Can you believe I wanted my first ever solo trip to be backpacking Europe in the dead of winter??
WTF was I thinking…or maybe I wasn’t
Yeah right, I was thinking very clearly. I didn’t want my solo adventure to be some weekend getaway; I wanted the whole shebang! It was always a dream of mine to go to Europe, Paris specifically because of all the hype. It’s hard not to get serious FOMO seeing kissy pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, or plate after plate of delicious food. No more missing out, I was going to plan my trip!
I opted out of getting an international data plan so I could rely solely on my old fashioned paper map navigation skills and broken language to help me get around. I used WiFi when I could, which I ended up using a lot more because my nav skills sucked ass, but it was a learning experience I will never forget!
As a little back story, my boyfriend and I go somewhere each year for our dating anniversary (yes, a very cliche Valentine’s Day anniversary) but what sucks is that his work demands he attend the Gulfood Show in Dubai, cutting our trip short each year. Since this was going to be a long solo trip, we decided to break it up and meet in my dream city of Paris.
Here is the 30-day itinerary of my vacation.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
My first stop AND my first time ever staying in a hostel. This was going to be fun…I hope. The hostel turned out to be wonderful (6 bed female dorm for $14 a night) and I met some pretty cool people. We did a bar crawl like most hostels host, making it much easier to meet new friends from around the world. (Not like I need liquid courage to run this damn mouth)
Although very beautiful, Amsterdam seemed just okay…I am not a smoker, a fan of live sex shows or museum go-er so by the second day I felt pretty lost.
BUT all of that changed when I was trying to go to The House of Bols. My luck, it was closed for renovation…but also my luck was the two American guys I met on the steps of that place. We chatted and they invited me to a beer and cheese tasting. SCORE! After that, us 3 had a ball. Visiting bar after bar, after bar…and by the end of the night, we had to run a mile in the pouring rain to catch the last time for the Heineken Experience.
Overall, it was never about the things I saw but the people I met. What a great first stop!
From Amsterdam I took my first European train to Brussels; the first thing I saw? Men with huge guns patrolling the area. Fitting I guess since a couple of months before is when the attacks on Paris happened, but nonetheless a little intimidating. I opted for an Airbnb here to get my privacy and some sleep without snoring girls.
A quick walking tour of the city where I met some more fun people was all I needed. Later on in the night, I had a quaint dinner alone and went to a nearby bar called Lindemans (as suggested by my host) This place was far less packed and loud from the obvious choice of Delirium Cafe. So glad I took his advice because here, I met two way older french gentleman who kept me company for the rest of the night. Laughing about politics, trading travel stories…maybe this whole Europe thing wasn’t so bad.
What I thought and dreamed about Paris quickly came to a screeching halt after the second day of being there. This was suppose to be the city of love and lights…but that’s not what we felt at all. Since we were going to be here for an entire week, I did some research beforehand and got us the Paris Pass. This gave us free access to hop on and off at the metro stations while being able to skip some lines for museums and exhibits. My boyfriend and I learned this very week, what type of travelers we are.
We share a love for adventure, adrenaline, outdoor activities and sports. Not museums, or ancient art and architecture. I have no desire to relive history or slowly walk with a group of 100 people around a cathedral. We hate all of these things. I was heartbroken. Not so much from the city part, but for not being able to explore another city/country with him while he had the chance.
Making the most of our trip, we took a sunset cruise, did some wine tasting and even made our way to the outskirts of Paris to visit a champagne house! Definitely, the highlight of our Paris trip…I’m not called the Champagne Connoisseur for nothin’ 😉 Sure, we saw Versaille, and the Mona Lisa, and all the other touristy shit you do in Paris…even stuffed our faces with macaroons. Yet, we lacked the spark of excitement from the city. Judge us. Crucify us. Stone us to death, I don’t give a damn. We were just begging to get out of that place! Not to be a complete Debbie Downer and shit on your fairy tale parade…the food was to die for. One of the only pluses!
By far my favorite country on the entire planet (as of now) This is what I’m talking about. Natural scenery, clean streets and a winter wonderland that literally took my breath away. I know I said I had always dreamed of Paris, and that was the truth…but right before my trip, I was most excited to visit Switzerland. It seems to be a very overlooked country, which I’m sure is because of the hefty price tag, but man is it worth it.
I had a friend who was a chocolatier living in Switzerland at the time, so we planned on meeting up! We booked a cozy little 2 bed private room in a hostel that had a spectacular view. The days consisted of taking a train to Jungfrau, also known as “The Top of Europe” The snow was so dense that there was no hope of a good view, just us poppin champagne in 20 degree weather while we took in the fresh Swiss air. Did I mention we went paragliding over the Alps? SEEEE! This is why I found this country so amazing. Outdoor activities galore!
The fun didn’t stop there…my friend just happened to be seeing a beautiful Swiss girl who worked for Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa…a 5 star hotel in Interlaken. She insisted on getting us all a room for our last two nights, at a very very discounted price. The next day, we moved from a quaint hostel to a lavish hotel where we stayed in our robes all afternoon. Drinking champagne, getting hot stone massages, sweating out our sins in the steam room, and watching it snow over the Swiss Alps while lounging in the outdoor jacuzzi. I was dreaming.
This probably had a lot to do with why Switzerland was my favorite country, I was spoiled here. But the truth of the matter was, the views were incredible, the activities were filled with adventure and the people reminded me of being home in the south.
I could have spent my entire month long trip here…but don’t fret, I WILL BE BACK!
Germany gave me so many emotions wrapped up in one little trip. Obviously, I drank a lot of beer, but Munich has way more to offer than just a large pint. I got to tour the BMW Museum while having a first look at their new concept car.
Met up with an old friend from college who lives in Frankfurt. Not only did she come down to visit, but stayed the night, took me out on the town, and rode with me the next day to experience Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp.
The highlight was when I took a train to the Bavarian Alps where I saw the Neuschwanstein Castle…you know, the one that Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World is replicated after? All of this in a matter of days! The weather might have been cold and rainy, but good company and new adventures made it all worth while.
My original plan was to stay in Vienna for a couple of days…explore the city and take in some culture. What ended up happening was I cut my stay in half. One full day and night I would spend here, why? Welllllll, I saw a video on Facebook of a “Sparty” that happens during certain months in Budapest. SPARTY mean’t a spa party- or an all night rager in a geothermal bath; which Budapest is known for. THANK GOD I cut my trip short. I stayed in an Airbnb since it was only one night, but had the worst time getting in touch with the owners and had my first breakdown of the entire trip.
I was exhausted, about 20 days in and over all the bullshit. Vienna is not my scene. As I mentioned before, IDGAF about old art, music or anything pertaining to historic shit. While slowly dragging ass around the city, I decided to attend a classical musical that night. Mozart and Beethoven are from Vienna so might as well give them a fighting chance.
Here’s where it gets good. I take the metro early to the other side of town so I could stop in somewhere for a drink. Well, like always, 1 turns into 4 and I’m feeling pretty nice. Me myself and I head to this massive theater where were all seated for the show. This wasn’t normal stadium seating but rather a bunch of chairs lined up in front of the stage. It was pretty cool to see the show unfold but got repetitive after a while.
An hour went by and the show stopped. I was about to clap before I realized it was only the intermission. I had to pee and was thirsty for more champagne. After buying two glasses of bubbly I booked it to the restroom. The moment I sat down was the moment I realized how drunk I was. I scurry back to my chair just in time for the next half to start.
I wish what I am about to tell you was all for show but it’s not. This is me and my life.
I place both empty champagne glasses under the chair in front of me. 10 minutes later, I forget they are there and proceed to kick over both. They make the loudest shattering noise I have ever heard. The ENTIRE THEATER STOPS. My face is the color of a heavy flow period. I felt like time stopped. Those 10 seconds of silence bout damn killed me. FINALLY, they continue…I couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably. I got dirty stares from 90% of the back rows. As soon as it ends, I high tail it out of there only to be stopped by one of the owners. He whispered in my ear how funny it was and gave me a high five. PHEW!
Needless to say, I bought the earliest bus out of Vienna for the next morning and never looked back.
I went out on a limb here. I kept meeting up with old friends and making new ones while traveling and I didn’t want it to stop. I’m extroverted as shit but it’s not the easiest making friends on the road. My friend from Atlanta said she knew a girl in Prague who might want to meet up. One thing led to another and before you knew it, she was on a train to Budapest to meet a strange girl just so we explore and go to a Sparty. I reserve her a bed in our hostel dorm, we connect over some shots, and head out to the ruin bars. Cocktails in bathtubs? Yes please.
The next morning consisted of a walking tour, fancy pasta dinner, champagne with views and of course, lots of vodka. We convinced our Brazilian dorm mates to come to the Sparty with us. 4 girls, drunk, taking the metro at night was not the smartest idea, but we managed to make it.
CRAZY EXPERIENCE. Everything I had hoped for…plus it felt good to get away from the boring activities I had been doing. It was all fun and games until we lost the girls and were forced to get our stuff and leave once it closed. Problem was, one of them had the key and we had no idea where our stuff was. After 1 1/2 hours of going through EVERY SINGLE LOCKER ON 4 FLOORS, we found our stuff. Just my luck, they accidentally picked up my dress. I walked the streets of Budapest at 4 in the morning with sopping wet hair, a cobalt blue pea coat with a bathing suit underneath and thigh high stockings. A cheap whore had nothing on me.
Katie insisted I stay with her in Prague, and since that was my next stop anyways, we both took the struggle bus to the Czech Republic!
Prauge, Czech Republic
One of the cheapest cities in Europe makes Prague a top destination for backpackers and budget friendly people. I just wanted to stop there because I heard you could take a bath in beer. I waited too long to book the bath, but my friends roommate was sweet enough to show me around town. Open air Easter markets and live music all around brought the city to life. We fed some peculiar animals while taking in the little bit of warmth the sun gave off.
The plan all along was to spend more time in Prague, but after making a last minute pit stop in Budapest, my time was sadly cut short. That night we went to the supermarket to fetch some beers, in hopes of going out. Nope, we were PTFO by 11 pm. That’s what 26 days of traveling and partying does to you. I appreciated the hospitality and was sad to leave, Berlin would be my final stop.
The very last city on my 30 day European tour. It was refreshing to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Traveling for a month with only a backpack being a girl in the dead of winter is hard fucking work. I just wanted my own bed, and to take a shower in something larger than a 2×2 box. This time, I stayed in a hostel but paid $40 a night to have a private room. You get to have the social scene AND some privacy at the same time. I can’t pinpoint the words I would use to describe Berlin, it wasn’t like any other city on this trip.
Once again, I did a free walking tour–these are the best when you’re by yourself and want to get your bearings on where everything is and it really is free, the guides work off of only tips. DON’T BE THE ASSHOLE WHO DOESN’T TIP– We saw where Hitler died, a bunch of memorials, and some other cool stuff.
During the walking tour, I met two girls who ended up staying at the same hostel! We instantly became friends and decided to walk the Berlin Wall. What a site to see up close. We admired the murals, stopping to take in almost every single one before heading back. By this time, I was just ready to change, get some food and drinks and go my ass to bed so I could return home.
I nailed my first big solo trip…sure there were times where shit didn’t go right; that’s the beauty of traveling. Overall the adventure taught me so many valuable lessons about others, about myself and about the world. I know some people claim that you don’t really see a city by staying two-three nights in it, but this was an introduction to Europe, learning ways to get around, the diverse cultures, the currency exchange and how to dip my toes into the unknown. I will most definitely be back, but this time with more wisdom AND Wifi 😉
If you take anything away from my trip, let it be to follow your gut. Wanna go somewhere, then what are you waiting for? If you have a bad feeling about a situation or place, get out of it. If you don’t want to do something that everyone says “you have to do” then don’t! Solo traveling is magical in a sense that you don’t have to listen to ANYONE ELSE. I would recommend traveling alone at least once in your lifetime. It gives you so much more knowledge than any course or school could ever teach.
WTF ARE YOU WAITING FOR???
As the time comes, I will be writing more in depth posts about the various locations I traveled because I have A LOT to tell you…but until then…
xo Bonvoyage Babes
Ahhh this trip sounds amazing!!!!
You had me dying! The entire theater stopped?!?! Omg I would cry 😭
Would love to hear more about the Sparty in Budapest!
Germany sounds amazing definitely on my list of European travels 😍
I swear the entire theater stopped. It was sooooo bad. And honestly, I would love to write more about the Sparty but I don’t remember most of it. Only the end part where I had to walk home like a whore haha. You NEEDED to go though!! xo
A bath in beer! Would you do that again? It took me at least three separate trips to see all you did in 30 days!
Not sure if you read the whole thing but I didn’t do that since I waited until the last minute to book it. But yeah sometimes you just gotta go for it. 30 days and 8 countries later haha
Looks totally fabulous! And you so have the right attitude. Sometimes there are times when shit doesn’t go right and you have to just go with it. Glad you had a blast!
Another super-fun post and I found myself empathizing with a lot of what you said. It is unfortunate you didn’t get to experience the beer and bath combo of Prague, but after Sparty that might be no bad thing. It certainly is a whirlwind tour you planned and disasters like the theatre incident always make the best stories. Good on you and I look forward to reading more of your adventures in future
I know I desperately wanted to try it but the Sparty was way better than any hour long bath in beer haha. The whole trip was one big, crazy cluster fuck but so happy I did it! You are totally right, they do make for the best and NOT BORING stories 🙂 Thanks for always taking the time to write thoughtful comments, just know I see it and appreciate the shit out of it 🙂 xo
This must have been a trip, sounds really amazing! And actually you saw already quite many of the cool or hot spots in Europe.
As a German I am very glad that you saw Munich and Berlin, because they are pretty much opposite and Germany is not only one of those places 🙂
As a tipp I strongly recommend next time also italy and south of france 🙂
But anyway, even though such trip is quite exhausting and stressy, but the experience you get from this, as you said is more worth than any money. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Funny you should say that because this summer I went on a two week trip to Italy AND now I am about to go to the south of France to the French Alps (Vaujany!) I just didn’t have much time in that trip, and I knew Italy would be a whole trip in itself. Thanks for the recommendations though, seems like I took your advice without knowing! 🙂
Sounds like you had a great time except for Paris. Maybe you would’ve enjoyed your stay more if you didn’t do all the touristy stuff. Paris has lots of great neighborhoods perfect to just walk around and have a drink. 😉
We will definitely be doing that next time around. Every place deserves a second chance! 🙂
How cool ! I’m thinking about doing a Europe backpacking tour this summer and you definitely gave me some inspiration !!
You totally should, I wouldn’t suggest the summer time though haha…super crowded!
Backpacking in Europe is always a good idea! We love Europe. Sounds like you had super fun there.
Your itinerary sounds good. I am planning a solo trip in Europe for 30 days. My sure destination is France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Can you share how many days and budget spent in each country.
We are trying to go to Europe this summer and are uncertain if we will be going for one month or two months. I love this itinerary you’ve put together, you’ve hit up some of the top cities we want to visit! I LOVE Prague and would love to go back during the summer months. Is that a beaver? I hope he didn’t drink any beer and that was just a pose for the photo!
Yesss, so there is supposedly a beer bath you can take where you sit in beer AND you get your own tap to drink from! Totally check it out!! No I think its something else but we definitely didn’t feed him beer haha, we were just trying to pet it!!!
Awesome. This is indeed incredible. I’ve been on multiple long weekend backpacking trips to various European cities but never a month long! This is indeed awesome!
Since I live in the US I figured why not go and do a lot at a time considering how expensive a ticket can be to go over there!!
Seems like you had a really lovely trip in Europe! I don’t really have any experience with hostel but after I read your post I might try it out if it’s not that awful as people say haha. I like your fisheye picture as well, nice one.
There are some good and bad experiences! The best was Wombats that I stayed in so finding one with a bar helps a lot haha. Give it another shot!
That looks like a great itinerary. I love traveling alone because as you say, you can do whatever you want. I would say my favorite cities on the list you put together are Paris and Vienna. I have been to Switzerland, and I agree it is beautiful.
Really???? Those are the two I hated haha, oh well we all like different things! TOTALLY try Switzerland you will not be disappointed.
Your 30 days backpacking solo trip to Europe sounds fun! Loved your Eiffel tower pic! I’ve been solo traveling since past few years and it is an experience in itself!
Yes I love traveling solo!! Thanks muffin!!
This is JUST what I needed. Have been dreaming of a month long trip to Europe since 2 days and the universe sends me here today! Whoa:d love love the way you have spread out the cities. This is just perfect. Top on my list are Vienna and Berlin!
Definitely two completely different places! I actually hated Vienna but you might love it!!
A fun and doable version of “perfect euro trip!” 😀
OMG you covered so much in 30 days but I so wish you could have covered Scandinavia too in your itinerary.
Trust me I wish I would have done a lot of other places on my trip but there is always next time!! Definitely gonna do more adventure stuff this time!!
This is a dream itinerary, Loved all the places that you covered and the fact that you had enough time in each. I would love to do Austria all over again! It is one of my favorites. I suppose I would cut down something else for that. 🙂
I wish I would have done more of Austria like Salzburg because I did not like Vienna at all!
We have been planning to travel to Europe since 2 years but couldn’t make it until the day. Sparty sounds like real fun and I would love to know more about it. Your room in Switzerland looks awesome. Paragliding with those views is once in a lifetime experience. You seem to had a great time.
You should go on YouTube and Google Sparty and watch the video! That’s all I needed to make my way to Budapest haha. Everything about that trip was unforgettable!
[…] of these gems and I can honestly say they are magical. While heading to Europe last year for my solo backpacking trip, I realized I need both comfort and compactness (if that’s a word). BEHOLD a down jacket that […]
How was the weather? I am planning a 45 day trip january 22nd. I slso pkan on hitting Engkand, Wales, ,Scotland, and Ireland