Hey guys, Llewyn from NUS here, currently on exchange in Poland’s Warsaw School of Economics. For this week on EB, i’m going to do things a little differently as i share some tips from the 10 weeks of travelling i did before my exchange began! I’ll sieve out the overrated stuff for you guys and list out the gems so you don’t waste your time. First up- beaches You can’t miss.
1) Paraga beach resort, Mykonos
Staying at their hostel gives you free access to their pool and deck chairs which can otherwise be costly (15euros). Stay there for some sick sunset views and make sure to buy a snorkel because of the abundant marine life that differs in the day and night.
2) Amoudi Bay, Santorini
This little gem can be a pain to get to but its so worth it. The waters are so clear and not only is it a great spot to dive down with a snorkel and seek out marine life, you can even do some cliff jumping here. The waters are so clear that you can swim down 10m and still see marine life clearly. There is even a little church next to the jump spot so you can pray that you don’t land on your face below before you jump!
3) Kasjuni beach, Split
Croatia is a place filled with great beaches but this one was one of my favourites because its peaceful and oh so beautiful. There are many different types of fishes to spot here so don’t forget your snorkel!
4) Somewhere along the Tara River
The last beach was truly a hidden beach because you can only access it via the river! The interesting thing about the Tara River is that it borders Bosnia and Montenegro, so you could literally swim to another country in a couple of strokes. With nobody around to disturb, this beach was perfect to chill with a beer and music blasting from our raft.
P.S- if you head to Croatia during summer, make sure you go for the Zrce beach festivals! Thats all for today folks, stay tuned tomorrow for more!
One of my main aims during exchange was to try as many different cuisines as possible and I did! Sorry if the photos are really bad or they lack variety, i rarely took pictures of my food because i was busy devouring them! Protip 1: skip the touristy stuff and google cheap eats or check out where the locals head to. One of my favourite food vloggers is Mark Weins and he has covered many places!
Of course the culinary king has to make the list. Famous for their wines and bread, every morning needs to be started off with a croissant. The best thing about french cuisine is that they usually offer multiple courses for a good deal so do take note of that! Make sure to skip the beers and indulge in wine whenever you can.
Ah all hail the Tapas life. Everyday in Spain began with a tortilla set and then every meal consisted of Tapas, Paella and Sangria. One thing that you absolutely must have is a glass of Horchata (almond milk tea) together with churros and chocolate dips. Check out Horchateria Santa Catalina in Valencia for this.
The land of Portugese egg tarts. I ate at least 2 of them everyday that i spent in Portugal because they were so good. Portugal was another great place for buffets. For some reason, Europe is really cheap for buffets, so i milked that quite a fair bit. Make sure you exploit their markets for a taste of everything.
Most things, save for the gyros and kebabs, were on the pricier side of life. But every dollar was so worth it, to have such fresh seafood on your plate and seeing your meat roasted in front of you was great. Atitamos in Athens is a MUST GO, they are reasonably priced and they give free dessert and a welcome shot. great was great, nuff said.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Amsterdam than getting stoned. Ok to be honest, Amsterdam was one of the most expensive places that I went to. But the food there was great, especially from the little food stalls that littered the street. Make sure to try the smoked mackerel from Albert Cuyp Market as well as their Belgian waffles.
Protip 2: I don’t have photos of F&B for these places but Morocco and Poland are great visits because they’re so cheap that you don’t even need to look at the price before you order.
This is whatIi live for, adrenaline filled adventures and the life outdoors. Its boring to simply just sightsee all the time so get out there and get your heart racing. (May or may not have almost died doing some of these HAHA). With that said, here are some dry activities you definitely must try while on exchange.
1) Exploring Greek islands on an ATV.
These buggers require a driving license so take note. They’re pretty cheap, like 25€ per day and topping up 10€ of petrol can last you 2 days of continuous driving. They’re the best way to get around the Greek islands and you can explore many places with them. Its a thrill just to see how fast the ATV can go until you feel like its going to break, but remember to ride safely as you’ll be on the roads with other vehicles.
2) mountain Hiking in Norway & Iceland
These 2 mountains MUST BE DONE, Trolltunga and kjeragbolten. So worth it even though your knees will hurt thereafter. Make sure you wear a good pair of boots because its very slippery up there. And then if you’re bored, just undress and see how far you can scale the Langfossen waterfall.
3) Rock climbing in Morocco
This was not planned in my itinerary but fate placed a couple of rock climbers in my path while i was touring the Todgha Gorges in Morocco. No regrets just asking to borrow a harness and shoes and scale one of the many routes available. They even have multipitch routes for those interested. Do check out their organized tours if you’re keen on some solid limestone holds.
4) Skydiving in Prague
Jumping out of a plane is something one should tick off their bucket list even though the adrenaline factor in this was sub-par. Prague has the cheapest jumps in Europe, around $217 SGD.
5) Firing an array of guns in Budapest
Now this i went crazy, firing a load of guns that i had always toyed around with on the computer was a great closure to my gaming days. Favourite weapon has got to be unloading a fully automatic AK47 with a 50cal coming in at close second. This is not cheap though.
Now we’re going to explore the wet and wild side of life in Europe. The best advice I can give to you is make sure you get your diving license before going to Europe. Without further ado..
1) Diving and Snorkeling
I did my dives at Berlenges Islands in Portugal and Around Elia in Mykonos. Mykonos dive sites were really beautiful, and there was a shipwreck as well. Aside from this, make sure you buy a snorkel mask when you can because trust me, you’ll use it whenever you swim at beaches and the marine life around rocks are so worth it.
This was done in Porto and it was something new to me because we geared up and literally pranced around in a canyon, doing cliff jumping, rappeling and even a flying fox. Check out opportoadventures.
3) cliff diving/ deep water soloing
Split and Dubrovnik are places to go for these, especially Split because you’re able to climb the rockface and jump off them. Rent a pair of climbing shoes if you’re into it. Beware of diving at Buza bar because its slippery and i saw somebody slip off the rocks and barely missed hitting the rocks below… with that said, try the 22m jump if you have the guts!
I grew up loving to fish and was pleasantly surprised at how ubiquitous fishing spots were available in Norway. From deep sea fishing to fishing in Fjords, i bought my own portable rod for $30 and went to piers in Iceland to fish. Even gutted my own fish and cooked it on the spot, so it was a great catch, cook and clean experience!
5) Whitewater rafting
This is something to be done during Summer when the rapids are really crazy but its fine to do it in August as well. Best part about the Tara river was that the water was crystal clear and you could drink out of it! If you’re bored of paddling, jump into the river and float alongside the boat, although the water is always 5 degrees… BUT WORTH IT.
I going to give you a couple of places that i partied at and enjoyed myself. Or at least the ones i remember..
1) Club Opium, Spain
Spain is dirt cheap on alcohol, i paid like $1.50 for 2L of beer. Essentially its hard to remain sober in Spain. You can get free guestlist for Opium on their website and it closes at 6, so you have quite a fair bit of time to party. When you’re done, head to the beach outside to relax and unwind.
2) Szechenyi thermal bath party, Budapest
Every Friday night, the thermal baths turn into a party place for people so make sure you try it out. We bought tickets online that came with a shitload of beer coupons so do try that. you’ll see many things that night.. but i shall not spoil it for you.
3) Paradise & Calypso beach club, Mykonos
Mykonos is known for being a party island and it sure lives up to its name. Live DJs spin at Paradise
from 4pm to 6am, with 2 stages playing r&b and edm. No dress code, no cover charges.
Of course this place has to be here. Aside from the drugs and redlight district, Amsterdam is overall a great place to party with clubs playing all sorts of music. Alcohol is cheap from a supermarket, something like 24cans for $12 so just get that. Exploring the redlight district and peepshows can make for an eye opening experience.
Here is one of the special thingsI’vee picked up along the way by going on the road less travelled. There is only one city on this list because really now, cities in Europe are all the same after awhile. But everything becomes a whole lot more interesting in the wilderness.
Tour Day 6: (Hidden gems)
1) Berlenges Island, Portugal
This little island is really interesting because there is much to do and explore. From cliff diving, scuba diving, snorkeling and even a little hiking, the island is truly beautiful. Its 30mins by boat to get there from Peniche. One can even pay a small fee and camp overnight at the fort that is on the island (in the photo). If not, the island is a great place for a picnic.
2) Les cascades D’Akchour, Morocco
This secret lagoon in Chef Chaouen with crystal clear waters was a pain to get to, partly due to the fact that i went hiking in slippers. But you cannot access this beauty by foot, you literally have to swim in 5deg waters to get to it because the canyon that you’ll be following ends in waters that you have to swim through (approximately a 15m swim before walking another 200m). Some people threw their bags to friends who swam halfway but well, i brought a waterproof bag. Follow the route to the God’s Eye and you’ll find yourself heading here. With no tourists and man-made structures around, enjoy pristine Mother Nature at her best.
3) Tara River Resort, Montenegro
Half the time i was here, i didn’t know if i was in Bosnia or Montenegro. This place was truly amazing, i had no reception and the wifi was down for majority of the time, so it was nice to disconnect from the world for once. The place has a campfire every night and a very cuddly housecat that sleeps with you because it gets very cold at night in the valley. Other than whitewater rafting, i spent my time drinking craft beers and napping on the hammocks with my feline friend. (Protip: don’t drive here, let the company pick you up and drop you off, trust me its not worth driving to this place yourself. I got picked up from Dubrovnik and dropped at Kotor)
4) Bordeaux, France
Something about this quiet French city just connected with me. Everything makes you feel calm when you walk down this place and the French restaurants here are to die for. Not to mention that Bordeaux is famous for their wines, so go crazy. Take a day trip to Arcachon to see the Sand Dunes and have the freshest oysters ever (But don’t go to Arcachon on a Sunday because public transport, even cabs, don’t operate).
5) Sahara Desert, Morocco
The drive from Marrakech to Merzouga where you’ll head via camel to the Sahara is truly beautiful with all the stops along the way. My advice would be get a private guide, its worth paying for because you travel in a comfortable 4WD instead of cramping into a minibus with other tourists. You can sleep under the stars and watch the milky way and shooting stars go by, something thats pretty rare in this day and age. If you’re bored you could always go sand boarding! Make sure you bring lots of water with you and to be honest, the desert isn’t that hot. The hottest was only 43degrees but you don’t sweat because its so dry there.
Unfortunately, my week has ended, but your exchange journey has just begun! I think i have shared a variety of things for you guys so hopefully at least one thing appeals to each of you. Feel free to message me with any questions or tips (on how to budget your travel, what to do, etc) because I can only share so much here! Or you can follow my youtube where I post travel videos (llewynli).
And with that, just some parting words from me. Don’t simply live vicariously through social media and travel videos, go out there and create your own adventure. Make the most out of your time spent here and get lost in different cultures and people. There is so much more I wish I could have done (like camping in the wilderness or mountain climbing) but I simply lacked the time or finances.
Don’t regret what you could have done! There are some things that you can only do while you’re young so make sure to go wild when you can. Put yourself out of your comfort zone, take a solo trip, chat up strangers, experience new people, try everything. In the midst of all of this, you’ll be surprised at how much you discover, not only about the world around us, but ourselves as well. Money can be earned back, but the memories created and life lessons learned? Priceless. That’s all folks, I hope that I have entertained! Llewyn, out!
|Author Name: Llewyn
Home University: National University of Singapore (NUS)
Exchange at: Warsaw School of Economics