It’s been a while since I checked in on the blog, but I decided that this is how I’m going to keep a more personal touch with all of you to tell you what’s been going on during my trip around the world! Apologize for misspellings/grammar mistakes since I’m just writing as I go. If you want more real time travel updates follow my instgram (@travelingspud) or my snapchat (kwilliams300).
It’s been exactly 23 days since I left San Francisco crying in the car, but excited for the adventures ahead. Thanks Carly for driving me because I wouldn’t have been able to drive with all the tears. Don’t worry though, they were bittersweet tears. I was sad, but also super excited! I’m currently in Austria which is my 3rd country since I left and I’m loving it so far!
I was with friends for the first 2 weeks of my trip and have been traveling solo for a little over a week. Today I’m heading to Linz, Austria where I’ll meet up with an Austrian friend that I met in the US!
Here’s a little recap of life so far…
If you read my last post here you know that my first flight out of SFO was to Iceland. I spent about 8 days in a KuKu camper van with my friend Devon driving around the Ring Road which is basically the entire outer ring of Iceland. We had sooo much fun and I loved the beauty of the country! First of all, Reykjavik is a really cool city! Parts of it reminded me of hipster San Francisco. They had amazing bakeries, cafes, restaurants and bars, all with very hip vibes. Iceland also takes credit cards, has wifi everywhere for free and everyone speaks English. It was super easy to get around other than the fact that everything was SUPER expensive. Luckily I got a cheap flight there cause a beer was anywhere from $12-$18 USD. CRAY. After Reykjavik we decided to drive southeast on the Ring Road. We saw about a bajillion waterfalls and Devon is the best because she drove stick shift the ENTIRE way since I can’t….it’s sad.
We could both tell the weather was changing from fall to winter because sleeping in the van started to get FREEZING. Thank god Devon brought hand and feet warmers, but luckily we rented sleeping bags and brought warm clothes. To save money we got food at the grocery store to make food when we went to our campgrounds and carried a lot of snacks with us. I tried the dried fish that was EVERYWHERE (they are obsessed with fish and anything pickled…oh and hotdogs) but the fish was not my thang. I thought it would be more of a beef jerky texture and it ended up tasting like dried out strips of fishy cardboard. BUT the hotdogs were great and the lamb and fish soup were AMAZE. I also tried reindeer!
As for where we stayed, I’d say we had 50/50 luck with our campsites. One was FREAKY with a rickety broken light that kept flashing and we later figured out it was next to an old schoolhouse. We thought we were maybe going to die that night. HAHA. Another was right next to a waterfall and we woke up to amazing views. It rained a lot at the beginning of our trip, but the end was perfect. In Reykjavik we stayed at KEX hostel which was really cool and had great decor and a very hip vibe.
Some of my highlights were the hot springs we found. Ill write about those in another post about Iceland soon. Oh and WOW Airlines is actually great for the price. I had so much leg room. They make you pay for checking bags ($69 for mine) and if you want food on the flight, but I was expecting that since my flight was $200 total.
I think we stopped every two seconds to get pics of horses or sheep or the views. We were in awe the entire drive and the scenery changed after each mile we drove! Oh and we also went over our mileage for the car. We were supposed to pay $150 extra dollars, but the guy at the desk said we could just buy him beer and all would be good. So…of course we did! 😉
Another highlight for us were the towns, Akureyi which is the capital of the north and then a town in the Northeast called, Seydisfjordur along with many other little villages.
Some key observations:
-Wifi literally everywhere for free
-Credit cards can be used everywhere
-Culture of strong women and an equal men/women culture. Smallest gender pay gap in the entire world.
-Very safe and non-controversial country
-More horses and sheep than people
-Everyone speaks English
-Really believe in fairy tales and folklore…like trolls and hidden people
-All types of weather all the time. Rain, wind, hail, snow, sun
-Hot springs everywhere
-Lots of blondies. Flight attendants (male and female) on WOW were all gorgeous.
-Horses are everywhere and will come up to you no problem
-Lots of gravel roads and round-abouts
-The Icelandic is so hard to even attempt to spell or pronounce. It’s full of long words and I couldn’t pronounce one thing correct
-Cheers in Icelandic is ‘skál’
After Iceland I flew off to Frankfurt, Germany. My flight (again on WOW) was around $60.
I met up with my friend Hailey from college at her apartment she shares with her bf Jannik who is German. It was in a great part of town! This was my first time to Germany so I was anxious to explore, but I was also exhausted from camping.
The first thing I did was go and get a Weiner Schnitzel at this place they recommended, Atschel, with the Frankfurt green sauce that is apparently only made in Frankfurt. I also got a water (more on the water later) and they gave me a glass bottle that I had to pay for. Anyway the Schnitzel was sooooo good.
Okay more on the water..I realized Germans don’t really drink water?? If they do it’s sparkling water or beer. Also, don’t ask for tap water in Germany cause they look at you super weird. It’s a status thing and it’s sort of considered trashy to drink tap. So one key observation was that water is more expensive than beer in Germany. 🙂
I did the free walking tour in Frankfurt and learned a lot about how bombs basically flattened the whole city, how prostitution is legal and how there is a big heroin problem there from after the war. It’s a really cool city though because you have the old architecture mixed with sky rises. They are considered the financial capital of Germany.
Hailey and I took a detour one day after she got off work and we went over to the Rhein River and stopped in Rudesheim am Rhein and got dinner. It was soooo cute. I want to go back and spend more time in the towns next to the river when I have a car! It’s wine country and the wine I got was 3 Euro!
After a few days in Frankfurt, Jannik and Hailey drove me on the Autobahn to Munich . OMG it was so cool. I think the fastest we went was 160MPH which is the fastest I’ve ever been.
We stopped at a super authentic German restaurant on the way in the middle of nowhere that no tourist would ever be able to find. It was cool to have Hailey and Jannik order for me. 😉
Okay next stop was Oktoberfest time! I got to see Shay and Kurt, my friends from Dublin ! Here’s their blog, A Pint for Two. I also saw a ton of SF friends and Kelsey and Eamonn from college! It was a great reunion and Oktoberfest was CRAZY! I’ll do a separate post about it soon. If you saw my snapchats (kwilliams300) then you know just how much fun I had 🙂 I also went for the closing ceremonies on the last day of Oktoberfest and it was really cool to see! They lit up sparklers in the tents and all the lights were off and we say closing songs.
It was so fun to see some familiar faces and get wild, but after Oktoberfest I was the walking dead and was so tired. I stayed in Munich for a few days after everyone left and really loved exploring the city!
After Munich I headed on a train to Füssen which is on the outskirts of the Alps and where the Neuschwanstein Castle was. I loved Füssen. Everyone told me it was super touristy, but I actually noticed it was mainly German tourists in the actual town when I stayed the night (most other tourists only come for a day trip). I didn’t mind it and actually loved staying there. I rented a bike one day and road all around and took a tram up to the top of the Alps and did a little hike at the top. This was my first time here so I loved crossing it off my bucket list. The day before I went to the castle and explored the actual town. Once again beer is cheaper than water. I met some really cool Aussies, a Kiwi, and a guy from Finland and we went to dinner and hung out a bit in the main area and at the hostel. This was my first time really alone in a hostel and I met people soooo easily! I don’t know what I was worried about.
I then decided to take a bus to Innsbruck, Austria. Flixbus’s are pretty legit! My bus was 15 euro. Something crazy did happen though…
So i was exploring all day in Füssen and had asked the hostel if I could leave my luggage there in storage for the day. They said yes, so I came back around 3pm so I could catch my bus. When I got to the front door there was a sign on the door saying that the hostel had shut down and they would be back in a week. All doors were locked and no one was there. I freaked OUT!! Legit sweating and panicking. Finally thru the window I found a number for the owners and turned my cell data on and called it over and over. Finally they answered and I asked them to let me in. They gave me the code to the key lock. I grabbed the key but the key didn’t work in the door. I tried it on all the doors at the hostel and it didn’t work for any. I called the hostel owner again and he said it should work and hung up on me!
I was freaked and was certain I would miss my bus. Finally after I called a few more times he answered and said he would send someone over to help me. Thank god they did! But then I had to call a cab to the bus cause there wasn’t public trans. The cab driver couldn’t speak any english and I can’t speak german so it was a cluster and he almost didn’t come and get me. Then luckily he understood where I was and came! It was insanity and the whole time I was pretty freaked out. I was so so glad I made my bus.
THEN I got to Innsbruck, Austria (my 16th country!) around 8pm and the whole time I thought Innsbruck was a tiny town, but it’s HUGE! I learned it pays to do your research on a town before you go. It was a big city with a train system and stuff. FML. This annoyed me because I thought it would be easy to find my hotel. I had booked this weird hotel thing on the top of the mountain cause there wasn’t anything in the whole city available in my budget. I found out later there was one hostel in the whole city (which was weird) but I didn’t know that at this point. So I ended up having to cab up this mountain to this guest house. I had my own room which was sweet, but it was all really old Austrians everywhere and again no one spoke ANY English so I just holed up in my room and didn’t leave til morning. I was debating on just leaving Innsbruck the next day, but was so tired at this point that I booked one more night at the only hostel in town.
This hostel had mice in the kitchen…gross. I left the hostel and toured around for the day and then met cool hostel mates that I hung out with later in the day. The cool ppl are what kept me there, but I still wanted to leave there quick because I was in a weird mood and it was my first time really solo traveling for a longer period.
Finally I left on a train to Salzburg and decided I would chill in Salzburg for a few days to rest up and hope I would start feeling better. I’ve been here 4 days now and have had the most amazing time! I think I sort of needed all those crazy things to happen (looking back they aren’t even that bad) in order for me to realize that it’s fine to chill out and not be moving all the time. I listened to my body and have been having an amazing time in Salzburg. I’ve met some cool people here too! Argentinians, Canadians, my favorite (a guy from South Korea), Tony Park who made me spicy noodles that were perfect after eating Austrian and German food for the last few weeks.
More on Salzburg later…it’s such a great place. I’ve been touring around at a slow pace, went to a few of Mozart’s houses, film spots from the Sound of Music, some castles and then did a day trip to Hallstatt (a fairytale village) yesterday. Austria is beautiful and it’s been so nice to be able to spread my stuff everywhere and just relax here.
Today I’m heading to Linz to visit my friend Babsi! Hitler was born in Linz and lived here for a while. He wanted this place to be the culture center of the Nazi empire. It will be interesting to see.
After that I’m off to Vienna and then a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia! Follow along on snapchat or insta! Snap: kwilliams300, instagram: @travelingspud