Geneva: A Beautifully Boring City but a Hilarious Airbnb Story You Need to Hear

Isn’t it a drag when you expect so much from a place only to realize it’s rather quite dull? Or you meet a really pretty/handsome person and then they turn out to have zero personality? Bienvenue ร  Genรจve! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Ok, Geneva wasn’t all bad. I’ll give y’all some tips if you decide to venture to this Swiss city…but don’t expect any nightlife or culture or affordable food or, well, anything.

๐Ÿ˜‚

The lower your expectations, the better time you’ll have!

But First…Our Airbnb Host

Alright, this is too good not to share with y’all. Mon got to our Airbnb in Geneva before I did and she recounted the following exchange with our host:

Anna: Just so you know, none of my neighbors know that I run an Airbnb. So, if you see anyone and they ask anything just say you’re visiting.

Mon: Ok, will do.

Anna: Great. My kids and their father are on holiday right now and they don’t know either.

Mon: ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I DIED WHEN SHE TOLD ME THAT. Mind you, we stayed in HER CHILDREN’S ROOMS!! And her Airbnb has over 100 reviews!! This woman has been conning her family for A WHILE NOW. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ What if her family returned early? What if they arrived in the middle of the night to find us sleeping in their beds!? SO many questions!!!

Plus, while we were there she had another Airbnb guest staying in her other child’s room! ๐Ÿ˜‚

We opted for an Airbnb over a hostel in Geneva because they were essentially the same price and the hostels didn’t look particularly lively.

What to do in Geneva?

If you love the outdoors, great. Head over to the lake and take in the views. For just two francs (cash only), you can access a dock area called Bains des Pรขquis.

Mon and I went to a grocery store called Coop and grabbed a bottle of wine (Geneva is open container), some food, and spent the day by Lake Geneva.

There was a cool structure that folks were jumping off of into the lake…Mon did it twice and got a huge bruise on her ass after landing the wrong way…both times. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Whoopsie!

What else is there to do?

You can venture across the bridge to St. Pierre Cathedral. For just five francs you can climb to the top and take in the panoramic views. The staircase up is narrow and not ideal if you’re claustrophobic like me, but having my best friend with me helped. I probably wouldn’t have done it by myself. ๐Ÿ˜‚ It was worth the initial stomach pains though! (I was literally that nervous about getting trapped in the staircase.)

If you’re looking for another cool view in Geneva, don’t miss La Jonction! This stunning spot isn’t too far from the main city center…it’s where the River Rhone and the River Arve meet. The Rhone is the pretty side, while the Arve is rather murky (and smelly! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ).

See that little viewing platform above? That’s where the walk will take you initially… but see that tree? It perfectly blocks the view of the divide! So, Mon and I saw this bridge (from where these pics are taken) and were determined to get up there…we found a path and made our way up! It was a fun adventure and I definitely recommend it!

Other Tips for Geneva

When most people think of Switzerland, they think of fondue, etc. Well, that’s not really a thing for locals here. In fact, I couldn’t get a good read on what their go-to cuisine was other than expensive. Even fast food will cost you a good $15-20 francs! Stick with grocery store food to save money!

The public transportation is easy to use…there are plenty of trams and buses. It’s similar to Berlin in that it runs on the honor system. Apparently there are random checks for tickets but Mon and I never had ours checked.

If you take the bus/tram to a stop called ‘Nations’ you can see the UN building, as well as the famous ‘broken chair’ art installation. It’s literally across the street from the UN.

While there are cool sights to be seen in Geneva, there is zero nightlife! I’m glad I was with Monica because it would’ve been less fun venturing around alone during the day as there’s not tons to do.

So, I probably wouldn’t recommend Geneva for a solo trip. ๐Ÿ™… Have you been? Let me know!

Will you runaway with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

Berlin: Where to Stay and What to Do in This Weird Paradox of a City

Berlin: Home to currywurst, spacious sidewalks, tons of graffiti art, a stellar metro system, and grunge fashion.

I spent four nights in Berlin and, at first, I was not a fan.

The city felt cold, dreary, and unwelcoming.

I thought the Berlin Wall had been knocked down…but Berliners still seem to have walls up of their own… especially to block out Americans like myself. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

Of course, first impressions can be rather misleading. My first night in Berlin, I stayed at the Singer109 Hostel. It sucked. Do not stay there.

The folks at reception made me feel as though every question I asked was the biggest hassle ever and there was absolutely zero atmosphere. Though, I must say the rooms were rather nice…mine had an ensuite bathroom which is a rare find for most hostels. But still…not worth staying there!

So, where to stay instead?

I followed the advice of The Hostel Girl and checked into The Circus Hostel for my last three nights in Berlin. The atmosphere was night and day. I immediately felt better about Berlin and was excited to see what the city had to offer!

Ok, what should I DO in Berlin?

As I usually suggest…go on a walking tour! Similarly to the hostel in Copenhagen that I stayed at, The Circus offers free walking tours TWICE daily! So, if you sleep in and miss the 9:45 tour, you can always join the one at 1:15.

Our tour guide, Kyle, offered up tons of history about Berlin. For me, the highlight was seeing the hotel balcony (Hotel Adlon) where Michael Jackson dangled baby Blanket from all those years ago. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I had no idea that was in Berlin…RIP MJ. ๐Ÿ’™

Pop culture aside, Berlin is home to a lot of dark times in European history. The tour included a stop by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial. Selfies are not allowed (for obvious reasons) and, while you can sit on any of the 2,711 stones, folks should refrain from standing on them.

So, why is Berlin a “paradox”?

Well, Berliners like to think they’re super progressive and forward-thinking…but here are some weird things I learned about Berlin while visiting:

Most of the city is cash-only.

In fact, cash is still the means of payment in some 80 percent of point-of-sale transactions in Berlin! According to Bloomberg, “the use of cash has, to a surprising extent, become a proxy for profound concerns about trust, privacy, and the role of the state.” So, be sure to carry euros ALL the time!

Clubs will reject folks who dress nicely.

Heels, suits, colorful dresses…not cool in Berlin. Even locals suggest wearing all black, sneakers, and anything “grungy.”

If you don’t know your DJs, GTFO.

Again, according to locals and other tourists I chatted with, music is a BFD in Berlin. Bouncers will ask you what DJ you’ve come to see and, if you don’t have an answer, you can hit the road. Apparently, they do this to weed out tourists from the true house-music loving locals…but I think it’s rather unwelcoming. ๐Ÿค”

For a city that claims to be so accepting and open, the folks here seem to follow an odd set of rules. Someone I met recently said Berlin reminded them of NYC and, being the native New Yorker that I am, I don’t agree. In all my travels, there is no city more open and welcoming to ALL then good ol’ NYC. ๐Ÿ˜

Disclaimer: I didn’t hit the clubs while in Berlin…folks in the city START partying at 6AM and also drugs are a big thing (not surprising with the hours they keep), so… not really my scene.

HOWEVER, there was plenty I eventually learned to love about Berlin and I’ll write all about it in my next post!

Have you been to Berlin?! What’d you think? Let me know!

P.s. If you’re not already following me on Instagram, do it now! I’ve been posting plenty of entertaining stories…including a rather claustrophobic experience in Berlin — more on that in the next post!

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

Eating Danish Danishes and Other Things: 48 Hours in Copenhagen

The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen is home to over half a million folks! It’s a beautiful city with colorful houses and tons of history! Denmark is considered a part of Scandinavia, along with Sweden and Norway.

Thinking of running away to Copenhagen?! Read on for my tips!

Where to stay?

If you’re looking for a true hostel experience, you should definitely stay at the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. It was Monica’s first hostel experience and we arrived late on a Monday night, walking through the PACKED bar/reception area…

“Are all hostels like this?!?” – Mon

Not all hostels are as lively as CPH Downtown, but most have cool vibes! (Except for Singer109 in Berlin…more on that in a future post…but heads up – don’t stay there!!)

What to do?

Copenhagen has a lot going for it:

  • Friendly folks
  • Very walkable, flat streets
  • An abundance of pastry shops

However, this city is expensive!! So, I recommend going on a FREE walking tour through a company aptly named “Copenhagen Free Walking Tours.” ๐Ÿ˜‚

If you do this tour, try and get JAROD as your guide! He is hilarious and wonderful and, like most tour guides, not a native Scandinavian!

He took our group all around the city for about three hours! Mon and I learned that most of Copenhagen’s history involves buildings burning down, being built back up, and burning down again. Whoopsie! ๐Ÿ˜…

If you’re new to a city, walking tours are a great way to not only learn a bit of history but also to get yourself oriented and discover other things to do while you’re there!

After the tour, Mon and I went to a great outdoor/indoor food space called Torvehallerne. We each had a delicious taco and then a kimchi pancake that was SO good!

^ I tried it…not that hot.

In the same market area, we came across a game of Petanque…known to most Americans as bocce ball. The guys running it asked if we’d like to play a game…so, of course we joined in!

We ended our first day in Copenhagen at the bar in our hostel where we made some French friends. ๐Ÿ’

The second day, Mon and I walked around the second oldest amusement park in the world! It’s called Tivoli and it’s right by the CPH Downtown Hostel.

After that, we wandered around a bit more and went for a canal boat tour. โ›ต

On this tour, I learned that the houses along the canal were painted so distinctly because they weren’t numbered back in the day! Mail carriers would literally deliver mail simply by knowing who lived in what colored house! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Finally, for our last day in Copenhagen, I insisted we get Danishes! Mon and I ended up meeting fellow Americans and the four of us went together. Sooo worth it. ๐Ÿ˜

Such a fun and beautiful city! Have you been? Are you planning a trip? Let me know!

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

Globetrotting with a Bootleg Phone Plan and No Data: A Solo Travel Guide

Happy Friday the 13th y’all! I’m in Berlin at the moment…I arrived yesterday evening and spent about 13 hours sleeping. ๐Ÿ˜‚

As I eat currywurst (the national fast food of Berlin) for the first time in my life in a spot called KreuzBurger, I figured I’d also take the time to let y’all know how to survive solo travel in lands far, far away.

Pro tip: Don’t stress, plan less, and learn to wing it!

Easier said than done for most, I know, but don’t get caught up in all the little things when traveling abroad! As long as you have your plane ticket, a phone, cash/credit, and your passport, you’ll be just fine!

What about an international phone plan, Jackie?

Take it from someone who has an $80 LG phone that runs on Virgin Mobile and has been to 12 foreign countries…you don’t need an international phone plan. Once I leave American soil, I turn data off and solely rely on WiFi.

Of course, if you’re traveling to more remote places, etc., then investing in an international plan may be smart.

The great thing about most foreign countries… especially big cities in Europe…is that they have free public WiFi all around! Outside, inside, in the metro stations, on the buses, and essentially anywhere else you’d need it!

Also, did you know Google Maps works without WiFi?! As long as you know where you’re going, the locator dot will continue to tell you where YOU are on the map! So, as you move along, you can see if you’re heading in the right direction or not.

If you’re traveling alone, I recommend getting flights, trains, etc. that arrive during the day… especially if you plan on walking to your hostel, etc. once you arrive.

Berlin is the first foreign city I’ve ever traveled to alone where the main language isn’t English (save for Iceland, but I had been there before), so I booked a flight that got in at 5pm. This gave me allowance to get a bit lost in the streets as I made my way to my hostel (and I totally did ๐Ÿ˜‚), knowing I’d have plenty of daylight to work with. Plus, I’m always sure to keep to main streets and, if Google maps isn’t helping me, I pop into a nearby cafe or shop to grab some WiFi. ๐Ÿ˜…

It may sound stressful but it really isn’t. I tell myself that if worst comes to currywurst, I can always hail a cab! (Hopefully… ๐Ÿ˜…)

Coming from NYC, I feel confident getting around any major city…even without relying on my phone!

Pro tip: Look up and actually READ the street signs and don’t fear getting lost!

I’ve found that folks who rely on their cell data and mapped out routes in foreign cities often miss out on little things because they’re so fixated on not missing a turn. I actually just met a girl from Australia who also said she doesn’t have an international plan because she doesn’t want to be staring at her phone during her travels!

This is the time to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to talk to folks and SEE what’s around you! We’ve become so dependent on our phones but we don’t need them!

What do you do when you go abroad? Let me know in the comments!

Also…if y’all have any tips for Berlin, let me know! I’m here till Monday and have done zero research…whoops! ๐Ÿคฆ

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie

48 Hours in Edinburgh: A Solo Traveler’s Guide

Greetings, y’all! I’m currently writing from the Downtown Hostel in Copenhagen, but I wanted to share more about my time in Scotland!

Why Scotland?

Well, my main goal for this trip was GETTING to Europe for as cheaply as possible…the best flight out of NYC that I found was a WOWair flight to Edinburgh with a 20-hour layover in Iceland – check out my post about the Blue Lagoon if you haven’t already!

I didn’t know much about Scotland prior to visiting, but I knew it’d be beautiful. Whether you’re traveling alone or going with a friend or two, here’s some advice for ya!

What money do I need?

Scotland is part of the UK and the country uses the pound sterling.

Where should I stay?

Stay at the Budget Backpackers Hostel (also known as the Kickass Hostel)! It’s easily accessible if you’re flying into Edinburgh. Just hop on the Airlink bus ($7.50 for a round-trip ticket) and take it to the last stop (Waverly Bridge). From there, the hostel is a ten-minute walk away… however, you will have to trudge uphill a bit! If you have a ton of luggage, you may wanna take a cab!

What should I do?!

I arrived in mid-afternoon on a Saturday in Edinburgh…after a 6:30AM flight from Iceland. After checking into my hostel, I decided to wander around on my own to see the area. From the Royal Mile to the Scott Monument, everything was within walking distance.

For solo travelers, I also highly recommend going on a tour of the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness with a company called Rabbie’s. Not to be confused with RABIES.

๐Ÿ˜…

I went on a tour that left on a Sunday morning at 8AM and lasted ALLLL day…it was tiring because I’d stayed out till 3AM with some newfound hostel friends the night before… but it was well worth the early wake-up call!

The tour included several stops, including the Commando Memorial, Glencoe Park, Three Sisters Mountains, Loch Ness and more! We even went on an hour-long boat tour in an attempt to find NESSIE!!

Things I learned…

  • The Scottish Highlands are gorgeous and only two million folks live here.
  • “Loch” means “lake” in Scottish Gaelic.
  • The folks in Scotland believe in tons of mystical creatures and superstitions.
  • Much of the landscape in Scotland was formed from giant glaciers passing through millions of years ago, as well as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions!

My final day in Edinburgh was spent wandering the streets after having a less-than-wonderful dining experience at The Elephant House (more on that here).

Have you visited Scotland? Are you planning a trip? Let me know!

Will you run away with me?

Spread kindness and cheer, xo

Jackie