I’m two months into my very last semester of university, and I am simultaneously so ready for it to be over and can’t believe it’s really happening. I’m excited to start my big scary job in Toronto in July (read more about that here) but I am definitely more excited about the trip I have planned in May and June. I have basically no schoolwork and my hours have been cut at my part-time job, so I have a lot of spare time which I have been dedicating to obsessing over this trip. I spend a lot of time reading guidebooks and blog posts, watching Rick Steves videos and just basically drowning in excitement. I told you where I was going in the post about my job, but here’s a more detailed look at my very scattered three-continent trip:
SCOTLAND (4 nights)
Westjet is one of my favourite Canadian airlines – they have the best service I’ve experienced domestically, and one time they actually flew me out to Calgary for a business competition so that was cool. Recently they’ve added a lot of European routes and they are SO convenient – most flights from Halifax, where I live on the East Coast, go through Toronto, but in the summer Westjet has a ton of direct routes. I snagged a sweet deal on a direct overnight flight to Glasgow, so I arrive there and then hop on a train straight to Pitlochry, in the Highlands. After two days there, where I’ll hopefully be climbing Ben Vrackie, I head down to Edinburgh to explore one of the cities that I’ve been dying to see! Anywhere with castles is cool in my books.
ENGLAND (4 nights)
I’ve been to London twice and explored a fair few other places in England, but this time I’m hitting up a new city, York, basically just for the Minster, and then spending a few nights in London. I usually try to get out of London pretty quickly because of the prices, but this time I’m staying with a friend who I met in Perugia, Italy – I can’t wait to reunite and see this city on a more local level! We’ve bought tickets to see The End of Longing (a play written by and starring Matthew Perry, who I shall always call Chandler Bing) and I also want to see the Museum of London.
NORWAY (6 nights)
I have been dying to go to Norway for years, but I figured I’d save it until I had more money. I do not currently have ‘more money’, and yet I am going anyway. I fly into Stavanger, where I am staying at a beautiful lodge hostel and will be hiking Pulpit Rock. Then it’s off for what’s supposed to be one of the most amazing train rides ever – eight hours to Oslo. Two nights in Oslo was about all I could afford, but I’m excited to see this fascinating city!
FRANCE (5 nights)
I couldn’t go back to Europe without going back to Paris. I was only there for two days last summer, which was just not even close to enough – so I’m back for five days! I’m staying in Montmartre literally just because I loved Sacre Coeur so much. I may actually go to the Louvre this time, but I’m planning to spend most of my time wandering neighborhoods and expand my super cliche love for the city of light.
Plug Inn Hostel
THE NETHERLANDS (2 nights)
Honestly I’ve never really felt a draw to Amsterdam, but it’s kind of one of those places you have to see, and it’s not as if I don’t want to go. It worked out super well en route from France to Austria, so I’m spending three full days there. Plans so far only include the Anne Frank house and attempting to bike. I found a really good deal on a sleeper train from Amsterdam to Salzburg, as well – I love sleeper trains because a) I just love trains and b) they save you spending money on a night’s accommodation!
Hostel Meeting Point
AUSTRIA (4 nights)
I was SO sad about not getting to Austria last summer, and I tried to squeeze it in at least a million times, but it never happened. This time I knew I had to make it to Salzburg and Vienna. I am 200% obsessed with the Sound of Music, and the real Von Trapps lived in Salzburg, so that’s basically the coolest thing ever. After some research, I have determined that with just a bit of mild trespassing you can actually access the meadow featured at the beginning of the movie, and so I will obviously be doing that. In Vienna, I’m excited to visit the famous cafes and the Hofburg Palace – especially this unbelievably beautiful library.
TURKEY (1o nights)
Ah, Turkey. I adored Istanbul so I’m going back, and seeing another few famous Turkish places. First I fly into the Cappadocia region, where I’m staying at this amazing cave hostel with an amazing pool and an amazing terrace and amazing everything. For amazingly cheap. Obviously I’m here to take one of the famous hot air balloon rides, but also to hike! Then I fly to Izmir, and I’ll be staying in Ayvalik, a gorgeous little beach town. I may even take a day trip to Lesvos, in Greece, but it depends on the refugee situation! From here, I take a night bus to Istanbul and check back in to my favourite hostel of all time – Cheers, featuring the cutest golden retriever ever. I want to explore more of the Asian side of town while I’m in Istanbul.
QATAR (0 nights)
From Istanbul, it’s off to Africa!! First, I have a day long layover in Qatar, which I will hopefully spend on one of Qatar Airways’ free city tours of Doha that exempt you from the visa requirement and also provide air conditioning and water (good during a 42 degree Ramadan). If not, I’ll still venture out in a cab and try not to melt. Why miss the opportunity to explore a new city and country?
TANZANIA (13 nights)
I could not be more excited for this. I was originally going to spend my whole trip in Southern Africa, but all the activities and safaris would have added up and been insanely expensive. Even my two weeks in Tanzania is pretty budget-busting, but how could I say no to sleeping under the stars in the African savannah and relaxing in a bungalow on the beaches of Zanzibar? I arrive in Dar es Salaam and immediately hop another flight to Kilimanjaro, before somehow making my way to a nearby town where my safari pickup will happen the next morning.
I’m booked on a 6 night budget safari with Duma Explorer; we’ll be seeing Lake Tarangire National Park, the Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Crater. I mean even just the word Serengeti evokes such incredible images in my head; I can’t imagine how beautiful the reality will be. I have not been camping in 10 years, so logically I’m getting back on the horse in…the wilds of Africa. It should be an experience. After safari, it’s off to Zanzibar for a relaxing stay full of sunbathing, snorkelling, and beach walks. I haven’t decided where to stay yet, because there are simply so many incredible beaches with dirt cheap private bungalows.
GERMANY (1 night)
Flying to Berlin and then Reykjavik was the easiest way for me to take advantage of a crazy good flight deal from Reykjavik to Halifax, so that is what I am doing! I’ve only been to Munich when it comes to Germany, and it’ll be interesting to see such a different city from the Bavarian one I visited. I’ve been taking German as an elective at school all semester, so maybe I’ll even be able to try out some of my language skills! I have two full days in the city before a super late flight out to Reykjavik.
ICELAND (3 nights)
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I swear Iceland is suddenly the hottest destination around. Everybody is going or wants to go, and it’s not hard to see why! Icelandair makes it really easy for Canadians to go – I just found my parents a crazy good deal on a trip Halifax-London, Paris-Iceland and Iceland-Halifax. Their sales can be really, really affordable, which might soften the blow of the prices in-country! I know I want to see the Blue Lagoon and do the Golden Circle Tour, but otherwise I’m not really sure!
Hlemmur Square Hostel