Recap of Week 1:
- Purchase and put our first 170 miles on it
- Repaired dry rotted power steering hose
- Ripped out railing, stripping, fiberglass interior shell, cabinets, and started tearing up soft wood floor
Recap of Week 1:
Recap of Week 2:
It all started when we took a train to Copenhagen city center to do one thing: a free walking tour at 3pm.
We found the main square and waited for 20 minutes. It’s an oddly warm day in Denmark, so we’re sitting and sweating. I’m admiring the 2-story Burger King on the corner, and Mark is observing this guy as part of some kind of stag party doing really socially awkward things to embarrass him.
We’re looking for a guide that, per reviews, is wearing a green shirt with a green umbrella. 3pm comes and goes with no mass tour assembling and no green t-shirt tour guide. According to Google Maps, the pickup point for the walking tour was at the entrance of a hotel. We go to the hotel and ask the lovely gent at the desk where the meet point actually is. He tells us to go out of the hotel and turn left, then we would see the meeting point behind the hotel.
We follow his instructions into a narrow pedestrian way that’s filled with the sweet aroma of hookah. Our eyes scan both sides of this walkway, and we don’t see any signage pointing to a walking tour. I’m well past frustrated and teetering on embroiled.
Mark checks the reservation and it says to meet at the steps of town hall. We go to town hall and wait for over 15 minutes. The original tour has long departed. We decide to wait for the next one, at 4. We go get overpriced froyo, sit on town hall steps and wait.
4pm comes and goes. No gathering of tourists. No guy in a green shirt. I go so far as to approach strangers in green shirts and ask them if they’re tour guides. We wander around a narrow street and into a shop with blue and white tourist info sign and ask about the tour. She lets us know that there wasn’t a walking tour today. Color me surprised.
We decide to take the high road and instead of chew this woman’s ear off, to go to Malmö, Sweden instead, since we’re in the business of collecting countries and all.
She shows us the schedule of the coach times to Malmö and transit times. It’s an hour to Sweden and an hour back to Denmark. While we can get to Sweden before day turns to night, the last coach back from Malmö departs 2 hours later, at 6pm. That didn’t work because we had an early am flight from Denmark the next day.
Disappointed by the lie that was the free walking tour and the unusable coach to Sweden, we schlepped back to the AC Bella Sky and enjoyed two Scandinavian priced (read: unreasonably expensive) appetizers.
Summary: If you want the walking tour, find the tourist office first and ask if they’re even doing a tour. And if you want to do a day trip to Sweden, leave Copenhagen before 9am. It’s $10 each way.
August 29, 2015
Bruxelles, a heavily blended capital city, location of the European Central Bank, and port of entry to the rest of Europe. With exactly 24 hours to eat, drink, and experience, these observations sum up our feelings about Brussels:
If you’re planning a trip to Brussels, know that it’s a small capital city, and two to three leisurely days can cover the main attractions. If you have any questions about where to go, what to see, or what type of food to eat, send us a message!
Mark and Melody
A popular day trip. A UNESCO world heritage site. Should you drive or take a tour? Most of the day trip tours from Dublin were coaches, about 45 to 60 euros per person, which yielded two hours or less at the causeway. We figured that’s not enough time if we wanted to see everything. Do it once, do it right!
So we decided to drive. Driving on the left is a. It of a learning curve but becomes pretty intuitive. We were worried when the GPS keeps lost service. Fun fact though, so long as you load your map before you lose service and don’t exit the map, you’ll have it navigating. The roads in Ireland are much wider than Scotland’s roads, thankfully, and the drive to Belfast was an easy journey.
Once north of Belfast (around Ballymena) the roads become much narrower and curvy. If you’re driving it, be kind to yourself and fill up your gas tank before you get to Northern Ireland.
Be prepared for rain. It’s likely to come in five minute bursts so a raincoat with a hood is ideal. Hiking shoes are necessary as the land is quite wet and can be very slippery.
We were more impressed by the hiking trails that the stones of the causeway. Yes, they are cool and hexagonal and it’s kind of fun to walk around them like stairs, but we would have been severely disappointed if that is all we had been able to do. To get the most out of the experience, you’ve gotta do a hike.
We took the red trail, difficult, to the yellow trail challenging. Anyone in decent physical shape can do these hikes. If you can climb a couple flights of stairs, you can do these hikes. The best part of the hike is that it rained, because a beautiful rainbow formed from the cliffs over the ocean. It was absolutely surreal. The best part of being on the cliffs, overlooking the causeway and the ocean, was feeling so infinitely small. There is no greater reminde of how massive and powerful the ocean is when you’re looking down at its crashing waves. You know the water is freezing because you can feel the chill in the misting rain that’s coming down in bursts. It’s incredibly windy, so you know you’re pretty high up. We felt positively invigorated by the end of the hike.
If you’re going to go, hear this to make the most of your trip:
Questions? Let us know!
AirBnB has been truly great to us and we can’t recommend them enough. Every type of lodging is available: tree houses, huts, beach cabanas, modern flats and castles! Search functions allow you to search for a private room, a shared space, or the entire home. The prices vary as much as the style, meaning there is definitely a listing for your taste.
For accuracy in prices and availability, put in the dates you’re looking to stay, even if they’re tentative because you may find a place you like that happens to have a flexible host. It’s no fun to get super attached to a listing only to find out it’s not available. 😦
Before booking, check the cancellation policy. Each listing has one: flexible, moderate or strict. Flexible means you can cancel no later than 24 hours before your intended stay for a full refund, which is best for more spontaneous bookings. Moderate means cancellation must be made five days (in host’s local time) before intended stay for a full refund. If you’re planning to attend an event or you’re pretty sure you won’t change plans, this is an option. Strict is… Strict. No full refunds are offered for Strict cancellation policies. Instead, a 50% refund will be given for cancellations made seven days or more before your intended stay.
We’ve found the hosts to be quite delightful and to ensure you get the most out of your stay without any misunderstanding, we always message the host before booking. We also crafted a template to familiarize you with the site and ensure you ask vital questions with a message like this:
Hello, My husband and I are traveling to London from September 23 to September 28- confirming you have these dates available. We are mainly looking forward to visiting Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and Camden Market. We would like to prepare a couple small meals as well. We will be arriving from Heathrow at 7pm- would you be home at that time? What is the best tube route to your location?
Thank you kindly.
Most hosts respond within two hours as they are eager to confirm guests :). Generally, a more outgoing, interactive host will respond with a more detailed message. Ask for recommendations in their area. If you’ve any allergies, it’s good to note that so the host can accommodate. We had an instance where a review noted a pet but the host didn’t, so if pets are something you need to avoid, confirm before the booking. At a different stay, I was totally under the impression the host would be there, but he didn’t live in the area anymore; the house was a rental property. For a first time stay, you may want to ask if there will be other guests in the house.
For short stay travelers looking to maximize time, ask:
For super savvy and aspiring long term travelers, ask:
For families of four or more, we recommend:
Final note: Give a host with no reviews a chance. We did and had a lovely stay!
Have you had an experience at airbnb you’d like us to feature? Let us know! We would love to hear your travel adventures.
Mark and Melody
This details our first attempt to follow this sage travel advice: “Lay out everything you want to pack. Now put half of it back.”
It’s really difficult to do. I began to think of all the possible scenarios in which I would need my makeup bag, three different kinds of yoga pants because it might be cold, or it might be hot. I wanted to bring ten tank tops because I love to layer, and I wanted to bring athletic shoes, hiking shoes, dress sandals and a pair of casual sandals because I want to make sure I’m accessorized and equipped for any occasion I may encounter.
But I’m carrying all this shit around for five months and that puts things in perspective. If you’re packing and you can’t lift your pack with one hand, IT’S TOO MUCH STUFF. And if you think it isn’t heavy, walk around your neighborhood for thirty minutes and reassess. If I had done that I’d have about a third of the stuff I do now.
We used the Kelty Redwing 50L Backpack ordered using Amazon Prime. We picked these packs for the following features:
Outerwear: one fleece jacket from Poshmark, one waterproof North Face jacket (lost in Istanbul).
Tops: Four long sleeve, three short sleeve, two tanks.
Bottoms: Two Jeans, One Yoga Pant, One skirt, One Pair of Shorts.
Little things: Two bras, one sports bra, one bathing suit, ten underwear, 1.5 pair of socks*.
Shoes: Leather Sandals (Aldo), Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe
These hiking shoes have walked through farm mud, forest mud, slippery rock faces, sludgy trails, and everything in between. They provide enough stability for the ankles for a moderate hike, up to six hours in length.
I think he overpacked, but he was prepared. His pack weighed over 20 pounds before we even left.
Outerwear: 1 insulated Calvin Klein jacket
Tops: 5 t-shirts, 3 long-sleeve shirts, 1 button down,
Bottoms: At least four trousers plus work pants, 1 pair of athletic shorts
Little Things: 10 pairs of boxers
Shoes: Running shoes, hiking shoes, casual shoes, and flip flops.
However, when we were ten days between laundry facilities, I was the one re-using clothes, not him. I’m actually surprised he didn’t run away when I was on my second or third wear of t-shirts.
That was my world of traveling light.
What Weighed Us Down
What We Tossed:
What We Bought:
What We Wished We Had:
Takeaway: You need a lot less than you think you do, especially if you’re traveling from America. We wore the same week’s worth of clothes for five months and you’ll surprise yourself with the mileage you get out of your stuff. Make all of your clothes the same color-scheme (pinks, reds, and oranges or blues, greens, and browns) and you’ll go quite a long way.