16 Weeks in Europe Recap: My “Best of” List

“Julie… where was your favorite place in Europe?”

I’m not a mom, but I reckon it’s kind of like choosing your favorite child: each place I visited is unique and special in its own way, so I literally cannot pick a favorite!

So, instead… how about I do superlatives, high school-yearbook-style?

Note: There are no constants in this study, it is not scientific at all, and I am totally biased. Not only is every city/place different in its essence, there are external factors that have affected my outlook: weather, my mood, and the people I met and shared travels with. And P.S. You don’t have to agree with me. 

[I do have one rule for my list: despite my long and wide traveling career, I’m only giving superlatives to the cities I’ve visited on this 16-week trip. I want to keep some semblance of comparison and contrast — so recent memory it is!]

But first, some top-line stats

  • Days: 112
  • Countries: 13 (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia)
  • Dollars spent (in USD): approximately $8,600* or $77*/day
  • Average run/walk per day: 5.8 mi (9.3 km)
  • Weight lost/gained: 0 (somehow I didn’t gain or lose!)
  • Longest single stretch in one city: 17 nights (Split, Croatia)
  • Longest stretch in one country: 15 nights (Greece)
  • Shortest: one night

*I’m a full-time nomad. Because travel is literally my life, what I spent over this time period includes life and bills spending, IE): auto registration and insurance, website domain registration, expat/global health insurance, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Superlatives for my 112 days in Europe

  • Most jaw-droppingly beautiful city: Vienna, Austria
  • Best former-Communist city: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Country I skipped but regretted it: Romania
  • Country I can’t wait to spend more time in: (tie) Slovakia, Turkey, and Montenegro
  • Country that felt the most foreign: Turkey
  • Most breathtaking church: Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade
  • Prettiest old town: Kotor, Montenegro and (runner-up) Mostar, Bosnia
  • Foodiest city: Budapest, Hungary
  • Best beer: Munich, Germany
  • Best food: Turkish
  • Best for outdoor activities: Salzburg and surrounding areas
  • Most affordable countries: Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia
  • Favorite big city: (tie) Athens and Budapest
  • Tourist trap that was worth it: Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
  • Tourist trap that wasn’t worth it: pretty much every excursion in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Most unique museum: Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb
  • Favorite Greek island: Naxos, Greece
  • Prettiest weekend destination: Bled, Slovenia
  • Best ethnic meal: kebab/gyro and burek
  • Best dessert: Turkish baklava (sorry Greece, it just hits different) and kaiserschmarrn
  • Best wine: Slovakian, Hungarian, and Croatian
  • Nicest people: Austria
  • Not the nicest people: Serbia 
  • Most skippable city: Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Most unimpressive food: Ksamil, Albania 
  • Smokiest cities: Sarajevo and Zagreb 

My most memorable experiences from my 16-week trip across the pond

  1. 7 days sailing the Marmaris coastline in Turkey with some truly awesome people ⛵
  2. A surprise birthday celebration in Salzburg with lovely friends I haven’t seen in 4 to 5 years (plus, touring the city by Vespa, and a cold water plunge in the Almkanal!) 🎂
  3. Touching the relics of Saint Ioan of Rilski in Rila, Bulgaria ☦️
  4. Orgasmic baklava and a photo shoot in Istanbul 📷
  5. Summer tobogganing in Bled, Slovenia 🛷
  6. House party-hopping in Munich with the coolest hosts ever 🍻
  7. Taking part in a poker tournament in Vienna (not a winner, but I lasted about halfway through the game with some pretty experienced players!) 🃏
  8. Wine-tasting from the barrel and a tour of an authentic and very local (as in, no English spoken) Serbian winery 🍷
  9. Visiting an abandoned fortress and watching the sunset in Kotor, Montenegro 🏰
  10. Singing karaoke in about a dozen cities 🎤
  11. Trying local Balkan favorites like rakija and burek (various spellings) throughout the Balkans 🥃
  12. Travel romance ❤️❤️❤️

What’s next for me on the nomad life? You’ll have to stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m recharging with my family and working on a few exciting things. Comments/questions, let me know!

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