Friday, November 12

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 23- My Trip to Europe

Favorite Vacation
I have had so many amazing vacations, but I think I have to talk about my trip around Europe. It was just a once in a lifetime opportunity (but I'm hoping to make it a twice in a lifetime trip!) I told y'all a little bit of the story here, but in case you missed that post, I'll fill you in.
It was finals week at the end of my freshman year of college, and my brother called me. He asked me to join him on his 3 week backpacking trip across Europe. I thought he was kidding. He called me on a Monday night. 2 finals and 2 days later, I was on a plane to England. Luckily, I was able to get my shifts covered at the golf course, and I already had my passport from my first trip to Europe in high school.
I met Matt in a park in London, and we started our trip! I guess I will do the highlights from each city. This post could get pretty long, so prepare yourself! Our trip was definitely "speed traveling," as we went to as many places as we could. It was the most exhausted I have ever been but it was amazing!

London, England: I really like London, but it's not my favorite. I'm not a big fan of the weather. It's cold and rainy a lot, but there are some cool things to see there. We went to:
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Camden Market
  • Piccadilly Circus, which is like a British Times Square
  • London Tower
  • Big Ben
  • A comedy show (which is way funnier when they have British accents!)
  • The London Eye, a HUGE ferris wheel, where the rooms fit about 20 people in each. They told us some people get married in there!
  • Our hostel: Palmer's Lodge in Swiss Cottage

Barcelona, Spain: This was my first time in Barcelona, and I loooved it! We had a mix-up with our flights, so our time in Barcelona was cut short.
  • Segrada Familia, a historic church that is still being built (from 100 years ago!)
  • La Rambla, which is a busy street where people are selling things from flowers to turtles and roosters.

Paris, France: Paris is gorgeous, and I always feel fancy when I'm there :)
  • The Louvre
  • Notre Dame
  • Versailles, my favorite thing in Paris. It's a STUNNING palace that Louis XIV built. The gardens are the best part.
  • Eiffel Tower (Side Note: This was my 2nd time to go up the Eiffel Tower. The first trip, we were there the DAY BEFORE Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes! Ah!)

  • The pastries. Oh. My. Gosh.
  • Our hostel: Hotel Le Quercie

Amsterdam, Holland: Amsterdam is really fun and surprisingly beautiful.
  • Flower Market. Simply stunning.

  • Red Light District. This is from my journal, "Part of Amsterdam is really beautiful, pretty canals and amazing buildings and towers. But the other part is just like walking through an adult film!" Yikes!

Brussels, Belgium: We stayed with some of Matt's friends from Clemson who were studying abroad here. Oh how I loved them!
  • Museum of Musical Instruments
  • Cantillon Brewery
  • CHOCOLATE. Enough said.

Bruges, Belgium: We took a day trip with a bunch of the Clemson people.
  • BELGIAN WAFFLES. It is worth a trip to Europe just to get a Belgian waffle. You can get any kind of toppings, my favorite was chocolate and whipped cream. To die for.

Berlin, Germany: SO much to see here!
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag
  • Budnestag
  • Memoral to the Murdered Jews of Europe

  • Berlinder Dom Cathedral
  • Museum Island
  • Berlin Wall & East Side Gallery, where the Wall has paintings and murals
  • Tier Gardens, my favorite place here.
  • Our hostel: Bax Pax Hostel

Prague, Czech Republic: One of my favorite cities from this trip!
  • Prague Castle
  • Strahov Monastary
  • Charles Bridge
  • Museum of Chocolate Paintings. Delicious and decorative!
  • Our hostel: Old Prague Hostel

Lucerne, Switzerland: My FAVORITE city in the world! It is just breathtaking! And somehow, all of the people there are ridiculously nice. It's like a country full of Chick-fil-a and Wachovia employees.

  • Boat tour
  • Dying Lion of Lucerne
  • Glacier Garden, a museum with a house of mirrors :)

  • Mt. Pilatus (go to the cool!)
  • Grand Casino Luzern
  • Our hostel: Youth Hostelling Luzern

Cinque Terre: My 2nd favorite city! It's a gorgeous part of Italy on the coast. It's made up of 5 tiny towns, and you can hike from the 1st to the 5th. You have to do at least part of the hike if you come here, although the never-ending stairs can be killer!
  • Gelati. Lots and lots of gelati.
  • The hike. It's 11 miles. You start at the first town, go up the cliffs, and go back down to the next town. So it's a lot of steep stairs, and it takes about 5 hours to complete. But it's so worth it! On part of the hike, there are wild flowers surrounding you, and the heat brings out the oils and natural scents. It was incredible!

I also met a hilarious traveler along the way, Javier Lopez Sanchez. He was from Spain and he just went wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He had been sleeping on the beach in Cinque Terre, and he was very entertaining.

Rome, Italy: Rome is beautiful, but it can be a little sketchy at night!
  • Note: Make sure you have the correct Metro ticket here. We didn't and were almost arrested in the Metro station! Luckily, 2 Italian guys helped us out and gave us the rest of the money for the fine!
  • Vatican City
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Pantheon
  • The Forum, which is their old trading markets in ruins.
  • The Colliseum, SO COOL! We were able to walk around inside of it.
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Our hostel: Litus Roma (probably the best hostel we stayed was right on the beach!)

Dublin, Ireland: I love Ireland. We met up with a group of the Clemson folks, rented 2 cars, and drove around Ireland for a few days!
  • Guinness Brewery
  • Temple Bar, a busy street with shops and pubs
  • Dublin Castle
  • Jameson Distillery

Kilkenny & Cork, Ireland: We ate dinner in Kilkenny on our way to Cork.
  • Blarney Castle (yes, we kissed the Blarney Stone :)

  • Amy and I also found a blow-up doll in the mote of another castle in Kilkenny. We named him Pat, and he traveled along with the group. Pat frightened lots of people when he was using the women's restroom.

Limerick, Ireland:

Cliffs of Moher, one of the coolest things I saw all trip. And also the windiest place I have ever been!

Doolin, Ireland:
  • It doesn't really have a name, but we found this incredible beach where there were huge rocks everywhere. It's hard to explain!

If you ever do a trip like this, I have a few pieces of advice. First, pay a little extra for a nice hostel. There are some sketchy ones out there, but we made sure to read reviews and get a place where our stuff wouldn't be stolen! Second, I kept a journal of the whole trip and I am so glad I did! A lot of the details start to fade, so I just go back and read everything we did, everyone we met. I also got a postcard from each city we visited to put at the beginning of each entry. It's just a great keepsake to remind me of the incredible trip!

If you are still reading this, I'm impressed. Apparently, I get pretty chatty when I talk about Europe :)


Brittany said... Best Blogger Tips

I would have been reading if the entry were twice as long! I would do anything to go on a trip like that! That's so awesome you got to do it with your brother! I REALLY want to go to Spain and Ireland.

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