Month 48: Travel Summary and Statistics


Tallinn featured photo

Last month, I declared month 48 was going to be all about getting back to my travel roots? Did I manage it? Did I ever!

Except I had kind of forgotten the early days of my trip had been some of my most traumatising.

This month, I had backpackers throwing up in my dorm rooms, was attacked by bedbugs for the first time, broke countless things, was scammed by taxi drivers, missed buses, and moved far too fast! Because of this, I’m naming month 48 as my second unluckiest to date. The first? Month 16: my cursed month in Cambodia.

Lauren and Dave in London

I kicked off the month on a high, rounding off my Cornwall road trip with an stay in an incredible yurt in Liskeard. There, Dave and I napped and worked on recovering from the past few weeks of driving. We played football in the garden. We cooked meals in the kitchen. We slept a solid eight hours against the backdrop of a crackling fire. And we hung out with the owners — a couple who made us feel like the least experienced travellers in the world.

My favourite moment: when we were sitting around a fire pit sharing travel tales, and the guy casually dropped into conversation that he’d hitchhiked his way around the world multiple times — the first in the 60s when he was just 16!

Liskeard hiking

From Cornwall, it was back to London for a relaxing week with my family. I spent my time catching up with work, meeting up with travel blogging favourites, and introducing Dave to my non-travel blogging friends. As always, my time at home felt far too short and the goodbyes were tough — especially because this time, I was bidding farewell to Dave as well.

While he jetted off to Portugal to write and rest, I was hoping to make up for my sedentary few months in Granada at the start of the year. I bought a plane ticket to Riga and began a fascinating jaunt through the Baltic States — a region I’d long dreamed of visiting.

Freedom Tower in Riga

I arrived in Riga unsure of what to expect, and was delighted to discover it reminded me of Ukraine — one of the first countries I visited on this trip and one of my favourites.

Riga Old Town Buildings

My time in Riga had me wandering the streets with a grin plastered across my face, firmly in my happy place.

It had been a while since I’d had much of a solo travel experience, and this week really showed me how far I’d come from that timid traveller who took her first steps in Eastern Europe, four years ago.

I relished in being able to be selfish for the first time, cafe hopping my way around the Old Town with my Kindle in hand, finally secure that I’d conquered my long-held fear of eating alone. I sunbathed in parks, I went on walking tours that led me out of the touristy parts and into the suburbs for a taste of how Latvians live, and I wandered the pretty streets of the Old Town for hours on end.Park in Riga

It was all going so well until my final night. A huge percentage of tourists in Riga are there to party (the Latvian liqueur Balsam is so good, by the way!), and after the hostel ran a bar crawl through the Old Town, a girl in my dorm threw up all over the floor. Ugh.

I was determined not to let a little vomit affect my opinion of Riga, so it was onwards and upwards to Tallinn!

Tallinn Views

And it was pretty much like walking into a fairytale.

Tallinn was one of those places I fell in love with from the second I arrived. It was gorgeous. I loved the picturesque city walls, the churches, the parks, the vegan restaurants, the colourful buildings, the bustling squares, and the free public Wi-Fi, no matter where I was standing.

Tallinn Old Town Square

I was staying in Munkenhof Guesthouse, a place I’d chosen because of its perfect central location, its affordable prices, its good reviews, and its ability to attract absolute assholes into my room. Wait, what?

On my first night in Tallinn, the middle-aged Russian man in the bed above mine, staggered into bed and proceeded to throw up all over himself. I very rarely lose my temper when I travel, but hearing him vomit all over himself — inches away from where my open backpack lay — had me turning on the lights and yelling at him while he rolled over in his deep purple mess and began to snore.

I complained to reception and they moved me to a different room — a dorm without windows. Sigh.

The next morning, I was sat on the floor with my laptop when the cleaner walked up to me and kicked me in the back to get me to move out of her way.

When, on my third morning, I woke up with 102 itchy bites covering my entire body, I was out of there. Bedbugs. I couldn’t believe it. And oh my god, were they itchy! Imagine the itchiest bites you’ve ever had, multiply it by 100, spread it over your entire body, and have the itch last for several days. My legs are currently covered in scars and scabs because I couldn’t stop scratching!

I told the guy at reception that I’d been bitten by bedbugs and he couldn’t have cared less. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll change your bedding for you.” Four hours later, he’d done nothing about it.

I left Tallinn on a ferry bound for Helsinki.

Helsinki

There, thanks to a generous offer from my horrified parents to pay for half of my accommodation costs if I would just please stop staying in dodgy dorm rooms, I booked myself into the highest rated hotel I could find in Helsinki.

And it was just what I needed to recover.

Helsinki

I caught up on sleep, I had the most indulgent showers, and I spent close to all of my time in Helsinki with my hands in water. GETTING RID OF BEDBUGS IS SO HARD. And I now know more about them than I’d ever wished to know.

I had to hot wash everything I owned, and then have it dried on a high heat — and that includes my backpack and daypack. I had to wash everything I couldn’t put in a washing machine in my sink, and I had to use a hairdryer to heat up everything I couldn’t wash. The most fun part was heating up every single page of the books I’m travelling with.

It sounds extreme, but once you’re infested, bed bugs are horribly difficult to destroy. Unfortunately, I’d been sleeping in Tallinn with my backpack open on the floor, so I couldn’t take chances. The only thing that kills them is sustained high temperatures or freezing everything you own.

Clean up Station in Helsinki

My original plan had been to return to Estonia after Helsinki, but that was no longer appealing. Instead, I turned my thoughts to my cancelled Scandinavia trip from a few months earlier.

Five minutes later, I had booked a flight to Stockholm.

Guys, I think Stockholm could be the prettiest city in Europe! In love with all the gorgeous colourful buildings ?

A photo posted by Lauren Juliff (@nefootsteps) on

And I loved it.

I chose to base myself in hipster Hornstull, a fun area in Western Stockholm, a 45 minute walk from the Old Town. It reminded me so much of Shoreditch in London! I only had a few days to spend in Stockholm, so I split my time equally between the cafes of Hornstull and the beautiful buildings of Gamla Stan.

Hornstull

I’m afraid to say my bad luck didn’t end in Stockholm. While there, I missed two airport buses because my map was wrong, causing me to almost miss my flight. I broke my favourite sunglasses, and somebody broke my favourite necklace by catching their hairy arm on it when I walked past. I was particularly upset about the necklace, because it was a Christmas present from Dave, made with a rock from Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge.

Next stop: Vilnius!

Stormy Vilnius

Where my bad luck followed me.

It rained every day, two separate taxi drivers scammed me, I broke my iPhone charger and no longer had a way to take photos, and the quiet apartment I’d booked through Airbnb happened to be close to a loud house party down the street.

Still, the stormy skies made for some pretty photos!

Stormy Vilnius

By the time I reached Warsaw, on yet another rain-filled day of gloom, I was feeling dejected and frustrated. It was too wet to explore, I didn’t have a camera to take photos, and this solo trip was starting to feel like a disaster.

All it took was a sunny photo from Dave of his day at the beach in Porto for me to start researching flights.

It was time to take control and turn my luck around.

Porto views

On to the statistics!

Month 48 travel map

Countries Visited: 8

Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the UK

Places Visited: 14

Helsinki, Liskeard, London, Porto, Riga, Staines, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vilnius, Warsaw

Distance Travelled: 7,022 kilometres

Number of Flights: 5
Number of Buses: 2
Number of Ferries: 1
Number of Trains: 1

Money Spent

Accommodation:

  • Cornwall: $196.60 over 3 nights: $65.53 per night
    • One of my favourite places I’ve ever stayed in on this trip — the yurts in Liskeard. If you’re ever going to Cornwall you must stay here! Lovely owners, gorgeous yurts, super cosy and romantic, a modern kitchen, a hot tub and fire pit, and huge garden. I loved it here.
  • Riga: $70.31 over 4 nights: $17.58 per night
    • I stayed at The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers — great location in the Old Town, good value for money, free welcome shot, clean dorms with curtains for privacy, cosy common room. Seemed to attract a lot of party people, so not particularly quiet.
  • Tallinn: $48.61 over 4 nights: $12.15 per night
    • I stayed at Old Town Munkenhof. Obviously, I would not recommend staying here! Rude staff, bedbugs, and cleaners that kick you. It was, however, in a fantastic location.
  • Helsinki: $369.30 over 3 nights: $123.10 per night
    • I stayed at Hotel Fabian: an amazing hotel if you’re looking to splash out and treat yourself! Super helpful staff (they offered to wash my clothes when I couldn’t find a laundrette!), delicious breakfast, comfortable beds, and a central location.
  • Stockholm: $118.58 over 2 nights: $59.29 per night
    • I Airbnb’d it for my time in Stockholm, staying in this apartment in Hornstull. For Stockholm, it was great value for money and it a fun, hipster neighbourhood — good for exploring a different side of the city outside of the Old Town. The only downside was the 30 minute walk to get to said Old Town.
  • Vilnius: $87.38 over 2 nights: $43.69 per night
    • Another Airbnb apartment for my time in Vilnius. I loved it here! Super comfortable and chilled out loft-style apartment, complete with a hammock in the living room. The owner is what really makes this place — she stayed up to meet me at 10pm when I arrived, she called me a taxi for the bus station, and when I left my toothbrush behind, she offered to mail it out to me.
  • Warsaw: $81.14 over 2 nights: $40.57 per night
    • I stayed in this Airbnb apartment in Warsaw, located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. It was a 20 minute walk to the Old Town, but was 2 minutes from a super market, and was a bright and colourful apartment with a well-equipped kitchen!
  • Porto: $97.48 over 4 nights: $24.37 per night
    • I’m staying in an Airbnb apartment that was booked by Dave, and is a cute studio that doesn’t feel like its cramped. Lots of work spaces, a living area and kitchen, and fast Wi-Fi. It’s also in a fabulous location. I don’t want to leave!

Don’t Forget: You can save $25 on your first Airbnb booking if you sign up through this link!

Note: I was travelling with Dave in Cornwall and Porto, so in these cases, the accommodation prices are my share. This month, I didn’t have any accommodation costs while I was in London for a week, as I was staying with my family.

Transportation: 

  • Petrol in Cornwall: $76.03
  • Trains to and from London and Staines: $38.15
  • Flight from London to Riga: $203.50
  • Bus from Riga to Tallinn: $24.91
  • Ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki: $28.16
  • Helsinki airport bus: $6.82
  • Flight from Helsinki to Stockholm: $73.64
  • Stockholm airport bus from and to the airport: $22.88
  • Flight from Stockholm to Vilnius: $140.74
  • Taxi from Vilnius airport to my accommodation: $17.33
  • Taxi from Vilnius apartment to the bus station: $3.12
  • Bus from Vilnius to Warsaw: $21.84
  • Warsaw airport bus: $8.70
  • Flight from Warsaw to Lisbon: $281.73
  • Flight from Lisbon to Porto: $32.13
  • Metro from Porto airport to my apartment: $2.38

Food: $264.44

Activities: 

Riga walking tour donation: $10.83

Visas and Entrance Fees: 

Entrance to the Eden Project: $39.01
Entrance to Kiek in de Kok, in Tallinn: $5.97

Miscellaneous:

New clothes! A couple of new denim shorts, two tops, and a new pair of flip flops: $112.63

Total Amount Spent: $2484.34

P.S. — I don’t include my business expenses in these monthly summaries, because I don’t think they’re all that relevant for non-travel blogging travellers. Would you be interested in hearing about these in future updates? It’d include things like hosting costs, mailing list fees, and plugin costs.

My Next Steps

Month 49 Travel Map

I have a few days left exploring Porto, where I’ve planned for a walking tour of Porto’s abandoned buildings (did you know that 30% of Porto’s buildings are currently empty?), and a day spent driving around the spectacular Douro Valley.

Then, Madrid, where I’ll be investigating if it could be a potential long-term base for me. I was pretty certain the answer would be yes until I saw it would most likely be 40 degrees for our entire six week stay. Now I’m kind of dreading it.

I’ll be spending most of my time in Madrid either working on the marketing of my book or having panic attacks in the corner, but hopefully I’ll be able to fit in a day-ish trip up to Andorra at some point.

At the end of the month, I’ll be flying to my beloved Slovenia — my favourite country in Europe! Slovenia was the second country I visited on this trip and I wrote such a glowing report that my parents are going to be visiting for my mum’s birthday. Never one to turn down a few days in Ljubljana and Bled, I’ll be meeting up with them for their visit.

I’ll also be combining the Slovenia trip with a visit to Lake Como — my first visit to Italy on this trip! Dave has a friend who runs a restaurant in a tiny village up in the hills surrounding the lake, and we’ll be heading there to soak up the pretty views and drink lots of wine.

Oh, and How Not to Travel the World is going to be published on August 13th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have any tips for things to do in Madrid? Are you looking forward to finally getting to read my book? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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!

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33 Comments

  1. Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    July 23, 2015
    Reply

    I’m sorry that you had such rotten luck — I can’t believe that hostel had bedbugs and they were unapologetic!

    Don’t laugh at me but I had to lookup Estonia. Until today, I had no clue it even existed! It certainly looks beautiful and I hope I can see it for myself someday.

    Personally, I’d be interested in seeing the blogging expenses!

    Hope your travels from now on are much less unlucky!

    xo

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Estonia is great! Definitely try and get there — it’s so beautiful! :-) Since arriving in Porto, my luck has already turned around.

  2. Katya
    July 23, 2015
    Reply

    I would be definitely interested in your blogging related expenses.

    Have great travel experiences next month! (by the way, I will be at Lake Como in August as well, so if a stranger with a Russian accent approaches you, it could be me :)

    Katya

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Ha! Perfect! I’ll keep an eye out for you then :-)

  3. Katie
    July 24, 2015
    Reply

    What a nightmare with the bedbugs! I had a scare when I had bites on my stomach in a cluster and my friend who I had just arrived to stay with freaked out so we washed all my stuff including my bags and luckily there was no more bites or signs of bedbugs – I dodged a bullet there!

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Phew! Glad to hear it! :-) Their bites are the worst, and then trying to kill them is such a pain in the ass.

  4. Katie
    July 24, 2015
    Reply

    Indulgent showers: definitely the biggest luxury when you’re living on the road. I’ve not had beg bugs (yet?!), and I think your post just made me more scared of them than I’ve ever been before. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Oh man, I have so many more creepy facts about them! Do you know that sometimes they’ll climb the walls, across the ceiling, and then fall down onto you in the night in order to bite you? Shudder!

  5. Camille
    July 24, 2015
    Reply

    You bet I’m looking forward to reading your book! It’s a real shame we couldn’t meet in the Baltics and you had such a streak of bad luck spoiling your trip… BUT it looks like you had glorious weather in Tallinn and Helsinki while we had non-stop rain, which ruined it a bit for us :( Riga though, I fell in love with! And Stockholm looks great too!

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      I was sad we didn’t get a chance to meet up! That’s a shame about the weather — I hate that rain nearly always ruins my opinion of a place. It sounds like I had slightly better weather than you, but it was still pretty rainy on and off for me. Not what I was expecting in July!

  6. Inverted Sheep
    July 24, 2015
    Reply

    Try teatree oil or eucalyptus oil for bedbugs. Decant it into a little spray bottle and spray mattresses, pillows, your sleeping bag, etc with it. On another note, I’d also be interested in your business expenses. I currently blog as a way of keeping a diary, but am thinking of trying to do a bit more with it – I’m already finding your posts useful, but info and advice on running costs of this type of business would be really helpful. Maybe as a future blog post as well …

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Oooh, I like the idea of a post about blogging expenses! I think that could be interesting. Thanks for the inspiration! :-)

  7. Maddy
    July 24, 2015
    Reply

    Bed bugs?! That sounds awfullllll. And just, such a pain in general! Sorry you had such a crappy month. Glad you got to reunite with the guy though and that your parents were willing to help you splurge a bit – sometimes you just need a refresh! :)

    • Lauren
      July 24, 2015
      Reply

      Nightmare! But, I have been travelling for four years, so I’ve been pretty lucky that this was my first experience! :-)

  8. Alice
    July 26, 2015
    Reply

    I live in Madrid at the moment and I absolutely love it!! I hope you will too. I literally just today posted a blogpost on my top things to do as a tourist in Madrid and also have a post of my favourite restaurants – https://readingrunningcycling.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/what-to-do-in-madrid/ – but in case just linking to it is too much like spam, you have to check out the Retiro Park, the art galleries, La Latina for lunch on a Sunday afternoon (the rest of the time it’s really touristy but for some reason its where all the Madrileños go on a Sunday afternoon) and have a wander down by the river and around Malasaña and Chueca. AVOID the Gran Via unless you have to walk through it to get somewhere as it is just really noisy and a very busy road with lots and lots of cars so quite polluted. I hope you have a great time!

    • Lauren
      August 3, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much for all the tips, Alice! :-) Really appreciate it, and especially the restaurant recommendations! I’ve been in Madrid for a couple of weeks now and I’m already loving it. Maybe it could be my long-term base overall…

  9. Carolina
    July 27, 2015
    Reply

    I can’t wait to get a copy of your book. I love your blog, and reading about your (mis)adventures makes me soooo keen to hop on the next flight and just travel the world. unfortunately, I still have to save up some more money before I go, but soon enough…
    Please don’t ever stop writing!

    • Lauren
      August 3, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Carolina! No plans to stop writing :-)

  10. Kate
    August 3, 2015
    Reply

    What a month! Sorry to hear you had some bad luck, but it sounds like in the end you had some pretty amazing adventures!

    • Lauren
      November 22, 2015
      Reply

      That’s a pretty accurate description of my travels to date! :-)

  11. Urska
    August 14, 2015
    Reply

    Hello! So happy to hear you love Slovenia, hope you have a great stay in my country! Where will you be going?

    • Lauren
      August 21, 2015
      Reply

      Just Ljubljana this time around!

  12. Alexandra Bellink
    August 19, 2015
    Reply

    Woah! I had no idea that much of Porto was abandoned buildings. I’m headed there very soon and love urban exploring. Glad you mentioned that.

  13. Piotr Kulczycki
    June 3, 2016
    Reply

    In Poland, you should have visited Poznan as well – you’d love it, I’m sure! Are planning any trips here? ;-) Cheers!

    • Lauren
      June 8, 2016
      Reply

      Not at the moment, but now that I’ll be based in Europe indefinitely, I’ll have plenty of chances to get there :-)

  14. Andrew Darwitan
    July 6, 2016
    Reply

    Would love to read more posts from Europe. Realize you’ll be spending quite some time in Portugal, any chance you’ll be visiting Praia da Marinha?

    • Lauren
      July 6, 2016
      Reply

      I’d imagine it’d be quite likely! Honestly, I can’t see myself leaving Portugal for many, many years, so I have plenty of time to explore! Well, if Brexit doesn’t mean I get kicked out of the country, that is.

  15. Jesper, The Biveros Effect
    September 26, 2016
    Reply

    Sounds like a really nice round trip around the Baltic Sea. Out of the cities I would say that Riga is one of my favorites. :)

    • Lauren
      October 19, 2016
      Reply

      I’ll probably go for Tallinn, even with all the vomit and bedbugs :-)

  16. Slawek
    May 16, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    I recommend to visit Krakow there`s a lot thing to do> You can also visit Auschwitz camp during your stay in Krakow because is not far away. Wawel Royal Castle is one of the biggest castle in Poland also worth to see.

    • Lauren
      May 16, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation!

  17. Lidia Bronkowska
    March 19, 2019
    Reply

    I’m not sure if you’ve been back to Poland, but I really would recommend giving it another shot! Now, I’m definitely partial, as I’m polish, and still have family living in Poland.
    I’ve never been to Warsaw, but I’ve been to Krakow and Zakopane! I would absolutely recommend both. Krakow didn’t get as destroyed during the war as Warsaw did, so they still have a lot of old architecture, which is absolutely beautiful! They’ve got castles to visit, salt mines, a museum under the city, the main square is lined with shops and restaurants.
    I don’t know if the Holocaust is anything that interests you, but you can also take a day/afternoon trip to Auschwitz concentration camp which I would recommend everyone going.
    As far as Zakopane goes, it’s a mountain town. It’s super cute and if you’re into hiking, there are loads of trails to hike. Morskie Oko, is so worth it, it’s a 10km paved hike, but you also have the option to pay to ride a carriage up. When you get to the top, it’s so beautiful it feels like it’s photoshopped and you’re standing there! The other two I’ve personally been to are Gubalowka and Kasprowy both have transportations to go up. If I’m not mistaken, at Kasprowy, you have to take two cable cars to get to the top, but it’s beautiful. Gubalowka is a short hike up or like a 5 minute train car like thing up. There are also loads of shops as well. And if you are a cheese lover they have smoked cheese that everyone always raves about, not my cup of tea, but most people love it!

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