Phew! This past month has been an action-packed adventure crammed full of highs and lows; stresses and joy. What I can tell you is as I’m writing this post, I have the biggest grin plastered across my face. It feels so good to be finished with my book and back travelling again!
Let’s rewind to the Netherlands first, where I kicked off this month on a frustratingly sad note. My main takeaway from writing a travel memoir? Don’t. Make. Travel. Plans.
It was the night before I was due to fly to Copenhagen when I received the final copy edited version of my book. There was something about knowing this was my final chance to make any changes that made me lose my mind. I wanted to scour over the book for weeks, making sure every word choice was perfect, but that wouldn’t be possible if I was going to be moving every few days.
My trip through Scandinavia was supposed to be all about celebrating finishing my book. I’d booked myself into a bunch of dorm rooms in party hostels with the intention of letting loose and making friends; I’d treated myself to first class train tickets across the region; and I’d planned out all kinds of fun activities to fill my days.
I cancelled my trip instead, and flew home to the UK. I was devastated, but this was my final hurdle and I needed to clear it. I didn’t want to spend my time in Scandinavia slouched on a bunk bed, battling to concentrate. I needed my book to be as close to perfect as I could achieve. I needed to feel proud of it.
Head down; get on with it. I had a week in London and I worked non-stop. It was worth it, because when I handed in my final, final draft, I was bursting with pride. I had finally reached the point where I had fallen in love with my book and was no longer convinced it would receive terrible reviews. I can’t even tell you how amazing that feels!
Then, FREEDOM AT LAST!
Luckily, I finished my edits just in time to buy a last minute overpriced flight to Norway, where I reunited with Dave and we began a whirlwind tour of the country. First stop, Oslo!
And damn, I loved that city. You never really hear much about Oslo when people talk about Norway, so I fully expected to find just another European city. But it wasn’t.
It was bright and colourful and clean, with gorgeous houses, plenty of parks, and friendly people. If it wasn’t so goddamn expensive, I’d be eyeing it up as a potential base for the future.
From Oslo, we caught the Bergen Railway, which runs from Oslo to Bergen. It’s regularly voted as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and it was by far the best I’d ever experienced.
Over the seven-hour journey, we travelled past shimmering lakes and crashing waterfalls up to snow-capped mountains and glaciers, scattered with tiny log cabins. It was so beautiful.
I arrived in Bergen expecting to love it, but left feeling kind of ambivalent. I don’t know, guys, there’s something about rain that always leaves me struggling to fall in love with a place. Did you know that Bergen is regularly claimed to be the rainiest city in Europe? It is. It so is.
The grey clouds made the colourful buildings look washed out, the cold weather had me shivering as I wandered around, and at one point, we got caught up in a hailstorm! In June!
In an attempt to brighten our spirits, we jumped on a a half-day fiord tour to give us a taster of Norway’s spectacular scenery. And, well, I couldn’t help but compare it to Doubtful Sound in New Zealand, and it wasn’t as impressive. It was just so… grey. Damn it, rain!
I had fully expected Norway to rocket up to the top of my favourite countries, but I ended up disappointed. Maybe I did it wrong: I should have spent longer in the country and I should have got out of the cities. My friend Amanda was in Norway at the same time as me and her beautiful photos tell a different story to mine. I’ll make it up to you next time, Norway!
Dave and I flew back to London from Bergen and spent a week in blissful silence, catching up on work and staying still for a while. Well, still-ish. Because in a fit of madness, I signed us up for a 5 km colour obstacle race.
You know those 5 km colour races that everyone’s doing these days? It’s like that, but with inflatable obstacles! So. Much. Fun!
Also, I survived! But I also may have walked half of the course… with blue teeth.
I was back in the UK for more than one reason: it was my birthday! And OH MY GOD, LOOK AT MY CAKE!
I had such a chilled out day, celebrating at home for the first time in four years. It was just what I needed after the mayhem of the past few months.
Then, Cornwall! Have you been following along with my Cornwall road trip over on my Facebook page? A lot of you have been surprised to discover the UK has beaches that look like this:
And I was, too!
Over the past week, I feel like I’ve seen more of my home country than I did in twenty-odd years of living here! We based ourselves in St Ives, Perranporth, and Wadebridge, packing in so much driving and walking and eating, letting writing fall to the wayside for once. My highlights included having four cream teas in a week, wandering around the cliffside Minack Theatre, walking parts of the Southwest Coast Path, visiting Tintagel Castle on a sunny day, and so much more! I can’t wait to write more about this trip!
Onto the statistics for the month!
Countries Visited: 3
The Netherlands, Norway, the UK
Places Visited: 14
Amsterdam, Bergen, Boscastle, London, Mousehole, Oslo, Padstow, Penzance, Perranporth, Port Isaac, Rock, St Ives, Tintagel, Wadebridge
Distance Travelled: 3554 km
Highlight of the Month
Receiving an email from my publisher to let me know that my book had just gone to print. OH MY GOD, THIS SUDDENLY FEELS SO REAL! MY BOOK IS BEING PRINTED!
Lowlight of the Month
It has to be cancelling my trip to Denmark and Sweden.
Oh, and also, Dave fell on top of my head during our obstacle race. I ended up with mild concussion and used it as an excuse to walk the rest of the course.
Incident of the Month
Bad things come in three and this month filled my quota! First, I managed to pour boiling water from a kettle onto my hand while trying to fill up a hot water bottle. My fingers blistered and peeled, and that night, I couldn’t sleep because it was burning so hot. In fact, I spent about six hours blowing on my finger to cool it down.
A few days later, I had such a bad reaction to the pollen that my eyelids swelled shut. I couldn’t see anything for several hours, and they remained red and puffy for days. I’d somehow managed to forget I ever suffered from hayfever while I’ve been travelling, but Cornwall has had me sneezing for days.
A few days after that, I was rummaging in the boot of the car when I felt like I’d electrocuted myself. It was such a sharp stabbing pain. When I pulled my hand back, my finger was covered in blood and it was already dribbling into my palm. AHHH! It turns out I somehow managed to slice the top of my finger off (!!) with something sharp in my backpack. I still have no idea what it was! A razor?
- Oslo: $41.43 over 1 night: $41.43 per night
- Bergen: $266.90 over 4 nights: $66.73 per night
- St Ives: $96.05 over 2 nights: $48.03 per night
- Perranporth: $69.26 over 2 nights: $34.63 per night
- Wadebridge: $44.86 over 1 night: $44.86 per night
Note: I travel with Dave and these accommodation prices are my share — the rooms are therefore double the price listed here. This month, I didn’t have any accommodation costs while I was in Amsterdam, London, and a few days in Cornwall, thanks to generous friends and family!
- Flight from Amsterdam to London: $83.66
- Flight from London to Oslo: $211.04
- Train from Oslo to Bergen: $50.97
- Flight from Bergen to London: $140.91
- Petrol money on the road trip: $94.42
- Train from Lelant to St Ives: $4.72
- Parking in Cornwall: $18.21
Bergen fiord trip: $50
5 km colour obstacle rush: $47.27
Visas and Entrance Fees:
Entrance to Bergen art museums: $12.78
Minack Theatre entrance fee: $7.08
Tintagel Castle entrance fee: $7.08
Cancelled Trip Costs:
Flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen: $104.47
Copenhagen hostel cancellation fee: $34.95
Train from Copenhagen to Stockholm: $87.45
Stockholm hostel cancellation fee: $17.93
Train from Stockholm to Oslo: $46.77
Total Amount Spent: $2160.04
The Next Month
I’m so unbelievably excited about my next month of travel! I’ll be finishing up my Cornwall trip in a few days and then heading back to London to cram in an extra week of catching up with friends. Then I’ll be all about getting back to my travel roots!
I’ll be travelling solo for the rest of the month while I visit a brand new region in Eastern Europe: The Baltics. I’ll be kicking everything off in Riga, then heading up to Tallinn and Helsinki for four days in each place. From there, it’ll be onwards to Lithuania via a few stopovers in Latvia and Estonia (any suggestions?), and then I’ll be finishing up in Poland! For this trip, I’m going to be staying in hostels, working solely on Never Ending Footsteps, prioritising activities over writing, and remembering what it feels like to travel how I used to in the early days. I can’t wait!
Also, also, also! I can’t believe I’m going to be celebrating four years of travel next month!
Have any tips for Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, or Poland? Let me know in the comments!
Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!