If you didn’t know that 2018 was the year I took my desire to travel into my own hands, then I can only assume that you are fairly new here because I feel like I talk about it a lot! If that is the case, then welcome and I hope you can find a reason to stay and we can go on to become really good friends.
In 2018 I was privileged enough to visit 3 international cities – Rome in Italy, Vienna in Austria and Oslo in Norway. The first two were solo trips, with the final trip being taken with my baby brother. I recognise the ability to travel so freely as a privilege on various levels, and it is one for which I am incredibly grateful. For those asking how I do it – budget airlines, off peak and hostels, generally. There’s not really any great secrets to affordable travel, even though a lot of people seem to think there is.
So how were my adventures? It’s safe to say they were all very different, and although I enjoyed them all I think I enjoyed them to varying degrees and for different reasons. If I were to rank them, Rome would take the top spot while Vienna would sink to the bottom – although to this day I’m still not entirely sure that was Vienna’s fault and it could have been down to life circumstances at the time. I thought this would be a good opportunity to try and answer some of the main questions and see how they compared…
How safe do you feel?
While I didn’t feel unsafe in Rome, I was certainly a lot more aware of the threat of pickpocketing – it might have been because it was my first solo trip, or because Rome has a notorious reputation for pickpocketing or because of the shady street vendors (you know, the people who grab your arm and get all up in your personal space to try and sell you a selfie stick). In a total contrast, even though Vienna was a lot busier (probably because of the time of year) I never felt any level of threat during my time there. I never felt the need to check if everything was still in my bag every two minutes, and I felt totally free to just wander the streets. The same can be said for Oslo, where by far the biggest threat was trying to cross a road!
What are the people like?
I found the people in all 3 cities to be pretty different as well. Of course, it might be a slightly skewed vision of the locals since I was mostly dealing with those in the tourism industry. In Rome the people I interacted with couldn’t have been more welcoming or helpful and you were always greeted with open arms and the biggest smile (with the exception of one grumpy waiter on my last night). I found the people of Vienna to be quite abrupt and stern, but actually any time I asked for help or advice they were wonderful. They just showed that even a seemingly cold exterior can have a warm heart. I found the people in Oslo very much kept to themselves, they weren’t bold or forthcoming but they were perfectly welcoming and helpful…just not necessarily in the warmest of ways.
Is there plenty to do?
Absolutely. In Rome I went round and round on the Sightseeing bus and despite visiting loads of the most popular attractions I still didn’t see everything. In both Vienna and Oslo I had a tourist pass – the Vienna Pass and Oslo Pass respectively – and the attractions which I visited were barely a drop in the ocean for each of them, and that doesn’t include all of the attractions in the cities that aren’t included on the passes. There is absolutely not shortage of things to do if you’re planning on popping over for a visit.
What is the food like?
I think I have mentioned before that when I’m travelling alone I don’t really stop for food – I take some snacks and I just keep on going. As a result I am not in the best position to tell you about the food – and the cost of food – in these countries. I ate pizza and gelato in Rome, and I can hands down say that it was the most amazing pizza I have tasted in my entire life. I can also tell you that the criss-cross things (like a cross between fries and waffles) from Mcdonalds in Vienna are delicious. When in Oslo we bought a cheese pastry twirly thing from the supermarket and it was pretty darn tasty, although could have done with some sauce for dipping. I think what I’m trying to tell you is that the food is probably pretty good in all three cities, I just can’t be 100% sure.
Would you go back?
I think the answer for all three is yes, but in different ways. I would like to give Vienna a second chance to see if I didn’t like the city or if it was just life getting in the way of my fun. I would love to go back to Rome, but probably not alone as I kinda feel like “I’ve done it”. I would quite happily go back to Oslo, and there are so many things I would have liked to have done that I never got the opportunity to do, but I’m also not desperately watching Skyscanner to book flights back. Does any of that even make sense? I’m not sure.
Have you travelled anywhere that you absolutely would not go back to? Have you been to Rome, Oslo or Vienna? What did you think? Where are you off to next? Let me know in the comments below!