My current setting – rocking back and forth on a hammock, disconnected from the outside world, listening to rain pouring down. I just finished a fun filled day at Semuc Champey in Guatemala. I arrived at El Muro hostel in Lanquin after an 8 hour bus ride from Antigua. When I got to my hostel I was greeted by a free welcome shot. Soon after I realized there were only two other people staying at El Muro, but we ended up having a fun night with jenga, cuba libres, and laughs. Usually El Muro is a party hostel, but I was definitely a fan of this laid-back vibe.
Why Visit Semuc Champey?
Semuc Champey is a natural monument famed for its limestone bridge and turquoise pools. Although Semuc Champey is in the middle of nowhere Guatemala, it’s worth visiting. I decided to book a tour, which included caving, tubing, and entrance into the pools.
We started the day with caving. Although slightly unsafe, it was a fun, little adventure to explore a dark cave . We each took a candle and then walked, swam, jumped, and climbed our way through. I left the cave with a couple of scrapes from slamming my knees into rocks, but I would totally do it again.
After caving we went tubing and then had lunch. For lunch there was a cheap buffet ($3-$4) cooked by some locals, which was quite yummy. There is also a family that will sell you cheap beer ($2)
3. Semuc Champey
We ended the day exploring the pools. First we hiked up to the viewpoint, and then we relaxed for an hour or two in the pools. Semuc Champey is relaxing and has beautiful scenery. As a solo traveler I would recommend going with a tour, so that you have friends to explore for the day. Also going to Semuc Champey during off season is great, because there was no one else at the pools.
I just finished traveling across Europe for 3 months. When I booked this trip last March I made a plan that I didn’t follow:
If you look at my itinerary you might be confused that I went around in circles and my route looks very inefficient. Although I probably could’ve saved more money if I had a more efficient route, I’d rather go with the flow and books trips to visit people I know or meet on my travels.
Although I was in Europe for 3 months, I probably only paid for 2 weeks worth of accommodation. I was lucky to have European friends that I met over the years while traveling, who lent a couch or bed to sleep on. One of the main reasons I love to travel solo is because it forces me to meet people along the way. It amazes me how backpacker connections works. For example I decided to go to Oktoberfest since a guy I met in a hostel in Portugal 2 years prior offered me a free tent to stay in. I actually ended crashing on the couch of a German guy I met in Berlin 3 years ago on a free walking tour. I can meet someone for a couple hours, yet since we share a passion for travel we stay connected and end up being friends. Also, it is more enjoyable to visit people in their hometowns, since they share a pride over their city and want to show me the best experience. Thank you to all my fabulous European hosts!
Memorable European Experiences
I definitely did not give as many updates as I would like on my blog, so here are some of the most memorable experiences I had while in Europe for the past 3 months!
- Getting Bikes Towed in Amsterdam – Only in Amsterdam will you find more towed bikes than towed cars. Two hostess friends and I parked our bikes on the street at night on a bike rack with dozens of other bikes. When we went to get our bikes in the morning, we were surprised to see not only were there no bikes, but the actual street the bikes were on had been removed by construction workers. After asking around for 20 minutes, we ventured an hour outside the city to visit the “bike graveyard”. Luckily we were able to find our bikes and only had to pay a 15 euro fine. Overall it was a fun experience, especially riding our bikes back into the city because we got to see another side of Amsterdam.
- Going to a Sparty in Budapest – Budapest is known for their thermal bathes and nightlife scene. On Saturday night you can get the best of both worlds by attending a “sparty” (spa + party). I put on my bathing suit and danced to the electronic beats until the early morning at this unique party experience.
- Caving in Budapest – This was also a unique experience. I loved putting on my caving gear and crawling through cracks and holes for three hours in a cave. The guide was a funny character, who would do things like tie your shoes together when your’e crawling under a rock.
- Working for the Yacht Week – I can’t explain the experience of working on the Yacht Week, since it does not feel like the real world. I had amazing crews that I loved looking after, and found out that I’m a good chef!
- Biking in Copenhagen and Amsterdam – Copenhagen and Amsterdam have similar feels. If you visit these cities you must get a bike and go around town.
While biking through Amsterdam we saw tons of people with sunflowers. We decided to find the source of all the sunflowers and found a maze of 125,000 sunflowers to honor Van Gogh’s death 125 years ago.
- Attending Football Matches – I found my new favorite sporting event. There is so much energy in football stadiums in Europe. I attended games in Berlin and Bilbao with huge stadiums packed with crazy, avid fans. IMG_4098
- Oktoberfest – Getting to Oktoberfest took 12 hours from Budapest, since there was a lot of regulation crossing the border. Once I finally made it to central station in Munich I put my luggage in storage, bought a Dirndl for 20 Euros, and met up with my Bavarian friend to experience Oktoberfest. For the next two days I drank, ate, and had a merry time.
- My failed attempt volunteering at a hostel –I figured volunteering at a hostel would be a great experience since I love people, and want to open my own hostel in the future. Turns out working at a hostel was not my thing. Due to miscommunication and me being sick I started on the wrong foot, and it seemed like the staff just didn’t like me for some reason. I’d rather pay $20 for a bed then work long shifts, and not have anyone on the staff appreciate my help. My hostel career might be over.