As we take a quick look back on 2016, I realized how infrequent my traveling was. Granted, I did start a new job at the end of 2015 and it took FOREVER to accrue vacation days. However, the trips that I did take, were pretty incredible and I’m super excited for what this year has in store!
In May 2016 I began my journey in Punta Cana [Republica Dominicana/Dominican Republic] (even though it was for work—and let me tell you it was an incredible amount of work, it was still an awesome group that I had a blast with!) and at the end of the month I began some wicked crazy travels.
Now, the way I booked my flights was for the layovers. It was cheaper this was, and I got to explore more countries–which was super cool! And let’s face it. I’m somewhat of a Passport Stamp Whore. I flew to Ireland, it was a long layover but I made the most of it. I went to Trinity College, waited in line for like an hour and realized we weren’t moving, so decided to tour the rest of the campus. From there I took a stroll down the street to see the Temple Bar–which unfortunately was closed, mostly because it was only 07:00. So instead I decided to tour the Dublin Castle. My favorite part was getting lost wandering around the city. I stumbled upon Christ Church Cathedral which was amazingly beautiful, and had some old ruins and a memorial for the Armenian Genocide. From there I decided I had to go to Guinness or Jameson. Old Jameson Distillery won, mostly because it was the direction I was currently going towards.
My next stop was France. It’s super cheap to fly in and out of Paris. Granted, when I was booking this I knew I wasn’t flying into CDG but for some reason I thought I was flying into Orly. Except I was very much mistaken. I took Ryanair from Dublin and flew into Beauvais airport. WHICH FYI, is about an hour and a half by car. It was about 2 weeks before I was leaving and it finally dawned on me. I was also landing at 10 o’clock at night, small town, unbelievably tiny airport–and when I mean TINY, it was almost impossible to have any luggage in the bathroom stall with you..you had to have it on your lap while you used it, it was outrageous! Also, small Europe airlines taught me that they come and go as they please–which wasn’t my favorite part, so we didn’t land until around 22:45.
What I did end up doing was buying a shared trip on Super Shuttle–which was completely a life saver, because apparently the last train left around 9pm, but you had to take a 30 minute bus ride to the train station and I had an exhausting day in Dublin, I was not familiar with this small town of France–don’t get me wrong, I’m a master explorer and I’m pretty amazing with transit systems, but I didn’t want to explore and test those theories when I had a 07:25 train to Nuernberg in the morning. So I arrived around 1am to my Hostel, passed out, woke up around 05:00 to shower, get ready, and walk to the train station to set out on the start of my true journey.
I was spending a few days there with a gal I “went to high school with”. Haha, I say it that way because we actually never met, we had chatted online about travel, and we have mutual friends. I transferred out of that high school when she started. Granted, I do consider her a friend, especially now. She told me to take the train from Nuernburg to Amberg and she would pick me up from there. Alright, adventure! I was ready to go! I enjoyed the scenery the whole trip. It was just incredible! I stayed with her in Vilseck–which I’m telling you, is a beautiful small town with just an incredible countryside! Beautiful rolling hills, it was so green! Ah! Just incredible! We went to a Country Bar, drank at a Biergarten, walked around the beautiful Amberg.
I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp–My degree is in History with a concentration on the Holocaust, so this was a must that I really had to do! I spent a good while there, and took as many photos as I could. The experience was just outrageous. You just felt eerie, and sad, and it just makes you reconnect with your Humanity. I was upset with some people who took Selfies the whole time they were there, I couldn’t have thought of anything more disrespectful. [I will definitely do another post about Dachau–with some history, and mostly pictures.] On the way back, I saw a lot of Bavaria due to getting on the wrong train into Munich, but it took the scenic was back to Vilseck. The countryside, the small towns. It was just a short amount of time in Germany. A place I will return to.
Innsbruck, Austria–Border of Italy–Zurich Switzerland–Paris, France–Madrid,Spain
Innsbruck had such beautiful scenery, the mountains–okay I may be obsessed with Mountains, just being there weren’t any where I live, so when I see them, I’m in such awe. And I love The Sound of Music. Let’s be real, I’m going to climb the Alps someday and sing “The Hills Are Alive.” Mark my words my darlings. Originally I was going to meet up with some friends in Innsbruck from Bali. One of them I couldn’t get a hold of, and the other was stopped on the Interstate in Italy coming back because they closed the boarders. I was only there for one night, so it was hard to make future plans. So I went to the Old Towne area and just enjoyed the beauty of it all. The roommates I had at the Hostel were so nice! There was a Canadian, an Indian, and an English gal, and myself an American. We were so respectful, and so nice. We hung out at the hostel a little bit at night after some exploring. And had breakfast together, telling stories of our travels, of where we’ve been and where we’re going. They were a nice group to bunk with for a night.
Next, I did an Oops. I got on the first train, instead of the second train.. which was taking me to Italy instead of Switzerland.After going through all the carriages, twice, I came to the end and asked a woman who was speaking English on the phone. “Oh honey, you’re on the wrong train, this train is going to Bologna” ITALY! I’M GOING TO ITALY!!?? The panic arose. I’m going across the closed boarder without a ticket. I may have had a slight panic/anxiety attack. Only because I missed my train to Switzerland, which means I may miss my train back to Paris!! Of course, the slight thought of am I going to get arrested! I had to calm myself down, I know what I’m doing, worst comes to worse, I get off and go back.
We had a slight stop at a train station–stopping at the border for many minutes then continued to the actual train station. The Conductors were very nice on the train and just told me to get off on the first stop and recalculate–of course the slight tears may have made it seem innocent. When I did disembark the train, there were about 50 Police Officers and Soldiers. The train station looked more of a cargo station, and it began to pour. I followed some of the men who looked like they were leading me out. Which means somewhere at the entrance there would be a ticket booth. Granted, the ticket booth was only in two languages. German and Italian. Grrrrrreat. Two languages I definitely did not know. I thought hey, Italian is close to Spanish. Let me assure you, it is not. But I did manage to find the Innsbruck train station from where I was, so I could go ahead and go back to where I started and hopefully figure something out when I got back.
I had to wait a few hours. But honestly, with the amount of Officers and Soldiers were around here I thought my safest bet may be to just stay put. I didn’t even mind the rain really. A group of about 6 soldiers came over to me and said something in Italian then in German. Again–still panicking about getting on the wrong train, I stated <<Yo hablo español. Je parle le français. And I speak English! I don’t know what you’re saying!>> He was just asking me if I was lost. The very handsome Soldier/Officer said with an incredible smile—man, maybe I should have come to Italy on that trip.
I met a couple from the Netherlands who advised me, “The whole world is watching your country.” Which was the first time I even thought about that within all the debates and all the election talk. I didn’t think I was going to hear about this here. “Every country has had their dictator,” They also stated. We then turned it into a lighter conversation talking to some of the Soldiers/Officers. They said they were there to protect us and one of the Soldier’s gave me a wink.
On the train, German officers came around asking for something. The Italians in my train car thought they were asking for tickets. But she shook her head when they offered it and she said “passaporte” Now that is an Italian word I know! I handed her mine and she said, “You travel a bit.” I took it as a compliment, but then it made me worry.
Back to Austria. They said my ticket was good all day and there was another train bound for Switzerland in about 20 minutes. So I rushed to the platform and double-triple-checked I was going to Switzerland. Oh what a beautiful train ride it was!! Granted we did stop in Liechtenstein for a good hour, again, due to boarding closings.
Once I got to Switzerland, I got to my friends house first. She was a foreign exchange student from Austria when I was a Junior in high school, and she was now living in Zurich. So I thought I would shoot her a message and say I was going to be in town and asked if I could stay with her for a night. She gave me a beautiful tour of the city! And good heavens, I can see why people fall in love with it! It was just incredible! The lake, the sky, Oh wow. I HIGHLY recommend it!! It’s just super expensive, so just be aware of that. We had wine on the roof of a building and traditional Swiss food for dinner. Catching up with my friend was the highlight of Zurich! My time there was too short, due to the additional stops on my way. But definitely a place where I’d love to come spend an extended time with.
Paris is obviously my home away from home. This trip I just wanted to relax. I had such a long week, and I have two more countries after France on my way home before I hit the Third of the United States. Granted, I had to see my Eiffel Tower. My favorite architecture in the entire Universe. Then back to Dublin. Where our plane was much delayed due to a bag. So they unloaded all the bags, Firefighters, Police Officers, TSA, Some form of SWAT and such came. It was very interesting, but delayed our flight about two hours roughly.
Once I got to Madrid it was about midnight. I was exhausted. I checked into my Hostel quickly and decided to just walk. It would be a shame to miss Madrid. I was originally only going to be here for about 8 hours, and now even less. So I walked to Plaza Mayor. But I did stop to see everyone partying from Real Madrid had just won the European Cup at this time I believe. Don’t hate me, I’m not the biggest soccer/fooball fan. I just know they won something and Madrid was out partying.
I got back to the hotel around 3, had to wake up around 6 to get to the airport. Let’s just say my alarm clock went off, yet I turned it off. Then something inside me told me I needed to go. It was 06:52. I was boarding at 07:30. I almost missed my flight. I had to quickly put some clothes on run outside and find a taxi. I was about 20 minutes away roughly, but he got me there in time, and I put in my contacts in the taxi. I had already gotten my boarding pass thankfully, and I wasn’t checking any luggage. However the Madrid airport is unbelievably massive!! I had to wait 20 minutes for a train to take me to the furthest terminal. And once I got there I had to go to the end of it to the furthest gate. I also stopped at a bathroom to brush my teeth and put deodorant on. I made it just in time. I could finally breathe. The man sitting next to me was keeping an eye out for empty seats, and thankfully it was a pretty empty flight, so I got the row to myself!
Finally I was back in Chicago!
We’ve already blogged about Cali and Vegas this year, so on to our new year!
Upcoming trips of 2017. *Drum roll*
- Munich, Germany (and Bavaria)
- Venice, Italy
- Hawaii (Oahu and Maui or Kauai). An awesome girls trip that I’m sooo excited for!!!
- Swimming with Turtles
- Black Sand Beach
- Surfing ❤
- Havana, Cuba
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Atlanta, Georgia
Four are set in stone with dates, and two are dates up in the air. My goal is to make more weekend trips, and save a million dollars—okay, probably not a million. But it would definitely be nice to have a few extra bucks in my account for those last minute, NEED TO GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, surprise trip.
Aloha 2017. We’ve got good things in store!