1st Month Out of 3 : My European Journey

What. A. Month.

I can’t believe it has already been 30 days that I’m in Europe. It went sooo fast! It seems to me that it was only a few days ago that I left the comfort of my house, of my bed, and that I left my family behind to see a part of Europe that I had yet to discover.

I can’t deny that it’s pretty easy to lose track of time when you don’t need to remember which day we are or what time it is. In spite of that, one-third of my travel have passed and I loved every second of it. I’m certainly not ready to go home. In fact, I’m dreaming of doing this every year from now on – I’m still trying to figure out how I could do this though!

To round-up this first month in Europe, I decided to summarize what I’ve been up to, including the highlights of my time in the United Kingdom, and to give you a glimpse of my expenses for the whole month. So here’s what I did in the past 30 days.

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On Saturday, September 24th, I left home, said goodbye to my family over a breakfast, and headed to the airport with my boyfriend, not forgetting my 28l backpack. I was so excited, it had been more than a year and a half that we were preparing ourselves for this trip – time to save money and to make sure everything was alright at our respective jobs. So it was with a big smile stamped on my face that I boarded the plane that would bring me to London, after a quick connection to Reykjavik in Iceland.

On my first long-term trip in Europe I’ve made some mistakes that I didn’t want to repeat this time, including my itinerary that was way too full. I had absolutely no time for myself, to take it easy or to grab a hot chocolate at a cozy cafe. So this month was all about returning to my favourite places in London, strolling down the city, and tasting some incredible dishes.

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I decided to try something new… Discovering London by its neighbourhoods. To do so, and to minimize the cost of transportation, I stayed in three different hostels in three different areas that I didn’t even checked out on my first visit (and I was in London for a whole month!).

While being in London, I had time to go to Greenwich as a day trip, to seek out the street art in the Shoreditch area, to sample at the Borough market, to walk by the Thames, to take it slow in Hyde park, to admire the view from Primrose Hill, to stuff my face at the Camden market, and to pay a visit to the Queen (okay she wasn’t at the Buckingham Palace) – but I did visit it.

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However, enjoying Aladdin’s musical at Edwards Theater was definitely my favourite part. I personnally consider going to the theater being a must-do while being in London, so I was really careful with the money I spent to allow me to splurge a little bit on this one, which I didn’t regret. It was amazing! I had a wonderful evening.

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Being a fan of Harry Potter, I made my way to the Warner Bros. Studio where I had an amazing time strolling around the different sets and costumes of the characters. It was definitely a highlight of my trip in the UK!

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I had reserved a ticket to the sky garden to enjoy a great view of London, which is apparently one of the best, but I had to cancel… I had a wrong count of my clean clothes so I had to do the laundry instead of going. Remember earlier when I said it was easy to lose track of time… Well of clean clothes too! My bad.

Next up was Oxford! I had just 36 hours there, which I think were enough to see around. The city in itself is not really big. However, the university is truly stunning. Joining the Harry Potter club, I paid a visit to the Cathedral where parts of the first and the second movie were filmed, and to see what had inspired J. K. Rowling for the Great Hall.

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Then, I headed to Brighton. Before going there, I knew absolutely nothing about that seaside town, except that hostels were cheap and that it’s surrounded by the South Downs National Park – a hiking paradise. And I was sold.

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On a sunny Sunday afternoon, a charming hike along the coast, from Eastbourne, lead me to the Seven Sisters National Park and its white cliffs, which were gorgeous! After a 5 hours walk, my legs couldn’t follow anymore and, to congratulate myself, I stuffed my face in gelato at Sprinkles gelateria, my new favourite restaurant in town.

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My time in England came to an end, and I made my way across the country to reach Edinburgh for my first time ever in Scotland! While being there, I enjoyed a ghost tour, I visited few museums including the Childhood museum – quite funny to realise how scary dolls looked like a few decades ago -, I learnt more about the history of the country, and I made my way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.

Hiking to get a viewpoint from Arthur’s seat was my favourite part. It’s not really difficult to get there, it’s steep, but easy to climb. And the view totally worths it. It was stunning! From where I stood, I could see the whole city up to the Highlands in the far back. Plus, Edinburgh looks like it’s frozen in time, the architecture is truly impressive!

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And, as expected, four weeks in the United Kindgom weren’t enough! Even if it’s my second time here, there’s still plenty to enjoy : heaps of dishes to give a try, a lot of castles to visit, hikes to do, and tons of landscapes that await to be taken in pictures. However, I did hit new places that were on my list for quite a long time now.

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Onto my Expenses for the Month

Before the beginning of my travel, I set up a budget for my three months trip in western Europe, which is 3500$CAN (2 756$US or 2096£). Knowing that I kicked off my travel with a month in the United Kingdom, it might sound little, even impossible to spend only that amount of money (still, I hope that I’ll fit in my budget), and to stick to it, I need to keep track of every penny I spend.

So here are my expenses for one month in the United Kingdom :

Accommodation : 510.99$CAN (408.83$US or 309.69£)

  • London over 14 nights : 181.15£ (12.94£ per night)
  • Oxford over 1 night : 14.40£ per night
  • Brighton over 7 nights : 55.14£ (7.88£ per night)
  • Edinburgh over 5 nights : 59£ (11.80£ per night)
  • 1 night was spent in an overnight bus from London to Edinburgh : 0£

Food : 369.21$CAN (290.72US or 223.76£)

  • Number of breakfast included in the hostel fees : 11
  • Kitchen were available in half of hostels I stayed in, but honestly they disgusted me, I only used the one at Edinburgh, so the total cost mostly includes streetfood. However, I ate most of my breakfast at my hostels, were they included in the price or not I would then buy bread and nutella or peanutbutter.

Transportation (except flights in and out) : 143.67$CAN (114.50$US or 87.07£)

Activities : 135.18$CAN (103.80$US or 81.93£)

  • Buckingham Palace : 23£
  • Aladdin’s musical : 27.25£
  • Christ Church Cathedral : 8£
  • Oxford Castle : 10.95£
  • Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter : 39£ (it was my birthday gift from my sister – thanks Jenn)
  • Audioguide for the Harry Potter tour : 2.73£
  • Ghost Tour of Edinburgh : 10£ (the tour is free, although it is based on contributions)

Souvenirs : 8.42$CAN (6.63$US or 5.10£)

  • Postcard + stamp from London : 1.60£
  • Postcard + stamp from Edinburgh : 1.50£
  • Blanket from M&M’S World (my share) : 2£

Miscellaneous : 41.22$CAN (32.46$US or 24.98£)

  • That includes soap, shampoo, laundry, deodorant, toilet fees, etc.

Total spent :  1208.69$CAN (956.94$US or 732.53£)

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What I’m up to for the Next Month

As you are reading this, I am at Edinburgh’s airport, waiting to board my plane to go to Spain. I was first supposed to land in Barcelona, and to go down the coast, maybe reach Madrid, but plans have changed and I’m heading to the Andalusian region instead. Malaga, here I come!

I can’t wait to stuff my face on tapas, to meet the Spanish people, to get some warmth, to see how my spanish goes *cough*… And hopefully to have a wonderful time there!

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By now, I’m planning on hitting Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Marbella, and Sevilla. I’d like to go to Gibraltar as a day trip too. We’ll see how it goes I suppose.

That’s what I will be doing for the next month or so, I’m really thrilled to get to discover a new country!

 

For those of you who are planning on going to the UK on a budget soon, I hope that my expenses will help you figuring out how much you need to travel there.

Any advices on places I should hit while being in southern Spain? 

 

 

 

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