The hills are alive in Salzburg - Austria Part II by Sara Warden

The land of Sound of Music.

9/8: This morning I caught an early train to Salzburg from Bratislava which was a shit show. I have been using WiFi only and had less than 10 minutes to buy my connecting train ticket from Vienna to Salzburg. No worries - I made it. On my train I met some Americans who were working for CRU in Slovakia. They were nice to talk to. When I got to Salzburg I did some walking around the city and found an amazing view of the mountains from the Abby. I was in a 4 person dorm room in my hostel and I was supposed to share it with 3 guys from Germany who were in Salzburg for their friends stag party. They someone got on the roof and then got kicked out of the hostel. Later that night a guy from Australia came into my room.

9/9: In the morning the guy from Australia and I decided to hang out and see Salzburg. We saw pretty much everything and did a lot of walking. For lunch we had a classic meat and pasta dish. Around 1pm we bought a 6 pack and started to drink and people watch. We ended up photobombing people when they went to take photos with the Mozart statue. We went back to the hostel around 5pm and met a German couple at the hostel bar. Soon another American and 2 more Australians joined in. It was the American’s birthday today so we went to a beer garden for a few drinks. I mentioned to the German girl that I wanted to go hiking tomorrow and she ended up offering to drive some of us to a German mountain range to go hiking with them. I gladly accepted.

9/10, Germany, Schonav am Konigssee: The hike was so hard, but so fun and worth it. We ate sandwiches we packed on the trail and definitely had enough water. At the top we gad a great view of the lake. We stopped at a hut on our way down the mountain to see some Apple Strudel. We even saw someone get airlifted out of the mountains. We think they must have gotten stuck because they chose too hard of a route. I was so tired when I got back. I ate a whole pizza and then went to bed.

9/11, Salzburg/Bristol: This morning I woke with little to no voice. I did a little walking in the morning and then headed to the airport to catch my flight to Bristol.

Side note: From Budapest I was planning on heading up to the Tatra Mountains in northern Slovakida, but I waited too long and the hostel was full. I was still going to head that way, but it became too expensive. I need to be in Belgium on September 16th so getting the Belgium from the Poland area was too difficult. So I’ve decided to head to Bristol to see friends I met in Budapest!

One day in Bratislava by Sara Warden

I saw it all I think. It’s a pretty small city. I had a ~delicious~ breakfast and walked to see everything. Also did a good amount of people watching. Back at the hostel I did some laundry and met a guy from LA who was doing his laundry too. We hung out that night and ended up playing drinking Bingo with some other people from the hostel. It was fun and I got the chance to tast some local Slovakian liquors.

Budapest drinking habits by Sara Warden

9/2: Today I headed to Budapest from Vienna, Austria by bus. It was about a 3 hour bus ride. My hostel seems super cool and chill. I walked around the city when I arrived. Back at the hostel I met a girl from Australia named Sam. We played drinking games with the rest of the hostel at 7pm. Around 8:30pm we went to another hostel that had a bar; it was called Retox. We had to leave our hostel so early because the hostel is located on the top floors of an apartment complex and the Hungarian neighbors HATE the hostel and all the noice is makes. Anyway, at Retox Sam and I played a game called Flip Pong which was just a mix between Flip Cup and Beer Pong. After playing and talking I watched the infamous “Jager Train” where they line up 100s of Jager Bombs and trigger a dominos effect. Here’s an example: http://budapestpartyhostels.com/nightlife/jager-train/

After that I started hanging out with a girl from California who was leaving to go on a Tinder date with a Hungarian guy….The date was good and she’s alive and well working on her start up business in Budapest. After she left I hung out with Sam again and she introduced me to the guy she was talking to, Paul. Paul was hanging out with 2 girl friends from home and 2 Americans. This is where it gets cool…one of the girls was from Chicago and the other was from Madison, Wisconsin..AND lived in the same neighborhood as me. WHAT?! So cool. Anyway, after the bar we all went to the club. I got home late, but safe.

9/3: This morning I saw that a friend that I studied abroad with was in Budapest too. In the afternoon we met up, did a lot of walking, and got a beer. We stopped for a classic Hungarian dessert called, Kürtőskalács. Good luck saying that. It’s basically bread covered in cinnamon, with ice cream and other sweets on the inside. We got dinner that night too. I had a Hungarian dish called Chicken Paprikash. Back at the hostel I met another American from Florida. We hung out for the pregame and then at a different hostel bar called Grandio. Tonight we were going on a party boat river cruise thing. Walking to the boat I saw Paul and his friends, so on the boat I met up with all them and hung out with them for the rest of the night. The boat was fun - unlimited alcohol and pretty views of Budapest from the river. After the boat we went to a different hostel bar which wasn’t that fun, so we went to the club.

9/4: Today I met everyone I hung out with last night at the Gellert Baths. The baths were so nice and relaxing. Also cheap! They had outside and indoor pools, hot and cold baths, steam rooms, and saunas. A must if you ever go to Budapest. In the afternoon we headed back to there hostel and started drinking. That evening I didn’t hang out at my hostel. Instead I was at there’s where we drank at the hostel patio area. After, we decided to check out the open mic that the hostel was doing, which was nothing special. So we decided to go to another club. There they were playing some foreign music that I’m not used to called “Drum and Bass.”

9/5: Today I relaxed. A few of them got tattoos today. The girl from Chicago and the 3 from Bristol left today. Tonight I met the girl from Madison at her hostel where we had a drink and talked.

9/6, Budapest/Bratislava: My first sober day of Budapest to actually do something other than drink. I did a free walking tour and saw most the cities sites in Buda and Pest. I got some YUM pizza right next to a beautiful church. At 5pm I took the bus to Bratislava. Walking from the Bratislava bus station to my hostel was a bit sketchy, but I made it.

Austria Part I by Sara Warden

8/31: Today I am in Vienna, Austria. This morning a did a lot of walking and saw some of the main attractions. I wish I did a walking tour today though. In the afternoon I edited photos at the hostel. I wasn’t feeling well so I just lied down for a while, watched a movie, and then slept.

9/1: It’s been raining all day. I haven’t left the hostel all day because of weather and I just really need to get some photo editing done. Tonight I’m going to a movie at one of the cities older theaters called Filmcasino. I saw an indie film, but I can’t remember the name of it. It wasn’t that good anyway. The theater was super cool and had a 70s feel to it. I sat next to an Austrian lady who started speaking to me and I just said, “Um sorry I don’t know what you’re saying.” She was asking if she could have some of my popcorn. I said sure and shared my popcorn with her for the rest of the film.

Luck of the Ireland by Sara Warden

8/23: Today was nothing special. We just had a lot of traveling.

8/24, Dublin: Today we slept in and then did the Hop On Hop Off bus tour around the city. There were two routes so we got to see almost all of the city. We stopped/drove past places like Trinity College, Guinness, the jail, some museums and the shopping area. We did a pub crawl tonight which was super fun. There was over 100 of us so we had to split into two groups. At the first bar we met two girls. One was from Austria and the other was from Sweden. At the next bar we had some classic Irish music and met two other girls from South Carolina. At the next bar we met two guys from Canada. They were fun and we hung out with them for the rest of the night. I even got to practice my French with them. The last bar we went to was my favorite because it had so many different rooms. On the top floor we found a really cool punk band the was playing, so we hung out there for the rest of the night.

8/25, Dublin: We slept in today and FaceTimed mom and dad in the afternoon. I did some travel planning and editing at the hostel today. Around 4pm Jenna and I started to walk to the Guinness Factory for a tour. On our way to Guinness the road was blocked off. We ended up waiting for it to reopen and got to see the Pope! No big deal. We then did the Guinness tour and had a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar. For dinner Jenna and I made some pasta and then went out to get drinks with some friends we made on the pub crawl.

8/26, Cliffs of Moher: This morning we had to be up so early to catch our bus to Cliffs of Moher and Galway. I slept a lot on the bus. The cliffs were super cool though! We ran into some people from our pub crawl at the cliffs. In Galway we had a 10 minute city tour and then had time to explore on our own. There wasn’t a lot to see though and the weather sucked. It was cold and rainy. We ate our packed lunches under some fancy Spanish Arches and then went to the shopping mall to hang out until it was time to leave.

8/27, Giants Causeway: We are up early again this morning. This time we were going to Belfast, Giants Causeway, and some rope bridge. The History of Ireland and Belfast is crazy. Our tour guide was jailed for 6 months because of his beliefs and support of the Republic of Ireland. He has friends that have died in the fight against England. Giants Causeway was super touristy, but very interesting. We did a hike above on the cliffs which had some great views and was worth going past the “closed” sign. The rope bridge was smaller than I expected, but was still cool and beautiful to walk across. Fishermen used to use this bridge according to Jenna’s research. When we got back to Dublin we met the guys from Canada at a bar to watch the soccer game.

8/28, Dublin: We went to a free art museum today and a free natural history museum. We also did a little shopping and Jenna got some souvenirs for family and friends.

8/29, Dublin/London: We were lazy this morning and just had to catch a flight to London at 1pm. We slowly made our way to the airport and then to the airport hotel. It was so nice to not stay in a dorm room!! We walked to the grocery store for some food and then watched TV.

Touring Scotland by Sara Warden

8/18, Edinburgh: This morning we go to our hostel around 7am, changed and then went next door to eat breakfast at Southern Cross Cafe. The food was good and they had coffee which was all I cared about at that time. After breakfast we walked to Arthur’s Seat and took some photos. It was super windy at the top. On our way back to the main street we stopped at the Parliament Building and went in to see the photo exhibit. It was amazing and honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen. After we walked about the main street - the Royal Mile - up to the castle. We saw a lot and also watched a lot of street performers. In Edinburgh they’re currently having their annual Fringe Festival. That night we went to a beer garden which was beautiful and expensive!

8/19, Highlands: Today is our first day of our mini coach tour through the Highlands and Isle of Skye. We stopped at some points of interest on our way to Skye. We saw Ben Nevis (the largest mountain in Scotland) and the Three Sisters. The landscape has a beautiful green tint to it and we even saw some Highland Cows which Jenna really liked. We are staying in Portree tonight which is a smaller city in Isle of Skye. We got lucky; our B and B is located in the harbor. When we walk out the front door we get a beautiful view of the mountains. The place is called “The Pink Guest House.” For dinner we went to the grocery store and ate our food at a cool cliff we found. We had a great view out into the mountains and back to the harbor.

8/20, Isle of Skye: This morning I had the classic Scottish veggie breakfast which included toast, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, and beans. A very interesting breakfast combo if you ask me. We had a full tour of Skye today. We saw a few waterfalls, Kilt Rock, Dunvegan Castle, and amazing views constantly. For lunch we headed back to Portree. Jenna and I ate at the harbor. We drove to a city called Straun and from there we took a 10 minute hike to an amazing look out of the mountains and lakes of Isle of Skye. For the last part of the day we stopped at the mountain ranges called Red Cuillin and Black Cuillin.

8/21, Isle of Skye/Highlands: Today we head back to the Highlands of Scotland. This morning we woke up early to watch the sun rise and didn’t see much of anything, just a lot of clouds. Our first stop was at another castle named Eilean Donan Castle. After seeing the castle we slowly made our way back to Edinburgh. When we got back Jenna and I headed to the beer garden for more beer.

8/22, Edinburgh: Today we headed to a coffee shop so I could do some catching up on emails, photos, and future travel plans. Around 3pm we did a silent disco walking tour called Guru Dudu. It was SO fun and worth the money. Jenna wanted to do it again. After the silent disco we went back to the coffee shop for more work and then went to Primark (like a Forever21) so Jenna could get some clothes. Tonight we had another over night bus back to London to then catch a flight to Dublin.

Sisters in England by Sara Warden

8/13: After traveling alone for a few weeks it was nice to finally meet up with my sister. I met her at the London Victoria Station in a McDonald’s. Classic. That evening we did a lot of walking around the river and ended up eating dinner at a nice restaurant on the river. We went to bed early; Jenna had jet lag and I was tired from all the Italian heat (such a hard life, I know.)

8/14: The next morning we walked around some more and watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. In the afternoon we headed to London Victoria Station to catch a tour bus that was going to take us to Stonehenge. Stonehenge was interesting, but not at the same time. Interesting because of how they got there and no because they’re just big heavy rocks in a field on the side of the road. We took some amazing and funny photos with the stones.

8/15: Today we decided to go to Notting HIll to do a little shopping and to look at the different colored houses. After we did some classic tourist sights like Tower Bridge and the Shakespeare Globe. Jenna then took a nap in the park while I made plans for tomorrow.

8/16: Today we were off to Oxford. Something at the train station in Oxford was broken so we had to get off early and then take a bus into town. We did some shopping, saw the University of Oxford, the castle, and went in a museum. I think we pretty much saw it all in Oxford.

8/17: More tourist things today in London. We saw the London Eye, Big Ben (which was under construction so we could only see the clock), Covent Garden Market, M&M Factory (nuts), and Piccadilly Circus. We ate McDonald’s for lunch because it was one of the cheapest places to eat. After the long day we went back to the hostel and had a beer - well I had a beer and then drank half of Jenna’s. Tonight we are taking an overnight bus to Edinburgh, Scotland and I’m not looking forward to it.

Italia by Sara Warden

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

I’ve been in Italy for I think 10 days. I keep forgetting what day it is. Oops! Anyway, Friday August 3 I flew into Turino, Italy and then took the train to Genova. It was a super beautiful town with many UNESCO sites. One day I took a day trip and went to Cinque Terre. That was so amazing. I wish I had more time to spend there. 

Cinque Terre means 5 lands and so 5 cities makes up the area. I was able to visit all 5. I started in a city called Monterosso and then hiked to the next city, Vernazza. It was crazy hot out and the hike was mostly all up hill. Lots of breaks were needed and when I arrived in Vernazza a lemon gelato was required. From there I took the train to Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. One day was not enough to see it all, so if you’re planning a trip to Cinque Terre definitely stay at least 2 days and stay closer to the area. I had about a 2 house train ride one way.

I think I spent too much time in Genova; I ran out of things to see and do. I did meet some very friendly German girls at my hostel and we went out for drinks one night. So many wine options at such a small price! Plus it was all very good wine. We even found ourselves in the middle of a Italian bachelor party where we had to sign the back of the bachelor’s t-shirt. Apparently there is a point system and writing “Wisconsin” gave him mega points.

From Genova I took 3 trains and 1 ferry to get to a city called Menaggio on Lake Como. I wish I spent more time in this city! It was smaller, but there was so many things to do in the area. One day I hiked to the Menaggio Refuge. That hike was all uphill and at one point I drank water from a stream hoping I would not get sick. (I later learned that all the streams are safe to drink from) I was exhausted and ended up having a 4,000 foot incline to the refuge. The views from up there were definitely worth it (and so was the 2.50 euro beer). 

That night a group of us hung out at the hostel, drank some red wine, played Cards Against Humanities, and talked. I didn't understand a lot of the humor in Cards Against Humanities because it was the UK Version. A girl I met from Montreal and I were the worst at this game; we were the only North Americans playing against 4 people from London. I guess North American humor is definitely not the same!

The next day in Menaggio I went swimming with the girl from Montreal and another from London. I was going to leave around 1pm to catch the ferry that day, but the ferry never came, so I had to wait 1.5 hours for the next one. Luckily I planned to take a later train that left at 3pm so I was able to make it just in time. The rest of my trains that day were a mess though. Every single one was delayed, which then caused me to miss the next one and then the next one. I had 3 connecting trains and missed them all. Even my last train to get to Venice was delayed by an hour. I’ll be sending LOTS of emails to the train companies hoping I can get some sort of refund. Fingers crossed. 

Because of all these delays I ended up only having 1 day in Venice. In the morning I did a lot of walking and saw all the highlights and then took a boat tour to 3 local islands (Murano, Burano, and Torcello). In Murano I saw their glasswear factory, in Burano I saw all the colorful houses of the fishing village, and in Torcello I saw the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which is "one of the most ancient religious edifices in the Veneto" (thank you Wiki). I met an Australian lady on the boat tour who was probably in her 70s. We spent part of the day together walking around the different islands. She’s taking a cruise out of Venice and going around the Mediterranean Sea for a few weeks. Lucky her!

After Venice I headed to Bergamo. There I just relaxed for the day, did some laundry, and edited photos. The next morning I flew to London to meet Jenna. 

Now we are off discovering London and its surroundings! 

ara

Meeting friends in Paris by Sara Warden

Bassin de la Villette

Bassin de la Villette

I could not have picked a better hostel to stay at in Paris. It was super welcoming, fun, and I met so many great people. I stayed at The Loft in the Belleville area of Paris, which is located more on the east side of Paris.

When I arrived at the hostel I was super tired from traveling, so decided to lay down for a little while. In my 6 person room I met a girl from Canada who just graduated from college and was completing her last few days of her travels in Paris. She had been traveling for 2 months already. She arrived from Italy, so we talked about where she went, what she did, and what she would recommend since I was planning on heading to Italy after Paris. 

We made dinner together that night, hung out in the kitchen, and talked to a guy from Columbia. He was in Russia for the World Cup. After, I went back to my room and started buying flights, trains and finding hostels for my Italy trip. I ended up going to bed early that night because of jet lag.

The next day (Wednesday August 1) I walked around. I went to Shakespeare and Company for lunch. It was nice to sit and enjoy the weather for a while. Then I walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. I sat in the grass for a while there and watched people take millions of selfies with the Eiffel Tower in the background. 

That night I ate my favorite French food combo - une baguette et Boursin - in Belleville park. It's a must try. I watched the sunset over the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It was super pink and beautiful.

When I got back to the hostel I hung out with people and played games like Jenga and Uno until 2am. We had 12 people playing at once who were all from different countries - US, Iran, Turkey, Belgium, Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Israel, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and England. 

The next morning (Thursday August 2) I got up and finished planning and purchasing things for Italy. I was sitting outside in the terrace area of the hostel and talking to a guy from Israel, named Elam. (I think that's how you spell it) We decided to walk to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Bassin de la Villette, and then to Sacré Cœur. We were both tired, so at Bassin de la Villette we found some chairs in the shade and talked. Then at Sacré Cœur we found some grass in the shade and both took a much needed nap.

Back at the hostel a lot of us hung out in the kitchen and ate dinner. I ate the classic baguette and Boursin. Around 9pm we headed to the park with a few bottles of wine and watched the sunset. 

I think I ended up going to bed at 4am. I had to wake up at 7am for a flight to Turino, Italy at 10:30 the next morning. (Friday August 3). I ended up traveling for about 8 hours I believe. (Walk > metro > flight > bus > train > walk) And now I'm in Genova, Italy!

It's super hot out and I'm too cheap to buy water, so I've been going back to my hostel to fill my water. Also this is going to make my parents really mad, but I realized I haven't eaten a lot in the past 5 days; I haven't been super hungry. In case you're curious I've eaten two baguettes, 5 bags of fruit snacks, 5 granola bars, noodles one night, a sandwich and two apples. Nice.

Anyway, this has gotten too long. Enjoy the photos!

Sara

Why I'm doing a (kind of) solo trip through Europe by Sara Warden

VFS Global reviews

VFS Global reviews

In April 2018 I was hired by an Ad Agency in Paris to complete a 6 month marketing internship. I was supposed to start in August 2018, but I was denied a visa by the French government. (A long story that involves a lot of French government offices, VFS Global, people, emails, and calls.) I had my flight already booked, so I decided to use it!

I leave tomorrow for 1.5 months of travel through Europe. I don't have much planned; only a 3 night stay at a hostel in Paris. My goal of this platform is to share my experiences as I travel through Europe. I'll share information about the places I go and what I do to hopefully help others who want to travel through Europe. 

I'm also doing my travels (mostly) alone. My sister is joining me for a week at the end of August and I am meeting a family friend for a little bit sometime in September. 

I plan to post photos, write posts and update the map of places I've been and where I'm going next. I'd love recommendations of places to go and see! Please feel free to contact me on this site, on Facebook, or Instagram! 

Sara