Adventurous bunch of budget travellers sharing their travel experiences

Month: April 2017

Back to the beach, yes please!

Back to the beach, yes please!

After a few posts about cities and nature, I think it’s time to take you back to the beaches and sun again! And to be more precise, to the land of tequila and tacos. It’s Mexico time! Put your sombrero on and start planning a […]

Norway – cold and dark, but so what?

Norway – cold and dark, but so what?

When you think of Norway, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not “budget-friendly”. As someone who lived in this Nordic country’s capital for 6 months, I can confirm that, but with a bit of planning and creativeness you can certainly achieve amazing […]

Across the alpine valleys, what lies amongst the mountains?

Across the alpine valleys, what lies amongst the mountains?

Soooooo, I guess it’s my turn to write something here and actually contribute.

It took me quite a while to figure out what subject I’d actually care to write about. But you know, there is this one region that keeps coming back to me when I think about the places I’ve visited so far.

Sunny beaches and warmth are nice and all, but nothing captures a sense of adventure and imagination quite like a range of mountains with snow covered tips, continuing as far as eye can see. So I’ll talk about the alps a bit if ya’ll don’t mind.

So why do I like it there so much? I’ve spent six months doing my exchange in this place called Liechtenstein. Absolutely some of the best times in my life btw. It’s alright if you don’t know where it is, since the whole place isn’t much larger than a fly’s dropping on a map. And since there is only so much to see, I thought I’d widen the range of this post a bit beyond just this small, but extraordinary country, even though I could talk about the place for a while. So let’s talk about the alpine range spanning all the way from Slovenia to France. I’ve personally especially been to Austria and Liechtenstein but also quickly visited and travelled through the areas in Switzerland, Italy and Germany.

And in this picture, you can see roughly 80% of the country of Liechtenstein

So what is there to do in these places? A lot! First up, these mountain valleys are a skier’s dream. The thrill of speeding down these mountain slopes is one of the best experiences there is. If you haven’t tried downhill skiing or snowboarding  yet, just do it, you’re in for a treat.  There is nothing quite like speeding down a well prepared slope or drifting through an untouched snow bank that can be found a plenty. Just the view alone makes it all worth it! And the after ski is definitely an important part of the experience, so don’t forget to enjoy the party before going to take off your fancy skiing gear. Ski resorts that I’ve personally visited are located in Zell am See, Saalbach, Kitzbühel, Bad Hofgastein and Malbun as well as their surrounding areas. But there is one place that really struck me as a skiers dream, Sportgastein which is a freerider’s dream and you can enjoy the powder snow trailing off the beaten path. Case in point below:

Sportgastein awesomeness
Malbun

During the summer you can take a hike! The mountains provide an awesome range of possibilities for wandering types. Tossing a backpack on and traversing the mountainside is a rough, but oh so rewarding thing to do once you reach the top!

Driving through these beautiful scenes is an absolute blast and I would also recommend taking a road trip there. Renting a car isn’t all that expensive and the villages scattered throughout the mountain valleys have all much to offer. Locals are proud of their culture and incredibly hospitable.

There are plenty of other relaxing and fun activities that can be found here. One of my favourites being the restaurants located high up the mountainside that offer a dinner serving traditional local food, after which you can go back down on a sleigh! And don’t forget to give spas that can be found in most ski resorts a try for some relaxation after a long day of skiing!

Would you mind swimming here? I sure didn’t!
Bonus pic from the banks of river Rhine

So get your adventure on and head towards the mountains! – Janne

Bonus goat for anyone who makes it this far
California Dreaming, Los Angeles

California Dreaming, Los Angeles

Hello there! Are you dreaming of travelling to California? I know I am, California is such a beautiful and exciting place! As we all know, California is quite a big state with various attractions and it is challenging to tell you all the details in […]

Are you planning a trip to Albania? Good choice! So, here you have top tips why everyone should visit Albania in 2017!

Are you planning a trip to Albania? Good choice! So, here you have top tips why everyone should visit Albania in 2017!

  Stalinist history, fabulous beaches and Ottoman architecture. Unexplored country Have you heard about the Albanian country and culture? I am sure that not much. Maybe you have heard that Albania has bad reputation of being unsafe and unstable before, (it is a stereotype which […]

Top Tips for a Caribbean Getaway in Puerto Rico

Top Tips for a Caribbean Getaway in Puerto Rico

Is the cold and dark winter depressing you? Do you find yourself dreaming of palm trees, sun and mojitos? Have you always wanted to experience the relaxed Caribbean atmosphere? Look no further, we will give you our best tips to sunny Puerto Rico and how to spend a relaxing vacation on this amazing Caribbean island without being broke afterwards.

Ps. note that I have been in Puerto Rico once for one week so I’m not an expert but I will give you my personal tips as a student and an explorer who wants to get most of my trips without spending huge amount of money on doing so 😉

Playa Flamenco, Culebra

 

So here you go, our top 8 tips for a Caribbean getaway in Puerto Rico:

 

1. Rent a car

My first tip would be renting a car when you visit Puerto Rico. Sounds expensive but it really isn’t and you got to explore the whole island, visit places that are unreachable otherwise and live in nicer but cheaper accommodations! You can find a car for around $250 a week and the gas per liter was about $0.70 so you can drive around the island as much as you want without spending a lot of money on it! The travel distances between the cities are quite short so getting from place to place is easy. However you should know that the roads aren’t super well maintained and the locals aren’t the best drives so watch out for the bumps on the road and you pay attention to the other (sometimes crazy) drivers!

 

2. Save with Airbnb

As we had a car and explored the whole island without a specific plan, we booked our next accommodation a day before or even on the same day. Beginning of March wasn’t a high season in Puerto Rico even though American students were celebrating Spring break at the time. Therefore accommodation for two was easy find even on the same day with around $80 per night. I know it’s not cheap but the price level is quite high on the island, close to the price level in the US. However there weren’t a lot of choices to stay in, except for in San Juan, so if you are planning to explore the island and stay in smaller cities, you can save a lot of money by booking your accommodation in advance. We spend six out of seven nights in really cozy Airbnbs so check Airbnb before booking a hotel. In addition to cheaper accommodation, you can get really valuable information and tips from the local hosts who tend to be extremely friendly and helpful!

Colorful houses in Old San Juan

3. Explore many beaches

Puerto Rico has a nice variety of beaches around the island. If you want to stay close to the capital San Juan because you are staying just for couple of days or you don’t want to rent a car, I would recommend exploring the beaches between San Juan and Loíza, especially Pinones Beach where you are alone with the locals away from the tourist crowds. If you have a rental car, you have a huge amount of beaches to choose from, just decide on which part of the island you wish to explore, pack your beach bag with snacks and water and drive to the beach. Southern coast of the island has calmer waters whereas western coast is more suitable for surfing. You can also do snorkeling or scuba diving if you wish the see the coral reef around the island (not cheap though). All the beaches we went to were really clean with clear waters.

My top 4 beaches in Puerto Rico:

1) Playa Flamenco, Isla Culebra

 

2) Playa Sucia, Cabo Rojo

 

3) Playa Jaboncillo, Guanica

 

4) Playa Pinones, Carolina

 

4. Explore smaller islands

Puerto Rico is a relatively large Caribbean island but if you wish to see smaller islands with turquoise waters and beaches with white sand, it can be possible without spending your entire budget on it. Two popular islands, Vieques and Culebra, are easily reachable with a ferry that leaves from Fajardo. The ferry ride takes something between an hour and an hour and a half and round trip costs only $4.50. However you need to be at the port early to get a seat! On the ferry’s website it is said that the ticket desk closes an hour prior the departure. We decided to visit Culebra on a Friday and take the first ferry that leaves at 9 AM from Fajardo. The drive from San Juan to Fajardo took about an hour and we arrived to Fajardo just before 8 AM. The line was huge but we managed to get the tickets and finally the ferry left around 10 AM instead of 9 AM. So if you wish to explore these two beautiful and popular islands with a low budget, reserve enough time to do so. There is also a flight connection from San Juan International Airport (about $60 one way) or Isla Grande Airport San Juan (about $72 one way) or Ceiba Airport (about $44 one way) so if you have always wanted to fly with a small plane to a paradise island, this is your chance! We didn’t have time to visit both of the islands but exploring Culebra was definitely the highlight of my trip and the trip down there was absolutely worth it!

 

5. Go to the rainforest

El Yunque is a tropical rain forest about 45 minute-drive away from San Juan. You can access the rain forest with your own car for free, park near the hiking trail you wish to take and wander around. The trails are really easy to hike because they coated (it would be so much nicer if the trails were natural) so you don’t need to be in top shape to hike in the rain forest. I would recommend taking a trail to Mina Falls alongside a river. When you arrive to the Mina Falls, you can take a cold dip and pose for a picture under the waterfall.

 

6. Enjoy rum drinks

You just have to do that when you are in the Caribbean, right? Relaxed Caribbean atmosphere, sun in your face, sea breeze in your hair and a cold rum drink in your hand sounds good to me! Mojitos with passion fruit, strawberries, mango or any other fruit or berry you can think of gives a fresh taste to the original mojito if you want to taste something different. Pina Colada was invented in Puerto Rico so you can get it everywhere. Besides rum drinks and beers (Medalla is local and cheap!), you can find different sangrias from the drink list. Try out fresh coconut too! Cheers!

 

7. Go to Puerto Rican restaurants and taste local foods

Mmmmm, eating fresh fish after a long day of exploring. Tastes so good! I had the best fish tacos at La Cambija restaurant in Rincon, totally worth a try if you are visiting this surfer town. You can also find ceviches, plantains, enchiladas and empanadillas on the menu alongside a list of traditional Puerto Rican dishes. Food in a restaurant isn’t cheap but for a Finn you can get a good meal with a reasonable price.

La Cambija restaurant, Rincon

 

8. Explore Old San Juan

Colorful houses, tiny streets and of course a lot of tourists trying to take the prettiest Instagram photos. Old San Juan is absolutely worth visiting especially during the day so you can wander around and admire all the beautiful colors of this San Juan Historic Site. We heard from our first Airbnb host that you shouldn’t eat in Old San Juan since the price level is higher so you don’t get value for your money. However if you feel like enjoying a drink or coffee on a terrace, you should definitely do so! Old San Juan is quite small so you can easily walk it through in an hour or two. In addition you can check out the San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal fortresses. You have to pay $5 if you want to get in but just checking them from outside is nice too.

So here you go, some tips for your trip to Puerto Rico! If you have any comments or questions, do not hesitate to ask, I will be happy to help!

10 Things to do in Lisbon for Budget Ballers

10 Things to do in Lisbon for Budget Ballers

Have you ever been in a situation where the tickets are booked and bags are packed but travel plans are wide open? Maybe you didn’t have the time to do proper research in advance or the thought of wading through different travel guides exhausted you […]

Prague Budget Travel Guide – Where to stay, where to go, tourist traps

Prague Budget Travel Guide – Where to stay, where to go, tourist traps

How to spend time in Prague on a student budget? Welcome in Czech Republic = Vítáme Vás v České republice! I am glad to tell you some words about Czech Republic, located in the heart of Europe. The country to which I have personal relation […]