"I heard this story once about when the Germans were occupying Paris and they had to retreat back. They wired Notre Dame to blow, but they had to leave one guy in charge of hitting the switch. And the guy, the soldier, he couldn't do it. You know, he just sat there, knocked out by how beautiful the place was. And then when the allied troops came in, they found all the explosives just lying there and the switch unturned..." - Jesse, Before Sunset
Bratislava, Slovakia's capital, is so small that you can see almost everything in just 18 hours. But at the same time, this small city is so charming that 18 hours can feel too short. Its cobbled streets are romantic. Its old churches and buildings will make you feel like you're living in a different era. Its diverse architecture will give you a peek of its colorful history. It's not as crowded as its famous neighbors Vienna, Prague and Budapest. It is the kind of laid-back city where you'd want to chill for a bit.
The best part? Its beer and food are not as expensive as other European cities, that it would make you question why this city is actually the third richest region of the European Union by GDP. Surprise, surprise, I only spent 53 euros here for everything, including a good beer and a private room in a posh neighborhood ;-)
Here's how I managed to survive in Bratislava for 18 hours with 53 euros:
Solo traveled 4665.8 kilometers by trains, buses, and trams.
Walked, hiked, and ran 436.12 kilometers.
Stayed in 17 different homes/apartments/hotels.
Explored 9 lovely countries (+3 for layovers and border crossings) in 36 days.
I’m thankful for surviving another crazy trip and for bringing home beautiful lessons that would definitely stay with me for a longer time than my total # of bus hours. Hopefully this list would encourage you to explore the world (and even try solo traveling):
Imagine a hike that starts with an altitude of 1230 meters then ends all the way down to the beautiful Libyan Sea. From high up the White Mountains with views of slopes covered with snow... down to the calming sight of this blue blanket:
Hiking Europe's second longest gorge was definitely one of my most memorable adventures while solo traveling in Europe.
I have never imagined myself solo hiking for sixteen kilometers in a foreign land... but I think that I've chosen the best place to hike like this.
If utopia exists, I am hoping that it bears resemblance to Meteora: Karsts reaching up to the heavens. Silhouettes of jagged giants at night. A calming view of villages from the summit. Red-roofed monasteries that seem to float above the clouds. Silence only broken by the sweet melody of chirping birds and occasional winds. A non-fictional world carved out from an animated film.
I never expected Turin to be tur-rific (sorry for the bad pun ;-P ). In my mind, it was just the cheapest option for transit from Madrid to Venezia. But after spending 25 hours in this laid-back city, I realized that Torino is not just a stop-off, it is an alluring sojourn that should be explored longer.
Maybe I got tired of crowded attractions in Spain. And to tour a beautiful city with 0 queues and only few annoying tourists was refreshing.
Here are some of the reasons why I loved Torino so much that I regretted not staying here for a long time:
I tried gelato and chocolates from La Bottega Guido Gobino and gelato from Gelateria Alberto Marchetti. I'm still drooling whenever I think of Turin's sweet desserts. <3
Known as the birthplace of pizza, Naples is the place to be if you're searching for the best pizza in the world.
Museums abound in Europe but the Museo Nazionale del Cinema surprisingly stood out for me.
The "City of Lights" was never part of my bucket list. I thought that it was just a typical big city packed with tourists (and pickpockets). But I was wrong! Despite getting lost a couple of times and enduring a mean stomachache here, this lovely metropolis managed to capture my heart.
Frenchies might appear as snobs and Paris might seem 'dangerous' after all those terror attacks and snatching incidents. But this city is beyond all those horror stories and stinky train stations combined. It is teeming with art, culture, history, nature, and bright lights--- making it perfect for solo travelers like me.
If you're planning on traveling here, here's my list of fun things to do in Paris:
1. Marvel at Eiffel Tower's majesty.
As they say, Eiffel is the heart and soul of Paris and one must not skip this landmark if you're in Paris.
I have never been to a place so magical that it made me wish that I did not travel alone… until I visited Venice, Italy.
I have survived a lot of things ALONE and actually enjoyed it ALONE; but I guess Venezia squeezed out the weak emotions hiding underneath my superficially courageous heart.
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