Saturday, August 3, 2019

15 cities. 6 countries. 23 days.

What an incredible whirlwind! 
It has always been the plan to take a BIG trip after finishing up with grad school. And I've been planning and saving for this graduation trip for years, all without even knowing where we were headed. 
We had a unique opportunity with having the time to travel this summer (that we will probably never have again) and we wanted to take advantage of it. We were torn between Asia, Northern Europe, and South America initially with no idea of which direction to take. The logistics of Asia just weren't working out though and at the end of the day, we opted for the activities in Europe over South America.  I mean, how can you beat spending your days touring castles, walking cobblestone streets, and soaking in the most amazing history? 
I have so much to share from this amazing adventure of a lifetime and literally thousands of photos. I've honestly been a bit overwhelmed with where to even start. I've decided to kick things off with an overall overview of our entire trip itinerary below. Then I will do recaps on each country/city, including our travel budget per country, followed by our overall budget for the entire trip. Sound like a plan? Ok, let's jump in. 

The United Kingdom
Visiting the UK was never apart of our original itinerary, but on our flights over from the states, we were given the option to do a long layover in London at no extra charge, which we took full-time advantage of. We managed to visit some of London's most iconic sights like the National Gallery, London Bridge, Big Ben, The Eye. Even better, I lived out my Harry Potter dreams with visiting some to the sights where the movies filmed.  

After London, we took a red eye flight into Finland. We loved waking up in Helsinki and enjoyed spending a fews days relaxing and recovering from jet lag. 

From Finland, we took an overnight ferry into Russia. Without a doubt, visiting St. Petersburg was one of the toughest parts of our trip in terms of sorting out the logistics with the 72 hour visa process, but it was also one of the most rewarding parts of our trip. Russia is never a place that I expected to visit, but it blew us away and is easily a highlight of this adventure.  

Stockholm proved to be the sweetest surprise. From my research, I wasn't expecting much, but found this city to be one of the most charming places that we visited. Definitely wishing that we had allocated more time for Sweden, but I'm also so happy with what we managed to see with one day in Stockholm. 

Our main inspiration for traveling through the Nordic countries was to visit Norway. We spent the majority of our trip here (9 days) and it was everything that dreams are made of. I'm still completely obsessed with our Norwegian Road Trip that allowed us to spends so much time outdoors, tackling amazing hikes and even kayaking through fjords. 
We flew into the city of Bergen, spent a day there before taking a road-trip through the countryside to Odda >>Voss >>Gudvangen >>Aurland and back to Bergen. Then we flew from Bergen to Stavanger Norway, where we spent a few more days doing all things Norwegian. 

We finally ended our trip on the best note with flying into Copenhagen. We loved our day in Copenhagen, especially visiting the Copenhagen Botanical Garden. We also made time to take a day trip to Fredricksborg Castle (major highlight!) in Hillerod and Hamlet's Kronberg Castle in Helsignor. 

Yes, we were every bit as busy as it sounds. We took about 11 flights from country to country. Traveled by boat and by train. It got to the point where sleeping in the same bed two nights in a row felt like a luxury. But I wouldn't trade how busy we were and how much we were able to see in just under a month. Can't wait to share more from this amazing European adventure through the Nordic Countries. 

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