torrie's travels

WHERE WILL I GO NEXT?

FIRST BOOKING!!! March 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 11:39 am

So I have been very worried about lodging in Munich, seeing as though I am going to be there for Oktoberfest.  I have been checking different sites once in awhile and have been very discouraged.  I hadn’t been able to find anything decent within 20-30 mins of Munich for a reasonable price.  This is not a luxury trip (well, I mean what I will be doing while there, I understand the trip itself is a luxury that most people are not afforded), so I do not (cannot) plan on spending tons of money on accommodations.

So I decided to try Kayak for hotels last night…have only used that for airfare before.  It was a blessing!  I found a place called Günstig Schlafen 24.  Unfortunately the website is entirely in German and I can’t seem to find a way to translate it.  But I saw the photos and the map.  The photos look good…small, bare, but clean and bright.  The place is a 5 minute walk to a Metro station, which is an 11 minute Metro ride to Munich’s Central Train Station (the station I will be coming and going from).  The place had a single room (with en suite bathroom) available for $133/night.  WOW!

Although that price is more than twice what I plan to average for my nightly accommodations, considering the circumstances, I can’t complain!!  But that doesn’t mean I don’t still panic a little when I realize I spent more than $500 on one city.  I remind myself, though, that I am in Munich for 4 nights, which is also one of the longest stays of the trip.  So overall, I am very pleased with this place and feel very lucky to have found it!

So one thing is certain…I will be in Munich from September 24-28!!!  Yay!!

PS. I also ordered my backpack today.  Went to REI for the Gregory representative event.  Both the REI employees and the Gregory rep who helped me were fantastic.  I decided to go with the Gregory Deva 85.  They did not have it in the store yet, so we ordered it.  It should be here Thursday.  I am very excited to have that out of the way.  Next up in April?  One way ticket to Poland!

 

The Best Laid Plans… March 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 8:49 pm

So after months of research and planning (roughly) the first 60 days of my trip, I took about 2+ months off.  I have been extremely busy at work and in life in general.  So I decided on my weekend of doing nothing (except going to the gym and cleaning my house), I would pick it up again.

I had left off at Italy and, as I suspected, it was a lot of work.  Italy’s a big country with so. much. to see.  I will be coming from Switzerland so I started in the north.  And as I made my way south, I started to realize I was not going to have as much time as I had hoped.  Planning the first 60 days seemed like a breeze and I wasn’t concerned with time limitations.  Well, with regard to the last 30 days, I am definitely feeling the time crunch.

I had to realize that Italy might be one of those places I visit again.  (Spain, too, probably.)  So I gave up on hitting the Cinque Terra and Sicily.  I finally made peace with the idea of this as my Italy itinerary: Milan (almost solely to view the Last Supper), Venice, Florence (with a day trip to Pisa), Rome, and Sorrento (home base here, but hitting Naples, Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast).  I felt ok with that itinerary and time frame.

Which brings me to this afternoon.  I checked online about the ferry from Italy to Greece (which comes at a deep discount with my Eurail pass).  I had the (16 hour) ferry ride all figured out, when it occurred to me to look at flights.  So I checked out Rome to Athens and Rome to Santorini.  I thought I would start with the islands and end in Athens, considering I will be flying from Athens to Edinburgh.  Flights were about $70.  Perfect.

Wait.  I just used random dates.  Let’s plug in the actual date of November  19.  No flights to Santorini.  None.  No flights to Mykonos.  Not from Rome and not from Athens.  I knew the ferry from Athens to Santorini was about an 8 hour ride, which I was trying to avoid.  But after getting shut down in air travel, I checked it out.  No ferries from Athens to Santorini that entire week (at least that are posted yet…crossing my fingers that it’s too far in the future that the schedules are released yet).

A little more internet research led me to the conclusion that the islands in November is almost going to be a no-go.  Even if I can get there, they close down for winter.  Very few accommodations and restaurants remain open.  I knew it wouldn’t be beach weather, but I didn’t think I would have no way of getting there and almost nowhere to stay.  This makes me very sad because Greece is one of my top locations.  So my perfectly-planned and geographically-coherent trip may be in shambles.  I might have to fly from Prague to Athens and then to Austria.  Or from Vienna to Athens and back.  As long as it doesn’t interfere with Oktoberfest.  Decisions, decisions…

If anyone has any input on Greece in the winter, please share!

 

Travel Packs March 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 2:33 pm

February was the tablet.  April will likely be plane tickets. So I’ve decided March (or May, see below) is going to be my travel pack.  My techie friends (and relatives) came through for me on the tablet.  I am now leaning on my camping/hiking/backpacking friends for some advice.  I am in the market for a good (and large…I mean, LARGE) travel pack.  Packing is going to be seriously interesting, to say the least.

Anyway, I went to REI today after doing a decent amount of online research and I was pleased with their selections.  But I was more pleased with the employee who helped me.  I was considering an Osprey 75 liter and a Gregory 70 liter (both women’s packs).  The guy goes, you won’t miss those 5 liters.  Ha!  He’s never seen me pack.  (Though he did say that the one thing women have to learn is not to pack so many shoes, so….)

He was very helpful and said that I could probably also get a men’s pack because I’m taller and have broader shoulders (though he also said I have a short torso for someone of my height…apparently he is very observant).  The benefit of a men’s pack is size…80-85 liters.  So I am wondering how important is it for a woman to have a women’s pack?  How much IS 5 liters when it comes to packing?  Any favorite brands?  Thoughts on splitting liters (e.g. the Osprey has a “fanny pack”, so that could account for some of the extra liters…how helpful is that knowing I will not detach it and actually WEAR a fanny pack?).  I feel like if the extra was a smaller backpack, that would be different.

So weirdly enough, the Gregory (70 liters) is $40 more expensive than the Osprey (75 liters).  But the employee, again super helpful, told me that I would be getting a 20% off coupon later this month that will be good starting on March 28.  Also, both Gregory and Osprey people will be in the store that weekend.  (He also indicated that in May the store will be having a big sale, potentially including these packs, and there will be another 20% off coupon.  Score!)

So…thoughts?!?!

 

The verdict is in… March 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 7:16 pm

For those interested, I chose to go with the Surface tablet. I had a number of people recommend it, including some diehard Apple people! And my cousin, Sam, did some extra legwork and found a bundle for me. So I even got it at a great price! Thanks, Sam!

I think it was the right choice for me because, as my friend Sarah said, it’s the closest thing to a real computer. And I think that will be important for me.

It’s new. I’m still getting used to it. But I’m glad that I got it. First big trip purchase out of the way! Yay!