Hey hey so I just got back home this morning. Had a long nap, then started unpacking and getting ready for the new uni semester which starts in the morning. I’ll be getting back to the comments I missed very soon and translations this week.
What can I say about Europe? I think I’ll break it down by country as that makes things easier.
UK/England: One of the most enjoyable places I went to, and I felt like I’d never really be bored. While on a Thames River cruise, I was told: “To be tired of London is to be tired of life”, and that really is quite true. There is simply so much history and heritage in the UK that makes it worthwhile. Of course, there are also many current things which make it rather fun. Highlight: Wimbledon 2016.
The Netherlands/Amsterdam: I was only there for a day but I felt it was a very clean and beautiful city. Everything is about green energy and there are hordes of bicycles everywhere. Zaans Schans was very nice to see, but probably filled with more tourists than I’d like. On the other hand, the city itself was more enjoyable as it seems to have so much liberty: people smoking marijuana on street, bongs for sale in convenience stores, and a rather inviting red light district. Highlight: The city itself.
Belgium/Brussels: I had about half a day here as it was just a stopover on my way from Amsterdam to Paris. I do apologise, but I found Brussels somewhat less interesting than other cities, perhaps due to time constraints. Highlight: Traditional cuisine.
France/Paris: Paris lived up to all of my expectations and a bit more. The first day I spent hitting out most of the top tourist attractions, and it was rather fun listening to French and just exploring the city. Days two and three were mostly spent in museums, as there are simply so many famous works and museums all over Paris. We also happened to be there while the Euro Cup was on, and that really made everything much more lively. I was on top of the Arc de Triomphe on the day of the finals and flags were fluttering about everywhere, horns were blaring, and people were fired up. It felt like French pride and patriotism at its best, which was accentuated even further by everyone’s depressing expressions the next day.
Italy: Well, there was just so much to see here. I visited Milan, Pisa, Florence, The Cinque Terre, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, The Amalfi Coast and Venice. Florence was quite a beautiful city and also where I had the best homemade pasta. I did an AirBnB stay at an apartment in Vernazza and it honestly felt amazing to be living like a local would in the Cinque Terre. Rome felt like another place all together because it felt “Roman” rather than “Italian”, and there was so much to see and do there. Naples was the least enjoyable place, probably because I had the wrong impression of it before I arrived. I thought it would be just another major city like Rome or Florence with tourists out and about, but I was wrong. It felt seedy, dangerous and dirty wherever I went and there were very few tourists around. Just a short train ride away and we were in the ruins of Pompeii, which was an incredible sight to behold, especially those body molds. Taking the train to the end of the line, we came to Sorrento, which was an pleasant place to stay and certainly quite nice. Of course, Positano and Amalfi were even better, and the Amalfi Coast really lived up to my expectations of how beautiful the coastline was. I went kayaking and swimming around there and the water was simply beautiful. My last stop in Italy was Venice, and I found it rather boring. Sure, the photos will look nice and I’ll have been there but the experience itself wasn’t that enjoyable as it was way too touristy. Highlight: Vernazza.
Spain: Madrid was a pleasant city, and a nice place to be in. The Spanish I learnt in Peru certainly paid off in communicating with some of the locals and the food was also great. Of the two cities I visited however, Barcelona was definitely much more enjoyable. Barcelona felt fun and lively at any time of the day and it was filled with interesting spots all of the city such as the Parc de Laberint, and Gaudi’s architectural works. Being able to speak Spanish was again quite helpful, although most signs were actually in Catalan. That’s also why I found it to be a peculiar city, as that is the only place (correct me if I’m wrong) where Catalan is used, yet it seems to be the dominant language there. Highlight: The Tapas.
So, that roughly sums up my trip. I had a great time, so thanks for being patient. I’ve probably visited the countries that some of you live in, so feel free to let me know about what you think.