With my one little carry on bag, 9 flight tickets in hand and the excitement of having a full month of exploration ahead, I left Italy and set off to explore the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Greece and Turkey - before heading home to Canada for the remainder of my summer holidays. Unfortunately, the last leg of my trip in Turkey fell through and has now been postponed until 2015.
When I set off on this month long journey I figured I would have boat loads of downtime to sit in my hostel rooms and write about my adventures. Surprisingly, I wrote very little - because I was just having TOO MUCH FUN!! So, rather than detailed posts about each place, here are a few highlights from each country.
My hostel had a great pub which made meeting new friends quite easy. I spent a lot of time here watching more soccer during the World Cup than I probably ever have in my life! I also visited one of the best pubs I've come across. This pub has tables equipped with beer taps and computer screens. You can type in your name, pour your own beer and at the end you are charged by litres. A great concept!
Another highlight was taking the train outside of Prague to the small town of Kutna Hora. This town is home to a Roman Catholic Church that is constructed with more than 40 000 human skulls and bones. A truly haunting place to visit.
Despite a near mugging incident (I managed to push a purse thief away and yell very loudly at him!), I had an incredible time in this city. I found it to be a lot like Budapest. Both cities I love and would easily go back to.
A great time with fantastic people in a city I will certainly be returning to again soon!
I happened to arrive during the opening of the Summer Festival. The torch lit streets of old town were very much alive with preparations for the kick off of the summer season. Fireworks, street performers and traditional dancers brought celebration and positive energy for the summer ahead. Dubrovnik relies heavily on tourism during the summer months as this is their main source of income.
A beautiful and unique place to visit, but I would definitely recommend visiting outside of the peak season.
With a fairly small population and only recently joining the EU, it is a country that is struggling economically and relies heavily on tourism - much like Croatia. After Yugoslavia broke apart and these smaller nations formed, many multimillionaire Russians moved in, bringing their yachts and building resorts. Montenegro is still relatively quiet, but it appears to be the next Croatia and I predict within the next several years will be a booming spot.
I spent my time village hopping, hiking, and enjoying the ridiculously cheap prices of seafood! I was also eager to learn more about the history of the Balkans so I joined a tour, which meant I got to see more than I would have had I been traveling alone.
Entering Montenegro wasn't the easiest trek. We had to go through three border crossings and drive through several areas of 'no mans' land'. Definitely worth a visit purely for the scenery, but I think Croatia has more to offer at the moment.
After visiting some countryside ruins, the final stop was in a quaint hillside Muslim village, full of markets, a beautiful mosque and hillside homes.
Bosnia is a country I definitely cannot wait to continue exploring!
Well, my plans for doing nothing didn't last long. I soon met some new Aussie friends and we spent the next days sailing, hiking a volcano, soaking in thermal waters in the middle of the sea, partying in Fira Town and watching the famous sunset in Oia. This may just be one of the prettiest places I've ever been!
My last stop - Turkey, had to be cancelled due to being sick (punishment for having too much fun for the last month?!). I was soon back in Milan and ready to return to the comforts of my parents' house in Canada for the remainder of summer.