While studying in Florence, I only had a three day school week, meaning more time for weekend travels. Me and my friends became masters at getting up on Thursday or Friday and finding ourselves in a new city. Heres to all the amazing countries I went to during this time of my life.
Munich, Germany – Oktoberfest
Opening weekend of Oktoberfest 2014 – what. a. day. We had to wait til noon for them to tap the kegs, so everyone starting inhaling the beers as soon as they started serving. I shamefully only made it two steins in before I started to get sick and took a ricksha back to the hostel and took a cold shower. When I woke up, me and my roommates decided to walk to night streets and we helped a drunk man find a cab to go back to the hotel that was on a bracelet on his wrist. What a weird trip to have, esepcially it being our first trip outside of our Italian comfort. Oktoberfest had the BEST freakin pretzels I’ve ever had in my life though. Luckily the day before this disastrous day we took a bike tour of Munich and it was a beautiful place to be!
London called and I finally got to go to the one city I was absolutely itching to go to. In October we had a week long fall break, so me and Meredith took on a few cities by ourselves. This was our first stop and it did not disappoint. London is so large that our legs were going to fall off if we didn’t learn how to use the underground. So, we bought ourselves an Oyster Card and dominated the system. We saw Big Ben, the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, took a walk through Hyde Park, saw Kensington Palace, ate Fish & Chips, found a local restaurant for some Shepherds Pie, drank lots of Cider, went to Abbey Road, walked across the Harry Potter Millennium Bridge and the Tower Bridge, walked through Harrods Toy Shop, Portobello Market out near Notting Hill, the British Museum and on our last day went to the Columbia Road Flower Market. London was an awesome adventure with so many things to do and see. Side note though, those iconic red phone booths don’t smell very nice on the inside.
Stop number two on our fall break. Brussels was very European feeling. The gothic, close together buildings painted in gold were gorgeous and their waffles were out of this world. There was a place we kept going to for nutella banana waffles around the corner from the main plaza that were sold for only one euro! Brussels was also good for its beer and local bars. My favorite memory of this place however was the crappy airbnb we booked that was pretty far from the main city. Our host provided us with one tiny little towel and a shower that didn’t have a shower curtain so the water flew all over the apartment. I’m pretty sure she had to shut down that room soon after we were there.
One of our days in Belgium we took an hour train ride to Bruges. This place was so charming and quaint and full of amazing chocolate. It was such a pretty fall day and the changing leaves made it that much better. It was freezing though and our used-to-the-Italian-heat bodies were freezing! If you ever find yourself near Bruges, I highly recommend going here for a day to be charmed by this place as much as I was.
Stop 3 on our fall break. Meredith suggested this town from a family member and I’m so glad it happened! It was another quaint little town, this time with the lure of the French language. It was cool to see a part of France like this, a small town, compared to the big city of Paris. It is nicknamed “The Pearl of the French Alps” and I can totally understand why. Lake Annecy and the mountain views were jaw dropping. I felt so small standing underneath them. Our airbnb host here was an amazing, kind, old French man who spoke perfect English. Him and his wife made us a French breakfast and gave us suggestions on where to go and eat. He even set us up on a cheap ride back to Geneva where we had to catch our next train. Dreamy memories lie here for me.
Olé! Time for Spain. We went here for Halloween that year and I was shocked at how warm it still was. I never would’ve thought I’d ever be sitting on a sunny beach on October 31st before, but there I was. We stayed at Meredith’s friends’ apartment (they were studying in Barcelona and we got to return the favor when they came to visit Florence) so it was nice to have people show us around. It was a change of pace from the small town vibes we went for the past couple trips, the city was buzzing! Park Güell, Sagrada Familia and pretty much anything Gaudí touched were so cool and unique. We also went to the Picasso museum which was awesome because the artwork was original. I’m not sure why I can’t find my pictures from Barcelona, but in the meantime this is the only one I can find – us waiting for the subway to take us to the club on Halloween night!
This place was one of my favorite trips we did during our time abroad. It was November and it was freezing, but we had such an awesome, funny and memorable time. We decided to go here on a whim and ended up in the cutest airbnb. Budapest is so interesting because I never really thought about it before we went here. I didn’t realize how much history lied there. So, we decided to take a free walking tour of the city to learn more, especially because you could feel the heavy weight of WWII and how it affected Budapest. We didn’t know that taking that tour that day at that exact time would lead us to meeting Janet. Janet was our adopted mom on this trip – she was a lady from Vancouver that was traveling by herself so we decided to spend the day with her. After that city walking tour, we decided to go with Janet on the Jewish Quarter walking tour and after that grabbed some Hungarian goulash at a restaurant. We then found out about a bar crawl and kept our tour count going. We ended up at a ruin bar in the Jewish Quarter called “Szimpla Kert” – it was amazing. If you ever go to Budapest, go here. It was unique and interesting. It kind of defines Budapest in a nutshell for me.
I’m clumping Austria into one because my time in Vienna and time in Salzburg were completely different. In Vienna, we were all about the Christmas Markets and wow, Vienna goes nuts for Christmas. There were several different markets within this city and they all had their different charm, and most importantly their own gluhwein collectable Christmas mugs. It was lots of fun here, getting in the Christmas spirit and seeing authentic ornaments, sausages (with the cheese inside!), bread bowl soups and of course, beer. In Salzburg, we dedicated our day there to the Sound of Music. We took a Sound of Music bus tour that took us to the scenes of the movie and showed us how the hills can very well be alive. I watched the movie on my iPad on the way there, so I was really in spirit.