Western Europe Route
London – I really enjoyed London being the first stop on my backpacking trip. London is a huge grey rainy city that’s has a lot of arts and culture. London can be quite expensive so plan accordingly because the pound to US dollar is killer right now. When in London, I encourage you to see all the main sights like big ben, London Eye and Buckingham palace. London offers loads of world famous free museums .The most exciting part about London was the arts and culture. In areas like Hackney and Shoreditch you can really get a feel for the cool 90’s retro urban vintage vibe of London at the Boxpark, Ace hotel and Nomad gardens off the famous Brick lane. Don’t forget to try the national dish pie and mash, curry and fish and chips.
Amsterdam – The second stop on my backpacking trip was Amsterdam. Amsterdam is such an amazing city with historical buildings, bike paths, coffee shops (smoke shops), famous red-light district and canals. This city often gets a bad reputation because it’s very liberal and you can pretty much do anything there but it has so much to offer. Outside of the nightlife, Amsterdam was filled with beautiful canals and adorable boat houses and lots of plants. The Dutch lock their bikes all over the city adding a lot of a lot of character to the city. If you go to Holland during March – May you can go to Keukenhof Tulip Garden one of the main tourism sites in Holland it hosts over 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Try the Dutch waffle with Nutella and
Brussels – Brussels, Belgium was the third stop on my adventure. It was about a 3 hour bus ride from Amsterdam. Brussels is home to the Belgium waffle and a bunch of types of beers so you have that to look forward to. Don’t forget the Manneken Pis, a small statue of a boy pissing is super famous. Fun Fact: they change the Manneken Pis’s outfit twice a day and he has his own tailor. The grand palace and market in Brussels are really nice and have a gothic feel that worth visiting. My favorite part about Brussels was visiting the European Union headquarters. I went when there was an open house so I was able to tour the building and learn what makes the union and what their key focus was. There are a bunch of free Union based museums which answer the question “ what is Europe” a question I often asked myself because continent has so many different distinct cultures and languages in such a close proximity.
Paris to the South of France -
I took the Oui bus from Brussels to Paris. I spent one night in Paris, stayed in a hostel in a wonderful area. The hotel was 5 min walking to Notre Dame which made for a perfect night. The next morning, I took the SNCF fast train from Paris to Marseille. If you travel to France, I highly recommend the South of France. Paris and Marseille are rival cities because of their football teams. Marseille is a beautiful port town that is known to some as a home to philosophy. While there you can hike up to Notre Dame de la Grande and take the boat to Le Frioul. Le Frioul is an island 20 min away from Marseille that has old architecture, crystal clear waters and scenic views. A few train stops away is a city called Cassis, I highly recommend it because it has olive and wine fields with cute houses on hills. In Cassis you can also hike Les Calanques (the pride of Marseille) which has beautiful hiking trails mountain scenes and blue water beaches.
The sixth spot on my adventure was a cute college town called Montpellier. I was recommend this spot by a few French locals who mentioned the lax vibe of the city because all the students and universities in the city that were always going on strike. In Montpellier, the adorable floral trams that run through the city immediately caught my eye. The city has old castles, gardens and a beautiful l’arc de triomphe. My favorite part of the city was the botanical garden which hosted so many kinds of plant species.
From Montpellier, I took Bla Bla car about 3 hours to Barcelona. I stayed at Barceloneta a colorful vibrant neighborhood by the beach. Barcelona has some really famous architecture which became the highlight of my trip. While in Barcelona, I saw the gothic quarter, Spanish neighborhoods, Las Ramblas and the fabulous works of Antoni Gaudí. Antoni Gaudi’s is a world famous architect who is known for mixing nature, curved lines and a new freedom of expression in his pieces. Check out Parc Guell ( UNESCO World Heritage site ), Casa Batllo and La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona’s food is so amazing I spent a lot of time eating tapa and paella and drinking
Palma de Mallorca , Alcudia
Last spot on the trip was to a small island off the coast of Spain called Mallorca. I flew there from Barcelona for about $60 one way. While there I spent a few days on each side of the island. The first few day I stayed near Alcudia in a beach resort. Alcudia had a rich history because many people tried to concur this island including the Romans and Moors.