Thursday, August 2, 2012

Berlin, London, EuRail, and CouchSurfing

So exciting! I got a package from, well, it was kind of from my mom. Last week I ordered my EuRail pass from online through the ISE Card website and it came in the mail in no time! I actually got it on Monday but just got around to writing about it.

Basically, for two months of my choosing (must be consecutive months) I can travel every day in every country in Europe. How cool is that? I mean, honestly, there's so much I want to see! 

But, the biggest problem I'm having right now is... How can you plan to see everything you want to see in Europe in only two months?!

I actually found the logo here and
Hey, I found a new blog to follow!
I began planning the trip and posted my travel plans on CouchSurfing so that I can find a place to stay overnight at each location I visit. The site is a great resource and I will be staying with a girl in a week or so when I visit Berlin that I found through CouchSurfing too.

I will experience CouchSurfing soon on a visit to Berlin! The concept is really simple: a host offers his / her couch for one or several nights to a “surfer” visiting the city. It is all free, and based on trust and solidarity. It is convivial, because you meet a local and live with them more or less like with a roommate.

So far, I have only found one woman willing to offer me a couch and that's for my stay in Berlin. Everyone else that has offered a place to stay (for my trips during September & October), have been men. Most of them are about 30 as well. I think I'll live and I'm only staying with these people for one night usually but I'm still nervous to meet new people like this. In such a different setting. I have, however, made sure that the people I stay with speak either German or English. At least we can communicate then!

The girl I will stay with in Berlin is a PhD candidate studying there and she's from the Netherlands and speaks Dutch. She apologized that she couldn't spend more time with me over the weekend but she said she's willing to help me plan my day trips and we could get dinner or something. I wasn't expecting a personal tour guide though, so that's fine. This is going to be awesome!

After I get back from Berlin, I will be traveling to London for a week to visit my Aunt and Uncle and their children. I know it'll be busy, even with the Olympics just ending, but I'm so excited to see them. It's been a long time since I saw the family last and an even long time since I saw then in London. Katharina will be joining me on the trip too! So, finally, I don't have to travel alone! I have a few day trips planned for the visit too!

On Thursday morning, my first full day in London, Katharina and I will be doing a tour of London on a double-decker bus. It will cover the historical buildings and the most famous of sights to see.
Royal London Morning Tour
Tour Type: Adventure, Sightseeing Tour
Location: London
  • Private guided tour of the Tower of London with Yeoman Warder
  • Be the first group to visit the Crown Jewels
  • Panoramic drive seeing the icons of London; Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and much more
  • See Changing of the Guard - subject to availability
  • Thames River Cruise - see St. Paul's Cathedral, the Globe Theatre and much more
  • Pub Lunch (food/drink not included)
On Friday, I will be going alone on a longer, full day tour though and I will see Stonehenge finally as well as Bath (which I saw last time I was in London.)
England in a Day - Stratford, Stonehenge, Bath & The Cotswolds
Tour Type: Sightseeing Tour
Location: Stratford
  • Entrance to Shakespeare Birthplace Museum
  • Champagne reception served in Shakespeare's garden
  • Visit the Cotswolds
  • Entrance to mysterious Stonehenge
  • Free time to shop and explore Georgian Bath
First we head straight for Stonehenge the most popular prehistoric monument in the world. Come and marvel at the huge 40 ton Sarsens and the volcanic blue stones that were brought from Preseli mountains over 280 miles away. Discover the mysteries that surround the slaughter stone and see the numerous earth barrows where the beaker people lie buried before heading through the Salisbury plains towards Bath.
Bath and the Cotswolds
Bath, a world heritage site, is a beautiful Georgian city with delightful crescents, terraces and architecture. There will be plenty of time to shop and explore before we enjoy a drive through the Cotswolds. As we head north to Stratford we drive through the heart of the Cotswolds, taking in breathtaking views of open countryside criss-crossed by dry stone walls and bustling market towns with magnificent perpendicular churches.
Birthplace of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language, and home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Stratford is a charming market town set in the heart of rural England. A delightful river winds its way through the town, past the beautiful Holy Trinity church, where Shakespeare lies buried. Our tour includes an exclusive visit to Shakespeare's birthplace before we enjoy Champagne and Strawberry scones*, served in his picturesque garden.
For the rest of our trip in London, we don't really have plans but hopefully I can visit the Olympic City while I'm there. Anything else I should see?

Once I return from London, I will hopefully be spending the following weekend visiting with Marilena, the girl I did an exchange with while in high school. I don't know what we'll do, where we'll meet, any of that, but it will be cool to see her again! Then it's off an my adventure through Europe!

So far with me EuRail pass, I plan to visit the following places, but these are bound to change as well. I guess it all depends on what kind of lodging I can find. Worst case, I have to pay for a night or two in a hostel, that's not bad.
  • Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
  • Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
  • Munich, Bavaria, Germany - Oktoberfest
  • Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Krakow, Lesser Poland, Poland
  • Warsaw, Mazovia, Poland
  • Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
  • Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
  • Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark
  • Pisa, Toscana, Italy
  • Rome, Lazio, Italy
  • Casalnuovo di Napoli, Campania, Italy
  • Venice, Veneto, Italy
And after these trips / visits, I still have a whole weekend more to decide what to do! Is there a city you want to visit? What do you suggest?

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