Sunday, May 26, 2013

For the next time around..

Hey there folks!

I apologize dearly for the silence the past month or so, as all writers do, occasionally I get burnt out a bit and have to take some time to regroup and refocus.  Alas, the itch has returned and I'm back :)

I knew before I even left for my trip I wanted to write a "review" blog of sorts to go over things I would do differently on my trip..

The main topic I want to discuss is the wardrobe I chose to bring.  I did lots and lots of research before I left by reading blog after blog after blog to get a good feel for what was best to bring.  Unfortunately, most of the backpacking blogs I came across were usually male and thus led no insight into how a female backpacker should pack..

I did come across a great blog called that I followed religiously.  As I was anxiously waiting all those months for my trip to take place, a 24 yr. old girl named Devon Mills was backpacking around the world for 3 months.  I identified with this girl as we seemed to be extremely similar in our perspective on life as well as close in age.  She also had a fantastic blog on her preparation for her trip.  I decided to stick as close as I could to her list, even buying the same backpack.

First, what would I not change?

Certainly not the backpack.  It was awesome.  The way the bag unzipped brought gasps from hostel bunk mates far and wide when I would swiftly open my backpack up like a normal suitcase and be able to access everything immediately.

The packing cubes I purchased from EagleCreek were also pretty awesome.  They certainly helped keep everything organized and in its correct place.  Also made for some fast packing for when you have to leave a hostel in the pitch dark because the hostel owner becomes pissed at you for staying up with your bunkmates all night drinking champagne and playing music loudly and she turns off the power in the entire hostel.  Good times.

All my electronics and toiletries were perfect, I wouldn't change any of what I brought with me in that category.

So, what would I change?

Pretty much every article of clothing I brought.  As I mentioned a few paragraphs before, as I had never taken a trip like this before I was pretty much lost therefore I chose a safe route and basically followed the same list of the girl's blog I had been keeping up with.  Small problem I discovered about a week into the trip..all my clothes were so...boring.  Now let me clarify that I am not so much a "girly girl" and certainly have no problem being gross, dirty, and wearing t-shirts all day errday.  But every now and again one does like to feel like an actual GIRL.  Nice clothing wise, I had brought one skirt and one dress with me and let me tell you..those articles got old real quick.  Looking back, my wardrobe was aptly suited for lots of backpacking, hiking, camping, etc.  But for fun adventures at night, bar scenes, dinner, things like that, I literally had nothing.  Because of this I ended up borrowing lots of items from my traveling buddy Nicole.

So how would I repack..

To make life easier on yourself when you don't have access to washing clothes consistently.  I would pack ONE outfit for sleeping only.

I only wore my flats one time, my pair of sandals I had brought along with my chacos were pretty much the only thing that touched my feet the whole time.  I'll leave the flats behind next time.

2-3 short, light, airy dresses.  Super easy to travel in and fun to wear out.

One pair of hiking shorts

2-3 tops (again, light, airy, lace would be a good choice.  Anything you can wad up very small is perfect.)

1 sweater and 1 scarf (due to location and weather you're heading)

A pair of earrings (just because)

A small bottle of perfume  (never knew I would miss this but when you're clothes aren't exactly the cleanest..perfume will cover a multitude of not so nice smells)

2 camis (black and tan)

I would keep my gladiator sandals and chacos and if possible would try to add some ankle boots.

I would also definitely still keep my leggings and the 3 bras I brought (one regular and two sport)

Again, this all depends on the type of trip you're going to be taking...I plan on backpacking around Thailand and Africa and my original packing list there could be better that time around.  However, I also plan on spending some time in Ireland, Scotland, and Croatia in the near future too and I think I would want some more attractive clothes in those places.

All depends.  But for the trip I took I was a pretty disappointed in my wardrobe choices.

So, now that's out of the way we can discuss what I will do differently on my next trip...

 Country hopping was certainly a whirlwind adventure and I loved it.  I would have to say our trip was very evenly split, one half being crazy, go go go, seeing everything possible, moving around, and the other half...extremely relaxed, did what we pleased, no concept of time whatsoever.  This was all dependent on the location and time frame we allowed ourselves in each place.

London:  I've never seen so many sights in such a short amount of time.  Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Hyde Park, Queen Mary's Gardens, etc. all in about 10 hours.

Santorini:   Completely relaxed in every way.  Read books on the beach, leisurely walked the streets exploring the village, woke up early to watch the sunrise, made many friends, hiked to see the sunset from a castle ruin, drank cheap bottles of wine while waiting for bus rides kind of trip.

Budapest:  With only a day and half spent here it was certainly more rushed feeling than Greece was, but not too bad.  We spent the entire day exploring the city for what it was, not too concerned about hitting up specific landmarks but instead just soaking up the culture.  We shopped (much colder here!), had a fantastic dinner, and frolicked on the famous Budapestian? bridges that night.

Vienna:  Like Budapest, we only had about 2 days here.  I wish we had been able to stay longer in Vienna, it was certainly a city I could totally see myself living in.  We had tons of fun in this city, spent the whole day on rented bikes exploring, visited the famous Schonnburg Palace and had bookoos of fun being silly taking pictures.  The grounds are outrageously beautiful.  Found a fresh, outdoor market and was seriously bummed we hadn't thought to bring baskets to purchase fresh goods to make dinner at our hostel that night.  We opted for some cheap wine instead and had one of the most fun nights of our trip in our hostel room with just us four hanging out.

Venice:  Venice came next, this was when exhaustion started to get the best of us.  We took an overnight train and "slept" 7ish hours in an uncomfortable train car.  Not too fun.  Chris's stomach also had other things in mind besides being cool and he promptly began to vomit consistently for the next 10 hours immediately upon our arrival.  Poor guy.  He slept in the hostel while the rest of us explored.  Venice was beautiful but MUCH too busy for me.  Packed, shoulder to shoulder everywhere you went, lots of tourists and not much "authentic" Italian culture..however the canals were my favorite part and our hostel was luckily off the beaten path a bit and we were able to enjoy a nice, quiet dinner by the water with an adorable Italian accordion player softly playing nearby.  We got a few hours of sleep, hauled everything to the station only to find out we had missed our train at 5am and couldn't leave until the next one arrived at 9am.  (See my previous blog for more details on this story)  Robbie fell ill next, while Chris began to feel better.  Overall, quite the rushed city.

Cortona: Thank the dear Lord above for Cortona!  We all needed a break big time and this was the perfect place to sit back and just enjoy where we were.  We arrived at the villa located in the Tuscan countryside where Nicole and her friends had rented for the week and of course we all fell in love instantly (who wouldn't??).  We spent the next 5ish days drinking wine on the porch, by the pool, around the kitchen table, at lunch, at dinner, and any time in between.  We all recovered from our sickness, read books, took pictures, cooked food, fellowshipped with each other and had amazing Italian dinners.  Probably my 2nd favorite place we visited, just after Santorini.

Rome:  Back to busy busy!  Spent 3 days or so in Rome, making sure we saw most everything Rome has to offer, the Trevi, Forum of Rome, Colosseum, Sistine, Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica, etc.  I loved Rome and was blown away by how incredible the sights are.

Florence and Milan:  We spent a couple days in each of these cities as well.  We went and saw what you're supposed to see here and had a good time doing so.  The Michelangelo statute of David in Florence was one of my personal favorite things to see throughout the whole trip.  I loved it.  In Milan we spent a lot of time strolling..also eating some really good food.  Best pizza and calzone in Italy along with the Luini Panzerotti (see previous blog for more on this!)  Seriously this thing was UNREAL.  We spent our last night in Milan staying up all night in our hostel with some seriously crazy Polish people. We got 30 minutes of sleep before heading to the airport.  Exhausting to say the least.

Barcelona: Last stop on our trip, we spent a week here and had a blast.  Made some really good friends while here and spent our time working on our Spanish, laying out on the sandy beaches, and learning salsa.  Turned out to be a great way to end the trip by slowing our pace some to match the lifestyle of the Spaniards.

I would also spend more time researching famous sites to see or even obscure sites to visit in each place I go.  Once I returned stateside and have spent a little more time looking into the places I visited I realized how many things I missed!

For my next big venture (not sure where or when yet) I do believe I'd like to change things up a bit.  While bouncing around place to place is fun in its own way, I really really missed the feel of a "home", not necessarily my actual home here in Nashville but just a "home", a place to return to every night where you feel comfortable and relaxed.  

I want to pick one specific location to head to and stay.  I want to really immerse myself in the culture and get to know the people (that's when the best stuff happens)  I will still take the time to travel a bit but as I said, I want a home base.  I also want to choose a place not necessarily known for big world sights..a small village in Ireland perhaps or an island off the coast of Thailand..we shall see!

Until next time!


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