When Wanderlust Sets In

Me, pondering life on the train from Budapest to Vienna in March 2018.

I’ve had about 75 different travel plans for 2019. Sometimes you just open Google Maps on your phone when you’re on the train and think, “How can I see as many places as possible in one trip?”

Maybe that’s just me. But that’s what happened today.

You may recall that I hit up 5 cities on a whirlwind two week trip to Scandinavia in 2015 (way before I started this little blog) during which I visited Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tallinn. And today, while stuck on the train, I started to think about how I could take a trip like that again – despite knowing I’d end up 100% exhausted by the time I landed in NYC again – but also knock off a bunch of the cities that I still want to see across the Atlantic.

And yes, I know, there are other continents on the planet, but I really like Europe. Especially Eastern Europe. I know I need to get to Thailand, Japan, India, South Korea (except I’m leaving as soon as I see ‘dog’ on the menu because fuck that), and Indonesia, and I will. I promise.

BUT I’m not sure if I’m going to take this epic trip in 2019. I’m already going to Iceland in June, and if I get accepted to go to Israel on Birthright, I’ll be going there in March. So I guess that leave September open. Unless Birthright doesn’t accept me and then I’ll go in March or April, I suppose.

Initially my thought was: Spend a day in Dubrovnik, a day in Zagreb, a day in Ljubljana, a few days in Zurich, a day in Frankfurt, and another few days in Brussels.

But then I started Googling what there is to do in, for example, in Zagreb and maybe I’d need an extra day there. I also thought I might need two full days in Ljubljana but I think everything is pretty close to each other so one day and one night might be enough (also did you know that they sometimes host sleepovers at the Ljubljana Zoo?!?!). Dubrovnik is another one that, before writing this, I looked at the list of things to do there and thought “OMG I NEED MORE TIME,” but when given a second glance, I think one day is more than enough. There’s lot of World War II history in both Frankfurt and Brussels, so that will be different from Croatia and Slovenia.

Then there’s the question of traveling between the cities. These aren’t exactly the metropolitan hot spots that the Scandinavian cities I traveled to were (it cost me about $35 to fly from city to city in 2015). Do I take the train and save money, but waste time? Or do I fly, and save 3-4 hours but spend 4 times as much?

  • I found that flights from Dubrovnik to Zagreb are about $100 and take an hour, which is way better than the 5.5 hour multi-train ride for about $40.
  • Flights from Zagreb to Ljubljana start at around $139 and take about an hour, as opposed to the train which takes 5 hours but costs about $25. I suppose I could take an overnight train and hope that no one weird sits next to me.
  • It costs $190 to fly from Ljubljana to Zurich nonstop, takes about an hour, but there’s a train that leaves about once a day from Ljubljana and costs $99. Hm.
  • I’d probably take the train from Zurich to Frankfurt ($160/1hr vs. $24/4 hours) and from Frankfurt to Brussels ($40/3.5 hours vs. $138/1 hour)

It’s a lot of logistics. If you read this far down, you deserve a medal. I could also scrap Croatia and Slovenia for another time, which would make a lot of the travel in between cities a lot easier and I could save those for another trip (perhaps tack those on the end of a 10 day trip to Bucharest and Kyiv?). I could go to Dusseldorf or Cologne instead if there’s a lot to see in either city? Or I could just knock Croatia off the itinerary for now and start in Ljubljana.

So. Many. Possibilities. If you’ve been to any of these cities and have suggestions for how long I could spend there and get a good feel for the city, let me know!

I could also shelve this idea until 2020 and got Lisbon and Porto for a week and relax. 

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