European Vacation

Rachel, myself, and Nicole at Versailles

As most of you probably know, I’ve been in Europe since the end of August: I'm studying abroad in Cyprus starting mid/late September until December (woohoo!) and spent the last month or so hopping around Europe with a couple of gals I met through my study abroad program, Rachel and Nicole. We met in person for the first time upon landing in Paris and we hit it off instantly. 

Anyways, below this little introductory paragraph you will find several sections titled by city and country, which are summaries of my time spent in them. You're welcome Nana. 

Paris, France: August 27-31 

The Louvre

Ah, Paris; the city of lights, love, and liquor.. I enjoyed my time here. In the few days of staying here, the three of us were able to pack in some of the more famous landmarks. These include the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, the Palace of Versailles, and the Basilica, as well as some smaller ones like an art square, some parks, a little farm, etc.

All of these places were incredible; I was awestruck by the art at the Louvre, the architecture of Versailles, the bones in the Catacombs, and the cheap wine in the markets. When we weren’t at the dream like places of the past, we were hanging around cafes and bars, just eating crepes, drinking coffee, and then later, drinking wine.. or vodka. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions of how nights in Paris went. I absolutely loved Paris and all it had to offer, I learned a lot, met some interesting people, and just had a great time. And now, for the sake of your time (and mine), I’ll move on to our next destination, Luxembourg. 

Luxembourg, Luxembourg: August 31-September 2

Nicole and I at the Casemates

Our getting to Luxembourg was a bit rocky.. we accidentally went to the wrong train station, leaving us a bit stressed on time. Luckily, we made it there and got on the train. Our last night in Paris was rather a late one, and so most of the ride was spent with us dozing off. Once we finally made it we were ready to go, and walked the 1.5 miles to our airbnb.. in 90 degree weather. We took another nap at the airbnb. That night we got some dinner and then decided to hit the hay. Our second day was spent walking around the Grund (kind of like a city center), looking at art, and exploring the Casemates Du Bock; an old castle. We, again, saw and learned so much about this country that we had had little knowledge of before. Luxembourg is not usually a tourist spot but the beauty of the country should definitely make it become ones destination for the future. 

Brussels (and Bruges), Belgium: September 2-5

Brussels was absolutely incredible, in every single way. We packed the days here with a beer tour, a visit to St. Michaels Cathedral, a day trip to Bruges, relaxing in Monte Des Art, and eating a lot of waffles and fries. I may have gained 10 pounds here. Brussels was bustling with people and similar to other major (touristy) cities, which was good for us because it gave us opportunities to meet really amazing people.. and allowed us to communicate in English. On the beer tour (which was on my birthday!) especially did we meet some awesome people and learn a lot about the history of Belgium. The people on the tour ended up going out with us for my birthday, it was an unforgettable night. In Bruges we took a canal ride around the town and took in the sights. I can honestly say I could see myself living in Brussels. And onto our next destination! 

Amsterdam, Netherlands: September 5-8 

Oh boy. Amsterdam. Besides the indulgence of LEGAL substances here, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, took a canal cruise, visited the Anne Frank house and museum, and just walked around, taking in our surroundings and loving the beauty of the city. The Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house were both extremely well done (information wise) and very moving. In the Anne Frank house I was nearly moved to tears; other visitors really were. We also ate a lot of yummy food, ranging from cheese plates to Thai dishes. This was definitely one of our most eventful stops party-wise; we went out with some friends of mine two of the three nights.. By the time it was time to pack to head to Berlin we were barely functioning. But, it was totally worth it. 

Berlin, Germany: September 8-11

A quote from the Wall

Here’s a pro tip; do not watch Berlin Syndrome before actually traveling to Berlin. Every apartment building that seems empty will scare you.

Other than avoiding apartment complexes, Berlin was filled with many fun things that I doubt I’ll ever forget.

These include a trip to the Cathedral, a walk around the Memorial to the Murdered Jewish peoples of Europe, a walk to the Brandenburg Gate, and a tour around the East Side Gallery of the Wall. The Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking, we were able to walk to the top and get a full view of Berlin, then go all the way to the basement and see the crypts. The Memorial was incredibly done, with stones set up in a maze-like way, it really captured the people that were lost at the hands of the Nazis. To lighten the mood a bit we went to the DDR Museum and learned about the Wall, the government, and how people lived in that time; it was interactive and extremely interesting. One of my favorite site visits though, was the East Side Gallery:  The art was impeccable, I could’ve looked at it for hours. For one of our evenings here, we ended up an open mic night where we just sat, listened, and had a good time. Berlin, you will be missed. 

Prague, Czech Republic: September 11-14

And now there’s Prague, a land of free education, cheap beer, and amazing food. I’m seriously considering going to Grad school here. But that’s in a few years, so let me tell you about my time here now; we spent our time doing a lot of walking, just seeing the city, going to the Prague Castle and Cathedral, strolling by the river, seeing the old town square and Astronomical clock, and so on. We also took a paddle boat ride on the river, where we got to see the sunset and float around a bunch of swans, it was very romantic. We took a wine tasting and walking tour on our last day, in which we learned more of the history of this magnificent place and met some equally magnificent people, as well as drank a lot of wine. Also magnificent. One of Rachel’s friends is studying in Prague currently and took us out for our last night and I’d have to say that the night life may be another incentive for me to move. 

Bratislava, Slovakia: September 14-16

Part of the Devín Castle

Bratislava was the perfect place for us to relax and take it slow after being on the go non-stop in Prague. Our first night was spent with a leisure dinner at a local cafe and a movie, then we slept in the next morning. It was bliss. Our only full day was spent at the Devín Castle, about an hour outside of the city center, on the border of Austria. The castle was, by far, the most beautiful place I have ever been; it was built in the 5th century and bombed in the 20th, leaving some buildings still standing but others in ruins, and it sat on the edge of a river, overlooking gorgeous landscapes. There were also some ponies, donkeys, and other farm animals living on the mountain side that we got to see and pet. Next door there was an ostrich, who bit my hand and took my piece of bread. Asshole. And sadly it is time for our last destination, Vienna. 

Vienna, Austria: September 16-19

The Castle

Vienna was so much fun, with more of a big city setting (like New York) and a great nigh life, we had a lot of fun. To learn a bit about the history, we took a tour of Schönbrunn Palace and visited some vineyards. The palace was gorgeous, each room decorated to a different style and holding so many stories of the people that lived there. The vineyards were also pleasing to look at, and to be at, as there was wine to drink. To add to the drinking stories, we met some cool people at a trivia night at a local bar who ended up showing us around some more and taking us to a really cool club. It was the perfect ending to our adventure.

These last three and a half weeks were the best yet, and the craziest. The memories I made and experiences I had are incomparable to anything I've done before, and the best part is that I made some life long friends along the way. I learned about so many places, people, and about myself. I feel more confident in myself now, both with just being me, and traveling. I don't know when I will have an opportunity to see so many places in such a short time again, and with so little responsibilities. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

Stay tuned for an update on my time in Cyprus!

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