Taylor MacEwen

Joined June 2016
  • Day20

    It's all part of the experience

    June 12, 2017 in Canada

    My motto of the trip, expensive food? Delayed flight? Getting lost? Loud people on a bus? Losing travel tickets? Ruining a washing machine? Eating horrible cheese? Walking in the rain? It's all part of the experience. It sometimes sucks in moment but it often turns out to be some of the funniest memories to look back on.

    So 7 countries, 5 flights, 2 trains, 2 overnight buses, 2 ferry rides, public transport, 5 Airbnb, 2 hostels, 1 hotel, Europe 2017 has officially come to a close.

    As I'm sitting on the plane, about an hour out from Montreal, I think back on everything I got to do, all the culture I got to experience and the laughs we had, I'm truly grateful to be able to travel. Traveling opens your eyes and opens your heart a little more each time. It teaches you so much about yourself, how you handle problem solving, finding out your weaknesses and strengths, learning to share such a small space with someone, learning how to deal with change and mostly learning what you love and what you hate. It gives you a chance to try new things you would never do at home and teaches you how to be spontaneous. It makes you realize how small you really are but also how much of an impact you can have on the world. Life is too short to sweat to small stuff, so if you want to do something just do it. Go all in. Backpacking the Scandinavian has been a dream of mine and I can't believe I actually got to make it come true.. and I'm so happy I got to do this with my sister. We're both coming back alive and surprisingly didn't fight (that much hahah) We successfully did 3 weeks with under 10kg of luggage and never having to pay for a checked bag (for anyone who backpacks, knows the feeling haha 🎉)

    This trip for me, marked the beginning of adulthood... tomorrow I start my actual CAREER, not just a job but a real adult job.... Thursday, I graduate from Nursing and in the fall I'll start at McGill...

    But this won't be the end of my travels...

    Where to next? Stay tuned 😉
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  • Day19

    Midnight Sun

    June 11, 2017 in Canada

    Our plane was about an hour late for take off.

    We get on board & im sitting next to this middle aged couple... perfect right? WRONG. Since we are be up until 4pm, I needed to get as much sleep as possible. This women on my left and the guy across the isle on the right kept their reading light on THE WHOLE TIME. Not only did she keep her light on, but she was taking up the whole arm rest and would hit me every couple of minutes. I got a total of 30 minutes of broken sleep. Thank god I'm used to working night shift. Oh and don't worry, Kaylee slept like a baby. Every time I turned around she looked sound asleep. (She was sitting behind me).

    Update: We're about 30 minutes out from Iceland now. We made up for some time in the air AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, SHE FINALLY TURNED OFF HER READING LIGHT... (I may be writing this while I'm still mad about it, forgive me if I sound like a grump. That's what 3 weeks of traveling, sickness & no sleep will do to you)

    We landed in Iceland only 20 Minutes after we departed (hehe time change). It's now 12:30am. We went to go pick up our rental car & if our parents taught us anything, it's to beat the line up at the rental car lines haha. We got this tiny Ford Fiesta, grabbed a map and that was it, we were off to find food & do the golden circle. Apparently the only thing iceland likes to eat after 11pm is subway. We had a sandwich at 2am and coffee was essential. It was hard staying up for that long but the midnight sun made it SO much easier. It looked like it was 8am when really it was 2am.

    And this is where our adventure began. Our first stop was the Thingvellir National Park, the location of Iceland’s first Parliament, started back in 930 AD. At the Lögberg people could step forward and give speeches about important matters. An assembly of 48 chieftains gathered here to discuss laws & engage in court proceedings on behalf of the country’s citizens.
    This is also where the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly splitting apart from each other, creating deep fissures in the ground. One of these, called Silfra, is full of icy glacier water where some people go snorkeling or scuba diving. Dad actually just posted a video of this a couple days ago, therefore it was my mission to find it and get some go pro footage. They weren't kidding when they said it is the clearest water in the world. Just standing, looking down, you can see almost to the bottom. This was before the sun was shinning on it so I can't even imagine it then. I really wanted to jump in just to say I've been in, but it was approx. 2-3 degrees Celsius. My hand had to do this time.

    Next stop was Gysir, which is known as Iceland's blow hole. Doing the golden circle definitely has its peaks because we were completely alone!... but you also sometimes have no idea where things are. We had to do some gate hoping but we got to see it up close and personal. The blow holes are caused by the shift in tectonic plates. The water was anywhere from 80-100 degrees and obviously smelt like sulfur.

    We wanted to go further down the road to Gullfoss waterfalls but the road was under construction and marked as a F road which means you need 4 wheel drive to go on it.... lol which you know our little ford fiesta didn't have.

    At this point it was already 5am, so we finished the circle and went towards the blue lagoon. Kaylee got really tired so we pulled over and she took a 20 minute power nap. We drove past the craters and along the ocean highway. Icelands terrain is SO strange. You actually feel like you're on a different planet. 2 hours of driving on no sleep & the same 5 songs (Iceland loves coldplay), we made it.

    I was told not have high expectations for the blue lagoon so I tired to keep my expectations low so I wouldn't be disappointed.. and trust me, I was not disappointed what so ever. It was so beautiful and such a great way to end the vacation. We spent all day hanging out in the pools, in the sauna and steam baths. So relaxing and so happy I got to do it.

    As we were leaving, I realized it was time at home to register for McGill. I really didn't want a shitty schedule so I logged in and tried to get a few courses that I knew if I didn't get, my first semester would be hell. Turns out, I got all of the ones I wanted & that Alex, Emily and I all have the same schedule 🎉🎉

    So back to the airport to drop off the rental and finally tell mom that we got a car (we knew she'd be on the next flight out to Iceland to make sure that we had all the right insurance and that we were driving safe, so we kept it hush hush hahah)

    Checked in at the airport, hit up the duty free, got some food & went to our terminal. I was actually so tired that I felt like my whole body was going to shut down any minute. I had never felt like that ever before. So note to self, don't stay up for 36 hours straight haha.
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  • Day19

    Lying food

    June 11, 2017 in Finland

    This morning we got up to have buffet breakfast at 8am... (why did we ever think that was a good idea) we left the boat around 10 to store our luggage at city centre and explore the city in the short amount of time we had.

    We started with the most important thing; the Helsinki Cathedral. I honestly have to say that out of all the churches I've seen in my life while traveling... (which is so many) this has to be the most beautiful one I've ever laid my eyes on. With the white walls and gold accents, it was just something else. I do have to say that the inside was underwhelming. There wasn't much design inside. With such an amazing outside, I guess they don't have to compensate for the inside.

    We walked a little to rock church which was a church literally built in the middle of a bunch of rocks. We didn't go inside but the outside was a nice view.

    We discovered that you can take a ferry from Helsinki to the island of Suomenlinna. In 1991, the Suomenlinna fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique monument of military architecture. Another special feature of the fortress is that in the course of its history it has served in the defence of three realms: Sweden, Russia and Finland. It was about a 20 Minute ferry ride with a decent view of the city. We walked the cobble stone paths, saw the kings gate, explored the fortress, saw hobbit houses then returned back to Helsinki.

    We saw yet ANOTHER church. This one was dark burgundy stone with gold accents on the top. It wasn't open so we couldn't go inside but we went up to get a closer view & some pictures.

    It was now about dinner time. We went to Helsinkis Hard Rock Cafe.... & what a disappointment. The saddest club sandwich I've ever seen.

    We grabbed our bags & caught the train.
    We're now at the airport waiting to board our flight for our last country; ICELAND.

    Some wicked adventures to come. Stay tuned.
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  • Day18

    Saturday yö

    June 10, 2017 in Sweden

    This morning we definitely took the opportunity to sleep in. We're not going to be sleeping much until Monday so we took advantage of the nice comfy hotel bed.

    We check out at noon and made our way to the port to drop off our bags. We ended up walking about 35 minutes with our bags in the beating sun UPHILL when we could have just took a bus..... for free.... Dammit.

    We went back to city centre but didn't have much time. We had to be back by 4:20. We went and walked down some streets that we hadn't seen yet. We made a salad at the salad bar in the grocery store(it was so freakin good). Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the port to get on our cruise.

    We made it with 20 Minutes to spare after looking for the bus for about 15 minutes.

    We boarded & put our bags in our cabin and immediately got a drink from the bar. We sat on the deck for a while until we discovered a guy playing the guitar in one of the bars. We sat and listened to him basically all night.. the thumbs were there too and a couple people that looked like they were either really drunk or on some crazy drugs.

    We left when the guy when on break to go get dinner. We ate right by the window overlooking the Baltic Sea. Went back to the bar to listen to more music (he played mostly 70s music 🎉)

    We went back to the cabin around 1, Kaylee showered & I fell asleep before she even came out.

    Tomorrow we'll wake up in Finland ☺️
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  • Day18

    Napz for dayz

    June 10, 2017 in Sweden

    This morning we put our luggage in a locker and we're out to see the city. We couldn't check into the hotel until 3pm ... it was current 5:20am. We found a place to get breakfast then we waited around for the tourist information booth to open. We bought a 24hour day pass for the bus and metro.

    We went to island Gamla Stan which is also called Old Town. It had the most tourist attractions. We started with the Royal Palace. It was closed until 10 am but it was 25$ Canadian to get in & we didn't think it was worth it. So we enjoyed the beautiful outside instead. The offices of the King, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family, and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located here. The interior of the palace consists of 1,430 rooms of which 660 have windows. The palace contains apartments for the Royal families, representation and festivities such as the State Apartments, the Guest Apartments and the Bernadotte Apartments.

    There was the Royal Armoury museum, it wasn't opened until 11 but we decided we were going to come back and do that one (it was free hehe).

    We went walking on the inner streets of Gamla Stan & we went into parliament. We had to go through tons of security to go up. We went 3 stories up until they turned us away because they were done for the day. Weren't sure why they let us in in the first place. We walked down some more streets and found the St. Nicholas cathedral. It was beautiful inside... also had free bathrooms. Wohoooo.

    We also saw city hall, the opera house, ministers house and the dance museum.

    We were just walking down the streets and there were tons of police on horses parading around the city with people playing instruments. We asked security what was going on (before we knew), & they told us it was the military & they just sometimes parade around town like that. They seemed kind of annoyed by them haha.

    We walked back to the palace & we got to see the royal apartments and the chapel. Both gorgeous and I could just imagine what the inside would look like.

    We back around to the royal armoury museum & went inside. It contains many artifacts of Swedish military history and Swedish royalty. There were about 7 carriages that they used to ride in the 1600s. The amount of details on each carriage was incredible.

    We walked back to central station through the streets of Stockholm. We got our bags and went to go check into our hotel. We got there, checked in, showered & took the best nap in the history of naps. It felt so amazing especially after our long night in the bus.

    We woke up & went back to city centre for dinner. Oh yeah..... I lost my freaking pass I bought in the morning so I had to buy a new one.. so annoying haha (Kaylee did the same in Copenhagen) I think were getting too tired to think straight haha. We tried so hard to find salad but it was all so expensive. We ended up getting mcdos lol (i just want real food) I did get a CHICKEN BIG MAC. It was so good. Worth it haha.

    We're back at the hotel and just chilling & watching TV.

    On to more adventures tomorrow. ☺️
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  • Day16

    Recycling is not garbage

    June 8, 2017 in Denmark

    We got up early enough to eat breakfast, pack and check out. We saw most of the "must sees" Copenhagen had to offer yesterday so we decided today that we were going to go to the Carlsberg brewery.

    We dropped our bags off at the train station and we're on our way. There was a free shuttle that ran from the city centre & to the brewery for free.

    We walked around the brewery museum and learned about the process it takes to make beer as well as the history of Carlsberg and how it took its name (after his son) His son eventually started his own brewery but made some changes to the beer.

    We also got to pet some really cute horses wearing hats... well I did anyways. Kaylee barely even touched them with a 10 inch pole.

    With our ticket we got a free gift which was a pin & a free beer. We went into the brewery/bar to get our beer. I had one that had a citrus twist to it & Kaylee had just a regular Carlsberg. So get this. Kaylee ordered a burger with her beer & the guy said like oh dont worry about it, pay me later..... SHE NEVER PAID. She completely forgot and we only remember like 2 hours later lmao!! (It was also a 20$ burger hahahah)

    We went back to wait for the shuttle bus to go back to city center. We ended up taking to these 5 ladies from Michigan. They we're freaking hilarious. We talked about how much we love looking at Justin Trudeau and how trump looks like a orange Cheeto hahaha. We somehow got on the topic of weed & they were telling us how they have a medical order for weed back home. Me and kaylee were killing ourselves laughing, we highly suggested to go to Christiana village to go have some fun. They were going to go hahah.

    Back to city centre & we walked around (i needed to get my patch & my liquor) I also ate dinner/late lunch at this Asian restaurant (similar to Thai express) omg it was so good. I want to go back nowwwwwww.

    We walked & walked some more until we needed to head to our bus. It was actually on time.

    So we get on the bus 21:00 & there were these two Spanish people talking SO loud... but wait it gets worse. I'm really not the type to hate on people having a good time... but this was too much. At our next stop the Spanish people got off with some other people as well. On comes a group of 10 teenage guys all drinking beer, talking super loud and smelling like smoke... they were so obnoxious. I love seeing people have a good time but it was now 11pm & some people have already been on the bus for 8 hours. Also just to make things a bit better.. it was 45 degrees on this bus & the toilet didn't flush. All in all, I slept probably for 4 hours but all broken up.... And that's with 50mg of Benadryl....

    The most important part is we got to Stockholm alive and well (except really exhausted)
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  • Day15

    Cheaper than Norway

    June 7, 2017 in Denmark

    We woke up this morning in Copenhagen (the bus ride was horrible, I barely slept 3 hours all together). Once we got to central station, we wondered around for about an hour before we figured out where we needed to go & what was the best option for us. We decided to get the day pass so that we can take any bus or metro all around the city.

    (We also got out of the bus around 5:30 to take the ferry from Germany to Denmark, it was pretty awesome)

    Our Airbnb was located 10 minute from the city by bus. It is what our host calls a classic Copenhagen apartment... the shower is in the kitchen. We have a whole room to ourselves with a tv screen, Netflix
    and a couch. It is decorated witj pink accents so you obviously know I love it.

    We left our bags & went out for the day.

    Our first stop was Superkilen. Stretching some 750 metres along either side of a public cycle track, Stretching some 750 metres (2,460 ft) along either side of a public cycle track and covering a total area of some 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft), Superkilen is made up of three main areas: a red square, a black market and a green park. While the red square, painted bright red, orange and pink, focuses on recreation and modern living, the black market at the centre is the classic square with a fountain where neighbours can meet, with its barbecue grills and palm trees from China. The green park, literally entirely green, has rolling hills, trees and plants suitable for picnics, sports and walking the dog....... OR SO THEY SAY........ the park looked like it was built and then forgotten about. It was so dirty and looked run down.... it was so disappointing.

    Next stop: Rosenborg Castle. It was actually originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606. The castle was used by Danish regents as a royal residence until around 1710. They had the changing of the guards but we were a little late for them. The Castle was very simple but still beautiful.

    Next stop: the Round Tower. The 17th century tower and observatory Rundetaarn, or the round tower, is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It has been a while since the scientists left, but the observatory is still used by amateur astronomers and the many visitors. The observatory is encircled by an outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen

    Next stop: Nyhavan. It is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen. In the 1600s it was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Now it is just known for its colourful buildings, restaurants and beer. This looked almost exactly like Bergen. We walked to strip but then quickly moved on since it was freaking freezing & kaylee was in shorts.

    Next stop: Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, covering 84 acres in the borough of Christianshavn. "The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted." Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash and skunk weed were sold openly from permanent stands until 2004, it nevertheless does have rules forbidding 'hard drugs', such as cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy and heroin. The hash commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees. Legalization of cannabis is one of the ideas of many of the citizens in Christiania. It was so unexpected walking through there. They told us not to take any pictures then we got there & understood why. The strip where they were was just stand after stand of people selling weed. It was truly a hippie town and such an interesting thing to see.

    Last stop of the day: the architect museum... we walked which felt like FOREVER to get here. And for absolutely nothing. It was the most useless museum I've ever been too. To be honest, I'm not even sure what the exhibit was about.

    We headed back to the Airbnb to make dinner and just hang out. I hadn't been that tired since the jet lag in Glasgow. We made pasta with bread and a Carlsberg ... I know it sounds so basic but it was so freaking good. We watched White Chicks and I passed out like 15 minutes into the movie 😴
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  • Day15

    Jugne

    June 7, 2017 in Germany

    This blog post is going to be short because I'm so tired and I just want to sleep ... and catch up on my blogging hahah.

    This morning we checked out of the hostel & left our bags there so we could explore the city a little more.

    We saved our shopping day for today since yesterday we really covered all the main tourist attractions.

    We hit up the mall & I BOUGHT SOME SUPER NICE JEANS AT ZARA THAT IM SO EXCITED ABOUT.

    We went to döner kabab for lunch again... they're so good, no judging. It was followed by a drink in Alexanderplatz on a terrasse with lawn chairs. It starting to down pour so we headed for shelter aka another mall. At this point our feet are so sore..

    We went back to the hostel where we got our bags and headed towards the bus station.

    We went the wrong way on the metro (it's not our fault that it's so complex) Quickly figured it out & were back in the right direction.

    We're now on the bus with a full 4 seater for ourselves. Greedy 😋

    The people sitting across from us are EXTREMELY LOUD and the person sitting behind me is eating something that's making me nauseous.... only 7.5 hours left.

    We do get to take a ferry at some point tonight towards Denmark but hopefully I'll be sleeping.

    Okay Benadryl time. (Told you it was going to be short)
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  • Day14

    To the bar and back.

    June 6, 2017 in Germany

    This morning we got up and went out to see the city.

    First stop was parliament... that is only after we figured out how to use the public transit system. It is soooo complicated!! There are the S and the U line which are ran by different companies, then there's the train and all the buses. Oh god. It's a nightmare looking at the map.

    Parliament was such a beautiful building and as you can imagine, tons of police around.

    Next stop was the Brandenburg gate. It is the only remaining gate through which people used to enter Berlin. It was built between 1788 and 1791. It was used as entrance into East Berlin in the Cold War. When the Nazis came to power, they used the Gate as their symbol. The Gate was damaged but not destroyed during World War II. The governments of East Berlin and West Berlin restored it but it was closed when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. The gate was in the middle of the death strip. Unfortunately we couldn't get super up close to see it because there was an international gymnastics competition going on (they were everywhere).

    Next stop: Victory Tower Column. It was built in 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War, by the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873, Prussia had also defeated Austria and its German allies in the Austro-Prussian War and France in the Franco-Prussian War, giving the statue a new purpose. Different from the original plans, these later victories in the so-called unification wars inspired the addition of the bronze sculpture of Victoria, 8.3 metres (27 ft) high and weighing 35 tonnes.

    Next stop: Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was Berlin's best known crossing point between West and East Berlin near by the inner Berlin sector boundary between 1961 and 1989. When we got there, I was a little insulted. They had 2 fake US army soldiers standing outside... not only were they smoking but they were standing there and posing with people for pictures for money. What happened in the Cold War was absolutely horrible. I found seeing that completely disgraceful. We took pictures from behind without them in it.

    Next stop: Alexanderplatz. It is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin, near the Fernsehturm. The Fernsehturm was intended as both a symbol of communist power and of Berlin. It remains the latter today, as it is easily visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. (The pointy tower that looks incredibly similar to the CN tower)

    Next stop: Berlin Cathedral. We didn't go in but the outside was spectacular. (Picture of me in front of the water fountain with the cathedral in the back)

    Next stop: Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), starting on 13 August 1961, the Wall completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip"). During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the Wall, with an estimated death toll ranging from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin. In the metro systems, they sealed off tunnels so that east Berliners couldn't get across to the west. Contrary to popular belief the Wall's actual demolition did not begin until the summer of 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990. (It was super emotional to be there and actually touch the wall or what's left of it). They have photos of those who lost their lives trying to escape at the official site of the Berlin Wall. All throughout the city they have markings on the ground where the wall used to run. The part of the Berlin Wall that we were at was a cemetery. Victims of world war 2 were buried there. They were drug up when they built the Berlin Wall. There are crosses on site commemorate those victims. All in all, it makes me realize how great of a life I have and how fortune I am. It makes all my problems seem inexistant. (This is why i love to travel. Eye openers like this)

    So after all this and walking about 16km we headed back to the hostel (also cause it was raining). We sat in the room for a little until we decided to go downstairs and have a beer..... or a couple. We played some drinking games then decided to take on pool. Turns out, I'm really horrible. I hit one of the balls right off the table and across the whole bar. Hehe oops.

    Life lesson still not achieved: DONT DRINK AND PACK
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  • Day13

    I see you

    June 5, 2017 in Germany

    This morning we got up and backed our bags for Germany!!

    Our flight wasn't until the evening so we checked our bags at the train station (close to city centre) and walked around some more before heading out.

    It was raining all day in Bergen so we walked quickly in and out of shops trying to keep out of the rain.

    We went through the fish market again and to see if we could try some brown cheese. It is sweet, fatty brown cheese made from goats milk. We found a place that would give us a piece to try. I took the worlds smallest bit & I couldn't keep a straight face. It was by far that nastiest cheese I've ever tasted. I actually felt my stomach tightening as if I was getting ready to puke... the worst part is that the taste lingers in your mouth.

    We grabbed our bags and took the tram to the airport (yes Kaylee fell asleep again)

    I managed to find my mini bottle of Norways famous Akvavit in the duty free shop. We charged our phones before boarding our flight. Getting on, there were 2 middld aged men who were WASTED. I bet that they would be sitting right next to us& guess what... yup the row across. As soon as we took off, they fell asleep and didn't wake up again until we landed.

    We got off the plane and connected to wifi to try and get directions to our hostel. We found a bus that would bring us almost to the front door... I asked a worker where we could find the bus & then he began to tell us we we're looking at the wrong airport on our map.... stupid us. We were at a different airport that was across the city from us. We ended up taking the train to Berlin city centre (FOR 3.40€!!!!! So cheap omg!!! Train tickets for everyone)

    When we were on the train, half way, we stopped in the middle of the track & someone whispered "I see you" in a super creepy voice. I got so scared my eyes started tearing up. 😂😂😂

    Fast forward to our hostel which is right downtown, we checked in. We have our own room with a shower & a shared bathroom. We quickly dropped off our stuff, got changed & went to get some food (THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD)

    We had a döner kabob and a 0.5L beer for 5€ YASSSSSssssss.

    Back to the hostel to do some laundry in the sink & get to bed 😴
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