RTW Diaries: Month One

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Holy crap, I've been traveling for a whole month already! There were times when it felt like it was going by very slowly. But now, looking back, I have no clue where the whole month went!

Since I'll be traveling for at least a few months on this trip, I've decided to do a little run-down after each one, telling you about some of the highlights and lowlights, as well as any other fun tidbits I can find to throw in.

Salzburg

Month One

Countries visited: 7 — The UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria

Cities visited: 9 — London, Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Salzburg

Favorite big city: Berlin

Sometimes you just can't explain why you love something as much as you do. And this is exactly how I feel about Berlin. As soon as I stepped off the bus near Alexanderplatz, I could just tell that Berlin and I were going to get along. The city has a vibe about it that I immediately connected with, and I loved my 5 days there.

Berlin East Side Gallery

Favorite small city: Tie between Bruges and Cesky Krumlov

I've already written about beautiful Bruges, but Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic similarly charmed my socks off. I think it's because both of these towns were small enough to explore on foot, yet large enough to offer up some really cool things to do (like canal boat rides in Bruges and river rafting in Cesky Krumlov). I also spent time with some great Busabout buddies in both of these stops, which definitely helped me make awesome memories.

Cesky Krumlov

Most adventurous activity: River rafting

As mentioned above, you can go rafting on the Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov. I spent about 6 hours on the river (and at various riverside pubs) on a sunny Sunday afternoon. And it was perfect.

Cesky Krumlov

Weirdest place visited: The Bone Church

About an hour's train ride outside of Prague lies the town of Kutna Hora. And in that town is “the Bone Church.” Technically called the Sedlec Ossuary, this church is decorated on the inside with the bones of about 40,000 people. Creepy, but oh so cool.

Kutna Hora Bone Church

Best tour: Third Reich tour in Berlin

I did a few different tours in Berlin, but my favorite by far was a Third Reich tour with Insider Tour Berlin. The material was definitely heavy at times, but I learned SO MUCH about Berlin, Hitler, and Germany in the years leading up to, during, and after WWII. As a history nerd with a huge interest in WWII, I ate it all up.

Reichstag in Berlin

Most-anticipated stop: Salzburg

When I was a little girl, my favorite movies were “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Sound of Music” — with a little “Mary Poppins” thrown in, too, for good measure. Because of how many times I've seen “The Sound of Music” (my poor grandpa; there were a few years where I made him watch it with me at least once a week), visiting Salzburg has always been high on my bucket list. This little Austrian town was probably one of my most-anticipated stops for that reason — and it did not disappoint.

Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg

Biggest let-down: Amsterdam

For whatever reason (and I have a few theories, which I'll share in a later post), I just did not click with Amsterdam. I tried really hard to love this beautiful city, but I left feeling rather ambivalent about it. I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not sure I'd ever bother to return to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam canal

Biggest challenge: Loneliness

I touched on this in my August newsletter (if you aren't signed up yet, do it now!), but my biggest challenge so far has been finding my travel groove and adjusting to being on my own again. I haven't really traveled solo since last summer — all of my trips since then have been in a group or with one other person. Adjusting back to traveling solo has been tough for me. While I enjoyed my time in London and Paris, I struggled during my downtime to enjoy myself. Using Busabout for transport this month has been great, though, because I've been able to meet some fantastic people and finally get back into my travel groove.

Most expensive city: Tie between London, Paris, and Amsterdam

Cheapest city: Prague and Cesky Krumlov (mostly because they aren't on the Euro)

Here are some other stats:

Flights: 1 (Pittsburgh to London)

Trains: 3 (Eurostar to Paris, and roundtrip from Prague to the Bone Church)

Buses: MANY — it's my main form of transportation this summer, thanks to Busabout

Money spent: Roughly $1200 USD (I haven't been keeping track as well as I should, and a lot of my accommodation and transportation costs have been covered, making this number actually quite low for a month in Europe.)

Splurges: 3 (A ticket to see Spamalot in London, a private room in Vienna, and a “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg)

Photos taken: 1,451

New things purchased: 2 (a scarf and a non-Apple European adapter, because I forgot mine at home)

Showers taken per day: Usually 2 — Europe doesn't seem to understand the value of air conditioning!

Berliner Dom

Where to next?

Month 2 will have me mainly exploring 2 countries: Italy and Greece.

In Italy, I will be visiting Venice, Rome, Florence, and the Cinque Terre before ending my Busabout trip in Nice. From Nice, I'll fly to Athens for 2 weeks in the Greek Islands with Intrepid Travel.

I cant wait for Month Two!

What's up on the blog?

I am sadly at least 2 weeks behind on the blog — meaning I have a TON to catch up on! Me falling behind has been due to a few things: bad/slow Internet at some hostels, me catching a cold that's going around, and the fact that I'm trying to get as much out of every destination as possible! I haven't quite struck the right work/travel balance yet, but I'm working on it.

In case YOU are a bit behind, too, here are some of the highlights I've written about so far:

And I think that's Month One wrapped up!

Paris

——

Let me know what you thought of this monthly report in the comments.

 

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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57 Comments on “RTW Diaries: Month One

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  1. Come on. You realise that ‘the UK’ is NOT a country, right? How hard is it to get that right? You’re a travel blogger. I’d at least expect you to refer to the places you go correctly.

      Actually, if you want to get technical, the UK IS a country. I realize that “England” would make more sense for me to list here since I went to London, but, for all official purposes, England is a part of the UK. And the UK is the officially recognized “country.” England is not a member of the United Nations – The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is. England does not compete in the Olympics – it competes under the GB/UK flag.

      So, in reality, I DO have my facts straight.

        Obviously England is a part of the UK.

        The UK is a sovereign state. That is not the same thing as a country, though a lot of people use the two interchangeably – that doesn’t make it right, though.

    Wow, 7 countries! I’m exhausted just reading this. I’m curious to hear more about your thoughts on Amsterdam. The Bone Church looks AWESOME. I must write that one down. I’m also a huge fan of the Sound of Music. I know you said Salzburg lived up to your expectations, does that mean the tour was worth the money too?

    Happy travels!

      Yeah, its been a busy month, for sure!

      I should hopefully have that Amsterdam post up next week – and I’ll definitely be writing more about the Bone Church, too!

      The “Sound of Music” tour was really fun; I thought it was worth it simply because it took you to quite a few sights out of town that I probably would not have seen on my own.

        I can’t wait for your post on The Bone Church.

          I will definitely do one, if only to share more photos of this weird place!

    I am so glad you’re doing monthly reports, I love reading them! My heart is going to yearn to be with you in this upcoming month, I am in LOVE with Italy and miss it dearly. You’ve got my attention, that’s for sure. 🙂

      I did weekly reports last summer, but I was only traveling for 8 weeks then. This year, monthly reports seem so much more manageable! Glad you enjoyed the first one.

    I think getting into a groove can take some time, and sometimes you’re sort of thinking why it isn’t there yet. Sometimes it’s just a matter of random things happening that can kick it back into place, but it’s not something that you can make happen, other than just doing what makes you happy when you can. Good moments will happen sooner or later.

      I totally agree with you on this one – a travel groove just kind of happens naturally. I think I’ve slowly eased into mine now, thankfully.

    I freakin’ love this kind of run down you are doing Amanda! What a wild and awesome trip it’s been so far…in just a month! The bone church looks just like the kind of quirky attraction I’d love (I’m all about the ghosts, graves, ruins, and macabre)

    Loving the photos so far, can’t wait to take my RTW trip sometime in the future. Maybe after Southeast Asia =)

      Thanks, Ryan! Glad you like it.

      I think you would LOVE the Bone Church! If you ever find yourself in Prague, make sure to visit it.

    Sounds amazing. Cannot wait to explore Europe properly

    It is so weird how a month passes so quick, isn’t it? I did a month in Europe back in May and I was kind of shocked when it was over. Looking forward to pictures of Florence, I am in love with Florence. Every time someone makes a post about it, I sit here reading it, drooling all over my desk.

      Yes, time really does slip by quickly. I just realized that I still have some things to book for the end of August – and that is coming up really quickly! Eek!

    I’m amazed that you’re only two weeks behind on posts considering everywhere you’re going and everything you’re doing! It must be that journalism background that makes the turnaround time on your writing so impressive. Anyway, I loved this round-up. I was also unimpressed by Amsterdam, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the city. Plus, I felt lonely when I traveled solo in Europe last Fall, and it’s always nice to know I’m not the only one who took some time getting into the groove of it.

      Definitely the journalist in me, I think – even when I don’t have strict deadlines, I feel like I do!

      I’ve actually spoken to a lot of people who were unimpressed by Amsterdam – so we are not alone!

    I’m curious to hear what you didn’t like about Amsterdam. Andy and I were there for 5 days in May, and even though it was overcast and rainy most of the time, we liked the city, though more from a “we could live here for awhile” perspective, not so much from a touristy perspective. As for the lack of air conditioning and the need to shower twice a day, I’ve given up on worrying about it from living here. I go the opposite direction and think, it’s so freakin hot, why bother with a shower in the morning if I’m just going to ruin it with sweat the minute I walk out the door? Luckily the temps have cooled down again.

    I hope you’re having fun, despite the loneliness here and there! You’ll find your groove!

      You’ll just have to wait and read my post on Amsterdam!

      Actually, I don’t think there was just one reason that I didn’t love it. Multiple reasons compounded by the fact that it was sandwiched in between destinations that I DID really love.

    I’ve enjoyed following your trip thus far, especially since I just got back from the UK, Prague, and Vienna. I have to say that I’m totally jealous of your Italy and Greece leg. Enjoy and safe travels.

      Glad to hear you’ve been following along, Leah! I’m really looking forward to this Italy and Greece leg, too. In my mind, it’s almost like a whole ‘nother trip entirely!

    Great info and congrats on one month!

    Don’t worry too much about being behind on the blog – I got in a good groove on my trip with being consistently 3 weeks behind where I actually was. I tried to take notes on things I saw and what I was feeling in the moment, but it just took too much time writing and editing photos to get posts up anywhere close to real time.

      Yeah, real-time blogging is impossible on a trip like this! I’ve been taking notes and starting posts here and there when there are things I really want to remember. Otherwise, I’m just trying my best to enjoy the actual traveling!

    What a lucky traveler! Thanks for reminding us of the importance of relationships. You can have everything, but if friends and family are missing, it can still be a challenge. Being Italian and having grown up going to Italy over many summers in my youth, can I recommend that on your way to Nice, you stop for a few days in Asti and its surrounding wine country? It’s so relaxing and beautiful, with green rolling hills and medieval architecture. And September is the month to go! The town gastronomic festival is in the downtown square the weekend of 7-Sep. All the surrounding wine country towns each bring their signature dish and serve it from stands around the town square. Then, the next weekend on 15-Sep is the famous medieval parade and horse race, also in the center of town. It’s an amazing experience if you can make the time to go! Totally off the beaten path, unique, and worth it!

      Thanks so much for the suggestions! I unfortunately will be in Greece the first two weeks of September, though!

    Your monthly reports really did well. You’ve seen many places places in just a month! The “Bone Church” certainly is weird. Never seen one before. Yet weird, I would love to go see it in person and see if those are real bones.

      They most certainly are real bones! So weird, but also very interesting to see.

    What an amazing journey thus far! And I’m so glad you are taking the time to really enjoy it rather than trying to post in real time. Happy travels!

      It definitely has been amazing, and I’m sure it will only get better from here!

    7 countries in a month. Wow… seems like a little hectic travelling in my opinion.

    The bone church looks really cool. Is there a history behind using bones and skulls to decorate the church?

      A little hectic, yes. But I’ve decided to make the most of the time I have! And, really, it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve stayed in a few places for 5 days, which has helped break it up nicely.

      As for the bone church, you’ll have to wait to read my post about it! 😉

    Great round up! Looks like a lovely trip! Love the photo of Amsterdam!

    Did you jump up and down the steps in Salzberg sing Do-Re-Mi? I bet you did!

      Haha I didn’t exactly jump up and down on them, but I WAS quite giddy roaming around the Mirabell Gardens and humming that song to myself!

    how crazy is the bone church, it was a miserably hot day when I went a couple of years ago and the cooler inside while creepy was a welcome relief

      So crazy! But also so cool. I convinced a bunch of other people to go with me to find it (people who had never been on a train in Europe before!), and we all were glad we went.

    What a month! I loved all your photos and posts so far and I can’t wait to see where your trip takes you next! Also, I can totally relate to how you felt about Amsterdam — I liked it alright, but it didn’t fascinate me as much as London, Paris, or Berlin did.

      Glad I’m not alone on feeling that way about Amsterdam! And thanks for reading along so far, Julika!

    Wow – that’s a lot achieved in month one! I hope month two is just as exciting.

      I hope so, too! I’m sure it will be, though. I mean, Italy! And Greece!!

    Loved reading about your first month! Seems like you’re having an amazing time and finally finding your groove. Can’t wait to hear all about month two!

      Yes, I’m definitely feeling happier and more excited about my upcoming plans. I can’t wait to see what month two brings, either!

    I don’t love Amsterdam either — too busy, too loud, too disorganized. But I really like smaller Dutch towns like Delft or Haarlem. All the Dutch goodness without the noise and hordes of tourists!

      I definitely need to check out some of those smaller towns!

    I’ve put off Berlin for far too long it seems, I must get there soon! I’m in Greece at the moment on the island of Thassos. It’s my 11th trip to the Greek Islands – I love it, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you get up to. Have fun in month two!

      Definitely get yourself to Berlin soon! It’s such a cool city.

    those were great highlights, too bad on Amsterdam, there’s a lot to see…I totally love Bruge also, it’s small and the canals are sweet and colorful!

      I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone truly disliking Bruges after visiting. It’s such an easy place to like.

    I took me three or four trips to Amsterdam to finally get its charm (and I kept going back because of a few great friends who live there–not because I’m a glutton for punishment). I still don’t love it, and much prefer Utrecht to it, but at least I’ve grown an appreciation for it.

    Can’t wait to read about your next month of travels! And hopefully I’ll get to run into you somewhere around Europe, as I’ll be landing there on September 10th and will be there for a few months. (I think at least TBEX is a possibility?)

      I don’t think Amsterdam is a place that I will ever love. But I’d be willing to give it another chance someday.

      And yes, hopefully our paths will cross at some point!

    Loved this high level report and can’t wait to continue to follow you on your journey. I hope to do a RTW trip in a couple of years, so I am taking notes 🙂

      Great to hear! It’s certainly been a great adventure so far.

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