Travel

Throwback to Europe travel, 2015. My month of sunshine!

I love to get away. Travel is so so important to me, and it’s when I feel you can be most free. Holidays are special, but it’s when you are fortunate enough to get away for a longer stint and FORGET about the rat race, that you truly realise how special life is. You get away from the “shoulds” and think “what do I WANT”.  In June 2015 I had just finished a degree and decided to take myself away for a month around Europe. I decided my starting point was going to be Italy, as quite frankly, I just can’t get enough of that country! The route was therefore as follows Italy- Croatia- Montenegro (day trip)- Slovenia- Austria-Hungary and then back to Austria (flew home from Vienna) and I bought the travel mostly in advance and accommodation mostly as I went (apart from my accommodation in Italy and Dubrovnik, to make sure I had somewhere for sure lined up).  I travelled alone and it was ridiculously easy, and we are fortunate that most Europeans speak English or that there are enough backpackers around to help if required also. You are never really “alone” and being alone means you get to choose every little thing, which is just pure enjoyment.

I paid just £62.94 to fly from London, to Naples, via BA on the 22nd June 2015 (and 113 Euros from Vienna to London on the 23rd July 2015). I knew Naples, having been previously, so I was able to get myself to the port easily enough (bus right outside the station, buy tickets in the shop inside the airport first) and get the ferry to Ischia. I stayed at the Poggio del Sole, run by the wonderful owner. I stayed in an “8 bed dorm” which ended up being a 3 bedroom room, just me and another lovely traveller who I ended up sharing most dinners with. Poggio Del Sole was just gorgeous, if you go to Ischia, you have to look it up! I paid £53 for 4 nights there, and they have a restaurant also, just down from the accommodation, lovely terraces and a swimming pool. It is a bit of a walk to the port and beach area, so it’s best if you are planning to hire transport or a walker like me if you stay here.

After my time in Ischia (eating, sleeping, relaxing, walking) I then got the train from Naples to Bari, in order to get an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik in Croatia. There was one change and the total cost of the train journey was around £28. I bought the train journey in advance from the UK. It went smoothly! The overnight ferry to Dubrovnik was great! I bought the ticket on the day, the ferry left the port at 9pm and took 11 hours. I chose to sleep on a chair, as didn’t like the idea of sleeping down below in a cabin, and whilst it wasn’t the most comfortable, I did sleep! (Ruben says I’ll sleep anywhere- this might be true) One of my favourite pictures from the whole experience is me with a backpack on outside this ferry. Its dark and you can’t see my face very clearly, but I felt so free 🙂 I do remember the ferry was quite a cost, looking today, if you bought the ticket for a couple of months ahead it would cost you £49 (I think I paid more than that- well worth it though and a necessity to my trip!)

Writing this little post has been great, as it brings happy memories back of such a great and special trip! It’s a bit difficult to take month holidays when you are working (though not impossible) and so to every student reading this, I say make the most of your summer holidays whilst you can!!

Countries and cities visited

Italy– Naples, Ischia and Bari

Croatia– Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split and Zagreb, Two waterfalls visited: Lake Plice near Zagreb and Krka near Split

Montengro– day trip from Dubrovnik around the Kotor Bay area

Slovenia– Llubijana, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj

Austria Innsbruck, Salzburg, Hallstatt and Vienna

Hungary– Budapest and back to Vienna (I think I realised I had more time at the end than expected, so therefore decided to tag Budapest into the trip!)

I cooked a lot using hostel kitchens to save money, used services such as “Flix Bus” to travel between places such as Austria and Hungary (Vienna to Budapest) for very little, stayed always in hostels using hostel world and hostel booker and planned the overarching factors from the UK (flights and initial transport and accommodation) but let everything else be more “freefall”. I recommend you to pack very light as to be honest, you end up wearing the same thing most days! Having a light on your phone or a torch is handy for when you come into dorm rooms late at night, earplugs and an eyemask also handy, as well as a travel adapator! These countries were generally cheaper than the UK for train travel (my predominant use of transport) and everyone was super friendly and helpful.

Highlights and recommendations

Ischia, Italy- as above, stay at the Poggio del Sole!

Dubrovnik, Croatia- just because it is simply stunning and so much to do here, plus very easy to visit Montenegro from.

Salzburg, Austria- Mozarts birth place, cobbled streets, the Sound of Music Tour! My favourite place in Austria.

Innsbruck, Austria- Do visit the Nordketten cable car, which gives you panaromic scenes over the Kardwetten Nature Park, Austria’s largest national park.

Vienna, Austria- my least favourite place in Austria I have to say, but I absolutely loved the Schonbrunn Palace.

Lake Bled, Slovenia- I also visited Lake Bohinj, but Lake Bled is something else. Slovenia is “chocolate box” pretty, in a more untouched way that I imagined Austria was 50 years ago. Kayaking on the lake to the Church of Mary the Queen in the centre of the lake was amazing. Hostel Vila Viktorija was epic- do look it up. An 1871 built villa, now a beautiful hostel, right on the lake. When I stayed we had thunder and lightening- so beautiful to be cosied up inside with that happening! I’ve been itching to return to Lake Bled, that’s how much I thought of it…most of my photos look like they have been photoshopped, it is that extraordinarily beautiful 🙂

Budapest, Hungary- the Gellert spa was pretty awesome, love the indoor and outdoor options! Oh what it is to have a proper summer in these countries!!

I wish I had had a better camera back then, but I am loving the mountains and the sunshine in these pictures on this snowy London day!

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