So! I am 4 weeks in already, nearly halfway done.
I’ve been to Budapest, Vienna, Munich, all lovely. Visited good friends in London & Belfast, which was awesome. Enjoyed a week between Glasgow & Edinburgh, visiting schools I applied to and thinking about how I really really want to live there.
Now I am in Wiesbaden for the week, sort of couchsurfing with someone and really exploring the area more in-depth and away from a big-name city (although Frankfurt is just a half hour’s ride on the S-bahn). Today we went to Mainz, and later this week I’ll be taking a boat tour up the Rhein to see all the castles. Apparently they make one of my favorite wines (riesling) in this area.
I am very excited to head out next week to Berlin, Zurich, and Geneva on my own, before spending two weeks volunteering in southern Switzerland. And then I get to finish my trip by seeing my best friend/college roommate. Pretty sweet :)
Crap, I’m leaving in two weeks and I have a lot more left to do than I thought!
Eurgh more changing plans! I do not deal well with that.
But in other, somewhat better news, I discovered the Budapest card while looking for stuff to do in the city. $37 for three days of free public transit, museum admissions, guided walking tours, and some other stuff. It’s nice but it has made me realize that I think I underestimated my actual in-the-city expenses by a lot. In Greece I could just wander around outside through nice public gardens, beaches, and historical sites for free most of the time. Since it’s going to be very very cold, I’m going to want to be inside a lot more on this trip, which usually costs money. Hopefully more of the cities I’ll be visiting will have special passes like this.
So! I am looking for recommendations for things to see in the following cities:
I especially like smaller museums and non-art ones, and also cool old buildings, so if anyone has any suggestions let me know!
I am considering changing my plans somewhat. I have contacted several places to volunteer the first few weeks, but I haven’t gotten any responses yet. So I’ve been thinking about utilising cheap Ryanair flights and visiting some friends & schools in the UK. Unfortunately it’ll still cost more overall, but I’ve been trying to think of ways to limit that (like couchsurfing possibly). I might not mind the slight increase in cost in exchange for seeing friends and getting to visit a couple of schools I really want to go to, except that I just don’t have the extra money. (This choice will also bump Prague, which is somewhere I have really wanted to go for a while. At the same time, I will be a lot less likely to go crazy from isolation and lack of ability to communicate due to language barriers. It’s a long trip, so that’s a serious concern.)
So, since I’ll be volunteering and visiting schools and meeting up with people on this trip, I have to have the details nailed down a lot more than I did last time, which feels really weird. At the same time, it’s going to be the dead of winter around the Alps instead of late spring on the Mediterranean, so it will be kind of nice to know in advance exactly where I’ll be sleeping each night.
As it looks right now:
A few days in Budapest, then a few in Vienna.
Volunteering somewhere for three weeks (haven’t pinned that one down yet – Germany or Austria, most likely).
A few days each in Prague, Zurich (yeah, that’s a fun 11-hour train ride in the middle), and Geneva.
Volunteering for 3 weeks in the Italian part of Switzerland.
Over to Freiburg for several days to see my college roommate. Then (still waiting to confirm this with her) heading to Kosice with her. Head back west to Bratislava (with or without her, not sure yet) for a few days before I go back to Budapest to catch my flight out.
There is potential for side-trips from both of the volunteer locations but I’ll work those out when I’m there.
I had originally planned on doing Benelux as well, but it was just too much (and too expensive). Next time!
In the meantime, I’ve got to go out and buy some boots so I can get them broken in.
So, I just bought tickets to Budapest. I actually can’t believe, I managed to get a non-stop flight both ways, arriving/departing on decent days & times (i.e., when someone would be able to take me to the airport), for pretty cheap. I guess January isn’t exactly the high season.
I’ll be in Europe for 10 weeks, traveling and volunteering, culminating with visiting my best friend. Currently the plan is Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, then Germany (where my friend lives) and Slovakia (where her family lives), and the Czech Republic. The countries may shift depending on where I end up coordinating volunteer stays, but either way, I’m super excited.
The only thing I’m not so excited about is that traveling in winter really kind of sucks. Not sure how I’ll handle backpacking with the added weight of heavy clothes and shoes that aren’t just plastic flipflops.
Ah, a new plan (I always have a plan, I just rarely get to carry them out).
So I was hoping to be living in Europe for grad school this year. Not happening. However, many of my friends will be, and I was thinking I might be able to visit them. My roommate will be in SW Germany, so I was thinking, fly into wherever’s cheapest in Germany, head down to where she is, head across to Slovakia (where she’s originally from and where some of her family still lives). I also plan on hitting Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and Berlin, but I don’t know how much of the rest of the trip she’d be interested in.
If, after my current job ends in September, I get another decent job, I’m thinking I might be able to go in the spring. (Of course, if I have a job, how can I take off for several weeks? We’ll sort that out when we get there. That’s why I had considered going in September before getting a new job, but I’m hesistant to spend all of my savings if I’m not sure I’ll be able to replenish them when I get back.)
Gah. Plane tickets are so freaking expensive.
I’m looking into if I’ll have enough money to go to eastern Europe even if I do work this summer. I found plane tickets for about $750 round-trip (looking at this summer, not next summer, because that’s too far off to look up yet). Buuut the hostels are only about $10/night, much cheaper than Greece, and we’ll be staying with my roommate’s family part of the time. So… maybe? I’d like this one to come in under $1500 if possible. I think it’ll work, as long as we buy our plane tickets early. I know I still need to factor in train tickets and food and such, but if we’re only spending less than $150 on hostels and probably getting several days of free food when we’re with my roommate’s grandparents… I think it’ll all work out.
It will be a pain having to use 3 different currencies though, since only Slovakia uses the Euro so far.
I had hoped, after my last trip, to be going back during 2010. The plan was to hit up the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary with my roommate, but it’s not going to work out this year. Mostly I don’t have the money, but I also don’t really have the time, because I’ll (hopefully) be doing research all summer. (My roommate, meanwhile, is going to the UK with another friend.) But if everything works out we should be able to go in 2011 after graduation.
I’m excited; I’ve always been interested in eastern Europe and I’ve really wanted to go to Prague in particular. I’m also part Hungarian (a very small part), and most of my roommate’s family still lives in Slovakia so we can stay with them for part of the trip (plus she’s fluent and familiar with the area, so that’ll make everything easier). It’s just a shame it’s a year and a half away! I guess it gives me plenty of time to get around to renewing my passport.