In this week's post, Christopher recounts his whirlwind Fall break where he traveled to and experienced the cultures of not one, not two, but FIVE different cities in TEN Days!
As my schedule requires me to be busy roughly five days a week, I have found that it has been rather challenging to take off from work to go about and travel for the whole weekend in Europe. Having to average twenty hours a week over the course of the semester has made me focus on honing my time management and planning skills to be able to juggle work, school, and traveling. However, this past week we were off from classes for a mid-semester break and I took full advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad throughout Europe.
Stop 1: Prague, Czech Republic
I took off early from work on Friday and started my break by flying out of London Gatwick airport to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. In my opinion, I found Prague to be one of the coolest cities in all of Europe. It was very affordable, very historical, and had delicious food.
Old Town Square in Prague.
Over the course of three days I spent my free time by going on walking tours of the city, walking across the famous Charles Bridge, seeing the John Lennon Wall and tasting all the various food offerings the Czech Republic has to offer including trdelink, a delicious chimney cake coating in sugar and cinnamon! I also took a bus tour group with two of my flat mates and roughly ninety other kids studying abroad and almost all of them were studying in Florence for the semester.
Stop 2: Berlin, Germany
After spending the weekend In Prague, I then got on a coach bus and drove to Germany to visit their capital city of Berlin. Whilst in Berlin I went on a World War II inspired walking tour of the city that featured the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, the site of Hitler’s Bunker and other fascinating bits of history. I found the tour to be very moving and walking around the Holocaust memorial was truly something powerful to witness.
Me at the East Side Gallery when you can see the remains of the Berlin Wall.
While in Germany, like all the countries I visited, I sampled some of the best food pertinent to the local culture. My favorite German dish I tried was Currywurst, which is a typical Bavarian sausage covered in curry flavored ketchup and curry seasoning. I loved this dish simply because it combines two of my favorite things: sausage and spicy food. We only spent one night in Berlin, and on Monday night we got on the bus and drove through the night to Amsterdam.
Stop 3: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We then spent the next two nights in Amsterdam, which I found to be one of the most interesting cities in all of Europe. Built upon a swamp, the city is built around rivers and canals and has a very different vibe from other cities in Europe. For instance, the population’s main method of transportation are bicycles and the city strongly believes in minimizing the city's ecological footprint on the environment.
While in Amsterdam I sampled many different types of street food and spent my time being very active either by renting a bike and riding around a park or simply walking between the canals and enjoying the culture.
Stop 4: Brussels, Belgium
After Amsterdam the next stop on tour was Brussels which we only stayed for an afternoon, which was a little disappointing as I would’ve like to spend more time to take in the culture, I definitely maximized the most out of my time while I was there.
A Belgian Waffle with Chocolate.
Belgium is mostly renowned for three different foods: Waffles, Frites (French Fries), and Chocolate. During the short period while I was there I made sure to sample all three items. After filling my stomach with the best Belgium has to offer, it was back on the bus towards our last stop, Paris.
Stop 5: Paris, France
We arrived in Paris late Thursday night and the first sight we saw was the Eiffel Tower. I must say, having the opportunity to see the tower light up was something truly magical. Paris is globally renowned for its culture, and high level of class associated with said culture. On the next day, I had the opportunity to experience some of the famous sights like the cathedral of Notre Dame, the arc de Triomphe, and, my personal favorite, the Louvre Museum. Walking around the Louvre I was in awe of how well restored the pieces of art were, and the level of attention to detail by which they were kept in.
The Eiffel Tower lit up at night.
Of course, while at the Mona Lisa I saw one of the most renowned works of art in the entire world: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. The room was overflowing with hundreds of people trying to crowd around to see this rather small portrait. After sampling some of the best French cuisine has to offer it was time to return home back to London as it was the end of the trip. Over the course of these nine days I learned so much about all these different cultures through various sensory activities.
The experiences I had on fall break I will cherish for the rest of my life. I hope you enjoyed my blog post and continue to follow me along my adventures for the rest of the semester!
Christopher's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.