8 Countries, 3 Weeks, and 2 Hours’ Sleep, with #GlobalTravelerNora

by Nora on October 19, 2013

This is final post for the Club Carlson Global Travelers program; a 3-week, 8-country adventure through Europe, paid for and compensated by Club CarlsonSM. I’ve explored the world of hotel points and how to take advantage of accommodations and upgrades with various strategies. And (it looks like???) they might even give me 1 million points to give to you (read on for details)…..

In all cases, opinions expressed herein are my own; don’t worry – I haven’t sold my soul.



This past month has been among the busiest of my full-time traveling life. I took more planes in three weeks than I have in the last three years of my full-time travels. For that matter, I’ve taken a heck of a lot of modes of transportation.

In total:

  • 12 flights
  • 13 trains
  • 10 buses
  • 3 boats
  • 7 taxis


I’ve been constantly on the move; the longest I spent anywhere was three nights (with an evening arrival and early morning departure, leaving me two full days to explore). In other places, I arrived late one evening, and departed before sunrise two mornings later (leaving me just one teensy little day to conquer the country).


What can you see and do in just one or two days in a city/country?

Well, as I believe I may have demonstrated, quite a bit – much to my own surprise.

Embracing my Inner Tourist

This is due, in part, to my having gotten over my snobbish “the-only-way-to-soak-in-culture-is-to-blend-in” attitude and simply embraced my inner tourist. I slung my camera around my neck, booked myself in on “tacky tours”, and wandered the streets with the unabashed tell-tale look of awe that you always see in visitors.

I took self-portraits in public places, and recorded video of just about everything I saw and did.


I hope you’ll agree that it made for some pretty interesting adventures to read about and see in my 1 Minute Video series (1 minute recaps of each city I’ve visited, often with a quirky angle to them).





Here’s a quick recap of my Club Carlson Global Travelers adventure:



London has never been my favourite destination, but I must admit with each subsequent visit, it’s growing on me.

London is Growing on Me



I’ve been to Scotland before (and I love it), but Glasgow was a new town. I had a wicked case of the flu, but I still managed to take a bus tour and go busker-watching on Buchanan Street.

My Weekend in Glasgow



With the flu behind me, I hit Amsterdam (not having been to Holland before) like a whirlwind. I did a walking food tour, and walked and walked (and walked) some more in this place that quickly became a favourite destination of mine – to which I returned immediately after the trip finished.

Dear Amsterdam: I Should Have Known



I donned my woolies to brave the chill in my most northerly destination of Norway – another new country on my list. It was an emotional roller coaster for me, but one that had a happy outcome after a boat tour through the fjords and a chance meeting with an 86 year-old stranger who made my day.

Travel’s Lessons and Surprises: Oslo



Denmark is also a first for me, and this – the happiest country in the world – was a great place to recoup from Oslo’s chill. It’s also a place I really hope to return to.

Copenhagen: A Modern-Day Fairy Tale



Oh yeah baby: dorky tourist on a Segway! Bring it on…

I’ve been wanting to check out Berlin for a while, given that it’s a hot-spot for both artists and location independent people like me. I brushed up on my (nearly non-existent) German, took a “dorky” but ridiculously fun Segway tour, a walking food tour of the Kreuzberg district, and quickly realized that a mere two days is not enough.

Big Bad Berlin



Kiev was a repeat performance for me; and considering I didn’t think much of it the first time around, I was pleasantly surprised to greatly enjoy it the second time. I took a master-class in Ukrainian cooking in a host family’s home, walked the streets and admired the gorgeous autumn colours, and counted my blessings that my one day in Kiev didn’t involve snow.

Kiev in 24 Hours



I almost didn’t make it to Corsica at all, given some horrific connections (at the best of times) that were exaggerated when the first flight was 40 minutes late (much running, consequent hyper-ventilating, and some begging was involved to be allowed to check-in for the connecting flights).

But I quickly recovered as soon as I saw the sunset, and was energized by the enthusiastic friendly locals who made my sole day in Corsica one to truly remember.

I’ve promised a lot of people that I will return; ideally for a few months to try my hand at living there.

Love in Corsica



8 Countries, 3 Weeks, and 2 Hours of Sleep

As for the two hours’ sleep to which I refer in the title: I’ve obviously taken some artistic license. (My fondness for exaggeration is not new to anybody who knows me). But with jam-packed days of sightseeing, plus squeezing in whatever time I could to figure out logistics at my next destination, process photos, write and upload posts, create and upload videos, tend to social media, and put out whatever fires were burning in my in-box, sleep was more of a luxury than a possibility.

I got more than two hours of sleep each night.

It was more like three.

But for this – the adventure of a lifetime – I am most certainly not complaining. My itchy travel feet are well and truly satiated (after a hellish year, not the least of which has included a near-fatal accident).

I’m freshly inspired, and have a few places to return to and explore further.

It’s yet another of the many reasons I love travel. 


For those who have missed my Financial Travel Tips and other regular site instalments, hang tight: regular programming shall resume shortly.

In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll understand if I need to catch up on some sleep.




Club Carlson Gold Points® Global Travelers Tip

During my trip, I discovered a few things about Club Carlson Gold Points® that I plan to use going forward, in keeping with my frequent flyer mile prowess and propensity.

By doing things like eating at hotel restaurants (even if my Club Carlson card didn’t afford me a discount), using hotel services, and charging everything I could to my room, I earned more than enough points for a night at a 4-star+ hotel, or up to five nights at a less expensive hotel. This is in part due to the promotional 50% bonus I received on everything – something I was clued into with Club Carlson’s membership newsletters.


Although this was a sponsored trip and I’ve been compensated to write about it, my tips and promotion of the points program has not in any way been obligatory; I’ve truly enjoyed learning how to hack hotel points during this trip, and have every intention of continuing to use the program from here onwards.



Thank you all for your support of my journey – and my quest to win 1 Million Club Carlson Gold Points® to give away; stay tuned for the results (if I didn’t win, it was bloody close….thanks to you).



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SnarkyNomad October 19, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Kiev is kind of like any big city in that its charms are hidden all over the landscape. It doesn’t quite have the photogenic appearance of other European capitals, but there’s plenty to like about it. And private cooking lessons sound great, too.


2 theprofessionalhobo October 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

I’ve certainly found the most photogenic capitals to be in Scandinavia; my most favourite of them being Copenhagen. In the aftermath of the trip, I find myself talking about Copenhagen a lot; a sure sign that I must return!
As for Kiev, I was really there at the perfect time; with all the leaves changing colour, it was stunning. And the private cooking lessons….yum!


3 John Williams October 21, 2013 at 3:22 am

Nora, a few questions for when you’ve recovered all that lost sleep:

1. What was your criteria for selecting your itinerary?
2. I’m guessing that without the necessity to publish in real time as well as attending to the Professional Hobo’s ongoing workload, that this trip would certainly be a ‘trip of a lifetime’?
3. What was the reason for taking planes around Europe? Do you think that trains would have afforded the possibility of doing some of the publishing work?

Good luck with the competition.


4 theprofessionalhobo October 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hi John,
I didn’t select my destinations, nor did I book my flights; the itinerary was chosen for me as part of the Global Travelers program. However I found it to be an awesome mix of places; including some that I may never have made it to on my own, but am incredibly happy to have seen.
And although this pace of travel (with or without ongoing work and almost-real-time posting) is difficult to maintain for any length of time, it was a fabulous way to get a cross-section of a variety of places – with an eye to returning to a few now that I’ve had a taste.
And yes – oh my, yes – it was the trip of a lifetime. But it’s not the only trip of a lifetime I’ve had…and expect to have in the future…. 😉


5 Lars-Erik Olson October 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Congratulations Nora on coming out on top… and for having had so many memorable experiences along the way. Your accounts were a delight to read (seriously), and the videos were interesting as well. I’m glad this little promo contest allowed me to find your blog.


6 theprofessionalhobo October 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Hi Lars,
Oh my – thank you very much! I think if you read between the lines in my recounts it’s apparent that I had a wonderful time. I’m glad you found my site as well!


7 michael williamson November 4, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi Nora–great to see you back in the game, looking fully recovered from the accident in Grenada. Not sure about that segway however 🙂


8 theprofessionalhobo November 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

Hey Michael – Thanks, I’m certainly feeling a lot better!
I was equally ambivalent about the Segway thing, trust me! But it was totally worthwhile.


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