I don’t want to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York feels just unnecessary. Why should I use my time to sunbathing on paradise beaches in Thailand? People… More
The year 2017 is ending soon and like last year it’s time to look back at the amazing (and not so amazing) moments I had the privilege to experience. When 2017 was starting I promised myself that this year would finally be the year when I start truly traveling and will take it seriously. This may have been the first time when I kept my New Year’s resolution. Anyone who knows me or has been reading my Twitter knows that year 2017 was full of adventures and travels.
Starting my travel year from Travel Expo
I started my travel year 2017 with something inspiring and unbelievable. I went to Finnish travel expo “Matkamessut”. There I took part in this seminar meant for travel writers where they taught everything from writing a travel blog to taking better photos. Afterwards, I walked around the expo and collected a huge bag full of fliers from different travel themed companies and countries.
This all made me want to be a bigger part of the travel community. If I was writing Finnish blog, it would probably be easier. But at least during this year, I have made more traveler friends and even met a cool blogger from the other side of the world twice during 2017. Isn’t that amazing?
How to travel cheap?
Most Finnish people think that flying out from our lovely country is super expensive. In fact, this year I must have heard “How do you have enough money to travel?” at least hundred times from the mouths of my family and friends. Even randoms comment the amount I travel. One of the funniest comments this year must have been “Are you some kind of heiress with endless fortune?” Those who are wondering: I probably make less money than most normal people right now and everything is about budgeting.
During 2017 I have learned more and more ways to travel cheaply without giving up the best sides of traveling. I made my own schedule so that I can leave whenever and where ever flight tickets are inexpensive. Hotels are also out of the equation (if we don’t count traveling with my amazing mum!) and I have to skip some of the most touristy experiences. Traveling to so many places during this year has been possible because I’m not a tourist, I’m a traveler.
Cities that surprised me
Because I had decided to travel cheap and my budget wasn’t great at spring, there wasn’t a lot of choices while picking out the destinations to visit. At first, I thought it would be a bad thing but surprisingly it just meant that I fell in love with cities I might not have visited on my own. During 2017 I was lucky enough to travel to three cities that took me by surprise. Bremen, Gdansk, and Bratislava.
All these three cities were sold short for me. The photos of Bremen I found online were dull and painted picture of an industrial dark city. Gdanks seemed like a place made for tourists and nothing else. While many people told me that there is nothing to see in Bratislava. In the end, all three of these cities ended up on my list of places I have to visit again with more time. Surprises make traveling so much better.
I found home from Brighton
Some places you just know that you will fall in love even before visiting them. Brighton is a place like that for me. I saw the photos of its huge pier, idyllic streets, and endless beach. That’s all I wish for a perfect travel destination. Even if you know beforehand it always surprises you how one unknown place can make you feel like you have finally found your home. Dark alleys, colorful buildings and people so happy its ridiculous. I fell asleep listening to too loud live music playing under me in the hostel’s bar. Brighton felt like home.
Too many times in Stockholm
Stockholm, city probably 99% of Finns have visited at least once in their lifetime. Even if my statistics aren’t the truth, Stockholm has been known as the easy and cheap destination amongst Finnish people for a long time. Stockholm cruises are always a popular way of traveling. I have taken this form of traveling to the next level because it just happens that flights from Stockholm are nothing when compared to the flights leaving from Finland. Because of this, I have visited Stockholm too many times this year. If I counted correctly I have visited Stockholm 7 times during the last 12 months. 7 TIMES!
Adventures with family
I am all for solo traveling but it doesn’t mean that adventuring with my family every once in a while wouldn’t be on my budget list. One of the first trips of 2017 was with my mom, siblings, and cousin to Sweden by cruise ship. The idea of this trip was to see the pinkish cherry blossoms for the first time in our lives. If I wasn’t planning a return trip to Japan before, after seeing cherry trees in Stockholm it came one of my most important agendas.
This cruise wasn’t the only trip I did with my family during the travels of 2017. At autumn I went to Rome with my mom. That trip interesting. Not bad but definitely torturous because of the endless sun and hot temperatures. We saw a lot of local history like Colosseum and Vatican but also just walked the idyllic streets full of tourists. After traveling together my mom flew back to Finland and I continued by bus to Venice.
Two longtime dreams
I believe that every traveler has a few dream destinations that have always wanted to visit. Iceland and Venice have been dream destinations for me as long as I can remember. I’m not even sure how or when my mind decided that going to these places would be dream come true. It must have been primary school and something to do with geography homework.
2017 was a lucky year for me because I was able to visit both of my longtime dreams. After spending a week in Rome with my mom, I continued by over-night bus to Venice. I arrived at early morning hour and fell in love right after exiting the train station. Getting lost is my thing and in city full of canals, narrow alleys and ending roads it’s easy. Iceland was almost an opposite experience but still as breathtaking. Alone traveling around Iceland’s south coast would be boring but with a good friend and easy bus tour, everything felt perfect. I even hiked on a real glacier!
Around East Europe by busses
Between my trip to Venice and Iceland, there was time for one more adventure. I think you know what that means! Time to do one more dream of mine. I booked a flight to Budapest and first bus from there to Bratislava. After that my plan was just to improvise and travel around East Europe by busses.
During the following two weeks, I had the privilege to visit four new countries and return to Poland. Like always traveling gave me more than enough funny memories, new stories and moments to share. However, I also experienced the most moving moment of my 2017 while taking a bus trip to Auschwitz. They teach us about it in school but really visiting this sadly famous place you truly could feel the pain and terror.
Taking over the USA!
The last trip of my travel year 2017 was to the USA. It was my first time crossing the Atlantic and visiting America. After Iceland, the first few days didn’t feel as marvelous as I would have probably felt if coming straight from Finland. It doesn’t mean that New York didn’t charm me. I loved running around with Starbucks mug and fancy paper bags. The museums I visited were unique and full of famous artists. Let’s not even talk about the three-story high bookstores or writing endless stories to my new notebooks in small cafes.
Starting something new 2018
And that’s my travel year of 2017. Adventures, adventures and little more adventures. I will now start my year 2018 with a new theme. There will still be travels around the world – I don’t think there is any other way for me to live – but at the same time I have decided new goal. During 2017 I wanted to travel as much as possible but in 2018 I will give everything I have for blogging.
Laugh if you want because this year my blogging schedule has been just sad. Feel free to not believe me but remember that when I once decide something it’s hard to change my mind. Next year I have decided to do daily blogging. It may sound crazy but I think that’s just fitting for my current life. Just follow my lost side blog and there I will tell you more about this plan later this week.
What hopes or resolutions do you have for 2018? Or what were the most memorable trips you did during 2017? Like always all comments are more than welcome!
Usually, we complain when facing too long travel times. 5 hours sitting on a train, 12 hours flight from Europe to the USA or cheap but forever long bus trip. First thing coming to your mind is probably torture. You can’t move or do anything. You just have to sit there in this small seat you get and wait for a long time so you can exit the vehicle in your dream destination.
I admit that if I can make a choice taking the longest route would be my pick but that doesn’t mean I hate long-distance flight or any form of long distance traveling. That’s why I decided that today I want to share 5 reasons I think that every once in a while all of us should sit alone in an airplane for hours. If you don’t think too much, it will be an amazing experience.
1. Get unplugged from the world
Okay, this isn’t as true anymore as it was about a year ago because most airplanes start to have wifi in them. But you can still do the choice to not use it and be unplugged during your long-distance flight. In the current world of social media and always being available being off the grid for hours is a luxury. No need to worry what everyone else is doing at the moment or telling everyone what you are experiencing. Just enjoy the moment and amazing views outside your window.
2. Read a book, watch a movie or just sleep
People often complain that there is nothing to do on long-distance trips. But I want to disagree! You can read a whole book during that time or even watch few movies. If you are a blogger like me, it’s a good moment to try to write some random posts ready beforehand. (Totally have never done that because I am lazy but in theory!) Most modern airplanes and even some of the cheaper options have movie screens.
In some cases, you have to share the screen with others and watch whatever the airline has decided but increasing amount of airplanes have gotten own screen for everyone. You may not believe me but the movies, music, audiobooks, games and TV series you can find are amazing! There is often some of the latest and hottest entertainment available. I can’t even remember all of the movies I have watched in airplanes but for example Wonder Woman, Now You See Me, Me Before You, Descendants, Tangled, Brave, and so many more!
3. You never know who you will meet
Sometimes long-distance flight will be like winning a lottery. And sometimes it’s like losing badly. You will never know who you will sit next to. Have I ever told about the time when I sat next to someone who told me that if the airplane dropped he had a parachute and the two of us would survive (I am low-key scared to death of flying so I was probably looking like the hell was breaking loose…) Also during my first solo trip flying from Finland to Japan, I met this super nice girl during layover who made me realize that maybe I truly could survive traveling alone in foreigner country.
Sharing armrest with someone for hours is a surprisingly intimate experience. Don’t be that annoying person who talks nonstop during the ten hours flight but you can always try to start a conversation. Every person has their own story and something new to teach you.
4. Get things done easily
You have a lot of time so why not to catch those undone things that have been waiting for too long! Those who are still at school like me can do their homework that they for some reason didn’t do before the trip and others can just plan their budget for the trip, work or really anything you can do sitting without internet. If are guidebook kind of person and not online travelers, sitting on a plane for a long time is also a perfect opportunity to plan your coming trip. One of the best tips I have for those who are a little late with their travel planning is to look through the destination introducing videos most long-distance planes nowadays have.
5. Dream eyes open (or closet)
Maybe it’s just me but there is nothing better than daydreaming for hours and napping in between. Stare out of the window or close your eyes and let your mind wander. What you want to do at the destination? What kind of dreams do you have? Or maybe you have had these amazing ideas lately you have wanted to think over? And you can always just create a million stories in your head during the flight. There is enough time to make your own mini-movie in your mind. But like I said maybe this is just my creative writer’s brain loving this? In that case, you can just sleep and try to prevent the lack of sleep caused by traveling.
Hello everyone! Look I didn’t have another few months break between the posts this time. Today’s post is a little different from my blogs usual style. What do you think? Some of you may know that I currently mostly work as (travel) content writer for other people. The style I use for those articles is starting to rub off on my own blog writing too. Maybe it’s a bad thing maybe not…
Like always any comments, feedback, and opinions are more than welcome. Next week I will be sharing photos from my Iceland trip with you but if you want early sneak peek check out my Instagram. And those who miss my random rambling should stalk my surprisingly active Twitter.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Safe travels and merry Christmas,
My three weeks traveling around eastern Europe are over and I am ready to share the first story from my trip. This story is about odd roommates I had while my last night in Bratislava: men’s swimming team with a habit of walking around without anything else except their tight underwear! Yes, you did read that sentence correctly. During those 24 hours, I probably saw more naked bodies than my brain could handle.
So, here is funny travel story of how I survived 24 hours in a small room with 8 half naked swimmers. Enjoy!
It all started when I returned earlier than usually from getting lost around the town. I had been on free walking tour and my legs were literally killing me so all I wanted was a nice evening drinking tea and watching Netflix in my hostel bed. Like usually that didn’t go as planned. I walked to my floor and there was odd smell like I had just arrived in swimming hall. I just thought that someone was cleaning. Nothing can be wrong at afternoon in a hostel, right?
Then I opened my dorm’s door and expected to see the empty room like every other day. My mouth was probably hanging open because there in front of me was about eight dudes jumping around only in their underwear. Okay, maybe I am lying. Only two of them were in their underwear while the rest of the boys had jeans on but no shirts. For a few seconds, I just stood there but was woken up from my trance quickly after they greeted me happily in unison. Yep, in unison…
It took me about five seconds to grab my computer and run out of the room. My relaxed movie night was totally destroyed because there was no way I was going back to the room while they were there hanging out nakedly. Those boys were literally sitting in front of my bed so, me trying to watch a movie there would have been more than awkward.
Like it hadn’t been clear from our first encounter I quickly realized that these boys truly didn’t have any restrictions. They were walking to the shower and back using only small towels. They also showered together in the small shower stalls. There was a lot of screaming and laughing coming from the shower rooms. I don’t even wanna know what happened there and if I believe the faces of my fellow hostel guests neither did they.
This is also the point where I decided that they must be swimming team or in fact, my friend suggested so. They didn’t have a problem being almost naked, they looked exactly like swimmers, there was that odd swimming hall smell from earlier and let’s not even talk about the showering thing. Definitely men’s swimming team!
However, I wasn’t the only person sharing the room with them even if I was the one who “got most of them”. Meaning that all the beds next to and above of mine were taken by them. There was also one Australian girl sharing room with us. When she returned back from the city about half an hour after me I was just going to warn her but did it too late. She had opened the door to our hell (or heaven?)
She just stood there, like I had, staring inside not knowing what to do. After finally going inside she came out of the room even faster than I had. With the scandalized look, she sat next to me and neither of us knew what to say. After we ended up laughing too much for the situation we were stuck in (aka both of us too scared to spend time in our room) she left back to see the city while I continued eating. We were totally in trouble with our new roommates.
I had time to watch one full movie on Netflix before the swimming team left our room fully dressed looking like they were going to bar. For a few hours, I was able to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Then the hell broke again.
Boys were back. And so was the chaos. Let’s just say that I saw a lot of butts. For some reason, a few of them went back to the showers and the rest of them jumped around my bed. In the end, I decided to escape the awkward moments by playing dead. It may sound stupid but playing dead is the best way to escape any situation for those who live a lot in hostels. Just face the wall and close your eyes. Maybe even put headphones on. Everyone thinks you are sleeping and you don’t have to be part of any social encounters.
My morning didn’t differ a lot from the night before. Swimmers woke up before sunrise, some of them earlier than others because they wanted to shower, surprise, surprise… Usually, I am the roommate who isn’t disturbed by anything but a bunch of naked guys screaming at each other at six am almost made me snap. They were slapping each others’ butts with towels and wrestling only a few centimeters from my bed.
For a moment I considered asking them to let me sleep but it would have been too embarrassing. So, I turned to face the wall and put my lifesaving headphones on. I woke up again just before the check-out time and the swimming team had disappeared like they had just been one messy dream. If I didn’t have my panicky messages for my friends as a prove, I would probably think that it was all just my imagination.
Why do I always get the odd ones to room with? Maybe I should write another post full of small stories of my roommates? Would anyone be interested in reading that? I haven’t even told you about the time I shared a room with men having a bachelor party or when one nice man taught me how to learn Japanese Hiraganas if you know how to speak Germany.
Like always all comments are more than welcome and thanks to everyone who has waited patiently even if I have been depressingly inactive lately. I won’t promise anything but hopefully, my blogging motivation has returned.
If you are reading this blog post, I would guess that you are planning trip to Rome or you are already there but don’t know what to do. Or then you are just interested what I have to say about this Italy’s ancient city. I have to start by saying that during my visit to Rome I didn’t fall in love. The city is nice, there is a lot of things to see and Vatican was amazing. But I didn’t fall in love. That doesn’t change the fact that Rome is still one of those places everyone should see at least once in their life time and so here is travel guide to Rome for anyone interested!
Basic facts of Rome:
As the capital city of Italy Rome is also the fourth largest city in EU when compared by the population. Inside of Rome there is also Vatican, the smallest country in the world by population and area. Here some more basic information about Rome:
Population: 2,8 million
Time zone: UTC+1
Summer weather: dry and warm, average day temperature of 30°C
Winter weather: humid and cold, average day temperature of 12°C
Should I travel to Rome?
The short answer? Yes.
Rome is like a big museum so if you are not someone interested in history, museums and old buildings, going to somewhere else may be a good idea. But even then Rome is travel destination you should experience once in your lifetime. Walking around the old narrow streets takes you straight back to Europe’s ancient city and there is something to see literally everywhere.
When to travel to Rome?
The right questions would be when is not the right time to travel to Rome. We made the mistake everyone should try to avoid making. July and August are just inevitable death so don’t travel at that time. The average temperature of those months is about 26°C. What this means? Sunny days are impossible to get around in the heat of over 30°C. Especially if you are from a northern country like me and not used to over 30 degrees.
On the other hand, January can be quite cold if you are used to warmth. The best time to visit Rome would be late autumn, early summer or late spring.
How long should I stay in Rome?
Whatever you stay for a weekend or two weeks, you won’t have enough time to see everything. Rome is big, full of historical attractions and place that makes you quickly bored. In the end, you can get an overdose of all the history and cool places so I don’t recommend making the trip just to see everything possible. Take your time and be ready to miss some of the major attractions. Decide beforehand what you want to see.
The shortest time I would stay in Rome is for three full days. Think it this way: You will need one full day for Vatican, one day for Colosseum area and one day for just walking around, doing shopping or going for a day trip outside of the city. But the more time you have the better.
Is Rome expensive?
Once again short answer is yes.
If you are not careful in Rome, you will end up paying too much for the things locals can get a lot cheaper. Main areas of this capital city are made for tourists and so also the prices are high. Check out the prices of attractions beforehand from the internet and see should you book online or buy tickets in Rome. When eating, go for the smaller side alleys and compare prices of different restaurants.
The most important tourist attractions
- Colosseum, Forum Romanum, and Palatine Hill: These are maybe the three most important landmarks and tourist attractions in Rome. You can access all of them with the same ticket valid for two days. Just remember that you should start from Palatine and buy your ticket from there. We got inside with no waiting at all because there was literally no queue. After that, you can go to the shorter line in Colosseum.
- Spanish Steps: It’s long tradition for tourists to take a break and sit on these steps while writing postcards to send back home. Perfect place for people watching (Following those vendors who try to sell everything touristy is too much fun!) but also amazing opportunity to see the beautiful view to Rome if you just have the patience to climb up.
- Piazza Navona: Souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Piazza Navona is one of the most popular places to hang out for tourists. Wander around the small streets, visit churches and just enjoy the atmosphere this plaza offers.
- Capuchin Crypt: One of the most unique attractions in Rome. This crypt has remains of 3 700 humans. Their skeletons make out most of the crypt and its decorations. Definitely part of Rome’s history but a little different take on it. Not for easily scared people!
- Vittoriano: Huge white monument honors the first king of Italy. It’s nice to see from outside but mentioned on my Rome travel guide for a totally different reason. What many people don’t know is that you can take lift up to the top part of this monument and see beautiful panorama view to the city.
Vatican is small country inside of Rome and one of those places you shouldn’t skip at any price. It is worth of using one full day so it also deserves its own post in my blog. Next Wednesday I will publish small post full of information about Vatican and all the travel tips I learned while visiting there. For nor I can just say a few things…
- Buy your tickets beforehand or you will wait in line for hours.
- Take a guided tour to their gardens! It’s totally worth it.
- There are too many people everywhere.
- Read the map before exploring Vatican museum. You won’t have enough time and willpower to see everything as well as you want so pick out the most important ones to see for you.
- Don’t trust the “Vatican” sign in the metro! It’s a trap. Or well not really but it may be sign for the wrong entrance.
- If you try to find the Vatican’t entrance and decide to ask help from local, they may not know the right way. We even asked help from a military person but he didn’t even know in what direction the country is. So, have a map and read street names.
I have seen too much history… What to do?
- Markets! Campo de’ Fiori, Borghetto Flaminio Market, Fontanella Borghese Market and Campo de Fiori are just a few markets you could wander around in Rome. Visiting at least one market is must to do thing for every travelers. Pick your favorite from flea markets, food markets or markets selling literally everything.
- Go to see the sea and spend day on beach. Follow the locals on train and spent nice relaxed day on beach. You have deserved one day of rest between all the sightseeing in Rome. The ride only takes about 30 minutes.
- Jewish Ghetto is always one of those places you should check out in bigger European cities. It has its own atmosphere and style when compared to the rest of the city. Rome’s Jewish quarter has many attractions for travelers from Tiber Island to synagogues and from small cafes to bohemian shops.
- Roman Cat Sanctuary aka Torre Argentina may be historic attraction. To be exact it is the place where Julius Caesar was murdered. So, why should you visit here is your brains got overdose of history? The ruins are taken over by about 250 cats and animals always make everything better, right?
- Testaccio is one of the local neighborhoods in Rome. You don’t see many tourists here and so it is good place to escape the too packed historic areas. Visit at least local food market and Macro Museum of Contemporary Art (even if you don’t go to the museum, their yard is old slaughterhouse and super cool). And don’t skip partying because there is several clubs and bars in interesting buildings all found side by side from same street.
- Nothing wins shopping! Rome is historic city but also paradise for shoppers. If you are on budget go to the cheap flea markets and if money isn’t problems the area around Spanish steps and Piazza di Spagna is full of high-end shops. There is also some cheaper shops if you start from the Piazza del Popolo and continue along Via del Corso street. Basically Rome is full of shopping areas so just use Google and find the nearest ones.
Rome + Low budget = no problem?
Rome is often seen as expensive tourist destination that isn’t fit for those traveling with small budget. This isn’t the whole truth. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, Rome has many free things to do and some of them also happen to be must things to do in Rome.
- Spanish steps: Spanish steps is also included as one of the major tourist attractions in this blog post. As long as you don’t end up buying something from the vendors walking amongst tourist it should be 100% free.
- Churches: Rome is the city of churches and most of them are totally free to enter.
- Pantheon: This old temple is the most influential building in Rome. It is best-known from photos of beautiful light coming inside of the hole in its roof. Definitely worth of seeing and free.
- St. Peter’s Basilica: This is free part of Vatican if you don’t have the money to go for tour inside. However be ready for long queues and waiting before getting in the crowded basilica.
- First Sunday of the month: This may surprise you but first Sunday of every month is day when you can see Colosseum, Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill free of charge. You just have to wait in line for long time but hey, it’s free! Also many Romae’s museums are free on this same Sunday.
Beware of scams!
As super touristy city Rome is the paradise of scammers and shady people. Be always on your toes and if something feels too good to be true or just not right, get away. It’s not worth the risk of getting robbed. Here is list of some of scams or dangers you may encounter in the ancient city:
- Help is not free. You will probably encounter this scam if you are buying tickets from the main touristy metro stations. There is someone standing between two ticket machines “helping”. In reality you could just turn the machine to English and buy your tickets cheaply. After you have bought the tickets this person helping you will snatch the change you get back from the machine as tip for helping. Tip: Pay the exact amount of your ticket price or make sure you are ready to lose the change you would get.
- Fake tours, guides and tickets. Only buy tickets from official people. Someone may offer you possibility to skip lines or get cheaper tickets but remember to always think: Why would this guy get any special tickets if anyone else doesn’t have? Remember also ask the price always before buying anything from anyone.
- Rose for beautiful lady. This tourist scam is getting popular around Europe. This usually happens for couples or families, not as often for solo travelers. Man offers you rose because you are so beautiful just to demand high payment after you have taken the flower. If you are girl traveling with boy, they ask the price from man traveling with you because what kind of guy doesn’t buy flowers to his girl, right?
- Fake products. This should be clear thing. Be always careful when buying brand products and especially if the price seems to be off.
- Photo with pigeon. I saw this a lot when traveling in Italy and around eastern Europe. Someone will throw food around you or take your hand and put food to your hand just for pigeons appear to eat around you. What any tourist would want to do in this situation? Take photo of course! Just be aware that it will cost… a lot.
Useful tips to remember
- Water fountains can be found around Rome and you can get free drinkable water from them. Yes, I know this sounds suspicious but it’s the truth. Locals drink from them, tourists drink from them and even my mom ended up drinking the fountain water (before our trip she was totally against it). Just check carefully that the fountain you are using is truly for drinking and not just for decoration. If others drink from it, there is big possibility that you can too.
- You can skip the longest lines if you are clever. Traveling to Rome means waiting in queues for too long whatever you do. However with small research and clever thinking you can skip the longest lines. We mentioned these things already but here is two examples: For Vatican buy your tickets beforehand and there is almost no waiting. When visiting Colosseum go first to Palatine hill where you can buy the ticket right away. Instead of few hours of standing in line in front of Colosseum you only have to wait for about half an hour.
- Always carry big scarf with you. No, this doesn’t have anything to do with chilly weather or covering yourself from the sun. Churches and other sacred places in Rome have strict dress-code. You can’t enter if your knees or shoulders are showing. During the summer months top and shorts seem like luxurious choice but it means churches are off limit for you. Except if you follow my tip and cover yourself with scarf when needed.
- Some locals enjoy “siesta”. This means that there is shops and restaurants closed during afternoon hours but it depends a lot from area to area and even from shop to shop. People in Rome usually eat later at evening so you should too.
- Use metros or trams and save yourself from terrible bus journey. Streets in Rome are narrow and often full of traffic. We didn’t use any buses during our trip but that was because many people warned us about them before we left. Metros and trams are easy to use and don’t get stuck to bad traffic!
I saw Rome, what now?
Have you spent more than enough time exploring Rome but still feel like you could continue your adventure to somewhere else? Don’t worry! I am expert at making long and difficult travel plans so here is a few possible ways you can continue your trip from Rome to somewhere else in Italy or Europe.
- Train: Taking a train from Rome is maybe the easiest and fastest way to get Around Italy. Some tickets are a little expensive so it’s good to buy your trip beforehand. However there is some cities you can reach with only using ten to twenty euros. I recommend cities like Nice, Florence and Pisa.
- Long distance bus: This is slower alternative for trains but also often cheaper when we talk about longer distances. Remember always check the current rates for trains and buses so you will know which one to pick. Taking night bus is easy way to move between two cities but it’s good to know that Rome’s main bus station is kind of shady and chaotic. I recommend using buses for places like Venice, Milan or Verona. If you want to go outside of Italy, Zurich or Ljubljana are interesting destination accessible by cheap buses.
- Airplane: Rome is big centric city in Europe so many low-cost airlines fly around the continent from there. At least right now you can get flight to many countries only with 20€. (This is not advertising in any way but I use SkyScanner to find my cheap flights. Currently they are the only website I know with working “Fly Anywhere” option.) Those twenty euros flights I found were destinations like Bulgaria, Malta, France and Romania.
- Cruise: Many cruises visit Rome or leave/end up in Rome. So, what would be better way to continue your holiday than board luxurious cruise ship? Some of these cruises sail around Mediterranean Sea visiting France, Spain, Greece and other cities in Italy while some ships sail even further.
So, this was my Rome travel guide for anyone who is planning their trip. It was first time I write guide like this so any feedback would be nice. Do you want to see more guides like this? I had fun writing so whatever your answer is there will be probably more posts like this coming. Sorry! Have you ever visited Rome or do you have any tips I forgot to mention? All comments are welcome like always.
This post will be review of site called LocalGuddy and story of my tour with their local guide.
Wednesday Thursday I am going to do something a little different. If you follow me in Twitter, you may already know that I spent my last day in Rome going to ready paid tour by LocalGuddy website. This is going to be my story and review of that tour, LocalGuddy and everything that led to it. I would like to start by saying that LocalGuddy paid the tour for me but they asked my honest review so everything I say here is totally from my own will and experiences.
So, how this all started?
After my blog’s reader count has started rising I have gotten a lot of companies contacting me about sponsored posts. Some have offered me a small sum of money while other want to send me free stuff. My answer is no to almost every email like that. Why? Well, I only want to share things I WANT in MY BLOG. This is why I only accepted this offer because after getting message from LocalGuddy I checked out their website and totally fell in love.
Meeting locals while traveling is one of the best sides of traveling if you ask from me. So, what would be better way to meet locals than go on tour guided by them? I decided to answer yes to LocalGuddy’s offer when they promised to give me free tour if I write honest review of their site.
Hunting for the right tour guide
After sending back and forth a few messages with LocalGuddy it was time for me to find a tour guide. Their site is easy to use and I only had to write the name of destination and all locals offering their services appeared in for me to look through. I wanted to go for tour made by local rather than pick out one of the food options LocalGuddy also has (local taking you to the best restaurants/bars or making local food for you). Because my Rome-Venice trip was close I checked tours for those two cities.
I send message to one local in Rome and one in Venice. Guide from Venice wasn’t available but guide from Rome was excited to show me the not so popular side of Italy’s capital. We sent about five messages after I first contacted her so arranging the tour wasn’t big bother (this is important for me because I am lazy traveler…) I told time that was okay for me and she agreed. Next time she contacted me was a few days before the tour reminding me to have full water bottle for the tour. So, everything went smoothly and seemed maybe even too easy.
What my tour included? Walk around contemporary art and Testaccio district
How long was the tour? About three hours. (But we decided to be only for two hours because it was too hot to do anything for me…)
How much did it cost? If I had paid for the tour, it would have cost $25 per person.
Thoughts before the tour
I am often skeptic of everything but I still go for everything with caring too much of these feelings. This tour wasn’t exception. Someone online contacted me and offered free tour. I know it’s because I am now “travel blogger” and LocalGuddy seemed trustworthy site but things like this still make me feel weird. So, like any proper traveler I was a little suspicious but didn’t let it bother me. Fortunately, I had amazing experience but let me say that I was super nervous for days before the tour.
Why was I nervous expect the too good to be true deal? Basically my English sucks. You might think that it is okay if you just read my blog but believe me, I can’t pronounce anything. Walking around with someone while speaking English seemed like my nightmare at the time but fortunately my tour guide was understanding and I always get slightly better at speaking after the panic fades.
Meeting my AMAZING local guide
We had arranged meeting point in front of metro station. My guide said that she would be standing on the stairs but when I came outside there was several people waiting for someone. Fortunately she spotted me quickly and asked if I was meeting her for the tour. It took only a few minutes from me to define her as good person and not some online murderer. After that I was able to enjoy the tour with my full heart.
We started from contemporary museum but unfortunately there wasn’t any exhibitions. That didn’t matter a much because the area itself (old slaughterhouse) was cool and had even a few street art pieces like the one you can see in me post’s cover photo. After the museum we continued our walk around the area while she told me about the place and Italian culture. We also talked about everything else and the atmosphere was really friendly.
After that we continued walking along the river while she kept telling me about the local life and a little bit about herself. I also saw Roma’s pyramid and I have no idea why it is not one of the main sights. I mean, it’s real pyramid! I didn’t even see it in any guidebooks. One of the highlights of the tour was going around this road full of colorful bars (that were of course closet during day).
It was her first tour so at first it was a little awkward and some thing didn’t go as planned (we tried to find one mural for long time but in the end never found it). I think this will be the case with quite many guides from LocalGuddy because the site is quite new and there is many first time guides. Necessarily not bad thing because that just means they will have different view to the things than someone who has taken people around the attractions for years.
Here is link to her tour if you want to check it out or if you are planning trip to Rome. I recommend trying out her tour (and other tours in LocalGuddy) but if you are not friend of seeing the local side of destination you are visiting, don’t bother. Tours like this only fit for those who are ready to get to know more of the culture and local lifestyle.
Thoughts after the tour
Would I recommend using LocalGuddy? Yes, definitely. Before this tour I had been going to the most popular touristy places in Rome and the city seemed kind of boring from my point of view. After I saw a little different side of this popular holiday destination my image of Rome changed. Before I didn’t think I would return there anytime soon. But after the tour going back to Rome didn’t seem like that bad idea anymore. Locals will show you places you would never find by yourself.
I tried to use the site again now during my east Europe trip but realized that they don’t have any tours in the destinations I am visiting. So, if you aren’t visiting popular tourist destination, finding a guide may be a little harder.
Because locals always know the best places to visit and especially if you are like me the selection of street art and abandoned building tours will win you over quickly. First it may sound expensive because the prices of the tours range from 25 to 40 euros. But when compared to “professional” tours there is many positive points to remember.
- The group size will be just you and your friends.
- You can ask anything from the guide and they will try to change the tour to fit more of your wants and needs.
- Local guide probably knows a lot of things normal tour guide wouldn’t tell and show you.
So to sum this review up I would recommend checking out LocalGuddy.com but use your own common sense when contacting the locals and going for the tour. This doesn’t mean you have to be scared of the guides who don’t yet have reviews (mine didn’t have and she was lovely person) but remember to act like you normally would when meeting someone from online for the first time. Firstly pick out public and busy place to meet and secondly tell someone where you are going. I would give this same tip for those people who want to work as guide through this website.
Finally, I want to thank LocalGuddy for giving me this opportunity and thanks for everyone who read this far. Have you used this website? Or do you have any amazing experiences with locals or guides you want to share? Like always all comments are more than welcome. 🙂