Our First Month Traveling Abroad: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

We’ve officially been traveling abroad for a month.

A full month! We can hardly believe it. Guil and I spent a year and a half planning our 6-month trip around the world, and in a blink of an eye, our first month has come and gone.

We’ve covered a whole lot of ground over the past 30 days: Seven cities across six different European countries. We have immersed ourselves in an unfamiliar, nomadic lifestyle, striving to embrace the ups and downs that come with long-term traveling.

Where Have We Been?

Here is a quick overview of our route.

Arc de Triomphe

We landed in Paris Sept. 15 and spent about a week there. We then hopped over to Amsterdam for three days before moving on to Berlin. We extended our stay in Berlin twice to include five nights and six days. From there we traveled to Prague, Budapest and two cities in Croatia. We spent about three to six days in each destination, and our primary mode of transportation has been by bus. (A review to come on that later.)

The Good

We have experienced more than we could’ve ever prepared for during our first month abroad.

Here are our favorite memories:

We watched the sun set over Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and then popped a bottle of champagne underneath it. We enjoyed fresh chocolate crepes on the Seine River. At one point we tried to order 1/4 kilogram of salami at a local farmers market only to receive 4 individual slices instead, a hilarious encounter that proved the language barrier was real.

Amsterdam canals

In Amsterdam we walked the same halls as Anne Frank. Of course we had to peruse the city’s “cafes” and “coffee shops,” quickly learning the difference between the two. We let the city’s winding canals and tall, crooked buildings slowly capture our hearts.

Visiting Berlin was like going back in time. We drove an authentic Trabant around the city during rush hour. We explored an underground bunker used as a shelter during World War II and spent an afternoon on the abandoned runway of a once functioning airport.

Prague was simply beautiful. We treated ourselves to a glass of wine while the sun set behind Prague Castle, watching the city turn from pink to purple. We met up with a mutual friend for wine and napped in a riverside park surrounded by fall-colored trees. (This has become somewhat of a mid-afternoon ritual: We also napped in picturesque parks in Amsterdam and Berlin.)

Thermal baths in Budapest.

Budapest gave us a chance to put our swimsuits to use. We experienced two of its thermal baths. It’s here that we discovered the ruin bar, hands-down the coolest bar we’ve ever been to. We also cruised down the Danube River, catching the magnificent Parliament building lit up at night.

Nothing beats the warm Mediterranean sun touching our skin. We dove into the ocean straight from a seaside bar in Split and swam in waterfalls at Krka National Park. We purchased fresh fish and vegetables from a local market, which were then tossed together to make authentic Dalmatian dishes. We’ll never forget that delicious black risotto.

Krka National Park in Croatia.   Guil on a beach in Split.

There was the unexpected encounter on the ferry boat from Split to Dubrovnik when Guil realized he was sitting next to an old friend from high school. Once unfamiliar faces quickly became friendly as we jumped off seaside cliffs together.

The list goes on, but these are a few of the more memorable moments. Each day brings with it a new memory, experience and challenge.

Speaking of challenges, some days put our patience — and relationship — to the test.

The Not-So-Good

We learned that hostels can be smelly, especially when there is no hot water to shower. (Sometimes you’re forced to go to bed without a shower after a 10+ hour bus ride.)Backpacking in Bari, Italy.

We also learned to ALWAYS bring food on a long bus ride. Shoutout to the bus driver who never stopped for a break during our 8-hour long trip!

Our travels have also taught us to truly appreciate 1) a clean bathroom and 2) unlimited hot water. We once had to place a plastic bag over our hotel shower head to keep green mold from touching the top of our heads. Also, we’re now experts in the art of showering efficiently. There’s no time to waste when the hot water only lasts 5-10 minutes!

If you’re ever in Budapest, here’s some personal advice: Stick to local restaurants for your goulash. We overpaid for the traditional Hungarian dish at a street market — and it made us sick!

Overall, the good heavily outweighs the bad. This is a trip of a lifetime and our first month was everything we hoped it would be. Actually, it was more.

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  1. Christiane

    Carla, I love your writing and anxious for the second month!
    Continue to enjoy this amazing trip. I read all your post !!
    Where are you going next??

  2. Christiane Ziemer

    I love your writing and waiting anxiously for the second month.
    Where are you going next?
    Plsss continue to post this awesome pictures!!

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