$candinavia Part 3: Stock up homie! You’re going to need those savings

Stockholm was our last stop in Scandinavia. We lucked out and all three days were beautiful and sunny. We made a tiny boo boo and accidentally booked an Airbnb without wifi. I know what you’re thinking: How did we survive?! But we did it, and it ended up being a good way to get us out of the apartment… even if it was just to walk around in search of free wifi networks.

I’m kidding; we didn’t only sit outside 7-Eleven bumming their wifi. We also visited several museums including the Royal Armoury, Medieval Museum, and the Vasa Museum. The Royal Armoury and Medieval Museum were nice little free museums we popped into to get some brief history on the area. The Vasa Museum, however, was in a league of its own. The museum is a converted dry dock built around the Vasa, a preserved 17th century warship. The boat is HUGE. This was essentially a prototype and was the most ambitious design of the day. Unfortunately the ship builders did not have mathematical formulas to aid in design and relied on proportions, intuition, and guessing. They ended up spending two years building a ship that was too tall and narrow to sail. Sensing issues, the naval admiral performed a stability test and despite obviously failing, he decided not to tell the king and move forward. As a result the Vasa only made it 1300 meters into its maiden voyage before it caught wind, blew over far enough to take on water through the cannon ports, and sank. It was lost for over 300 years before it was rediscovered in the 1950s.

It's difficult to take a photo that gets the entire boat.
The entire boat origionally was brightly colored in red and blue.

When we weren’t visiting museums, we spent a lot of time walking around the various islands that make up the city. Stockholm is an archipelago (group of islands), and has many beautiful canals and bridges connecting the city. We spent most of our time wandering around Gamla Stan, the Old City island, and walking through gardens on Djurgården, the island that is home to many museums including the Vasa Museum.

It was a good way to wrap up our two weeks in Scandinavia. Here’s hoping prices in mainland Europe will be cheaper!

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$candinavia Part 2: No’way are you saving money here!

After Copenhagen, we spent two days in Oslo before heading to the Norwegian countryside. Norway is the most expensive country we’ve visited yet, so we had to breeze through it in only one week. We made the most of it and were able to get in plenty of museums, hiking, and beautiful train rides.

In Oslo we visited the National Gallery, where we saw one of Edvard Munch’s Scream paintings. Then we visited the Contemporary Art Museum. You never know what you’re going to get with modern art, and this place was no exception. It was pretty small, and after an hour of looking at things like a box of garlic powder and sculptures made of molding bread, we decided it was time to move on. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunny weather, walking around the city’s old fortress, and checking out the opera house where you can walk on the roof!

We had to.
Some funky art and inside the opera house.
The opera house from across the harbor.

Our second day we decided to do as the locals do and hang out in a park. Our host told us that everyone tries to spend as much time outside as possible in the summer since the winters are so long and dark. Sounds like Wisconsin, right? Although it gets colder in Madison than Oslo, Norwegians have fewer daylight hours in the winter. We soaked up the sun at a picnic in the Vigeland Sculpture Park, checked out the Oslo City Museum, and meandered through the palace gardens.

That evening we stopped at a small brewery and nearly cried when we saw the prices; a pint of beer for $15? And we complained about $5 beers in South America! In addition to crazy alcohol prices, we also spent double to triple what we did on lodging in South America. Restaurants were outrageously out of our budget so we cooked all our meals. The one thing we found that was cheaper than elsewhere was fresh salmon. This became our staple protein while in Norway.

This is how we felt about prices in Norway.

After Oslo, we trained to Stavanger, the country’s third largest city located on the southwest coast. Stavanger itself was a pretty small town, but with its winding cobblestone streets we managed to get lost everytime we wandered around. The real reason we came was to hike to Pulpit Rock, one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country. Unfortunately for us it poured that day, but even the rain could not ruin the view.

The colorful houses along Øvre Holmegate.
Stavanger's Geopark, a playground made with recycled materials.
Pulpit Rock was awesome.

Bergen, dubbed “the gateway to the fjords,” has a similarly quaint old town area, but it was mostly overrun by cruiseship tourists and kitschy souvenir shops. Bergen is, however, in a beautiful area surrounded by mountains and fjords so we hiked to the top of Mount Fløyen for great panoramic views of the area.

Looking up to Mount Fløyen.
The fishmarket on the harbor.
Looking out from Mount Fløyen.

Similar to Copenhagen, we would have loved to do more hiking and exploring in this area of the country, but the prices of lodging and transportation alone were just too much for our current trip’s budget. Hopefully we’ll make it back some day when we have jobs. Really good jobs.

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$candinavia Part 1: Costly-hagen

Copenhagen is awesome! And expensive. It was our first stop in Europe after five months in South America, which is cheap cheap cheap in comparison. Despite the sticker shock, we loved Copenhagen. It’s clean, charming, full of bicyclists and canals, and provided us with 18 hours of sunshine! We don’t know what it would be like in winter, but Copenhagen is the first city where we have thought “Yes, we could totally live here!”

We’re planning to meet friends in Austria on July 24 so until then we budgeted three weeks to explore Scandinavia. Because we knew it was going to be expensive, we planned to move rather quickly from city to city and only spent three days in Copenhagen as a result.

Although it’s considered one of the most bikeable cities in the world, we wandered around on foot. We picniced with the most delicious wienerbrød (what we would call Danishes) we have ever eaten in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens.

Rosenberg Castle.
Exploring the gardens like a pro!
So many delicious pastries!

We strolled along the canal to the famous statue depicting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

We spent more time at The Genetically Modified Little Mermaid than the real statue.

We walked along the ramparts of the star shaped Kastellet Fortress, stared up at the ceiling of Frederik’s Church, visited the palaces in Amalienborg, looked out from Parliament Tower, and drank a beer with our feet dangling over the canal on the iconic Nyhavn pedestrian street. We had a great time!

Along the Nyhavn canal.
Palace complex around Amalienborg.
The view from Parliament Tower.
Walking around the Kastellet Fortress.

We also visited the beautiful Tivoli Gardens, a small amusement park complete with rides, themed restaurants, live performances, and - as the name suggests - gardens. Along with everything else in Denmark, it was on the expensive side, but we enjoyed walking around and watching one of the shows.

Live peacocks wandered the audience during this ballet.
This pirate ship is a three floor restaurant.

Finally, we visited Freetown Christiania, a “self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood.” In stark contrast to the cleanliness of the rest of Copenhagen, Christiania is grungy and plastered in graffiti. Among many things, arguably the most famous aspect of Christiana is the greenlight district where the sale of some softer illicit drugs has been historically tolerated. Our AirBnb host warned us to obey the rules as the neighborhood had been raided by the police a few weeks before and its residents were a bit on edge. The entrance has a large sign listing the rules as “Have fun, don’t run (it causes panic), no photos.” Inside this district, small stands line the street and vendors wear ski masks to protect their identities. Since we don’t have any photos, this is one of those things you’ll have to smell for yourself.

The few photos we were able to take of Christiania (outside of the greenlight district).

Despite the insane taxation on alcohol, we had to bite the bullet and try a few beers. To give you an idea, a good craft beer on draft would run about $8 for a half pint. Not a great place to be if you’re a beer lover on a budget. On the flip side, everything we tried was between good and excellent thanks to our friends’ awesome recommendations. One such place was Taphouse (thanks, Mark!) which had 60 or so beers on tap from all over Europe and the USA. Mikkeller was another awesome brewery we tried (thanks, Anna!) which had our favorite beer of the trip so far: Noa Peca Mud Cake Stout by Omnipollo. Finally, in addition to great beer, we enjoyed authentic Texas BBQ at Warpigs (thanks again, Anna!). Warpigs happens to be a joint venture between Mikkeller and 3 Floyds, one of our favorite breweries from Munster, Indiana.

Taphouse and Mikkeller.
Delicious beers and BBQ at Warpigs.

We had a great time in Copenhagen and definitely plan to come back when we don’t have such limited time and budget. Hopefully we’ll be able to explore more of Denmark then too!

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Six Months of Traveling Complete

It’s crazy to think that we’ve been traveling for six months already. That’s half a year! We’ve been telling everyone we’d be traveling for about a year, but at this rate we might be gone longer since we’re only on our second continent. Let’s see how long we can stretch that budget…

In the last month we have traveled to seven cities in five countries: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen in Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; and Vienna, Austria. We had to move pretty fast through expensive Scandinavia so look for posts on these places soon.

Month 6 and Scandinavia Observations

  • Laura stuck out in South America where there are few blondes. In contrast, she fits in so well in Scandinavia Vesper had a hard time finding her.
  • $candinavia is SO expensive! In South America we were able to get by cheaply without planning ahead - in fact, we often saved money by booking directly the day of - but we got screwed over in Scandinavia a few times doing this and paid way more than if we had planned ahead. Time to change strategies?
  • You can easily get by without cash in Scandinavia; credit cards are accepted practically everywhere. You could even use them to pay the 50 cents for public bathrooms.
  • Scandinavia is super clean and well maintained. We aren’t sure what to attribute this to (e.g., infrastructure, income levels, etc.) but it was obvious.
  • There is recycling available everywhere, which was usually not a thing in South America.
  • Scandinavia is pedestrian-friendly! After playing frogger in South America for so long, it’s taking us a while to get used to drivers who actually stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Most places we stayed had a shoe horn by the front door since it’s customary to remove your shoes at home.

Fast Facts

  • Best beer: Noa Peca Mud Cake Stout by Omnipollo
  • Favorite city: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Favorite museum: Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Most interesting experience: Visiting the greenlight district in Freetown Christiania

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Central and South America were awesome! We had a great time, met a ton of interesting people, and ate delicious food everywhere we went. We definitely plan to go back in the future and hope all of you are able to as well.

By the numbers

  • Number of days: 158
  • Number of countries: 10
  • Number of cities: 35
  • Number of times we flew*: 11
  • Number of times we bused*: 26

*These are total trips and not individual legs. Sometimes it was a direct trip, but other times it may have been up to four legs (e.g., busing from Coyhaique to El Bolson).



  • Most expensive country: Argentina
  • Cheapest country: Mexico
  • Number of currencies used: 9

Despite a few expensive flights and fun splurges, we’re under budget! This is especially good as we head to Europe where things won’t be cheap. Our biggest expenses were lodging and transportation. Workaways have been a great way to keep costs down.



  • Items sent home: hammock, water purifier, a couple books, brewery stickers & coasters (the only real souvenirs we’ve been collecting)
  • Number of times we needed cipro: 4
    • Number of times that stopped us from eating street food: 0
  • Collective weight lost: around 15-20 pounds!

Constants throughout our 5.5 months

  • Always have your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer since those items may not be provided in bathrooms.
  • You usually can’t flush toilet paper.
  • Liquids (yogurt, milk, etc.) often come in bags rather than plastic or cardboard containers at the grocery store.
  • Eggs are never refrigerated.
  • There is an excessive amount of car alarms and honking.
  • Always check to see if it’s ok to drink the tap water. Chile, Argentina, and Rio were the only places we could drink it. Bottled water is cheap in places where the locals need to drink it too.
  • Only cross the street when the locals do. For the most part traffic laws seem to be optional throughout the region, although drivers in Chile and Argentina tended to be more courteous to pedestrians.
  • No matter what time or day of the week, soccer fútbol is somehow ALWAYS on tv!
  • Locals were generally encouraging when we tried to speak Spanish. Even if they could speak English, they would help teach us new phrases or words, correct our pronunciations, or just patiently wait while we searched through our limited vocabulary.
  • Since we weren’t there in high season, we really didn’t need to book anything ahead. We often got cheaper rates than advertized online by going to the hostel, bus station, tour company, etc. and talking directly with them.
  • Hostels are not always the cheapest option for couples. For the price of two dorm beds, we can often get a private room at the same price or only $1-3 more. Otherwise, we usually find the best deals on Airbnb.
    • We purposely chose not to bring a tent and sleeping bags, but if we had only traveled in South America it would have been worth it for all the free/cheap camping sites there (especially in Patagonia).
  • We still suck at bartering. Turns out if you give Laura a beer beforehand, she gets a little better at it. Vesper just can’t.
  • Always have cash since many places won’t accept credit cards. Some small towns don’t even have ATMs so plan ahead for that too.
  • Craft beer is surprisingly expensive, but as we learned over and over again, this is usually due to the difficulty and cost of getting all the necessary brewing supplies down here.
  • From the few times we flew, we were almost always given free meals (even if the flight was only an hour) and free checked bags - unlike US airlines where you’re lucky to get anything for free.

As a bonus, here is a quick video compilation of our time in South America where I try really hard not to look at the camera:

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