I just completed my first trip across four countries in Europe. See, Europe has not been on my radar hence the delay in visiting. A deal came up on WOW airline to Reykjavik, Iceland from Baltimore, Maryland for only USD$156. No way was I going to pass off the deal. Another deal caught my eye – USD$600 roundtrip ticket from London to Tanzania. That’s two Western European countries booked. I figured I might as well add two more.
I arrived at the airport pretty early. They weigh your bags and make you pay for extra pounds/kilos. Boarded the flight from Baltimore airport. Flight was delayed two hours. The airline is real low cost because they don’t even serve you water! You thirsty, you pay 2 Euros for a bottle water. Arrived safely in Iceland and we booked a bus ticket to town. The bus was supposed to drop us off first since our Airbnb place was not too far from the airport. However, they put us on the wrong bus, dropped off everybody at their hotel, take us back to the main bus terminal before putting us on the right bus. Already getting pissed because we had booked an 11am tour of blue lagoon, so with all, we were wasting time.
We drop off at the spot the Airbnb host told us but we didn’t know what directions – all he gave was the address, no detailed directions. We walked in the wrong direction (in the cold with no gloves), asked someone for directions and started back on the right track. Finally we got to the place, dropped our bags and hurried to a nearby hotel where our 11am tour was leaving from. They never came to pick us or we missed them. Either ways, we had to pay for one way transport to the blue lagoon. We get there and they can’t find our reservation. Thankfully, I had an email confirmation showing prove of payment. Clearly, nothing has happened as planned since our arrival in Iceland. We mentioned this to the lagoon attendant and he gave us a free towel rental & free drink voucher (15 Euros value). That put a smile on our angry & frustrated faces.
Sightseeing in Iceland
Blue Lagoon is great because of its color and temperature. We also did the saunas and little pool inside. We stayed about 2.5hours before leaving. Now, people have asked me if the Blue Lagoon is worth it. I don’t have an answer for that. True it is pricey and much overpriced but it can be an experience of a lifetime.
The next two days, we went on three overpriced tours. The experience was amazing but the price drained my wallet. We did the golden circle, south coast, city and sunlight at midnight tour. I wasn’t adventurous with the food as I refused to try shark and whale. I tried the Lamb stew which was delicious. My favorite was the south coast tour mostly because of waterfalls.
Two highlight from my Iceland trip are 1) the sun never setting: I’ve never experienced this before so it was fascinating to look outside just before going to bed at 1am and it’s not dark. 2) My travel buddy: I carefully select who I travel with because I can’t do drama. So many things did not go as planned on this trip and I love how we both handled the situation.
Iceland was the most expensive country I visited in Western Europe. I spent about $160 a day and I was pretty cheap. For example, I got grocery that way I wouldn’t need to eat out for breakfast and some lunch. We also stayed at an Airbnb on the outskirt of town because it was way cheaper.
Next stop was to the city of love. I was fortunate to stay with a friend I met at a hostel in Cartagena, Colombia way back in 2009. I actually liked Paris. The people were kind to me and helped with directions even though I didn’t speak French. I visited Versailles – this palace is impressive! I walked 9 miles exploring the palace and I skipped several places in the palace. Off course, I went to the Eiffel Tower. I took the elevator (too lazy to climb the stairs) to the top of the tower. Amazing view.
My host took me to a lounge in Chateau Eleysee area. The crowd is mostly North African. It was great seeing North Africans jamming to Nigerian music J. I also got to see them dancing to North African (mostly Algerian) music. The girls’ moves are similar to belly dancing and the guys move mostly upper body and hands. A famous Algerian musician performed as well.
I tried going to Louvre museum. First time going, it closed a few minutes before I got there and second time, the line was way tooooo long. Next time, maybe.
I got the chance to hang out with a friend from Guadaloupe. We met at a conference in Costa Rica in 2011 and stayed in contact. She cooked a typical food from Guadaloupe – Colombo chicken. Yummy. I also got to hang out briefly in a couchsurfer friend from Paris that I met in Lagos over two years ago. Had dinner with him and another couchsurfer. I tried goat cheese for the first time and I think I love it. If you know me, you will know I dislike cheese but goat cheese might change that, who knows.
I had just 3 days in Paris, not enough if you ask me. This is one city I’ll definitely revisit with pleasure.
London, I finally made it to London lol. So a lot of Nigerians have been unimpressed with my travels because I had not visited London. London to some Nigerians represent paradise. I call it colonial mentality. Britain colonized Nigeria until Oct 1st, 1960. Pretty recent.
I stayed with a friend. I met this friend in Guatemala in 2008, we met at a park, went for drinks and parted ways without exchanging contact info. Fast forward to 2012 in Lima, Peru at an event celebrating Afro-Peruvian heritage at the National museum, we meet again J. Small world. This time, we stayed in touch and voila, she hosts me in London.
We went to a film screening – interesting film and conversation. I tried a typical food – the Sunday Roast. Yummy. Forget fish & chips, Sunday Roast is dope. I met up with three other friends. Two of which I met for the first time. We belong to the same travel group. The third, I met in Lagos where we worked on a summer camp project together.
I was a touristJ. I went to London bridge (I had to) – growing up, the song -London bridge is falling down- was a staple lol. Went to Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben and some more. Given that I had just 4 days in London, I did a lot of sightseeing.
London is expensive!
My last city in Western Europe. Happens to be my favorite city thus far on the European travel. I stayed in great hostel on O’Conell street – close to everything you need in the city center. I stayed in their 6 bed female dorm for 19 Euros. This included breakfast which was quite good – yogurt, boiled eggs, bread, cereal, fruits and juice.
I did the hop on hop off city tour bus from where I explored the Guinness Store house, Kilmainham Goal jail house and others sites. The view on the 7th floor of the Guinness storehouse is amazing. I enjoyed the Kilmainham Goal jail house the best. I love Ireland’s history so for me, it was informative. I also did the tour of Glendalough and Powerscourt Gardens. I enjoyed Glendalough best, the small lake is amazing, sad I wan’t able to see the bigger lake. The tour did not give sufficient time in my opinion.
I met up with a friend that I met while traveling in Quito, Ecuador in 2011. He showed me around Dublin every day after work. I would be coming back to Ireland for sure. But this time around, I want to visit Belfast and other cities. Although I had a sh**y experience with the Irish immigration officer, I’m glad I didn’t let that affect my experience in the city.
This trip was an introduction to Europe for me. I reconnect with amazing folks I met while traveling in Latin America (my favorite region thus far J). See, traveling open doors