For the Love of Lists: Tips, Tops & Observations from Two Months Abroad

In all fairness, I still have a few days left on my trip, so there may be a yet unexperienced moment or observation that belongs here…. but for writings sake (and having 16 hours of travel ahead of me) I thought I’d start now. One of the joys of travel is found in nostalgia, in the memory of all you have done and seen. I thought it would be nice to share a few thoughts: my favourite moments on our trip, interesting differences or things I noticed, and items I both wish I had and hadn’t brought.

For starters, under category of “Top Cities”:E from Carlton Hill

1) Edinburgh. People might scoff at me, but I’m truly locked in a Scotland-love zen that won’t let go. I had been to Scotland as a teen, but never this wonderful city. Sure, its very touristy, but forgive the city- it cant help it! Whether its the cobbled roads that lead you between whiskey rooms and old pubs, the beautiful castle atop the hill, the raw beauty of Arthurs Seat (easy access for a great walk!) Or the kind, attractive Scottish accent breezing around you, you can’t help but fall in love just a little. (If not completely!)

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2. Barcelona

I really didnt know what to expect in Barcelona, but that might just be part of its magic. Whether you’re a foodie, partier, photographer, beach bum, artsy type, people-watcher, or sort of unsure, Barcelona will no doubt have something for you. You can spend a glorious afternoon at a beach littered with people from near or far, or get wonderfully lost in the many alleys woven into the Gothic Quarter. I highly recommend renting a bicyle and riding through Barceloneta, or, if you want to feel a bit silly, rent a scooter. Do some research to find some truly interesting bars and food joints, like Chupitos, with their famous Harry Potter shot, or Can Paixano, for 4€ bottles of champagne and wonderful tapas. We pulled our second late night in Barcelona, dancing until 6am. The kicker? We were sober. You don’t have to be, but this wonderful city really did dazzle us with its endless options for art, nightlife, music, food, and fun.

3. Paris. Ahhhh, Paris. La ville d’Amour. I was single but still managed to have an excellent time. You need to be prepared for certain less flattering truths and then you can really enjoy the city. Yes, there are scammers and pickpockets. Yes, the metro is hot and stuffy. Yes, you might expect a bit of gruff attitude if you dont speak French (we thought Parisians were lovely, but both of us speak a French they either enjoyed or found hilarious). Beyond that, the city is a tourist haven and it is clear why. We were lucky enough to witness the Eiffel fireworks on Bastille day, but seeing it light up is a marvel any night. With churches and cathedrals like Notre Dame, your architectural appreciation is boundless as there are so many great buildings to see. Lets not forget the Louvre, musee d’Orday, Rodin… we were there four days and could have easily stayed a week. Beautiful gardens, the lovely Seine, wonderful food (loved escargot!) And a beautiful language… dont be surprised if you end up speaking a bit of french yourself.

Top moments:

1) hang gliding. This was in Interlaken, Switzerland, and its hard to describe how liberating it was. I could go on, but try it for yourself.

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2) Highlands tour. We took a Rabbies 2-day tour into the highlands which was worth every penny. Glencoe, Loch Lomond, Urquhart castle, Doune Castle… I am now hell-bent on finding work in Scotland sometime in the new future. Visit Tourism Scotland on IG and tell me you aren’t impressed.

3) Eiffel tower on Bastille day. See above.

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4) Walking tour of Edinburgh. I’m biased since we learned a lot of HP influences come from here and I’m still a big fan.

5) Touring Santorini on a quad bike. ….followed closely by Barcelona on bike. Very different, both awesome.

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Top things I wish I’d brought that I didn’t (in no exact order)…

1) Tablet. Ok, I don’t own one, but it would have been so much easier to look things up, book hostels, even update this blog if I didnt have to use this dumb phone! @#$!!* (If you have a small tablet, do it)

2) Overseas phone plan or int’l SIM cards. Sort of like above. I bought a UK sim when my phone broke and wasted too much money trying to top up so I could text a guy I’d met. I think I’ve learned my lesson. It would have been cheaper to get a Fido intl plan or buy sim cards as I go.

3) a GOOD umbrella. I broke 3 and now have none. 😦 We did Plitvice lakes yesterday and I was a soggy, miserable rat. DONT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.

4) Runners. I bought Toms before I left which were comfortable, but are now absolutely trashed after 2 months of serious walking. People in Germany will probably think I’m poor if they look down at my feet. My running shoes would definitely have been better.

5) Another universal charger. “OH CRAP. Hair straightener? Go pro? Cell phone? Camera?” Having to play electronics roulette to see what item got charged was agonizing.

6) I might also say a KINDLE and LIGHT would have been good, the former for endless hours of wifi-less traveling and latter so I wouldnt conk my head on so many goddamn things at night.

Top Things I Didn’t Need

1) So many clothes. Yup. Thats basically it. I still have a long way to go in the art of minimalist packing.

2) Mini laundry cleaning packs from Tide. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was never once struck by the desire to wash my underwear in a hostel sink…wonder why??

Final*** Invest in GOOD packing cubes. My last one broke and my bag is one huge freaking laundry hamper and seriously annoying.

A few Oddities Noted During Travel:

1) Bring hand sanitizer. I jinxed myself by saying I was amazed we didnt get sick… Since Im now sick. A lot of places dont have soap. Also, whats with paying to use the loo? I thank my lucky stars public bathrooms are free in Canada. It shouldnt be something you pay for.

2) Toilets. Okay, I have a whole rant on toilets. The UK is just odd. Cords, different buttons… the struggle was real when we stayed with a host in Edinburgh. You feel new levels of dumb when you can’t flush a toilet. Also, is there a toilet seat bandit in Europe I dont know about? I can’t say how many toilet here don’t have lids. Is this a cost reduction scheme? Always carry your own TP to be safe.

3) Chip flavours. Ok, why do Europeans love Paprika? Where is the salt and vinegar, dill pickle, ketchup? Mady ate PB cheesies yet we can’t find any normal flavours… different tastes over here.

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4) Mayo on EVERYTHING and malt vinegar. Europe, I love you, but I just dont understand.

Well, I suppose thats it for now. I might edit if Germany blows my mind. More travel tips to follow (i.e things I did that you shouldnt do)… I’m no guru, but hey, humour me.

Happy travels!

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