Dreams Don’t Die, They Just Simmer

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Kentville, Nova Scotia

Remember way back when I told you about the Ultimate Train Challenge. Well it didn’t work out as planned. The Challenge is still on but my budget could not withstand the $900 in visa costs so I had to bow out and I’ll be like everyone else reading the blog to hear the amazing adventure.


It was tough to walk away from a train adventure.


I love the train. I love commuter trains. I love subways. I always take the train over a plane even if it means taking 10 times longer.

But just because I couldn’t do the Ultimate Train Challenge didn’t mean I couldn’t have my own adventure.

This fall I will be traveling through Europe and Eurail has generously offered to sponsor a Global Pass. This is really special because buying a Eurail Pass has always been a dream of mine.

In university I dreamed about the great European backpacking trip. When I was 16 my mother sent me to France for the summer to learn French and it changed me. I spent years yearning to go back.

I was broke after university with a 40K student loan so Europe wasn’t possible so I dreamed about going while I was still under the age for the youth pass.


That didn’t happen.


I just didn’t have it in me to go alone and I couldn’t convince a boyfriend or friend to go. Sound familiar?

But life changes and opportunities take their time.

I am so excited to finally have the Eurail experience. I’ll be blogging and tweeting and vlogging and instagramming and Facebooking. Don’t know what that means?


Rome Termini Station


I’ll be sharing it all with you.


Plans are still very much up in the air. But I am hoping to spend September in Italy, November in Spain and then head back to Canada.

But I need help!

In South America I was spending 30/day or 1000/month to travel, this isn’t at all realistic for Europe. SO if you have any suggestions on what I can do or where to stay to help lessen the sticker shock please let me know. I’ll be couchsurfing quite a bit and have been inspired by Bethany and Randy to go WWOOFing so I’m up for anything.


Let me have it, what are your best recommendations?






Join the Conversation

  1. Wahoo! How fun! I’m definitely looking forward to keeping up with your journey.
    I’d also suggest checking out Workaway and Help Exchange for free volunteering experiences that offer room & board in exchange for manual labor. I had some good and some not so good experiences with jobs that I found through Help Exchange, but since the opportunities are free you don’t feel bad about walking away if it doesn’t work out for you.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sally thanks so much I hadn’t heard of either of these places, I just confirmed WWOOFing in Italy but Spain could be a really great place to do that.

      1. twoOregonians says:

        Yes! I’ll second Workaway.info — we’ve been using them to schedule stays in Bolivia and Spain. I’ve been impressed with many of the Spain listings in particular. Enjoy the new adventure!

  2. If you’re planning to stay in one place for several weeks, you could look at the local CraigsList for open flats or available rooms. When we were looking for a place in Berlin, we saw lots of “need someone to fill my room for a month/weeks” ads. Not as cheap as CouchSurfing, but much cheaper than a hostel and you still have your independence.

    Enjoy Italy and Spain!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Audrey that is a fantastic tip, I never thought about Craigs List.

  3. This is great news Ayngelina! A new adventure awaits you. Looking forward to your new stories esp about wwooffing. I have yet to try it. Happy travels and big hugs from the Philippines!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I just confirmed 10 days at a vineyard in Italy, I will let you know how it goes!

  4. I was going to say, more or less, what Audrey said. I’ve been researching accommodation in Sevilla, and even for a long weekend stay it’s looking as if an apartment is the best option, although there will be two of us on that leg of my planned trip, but with differences in seasonal rates it still might apply. Lots of luck! Sadly Europe isn’t the cheapest place to travel, but it is rich in tradition and culture and things to do and see, so maybe that makes up for it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, compared to Latin America it will really hurt the wallet so I am going to need to get creative!

  5. Christian Hollingsworth says:

    I just think of all those dreams that everyone has….you’re so right. They really do live on…whether we think it or not. And they start to build up too. We let them simmer.

    You’ve got me thinking.

    I’ve got to get out there and live those dreams!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well you must share now! what is your simmering dream…

  6. Daniel Roy says:

    Hi! What a great adventure!

    Have you considered Couchsurfing? It’s ideal for travel in Europe, I think. Very easy to find people, and it’s a fantastic way to travel alone because it automatically gives you a social circle. It has a solid vouching system, so is very safe as well (provided you act sensibly and take the usual precautions.)

    Definitely recommended!!

    Email me if you’d like more info on CS… My partner and I have some experience with CS in Eastern Europe, Canada and the Middle East. But I think that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sorry Daniel I think you missed the line where I said I WOULD be couchsurfing. I have done it through South America and agree it’s a fabulous way to learn a culture.

  7. Matthew Karsten says:

    Damn! $900 in Visas? I don’t blame you.

    Looking forward to some Instagrams from Europe!

    The longer dreams simmer, the more delicious they are when it’s time to take a bite. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I know, I am SOOO excited for Eurail, I really do love the train.

  8. I’ve got nothing on housing advice, other than you’ll be off season and both countries are in a bit of economic trouble so the Euro will stretch a bit more.

    However, in Spain, try to find a spot that does pixtos. They’re like finger foods on a toothpick. You keep your toothpicks on the plate, and when you’re finished, you are charged based on the number of toothpicks versus which pixtos was more expensive, etc. We did that on NYE in Barcelona. 30 euro for 4 beers and pixtos for 2.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Erin that is an AMAZING tip and will be on my must-do list.

      1. I think pixtos is the Catalan, and pinchos is the Spanish version, but if you walk into a bar with plates of food on a toothpick, you’re golden 🙂

  9. Dylan - The Travelling Editor says:

    Exploring Europe by catching a train is by far the best way to see our glorious continent. Neat choice – you’ll have a blast and we’ll certainly be following your adventures!

    P.S. I’m writing up this comment whilst you’re sitting 1m away from…I simply cannot resist the giggles when you read this…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You are such a geek! But yes I did laugh, oh wait you heard me.

  10. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I’m soooo excited to see what adventures you’ll be getting up to in Espana!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, I will have to go back to eating meat, but will save it for the yummy ham.

      I have no desire to eat chicken again. I don’t know something about it just makes me feel icky.

  11. Although I am sad I will not be seeing you back in BA, I am SO excited for you and I know we will meet again 🙂

  12. Ayngelina Author says:

    I will be back before you know it, and I will be sure to get a place no more than 4 blocks away from you!

  13. Perhaps this can be considered as a food tip:

    eat a day menu at noon in a place where working people go lunching.

    I don’t know how it is in Canada, but in some European countries (Madrid for example) you can eat a full menu (including a dessert!) for about 6 to 12 euros (depending on the place)

    I think that’s very reasonable and better than eating sandwiches all the time!

  14. Barbara - The Dropout Diaries says:

    No tips from me, just well wishes. Can’t wait to follow your next big adventure… especially if do visit France.

    1. Barbara - The Dropout Diaries says:

      Oops. Missed out a word… especially if YOU do visit France.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Unfortunately no visit to France this time, just Italy and Spain although I do love France, I went there when I was 16 to study French for the summer. Oddly enough my Spanish is now stronger than my French.

  15. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    Have you taken a look at TrustedHousesitters.com or MindMyHouse.com? I noticed that there are some short-term and long-term gigs in Spain…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh wow I haven’t thanks Raymond!

  16. Migrationology says:

    Awesome Ayngelina! Part of the reason I haven’t been to Europe in a long time is the higher cost of survival as well, so I’m looking forward to reading your comments as well to get some suggestions.

    Looking forward to your internet uploading of all forms of digital media!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well compared to you $400 a month in Bangkok it’s a nightmare 🙂 But I am definitely keep track of expenses as I am used to $1000 a month.

  17. Amazing! Love your spirit.. look fw to hearing about your ever-thrilling escapades!! (and oh , the food you get up too;))

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      the food I know! I did bring running shoes this time. I hate running but I don’t want to say no to the food.

  18. I am SO excited to read all about your trip. Train travel is definitely something we want to do, but we will have to learn to travel lighter! Check with the local tourism boards. They may be able to hook you up with hotels that would like a write-up in exchange for a free stay.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Good idea Jan, I should really start figuring out an itinerary….soon…

  19. The Travel Chica says:

    You’re going to have so much fun!

    I am looking forward to reading about that part of Europe, especially how you are sticking to your budget but still having fun and learning.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh yeah, the sticking to budget part…

  20. You already know my recommendation – GRANADA, GRANADA, GRANADA!! The Alhambra is the PERFECT place for great photos, as is the rest of Granada. Not to mention that I’m here and have a spare bedroom! Other great Andalucían cities include Sevilla, Córdoba (mainly for the Mezquita), Málaga (if you’re into beaches and great fish), and Almería (natural undisturbed beauty on its desert coasts). Taking the bus to these cities in Andalucía is very easy and comfortable. There are also super cheap one-hour flights from Granada to Barcelona (though trains are available as well, though they tend to be a bit more expensive here).

    Can’t wait to follow your European adventure!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I have a Eurail pass so trains are definitely and option and YES Granada is at the top of my list. Maybe I’ll just start there first of October and figure the rest of it out from there.

  21. Sounds like fun. If you’re in Munich and need a place to stay for a couple of nights, let me know.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Laurel! I completely screwed up my schedule. I thought I was going to be able to stay overnight in Munich but now it looks as if soon as I land I have to leave for TBU in Innsbruck, are you going?

  22. John in France says:

    I’d love to help in France if I can? I’m just a bit concerned in that my “market” spends a bit more on getting around!! So you will likely teach me heaps. Generally B&Bs are about 30 Euro per night so couch-surfing would work well for you. Look forward to reading how you get on.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      John, thanks for the offer! Alas it’s only Spain and Italy this time around. I find the longer I travel the longer I need to stay in one place. Any tips on those countries?

  23. Wow wonderful news Ayngelina. Let the fun begin. I’ll be following this adventure!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Awesome, thanks Jim.

  24. Wow, glad you are coming to Europe. Although I had planned to stay in Asia, I had to rush back home for family reasons, so since I’m here I’m planning some trips around Europe for the fall. I would suggest you to look at some ads to replace someone in their room for a short period, there are many. Also volunteering is a good idea, not sure if Italian agencies will offer free accommodation though, usually they have the office in Italy but work abroad. Maybe some Catholic association, you can either check “Istituto Cottolengo” or “Dono di Maria”, I have volunteered with both of them when I was in uni, the Cottolengo also had a separate building for volunteers in their Rome base. Because I guess in Italy you will be visiting Rome? In case, I can ask some of my friends who are still there if they know about some free room around. Would be fun to meet up somewhere in Europe!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I hadn’t heard of either of those volunteer organizations, thanks so much Angela.

      Actually I am thinking now of heading South to Sicily for the first half of September. From the 12-22 I’ll be outside Florence at a vineyard and not sure where else for the rest of September. I would absolutely love to meet up with you.

  25. David @ MalaysiaAsia says:

    Well, my 2 cents – You could always buy stuff from countries you visit and sell them on eBay to earn a decent profit 🙂 That’s what one of my hard-core traveler friend does and he’s been on the road for 12 years now.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I also heard people did that in Latin America, I need more of an entreprenurial spirit because I never think about those things.

  26. RON | fliptravels.com says:

    Congratulations for the Global Pass!

    can’t wait to hear from your blow-by-blow accounts! keep us posted!

    “I just didn’t have it in me to go alone and I couldn’t convince a boyfriend or friend to go.”

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Ron, I have 10 days of manual labour in Italy – there is bound to be a story afterwards.

  27. Eileen Ludwig says:

    It has been a long time since my Eurail pass days. for me the easiest way to get the best lodging was to ask at the train station information area that helps travelers find lodging. They had posted the price ranges and always made sure I was in safe areas. Even back then it was at least $18 a night. I did a month for $1800 with food and lodging but the dollar was strong against their currencies –

    Enjoy this fantastic opportunity and stay safe.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Lodging in Europe really does seem to be the biggest expensive, my days of $4 hostels in Central America are a distant memory.

  28. A Lady in London says:

    It was great to meet you last week in London. Best of luck with your train trip! It sounds like it will be a really great time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was great meeting you too. I’ll be back for WTM in November so hopefully we’ll cross paths again.

  29. Debbie @ European Travelista says:

    No suggestions for you 🙁 Just looking forward to reading about your adventure in Europe!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I will scour your site for tips!

  30. Cathy Sweeney says:

    Congratulations on your Global Pass! Forgive me for being a bit jealous, Ayngelina. I love traveling by train in Europe. Have lots of fun and adventure wherever you use it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Cathy, I am sooo excited about it. The last time I was in Europe I flew and it’s just not the same thing.

  31. Good for you Ayngelina!! I can’t wait to read about your impressions of Pontessieve!! we really loved it – i hope you do too!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So looking forward to it!

  32. Mack Reynolds says:

    sounds like you’ve got a fun and busy few months lined up. glad you’re fulfilling a lifelong dream. how good of them to sponsor such an awesome trip!

  33. Thomas | Jus Getaway says:

    Cant wait to keep up with these travels. I guess am more of the get there faster person. I don’t mind trains sometimes but if its going to be 10x longer I usually pass. Some ham now you have to post some photos of the ham.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have always loved the train, I am just content to sit for hours and stare out the window.

  34. We probably could have helped you to raise funds for the $900 visa cost! I know I’d chip in =)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Grace you are too sweet!

  35. I look forward to read about your Europe journey. I think if you can get the accommodation taken of, next is the food. Find out which area has great food but are for local so it can be much cheaper. Good luck with your new plan.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well you know how much I love markets so I am counting on that. Although I also love eating out…I may just have to spend the money on food.

  36. So excited for you, Aynge! Taking the Eurail around Europe is something I hope to do right after Latin America too. Craziness – I’m following in your footsteps! 😀

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