Monday, January 18, 2016

26 mistakes in 14 days in Europe

Mistakes in Europe.

I got cocky. I’ve lived abroad for more than three years so obviously I don’t need to make a list or think this 14 day euro trip through in any detail. I’m not sure when I will learn to make lists, plan for errors and stop problems before they arise. I’d like to say 2016 is that year but it’s not off to the best start. I will rattle a few off and give however much detail I think is necessary. Will rate on a devastation scale on 1-18

turtle riding crocodile1 The Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2015

1-Not bringing two pairs of shoes. 7.7 Need comfortable walking around shoes. I dropped the ball. One of my main thoughts was packing light. I reached that goal but sacrificed some important details.

2-Not bringing sandals. 2.8 Necessary for hostel showers and general walking around inside.

3-Not bringing a towel. 3.1 Need a good, cozy towel but space is a factor. I lost my quick dry towel a few weeks ago at the gym so now I’m a towel-less bachelor. Not looking up.

5-Not bringing soap. 1.9 Luckily they sell soap everywhere.

6-Not bringing a tooth brush. 1.7 Thought I could use a new toothbrush but didn’t think of it until getting ready for bed in Vienna. Not brushing your teeth for 24 hours makes you think crazy.

7-Not bringing tooth paste. 1.3 I don’t understand rules for bringing gels and liquids on planes so I essentially just avoid it altogether.

8-Not leaving enough time to get to the Paris airport on time. 7.9 
This was my second biggest mistake and could have been devastating. Not sure what I was thinking. Took me almost two hours to get from the airport to the Airbnb but for some reason I only gave myself an hour to get back to the airport in the morning before my flight to Barcelona. There goes 30 euro. 

9-Not bringing my laundry bag. 1.0 
Easy way to keep dirty clothes in a contained area and makes bringing laundry to a laundry mat much more convenient.

10-Forgetting my camera one day in Paris. 1.8 
A friend from Thailand has really made me question why people take pictures of most things in tourist centred places. I can find a thousand pictures online of the Louvre or Eiffel Tower but I bring my camera for what reason? I’m not in any of my pictures so I’m leaning towards not bringing my camera more often.

11-Not charging my camera battery one day after using it all day. 1.8 
Went to more places that day than the previous day of forgetting it completely. Love charging things so not sure how that slipped through the cracks.

train going through huge snow wall in canada The Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2015

12-Not doing laundry until the second last day. 2.6
Clean clothes are almost essential and there’s laundry essentially everywhere you go. Just take the few hours and make it happen.

13-Not having my route planned out once I got to the Paris airport. 2.2 Writing this list is getting exhausting and slightly embarrassing. You need a plan of action once arriving to a new place. Hopefully a bus/train/metro route, some currency in that country and an upbeat attitude in trying to conquer a city in three days. Getting off the plane and thinking “Now what?” and there not being internet is not a place you want to be.

14-Not wearing a jacket/dressing up for the NYE party. 1.8 Bouncer said I wasn’t dressed nicely enough even though he let in people with tank tops later on in the night! Luckily our apartment was close by but wearing a jacket is almost always the right choice. (Actually learned this lesson again last Friday; there might be something wrong with me)

15-Forgetting my Canada t-shirt in Paris. 1.8 Just gives me a reason to visit Lyon and get it back!

16-Not bringing my day backpack. 3.2 Having a small backpack to carry around all day is quite convenient and will cut down on drink/food costs. Was worried about overall amount of size and space I had. Probably could have swung it and put my running shoes in it….

17-Not drinking enough water. 2.0

18-Not getting enough sleep the night before flight to Paris due to beer halls. .9 Worth it

19-Spending more money than my rough budget allowed. 4.0
70-90 euro a day is probably a good budget. I didn’t even do that many things but it adds up. 

20-I broke a glass… 0.4 Glass is fragile.

21-Walking tour in Munich was full so I should have booked free tour online the night before but I went the next day so this is barely a mistake. 0.8 As if you need to book a free tour! Spending twenty minutes researching the morning or night before a day exploring a new city is certainly worth it. Booking as much online and printing at home/hotel is recommended.

22-Not bringing or buying q tips. 2.0

23-A few wrong turns on subway stops but nothing catastrophic. 0.8 I didn’t study G.I.S.

24-Forgot lock. 2.1 Most hostels provide a locker but need your own lock, which I have two. The one I brought was too small so that didn’t even rattle me at all….

25-Not printing/checking in online with Wizz Air. 50+ euro mistake. 12.1 Don’t really want to talk about it other than almost always check in online and see what you need to print/bring/restrictions. I was too busy worrying that my carry-on bag was too small that I neglected that self-online check in.

26-I met a girl at a hostel bar after the beer hall tour and I had the thought in my head that I could marry this person. Would that be enough to ask/remember her name or add her on Facebook? Of course not Bert, of course not.  20?

I am certain I’m forgetting a few mistakes but the ‘Big Idea’ of this post is that planning and thinking ahead even mildly can solve many of your potential travel woes. Don’t get cocky. Be a humble, smart and thoughtful traveller. Almost everything you will do on your next trip, you could do more efficiently and probably for cheaper. Just keep Teacher Bert in mind next time you feel invincible and don't feel that you need that extra hour of prep time.

"Average people learn from their mistakes. Smart people learn from other people's mistakes."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Vienna, Munich, Paris, Barcelona.

Two weeks sure does fly by. Not sure where to start. I finished school on the 22nd, took a train to Austria on the 23rd, spent 3 nights and
Christmas with a couchsurfer in Vienna, train to Munich on the 26th, hostel for three nights then flew to Paris with Nakhon crew in an Airbnb, flew to Barcelona where I met up with Jack in a hostel for a few nights now back in Warsaw. Let’s get to it.

Do you know why there is an enormous amount hype to see the Eiffel tower?  Because it’s breathtakingly unreal. I couldn’t build a tree house so I found it extra impressive. My expectations for the trip were low because that’s where all of our expectations should be but lowest for Paris because I was most excited to see my friends and haven’t heard great things about the French. Do you know what is convenient? Speaking the language of the country you are in. You come here for the hard hitting advice and you get it.

I find the French language quite lovely after having a 10+ year break from it and French people were quite kind. Now being totally upfront, a reason I may love the French is because on New Year’s people would just come up to me and tell me I’m handsome and give me drink tickets but I’m trying for that not to completely cloud my judgement. French food is quite good, Paris has tons to see and beautiful buildings. Metro is a little tough to navigate and humongous but after a few days started to get it. These are some of the things I saw:

Baguettes and coffee shops every 8 steps. Homelessness seems to be an issue and a big police presence throughout the city. French music? Incroyable!!!!


May be a tad on the expensive side but luckily I have a job. (As I’m writing this, I’m on a full train going from Barcelona city to their airport and a man has a stereo and a saxophone that is getting the people going. They do this on the metro and it’s not all bad)

Vienna? Gorgeous. Christmas is apparently a great time to go and see markets, the lights and horses. There wasn’t any snow so it lacked a certain Christmas feel to it but I’m glad I went. You aren’t missing out by never going to Vienna but there is tons of art, outstanding buildings, opera and high end shopping. Here are some of the things I saw:


Munich? Beer, beer and more beer. Went on a beer hall tour the last night I was there and it was the highlight of my trip in Munich. I made like 6 friends! 6! Without even trying even a little bit so I had people to chill with my entire time there. Train stations sure bring out the shadiness of a city. Once outside of the train deception area, you are home free. German people are smart, know tons of languages and are just down right efficient. I would say I prefer Munich to Berlin but Germany is a safe choice if you wanted to move or explore Europe. Here are some of the things I saw:

Barcelona? Dream Team? 1992? Olympics? Hercules? Unnecessary question marks??? Yes to all of those! Great waterfront, perfect weather, rich history and a party every night if you are down. Hype is real for Spain. Lots of parks, surfing, tapas, motorbikes and Spanish people. Took a walking tour with our main man A. J and he made learning fun! Quick story. George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War. He did not use that name because he made it up to sell books. His real name is Eric Blair. I spent my time in Barcelona with Jack and he’s much smarter and a better human than myself. Orwell is his favourite author and has read all of this books. So the guide asks who has read 1984. People lift up their hand. Then asks who has read Animal Farm. Less people lift up their hands. Finally asks who has read Homage to Catalonia, nobody lifts up their hands but Jack had read it but didn’t want to show off how well read he was. Complete opposite of yours truly. While he’s talking about Homage to Catalonia, he mentions Orwell isn’t his original name. I ask Jack what it is. AJ asks the group if anyone knows his original name. I shout Eric Blair! Everyone is super impressed. Except for Jack because he has realized he has a friend who is only into walking tours for the 5 seconds of glory. Sorry Jack.

Have three weeks of work then another 2 week break in February so I will be returning to Toronto on January 31st, hopefully an Ottawa trip then back to Warsaw on the 13th of February. I have another post lined up detailing all of the mistakes I made on this trip and will have another one about resolutions for the New Year. Hope your 2016 is off to a tremendous start and if you live in or around Toronto, let’s make a plan.


Never go on trips with anyone you do not love. – Ernest Hemingway