Hola Lisbon, Portugal

This gallery contains 16 photos.

First impression of Lisbon (Lisboa): just another big city. BUT, after less than 24 hours in the city I realized that Lisbon is described as one of the best cities in Europe for several reasons. My hope is that by … Continue reading

Cheese, bread and wine in Paris, France

Oh hey there!
I am so sorry I’ve been MIA! I only have my phone as a way to write my posts and post my photos…and sometimes the Internet isn’t very reliable!
Wow…I don’t even know where to begin! Instead of starting from the beginning, I’ll write about my night in Paris, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

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I travelled to the Eiffel Tower solo my first full-day in Paris. It’s big. Really big.
And it’s crowded. Very crowded. I have a hard time appreciating a place when it’s crawling with people. But, amazing none the less.

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Then I got lost. Well, not literally. I knew what tram station my hostel was at so if I really did get lost I could just go to any tram station (they’re everywhere) and head back.

I stumbled on an outdoor market on Rue Cler. There was fresh produce, fresh croissants, buskers, cafes over-flowing with people and tents with antiques and furniture and random trinkets.

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It was an awesome discovery! I wanted to go to Luxembourg park, but somehow I kept getting turned around and ended up walking in the wrong direction, north instead of south, and ended up on the Seine!

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There was a fence with ‘Locks of Love’ (I don’t know what it’s actually called), but it was the perfect photo opportunity, and I’m certain I’ve seen photos of it before. Then I walked across to The Islands and explored the boardwalks along the Seine.

I had been walking for 3 or so hours by this point, and as if someone heard my prayer I stumbled on Luxembourg!

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It was so gorgeous! There were people sitting on chairs all around the gardens, and I did the same. I had my book with me so I put my feet up and read in the sun for an hour. Ah, now it feels like a vacation!
Around 5 I headed back to my hostel (20 minute walk), and then I met my roomies: 2 very friendly Brazilian women! Immediately they invited me out with their friends and that’s what this post is really about.
When you go to Paris (because you will go), don’t waste your money in a crowded cafe. Around 7 head to the Eiffel tower with friends and bring fresh baguettes, French artisan cheeses, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the cork-screw!) and sit on the grass and just enjoy the tower at night. They also do a 5 minute light-show at 9pm! There were tons of people doing the same thing as us, and it was exactly how I imagined Paris would be. And, since wine only costs 4 euro a bottle (a good bottle, you can get a bottle for as low as 2 euro!), and cheese and bread are also inexpensive, you get an authentic Paris experience without spending crazy amounts of money!

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I promise I’ll write more posts about Ireland (Guinness and skinny-dipping) and Morlaix, France once I’m settled in Madrid! Next stop: Madrid! I met a friend, Pablo, while I was in Dublin so he is going to take me around Madrid while I’m there for a week 🙂

Packing for 3 months in Europe

So I spent the better part of the past two-days either packing or visiting. Packing isn’t difficult, it’s just draining.

When I looked down at the pile of clothes I made, it just didn’t seem like enough. I found myself thinking “Hm, well I guess I could pack one more shirt just in case…” but then the traveller inside me would scream “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”.

I’ve never really been known as a light packer. Don’t get me wrong, after all the cross-country moves I’ve done I’ve gotten better, but this was a challenge. I used to pack a 50 pound bag for a one-week trip to see my Dad. He would always look at me like I was crazy, and he was right: I barely touched more than half the things in my suit case.

Anyways, I’m just estimating, but I am 95% certain the bag weighs less than 25 pounds. Is that good in “backpacker-travel” standards? I don’t really know–but I can pick my bag up with one arm no-problem, so I think that’s a good sign!

What I Packed

Clothing:

  • 4 tank tops (1 “dressier”)
  • 3 T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 summer-dress
  • 2 Merino Wool sweaters
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 light, 1 dark)
  • 1 zip-away type pants
  • 1 pair of lu lu lemons (guilty pleasure)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 “nice” sweater
  • 2 bras
  • underwear/socks (obviously!)
  • PJs (shorts and a long t-shirt)
  • 1 bathing suit

Tioletries:

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • DRY conditioner/shampoo (Lush Cosmetics)
  • Small bottle Body-wash
  • 1 bottle spray leave-in-conditioner (I NEED IT!)
  • bandaids/polysporine (I’m really clumsy)
  • Hair elastics/bobby-pins
  • Make-up  Absolutely NOT!
  • baby-wipes (in a baggy–great for washing your face)
  • Vanilla spray (I have to smell good if I’m going to make friends)
  • Deodorant
  • Lady-stuff
  • Q-tips (a few in a baggy)
  • Vitamins/meds

Other Stuff:

  • Fluff-book (Thanks Heather for the Harlequin Romance)
  • iPod/iPhone and ear-phones (and charger)
  • ear-plugs
  • Towel/blanket
  • Flip-flops (for the showers)
  • Pillow-case (recommended by Heather-It’s always a comfort knowing what your head is laying on)
  • Sandals (small, cheap ones, for going out)
  • Walking shoes (wearing on the plane)
  • Camera and charger
  • Adaptor
  • Journal/pen
  • Spork
  • Bounce dryer sheets (make my smelly-stuff smell good)
  • Lock
  • Plastic bags (put away dirty-laundry/anything wet)
  • Sandwich bags (so many uses)
  • 1 water-bottle (the deflatable kind)

The obvious essentials:

  • Passport
  • photo-copies of my documents (a couple hidden in my carry-on and my bag as well as one I left at home)
  • Eurail Pass
  • Confirmation numbers
  • Address for my hostel

I’m pretty sure that’s it. The list may seem long, but once it’s all compacted in your bag, it’s not. I put a lot of my things in small plastic-bags (sandwich bags) and then put them all in one large zip-loc bag so it’s easy to dig out every night at the hostel.

Of the above items I packed the following in my carry-on:

  • 1 pair of underwear
  • iPhone/iPod/chargers/adaptor
  • The obvious essentials
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 flannel blanket (not in my list of things, only because it was given to me by a very friendly west-jet employee my last flight home, so I plan on only keeping it for the flight).
  • My book

And there you have it! I think it’s a fairly good list of things, and if I arrive and go “Sh*t, I should have packed _____” or “Fack, I wish I didn’t even bother packing _____”, I’ll let you know!

P.S. I AM SO EXCITED!

Eurail Pass – What a headache!

The countdown is on! Only ten days until I start my 3-month journey.

I’m not a procrastinator, but I waited longer than I should have to purchase my Eurorail Pass.

Why? Because it’s not as easy as the online-world makes it sound! Seriously, what is simple about picking a pass? Okay, I admit, if I had an itinerary in mind, I’m sure buying a pass would be simple. BUT, I am going with NO plan.

I’ve been on a few sites, including Rick Steves, for advice, but couldn’t really decide on the best course of action.

So, I headed onto the Eurail site and started comparing prices. Are you ready?

(Note: These are youth prices).

Eurail Global Pass: 10 days in 2 months – $548

Eurail Select Pass: 8 days in 2 months (3 countries) – $384

Eurail Regional Pass: 8 days in 2 months (France-Spain) – $364

Eurail One Country Pass: 8 days in 2 months (Spain) – $384

Alright. Do you see what I see? Let me break it down for you.

Why not the Global Pass?

I am going to be in Europe for a total of 3 months. A 3-month unlimited pass (not shows) is over $1000! No thank-you! I only plan on visiting 4-5 countries max, and the countries I am going to be in aren’t connected as well as Eastern Europe. Sure, if I were going to be in Eastern Europe,  a global pass may have made sense. But, Ireland I plan on traveling via bus or one-way train tickets. France I only plan on traveling through, and maybe stopping for a night or two. Portugal is also a country not that well-connected via the rail network. Global pass (for me) is out!

One Country Pass – I think not!

I think this is fairly self-explanatory: why would I pay the same for a one-country pass (same amount of days) as I would for a regional?!

Regional vs Select Pass

I wasn’t sure if I was going to travel in France. I may decide to fly instead from London to Spain (<$40), but I don’t know. But I figured for an extra $20 I’ll have peace-of-mind. That’s the same for portugal: I’ve tried looking online for tips on getting around this small country, but haven’t really stumbled on much. A friend of mine who visits there frequently told me that the bus system is the best option. But, if I decide to train into Lisbon for a few nights, nothing is stopping me. Also, what if I decide to do the Mediterranean tour in France and over to Italy? The options!

Cost: $401 (including shipping and insurance) for the regional pass.

I chose France, Spain and Portugal.

How did you decide on the amount of days?

This was a tough decision. Do I choose 7 days in 2 months or 10 days? I opted for 8 because I figure I will be spending a lot of time in certain areas. I love to stay in one place for an “extended” period of time (more than 3 days) to really soak in the culture. Honestly, it was a total guess as to how many days I might need. I’ll be kicking myself if I realize I need more.

So, for those of you looking into buying a Eurail Pass, I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy. It’s not! Even if you have an itinerary, spending a lump-sum like this is never easy to do, and what happens if your plans change? Do yourself a favour, and RESEARCH. I wish I would have seriously looked into this a lot sooner.