Have you ever thought about visiting Eastern Europe? Neither had we until about two weeks prior to taking off for our trip. Brittany was captivated by a podcast describing the world’s best European food destinations and we quickly rerouted our trip to bypass Germany and continue in Poland.
We needed to bookend this part of our trip between Gothenburg and Rome, arriving by September 16th to meet grandma. It only made sense to work our way north to south and take advantage of a steal of a flight to Warsaw for $18 a person. We tried to ease our budget by registering to teach English in Warsaw. We were accepted and they ended up not having space for us. So, on to Warsaw, we went with loose plans of Krakow, Slovakia, Budapest, Zagreb, and Ljubljana to follow.
Prior to leaving for this trip Steve and I spent a lot of time explaining the concept of work exchange and how we planned to participate along the way. Our initial goals were to learn new skills, give back, engage intimately with others in their personal space, and offset the cost of our travels. Having completed our first work exchange at The Harbor, we were able to experience so much more than we ever expected.
Gothenburg is second in size and population to Stockholm and offers a variety of activities and attractions. The city is nestled on the southwestern edge of the country at the mouth of the Göta älv River which feeds into the North Sea. Offering a variety of public transit ferries, trains, and busses, Gothenburg is easy to navigate by foot. Both Brittany and I appreciate these options because they give a better feel for the city than travel by car.
As seems to be the case with many of our travels, we were fortunate enough to coincidentally overlap our visit with the annual Culturefest and EuroPride. There were venues throughout the city offering an expanse of performances along with pop-up shops and multi-cultural dining options.
Hi there and thanks for waiting for our first official on-the-road post on Iceland. So far we’ve traveled through Iceland, Sweden, Poland, and we just landed in Budapest. The travels have been incredible, we’ve made friends along the way, and we’re a little exhausted. So bear with me while we start formulating our thoughts and compressing our ideas. We’re also still learning to do this as a team, so while both Steve and I execute and write well, we do so very differently which has been something we’ve been working through along the way.
For those we’ve spoken with and those we haven’t, our goal here is to not only document our trip to keep friends and family updated but to also give you insight on how this trip is possible. This includes budget, time, resources for travel, work exchange advice, packing details, planning, information on Couchsurfing, and really honest insight into our lives. We’re expecting highs and lows and we’re ready to be transparent. So, that being said, onto Iceland.
Bloomington, Indiana was home before starting our adventure. It has always been my home and Brittany joined after undergrad.
Our little oasis in Indiana is home to Indiana University and the heart of Hoosier Country. In this town, we are all spoiled by the amenities and industry that surround such a junction. For being a town of nearly one hundred thousand folks, there is a bounty of arts, restaurants, and recreational parks. As a long-time resident, I am excited to share some of our favorite places to visit in my hometown.
We made our way to Jaco early in the afternoon by way of La Fortuna. It was about a 3.5-hour drive winding up at down the mountain to the shore. Steve was kind enough to drive and I dozed in and out while the sun unknowingly charred my right arm. We arrived ready to unload and relax for a bit before exploring the town. Per usual, we had picked out a rad, open-air loft through Airbnb that was close to the beach owned by a former professional surfer, Emmanuel. There was really only one rule for this place which was to lock the fridge before you go to bed. Don’t worry, there’s a story about that later.
La Fortuna is the perfect place to explore. With things like chocolate, hot springs, volcanoes, teepee tents, waterfalls, and wildlife, keep in mind that it also has the potential to squash your budget if you don’t pay attention. On our way from Heredia, we decided to slow our journey for treats and investigate the unique landscape around us.
Doesn’t Costa Rica sound like a wonderful place to spend the holidays? To be completely honest, we ended up here by accident and kind of frantically. We initially booked flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico to enjoy 9 days in one place. This was my version of strong-arming Steve into a slow travel vacation. Fast forward to a week later I was in pieces begging my grandparents to flee Florida before Hurricane Irma, where the eye was slated to land right over their home. And then Maria happened and Puerto Rico is still putting themselves back together 9 months later, mind you with minimal aid and acknowledgment from the US government. But I can’t even begin to start on that one.
As many of you know, Steve and I are lifelong Midwesterners. One of the special things about living in Bloomington is that within 4 hours you can be just about anywhere in the Midwest. Chicago, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Saint Louis. We’d both been to Saint Louis a few times growing up, but hadn’t truly made it past the lens of the Arch, because, well, it’s easy to be tourists. Anyway, we’ve both grown to love the time we’ve spent in Saint Louis and want to share some of our experiences and recommendations.