A Travellerspoint blog


7 °C

As I close out on my second to last work week before we fly out I find myself reading every article I can about backpacking must-brings, wondering how many different outfits I can make using the clothes I'm planning on packing, and hoping I won't forget to pack those essentials. I think hindsight will be best for this trip and I'll probably post a whole other "essentials" list once we're home, but for now, here's a small portion of what's going in the pack.


Among those essentials are wet wipes, super sudsy all purpose liquid soap, sunscreen and of course bug spray (not pictured). I'm fairly happy with my wardrobe so far, and it includes a few print dresses that won't wrinkle, a casual, could-also-pass-for-dressy black cardigan, a few bright bikinis, and those Levi's shorts I made from a pair of mens jeans found in a local thrift shop ($6). Oh, and those billowy pants that everyone seems to wear while travelling - I've totally jumped on that bandwagon. We'll likely bring Josh's Swahili phrase book, and also my travel journal that includes our full itinerary and my own hand made guidebook.


Ya, ya, I make my own guidebook. This stems from the days I travelled Europe in 2009 where wifi didn't really exist on cell phones. So to avoid busting out my laptop every two seconds I had cut out maps and made my own guidebook from all the great sites I referenced in my planning. I still have my Europe one and it brings me right back to my trip when I take it out today. So while we likely won't get to half of the restaurants and attractions I've noted in there, the planner in me is satisfied knowing all of my hard work researching will be at the ready in my cute little travel journal.

Counting down, 10 sleeps until takeoff, it can't come fast enough.

Posted by kmcveggie 23:58 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Africa 2017

It's been a little while but... I've finally found the time/money/opportunity to travel again! And this time my husband and I will be wandering together!

I finally pulled the plug and booked our first flight into Kenya, so I figured there's no better time to publish my first post back on the blog. The flight moved around significantly since I had last looked, so I took the plunge and booked.

We're off to Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and Israel April 10th - May 11th. From there Josh will head home and I will head to New York to meet up with two friends for a few more days. I can't wait to share our advenutres with you as often as possible!


Posted by kmcveggie 22:40 Archived in Canada Tagged planning trip_planning Comments (0)

The Finale!

rain 10 °C

I left Europe a few days ago, taking a metro, 3 flights, a taxi, and a ferry, all totaling 31 hours of travel. It still hasn't set in that I really left, or better, that I won't have to look up hostels, worry about getting a map of a new city, or finding a decent grocery store for dinner stuff. It feels like I'll wake up and walk out the door and I'll be back in Madrid! Europe has been my whole life for the last 4 months, and now it's over! Like the end of an era. I can't wait to stay put for a while and be around my friends and family again, but I'll definitely miss backpacking. Won't miss living out of a pack though! I was actually parted from it for 2 days; United forgot to put in on my plane in Chicago, and then my pack missed it's next flight to YVR, so they had to put it on a later one. I was like, um, no, my pack didn't miss the flight, you guys forgot to put it on! My pack does no have a brain, or legs lol. Anyways, I've got it back now, and it's already sitting in my garage empty. It was actually a blessing in disguise though, because I didn't have to carry it onto the ferry!

My last few days of real life have hugely sucked. My car needs a new alternator, and I was stuck at home yesterday because it wouldn't start. Luckily, dad got a used one for cheap, so problem's solved already. Also, getting work isn't going quite as simply as I thought it would, but I'm hoping to hear back from a branch in Nanaimo in a few days. My friends are coming over from school today and tomorrow, so hopefully the weekend brightens up a bit! Oh, did I mention I went from 26 in Madrid to cold and rainy in Parksville?

So I read a blog before I left that outlined the highs and lows, the goods and bads at the end of it, so I figured it would be the best way to end. Hey, if it helps one person out with their trip then I've done what I meant to do with this blog! Here goes:

Best Hostel: Room Hostel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Every room had a separate theme, all were clean and comfortable, good directions, super friendly staff, good kitchen, good location, free internet, and they had a great breakfast including vegan nutella! Perfect! Close seconds: Bulmers, Interlaken; Rituals, Lisbon; and all of the St. Christopher's Hostels, minus the fact that they have no kitchen.

Worst Hostel: This is a clear winner: Boomerang in Antwerp, Belgium. First off, the owner wanted to be conspicuous, so there was no sign on the door (and bad directions), then, it's six flights up the stairs with a heavy pack on, a horrible smell constantly, the owners sit and smoke in the common room all day, the kitchen was DISGUSTING, and everyone in my room got bed bug bites. I still have the scars. Enough said!

Best Directions: Rituals Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal. As well as giving directions on Hostelworld, they send out a personal e-mail welcoming you, including an aerial-view map with dots leading you from the metro station to the hostel.

Worst Directions: Center Hostel, Prague. The directions seemed good online, but once you got into the city, they were completely wrong. For example, they said, “Go down street A and turn left onto street B,” when street A and B were completely separate from each other! You had to go down street C and D before you got to B! I had to call the non-English speaking owner from 2 different stores, and then finally have a cop escort me there. And I didn't even end up staying after that!

Favorite Country: I always go back to saying Ireland. It was beautiful, friendly and fun. Easy to get around, and lots to see and do. Oh, and the cute Irish boys with their accents help too! The perfect place to start my trip, and I'll definitely be back.

Best Toilets: Galway, Ireland. Any club there had beautiful toilets, including hair straighteners for 1 euro. That'll do it for me!

Worst Toilets:
Heraklion, Greece. You had to walk down these dodgy steps, pass the old woman who wants your change, and then you're greeted by no toilet paper, hand dryers, paper towel, or toilet seats. Dirty!

Best Public Transport: Madrid, Spain. Even though we had a horrible taxi ride, the metro takes you anywhere and everywhere, even to the airport. And, it's all colour coordinated, and every line has maps of all the other lines on it too. Only saw that in Madrid!

Worst Public Transport: Antwerp, Belgium! The metro/tram system is so confusing, it must take the locals years to learn it!

Best Tour: This one's a three-way-tie: I loved the Cliffs of Moher tour in Galway, the Giant's Causeway tour in Belfast, and the volcano/Oia sunset tour in Santorini. They were all terrific, completely worth the money, and all fun!

Worst Tour: Our walking tour of Luzern, Switzerland. The lady was nice enough, even if she thought she was a little too good and funny, but the tour was done in English and German at the same time, with a huge bias on the latter. And it didn't help that it was cold and raining. We jumped ship on that one!

Best Local Beer: Mythos from Greece, or Superbock from Portugal.

Best Wine: The white Riesling sample we got at a Santorini winery was delicious. Oh, and the 1.49 bottle we found at a grocery store in Valencia was awesome. Sorry, no actual label names!

Cleanest City: Valencia. We were pleasantly surprised at this, especially after Barcelona!

Dirtiest City: Barcelona!

Most Fun City: Galway, Ireland.

Most Boring City: Probably Bruges, Belgium, but in such a good, quiet, quaint way!

Friendliest Country: England! Everyone was really nice. And for a non-English speaking country, The Netherlands.

Rudest Country: France, though I only went to Paris, so I can't really judge the whole country!

Most Vegan-Friendly: Glasgow, Scotland. Tons of veggie restaurant, and even a veggie pub! And you can get veggie haggis from the street venders! And they have Boots, a pharmacy selling 3 types of vegan sandwhiches, and tons of fruit and veg to go. Nice!

Least Vegan-Friendly: Paris. The only thing I could eat there was McDonald's side salads and Subway. Remember the veggie burger with the fried egg fiasco? Yep, that was Paris.

Best Vegan Restaurant: Mono, in Glasgow. Best veggie burger ever, as well as a completely vegan menu to choose from. Runner up: Napfenyes Etterem in Hungary, where they served pizza with melted vegan cheese. Mmm!

First Place I'd Go Back: Anywhere in the UK. Great shopping, great people, great food and bars, and great accents. It's like heaven, except for how much the pound kills you!

Last Place I'd Go Back: If I have to pick a whole country? Probably Spain. It didn't quite live up to my expectations. But it's hard to say because I still had fun there!

Best Market: The Sunday market in Galway was full of goodies! Cute jewelry and bags, and yummy homemade hummus, bagels, and olives, and a veggie fast-food stand.

Cheapest Place: Valencia. Cheap dinners, markets, and booze. 27 cents for a beer from the grocery store, and 80 cents for a 2 litre of sangria. Did I mention 1.49 for a great bottle of wine?

Most Expensive Place: Dublin. The cheapest beer you could find out was 5.50 euro. That's like $8. Scary!

Favourite Single Moment: Getting to watch the Backstreet Boys in Lisbon, and for only 34 euro! No, wait, the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. It was everything I thought it would be and more!

Least Favourite Single Moment: When, after having bad experiences with meeting people (and creepy guys in my hostel), it poured down rain so hard in Edinburgh that you couldn't even see outside. And, it was 3 weeks in so I was majorly homesick! A few calls to some friends and family and I was a little better!

Prettiest Square: Oh, I don't know! I adored all of the squares in Europe, all pedestrianized, and cute and old, full of fountains and statues and monuments and flowers... I think I have to pick the Old Town Square in Prague. Google it, it's just beautiful. So colourful, open, and it has that amazing astronomical clock! But every square in Europe was cool. Vancouver/Victoria needs those!

Hottest Men: Must I pick? The boys from the UK were nice, sweet, and a GREAT time to listen to :)

Best Accent: Scotland. I'd find myself listening and not even hearing the words! It was just so beautiful...

Worst Accent: Italian, but only because of the Chianti girl. (“Andah the winah is ah goodah with the breadah, ah?”)

Best Dressed: Ireland. Both the guys and girls always looked their best here, it seemed. And all I had were my backpacking clothes! That's what started the shopping crazy...

Worst Dressed Country: They were pretty slack in Portugal... but they also didn't have the best shopping there, so maybe that explains it?

Best Airport: YVW by far! It is abolutely stunning, and so full of nature!

Best Thing I Packed: Other than the obvious' (rain coat, lap top, camera, travel towel, etc.), I think this goes to my ski/cable lock. It came in handy a ton, and should be on any backpacker's list!

Something I Wish I Packed: My dog! Especially in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, where all the dogs go EVERYWHERE with their owners!

I accomplished a lot on this trip, and I figured out a lot of things I didn't expect to. I met amazing people: a priest and his wife, a group of med students, a brother and sister from Canada, a cute, funny Welsh guy who let me make fun of his accent, two sweet girls from Victoria, a Californian couple, an Aussie I could talk to for the whole night, a Seattleite turn Parisian political queen, a Kiwi who's still pen pals, a veggie from the states, an Italian army boy, and so, so many more! These people I will probably remember forever. Some people I will forget, but everyone I came in contact with had an effect on my trip, whether good- playing rocks with Chris is Brighton, or shopping in Paris with Tierney- or bad- anybody remember those 40+ English ladies who kept me up all night in Amsterdam? Ya, I'm trying to forget too. I am now a professional map reader, and a pro at getting around on public transportation. I can start a conversation with a stranger. I can communicate with someone who doesn't speak my language. I have learned incredible patience and understanding. Every day had it's own moments, struggles, and highlights, and I am proud to say that I dealt with it all! I've learned that I only have to do what makes me happy, and not what I'm supposed to be doing. And I've learned that life's too short to live it any other way, and that life is your own, and nobody else's. I've also learned that family and friends are amazing things; they can help you through anything, even when you're halfway around the world. And there's no place like home; my country is beautiful, and I'll never take that for granted again. Hopefully soon I'll get to explore Canada more.

I just want to thank everyone who read this blog while I was away! I had such a good time writing it, and I'm honestly quite sad it's over! It's something I hope to have forever, and I thank you for being a part of it with me.

To Europe: You were amazing! Even the worst of days were pretty perfect in hindsight, and I hope to see you again soon!

Au revoir, ciao, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, sbohem, viszontlátásra, αντίο, adeus, tot ziens, slán leat, adiós, goodbye...


Posted by kmcveggie 08:14 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Farewell Europe, You've Been Amazing

sunny 24 °C

Well! This is officially my second last post. Mom and I have had a fun last 2 days in Madrid, shopping, watching the Real Madrid game… at the bar. Kind of upsetting, but as we were just getting off the plane and onto the metro, everyone was on their way to the game so we would have been super late, and we decided not to try and get there. We got to our room and were very unpleasantly surprised; because of the game, the Backstreet Boys concert and All Saint’s Day every hostel was sold out for Saturday night, so mom had picked at 2 star hotel off of expedia. It is a complete dive, and mom whined all night about it. Like, it’s pretty gross. Not un-stayable, but close enough! I told her it wasn’t going to kill us, and got some wine in her, and she got a little better once I threatened to leave her behind if she complained any more. At least she finally got excited about going home! She says she could keep going forever lol, but I’m so ready. I miss my dog like you wouldn’t imagine! And my friends too, but mostly my dog. She hasn’t quite got the hang of skype yet lol.

Last night was All Saint's Day, a holiday where supposidly families go to the graves of their loved ones and decorate them and leave them gifts. It sounded to me like a booze fest! Mom and I voted on not going out into the crazy streets, but we saw the after math this morning. There were street parties going strong until 6:30 this morning, and the empties and garbage were on the streets to prove it! It's a good thing we had our iPods, and even with them we didn't get much sleep. But despite it being so inscredibly dirty when we walked out the door, in the few hours we were out this morning thye had it all cleaned up. That's amazing!

Today we went to El Rastro market. It was HUGE, and had tons of cute stuff. Unfortunately, they didn’t have boots for me, but mom got cute boots and a coat, and I got 2 new scarves. Then we went shopping for the last time and got some cute stuff, and luckily it all fits in our packs! We strategically placed everything and it worked out well. We didn’t even have to buy another suitcase! Then tonight we had a few glasses of wine, toasting our last night in Europe, and we wake up tomorrow bright and early to make our way to the airport. Stay tuned for my final, sort of summary/highlights blog, which I’ll be working on on the plane(s) tomorrow. Canada, here we come!

Posted by kmcveggie 11:43 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

BSB In Lisbon!

sunny 24 °C

I’m on the plane now from Lisbon to Madrid, getting really excited to go home! We’re on the home stretch now. Last night was amazing! We got to the concert just after 5, thinking it started at 7, and we were going to get scalper tickets. All day we’d been talking over a limit; mom was saying 75, and I was saying 100, as the tickets sold online for 40. I knew I wasn’t going to back down and not go to BSB, so I just let her think my limit was 75. We get there, and people were lined up and ready, but not overwhelming or anything. We asked the security what we should do if we wanted to get tickets, and he told us to go to the ticket booth. We’re like, ya, ok, we’re going to get tickets to Backstreet Boys 2 hours before the concert. Ha! We walked up the stairs, and there was a girl ahead of us clearly buying tickets, and we were like yes! So gonna get it. Her total price was 68 euro, and we were squirming we were so happy, because that was below our budget! Once we got to the counter, the guy showed us the price ranges: floor was 25, upper balcony was 29, and prime mid-balcony was 34. We’re like, SERIOSULY?! Um, 2 for the prime seats man! We then lined up and found out they didn’t start until 9, so we waited quite a while, being in about the middle of the line in the end. The whole time we were devising up theories about why it was so cheap, like, “Maybe it’s just a big screen of them, or like a DVD they put in or something, like maybe they’re not even here?!” “It would probably have subtitles..“ “Ya, maybe…?!“ Or, “Maybe it’s impersonators, or they’re like skyping in from the states or something?” Once the lines finally got moving into the arena, the girls would have their tickets checked and then run for it, sprint to the doors. We’re like, “Oh my god, it’s just like easyJet, it’s a free-for-all!” So we ran too. Kind of got our spirits up after waiting for like 3 hours! We got in, had our tickets checked again, and got the primest seats EVER. Our balcony was right above the floor, and we were one of the first 100 people in it seemed. There were these sort of box-seats below out balcony that lead to the floor, and we got seats there right on the railing facing the band. There weren’t even screens, like there probably wasn’t a bad seat in the house, but we got one of the best ones. Mom even got a huge, half-litre cerveca for 3 euro! We didn’t bring our camera because we really didn’t want it to get taken or anything, and of course every person in there had a camera! So that kind of sucked, but whatever I guess. But, it was AWESOME! AND, they were there, in all their backstreet boy’s amazingness. It was sweet, seeing a concert where it was, “Make some noise, LISBON!” and not Vancouver or Victoria. And it was the first stop on their European tour. Very cool! And everyone sang along, even though most of them probably didn’t know English! They had a great set up too, with their stairs and DJ and lights and it was perfect. They played all their old songs, and their brand new songs that were really good. So fun! Mom and I passed out as soon as we got home, but had a blast! Home in 2 sleeps, can’t wait to see you Canada :)

P.S. The home videos are already up on youTube from last night, so here's just some of what we saw:

Posted by kmcveggie 12:35 Archived in Portugal Tagged events Comments (0)

Laidback Lisbon

sunny 26 °C

We got into Lisbon, and took a bus to our hostel. The website said 20 minutes, but the bus ride was an hour. We’ve learnt that the Portuguese have no perception of time at all, as this was the trend of Lisbon. You’ll see! Our hostel is SUPER cute, like all from Ikea, all black, white, and red, REALLY cute and new. It feels like we’re at somebody’s cute house staying over. Fun. We got up on our first full day and did a walking tour. Our guide was full of knowledge, but didn’t have all of his English words right, and really wasn’t a very good speaker. It was only us and a couple from Squamish who showed up, so it was like a semi-private tour. It was almost 4 hours long, but we learnt a ton about Lisbon. We also got to taste a cherry liquor, and our guide took us into a few cool buildings, as well as through the streets of Lisbon.
He also took us up to this old elevator with good views of the city, and of the castle. And we got to take a tram, something Lisbon is famous for, that was packed full of people and pickpockets. While we were stopped a policia guy came on and walked through to get a well-known pickpocket off the tram. And once we got off at our stop, we looked back at these 2 regular looking guys, and our tour guide told us they were also well-known pickpockets! Crazy. We still have all our stuff though!
After the tour, our guide dropped us off in the Amalfa district where there was the weekly flea market going on. Once we got into the market though, I think my first words were, “This is crap. This is literally crap.” Everything was random. There were a few venders who actually had a set up going on with new items, but most of it was just old guys sitting on the sidewalk with their random crap layed out on a blanket. It actually all looked stolen! We got to a table that had tons of little espresso cups and saucers from different cafes, clearly stolen! We wandered around for a bit, and then got scared that we would be caught by the police if we even looked at all of that stuff! One funny thing though, there was an underwear vender, with some pretty happy mannequins I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of!
After the market we had some really good Indian food, then settled in for the night. I’ve introduced mom to Project Free TV, so we’ve been having little movie nights and catching up on Grey’s and Gossip Girl before we come home. It feels great to be watching real TV again!!

The next day we ventured off to a little beach town just outside of Lisbon called Caiscais. It was really cute, but not very nice out. The train ride there was nice too, but our hostel guy said it would take 10 minutes, when it took 40. Cheap though. The town was cute, and we did a little shopping before the sun sort of came out. We sat on the beach for a bit, then made our way home.
Yesterday we went across the river to another beach town. We had to take a ferry, the shortest ferry of all time, across and then take a “5 to 10 minute bus ride” to the town, which ended up being an hour long bus ride! Pffff…
Once we got there, the town was deserted, and ugly, and run down. It looked so wrong, but the locals kept pointing the same way to the beach so we went and found it. It was a huge beach, apparently one of the longest in Europe, and it was nice out, so we had lunch and then tanned/slept on the beach. Mom watched some surfers and she watched the locals put their boats into the water. It was so weird they pull them through the sand on a chain with a massive tractor, and then the people push them out in the water. Like picture a boat pulling a tube in the water, but the tractor is pulling the boat through the sand. No trailer, just boat on sand. Crazy! We made our way back and were exhausted!
Today we did a little shopping, as we’ve pretty much seen Lisbon now. And tonight, wait for it, we’re going to the BACKSTREET BOYS!! For those of you who don’t know me that well, my guilty pleasure is BSB, and this will be my 3rd concert of theirs! We’re going for scalper tickets, so we’ll see how much they cost and if we even get it, but we’re gong to try our hardest. We fly to Madrid tomorrow, and so do they, so if tonight fails we can try again tomorrow!! So excited! Like I said, tomorrow we fly into Madrid, then Sunday is All Saint’s Day and their huge El Rastro market day, and Monday we fly home!! I can’t wait. I’m hoping the end of this trip goes out with a bang!

Posted by kmcveggie 07:32 Archived in Portugal Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Rainy Barcelona, Beautiful Valencia, and Solo Espanol

sunny 28 °C

Hello all! Lots has happened in the last few days so I’ll get right down to it.. Pictures to follow soon!

The trip from Interlaken was long, but it went off without a hitch. Once we got to Barcelona, though, the signs were in Spanish (not a language I know well, other than “Dos cervecas, por favor!”), and none of the tourist information people spoke English! They all spoke Spanish at you, so that was fun! Naaat. Anyways, we finally made it to our hostel, dodging the pickpockets and the homeless, and settled in. We were exhausted, and hungry, so we found some pizza for dinner, as every menu was in Spanish and nobody spoke English, and I forgot my vegan passport at home. Whatever! While eating pizza, we saw a lot of drunks on the streets, and a homeless begger came right into Dominos and right up to our table to ask for money. Once he left, the pizza lady came up to us to make sure we still had our wallets! Crazy. Mom wasn’t happy about that!

Our first full day in Barcelona it rained. And by rained I mean POURED, and we were soaked and miserable. La Rambla, the huge shopping street, was hardly open other than a few souvenir shops and a few plant venders, so we didn’t really enjoy ourselves. We found a mall, so we got some shelter for a bit, then we headed back up La Rambla and found a vegetarian falafel hut to have lunch in. It was good, but it was a sort of falafel buffet, and it was nasty watching everyone go up and keep refilling their half-eaten pitas with more stuff. Sickly un-foodsafe. And we got to watch more pickpockets come in and get kicked out by the staff. Fun! Anyways, we waited in the hut until the rain let up a bit, only to get outside and have to find cover because it started pouring again. Needless to say we were not in high spirits, so we got some beer and sangria and headed back to our hostel to dry our clothes and play cards. Lame! But better than being soaking wet and grumpy. We had a siesta (nap) too, and then never got dinner because mom was too afraid to go out in the streets in the dark. I don’t blame her too much, but I was damn hungry and grumpy after that.
The next day we were meant to leave for Valencia, but because it was sunny we decided to take the metro to La Sangrada Familia, a huge church, and then grab our train tickets, and then shop a bit more and head out in the afternoon. We had bought a 10-trip metro ticket because it was cheap, but I lost the ticket, so mom was a little pissed. Then, once we bought our metro ticket to go to the station and book our train tickets, I thought I left my rail pass in the hostel so we left, only to figure out that I had it on me in my money belt, and then our single metro ticket wasn’t valid anymore even though we hadn’t used it. Great! Mom and I were not happy with each other, we still hadn’t eaten, and we just decided to screw Barcelona, grab our stuff, and head to Valencia. Finally got some expensive salad in the train station, and took the 3 ½ hour train to Valencia, only to be greeted by a beautiful city and great weather, so we were happy again. We found our hostel easily, settled in, and went to the grocery store to buy some wine and beer. On the way we found a sushi place (!!!) where everyone was eating, so we went in all excited to find sushi, and the staff told us it was closed. We asked then what time they opened back up, and a customer translated 8:30 for us. At the grocery store Mom took a picture of the prices, as a good bottle of wine is 1.49 and a single beer is 27 cents. Nice! Food is cheap too, especially compared to Switzerland! We got lunch from the grocery store, walked around (although everything was closed, damned siesta time), and then hung out in our hostel where we met a few cool guys: Rob, from England; Tom, from Czech; and Lawrence, from London. After chatting with them and drinking a few beers, we went around walking again, and found a cute square, and did a little shopping (as siesta was over). We shopped until 8:30 and went over to the sushi place. After trying to sit down, we were basically thrown out as they said they didn’t open till 9, even though earlier they said 8:30 and their sign said 8:30. We left and the guy slammed the shutters closed behind us, so we just said fine! And we’re waiting until we get home to have sushi, we’ve decided. Anyways, enough about that!
Yesterday we headed out in the morning to find this huge Saturday market that our hostel girl told us about. We walked a good half an hour, and then tried to ask around about where it was. Nobody here speaks English at all, but they try really hard to help you with hand gestures and such. It’s nice, but hard. Anyway we basically gave up and decided to walk to this big mall, and on the way we found the market! This thing was HUGE. We walked through the one part, and then kept having to pick which way we wanted to go, because it was endless! We could have shopped all day I think but it was packed with people, and after a few hours we couldn’t move and decided to call it quits. We ended up buying shoes and perfume, and mom bought a shirt. It was really fun and they had TONS of shoes I could have bought way more, but the pack is already 40 pounds, so I figured I shouldn’t. We then hit the mall, but were pretty shopped out so we headed back. On the way back we climbed one of the old city gates and got a decent view over the city, as well as a mini workout.
That night we walked the long way around the city and basically people watched. The city was packed with people, all out on a Saturday. It was about 8 pm, so people were out shopping and stuff, as they don’t even eat till 10! It was fun seeing the local culture. We also ran into an animal rights demonstration! So that was fun! I showed them my vegan passport and they got all excited! They were really peaceful, just holding up signs, handing out websites, and one guy had a laptop showing a video, but nobody was even talking, unless they were approached it was awesome. I wanted to join in! Then we went to a grocery store to grab a drink, and the cashier scanned the drink and then like knocked it over and didn’t pick it up, and I was like, “Uh, thanks for that!” but it was so funny because they don’t understand English at all. So really, you could go around lipping people off and they wouldn’t even know it!
After wandering around we found our dinner spot, a vegan Asian buffet. It was delicious, and so much fun having tons of choice! We could literally eat everything it was great, and only 7 euro! But we were STUFFED. Once back in our room we met our roomates for the night: a ditsy blonde from Lithuania, and 3 Polish girls. One of the Polish girls was sick and constantly coughing and blowing her nose, it was nasty. We were like great… but we slept fine, minus her coughing all night.

Today we went on a really good free walking tour of the city, led by an English guy who was really funny. They made us into country teams and asked like 3 trivia questions, and team Canada got them all! (Thanks to mom and I… lol seriously!). But it was a really good tour. One of the highlights I think was when he showed us this city building with 28 gargoyles all around it, and each gargoyle was carved into a different sin, and one of them was whacking off, no kidding! It was hilarious! Def got a picture of that. But he was really funny.
The last few days in Valencia have been awesome, but we’ve had some really bad luck, not just with the sushi place! I booked out plane trip to Lisbon for 1 less day than we wanted to be there (5 nights instead of 6) so that was stupid, then today we went to book our train tickets for tomorrow, and we had booked in tonight to stay in Valencia. Well, the train ticket guy couldn’t speak English, so we’re trying to write things down and understand him, and he said all the trains tomorrow morning were full! So we had to book one for late tonight instead, losing out on our prepaid room in Valencia. Not only that, but we couldn’t book a room in Madrid online because it was for tonight, and the hostel we wanted didn’t take reservations over the phone! He just told us to walk in and he’ll have room. Plus we get there at 1 am, so we have to get a cab and hopefully the place still has space! I’m sure they will it’s just dumb. Add this crap to the rain in Barcelona, and the stress about the metro and pickpockets there (which, by the way, we’ve since found out that mother had the metro ticket all along that I thought I lost… no comment!) and it makes for a pretty stressful couple of days. We’re hoping to get to Lisbon and relax in the (fingers crossed) sunny weather, before we have to make the big trip home. I’ve had pretty good luck for the last 4 months, so I guess all my travelers karma is coming back to me now, in one big bang. Lame, but I guess something was bound to go wrong!


Last night our night train went pretty quick as we both slept (and mom took pictures of my ugly sleep.. How nice!), except this guy across the aisle kept busting out this ancient hand-held radio and trying to tune it. It was so funny, but super annoying. At first we were like, “What’s that noise?!” And then we realized it was this guy’s 20 year old radio. He would sit with his thumb on it trying to adjust it, and then look at the ceiling as if he was trying to see the signals it was SO dumb! Again, I was lipping him off like, “Are you done?” or “Are you KIDDING?” So stupid. Then, once we got to Madrid, we were picking our taxi to take us to our hostel. First, we found a really friendly guy who spoke English, but we were near the middle of the line and apparently you have to get the cab’s in the order that they get there. So we move up to the front and of course there’s this short, obese, grumpy ass lady who wants to take us, and who speaks zero English. She looked at our address, and was like, “HOTEL?” “No, hostel.” “HOTEL?” “HOS-TEL. Cat’s HOS-TEL.” “HOTEL?” And we were like, ok, no, we’re going back to our nice guy. We did, but he said we had to go with the first lady, but he tried to tell her where we were going. We asked her how much it would be and she just said “meter” so we thought that would be ok. So we put our bags in the back and got in and she just starts driving. The hostel had said a cab would be around 6 euro, and the nice taxi driver said it would be less than 10. So we finally get to a street, and she just points down it saying something in Spanish. We were like, “We don’t understand you!” Keep in mind it’s 1 am. We tried asking her like, is our hostel down there? And she was like, “SOLO ANGLO ESPANOL. NO ENGLISH.” And we were like ya, that’s why we wanted the other guy!!! Anyways, she drove around and dropped us off right at the door, and the meter said 6.30, so we were like yay! Perfect. Well, then she busts out a piece of paper and writes 14.30 on it, saying that’s what we owed her and we were like, no! You said meter! And she just kept yelling at us in Spanish, clapping her hands, and trying to get us to pay. I asked a guy standing outside the hostel why our cab was so much more than the meter and he didn’t know, but I was so grumpy and sick of trying to argue to someone who doesn’t understand me, that we just paid her and she left. Mom had found 4 euro in the cab, so that made it a bit better. But like seriosuly, do we not have rights as humans to pick a taxi?? Anyways, our hostel guy was really nice and said that she probably charged us for putting our bags in the trunk, even though we did it ourselves! Stupid. Anyways now we’re off to explore Madrid for a while, while we wait for our plane to Lisbon. Hopefully it just goes up from here! Pictures soon, sorry! And home in a week!!!!

Posted by kmcveggie 01:50 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Slacking in Interlaken

sunny 3 °C

Not too much to say about the last couple of days... Yesterday mom and I went walking along the river which was beautiful! Saw lots of swans and cows and these cute little diving ducks! Then we walked up this teeny little mountain to a viewpoint over the city, which was nice, and it was a gorgeous day out so the pictures were good.
After that we took the bus out to a little beach and got some photos, and saw a swan on land who was struggling! He was trying to get to the water and had a hard time, especially when he tripped over a log! It was so sad, mom almost cried (the theme of the trip, it seems). Anyways, as soon as he got into the water, the 2 other swans swam right over and kicked him out again! They drove him out into the lake and tried to peck him and stuff, it was awful. I think he'll be ok. The scenery was beautiful, anyways.
Today was a huge dissapointment as we were meant to go canyoning, but the hostel needs 6 people to go and it was just us 2 signed up. I almost cried I was so stoked for that! But we had a relaxing day instead; we wandered around and spent the last of our franks (not that dificult!) and did our toes ready for the hot weather we'll be flying into tomorrow. Barcelona here we come!

Posted by kmcveggie 11:01 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


sunny 2 °C

Well, we’ve had a stressful couple of days in Interlaken but it’s stunningly beautiful here, so it’s hard to complain too much.

First off our train to Interlaken was a bit confused. After going for about half an hour on the train, we stopped and everyone gets off except for us. Finally a lady comes around saying we had to get on a bus to go around the construction, but we didn’t know because they didn’t announce it in English! The bus ride was really bad, so we took some gravel thinking we were bussing the rest of the way, then we got off again and onto a new train! Crazy. I fell asleep and mom continued to look at the beautiful scenery outside the train. Huge snowy mountains, lakes, green hills, cute little Swiss houses, it was perfect. Mom almost cried. Then, mom shakes me awake and we were in Interlaken. I go to put my pack on and walk towards the door of the train when my knee pops out. I fell back onto a seat and my knee stayed popped out for a good 5 minutes. 5 minutes of me screaming and yelling, mom trying to find help who spoke English, me hyperventilating, etc. Finally a young family came over who spoke English and they called for a doctor. I was in so much pain - my knee has never stayed out to the point where I’m sitting there looking at it out. It was SICK. Like most traumatic experience. So I moved my leg a bit and it finally went back in. Then we scrambled to find a bag or something because I felt like throwing up, which I didn’t. Then I felt faint, so the guy helped me out of the train, and my knee didn’t even hurt! Then I sat next to my pack outside and felt woozy and delirious. That was the closest I’ve ever been to fainting. Then all of a sudden my stomach starts hurting like crazy, and after a few minutes it stopped and my throat felt like it was closing. Weirdest thing. Then my knee started hurting like it usually does after I pop it out so I think I was in a bit of shock? Not fun anyways. The doctor never came, and I hobbled over to the taxis and we got a taxi to our hotel. We stayed in that night! Was not a fun day, after everything else seemed to go wrong as well. Ef!

Yesterday we got up, had breakfast, and set out to look at Interlaken. The knee was ok, and I popped an Ibuprofen to help with the rest of the day. The town here is super cute, and they were having an old car show so that was cool.
We got some groceries and beer and went hiking in a little town only 10 minutes from Interlaken.
It was cool, but kind of not what we expected. I think we have to go higher to see anything below us, but the mountains around us were gorgeous. It was cold, but we had about 5 layers on on top and leggings under our pants, so we were ok. It was sunny out too, so that was good. After that we had the fun task of figuring out what we’re doing next! We were checking out the next day with no train or hostels planned. Homeless, one could call it! Every train out was expensive, and we figured out it was going to cost us a lot to get from here to Spain, so we booked a train to Milan and a plane from Milan to Barcelona. Unfortunately, that means skipping southern France, but what can you do? We think we’ll get more time in Portugal this way. Anyways, it’s done now and we’re staying in Interlaken for 2 more nights. Today we’re going to go walking, and possibly up to the top of Jungfrau mountain, and tomorrow we’re going canyoning! If you You Tube ‘canyoning’ the videos that come up are here in Interlaken. Everyone we’ve talked to has done it and loved it, so mom’s going to get her courage up and we’re doing it tomorrow! Fun! Home in 2 weeks today; coming way to fast in some ways, and not fast enough in others!

Posted by kmcveggie 01:01 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Switzerland the Jinxed

rain 3 °C

We’re in Switzerland now, and I’ll address that fiasco in a minute, but I haven’t blogged at all about Munich! So here goes…

The morning we got to our hostel after our crazy overnight train, we got to shower and hang out while waiting for our free walking tour, which was really nice. And we were right next to a huge supermarket and huge organic supermarket, so we had yummy food the whole time. We got escorted to our walking tour in the FREEZING cold. Like I mean 1 degrees cold. We were wearing our pants, sweaters, hoodies, and rain coats, and we were still frozen. It even snowed for most of our walking tour! It was pretty, but cold. We promptly bought cheap mittens from H&M afterwards! And I got a really cute touque. Mom had put her back out a bit, so we found a beer hall and had beer, pretzels and mustard and it was really yummy. The beer didn’t warm us up at all though, so we went back to our hostel for a quick nap and then more beer. Our hostel was cheap, so we drank there as often as we could. Good beer, and really good sangria lol.
Day 2 in Munich we went to Dachau. Dachau was really similar to Sachsenhausen in Berlin, but the tour was still good and informative. Our tour guide was funny, but sobered right up for our tour. On our tour was a bunch of Canadians, two Germans, a tall Aussie (6’8!) and an older Greek guy who couldn’t speak English. Our tour guide was trying to talk to him before the tour, and managed to understand that his father had actually been imprisoned in Dachau and died there. The man was welling up just talking about it, and he took lots of photos. That just made it all the more real, it was sad. Anyways, it was a good experience. After the tour we got some beer (surprise) and hung out with Josh, the tall Aussie. He was buying gloves and I was buying new headphones in another store, and we lost each other! We planned to meet in the middle, but we never found each other again. Josh, if you’re out there, we waited but never found you! Sorry about that!

After drinking more beer and sangria at the hostel, and feeling quite good and warm lol, we went to a sushi place recommended by our hostel. I’ve been craving sushi for about 40 days now, so we ran to the place. We got there and there was no sushi menu, so we asked. “No sushi, too late,” we’re like, ok, it’s 7:30 it’s not that late! So we asked what time they were open in the morning, as we wanted to get sushi to go for the train. “No, no sushi now, too cold for sushi.” That’s a new one! Too cold for sushi. Alrighty then! Guess I’m not getting sushi till I get home! After grabbing another beer at our hostel we went to bed.

Our train the next day was at 12:30, so we got up and walked to the market that we had seen on our walking tour. It was a good sized food market, and lots of venders had dips, oils, and food out to taste. We found one vender with TONS of olives, dips, and other veggie stuff it was so good. Next we found this cute little man selling vegan dips and pesto. He pointed us in the direction of their big tent, and we got to try all these different vegan dips and pestos, vegan cakes, breads, and cookies it was so fun! On all their jars are pictures of different animals and they say, “The animals thank you” in German! So cute! Mom thought it was so cute she cried a little. No kidding. But I’m pretty sure it’s all just a part of her going through the change, so I just let her go. We ended up buying a creamy Italian dip and ate it with our tomatoes on the train.

Our train to Luzern, Switzerland took 5 hours, and we crossed two borders, Austria and Switzerland. We sat next to a really cute guy who helped everyone one with their luggage, so I had a good time haha! Once in Luzern, we struggled to find our bus, and a bus driver ended up helping us buy our tickets and get on the right bus. It only ended up being 2 minutes down the road; after all that waiting we could have walked there twice! After checking in we went down the road to grab some soup for dinner at the Co-op. Oh my goodness the prices here are UNREAL. It is SO expensive. We’re now in the Swiss franc currency, so its basically the same as the Canadian dollar. To give some examples, our 2 oranges were 2 CHF (Swiss francs), a small box of take-out sushi was 11.90, and a teeny box of cereal was 9.90. Like a teeny box. Crazy! The thing cheap was water and beer, but we accidently bought fizzy water so we couldn’t even drink it! Ef. Our jaws were dropped the whole time in that grocery store. At Starbucks, a tall, plain latte is 6.90. !!!. A starter of samosas at the Indian restaurant next door is 8.90. I could go on it’s crazy! Anyways we got some Mr. Noodles for 1.20 (as opposed to 25 cents at home!) and had dinner at our hostel.

We hardly slept last night as the 2 boys in our room snored like mad, but we got up this morning and got ready for a walking tour. After finally finding a bank machine that would accept my debit (they all were telling me my card was broken, and my backup card!) We found our walking tour and joined in. 5 minutes later I think we both realized it was a mistake. The lady was nice and all, but it was a German and English tour, so while she spoke for ages in German, we stood there in the rain and cold listening to gibberish. We hardly even walked at first! When we did it was like across the sidewalk, so we were freezing. And she was totally one-sided with the German language; she’d talk to them for 10 and then us for 5, and then announce where we were going in German and we’d just be herded off not knowing what was going on. Mom and I we’re contemplating leaving, when she said we were going into a church, so we did too to warm up. As we walked in I took off my mits and the strap of my camera went with it, and my camera fell screen down onto the floor. As I picked it up it looked fine, but it wouldn’t turn on. Even putting mom’s battery in it wouldn’t turn on. Not pleased. So so far, we’ve had expensive as hell food, no ATM’s that work, a stupid tour, and now my cameras broken. Great. And nasty weather on top. Oh, and the plugs here are different than the rest of Europe, so we can’t charge anything, and mom can’t do her hair. Scary place to be right now! The only pluses have been cheap beer and a really cute town.
We wandered off on our own after the church, both pretty depressed and cold. We stopped into Starbucks to get tea, and a tall was 4.10! No thanks. Instead we made our way to a veggie café/store and luckily they had amazing vegan soup that cheered us right up. It was like carrot, quinoa, squash and potato soup, perfect for a day like today. After getting warm we hiked up the old city walls and got a decent view besides the weather, but it was fun and we were definitely warm after! We then got a bunch of souvenirs and went and saw the Lion Monument, which is one of the things Luzern is famous for, as well as it’s water tower. The monument was really cool, set unto the stone in a hill, with a pool in front of it and garden around it. It would be a nice place to picnic if the weather wasn’t crap!
We made our way back to the hostel, hoping to have some wine, pay for our rooms, and head to the train station. Mom sees a sign saying the reception is closed until 5 pm, and they had my drivers license because we still hadn’t paid! We thought we were jinxed or something, as the whole day seemed to be going wrong. Luckily the girl was just upstairs and came back down a few minutes later so we got to pay! Now were drinking the rest of our wine, and soon we’ll head down to the train station and go to Interlaken. If you’re reading this before Oct. 20th, post on my mom’s face book and tell her to go skydiving with me in Interlaken! I think it would be amazing, but she’s way to chicken. She needs encouragement!! Back in 16 days!

Posted by kmcveggie 13:36 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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