Complete Croatia Itinerary and Costs Revealed!

Letter 123

After spending just over 3 weeks of my summer travelling around Croatia, visiting 10 different places, I feel I can shed some light on how much Croatia will set you back. From accommodation to travel and activities to food, I’ve got you covered!

 

TOTAL SPENT: £810.76

 

Brief Summary

  • Average per week = £246.75
  • Average per day (23 nights) = £35.25
    • Minus anomalies of Plitvice and Dubrovnik (we’ll get to why later) = £32.25
  • Average accommodation price = £14.74

 

QUICK TIPS:

Go before the national parks increase their prices for tourists

  • I went to Plitvice at the end of June and it cost 80kn (approx. £10)
  • I went to Krka at the beginning of July and it cost 110kn (£13.75)

Stay in the non-touristy cities like Sibenik (one of my favourite places) which is way cheaper than the likes of Split and is only an hour away.

Try to avoid festivals where accommodation will sell out (or time it right and embrace them)

  • I went to INmusic festival in Zagreb on a whim and it was amazing! It was super cheap as well (I haven’t actually added it into the costs here but I spent a total of £90 at the festival including the ticket for 3 days and all food and drink there)

Strategically plan what time to get a bus based on where the sun will be and the view you want (sounds silly I know)

  • Croatia’s coast faces west and is stunning so planning a bus before mid afternoon hits and the sun starts to sit means you can sit by the window looking out at the sea and islands without cooking alive
  • Also make sure you have extra change for getting on the bus because they charge extra for your bags (normally between 8 and 10 kuna)

 

Itinerary

Croatia route

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Zagreb – 4 nights
  • Plitvice Lakes – 1 night
  • Pula – 4 nights
  • Rovinj – 2 nights
  • Zadar – 3 nights
  • Sibenik – 3 nights
  • Split – 1 day
  • Brac – 2 nights
  • Korcula – 2 nights
  • Dubrovnik – 2 nights
  • Kotor, Montenegro

You can probably tell I began to run out of time towards the end, as I was desperate for a long time in Montenegro, so my relaxed 3 or 4 night stays in each place became 2 nights. Even so I feel I had a good amount of time in each place.

If you wish to stop reading here then I will summarise quickly before going into detail. Croatia is a pretty pricey country compared to neighbouring Balkan beauties. However, it’s well worth it and you can find cheap parts too. Food can be pretty cheap from local bakeries and supermarkets but eating out is quite expensive – I only ate out a handful of times. Get yourself a hostel with a kitchen (or a wonderful host who cooks for you – see my Brac Island post here). Buses are pretty easy and efficient, just buy your ticket at the bus station, most journeys are very frequent and cheap too. Don’t overlook the capital even though it’s inland as it has a lot to offer! Spend time in the cities, national parks, beaches and islands – this country is surprisingly vast!

 

Now for the details…

 

Zagreb

4 nights = £150.70

  • Accommodation: Mali Mrak Hostel £44 (dorm bed)
    • Amazing place – couldn’t recommend enough! A little out of the centre, very quiet, great vibe and perfect hosts!
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £32 (bus from Budapest)
    • Local trams are efficient and cost barely anything (I believe about 50p per journey)
  • Food £56.32
    • Mostly supermarket but I did eat out and try some of the local food
    • My favourite restaurant here was Heritage which is a Croatian street food place with insane food – here’s a link to the google maps location of it. I paid about £6 for a few tapas style dishes and a drink.
  • Activities £7.50
    • This doesn’t include the festival – ticket was about £55 for 3 days I believe
    • I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships which I loved and also did an amazing walking tour.
  • Other £10.88

I thought Zagreb was great and still can’t understand why people don’t like it or decide to skip it. It’s definitely cheaper than the coastal cities and has character in abundance as well as friendly people and a random lake. I honestly really enjoyed it.

zagreb 4

Plitvice Lakes

1 night = £60.88

  • Accommodation: Villa Jezerka Hostel £15 (for half a double room – I was with my boyfriend)
    • Great hostel – not the best looking but was what we needed. Easy to find and the owner is great and even took us to the park early in the morning so we would beat the crowds – which is highly recommended.
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £10
    • Bus from Zagreb which was about 2 and a half hours long
    • They are quite frequent, ours was at about 11am – you can do Plitvice in a day from Zagreb (or Zadar/Split) but you do arrive at the park at about 11am which is when it’s super busy. By staying over you can enjoy the park quiet in the morning.
  • Food £25
    • We splashed out a bit and had a few really nice meals. Eating within the park isn’t as expensive as we thought and as we didn’t have a chance to get food before we didn’t really have a choice.
  • Activities £10
    • Entrance to the park – as I mentioned earlier – is cheaper before July hits.
  • Other £0.88

I loved staying here and getting away from the city bustle. Definitely a good stop off and the national park is as stunning as you would expect – worth it 100%.

plitvice 1

Pula

4 nights = £105.25

  • Accommodation: Airbnb £52 (for half of an apartment – with access to a pool!)
    • If you’re in a couple definitely go for an airbnb – you can get a lot for your money!
    • Airbnb link
  • Transport £18.75
    • Bus from Plitvice where you have to change in Karlovac.
    • We also got a bus to a national park in the south – not reliable at all, be warned.
  • Food £34.50
    • We spent barely anything on food – it is much cheaper when you’re sharing with someone else. Mostly ate in but did have a few treats out for lunch or dinner.

Pula was probably my least favourite city in Croatia however I had a great time relaxing at my airbnb with a pool and venturing out to a national park called Kamenjak. It’s still a cool city but you only need about half a day to see it all so plan other things to do in the region!

BUDAPEST, ZAGREB, PLITVICE AND PULA

pula 2

 

Rovinj

2 nights = £67.63

  • Accommodation: Roundabout Hostel £42 (dorm bed)
    • Interesting hostel – not the best I’ve stayed in but it is the only one in Rovinj so you don’t really have much choice. Also it was the most I paid in Croatia!
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £4.50
    • Bus from Pula – very cheap and quick, could be done as a day trip
  • Food £16.88
    • I ate supermarket food and bakery treats which is quite cheap
  • Other £4.25

Rovinj is beautiful and still quite untouched by tourists so is very much worth a visit. Not a cheap place because of accommodation but 2 days is plenty here and you will fall in love with it. I happened to also run into a salsa festival here which is so much fun!

Romantic Rovinj

rovinj sunset 1

 

Zadar

3 nights = £101.13

  • Accommodation: Lazy Monkey Hostel £48 (dorm bed)
    • This is a super cool hostel a little walk away from the centre right by the beach and port. It’s a great place to stay with such a cool vibe and good people.
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £35.13
    • The bus from Rovinj was pricey because you have to change in Rijeka and it takes about 5 hours in total from what I remember. It’s such a stunning route though!
    • I also took a boat over to Ugljan Island which was stunning and pretty cheap
  • Food £16.88
    • More supermarket food! I cooked a few times with people at the hostel and also ate out at a beach shack down the road which was super cheap
  • Other £1.13

Zadar is a place you can’t miss! It’s such a great city and you also must get over to one of the islands as they are paradise! Lots of backpackers come here so you’ll also meet people.

Zadar: hiking to an abandoned fortress

zadar town 1

 

Sibenik

3 nights = £101.88

  • Accommodation: Hostel Globo £36 (dorm bed)
    • This is a good simple hostel where I happened to bag a whole dorm of 8 for myself! I liked the staff and the location couldn’t be better!
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £11.63
    • The bus from Zadar was cheap and quick
    • I got a local bus to Krka national park which was cheap but not reliable!! Waited absolutely ages for a bus on the way back but I had good pals to chat to in the sun so I wasn’t fussed
  • Food £27.88
    • As the hostel was super cheap I did pick up dinner every night from the takeaway which sold the best falafel wrap ever! Treat yourself right? Otherwise I ate from the local market and supermarket.
  • Activities £17.50
    • The bulk of my spending here went to Krka national park which is well worth it (but not quite as good as Plitvice in my opinion).
    • I also visited a couple of fortresses in the city which were incredible!
  • Other £8.88

I can’t praise this little city enough – I loved it. It was hands down one of my favourites for its cobbled street charm and stunning views and sunsets. Don’t skip it!

Side note – I didn’t stay in Split but I did stop off for the day after Sibenik (it’s only an hour on the bus) before going to stay on Brac island. You can easily do Split from Sibenik and it’s so much cheaper to stay here. In my opinion Split doesn’t need longer than a day.

The most underrated Croatian city: Šibenik

Krka or Plitvice?

sibenik town 6

krka walk 1

 

Brac

2 nights = £60.06

  • Accommodation: Central Studio Apartments £30 (dorm bed)
    • This place is special, mainly because of the lovely family that own it. I loved the location, dorm room, outdoor kitchen and views. It was wonderful and quiet.
    • Booking.com Link
  • Transport £17
    • The ferry over from Split wasn’t too expensive and only takes 50 minutes so it’s a very doable day trip!
    • I got a bus across the island from Supetar to Bol (where the famous beach is) as this was where I got a katamaran to Korcula.
  • Food £7.25
    • I spent so little on food as I bought everything from the supermarket and the family at the hostel cooked for me one night which was wonderful! Got some homemade Borek and lots of lovely treats.
  • Other £5.82

Brac is such a beautiful island with stunning beaches and so much to do. If it was cooler I would’ve hiked the hill/mountain – highest point of all the islands. I would definitely come back for a holiday here!

brac supetar 2

Korcula

2 nights = £60.38

  • Accommodation: Hostel Caenazzo 2 £30 (dorm bed)
    • This was a slightly dodgey hostel but still not bad. It’s location was perfect and it had what I needed.
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £15
    • The Katamaran from Brac was slightly expensive but not too bad considering it was the only way to get here and there was only 1 per day I believe.
  • Food £11.63
    • Once again – supermarket food! Combined with the daily borek of course.
  • Other £3.75

Korcula was pretty, but for me not as good as Brac. I feel I could’ve skipped it, but the town was nice. If you want to relax somewhere where there’s not that much to do then it’s a good place. It would’ve been better if I’d had a car to be fair.

Island escapes: Brač and Korčula

korcula 7

 

Dubrovnik

ie. The city that sucks your money up.

2 nights = £102.88

  • Accommodation: Youth Hostel £42 (dorm bed – with breakfast)
    • This was THE cheapest hostel in Dubrovnik and to be honest wasn’t bad. It was about a 25 minute (beautiful) walk to the old town which I didn’t mind, it was quite near the port and the beach and you get free breakfast so I was a happy bunny.
    • Hostelworld Link
  • Transport £15
    • The Katamaran was the same as from Brac to Korcula which is efficient and reasonably priced.
  • Food £20.63
    • Eating out in Dubrovnik is not cheap, so I didn’t really do it. I bought a few beers, went to nice bakeries and tried not to spend too much. If you eat out in this city you’ll spend a fortune.
  • Activities £21.75
    • This was quite a portion of the money which I spend on walking on the walls – amazing and only ‘cheap’ for me because I had the right student card (ISIC) and also going over to Lokrum island which was stunning and worth it.
  • Other £4

I had mixed feelings about Dubrovnik. It was beautiful and amazing and a seriously cool place. But it was also packed with tourists, very ‘game of thrones-y’ and extremely expensive. I’m glad I went but it’s not a place I would return to unless it was for a day trip. I did get a firework display on the beach which was pretty amazing.

The many highs and few lows of Dubrovnik

dubrovnik old town 3

 

So that’s it! All of the costs you could need to know about in Croatia and my lengthy itinerary. It’s an awesome country and I’ll remember my trip fondly.

Anyway questions, feel free to ask!

From Lou

About Me

PS.

While the average daily spend for this trip was £35.25 (or £32.25 when you remove the anomalies of Plitvice (at £60 for 1 night) and Dubrovnik (at £100 for 2 nights)), I didn’t actually spend this each day:

  • Over the trip I spent £159 on transport, typically travelling between places every 2, 3 or 4 days
  • Therefore, without transport, I spent £651.
  • That works out to £28 per day including accommodation.
  • I’ve said in a previous letter (about travelling in Andalucia here) that to calculate a budget I work out a rough average for accommodation (I stated earlier that it is about £15 per night) then double it for an average daily budget.
  • This would give me a daily budget of £30 which I stuck to for the trip and then needed extra for transport.
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Beauty of Berlin

Letter 122

My 5 days in Berlin were filled with beautiful architecture, striking street art, salty pretzels and Christmas cheer. I fell in love with this quirky city and all its perfect imperfections.

This is part 2 of my account of Berlin, and its taken almost a month to get it written and uploaded, but it’s here! (If you haven’t read the first part you can find it here.)

 

Historic Mitte

It took me until day 3 to actually explore the historic centre of Berlin, and it blew my mind. After seeing some edgy, lived in parts of the city, it was quite a contrast to come to the touristy centre and see some of the main sights. Even though this was the most touristy part, I still didn’t feel it was overwhelmed with tourists, which I liked very much.

I started where I left off the previous day with the Museum Island. It’s a bizarre place that is home to an abundance of classic architecture holding the city’s most sacred collections, combined with the grandeur of the emerald domed cathedral and with the modern city lingering beyond the water in the background. It’s the perfect place for a walk and to start exploring the centre.

berlin museum island 1berlin museum island 2berlin museum island 3berlin museum island 4

I then took a short walk down the road leading to the Brandenburg Gate (in search of a pretzel) and wound up wandering through Bebelplatz (my favourite square) and then towards Gendarmenmarkt, where I had visited the amazing Christmas market previously. This area is bewildering with winding streets, amazing buildings and a feeling of space and colour.

berlin centre 1Bebelplatz 1Bebelplatz 2Bebelplatz 3gendarmenmarkt 1

In need of restbite from the cold, I followed my senses and found myself a shopping mall to relax in. I instead found myself in a city of shopping centres, all leading off and into one another, and somehow got all the way to Potsdamer Platz through the maze of shops, Christmas decorations and plush sofas made for me and my kindle. Before jumping on Potsdamer, I decided to ‘check out’ Checkpoint Charlie. This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen but I definitely recommend it.

shopping 1berlin checkpoint charlie

Following the route of the Berlin Wall I found myself again in Potsdamer Platz, one of the coolest areas I’ve ever been to. After studying it in my Architectural History class, I was fascinated with the area and couldn’t wait to have a wander around the modern buildings and central ‘square’. With the Christmas markets overflowing, it was a magical place and yet again I took further rest (and a further pretzel) in the shopping centre, which may trump them all with lights and baubles galore.

potsdamer platz 1potsdamer platz 2potsdamer platz 3shopping 2

All of this and it was only 3pm?! Yes, the centre is compact and easy to navigate in little time. I met up with my friend (and host) and headed to the Reichstag Building, which is a total must for anyone visiting Berlin. It’s the most wonderful building with a fascinating history and great views across the city. You can also get a free audio tour which tells you about the view and specific buildings. Such a great thing to do! You have to book online in advance as it gets booked up and you also need to go through security checks on arrival as it’s a government building – well worth it! Here is the website if you’re interested in going – German Bundestag.

berlin reichstag 1berlin reichstag 2berlin reichstag 3berlin reichstag 4berlin reichstag 5

I spent the evening in yet another Christmas Market having soothing spiced wine and buying Christmas treats for friends and family. What a full day in beautiful Berlin. My favourite thing about it was the slow pace I allowed myself to go at and take in all the sights.

Here’s my route around the Historic Mitte:

berlin route centre

 

Street art courtyard, postcard perfect streets, carol concert, memorial and markets

My last day in Berlin was chilled and perfect. I saw a couple of sights that I’d missed on the previous few days, as well as exploring a knew area that I really liked.

I began in the same location as the last day, at the cathedral on Museum Island, but headed north, away from the centre, in search of a street art hub I’d read about. I found it very easily and it did not disappoint. I stayed here for a while admiring the colours and images dressing all of the walls and enjoyed the emptiness of this underrated gem. It’s called Haus Schwarzenberg – must see!

berlin street art courtyard 1berlin street art courtyard 2berlin street art courtyard 3

The area around this discrete little courtyard is really nice with a number of public squares, gardens and shops. I should’ve spent more time around here, but I did wander down a few lovely streets.

berlin centre 2berlin centre 3berlin centre 4

I ended up back at Museum Island (seemingly the centre of Berlin for me as this was the umpteenth time I’d been here). I decided to go into the cathedral because, honestly, I can’t resist a beautiful church. It was stunning. I also got really lucky because the choir was rehearsing so I got to watch and hear some beautiful German renditions of my favourite Christmas songs. You can also walk up to the viewing deck at the top which has great views – if you can handle the steps.

berlin cathedral 1berlin cathedral 2berlin cathedral 3berlin cathedral 4berlin cathedral 5

For the rest of the day I walked around familiar streets, and explored the last place on my list; the memorial to the murdered Jews. Another thing I had studied so was interested in. The memorial itself was pretty intense to be in, but was made less so by disrespectful tourists (and potentially locals) who were running around, sitting on the memorial and being loud. The museum underneath was an eye opener and I’m glad I did it.

berlin centre 5berlin centre 6berlin centre 7berlin memorial 1berlin memorial 2

Just before completely crashing at my hostel, I popped into the market I found around the corner from the hostel. It’s such a vibrant atmosphere filled with lovely people and glorious food. Would recommend if you’re staying in the area! It’s called Arminiusmarkthalle.

market 1market 2

That just about rounds up my visit to Berlin. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and it made me very eager to go back to Germany and explore more of the vast country. I hope you’ve enjoyed this (very long) letter and that it would prove useful if you find yourself in the capital!

From Lou

About Me

PS. Letters may be few and far between from now until May because I am now in my final sprint to finish my degree. I’ll post when and if I can. xoxo

Andalucía Itinerary and Costs

Letter 121

How much does it cost to travel to and through Spain?

From 17th May to 29th June 2017 I spent my days sunning myself in Southern Spain and exploring 3 beautiful Andalusian cities. This post will reveal my small itinerary and how much it cost me. Enjoy!

 

Frigliana stepped street

Frigliana

 

THE WHOLE TRIP: €386 + €56 flight

Itinerary

  • FLY Edinburgh to Malaga – €56 (with baggage)
  • Nerja – 7 nights
  • Malaga – 1 night
  • Cordoba – 2 nights
  • Sevilla – 2 nights
  • BUS Sevilla to Faro (Portugal)

Aside from my week in Nerja, I needed far longer in each of the wonderful cities. Unfortunately, I had time restraints and needed to be in Portugal for the 29th so I had to cut my Spanish summer short. But it was very sweet.

Check out posts about each place if you’re interested as this letter will focus on costs and budgeting.

Nerja in a nutshell  |  Malaga in pretty purple  |  Cordoba at it’s best  |  Happy Travels in Flamboyant Sevilla

Nerja

nerja 3

Nerja was my holiday. It wasn’t really part of my ‘backpacking trip’ and I spent money as if it were my holiday – unashamedly so. It’s a wonderful seaside paradise with a lot to offer and I would thoroughly recommend a visit. As a place to go on holiday I would recommend finding self catered accommodation because there are restaurants in abundance and you can wish your days away on the sparkling coast.

Accommodation

Thanks to my wonderful auntie and uncle, I had free accommodation for the week which took a massive chunk out of the budget. However, because of a mix up, we actually had to quickly find other accommodation for the first couple of nights – so it turns out I can tell you about prices of accommodation.

For a week that would set you back only €150, or €75 each if you’re splitting costs. There are tonnes of other hostels/guesthouses in the area so it makes a great holiday destination.

For me, accommodation cost my €40 in Nerja (as we has another night at a different place)

Transport – €18

Nerja is accessed from Malaga via a coach for around €8. Once you’re in Nerja you won’t need transport to get around as it’s small. You should definitely take a trip to Frigliana on the bus which is only €1!

Eating out – €90

As I mentioned, we indulged a bit. We ate out most lunchtimes because it was the easiest and nicest thing to do on our long beach days. Lunch (or dinner) was typically around €30 for the two of us, which would normally include a main and starter/desert and a drink.

Groceries – €30

We ate in most evenings and every breakfast, normally simple things like cereal, fruit, sandwiches, salads etc and the supermarket food is very reasonable. It only cost me around €4 a day!

Extras – €22

Things like ice creams, postcards and the odd cocktail all add up! But not that much because it was cheap and I only spent a few euros a day on things like this.

Total – €200

Could’ve done it cheaper but hey – it was my holiday!!

 

Malaga – Cordoba – Sevilla

 

cordoba second day 6

Cordoba

 

I only spent 5 nights between these 3 stunning cities – that deserve 3 nights each. Nevertheless I loved exploring each of them and I saw a lot.

Accommodation – €83

  • MALAGA – Patio 19 – €14 dorm bed
    • Hostelworld link
    • Lovely central and authentic hostel which offers free breakfast on their patio.
  • CORDOBA – Funky Cordoba – €14.50 dorm bed (x2)
    • Hostelworld link
    • Slightly run-down hostel but is in a great location with very helpful staff.
  • SEVILLA – Sevilla In Backpackers – $20 dorm bed (x2)
    • Hostelworld link
    • Really liked this hostel, very cool vibe. Perfect location (round the corner from the cathedral and tonnes of tapas bars.

Transport – €32

It cost me €4.50 to get to Malaga from Nerja and whilst in Malaga I used the bus once to get from the station to the hostel, which was around €1.50. It’s a manageable city to get around, but if I had longer I may have used the transport system more to get elsewhere.

TIP: The bus to/from Malaga airport is around €3.

The 2 hour bus from Malaga to Cordoba was €12. I then took a local bus to my hostel (because it felt like 100 degrees and I couldn’t manage the 15 minute walk at this point in time) which was 1.30. It’s cheap to take buses but also small enough to walk around the city of Cordoba.

TIP: I was in Cordoba at the time of their big festival and it was so busy. Buses were crammed full and I had to wait around an hour just to get on one. Would’ve walked if I’d known.

The bus from Cordoba to Sevilla was also €12 which I felt was very reasonable. I didn’t take any other transport whilst in Sevilla (but did take a bus to Portugal which will be included in Portugal spending!).

TIP: Buses in Spain are better than trains. They cover more routes and are of a good quality. It’s also possible to get to other countries easier via buses whereas with trains you typically have to go via the capital (ie. Spain to Portugal – the only train line is Madrid to Lisbon).

TIP: I took to taking my buses late afternoon so that I would get most of the day in the 1st city before travelling to the 2nd city and arriving before sunset. Then I would just check in to my hostel and get food, sleep and be ready for a full day in the city.

Food – €43

I mainly ate food that I bought from the supermarket whilst in Spain because I had limited time exploring and wanted to make most of. I did, however, try out some tapas with people I’d met at the hostels and also indulged a bit in Cordoba’s festival on churros – how can you not?!

TIP: Generally tapas dishes range from €2-€4 per dish and I would normally eat 3 or 4 for a meal. Some bars do a drink and dish deal for cheap. You’ll have to ask a local to find the best ones!

Activities – €28

I didn’t hold back on attractions but also spend a large proportion of my time doing free things and wandering the streets of the cities. I found attractions to be very cheap, especially with student discount! Here’s the things I did and how much they set me back:

  • MALAGA
    • Walking tour €5
  • CORDOBA
    • Walking tour €5
    • Tower at the Mezquita €2
    • Museum (can’t remember the name) €1.25
    • Palace €2.25
    • Gallery in Plaza del Potro €2.25
  • SEVILLA
    • Walk up the Torre del Oro €1.50
    • Alcazar €2
    • Parasol €3
    • Cathedral €4

TIP: Use student discount!!

TOTAL – €186

This averages out at around €37 per day for 5 days. It’s much higher than I would’ve liked but it’s because I moved more often than usual – I would prefer to move every 3 or 4 days. Travel costs then work out far lower. Still, I was happy with what I spend and thoroughly enjoyed my 5 days.

TIP: Travelling slowly works out much cheaper as the big transport costs between places occurs less frequently. Also, you can normally make the same supermarket shop last for 2 or 3 days, thus it costs less over a longer period of time.

 

cordoba second day 8 alcazar

Sevilla

 

So there you have it – 12 nights in Andalucía for €386.

I hope this has been a helpful cost guide!

From Lou

About Me

TIP: The way I calculate a budget before I go somewhere is simply by searching accommodation costs and doubling the average for a daily budget, and then depending on frequency of movement, adding on a little for transport costs.

Eg. Average accommodation cost = 83/5 = €16.60

Multiply by 2 = €33 per day or €165 for 5

I actually spent €186 – only €21 over (€4 per day) which is the extra transport costs I add on.

Looking back on 2017

Letter 119

What a year 2017 has been! I would go as far as to say it has been the best year of my life, but I’m looking forward to 2018 even more. In this letter I’ll recap 2017 the best way I can and look back over my favourite letters.

Letter 56

The year began in the best way possible – travelling. I visited one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever been to and enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would. Iceland. Land of fire and ice – and boy was it incredible. While it is an extortionate country to travel in, I managed a week for £538 including everything, which you can read about here. We based ourselves in the cityof Reykjavik for the week but ventured out every day on trips which took us around the Golden Circle, to the middle of nowhere to see the Northern lights, to the Blue Lagoon (at night), to a frozen botanical garden, to an outdoor swimming pool and to beautiful parts of the colourful capital. Check out all of my Iceland posts here.

Letter 73

In February I was lucky enough to combine my course with my love and spent 10 days in beautiful ItalyIn that time I visited Rome, for the second time, Turin and Milan. I loved the diversity between these cities and leisurely enjoyed architecture, food and sun. What a wonderful way to escape Scottish winter?! You can check out all of my letters about Italy here.

Letter 85

March was a month I actually really enjoyed as spring had finally sprung in Edinburgh and I spent a lot of time out enjoying my city. I visited the botanic gardens, walked the various hills and enjoyed relaxing in the sun that had been hiding for a few months. Who says you can’t travel at home? I wrote a few random letters in March – check them out here.

Letter 89

In April I did a little more travelling around the UK as my birthday came about which included visiting my best friend in Cardiff and spending the night up in Fife, north of Edinburgh. Amidst all of my uni work it was good to take some solid time out. I also celebrated 1 year of aletterfromlou!! I honestly thought I would’ve had more letters by this point but alas, I’m proud of what I achieved. April was also when I booked my first fight of the summer – the beginning of my biggest adventure! Check out my April updates here.

Letter 95

May saw the completion of my second year of university and my summer trip begin. I spent the last 2 weeks of May in Spain, 1 with my boyfriend relaxing in Nerja, the second exploring Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla on my own. I love Spain and my Spanish definitely started to improve! If you’re interested you can check out either my May letters here or those about Spain here.

Letter 99

June was busy. I spent a few days holidaying in Portugal on the Algarve with one of my friends, followed by a few days in Lisbon on my own before meeting up with my mum in Porto for a week’s holiday. I then flew over to Budapest to meet my boyfriend, spend a couple of days there, and then travel down to Zagreb in Croatia. I then spontaneously decided to go to the music festival with some people I met and had the best time. My boyfriend and I then headed to the beautiful spot of the Plitvice Lakes and it was stunning. Afterwards, we continued on to Pula in northern Croatia for our last days of holiday. When he left I embarked on my 4 week solo trip to round off the summer. What a busy month June was?! Check out all of the letters: Portugal, Budapest & Croatia.

Letter 104

July was a month of beaches, old towns, hiking, islands, new friends and smiles. I loved this month as it saw me travel down the coast of Croatia and spend 2 weeks in Montenegro, now my favourite country. I had the most incredible time and loved getting to travel without planning in advance and changing things at the drop of a hat. What an amazing month. Check out letters about Croatia here and Montenegro here.

Letter 109

August puts up a fight for the toughest month of the year, but also one of the most fun. I worked Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival at an awesome lego exhibition and was incredibly proud of the work I did. It was long hours and stressful days in a packed city but it was worth it. What a great thing to do!

20170828_173706

Letter 111

I’m going to roll September, October and November into one here because I actually don’t have any posts on these months – because I did very little other than uni work. However, as usual, I still spent time exploring my city but didn’t have time to write about it. I also went to Loch Lomond for a weekend which was stunning – but no time so here’s a quite picture anyway!

loch lomond

Letter 118

Although the last few months of 2018 may have been somewhat ‘cloudy’ I did finish on a high note in December. I flew over to Berlin for a few days to see my friend who’s now living there and had the best time. I stepped straight back into travel mode and loved every second. What a fantastic city and I can’t wait to explore more of the country – hopefully in 2018! I then spent time with my family, friends and boyfriend over the Christmas period, cherishing relaxation time before heading back up to hell uni.

berlin east side gallery 1

Thank you 2017. It’s been a great year, especially for travel. I visited Iceland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro and Germany. Quite the list! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings, I have a feeling it will be a good year.

Happy New Year folks! I wish you all the best.

From Lou

About Me

 

 

Warming to Berlin at Christmastime

Letter 118

Berlin is a striking city of edgy art, modern architecture, friendly culture and unfortunate history. It is different to any city I’ve ever been to and it actually might be one of my favourites. It doesn’t have the consistent perfect terracotta roofs of Florence or the quaint cobbled streets of Kotor, it doesn’t possess the great ruins of Athens or the skyscrapers of New York, but what it does have is a unique unapologetic character of its own and I would like to introduce you to my new friend – Berlin (at Christmastime).

My first impressions of Berlin were at 3am and consisted of a bleak night and scary train system. Thankfully I was staying with a good friend who now lives in the city so she came to my rescue and I stayed with her. I quickly realised the train system is actually very simple, as are the buses, and I had no issues here on out. I had 4 full days in Berlin, which I feel is perfect for this time of year, but in summer I feel I could stay much longer. I read a statistic that Berlin is 46% green space or water of which I explored only a tiny part of due to December temperatures and foggy skies.

Parks, airports, galleries and markets

On my first day, my friend and I ventured out into the city and began in Victoria Park. I can imagine this would be stunning in summer (as would most of the places I went so I will only say it this once) but it was lovely when we went as well. We walked up to the Prussian National Monument for the Liberation of Wars which had lengthy views down the streets leading to the centre and also down what I believe would be a waterfall. It was foggy but lovely.

berlin victoria park 1berlin victoria park 2berlin victoria park 3

We then walked to an abandoned airport. Yes – that’s the kind of stuff you’ll find in Berlin. This monumental Tempelhof field, which was once used by the Americans to transport supplies to those in need in the city, is now left to runners, dog walkers and wildlife. The curved terminal building remains empty and looks onto a green square with a memorial to the Berlin airlift. This was my first introduction to the history of Berlin. (Took no photos so you best go visit…)

As the weather was less that ideal we decided to take cover in an art gallery, and chose the Hamburger Bahnhof for the occasion. The modern art exhibits are situated in this 19th century railway station which is both bizarre and wonderful. I really loved this museum and considered returning – but there’s too much to see in the city for that. We sat watching a film about a family running an illegal abortion clinic in Austria for an hour (called The Impossible Picture, by Sandra Wollner), saw some impressive metal structures that we didn’t understand, walked around a life size house seemingly constructed using scraps, entered a recreation of a South American shopping mall by Sol Calero and watched a strange Latino TV show. It was a very cool museum.

berlin gallery 1berlin gallery 2

In the evening we headed out to get Christmassy. We went to Gendarmenmarkt, which is sandwiched between to stunning churches (which I only appreciated fully when I returned in daylight) for the huge Christmas market, but stopped on the way when a littler one caught our eye. Wow. Berlin knows how to do Christmas. I can only imagine what the markets are like in other cities, like Frankfurt and Cologne. We scowered the stalls and leisurely drank prosecco and mulled wine around a wood burner listening to festive tunes. What a lovely Christmassy evening.

berlin gendarmenmarkt 1berlin gendarmenmarkt 2

Berlin wall, colourful streets, Christmassy malls and the river

My second day began at the East Side Gallery, one of Berlin’s top attractions – and for good reason. The whole area is eye opening and beautiful in the strangest way. However, the art begins way before the wall does, from the other side of the stunning bridge actually. Public art installations grace both sides of the river bank and then the long stretch of the dividing wall of 20th century Berlin begins and is a complete beauty.

berlin east side gallery 1berlin east side gallery 2berlin east side gallery 3berlin east side gallery 4berlin east side gallery 5berlin east side gallery 6berlin east side gallery 7

I then decided to wander to one of the main roads of Friedrichshain called Karl-Marx Allee, known as a socialist boulevard with striking architecture of the 50s. I walked most of the way down enjoying the massive amounts of space and the towering tenements either side of the lanes.

berlin karl marx allee 1berlin karl marx allee 2

I then veered off to the more residential parts of the area where I came across colourful apartment blocks, cosy cafes and small tree lines squares.

berlin friedrichshain 1berlin friedrichshain 3berlin friedrichshain 2

Even with the dull weather I took a stroll around Friedrichshain Park which surprised me a great deal. It had some pretty ponds, more public art and a lovely path steeping up to a vantage point (where I could actually only see trees). Fog and cold can’t dampen my spirits.

berlin friedrichshain park 1berlin friedrichshain park 2berlin friedrichshain park 3berlin friedrichshain park 4berlin friedrichshain park 5

As it was lunchtime I did a typical ‘budget backpacker’ meal and popped into aldi to pick up supplies and then headed into a shopping centre near Alexander Platz to sit down and eat. Germany do shopping centres right and have plush comfy seats amongst sparkling surroundings of Christmas trees and decorations (note: do not expect this in summer – go sit in a park).

berlin alexa shopping centre

After a couple of hours sitting, reading and shopping (for chocolate) in the shopping centre I ventured out again to have a last wonder around Alexander Platz before meeting my friend. The markets here were charming and a short walk led me to the very picturesque riverside (which I returned to the next day). I loved the smaller streets and squares and it felt like an alien part of the city compared to what I’d experienced so far.

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The last stop on this jam-packed day was KaDeWe, an enormous department store. One of my favourite things to do in London is wander around Harrods, so I was excited about this. It exceeded expectations with it’s beautiful festive decorations, indoor Christmas market and spellbinding food hall. We spend a while in this particular part of the store.

berlin kadewe

So that was my first couple of days in Berlin. I found this city so different to anywhere I’d been before and was excited to see more. It has a way of slowly revealing itself to its visitors and making you want to understand the history and the people. At first I thought it would be a tough place to crack but it quickly warmed on me. I began to love it – and this was only the start of my trip!

Stay tuned for days 3 and 4…

From Lou

About Me

Travel Plans After University

Letter 117

This is a letter more for me than you, to get me away from my architectural theory reading and escape off to the plans in my head for travel once I finally finish my degree. Plans include Germany, Greece, Scotland, horses, Eastern Europe, English teaching qualification, Mum’s 60th trip and the States. All in approximately a year. Lets go!!

Germany

I just purchased a Lonely Planet book titled Munich, Bavaria and the Black Forest Travel Guide – so you know I’m serious about this one. One of my best friends is currently residing in Berlin (and I’ll be there in a couple of days visiting her) so I thought it would be a good opportunity to go and visit her again and see Germany in Springtime. I started doing a spot of research at the weekend and decided I wanted to travel around the south (since I’ll only have about 3 weeks) but there’s little information out there so I thought a book would help. Exciting!

 

Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden

 

Greece

The only thing set in stone at the moment is my holiday to Greece with my mum. We are heading to Parga for a week in early June to chill out and catch up. Greece is one of my favourite countries (I have a letter about my love of Greece here) and I can’t wait to go back.

 

Parga

Parga

 

Work

I am then planning to spend the next four months working in Edinburgh for a number of reasons. Firstly, the money will be helpful for the next years travel and as I’m paying for a flat until the end of July, I may as well use it. I can then move in with my boyfriend and continue working all the way up until his birthday in the middle of October. Secondly, I have graduation (hopefully) on July 5th so obviously need to be here for that. Thirdly, it’s my best friend’s 21st at the end of August so I need to go home for that. All in all, there’s no point in planning a trip between all of these events so I may as well rake in some cash and enjoy the beautiful rubbish Scottish summer.

TEFL

I am super excited to also have a chance during this time to work on my TEFL qualification (teaching English as a foreign language) and I’m hoping to do this with Angloville, a company recommended to me by a traveller I met in the summer. This company sponsor the TEFL qualification in exchange for 3 weeks working on their program which is based around conversing with locals (of all ages) to help improve their English. It’s very exciting and I will use the 4 months working in Edinburgh to get through the 120 hours of online teaching before heading off in the New Year to put it into action!

Website for Angloville (if you’re interested) here.

Side note: The company offers these week-long placements to travellers so you can spend a week staying free of charge in a hotel in the countryside of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Ireland, England or Malta helping people learn English.

Horses?

Before I get back to TEFL and the 3 weeks volunteering, I will have a couple of months, between mid-October and Christmas, to do a bit of travelling (finally!). This is the trip I have no plans for yet – not even a country/continent. The only requirement I have is that I would like to limit it to one country (or two small ones) and that I would like to include a workaway for about half the time that would allow me time around horses. Initial thoughts were Spain, Albania, Macedonia, Austria, Scandinavia, North America…. I really have no idea! Any thoughts will be helpful, but I have a whole year to think about it so I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

 

Me and Nuffy!!! 005

Me aged 11ish on a plucky pony called Nuffy

 

Eastern Europe

Back to TEFL and when I would hope to do the 3 weeks volunteering/working for Angloville which would be in January/February of 2019 (really looking ahead). I would hope to devise a route around Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and maybe Austria based on these weeks of work and take about 2-2.5 months to do it. Lots of new countries – all of which fascinate me!

 

Wroclaw

Wroclaw

 

Mum’s 60th

On April 12th 2019 my mum turns the big 6-0. Therefore I will be leaving April free so that hopefully we can go on a special trip together. No idea what yet, but I know she’ll want to do something big and something different. I’m thinking something on the lines of the Orient Express, and from some reseach I can imagine a week in Paris followed by the overnight (extortionate) train journey down to Verona and a week there, maybe with some time in the lakes to finish. It will literally break my bank but I think it would be incredibly special.

 

Orient express

I clearly need to become rich in order to board the Orient Express…

 

Summer Camp

Ever since I stepped out of the gates of my wonderful camp I’ve been saying I’ll return. Hopefully summer 2019 will be the year. I don’t know if I’ll go to the same camp (though I’d like to) but I would like to do at least something similar because I loved it.

 

m3

My happy place

 

I think 2019 will be a huge travel year for me and I figure I can probably justify spending a fortune on my mum’s 60th trip if for the rest of the time I’m either working, volunteering or staying in cheap places. Now I’m super excited to finish uni! (Note to self – don’t get ahead of yourself. You still have one essay and a semester to get through.)

Hope you’ve enjoyed me throwing my thoughts into a letter and rambling to my hearts content.

From Lou

About Me

Photo Essay: Sunsets of Summer 2017

Letter 116

Whoever said sunsets all look the same are stupid. This letter will present some of my favourite photos from Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Montenegro – that happen to be a varied array of sunsets. Enjoy.

 

rovinj sunset 2

Rovinj

kotor monastery 4

Kotor

montenegro beach sunset
Bar

Thanks for reading.

From Lou

About Me