Travel is Unpredictable: Adventure Day 10

I’d title this blogpost with my actual destination, but I feel like that would be false advertising as I actually spent pretty much no time in the place I ended up spending the night, and therefore don’t feel like I can give very good advice about it.

So,  I may have already mentioned in past posts that my experiences with Croatian and Slovenian buses varied. However, the one company I had a very bad time with was Flixbus, which was a pity because I found their website probably the easiest to use and they seemed to have quite a few options.

One of the reasons I made this statement was because a few days before this particular bus ride, I was informed it was cancelled. Rather than simply refunding me, the company asked me to call them (which is always fun when you’re roaming internationally) and get things squared away. I had no luck getting through to anyone and decided to just book another ticket and hope maybe I’d be refunded another time. Tickets at least aren’t too pricey.

So, as a result of this change, I had to take a later bus to get to Zagreb, my next destination. I’ll admit I’d given myself minimal time to begin with, mostly because the guidebooks I’d looked at hadn’t mentioned anything particularly exciting about the city. Other than being Croatia’s capitol, there wasn’t much that really excited me, especially after seeing some amazing historical sites like Zagreb and Split, and beautiful towns like Bled and Ljubljana. The main reason I chose to go, was that it would cut down on my travel time to my final destination of Budapest, where I was schedule to fly back to the states due to good deals I found on tickets. However, the bus change did effectively cut off the minimal time I had even more so.

Travel does involve some flexibility. So I decided to simply enjoy the fact that I could have a more leisurely morning up at Lake Bled. I enjoyed breakfast at my hotel, and then walked around the lake a little bit in the sunshine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a little bit of meandering I headed back to the bus stop. I had to make my way back down to Ljubljana before I could head to Zagreb.

Again I enjoyed the ride through the mountains with beautiful views on that particular sunny day.

Arriving in Ljubljana I was supposed to only have less than an hour to wait for my bus. I used the bathrooms in the train station (actually free–which in Europe is a bit of a novelty), and grabbed something to drink from a vending machine so I would be set for the bus.

However, the bus ended up being more than thirty minutes late. I boarded, heading up to the second story (as it was a double decker which I thought was fun). I had to shoo a lady out of my pre-booked seat, and felt a little bad, but as I had paid more I wasn’t going to be nice about it.

After that we set out. I listened to an audiobook and enjoyed the views out my window. And then we hit the border.

Now, this was March 11th. Coronavirus had just begun to spread worldwide and was beginning to create some panic. My mother in fact had messaged me mentioning that the US was shutting down borders, worried that I might not be able to get home (as I’m writing this at my house in the US I’ll go ahead and assure you that I did manage to get home safely).

And of course, this meant that in Europe borders were getting tighter as well.

At the border we sat there for maybe thirty minutes on the bus. They kept shutting off the engine to save energy, making it very stuffy on the top level. We got out of Slovenia no problem, but at the Croatian border, we were held up for a while.

Finally we were allowed off the bus to get in line to hand over our passports.

I watched in horror as five people ahead of me were pulled aside and told to wait. I could barely breathe as I handed over my passport, wondering if I too was somehow going to be pulled back. I hadn’t been to Italy or other places facing pretty extreme cases, but I wasn’t sure what their criteria were for pulling people.

Instead, I was waved through and headed over to wait with the rest of the passengers. We watched on as two of those held back were sent over to us, and then the other three were left standing awkwardly by the immigration booth. Two girls who looked maybe my age or younger, and then a young nun wearing a facemask. The three of them stood waiting for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. I felt awful for the three of them, probably unsure what was happening. I was at least glad to be off the stuffy bus for the wait, even if I was watching the time and wondering when I’d be getting safely to Zagreb.

Sure enough, a few minutes later the girls came back over to join us and began to gather their bags from the bus. I eavesdropped a bit and heard that they had been told they needed to go into quarantine and could not pass the border. I guess both of them were from Germany, where the numbers of infections were higher at the moment, and for that reason weren’t being allowed into Croatia.

The bus driver, did at least kindly drive them (with all of the rest of us) back over the border and dropped them at a gas station and then did a loop to go back through.

The whole process was disconcerting and scary. I breathed a sigh of relief once we were through, but it put us more than an hour late on our schedule.

We arrived in Zagreb late in the afternoon, getting into evening time. Of course, the tram was packed with commuters, but I shoved my way on with my suitcase and paid for a ticket with the driver regardless.

Thankfully, a few minutes later we were in the commercial center and I was able to disembark and go find my hostel.

I was staying right across from the cathedral, which was beautiful. I did snap one picture of it before heading inside. Interestingly enough there was an earthquake there not long after my visit and I read that the cathedral suffered some damage. Even though it was a brief glance, I am glad I saw it before the quake.


I stayed in Kaptol Hostel, though I went ahead and paid for a private room rather than doing a dorm. I’d opted to treat myself on the trip and pay a little more for privacy and a good night’s sleep.

Once checked in I put on some clean clothes and headed out to find a nice dinner. As it was my final night in Croatia, I wanted to use up all my kuna before heading over the border yet again.

So I headed out to find food. I’d asked at my hostel for a recommendation, but unfortunately they owned a restaurant down below and would only recommend that one to me. So I set off to find my own. Which is how I ended up at Restoran Lanterna na Dolcu.

I was the only one there, but they had good reviews, and the food sounded good. I took a seat down in their fun old cellar and had a glass of Croatian wine.


For a starter I had baked štrukli which was delicious. It’s a traditional Croatian dish with pastry dough, cream, cheese, and bacon. Super decadent and delicious!


For my next course I ended up with steak, yet again with mushrooms and vegetables. The waiter for some reason recommended I get a side of potatoes with it, which ended up being way too much food. But it did effectively use up my kuna. Unfortunately that left me with not enough for dessert, and besides I was pretty stuffed anyways.


I paid my bill and then wandered around a little bit. I found a grocery store and picked up some lunch for the next day since I’d be on a bus about midday.

Then it was back to my hostel for a good night’s sleep, figuring at least in the morning I could maybe go see some things after breakfast.

Unfortunately, just as I was going to bed, I happened to check my email and sure enough had an email from Flixbus saying my ride the next day had been cancelled.

Less than 24 hours before I was scheduled to leave, they went ahead and cancelled my ride with no explanation. Again, I’m going to advocate based on my experiences with this company not to use them. They seem to be very unreliable, and they definitely messed up my time in Zagreb due to their unpredictable changes.

I looked over my options for alternate buses, and of course I could either leave very early in the morning, or late evening and get in after midnight. I was very disappointed about the prospect of literally getting no time in Zagreb, but knew arriving so late would be a bad idea. So I reluctantly booked a new ticket for 8 in the morning and rescheduled my alarm.

So as you can see, I cannot speak to Zagreb as a city. Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t end up getting to do anything more than walk around a bit, eat some good food, and sleep. Maybe one day I’ll get to go back, but that’s just part of travel. You can’t plan for everything and sometimes just have to go with the flow.


Castles, Culture, and Cuisine in Ljubljana: Adventure Day 8

My second day in Ljubljana was just as amazing as the first. I woke up and went to get some breakfast. My host of the B & B provided an amazing spread, even though I was apparently the only guest. She made me some eggs, provided several types of bread and toast with homemade jam. Yogurt, coffee, and fresh vegetables. Happily full I took off to start my day.

Anyone who is familiar with my blog knows I love me a free walking tour. It’s one of my favorite ways to get oriented in a new city. I have to be getting close to about two dozen taken in my lifetime by this point.

So I joined up with the Ljubljana Free Tour in the main square of the old town. I was very happy to find a dozen other tourists there as well. Though I had enjoyed my more “private” tours earlier in the week, it was nice to have a group and feel less singled out.

We spent two hours wandering around the old town, learning more about the city, its culture, and its history.

After we finished up, I grabbed another grocery store picnic lunch and sat by the river to eat. I was so glad the weather was so perfect. My b & b host kept remarking on it, so I definitely realized it wasn’t probably the norm for Slovenia in March.

Once I was done eating, I decided to head for the castle, perched up on a hill in the middle of the old town. Though you can walk up to it, I chose to take the funicular to better enjoy the view and save a little time.

Up at the castle I had opted to get an audioguide and walked around with that. Much of the castle itself is free, which is pretty cool, but doesn’t have a lot of information posted, so it was good to have the guide. I also was able to enter the history museum, museum of puppetry, go up in the viewing tower, and see a video presentation about the history of the castle. All in all it was a pretty enjoyable experience.

Best of all, in my opinion, was the views. Thanks to the good weather, you could see the Alps from the castle and it was spectacular.


Once done at the castle, I headed back down the hill. I did a little postcard shopping and then headed back to my hotel to rest for a bit before dinner.

I had asked my tour guide for a recommendation of where to eat after the tour. She’d listed a few places, but I’d ended up walking past one of them during the day and had seen the menu. I was pleased by the options so I decided to head there.

The restaurant was called Gostlina Pri Kolovratu. The place was pretty quiet when I arrived, but of course, I realized that was probably because it was a Monday and I’d arrived pretty early.

For a drink I had a grapefruit radler made by Union, a local Ljubljana brewer and one of the biggest in the country. I started off with a cheese plate. Once again probably a little too much for just one person, but definitely delicious. Probably one of my biggest regrets of traveling alone is not being able to enjoy sharing foods. Still, the plate was very fun. Three types of cow cheese and a goat cheese on a small potato as well as some fruit and vegetables paired with it.

Then for a main course I ended up with a kranjska klobasa, a traditional Slovenian sausage similar to a kielbasa (for any who know their sausages). It came served with Matevž which is basically pureed beans and potatoes, as well as some vegetables and mustard. It was actually really delicious, and fun to try something pretty traditional rather than just looking for a creative use of local ingredients (because I’d had a LOT of steak lately).

For dessert, I ended up going with a cream cake, which was decadent and amazing. It’s apparently a local dish from Bled, which was where I was heading next, but it sounded too good to pass up. Basically it’s a thin layer of pastry with a custard cream and then a layer of whipped cream topped with another layer of pastry and some powdered sugar. I may have to figure out how to make some myself, because it really was heavenly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I enjoyed the walk back to my hotel. My experience in Ljubljana really was incredible, and I would recommend it to anyone already down in that area visiting Italy, Austria, or Croatia. It’s definitely a great city with lots of beautiful history, delicious food, and fun things to see and do.

Stay tuned for more Slovenian adventures as I take off for the Julian Alps.

Time to Split: The Croatian Adventure Continues–Day 2

I couldn’t resist a Split pun, because of course my next trip destination is Split, Croatia!

I woke in Dubrovnik to pouring rain. I gathered my things, put on my raincoat and headed off to the nearby bus stop to catch a ride to the autobus station where I could catch my bus to Split, a city north of Dubrovnik.

Now some might ask why I didn’t just rent a car. I will admit driving is one of my least favorite activities even in my hometown. On top of that, it’s very cheap and pretty easy to get bus tickets in Europe, saving some money. And of course once you’re in the big city it’s usually easier not to have a car anyways and to rely on public transportation. Which was what I opted to do.

Now, I consider myself to be fairly adept at utilizing public transport, but I will admit city buses tend to be the form that gives me the most trouble. So, thinking I’d be proactive I asked the driver if the bus was going to the autobus station. He nodded and I went back and found a spot to stand with my suitcase.

I kept an eye out on my phone to try to see where approximately I might need to get off. However, I watched in surprise as the bus zoomed right by the autobus station. I had a brief moment where I thought maybe the bus stop was a few meters further down the road, but as I watched my dot on the map moving out of Dubrovnik and heading for the next town in the metropolitan area, I realized I had clearly missed my stop. I pressed the button to request a stop and watched as the bus driver looked back in time to see me and throw up his hands in disgust.

I got off at the next stop, finding myself back in the pouring rain. I had left early thankfully, but looking at my phone it still approximated at least a fifteen minute walk back to the station. I was just about to panic when I realized my bus ticket covered transfers, so I could technically go over to the stop on the other side of the road and catch the bus back into town.

Thankfully, another bus pulled up shortly after and I managed to get off at the appropriate stop. I breathed a sigh of relief before going to find my bus to Split.

I used several different bus chains during my travels, but my first I started with was Arriva. All in all they are actually my top recommendation for anyone travelling by bus in Croatia.

I spent the drive listening to audiobooks and looking out the windows. I actually found it kind of fun because we drove through Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Due to how the borders are drawn Croatia actually is not all interconnected. Bosnia has a small strip of shore access at the city of Neum. So delightfully in driving from Dubrovnik to Split you get to stop to cross into Bosnia and then maybe ten or fifteen minutes later you get to stop to cross back into Croatia. Interesting experience to be sure.

Other than that the drive was uneventful. I arrived in Split in the early afternoon and thankfully it had stopped raining. I found my way to my room for the night called Ziggy Star. It was interesting because I had mistakenly assumed it was some kind of hotel or b & b but it actually was just a single room in the old town, not unlike an airbnb. It did come with the advantage of breakfast at a local cafe in the morning though and was altogether a great location for a stay.

After my stuff was dropped off, I decided since the weather was so lovely I’d take advantage of the sunshine and head to a local park. Marjan Forest Park is a coastal hill right near the main city that you can climb for fantastic views as well as beaches and fun wandering trails.

I ended up spending several hours wandering the hill. I think I ended up walking about eight miles. It was fantastic. The views were beautiful and I even dipped my aching feet into the Adriatic (it wasn’t warm enough for anything beyond that).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tired out I took a break at my room and then cleaned up to go to dinner. I decided to try Bokeria, a restaurant in the old town I’d heard good things about. It ended up being one of my favorite dinners of the trip.

I had a “bruschetta” which was actually pears with Gorgonzola, balsamic glaze, and nuts on toasted bread. Then for my main course I had “ravioli” which was more pastry like rather than like pasta filled with wild game meat. And then for dessert this yummy little white chocolate raspberry coconut treat. And of course a glass of local Croatian wine as well!

After eating well, I headed back to my place for a good night’s sleep.

Thanks for reading about my second day of my adventure! Hopefully I will have more up soon.

I did have a question on my last post which was “Why Croatia?”

Well, the most simple answer comes down to these criteria. I wanted a place that:

  • I hadn’t been to before (you can check my “about” section to see what countries this ruled out).
  • Somewhere I’d feel somewhat safe as a female solo traveler (I mean someday maybe I’ll take more risks but for now that pretty much took Africa, South and Central America off my list).
  • Somewhere that wasn’t in a crisis (meaning no Australia with their wildfires or Asia with the COVID19 crisis– it hadn’t spread to Europe at the time I was planning my trip…).
  • Somewhere not outrageously expensive.

Croatia ended up fitting all of those things pretty well at the time. It’s a pretty safe country. In the off-season it’s not quite as expensive. And I’d never been there but had always heard good things. I found a pretty budget flight and the pieces just all fell together!

Feel free to ask other questions and I’ll do my best to answer in the next few posts.

The Spontaneous Adventure Begins: Dubrovnik

Hello everyone. I know it’s been quite some time since my last blog post, but I haven’t been traveling as much now that I live in the States again. However, I recently had a pretty fun spontaneous vacation and have had several people ask me to blog about it. And since I’m currently in isolation due to the COVID-19 situation, I have some time on my hands.

A little more than a month ago I was feeling a little bit drained from my daily life. I keep some travel photos by my desk at work, and I remember looking over at them and thinking how much I could use another adventure about now.

Which was how I very spontaneously decided to purchase plane tickets to visit Croatia. I had two weeks of paid time off saved up at my job, a decent amount tucked away in savings, and as it was March and therefore the off season, I knew I could find things for much cheaper than I would normally.

Of course, when I booked all this Coronavirus really hadn’t become the pandemic it is now, or I obviously would have chosen to postpone my trip to a better time. But it did make things kind of an adventure, which I hope to elaborate for you here.

The first stop on my tour was Dubrovnik. For any who don’t know, its a beautiful UNESCO protected city on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, surrounded by strong fortifications and filled with history. For any Game of Thrones Fans, there was some filming done there (I am not personally a GOT person so cannot attest to everything the city has to offer– but it definitely has upped the popularity of Dubrovnik as a travel destination).

I’ll skip the boring travel details for you. I flew from Seattle to Frankfurt and then down to Dubrovnik from there. It was a long two days of travel. So I was pretty exhausted when I arrived in the evening. But even then, as my taxi driver delivered me to the walls and dropped me off to walk to my hotel (as there are no cars allowed in the old city), I was pretty awed by what I saw.

Driving in at night really served to highlight the beauty of these strong walls surrounding the old town. They looked so impressive lit up.

The town itself was completely quiet as I snuck down to my hotel. I stayed in a cute bed and breakfast called Andio (meaning angel in Croatian) tucked back in a street in the old town.

Needless to say I turned in for the night, and woke the next morning ready for an exciting day.

When I opened my blinds I was delighted to see sunshine. Rain had been in the forecast before I arrived, and it had been pouring on my way in that evening. Thankfully the sky was clear, making it the perfect day to get out and explore.


I had breakfast at my hotel before taking off for the city walls. It is, after all, one of the most famous parts of Dubrovnik.

Once up on the walls, I had fantastic views of the old city and the sea. It was pretty warm in the direct sun even in the spring, so I cannot imagine doing the walls in the summer. For any visiting in June-August I recommend some sunblock and going early in the day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nonetheless, I continued walking the walls, getting all the way around the city and taking a bunch of photos. Please enjoy them if they will load for you. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

After that, I met up with a walking tour. I’d originally booked a free one. For any who haven’t experienced free walking tours, they are some of the best things to do in a new and unknown city! You meet up with your guide, do the tour, and then tip what you feel is the appropriate amount based on how good it is. I’ve done a couple dozen at this point, and have never had one I felt was “bad” and many that were simply excellent. However, due to the off-season and lack of interest, my free tour ended up cancelling on me last minute. So I had to book with an actual paid tour company instead, though it ended up being worth the money. I showed up and to my surprise only one other person was there! Our guide Ivana walked us around the old town telling us more about the history. I learned a lot and had fun.

Once we were done, I decided to take the cable cars up to the top of Mount Srd (got to love Croatian words without vowels… no it’s not an abbreviation of some kind). It had fantastic views over the old city. Unfortunately it was cold and windy so I didn’t linger for very long.


I spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering the city enjoying the sites. And then I went to find dinner. My tour guide had recommended a restaurant just outside the old city called Dubravka.

I had fresh squeezed orange juice (you might notice some oranges in the pictures above… definitely a good local fruit option), and then a steak with a mustard and gin sauce. It was pretty delicious! On top of that I loved having views of the walls from my table!


After a fantastic first day I turned in for the night. I was ready for the next day of adventure ahead. You’ll just have to wait for my next post to read about it.

Day Two in Dublin

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

My second day in Dublin made me fall even more in love with the city. It’s so fun and lively and there’s so much to see. Admittedly I was spoiled with fantastic weather, but still.

That morning I woke early (first out of my six person room early) and headed down to breakfast before catching the redline tram over to Kilmainham Gaol. I’d seen it listed on good things to do in Dublin, so I of course thought I’d check it out.

I had read online it was best to have a ticket booked ahead of time. Sure enough when I went on to check, several times for the day had already filled up. So I went ahead and booked a 10 o’clock ticket.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had a bit of free time to look around at the museum area upfront. And then before too long the tour began.

It was pretty good overall. Our guide led us through the jail, telling us more about the history and what had happened at particular places. It was an interesting place to see, especially noting the changes between the older and the newer parts of the jail. I was in disbelief when I heard that during the famine period they had ten times their capacity, often putting 5 to a tiny cell. So insane.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After an hour long tour we were allowed to look through the museum on our own time. It’s fairly small, but still a nice collection. I spent about a half an hour just browsing, not reading all the signs. But it does provide some additional insight into the jail.

Once I was finished at the jail I hopped on the rail to get back towards the Guinness Storehouse, my next stop.

Again, I’d seen it listed as a fun attraction, so I figured I’d try.


It’s quite pricey. And as someone who isn’t a big beer fan, it maybe wasn’t the best choice. However, I did still have fun. The facility is very nicely laid out. They make it very fun and interactive and you learn a lot. It’s just a pity that it’s so expensive and crowded, and of course that it basically just acts as one big advertisement for the beer. It reminds me of the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, except that the coke museum at least has a fantastic tasting room at the end where you can try all kinds of different sodas.

At the end of the Guinness tour you just get a glass of the beer.

Not bad all in all, but definitely not to my taste in beer. And others agreed as I saw full glasses left scattered throughout the bar.

Well, up to you on whether or not you want to do it. It’s not my recommendation overall, but for Guinness or beer lovers this might be just the thing you need.

After that I was torn between going back to my hostel and resting for a bit and continuing on my way.

I’d already decided that my next stop needed to be the archaeology museum.

I ended up stopping at the natural history museum on my way. The place was free, so I figured why not since I had some spare time and since I was already there.

It’s two levels, but otherwise quite small. I’ve seen better natural history museums, but it still had a nice collection of animals and some fun things to see. And again, being donation only, it’s really not a bad pop in if you’re in the area.

I walked over to St. Stephen’s Green, a beautiful open park. I didn’t spend much time there, but on a beautiful sunny day it was certainly a sight to behold.

After that I headed to the right side of the block to enter the archaeology museum.

It’s definitely one of my top recommendations for Dublin. Lots of interesting artifacts, and my personal favorite, the bog bodies. Essentially they are mummified bodies that were preserved in the bogs of Ireland and are fascinating to behold! I’d never seen anything quite like them. I’m posting the least gruesome photo I have so you can see.

I was pretty much exhausted at that point, but I was close to the gallery so I figured I’d pop in since it was free.

Well, rather it advertises it is free.


Apparently when I was there they were having a special exhibition, meaning that most of the museum was not free as a result. Only two rooms were open to the public, one of which had children’s drawings, and the other which had a few sculptures. Not too impressive. So be warned you might need to pay to go in. Check if it’s an exhibition you want to see. I wasn’t all that interested in going if I had to pay.

I headed back towards my hostel. I’d thought about visiting the Dublin Writer’s Museum, but I was simply too tired after a full day to possibly go. So I went to the store and bought some snacks for the next few day’s lunches. I have a strict one paid meal per day policy. So I usually just get some snacks for breakfast or lunch (if my hostel doesn’t provide breakfast). So I stocked up for the coming days.


A swing through Trinity in the sun!

I took a quick break at my hostel before heading out to find dinner again.

Another recommendation from my tour guide the day before had been The Winding Stair, a restaurant along the river not far from the half-penny bridge.



The prices weren’t cheap, but for what was included it was a good deal. Besides, one meal policy leaves a little room for splurging in the evening. So I had the three course meal to spoil myself.

I started with a watercress and potato soup, then lamb with mint and yogurt sauce, potatoes and broccoli, and finally a slice of dark chocolate cherry brownie with vanilla ice cream.

It was exceptionally delicious.

After the meal I headed back to my hostel. I was lucky enough to arrive back in time to the hostel in order to use the steam room. It’s only open for three hours in the evening, and only two of those are open to girls (one girls, one mixed group).

Anyhow, changed into my suit and hopped in the sauna. It was ridiculously warm so I only lasted about 10-15 minutes, but it felt really good and refreshing. So here’s my plug for Isaac’s Hostel with their awesome steam room. Very cool feature!

Then on for a good night’s sleep. I needed to be well rested and prepared for my adventure the coming day. After all, I was about to leave the beautiful country of Ireland and venture off towards a new place… The Isle of Man.

Exploring the Great British Isles- The Adventure Begins!

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S Eliot

So let me thus start by addressing the upcoming account that is coming. It’s fourteen days in Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland, and England. As with all my adventure posts, the first  one might be a bit dull as it’s mostly just about getting to the place to begin with, but I assure you there is more excitement to come in the future posts.


So I began my journey by heading to Ireland. And by heading to Ireland I mean heading to Belgium.

Confused yet?

Well, the Lille airport has absolutely horrible prices for flights. So my options are to head down to Paris or to Brussels. Usually I find the cheapest prices in Brussels, which is why it’s not a bad idea to just book a shuttle over to Charleroi airport instead of paying an arm and a leg to fly out of my own country.

So voila, my flight dilemma. Which was why I booked a shuttle over to Brussels and then was going to fly to Ireland.

Or rather thought I did.

Turns out I wasn’t thinking when I booked a shuttle for 3. I forgot that generally in Europe they use military time… aka 3 was actually 3 AM…

I thankfully was there early enough that I realized my mistake and was able to just pay for a ticket for the shuttle leaving at that time. But I was still pretty irritated with myself. And yes had to pay a more expensive ticket on top of the one I’d purchased before.

Regardless I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Got through security with my one backpack and purse without having to pay any luggage fees. I’m a pretty decent packer that way. Next trip I have to try to do just a backpack… I’m admittedly quite nervous. I might have to pay for an extra bag.


I had coffee and waited in the airport (again this is why it’s the boring post). Checked in through the border check with my passport and went to wait for my flight.

Found my seat and waited two hours on the flight before finally arriving in Ireland.


Once in Ireland I had to wait about 20-30 minutes to get through customs. Possibly a bit shorter, but it felt super long. The worst is watching all the EU citizens just breeze through while you’re stuck in line. Although as an American I shouldn’t complain considering what our own customs are like.

Anyhow, once out I had to search out the bus. Obviously there might be cheaper ways to do it, but I opted to take Airlink 747 into the city center, which made it fast and easy to get to my hostel.


I had decided to stay at Isaac’s Hostel. They were centrally located, had good reviews, and even a light breakfast and I’m all for that. The downsides of Isaacs are that it’s located right next to a train line that makes it quite noisy for sleeping, and it also doesn’t have wifi in the rooms, or lockers (though you can rent ones in the basement) which is most unfortunate. But overall it had a really nice atmosphere, free breakfast, friendly staff, good location, and even a free steam room, so honestly I’m not complaining too much.


The basement lockers!

I had arrived after nine, so I was in kind of a rush to get something to eat before I went to bed. In my opinion sometimes food while traveling doesn’t need to be local cuisine. Sometimes it just needs to be something fast, convenient, cheap, easy, etc. And this was one of those times. So yes I went and grabbed pizza from a place I’d seen on my way to the hostel and then took my slices back to eat there. It was cheap and convenient, so I wasn’t going to complain.

After that I went back to shower and settle into my hostel. I was excited to get a good night’s sleep and be ready to set out the next day.

Having a Sweet Time in Sweden

Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

So, this is the third part of the Nordic Adventure series. We started our journey in Copenhagen, and from there me and my friend moved on to see some of Sweden, well, heading towards the capital of Stockholm.

We woke up early and headed to the train station. Unfortunately, we’d made the classic foreign currency mistake of taking out far too much… so I tell you, be careful with making that error. Because my morning in the train station was a lot of trying to spend all my money before we had to leave. I bought coffee and pastries and snacks for the road.

Then we were off to get on our train.

So I did a Eurail trip a while back, and you can read about that as well, but needless to say I’ve done a fair amount of train travel. So I’ve quickly learned what countries trains I like and which ones I don’t. Scandinavian trains are top of the list. Absolutely amazing. Free wifi on board. Chargers at every seat. Good leg room.

Only problem was that my friend and I had booked separately, so we were not sitting together. However, most of the ride I had the seat to myself, and it was nice to just look out the window, enjoy the internet, and relax. I did some good writing and managed to enjoy myself enjoying the snowy scenery. Seriously, if you’re a writer, try a train, I find it’s one of my favorite places to relax and type out some thoughts.

We arrived in the early afternoon, giving us enough time to make our way by metro over to our hostel. When we’d been looking for one, this particular hostel had stood out to us, and here’s why.

It was on a boat.


Yes, like an actual boat. The AF Chapman. Apparently the boat was basically donated to the tourist association after it was done being used, and now they run it as a youth hostel where you can book rooms. Sounds like during tourist season it’s busier, but since it was winter we had no problem getting a room on board.

Honestly, we were both so excited as we walked up to it. I snapped so many photographs and just basked in the knowledge that for two nights I’d be sleeping in the depths of a boat.

We checked in, going down to our little six person room and settling in. After that we decided to head over to old town to look around a little while it was still light.

We walked around the shops and the restaurants, enjoying the sights. We watched as the sun set over the water. All the islands make it an amazing city to see, and I highly encourage just exploring.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After walking around a bit more we found a restaurant for food. We ate at Magnus Ladulus which was more of a traditional Swedish place with a cool setting in a sort of cellar. It was very fun. I had the meatballs which were delicious.

Afterwards we set out on a mission to find Princess Cake, which my friend had recommended. Sure enough we found a café that was still open and serving it. And voila we got to try this amazing confection. One of my new favorites for sure! So delicious. It has a layer of marzipan and then whipped cream and sponge cake and jam. It’s incredible.

Then we walked back to our hostel for the night. We needed a good night of sleep to get ready for more exploring the next day.

New Year’s Day in the Car… Nope I’m Not Kidding AND When to NEVER Drive in Paris: Our Journey Back North

I’m putting two days in one. Because I realized these are both going to be very short and with almost no photos, so hey here’s a combo of two posts. Couldn’t decide on a title so I used both.

So the only problem with going to Lisbon at the end of vacation, was that it left my family trying to get back up to Lille in two days. From Portugal. Basically 12 hour drives for two days. Yay. Who decided to go to Portugal again?

We were all tired and cranky and not happy about the drive. Even less so once we discovered that Europe is awesome because you cannot find anything open on New Years… seriously.

Most of the day was quite boring. Driving and trying to find a place to eat. We ended up at a Burger King that was open somehow. So burgers and a some ice cream treats, though I still will say I really miss American milkshakes. Europe doesn’t know how to make them.

We stopped just over the border in France and stayed in another B&B to keep things cheap. Over all, a very sad and boring day.

The next day wasn’t much better. We bought some things at a grocery store for a picnic lunch. Well…picnic as in we all shoved food in our mouth at a picnic table in a rest stop, while shivering and wishing we were back in the car. Portugal and Spain had been amazing, but they did not prepare us for the cold and rainy French weather.

On top of that, we managed to hit the worst possible traffic you can hit. Essentially, imagine all French people returning to their homes after two weeks of Christmas vacation… on a Monday afternoon. Going through Paris. I’ll show you what our GPS looked like. It was a mess of accident and traffic symbols, trying to warn us around the mess that was Paris.


Yes, so most of our time that day was spent simply sitting in the car waiting for cars to move so we could go on our way.

We ended up stopping at a Flunch for dinner, before heading to a B&B in Tourcoing for the night. I had determined that I actually didn’t have class yet, so it was possible for me to stay another night with my family even though school was starting back up. So with that in mind, we settled in for the night, all tired and glad to be done with the insane amounts of driving.

Beware of the Monkeys: Gibraltar

“Everything is improved by the judicious application of primates.”
Chris Roberson

The next day our family headed on our way further south. We made a stop along the ocean to walk along the beach and enjoy the lovely sunshine. However, our real destination for the day was Gibraltar.

I really didn’t know much about the place overall. My mother kept talking about it though, and the apes especially. And that definitely caught my attention.

“We might see…like actual wild monkeys?” I’d asked my father.

“More than likely,” he said. “They’re usually pretty easy to spot. Like to hang out around areas with lots of tourists in hopes of food and such. They’re pretty used to people from what I’ve heard.”

Well that sounded pretty exciting. My family has a favorite story of when my grandmother and grandfather lived in the Philippines. Apparently my grandfather came running in yelling one day that he’d caught a monkey. He led my startled grandmother outside to a trashbin where he opened the lid and out came a startled “meow”. Or at least that’s sort of how my grandmother tells it.

So I had fun joking with my brother about fulfilling the family legacy of catching a monkey (jokingly of course, I’d never harm a living thing). And it was all good fun.

We arrived at the border of Gibraltar. The family decided to leave our car in Spain and walk over instead. My father had read this was simpler, so we opted to try that.

We then headed through customs, and walked into another country. Our walk took us across a tarmac, which still seems strange thinking back. And with that we were in Gibraltar.


Our walk took us up to the trolleys where we would be able to catch a ride to the top of the hill. Even though it was the off season, the line was very long. It looks like they only have two trolleys working at a time, each with a limited number of people on board. So for any heading to Gibraltar, just know you might have to wait a while to catch one to the top. Maybe they find a way to speed up the process at other times of the year, but not during December. Also, it’s not cheap, so definitely investigate other options if you can.

At the very least, the views were beautiful. And we enjoyed our slow ascent up to the top of the rock.

We’d thought to bring a picnic with us. It seemed logical, as it was an open outdoor area, so we could probably eat and admire the views while we did so. So with a baguette sticking out of our bag, we headed off.

Now we’d seen signs warning us not to feed the monkeys. What we didn’t plan for was the monkeys trying to feed themselves.


The moment we stepped off the trolley, there were little hands grabbing at our grocery bag. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Almost the second we were off of that trolley, there was a swarm of monkeys around us, grabbing at our grocery bag, staring up at us with their deceptively cute little faces.


My dad pulled the bag away from them, using his height to keep it out of reach, but it was already too late, and the other passengers had clearly gotten the impression that the monkeys would attack you. They took off fleeing. I think some people were probably scarred for life, and I’d like to sincerely apologize to them. So if you were in Gibraltar in December of 2016 and are now reading a blog that sounds vaguely familiar… I am so so so sorry.

For the rest of you, I can say that I felt something on my leg next. And I looked down and sure enough there was a little monkey grabbing at my pant leg, staring up into my face with a “please give me food expression”. So yes, I have now officially been grabbed by a monkey. Of all the things to be grabbed by, not all that bad I suppose. But I was sort of scared he would climb up me, and we still needed to get our food to a safe place, because more and more monkeys were coming.


We took off up the steps and towards the inside part of a restaurant. Surely, we’d be safe there! There was a sign on the door saying we weren’t allowed to bring outside food in, but looking around it appeared we’d escaped. There were no monkeys in sight in the narrow hallway leading to the restaurant. But it didn’t keep us from feeling like we might be attacked at any moment.

My dad put the baguette that had been sticking out of the bag out of sight. It was already slightly damaged anyways, so it didn’t hurt to break it further and stick it down. My mother put her backpack under her coat hoping to fool the monkeys, and with those measures in place, we set back out.


The monkeys were still lingering. One even wandered inside the restaurant while we watched. I just imagine the poor staff having to deal with that.

We had to guard our belongings closely, but they had begun dispersing in hopes of getting their next meal from the next trolley coming up. We watched as they lay in wait. One snuck up from behind and nearly snatched our picnic, but my dad had a good hold on the bag. I think more people were traumatized again. Sorry fellow tourists.

The lesson is, don’t bring food with you. At all. It’s a bad idea. Hold onto your belongings. And just be warned these little guys are fast and sneaky.

After feeling safer we began to take in the beautiful views. We snapped some pictures, and then headed down along the rock, watching all of the monkeys as we did. There were even babies playing in the trees! They were so cute and small and they kept fighting with each other.


They were truly fascinating creatures. We watched as some of them hopped onto passing cabs and then rode for a bit before hopping off again. They were a wonder to watch, unafraid of humans so close enough to get a good look at.

We walked further down the hill and finally found an area with very few monkeys. I stood watch as the family started pulling out food. We had a very quick picnic, always looking all around us, worrying that at any moment monkeys might appear and steal our food.

After our very speedy picnic we headed on down the rock, admiring the beautiful views. We walked back through the town and over the tarmac again and through customs once more. We found our car and headed off towards our hotel.

We stopped in Tarifa for the night. We stayed in La Missiona, a nice hotel in the middle of town. Since we’d arrived in the evening after our full day in Gibraltar, we decided to get food first. We went ahead and just ate at the restaurant attached to the hotel, which actually had surprisingly delicious food. My mom and I had fish and chips and my dad and brother were more adventurous with some fun tuna dishes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After dinner we took a walk and grabbed some pastries from a local shop. The town had been having an even with fake snow for children to play in. The fake snow turned out to be foam (like soapy foam), but we walked over to where the event was going on to see what it had looked like. Mostly we just worked off our dinner and enjoyed the town by night.

Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. After all, the next day we were going to leave the continent. Morocco was waiting.