal. You may be wondering ‘hm, if you’re that reckless, how are you alive?’. Well, I must say I did fall one too many times. In other words, I had my own share of downhill spinning action.
Italy or The Alps is such a great place for skiing! Instead of basking in the glory of Rome or such – go full countryside. I’ve gone there twice and each time landed in a small mountain village. The air there is so incredibly clear and people nice. If you come from an urban background this will feel very refreshing. It’s nice getting into a routine of waking up – croissants – grab skis – stop at 5pm – sauna – bed. There is no better way to de-stress than riding down a slope full speed. I know, it sounds awful, but that’s exactly how it works. At least for me. It’s mostly because the focus is shifted to survival instead of lamenting about irresolvable problems.
I was infatuated with Italy and skiing ever since I tried it and am craving it every year. It’s a bad addiction money-wise but good for literally everything else! I’ll be dropping down some links for the best skiing villages.
Italian skiing resorts
This is honestly how I remember Switzerland. And yet again, my apologies if the picture I choose doesn’t actually depict the country… It’s just how it is in my memories. And I want to… honour the memory! Or something…
So as the remaining list of my travelled countries – I’ve visited Switzerland quite some time ago. And mostly for skiing purposes. I went with my relatives and they picked one of the poshest hotels possible. In a village such as you see in the picture they picked a darned posh hotel. (Not that I’m complaining with chocolate fondue every evening). Needless to say, the hotel was incredible, it’s a shame I don’t remember the name. And not only because of the service/facilities, but also the people! Our waiter (yes, personal waiter) was your typical short and cute Italian guy and he was soo full of life! He had heard of my home country and thought I was a basketball-er. Cracked jokes every evening of the week. Apart from the hotel, there’s something very good in the Swiss air. It’s like being in a permanent Christmas town. Maybe because of the abundance of tourists, I don’t know. There’s a sheer clarity in the air (Alps, of course) and everyone is just jovial, it’s so warmhearted. The Swiss slopes are also some of the best in Europe. They’re good for super amateurs like me and those that value their lives. By that I mean that the slopes are extra wide and there are no random trees/trunks in the way. That avoids some collisions that you’d rather not have!
Overall, good food, good slopes, good people, fresh air! What else would you want, eh?
Some proper guides on what to do in Switzerland
BELGIUM – BRUSSELS – GHENT
Brussels was my first solo trip amidst uni struggles. It was an outcome of me having money and wanting to get away from all the deadlines etc. Just student issues. It was an… interesting trip, I must say. Was a bit confused with the whole solo travel bit for a while so it was hard to get accustomed to it. In any case, it was a thrilling experience. Let’s review.
So, in retrospect, Brussels is damn expensive. I underestimated it because the flight was cheap, BUT holy molly. It was so expensive that I only managed to eat paninis with bear the whole time. Not a bad combo, nonetheless I would’ve liked some more variety. Regarding hostels, I picked one at the very core of Brussels, a 10 bed room and managed to get mugged there! Not only that, someone stole my bed so the hostel personnel were forced to move me to another room. Well, I’m glad they did, got a well-aired 5 bed room. I know, I also don’t know how this happened. I was lucky because my only treasure was my backpack and I carried it with my. It’s my dirty clothes that got stolen… I know, do not ask. Anyway! Brussels is a brilliant city, met some very amazing people via CouchSurfing that showed me around. It’s got this very outlandish, medieval sort of feel to it. I last sec choice visited Ghent at night, which resulted in a nice few hours walk until everything closed. Was shown around by a few nice guys, however, I heavily underestimated (yet again!) the temperature and had to wait outside until 3 a.m. for the first train to pick me up.
Anyhow, like any first try – this solo trip was a bit… awkward?! But I don’t regret it one bit. It showed me the possibilities of travel and how brave I can be to take my life by the horns.
Some nice guides on what to do in Brussels
Hey ho! This one was a very recent trip I had with my mom and boyfriend. I know, what a weird bunch, right! But we somehow made it work, to my utmost surprise! This was a very impromptu trip since my mom wanted to pay a visit and I didn’t want her to see my messy London bedroom (jk). We decided to meet up in a nice AirBnb and explore Malta together for a few days.
Honestly, Malta is such a weird country! It’s small enough to be a city, so when you cross ‘cities’ there it never feels like you leave the ‘city’, if you know what I mean. Malta also has this weird identity disorder where it doesn’t know what it is. We haven’t had much time to indulge in the historical intricacies of Malta, however, I do remember that its future was decided by at least 5-6 other European nations at a point.
In a short span of 3-4 days we managed to see a lot though! Mostly we stuck to Valletta, which was a nice little old town, I’d put it like that. Looked very Italian but had some foreign accents to it as well. As I found out it seems this country still has quite a heavy touch of Britain. We then went on to explore a ‘city’ (again, like a district) within a fort and got to see Blue Lagoon and Comino island – must-sees if you ever decide to visit Malta. We went during the cold/rainy season but it was sunny all the gosh damn time! Naturally, we even had a swim or a few!
What was really odd about Malta or maybe it was particular to the place we lived in – there were no proper super markets! As in, no Tescos or Asdas or Walmarts or whatnot. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, however, when you’re forced to dine and shine in restaurants – your wallet cries. A lot. So I’d advise to be careful with this, it’s not an expensive country overall, but this was a bad surprise.
Some good guides on what to do in Malta
TURKEY – DECADENCE
Ok, no judgement zone, please. I am aware that Turkey doesn’t look like this, alright! However, this had to be one of the most relaxing and memorable trips I’ve ever had. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘simplicity is key’ at least once in your lives, right? Well, this trip was the epitome of that. Actually, not much so – we had an all-inclusive 5 star Turkey hotel service. Lived our 2 weeks in total lush and luxury. But that was actually it! It happened possibly 9-10 years ago but I’ve seen this damn pool so much it’s engraved in my memory! Let’s overview.
So this is the story of how me and my family went for a 2 week trip to Turkey, Antalya to do nothing else but splash in the pool (and eat everything in sight). It was a remarkable experience I’ve never had in my life before. Everything we ever needed was within an arm’s reach. Well, maybe not arm’s BUT really not more than 200 steps away. Let me tell you, I felt like I went straight to heaven. All-inclusive meals – more like feasts, cocktails, drinks, waffles, snacks, hookahs – all sorts of goodies included in the price and literally in front of your face all the time. Can you imagine how fat I got? I even got food poisoning. There was a pool area within hotel’s ‘campus’, a theme park, a water park, a stadium, night cinema – a full complex. My parents went to the city a few times, just to buy a hookah and some local dance clothes (I wasn’t much interested, wanted to be taken back to my free waffles). It was a blast.
If you ever go to Turkey, consider a trip like this. You have no idea how detached you become when your mind’s only concerned about sucking up all the free deliciousness around.
Some ideas if you don’t want to go full on decadent
CZECH REPUBLIC – PRAGUE – KARLSTEJN
This was a spontaneous getaway during the summer of 2016 (flashback to the times I’d get random riches). Me and my best friend had to decide amongst multiple cheap European destinations so we sort of snatched a map and blind-picked Prague as the way to go! Followed by a 22hr trip route Vilnius – Prague it ended up being a beautiful 1 week long journey to decadence and art.
First things first, we had no clue where we were going. I know right, you’d think those 22 nasty hours in a bus would’ve proven to be useful for research. Wrong. Only useful for sweat, cries and complaints. The hotel had an in-room fridge and breakfast included – that’s all I’ll say. It was brilliant. We spent most of the time walking around the old town and looking at pretty stuff. I kept nagging to see all the sculptures by David Černý and we ended up seeing plenty. One of which was a crawling baby with a literal foot imprint on its face. Needless to say, we took plenty pictures of spanking its arse. Moving on! At nights we visited Karlovy Lazne, which was this major 5 story club playing different style of music on each floor. It was honestly an eye-opening, magnificent experience, after which our clothes kept ending up drenched in sweat, smoke and tears. We’d alternate that with watching GoT in our cosy hotel bedroom surrounded by cheap-o snacks provided by some market nearby.
After countless minutes of Prague trekking we decided to gave Karlstejn a go. Karlstejn is this giant medieval castle thing, which was surrounded by some corner shops and looked like a circular medieval village. Felt like we were climbing a spiral for a million years until we finally reached the castle. And we were not in the best shape for that. The views from the castle were incredible though, and I made sure to take a sufficient amount of selfies. So much so, that I got carried away and got detached from the main guide group. Thank heck I had my best friend saving my ass again. Otherwise I’d be a castle ghost by now. My only regret was not listening to the guide enough. There were tons of people and guide’s voice was not permeating the big group. So much history was lost in the wind!
All in all though, Prague is great! Honestly, Czech Republic is one of my favourite places in Europe. Much more guides to follow!
Some decent guides on what to do in Prague
LITHUANIA – HOME COUNTRY
Hey ho! Welcome to my wonderful home country you know nothing about! Even if you think you do, you probably don’t! Yes, because there’s way too much misinformation about the Eastern (now Northern, I suppose) European countries. Not that I’m a specialist heh, but I know quite a bit! I lived here for 18 years, after all.
I’ll be putting quite a few guides up about this wondrous country (some soft promotion right there). You know the saying that goes like: ‘you only start appreciating something once you lose it’? That’s what happened to me. I really never appreciated my home country too much until I left it and only now I can truly see the greatness of it.
To name a few things, the picture above is of a city called ‘Trakai’ – one of the most chill places in the world. It’s literally that one huge castle surrounded by lakes and forests. Lithuanians have this whole history of being in unison with nature and thus finding healing and reciprocal understanding of each other. You can find that in a lot of Lithuanian literature and the whole Lithuanian soul/heritage is a melancholic take on life. But not in a bad way! More like in a spiritual, longing way. Which is pretty cool and I’ve never seen this in any other European country I visited. Well, maybe it’s more present on the Eastern side, but I can relate with Lithuania more. The capital – Vilnius – is just a joy to the eyes. You experience it the way you want to, really. There’s plenty of modernity around the old-town and a bunch of more hippy, artsy sort of places. It’s a constant clash of both worlds. Which is what makes Vilnius such a vibrant city. Like I’ve said, I’ll be doing a bunch more guides on Lithuania so stay tuned!
Some proper guides on what to do in Lithuania