In the past month, I've traveled to Paris, France; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Bruges, Belgium. It still amazes me how easy it is to travel between different countries across the UK and Europe-- all I need is a passport and documentation from my university. Although I am slowly becoming more broke as the days go on, I keep reminding myself that this is a once in a lifetime experience. Not many people get to say they lived in London for 4 and a half months when they were 19! With this mindset, I'm grasping every opportunity to travel and realizing that the money spent will be earned back when I come home. Back to the SHU library I go... But latest moment of spontaneity: a few nights ago, my friend and I were bored and distracted from our homework, so we booked a trip to Prague, Czech Republic for December. Definitely a procrastination method I am going to miss when coming back to CT. Reverse culture shock say what?
The first trip was to Paris when my parents came to visit. Paris was so beautiful and totally beat all expectations I previously had. We did have some problems, though, that are important to look out for! Because my family was only here for a week, we decided just to book a tour and do a day trip to Paris. However, the Eurostar train to get to Paris (about 2 hours from London) was delayed and we missed about 3 hours of sightseeing. Finally, when we did manage to get to Paris, our tour guide was a little unorganized and didn't accomodate our time properly. Definitely check out Trip Advisor before going on any tour or staying at any hotel/hostel. It is essentially the "Rate My Professor" of travel guides. More so, it is impossible to see a country in a day. I definitely recommend spending the night wherever you go- it is completely worth the extra money to truly take in the country you're visiting and not to feel so rushed.
Despite the few downfalls, it was still one of the best and coolest days I've had. We got to have lunch in the Eiffel Tower and climb our way to the top, cruise down the Seine River, and walk around the Louvre.
Paris is definitely a place for romance, so next time I might come without my parents haha.
The next trip was a double country tour of Amsterdam and Bruges. My friends from Regent's and I took an overnight bus to Amsterdam first (yes, it is wildly uncomfortable, but yes, you save a ton of money.) It was about 10 hours counting in rest stops and customs. When we got there in the morning we had a walking tour of the city followed by free time to explore. I absolutely loved Amsterdam- the architecture, the canals, the biking, the liberal and easy going vibe characterizing the city... Luckily we came on a beautiful day, so walking around was fantastic. When traveling for such short amounts of time, you really have to prioritize your plans. Unfortunately, to get into the Anne Frank House, you had to wait 2 and a half hours in line. Rather than wait, we walked to the famous "I AMsterdam" sign, went to the Van Gogh museum, and then at night explored the Red Light District. Because prostitution and marijuana is legal in Amsterdam, it was an environment I had never experienced before. However, it was completely eye opening to see the different forms of legality in other countries and the opinions/character ecompassing the local people.
The next morning we got back on the bus and traveled to Bruges, Belgium. It only took about 2 hours to get there which was great. I had no expectations for Bruges, only what I saw in the film "In Bruges." However, it completely amazed me. The city had such a quaint and charming character- I could have spent an entire weekend there. Belgium is known for its waffles, beer, and chocolate, so food was definitely a necessity before we had to get back on the bus and head home.
Now I've got a couple more weeks of just enjoying London (and getting my school work done), but next stop is Madrid, Spain! More to come :)