Rachel is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Business Administration major at Merrimack College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Rachel shares how she went to Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Barcelona for spring break and how it compares to her experience in Florence.
For spring break my friends and I decided to book a trip through a student travel company located in Florence. This trip took us to 5 different cities in Europe: Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Barcelona. We had the option of traveling on our own, but because we wanted to see as many cities as possible in a short period of time this trip was the best option! Although we had help from a travel company, we were able to navigate through each city on our own and overcome a few challenges along the way. Follow along as I take on my European spring break… first stop is Berlin!
As we arrived in Berlin I was amazed how modern the city was. We started our day by doing a free walking tour which took us all around the city. Although Berlin was very modern I enjoyed how much history there was within the city. Doing a walking tour gave my friends and I the chance to learn more about Berlin’s history and a new understanding and appreciation for this city.
The next day we went to the Berlin Wall as well as a Concentration Camp Tour. We ended Berlin by going to a great dinner place called Hofbrau Munchen (had authentic steins and sausages). Then we were off to the next city…Amsterdam!
Activities in Berlin
- Walking tour throughout Berlin -- Free
- Berlin Wall -- Free
- Comedy Show (this was in our Hostel at the St. Christopher’s) really funny and worth it -- €12
- Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour -- approximately €16
Dress very warm!! We did not prepare for the cold at all especially for a “spring break” trip. Also don’t be afraid to use the metro, it is super easy and good way to save money. An all-day metro pass is around €7.
Amsterdam was one of my favorite cities! There was so much to do and see within Amsterdam that I wish we had more time there. The one thing I would suggest is to definitely book tickets ahead of time for museums and the Anne Frank House. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to Anne Frank House because it was sold out, but my friends went and highly recommended it.
My favorite food place was hands down Bakers and Roaster. They had AMMMAZZING BRUNCH! My friends and I seriously couldn’t stop talking about it. In generally Amsterdam had great food!
Activities in Amsterdam
- Anne Frank House -- €9
- Van Gogh Museum -- €17
- Amsterdam City Bike Tour -- approximately €20
- I am Amsterdam Sign -- Free
Book tickets ahead of time! Also just be mindful of the biking line/ runners. I know this seems like common sense but you’d be surprised how many times someone accidently walked into the bike lane and got screamed at by someone!
We had a quick 3 hour stop through Brussels on our way to Paris so we just grab waffles. Also surprised they have really good meatballs and butter (random, I know).
Paris was a city that I was really excited to see mainly because of the Eiffel Tour. I wish we had more time in this city because it was sooo big and we had to rush around place to place. We saw all the major monuments and had baguettes of course! Overall my favorite part of being in Paris was navigating throughout and learning how to take the metro. We went from place to place and got a little lost (accidently got on the wrong train) but at the end of the day everyone felt accomplished that we got to see everything and that we did it on our own!
This was our last stop and honestly one of my favorite! We had really nice weather so it made walking around more enjoyable as well as a great little beach day!
- Entrance to La Sagrada Familia -- approximately €15
- Entrance to "The Monumental Zone" of Park Güell -- approximately €7
Overall we did not run into too many challenges going through a travel company, but it was difficult and exhausting to only having a couple days in each city. We had to adjust to the different languages, public transportation, and cram in everything we wanted to do. The main difference between these cities and Florence was the size as well as the difference of public transportation. Being in Florence we mainly walk everywhere so sometimes it was frustrating how far things were from us but it was a growing experience learning our way around bigger cities.
I guess my only piece of advice would be to ask as many questions while traveling and to do your research on places to go and recommendations. Also to find a good group to travel with because they can make all the difference!! I had the best time and can’t wait to continue to travel over the next month!
Rachel's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.