Wow! August was a crazy month. I spent the first third of it on the last leg of my trip—Romania and Bulgaria. The rest of the month was spent in England, looking for jobs and exploring. Coming home from a big trip meant so many errands, job hunting, and a big snap back to reality. Not having a job also meant lots of time for daytrips around Yorkshire and the Peak District! Here’s what I got up to in August.
Where I Went
Brasov, Sinaia, Bran, Rasnov, Bucharest (Romania)
York, Rievaulx, Helmsley, Burbage Moor, Castleton, Levisham, Hole of Horcum, Goole, Selby (UK)
When I studied abroad in Nottingham, I took a Polish class on a bit of a whim. I ended up making an amazing group of life-long friends (and meeting my husband!). These people were my first ever friends in England and I had such a fun time with them during my year abroad. While we’ve all seen each other in the last few years, we haven’t gotten together all 6 of us since I left the UK in June 2014.
So it was so good to have a big reunion here in York this last weekend in August! I had such a blast with them. Even though we might not see each other or talk all that much, when we get together it’s just like old times. I honestly love these people and am so grateful to have them in my life.
Moving abroad and away from a support system of family and friends, the loneliness is so real. I sometimes feel like I’m in a constant state of missing people. Getting to see friends in real life and not just through a screen is so great. These people are my people. And they are the best people.
It was also really exciting for me, since this was the most people Adam and I have hosted in our house! One of the reasons I was so adamant that we get a 2-bedroom place (besides the fact that I didn’t want us to kill each other) was so that we could have room for people to stay with us. I want my family and friends to be able to see me and stay with me, because (unlike most of Adam’s family and friends), they won’t be able to just drive home for the night, or get a train back. We have a (small) second bedroom with a fold-out futon, and while we’ve hosted groups of 2 before (my friends who visited in January, and Adam’s brothers a few times), this time we had 4 people staying with us. It was a relief to know that we could do it!
Seeing my (work) friends again!
Not to try to make myself sound like a super popular social butterfly, but I also got to see a lot of my friends in York just about a week after I got back from my big trip. One of my managers had a leaving do and I had so much fun catching up with people I hadn’t seen in 6 weeks. Again, I’m so grateful to have fallen into such a great group of people here.
Getting a car!
Adam and I got a car! Technically I won’t be driving it much, since Adam will need it for commuting everyday. But after going for nearly a year without a car, and being completely dependent on public transportation, having a car opens up so many doors. It’s so freeing to be able to visit places and not worry about bus times, and to not have to spend a whole day going somewhere that’s only 20 miles away. I absolutely cannot wait for more adventures!
Hiking in the North York Moors
Now being fully mobile with a car, it opens up so many opportunities. I had an amazing day hiking in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, walking from Levisham along the Hole of Horcum. The heather was fully in bloom, and it was just like a sea of purple. I’ve been dying to see the heather since I moved to England, and it was such a great hike! It was definitely one of my favorite walks in Yorkshire (so far!).
Views in Brasov
By the time I got to Romania, I was ready to slow down for a bit. Travel burn-out was right around the corner, and so instead of hopping around attractions and museums, we had a really chill time in Brasov. By far one of my favorite things was climbing Mount Tampa and seeing the views over the city! It was a tough hike but so worth it. I also loved walking up to the White Tower, and seeing the other view from the opposite side of the city.
Beach relaxing in Varna
After about a week in Romania, the end of our trip came in Varna, Bulgaria. We had two full days to do nothing but hang out at the beach, sleep in, eat banitza, eat ice cream, and just hang out. It was literally the perfect R&R that we needed—minus the sunburn (more below!). I could not have asked for a better end to the trip!
Finally visiting Rievaulx Abbey
Yorkshire is home to a wealth of attractions, but one attraction that it excels at is (ruined) abbeys. The north of England was generally a stronghold for Catholics, and during the English Reformation under Henry VIII, the north also suffered for its religion. There are so many ruins of magnificent abbeys dotted around Yorkshire, and since I moved last year, I knew I’d want to see as many as possible. I have a whole list of abbeys I want to see! This month, I finally made it to one of the most famous of them all—Rievaulx Abbey!
The abbey really is incredible. Walking around the ruins, there’s such an atmosphere of peace and quiet, and it really is amazing. I loved visiting Rievaulx and I can’t wait to visit more abbeys around Yorkshire soon!
Coming home to the things I missed
There will always be things that I miss when I’m traveling. While I definitely wasn’t ready to come home and for this trip to be over, it was so nice to return to the things I missed. I missed getting kebabs from my local kebab shop (where the guy who runs it always gives us free cans of Pepsi). I missed doing laundry, and having so many more clothes to wear (I took only a carry-on, so I basically wore the same things every day for 6 weeks). I missed my own house, where I can stock up the fridge, unpack and spread my stuff out everywhere, sleep in my own bed, and do whatever I like. It was so nice to come home and enjoy those things that I had missed.
Stress over jobs/work/money
Since coming home, I have been in an unescapable stress bubble when it comes to jobs and work and money. I had planned to start a casual job at a bar that a friend of mine manages, but when it became clear that that wouldn’t be happening, panic mode set in. I’ve applied for so many jobs since I’ve gotten back. All kinds of jobs, essentially any job where I can sit down (aka not on my feet all day at a café), that’s standard hours (so that I don’t have to work weekends and can have a life), and that I can afford to live. And I’ve been rejected from all of them so far. Without interviews. I’ve been rejected from jobs that I thought I would definitely at least get an interview. I’ve been rejected from jobs I thought I would genuinely enjoy. I’ve been rejected from jobs that I knew I was actually qualified for.
Getting rejected from jobs is literally the worst. It is so hard to stay positive. It is so hard to fill out another application, when all you can think is, “well no one else will hire me/interview me/give me a shot, why should I waste my time getting turned down by another one?” There are some people (I know too many of them…) who just luck out and have never gone through this. They’ve applied for one or two jobs in their life, and got the jobs they wanted. They haven’t gone through the crushing rejection and absolute misery that is job hunting. It is just so depressing.
It’s illegal for employers to discriminate based on nationality, but I do feel like my applications have been passed over a lot because one of my references is still in the US. I’ve only had one job in the UK so far, so I only have one UK work reference. And while I’m looking for jobs, I’m also constantly worrying over the fact that I’m not worrying enough and am basically running out of money. If you have advice for jobs in the UK/know jobs going in York/anything, I’d so appreciate it!
Heat in Bucharest
Summer in southern Europe can be aggressively hot. And the heat in Bucharest was so much I couldn’t handle it. It was at least 100˚F every single day. The sun was relentless. And no where, LITERALLY NO WHERE, had air conditioning. Bars and restaurants and cafes had outdoor seating with cooling water fans, but no A/C. The hostel didn’t have A/C. So I walked around and I sweated gallons. It was oppressive, and there was no escape. I have officially learned that if I’m traveling in the heat of summer in southern Europe again, I will pay more money to stay somewhere that has air conditioning.
Bites/reaction to heat in Bucharest
I still don’t totally know what this was, but I got a mixture of mosquito bites (AGAIN, those motherfuckers!) and heat reaction that meant I was doubly miserable in Bucharest. My legs especially were covered in spots. But so were my arms, my back, my butt, my hands, literally everywhere. I know it wasn’t bedbugs, since I’m paranoid and check every place I stay. I know there were mosquitoes and flies around, but I didn’t think I could have been bitten that bad. I know it wasn’t heat rash, because I googled it and what I had looked nothing like it. I think it was a mixture of bug bites and sweat and reaction to the heat. Regardless, it was hell. I finally paid a ton of money for aloe vera, and slathered it everywhere.
Sunburn in Bulgaria
I get sunburned really easily. I’ve been sunburned inside before. You’re probably laughing reading that, thinking that I’m joking. I’m not. So when I go to the beach, I go prepared. I put on sunscreen at least 4 times during an afternoon at the beach in Varna. But somehow, I still managed to get one of my worst sunburns to date. My entire back, from my neck down to my calves, was completely red. What was worse, I had to then carry my backpack on my poor sunburned back all the way from Bulgaria back to the UK, and finally back home to York. It was so ungodly painful. And I still don’t know how it happened, since I put so much sunscreen on!!! Ugh.
Coming home from the trip
Despite being gone for 6 weeks, I was not ready to come home from this big summer trip. I wasn’t ready for it to end. I didn’t want to go back to the real world. After traveling so slow, I realized just how wonderful it is. This trip was the first time I thought, “hey, I could do this forever.” Because the things I missed about home, they were all things I could have spent more money on and done on the road. I could have paid to do laundry and wear clean clothes. I could have bought a bunch of food and cooked myself a nice, home-cooked meal. I could have checked into a private room or a hotel and enjoyed the luxury and privacy of my own space.
I was not ready to come home. For the first time, I was sad to return to England. Really, genuinely, sad. It also didn’t help that I was arriving through London Luton Airport, where I was nearly denied entry to the UK in March 2016, which is one of my absolute least favorite places in the entire country. Ugh.
Trying to learn how to drive in England
Because my Minnesota drivers license will expire on my birthday next month, I need to start learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road here in the UK. I’ll need to take both the written (theory) and practical driving tests in order to get a UK drivers license. Which annoys me, because the USA isn’t on the list of “exchangeable” drivers licenses—but if I was Canadian, Japanese, Singaporean, or others, I could just walk in and get a UK drivers license without taking the tests.
So I’m trying to learn how to drive, and it is absolutely fucking brutal. I’m lucky that I learned how to drive on a manual (stickshift), so I know how to drive it. But I haven’t driven a manual since we got rid of the Saturn (RIP) in 2010. So it’s been 7 years since I last drove a manual and 10 months since I last drove a car. And not only am I trying to learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road, but the steering wheel is on the opposite side, which means I use the opposite hands to switch gears in the manual. I’ve been for one drive through a parking lot and cried. It is so much harder than I was expecting it to be.
I’m doing my best to catch up on my giant backlog of posts from the trip! I’ve published 16 posts (!!!!!), which is probably a record for me! I’m super proud of this and until I get too busy that I can’t keep up, I intend to post several times a week.
Instagram Top 3
I’m trying to power through with Instagram, despite the algorithm changes and the decrease in interactions on my account. Here are my top 3 photos from the month!
Bucharest definitely surprised me! The city has a certain charm of lost grandeur, and the beautiful buildings are a big part of that. I loved stumbling across sights like this around the city! 😍 . It was also ridiculously hot during my few days in the Romanian capital. Over 105°F (~40°C) and no place anywhere seemed to have A/C. I basically drowned in my own sweat every day, all day 😂 . So many people skip Bucharest in favor of Transylvania. And while I’m so glad that I spent more time in Brasov, I’m really glad I got a chance to see Bucharest as well. . I’m headed back home to the UK soon. It seems unreal. This trip has truly been one for the books. I’ve learned so much and seen so many incredible places. I can’t wait to see where my travels take me next! 😊✈ . . . . . #bucharest #romania #bucharestcity #bucharestlife #ig_Bucharest #wearebucharest #discoverbucharest #bucharestcityfeelings #enjoybucharest #prettycitybucharest #bucarestirealist #bucarestiulmeu #ig_Romania #discoverromania #romaniamagica #visitromania #romaniamea #romaniawow #enjoyromania #romaniapitoreasca #romaniateiubesc #takemetoromania #total_romania #romania365 #easterneurope #balkans #travelshotba #lpfanphoto #natgeotravelpic #guardiantravelsnaps
Is it too early to start a countdown?! Because there’s only 4 more months until I’m back home in my favorite city in the world for Christmas! 😍✨ . . . . . #minnehahafalls #minneapolis #minnesota #twincities #captureminneapolis #captureminnesota #cityofminneapolis #citybynature #mplslove #minnesotalove #minneapolisphotographer #minnesotaphotographer #minnstagrammers #onlyinmn #thisismymn #minnesotalife #mnproud #igersminnesota #insta_Minnesota #discoverminnesota #minnesota365 #chooseminnesota #bestofminnesota #mncomm #makeitminnesota #dametraveler #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls #femaletravelbloggers #womenwhoexplore
White Nights mornings in St. Petersburg 😘 This photo was taken at 3:53 am! . I stayed out all night, saw the bridges go up, and saw both the sunset and the sunrise. I also stood in the middle of an empty Palace Square with not a single soul in sight. It was by far one of the best nights of my life! ❤ . I’ve got new blog posts up, I’ve been applying for jobs like nobody’s business, and I started a twitter account! If you’ve got any good recommendations for interesting people to follow (doesn’t have to be travel!) let me know! 😊 Happy Thursday! . . . . . #russia #stpetersburg #winterpalace #palacesquare #whitenights #piter_never_sleeps #piterfollow #spb_Petersburg #spbonline #spbgram #spblive #mskpit #lovepetersburg #vpeterburge #lovelyrussia #ru_hello #russiamylove #instagramrussia #photorussia #russiaonline #ig_Russia #dametraveler #wearetravelgirls #sheisnotlost #femmetravel #womenwhoexplore #femaletravelbloggers #Россия #Санктпетербург #Дворцоваяплощадь
Coming Up in September
September will be a pretty quiet month, as I continue desperately looking for a job. Adam will start his new job on Monday, so most of the month will be pretty chill. We’ll be headed to the Lake District for my birthday weekend, which I can’t wait for! There’s also a beer festival in York in September, which I’m planning on attending. And now with a car, I’m sure there will be lots more Yorkshire daytrips and hiking this month.
What was your August like? Any exciting plans for September?