You all need to drop everything, and go to Europe right now. Next flight out. Real talk.
Okay, so you’ll probably write this off as jetlag-induced babbling, but in all seriousness… I just got home to Sydney yesterday (Australia Day, no less!), and cannot get over how incredible our adventure around Europe was. Each city we visited had it’s own beautiful flair – whether that was its snow-capped mountains, its intricate cathedrals, its fantastic food… they all had that little something I’ll never forget. And of course, spending the month with my favourite person (cough, Tom, cough) wasn’t too horrible either. 😉
I have absolutely no idea how I can even begin to describe each city, words just wouldn’t do it justice. However, I’m going to dive right in the deep end here and give a little overview of the “Eurotrip 2013/14” (as it was affectionately called… don’t ask). Also, there’s no way to share with you even a fraction of the photos I snapped without my computer imploding on itself – so I’ll have to just give you the best/most beautiful/most drool-inducing/most incriminating photos of Tom (…kidding about the last one. Maybe).
I love London – always have, always will. I’m half-English, so I have a bit of a connection to it. I just love the little cobblestone streets, the lane ways, the markets, the shopping (Oxford Street, Carnaby Street & Regent Street is where it’s at y’all!), the terrace houses… I could easily live there, just sayin’. One of the best days in London was catching up with a friend who lives in Newcastle, Emma, who I met when I did volunteering in Africa – Epic reunion!
- The markets – The best were: Bricklane, Camden and Portobello Road. There were just endless stalls of vintage finds, clothes, jewellery, delicious baked things… I couldn’t get enough. It was awesome just sippin’ on some mulled wine, and weaving through all the stalls that were just buzzing with people. They all had a great atmosphere. We also had the best indian feast at Bricklane, just a little insider tip!
- New Year’s Eve – we met a few American dudes in our hostel, and went on a pub crawl organised by “London Gone Wild.” Let’s just say that the free shots & double vodka/rum and cokes sounded like a good idea at the time… yeah. Lethal, I tell you! Nevertheless, we got to explore the nightlife in the Shoreditch area, which was a great way to welcome in 2014.
Munich is a city with such a rich history, and so much to explore. It was my first introduction to Germany, and I’ve already decided I have to head back and see a little more of the country! The German was a bit full-on at first and hard to catch on to, but we like to think we were experts after… As Tom would remind me, by constantly trying to start German conversations with people, much to my embarrassment 😛
- Hofbrauhaus & Augustiner Braustuben – we checked out both breweries, and if you’re looking for a solid traditional German feed: you’ve met your match. These are the real deal for a giant schnitzel, pork belly and a casual litre of beer. I’m not even remotely kidding when I say there were men in lederhosens sighted, multiple times! Hofbrauhaus is much more touristy, but Augustiner had a totally local feel to it! I’d never seen Tom so happy – I think he cried. 😉
- Free walking tour – we had this super-sarcastic Aussie tour guide, which made me both excited to feel a tad at home, but also shake my head at the typical Aussie humour. The hostel offered a complimentary tour (as pretty much all of them did), and it was really interesting getting to know the city’s history more… I’m not a mega history buff, but the guy made sure to point of some completely random/hilarious stuff to amuse the immature kiddies of the group, aka just myself, probably. 😛
- Dachau concentration camp – this wasn’t the most pleasant day of the trip, but definitely one I will never forget. It was confronting and saddening learning about it all, but I felt it was an important part of German history I wanted to know more about.
Oh, Prague… you seductive city, you. I fell madly in love with it, it was hands down one of the most stunning cities we visited. The architecture, the old bridges, the river snaking through the city… I die! Not only that, but everything was insanely cheap! We were able to buy full meals AND drinks for just $10 between us. This made me eye the waiters off suspiciously, waiting for them to be all: “KIDDING! Now hand over the other $50, you sad, gullible girl.” But nope, it was real life. Prague is a fantastic city to visit for that real European feel, on a budget.
- Petrin Hill – this is a lesser known way to appreciate the city, but hands down the best! We hiked up the hill, which was actually quite the workout – had to resist the urge to collapse and roll back down several times. The amazing view from the top is reward enough though! I was in absolute awe – you can see the city stretch on for miles and miles, with fog hanging over the top of it. There are no words (apart from the paragraph I just wrote… haha).
- Prague castle & the cathedral – you have to check these wonders out if you ever visit – the detail and intricacy of the architecture is astounding. I could totally see myself buying one as my first house, I’m sure the Prague government would be all for it and throw me a housewarming party. It will happen. You’re invited.
- Wenceslas square – this is the hub for an array of market stalls, shops and places to eat. Bring money and an appetite. Oh, and if you don’t buy at least one of the sugary, spirally pastries (definitely the traditional term, obviously), you’ll have me to answer to.
I think I could probably just go out and say it: Austria was my favourite country. Big claim, but I went there. Again, so much history, incredible buildings and for the ladies out there: the shopping was out of control, and there were lots of cute little coffee shops. It was about 5 degrees during the day, so I loved exploring the city all rugged up in gloves and a beanie, however did not lose 3 fingers and a toe to frostbite. Bonus.
- The shopping district – was so fantastic! You see the main street filled with shops like H&M, Forever 21, Mango, Chanel, etc, flip out and do a victory dance… then realise there are a billion little streets connecting to it lined with shops just as good. I was in (albeit very expensive) heaven. Money was spent. Life was good. 🙂
- Naschmarkt – our hostel was literally across the road from this market. One side was a string of stalls selling anything from meat, to cheese, to fruit and veg; and the other side was all just little cafes and restaurants. We had breakfast and dinner here a few times! We were unsuspecting victims, and got bombarded by sales remarks. If you slightly look at any of the stalls, there was an onslaught of: “you like hummus? I sell! It good!” or “lovely lady, you try our tiramisu almonds. Taste just like it!” (note: they definitely didn’t, the furthest thing from it actually). Great little market though!
- Schonbrunn Palace – after a gruelling 12km walk that day, which may have involved a hangry Maccas stop, we finally got to the palace. It was one of those “jaw-dropping-wow-people-LIVED-here?!” moments – it was the grandest palace I’d ever seen (and admittedly probably the first, but no one needs to know that 😉 . There’s a casual zoo there, and the gardens are beautiful.
Well, that’s part 1 done and dusted – there were 5 other cities we explored, so stay tuned to hear about them!
But, tell me:
Have you ever been to any of these places? What did you love most about them?
What is your absolute favourite place in Europe, and why did you adore it?
Any tips to give about travelling Europe for those planning a holiday?