Thursday, June 30, 2016

Biking through Amsterdam

Hey everyone,

So Amsterdam was my final stop in mainland Europe, and after getting another super early train in Berlin I was off to see this amazing city. The ride itself was really good until just after we crossed the Dutch border. My train car decided to lose all forms of air conditioning, so it was a lot of moving from car to car. But after a six hour ride I was finally in Amsterdam.

Now quick hint for all those would be travelers be sure to know how far your hostel or hotel is from either the airport or the train station. I knew my hostel was a bit out of the way, however I didn't think it was that long of a walk until I was an hour into the walk. Yeah it took me about an hour and a half to walk to the hostel. Yeah needless to say I was dripping with sweat on reception. It was a quick check-in, but for the first time in my life I was actually upgraded to a better room. I went from a 12 person dorm to my own single ensuite room. I was pleasantly surprised on that, and it made my day.

After showering really quick I managed to get one of the best burgers I have managed to find in my time here, and I didn't rate mayo on fries until this place. So if you are ever in Amsterdam I recommend this place called Bret. I was then stuck deciding whether or not to rent a bike or do a bike tour. I rented my bike and it was easily the best money that I spent in Europe. Before you ask I did name my rented bike, and I went with Elizabeth in honor of the queen since she let me stay in her country.

So the next morning came, and I started off hearing news of Britain leaving the EU, and watched as the pound dropped over night. Yeah I lost some money thanks to the Brexit, but what can I do about it. After getting moving I went on a mission for coffee and that mission took me to Espressofabriek, which was one of my favorite cups of coffee I've had. Still really doesn't touch Kaph in Dublin, but it was right behind it. Then I went on a mission to see Anne Frank's house. The queue for the museum was around the block so I didn't go in, but if I go back I will be going inside.

Then I biked around for what seemed liked hours, but just biking around the city was well worth it. My random biking around took me to Vondelpark. If you ever go to Amsterdam you have to see this park, it is breathtaking. I'll post some pictures here, because I don't think I have enough descriptive words to describe it.

After sitting in the park for awhile I went over the MOCO museum where they were having a Banksy and Andy Warhol exhibit. I got to see some Banksy pieces that have not been on exhibit since 2009. But one of the best parts of the exhibit was when they hung Warhol's Campbell's Tomato Soup can next to Banksy Tesco Brand Tomato Soup can. I think that was one of my favorite moments of the exhibit.

From there it was a short walk over to the I Amsterdam Letters. I had to see them, and the place was of course packed. I did get a nice shot of them and of myself in front of them. It was a nice area because the Van Gogh museum was right there as well so the area was full of tourists. I did wanna see those letters, but I couldn't stand the tourists so I left that area really quick.

I got lost in the city again, and was loving every minute of it. I parked the bike in Dom Square and just took in the sights. There just people everywhere and it was amazing. Then I ended up going to see the Amsterdam Sexmuseum. Yeah I learned quick it was a tourist trap, but still was super funny walking around that place.

From there it was close to three, and I knew there was somewhere I needed to be a three. So I hoped on my bike and headed to the Brouwerij't IJ Brewery. Everyone says it's a brewery in one of Amsterdam's last few windmills, but it's not in the windmill. I recommend going to see the brewery and taking the tour. You get a free beer for taking the tour, and it's well worth it since it was some of the best beer that I have had in Europe.

From there I called it a day, and headed back to the hotel since it was a long bike. I got some food along the way, but ultimately went to bed shortly after calling family to let them all know that I was alive. Then it was getting ready for another full day in the city.

So up later than I have been the whole trip. I think it was my body telling me that I need to get some sleep. But today I only wanted to do two things. The Heineken brewery, and the Red Light District. Ok fair warning if you go to the Heineken Brewery, it is going to be way over the top and really is like a off the road tourist trap, but at least you can get two free beers at the end even though they tasted super light.

From there I went over to the Red Light district because I wanted to get back to the hotel early since I had an early flight back to the UK the next morning. I will summarize this district as best as I can. The area is beautiful, and all you can smell is weed. From there you have the reason that some people go to the Red Light district, and they are very assertive trying to get your attention. Because I was a man walking alone, I got a lot of knocking on the glass trying to get my attention. I walked out of there feeling very awkward since we have nothing like that in the states, and that was the first time I had seen that. On the way back I got a quick bite to eat then it was time to pack up for the next leg of my trip.

I left the hotel at like 3 in the morning, and on a train at 3:45 to make my 7:00 flight. Yeah I made it back in one piece but I still have more exploring to do before I leave.

But I am going to leave it here guys since I still have some travel left and then it's back to Plymouth to pack my life away. I want to take some time to enjoy my last few days here so if I go quite that's why. However well i'm doing that, remember stay safe and enjoy the ride.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Tour Through Munich and Berlin

Hello Everyone,

So I am getting down to the last few stops on my Eurotrip, and as much as I don't want it to end I feel my body might need it. However I am enjoying every minute that I have here traveling because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So after getting on my flight from Venice, my Easyjet flight took me back to Stuttgart. It was a short flight so I slept the whole time, which after my time in Italy I really needed (Go read my Italy post to find out more). But after I got into the Airport I found Beth and we headed off back to her place. After a bit of catching up, and putting together Beth's new TV we headed down to her local and got some food. I got to meet some of her coworkers and have a nice meal with them. I also met Gina, who would be traveling with us over to the Bavarian city of Munich. So we all left early because we all knew that we had an early train to catch to get over to Munich in the Morning.

After getting up, and making our way to the train station, I got an underground ticket to get on the same train with them to Stuttgart HBF. There were two things I learned at this point. First no matter where you are in Germany the rail infrastructure is amazing. Second HBF stands for Hauptbahnhof which in English means Central. So there you can say you learned something from reading this blog. The train wasn't to long to Munich, and once we were there it was a hunt for food.

Once filling our stomachs we headed off to my Hostel so I could drop my bag to walk around. It was a quick stop at my hostel after spending a half an hour to find it. I couldn't get in my room yet so I just dropped my bag in a locker and we were off to explore. Just as we left both Beth and Gina seemed shocked at how nice a hostel can be.

But we all walked around for a while going into churches, and enjoying the atmosphere of Munich on a rainy Sunday. We ended up seeing the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. We timed it right so we could see the Glockenspiel move around, which actually was really cool. At this point I was hungry again, and I wanted to get out of the rain, so our next stop was the probably one of the most famous beer halls in the country, Hofbrauhaus.

So I ordered some sausages, and a liter of beer. Now I can finally say that I have had a stein of beer at the Hofbrauhaus. The food and the beer was great, but there was a lot of it. However right as I finished my stein one Beth's Bosses met us there. He wanted to drink and no one else was drinking, so he turned to me and said he was buying me a beer. When he said that I was kinda hoping for a small one, but another liter was put in front of me. Yeah it was a long time at the Hofbrauhaus.

After chatting for a bit we headed off to see some more churches, and said farewell to Beth's Boss. It was a nice afternoon walking off all of the food, and beer from earlier. We all saw some amazing churches and landmarks from around the city. But just as they had shown up we were at the train station saying goodbye. I won't see Beth again until a month before I graduate, so Beth enjoy your time there and I can't wait to see when your home. After that I headed back to the hostel and called it a night since I had a tour the next day.

Up early, and back to the train station to meet my tour guide. We then hopped on a train to get us to where the tour would start. It was only a short ride on the train before we got off at the Dachau train station. As some of you might have guesses at this point I did take a tour of the first concentration camp used by the Nazis during the second world war Dachau. It was amazing to see this, and was a valuable history lesson for me. We need to make sure that something of that scale will never happen again. I found out that every student in the Bavarian region has to go to a memorial of the holocaust to remember that something like the holocaust will and can never happen again. I was very humbled I had saw as we were leaving, and learned a valuable lesson.

From there it was back into the city, and I walked all around. I did find myself walking around the english garden, and found the man made wave that gets surfed in Munich year round. I must have stood at the wave for a good solid hour or two to watch these surfers. After wishing I could do that I headed back to the hostel and called it a night since I had another early and long train to Berlin the next morning.

I got on my train at 9 am and I didn't get to Berlin till 3pm. Yes, the train sucked and it was crazy long. I didn't have any trouble getting from the train station to the hostel. I really didn't go out that night, so I grabbed dinner and met these German guys and watched Germany win their last group stage match of the Euro's. I spent the rest of that night watching those matches. The next morning I was up and off to see the sights.

First it was the Berlin TV Tower, then to Berlin Cathedral and then from there it was only a short walk to the Brandenburg Gate. I stood there for a moment to soak in the importance of that monument to the German people and the world. But to the left of that monument there is the US embassy, and in front of it was one of the most amazing things that I saw during my travels. In another country people are mourning the tragic loss of life that happened in Orlando with candles, flowers, flags, and handwritten letters. It was a moment I won't forget because it was the moment I realized we are all people of the world no matter the flag we stand behind.

From there I saw the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Wall Monument, and Checkpoint Charlie. I then proceeded to get lost in a massive park before seeing the Reichstag Building. That building is amazing! I wanted to take more time to see if I could get in to see it all, but that will have to be for the next trip, because I had an early train the next morning, that would take me to one of the destinations I've most looked forward to, Amsterdam.

I am a bit behind on the blog so I will try and get on that soon. I hope you are all enjoying these posts because I love telling you all about my travels. But remember to stay safe and have fun!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Italian Job: Rome and Venice

Hey everyone,

This post is all about my time in Italy when I visited Rome, and then Venice. I thought that since I spent such a short time in Venice I would combine this to make this whole post about my time in Italy. I had such a great time there, and there are so many things that I think if you get a chance to see either of these cities in your lifetime to go and due. Well first things first Rome.

So I woke up early took a shower and got breakfast before checking out of the Hostel. If you're ever looking for a hostel in Madrid I highly recommend The Hat, great staff, great people and overall a great time. But I took the metro over to the airport to catch my flight to the City of Rome. Getting to my gate was a breeze, but in normal Ryanair fashion they had to either delay the flight or change gate right before we were suppose to board. They did both. After a quick run around the airport I hopped on my flight to Rome. 

I slept most of the flight; I did however see Ibiza from the sky, which was really amazing. But the best part about that flight is that in order to land in Ciampino airport (the other Rome airport) you have to fly right over the city. I saw the Vatican, and the Colosseum from the sky, and to have that happen to kick off my time in Rome was a bonus. It took me about an hour and fifteen to get into the city, since people don’t know how to drive in the city. My shuttle driver was going to get out of the bus and kill someone if he had to drive in that mess any longer. It was a 5-minute walk from the bus stop to the hostel, and then it was checking in.

I only spent a short time in the room, because I was starving and I needed to get some Italian food in my life. I saved in France to spend here in Italy, so I found a nice place right next to my hostel, and sat down with a glass of white wine and the best carbonara I have ever had in my life, and don’t even get me started on tiramisu I had. That was one of the best meals that I have had on this trip. I wanted to lick the plate clean to be honest.

Then after dinner I ended up at the bar for the night, and I met a lot of amazing people, a graduate who is on a similar trip to me, and a BC grad that was telling me how to get into BC Law School. Then I met both Sean and is friend who were traveling together around Italy. They were both really great guys, and I wish them the best on the rest of their trip.

So after a slow morning, since I knew my tour didn’t start until 12:30 I decided to sleep in a bit. I grabbed some pizza, and it filled me right up and I was ready to see were this tour would take me. We meet at reception and then hopped on one of the two metro lines that go through the city of Rome. (Side note since there are only two lines in the city don’t take it early in the morning, or from like 3:30 to 7 in the evening, unless you like feeling like a sardine.) We started at some amazing Roman Ruins called Circo Massimo, after that we walked up this hill and saw the first orange garden in Rome. I have to say the view from the top of it was amazing, so for you photographers go there. After which we walked down and saw some buildings from Ancient Roman, and some buildings from Italy’s Fascist era. I saw the only building left in the city to have Mussolini’s name still on it. From there we walked into the Jewish Ghetto, and learned all about the gold bricks in front of some of the homes in the area. They were there for the Jews that were taken by the Germans, and it states whether or not the person survived the Holocaust or not. That for some reason really hit me and made me think about how the actions of a radical politician can cause so much pain. All I can hope is that it will never happen ever again.

But after that historical and somber walk around the ghetto, our tour guide took us to a cheap pizza place for lunch, which happens to be one of the best pizza spots I have ever been to. Watch out Cristy’s these guys are making a case for best pizza I’ve ever had. This place was known for a Pumpkin, Bacon, and Provolone Cheese pie, so I thought I would give it a try. That pizza was one of the best. I would have never thought of Pumpkin on a pizza!

After filling up on Pizza we headed out again, and saw several churches before seeing the Pantheon. The Pantheon was amazing and it is one of the few round churches in the city. There was just so much history there. Then after the Pantheon, we made our way to a few more churches than, to get some amazing gelato. That was the best gelato I think I have ever had. When in Rome just get the Pistachio, and Vanilla gelato.

Then we walked for what seemed like ages, I think it was good after all the food that we ate. But we then saw the building that Mussolini gave all of his speeches from, and right next to it was the Tomb of the Unknown soldier. It was amazing monument to this soldier. Then it was only a short walk to see most iconic monuments in Rome, the Colosseum.

I had wanted to see the Colosseum for ages and then I finally got a chance to see it in all if its glory. It made me realize that there was so many people that came before me and I need to learn from them in order to learn from their mistakes. But in that moment I stood in bewilderment looking at what the might of the Roman Empire was like.

That was the end of the tour, but I managed to find my way over to the Trevi Fountain. I just wanted a picture and to throw a coin in the fountain, but I soon learned that it was one of the biggest tourist traps in the city. People were like seven or eight people deep to try and get a picture. Yeah I squeezed in and made my way to the front, got my photo, threw my two coins and made my wish, and booked it to the closest metro station. 

I got back to the Hostel in one piece and grabbed dinner with Sean. Half way through an amazing dinner, I looked over at a table across from mine and recognized someone. It was someone I had gone to Elementary school with and I hadn’t seen in years. Briana I hope the rest of your trip went will! Just goes to show how small the world really is. After dinner it turned into another night out, and met some more amazing people, and then called it a night.

Now it was the same story as the morning before, since I hadn’t slept in in such a long time. Then once I was ready for the day I made my way to the Vatican. Some of you know that I am not the most religious person in the world but I need to see the home of the Pope, and of the Christian church. It was amazing, and I wish I could have taken even more time then I had in the Vatican, but my time there made me think about life in a new light, as a lot of things on this trip have made me do. But then it was back to the Hostel for a quiet one, because the Vatican took the full day.

 The next day was a travel day, and I was traveling to Venice.

I left Rome early, and it felt really bittersweet because I loved Rome. I did however manage to lose my sunglasses the morning I left or someone grabbed them the evening before. I really wasn’t gutted about the glasses; I was gutted about the Camp Lincoln Chums that were on them. If anyone knows if camp is making more or has any left from last year let me know because I loved those.

Ok back to the adventure. I ended up at Termini shortly after getting new shades, and after another short wait I was on a train headed to Venice. I fell asleep for most of the four-hour train ride to the city. But when I awoke I was on the way into the “City of Water”. The city really should be called the City of spending all of your money. For anyone that is going to the city be prepared to spend way too much money for simple things in other cities. To get to where my hostel was it was almost 30 euros, and the boat ride took more than a half an hour.

But besides how expensive the city was, the city really was a living work of art. I guess if you get caught doing any form of graffiti in the city the punishment is huge. But I was there to enjoy the city that was basically built on water. It is amazing how this city with all its beauty hasn’t sunk. I went through St Mark's Square, and just soaked it in. Honestly if you're ever in the city just walk around the city is just so beautiful.

I did feel however it really is a HUGE tourist trap. Like Venice is something that everyone needs to see in their life and I totally recommend that you do, but please don’t be like the ignorant tourists that I ran into everywhere in the city. It really makes other travelers times a lot less enjoyable.

I woke up early the next morning know it was going to take a while to get to the airport because of these boats, and the bus to get me to the airport. But I was glad to be out of the city. I really can't describe my time in the city, because at certain times I was stuck just looking at the city, and realizing it’s beauty, and what it took to create. Although my time was short here, I found myself wanted to come back. But if I was to come back it would be with someone else so it wouldn’t be weird to take a gondola ride alone, and that we could just enjoy the beauty of the city together. But that is all for now, next stop Germany! But remember to stay safe and have fun!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Madrid: The Capital of Spain

Hey everyone,

I last left off, I was in Barcelona, and had made it to Spain’s capital city of Madrid. I went straight to the Hostel after I got to the city and that is where I will pick up again. I hope your all enjoying the travel posts!

So after trusting my offline maps app (since then the app is buggy, but I still rate this app. Go download Ulmon’s Citymaps2go) I made it to my hostel in once piece. I stayed at the number 1 rated hostel in the city. The Hat was a top-notch hostel in compared to the other ones I have stayed at minus the Generator Paris. Check in was super easy and I got a free beer right when I checked in, so they already got off to the right start. I dropped my things let everyone know that I had made it to Madrid in one piece, then went out and wondered for a bit.

It was a beautiful city, and as I was wondering I stumbled across the Royal Palace of Madrid, that the Royals don’t actually live in anymore. Come to realize the next day my tour guide would take us there and explain about the building for what seemed like hours. However after seeing the building, I walked around and found food, then headed back to the hostel.

Shortly after I got back to the hostel I went up to the rooftop where they had a bar setup and I got my free beer. I stumbled across this travelers meeting and I got to chat with a local about what he recommended I see when I see the sights the next day. I had him give me some things to put on my map and I was set for the tour the next morning.

I woke up late for me well I have been traveling. And yes for those of you who know how I sleep it was well before 10am. But I grabbed a quick breakfast and then met our tour guide to see the city. We started our tour in Plaza Mayor then we made our way through La Latina where we saw the Oldest Restaurant in the world called Sobrino de Botin. I suggest going there if you can afford it because it really does look pricy. 102 euro for baby eels anyone? We then made our way to this “open air” market and then back to the Royal Castle. We ended our tour at Puerta del Sol, and from there I was on a mission to get to the Santiago Burnabeu the Home to Real Madrid. I walked by the Palacio de Cibeles in the process of taking the, what seemed like a two hour walk to the stadium.


I will say however long that walk was it was well worth it. The stadium was amazing! I saw all 11 of Real’s Champions league trophies, sat on each leave of the stadium from the nose bleeds to the VIP section to pitch side in a seat where the likes of Marcelo, Ronaldo, Bale, and Isco have sat (granted those names rarely sit the bench as it is.) Then I saw the locker room and the Press Room. I will say the experience is a must for football fans regardless of whom you support. But after a metro ride back, and a few drinks with my roommates on the roof I headed to bed to get ready for the next day.

I wanted a slower day for my last full day in the city. So after getting a good nights sleep I went out for breakfast, and I found a Dunkin’ Donuts in Madrid, and I had to have breakfast there. Wasn’t even close to any dunks back home but for what it was it was good. I then made my way over to the Templo de Debod which are these Egyptian monuments close to the royal palace, but are a bit out of the way. Then I made the walk to see the other major football club in the city Atl├ętico Madrid. The area around the stadium was completely different from Real’s, and you can tell that Atl├ętico is the working class club in Madrid. But those stops took up most of my day in Madrid, and after exploring La Latina again I choose to call it a night, and pack for my flight the next morning.

The next morning seemed like a blur, and after taking the metro to the airport I boarded a Ryanair flight to the city of Rome. The flight was easy, and made the start to my time in Italy better since I saw the Vatican, The Colosseum, and the whole of the city from the sky. But I will talk about the start to my Roman adventure soon, for now remember to stay safe, and have fun!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunny Barcelona

Hey everyone,

So this post will be part of the double post day because I want to get caught up a bit on where I have been. So since I last left off I was in Montpellier, and I was heading to the home of the Camp Nou, Barcelona.

My journey to Barcelona started a bit later than I wanted due to the French rail strikes. So after my train getting delayed an hour I finally got on a train that would take me into Spain and into Barcelona. The train ride was nice, but because the rail strike was still going on everyone was just fighting for a seat even if they didn’t have a ticket. About half way through the train I had some French guy start to lose his mind since he though I was in his seat. I wasn’t. But I moved to just make things easier. It was a move for the better since I got a chance to meet three lads from Denmark that were on their way to Barcelona as well.

After getting a chance to meet them and to speak with them, we all managed to get off the train into the city in one piece. I hope they enjoyed the days of the beach that they were most looking forward to. After I got out of the train station I made a beeline for the Hostel. I hoped it was better than my one in Montpellier, and I had my head on a swivel for the Barcelona Pickpockets I have read so much about.

I checking into my hostel with no problem, and managed to not get lost looking for the hostel. I was able to get some much-needed laundry done first thing there. I took the night really slow, because I wanted to catch up on sleep and send off some emails. I think that to date the pillow in that hostel was probably the best pillow I have seen in a hostel.

But the next morning came, and after a free breakfast I went out to see one of the things I have wanted to see since I started planning this trip, which is the Camp Nou. For my American readers who don’t follow football (soccer), the Camp Nou is the stadium where FC Barcelona plays which is one of the biggest football clubs, if not the biggest, in the world. I went through the clubs museum and saw UEFA Champions League Trophies, Ballon’dor’s, Golden Boots, FIFA Club World Cup trophies, La Liga, and Copa Del Ray trophies. I felt at home there, and after that I sat in one of the belcher seats, and just imagined Messi, and the rest of the squad playing the beautiful game.

So after I stopped being a five year-old fan boy, I left the Camp Nou, and headed to my next stop on the first day, which was the Sagrada Familia. This was a church that was designed in 1800’s and started construction in 1882, but still to this day isn’t finished. They say it will be finished in 2026, but we’ll see about that. I will say though, it is something that everyone needs to see at least once in their life the building was beautiful.

I then wandered back to the hostel to get a water, and went back out and saw the area of Barcelona where they hosted the 1992 Olympics. I had never been to a city that has ever hosted an Olympic games so it was awesome to see it first hand. But after that I went back to the hostel and called it a night. I walked everywhere, because for some reason when I was in Barcelona I decided not to take the metro. After the fact I think I really should have because my legs still hurt from that.

So after a good night sleep and a late start I wanted to walk down and see La Rambla, and go to the beach. I ended up going to the beach for the most part of the day, but I forgot one key thing. Sunscreen. So when I got back from the beach I looked like a cooked lobster. However I got a glass of Sangria from one of the beach bars that overlooked the mediterranean. That made my day. But then I adventured off to La Rambla. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the market street. I actually ended up finding a Dunkin’ Donuts in Barcelona, which was awesome, but it was in front of one of the biggest markets in the city called La Boqueria, I suggest it for any of you who are going to visit the city in the future. I will warn you your senses will get attacked.

That was the last thing I did that day, so after not getting any sleep that night I managed to make my way out to see the city on my last full day. I went to a Palace (Parc de Pedralbes) that they turned into a music venue, but I found that it was the only place that was flying the Spanish flag. The people of Barcelona fly the flag of the region, Catalonia. The regional pride made me proud to call myself an New Englander, and I will be flying the New England flag more when I get back to the states.

But after that I went to the Park Guell. I was unable to get in because I guess they weren’t letting anyone in the park till after 8:30 pm. So I walked around the free area, and managed to see a beautiful view of the city. That view mixed with the friendliness of the people there, makes Barcelona a place I want to come back in the future.

But after my adventures all over the city, the next morning came and I got ready to go to my next city, the home of Los Blanco’s, Madrid. I managed to get on my train to Madrid in one piece and I got ready to see the Spanish capital.

I thought it might have been a lot to post two posts in the same day, but I wanted you all to get caught up on my euro trip so far. I will continue to post soon. Keep your eyes posted for a Madrid post later this week, and I fly to my next destination. But until then remember to stay safe and have fun!


Madness in Montpellier

Hey everybody,

Ok so this is going to be kinda a quick post since everything I had planned in Montpellier kinda went to hell and fast. So forgive me if this seems like a really short post, it's because my time in Montpellier though enjoyable, was a tad be worrying and did not go to plan.

So after getting on the train from Paris Gard de Lyon I was off to get to my next destination of Montpellier. The weather instantly began to become sunny and it felt like the Mediterranean which was what I was looking for. The train ride went well, and I was able to manage a conversation with this lovely couple in French with the help of my phrase book and a few words I picked up in Mr. Carrier's study hall when he was grading French work back in high school.

But after about a two and a half hour ride I finally made it to my stop. The Montpellier train station was beautiful but the second I went outside it I was hit with the Mediterranean sun and started to look at the beautiful architecture that was all around the city. It was only a short walk to my hostel, which it was nice to drop my bags. I used that day for getting some work done and getting in contact with everyone. But I knew from the second I got to the hostel I knew something was off.

Ok so there is only one hostel in Montpellier and I highly recommend you don't stay there. The place is basically falling down, the showers have pipes showing, and you genuinely don't feel safe. I didn't feel safe, so before I did anything the next day I booked a hotel about a mile away from the hostel. I think it was for the best!

After checking in to the new digs I tried to make the best of a bad situation, and I went and explored the city. I went to this beautiful part of the city and saw this area where you can see almost all of the city from. And when I was there, there was a little flee market going on. I ended up walking around the flee market until I found this food vender. I managed to get a Croce madam in France, so I think I did that right. But after walking for over 6 miles that day I went back to the hotel and when to bed early.

The next day I had something planned which was the reason that I came to Montpellier. I had a wine tour all booked, but come the day of the tour I found out it was canceled due to low booking turnout. I was a bit upset about that because I really wanted to step foot on a French winery, but I guess on this trip it wasn't met to be. So I went back into town to see some things that I might have missed. It was a beautiful day and I just walked around. The pickpockets were out in full force getting ready for Euros in a few days to take advantage of the Italian and Swiss fans that would come to watch their national team play.

But after another few miles of walking around I called it early and got a good full night's rest for the next day. Because the next day was the day I would head to the home of Messi and Company, Barcelona.

I hope you are all liking this posts. I'm doing my best to give you the best content that I can through this media. But I will have more travel posts to come! So remember to stay safe and have fun!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Je T'aime Paris

Hey everyone,

So Eurotrip is going really well! I've made it all around France and I'm starting to learn a bit of French! Nothing like learning a language when you have no other choice, but to try and speak it. So I'll pick up where I last left off which was the train ride to Paris.
So after making my way to the train station from the center of Bayeux I waited for my train that would take me into the city. After a short wait and speaking to a lovely group of elderly folks about the French rail strike, the train came to the platform for us to hop on. After one stop in Caen to get people on our train we went straight to the city. 

The ride wasn't that long, but I was fighting falling asleep the whole time thanks to not getting any sleep the night before (this is starting to become a theme). But I wish I had gotten some sleep on the train, because once I was off the train Paris showed me she was in full force.
I came in through the Paris Saint Lazare station, and looking at the map on my phone my hostel wasn't to far from it. I got into the city at 4:30 I didn't make it to my hostel till 6:45. I wandered the streets for a few hours trying to ask people for directions and figure out where I was going. (Starbucks France: just make your wifi free so I don't have to try and buy something to use your wifi!) But after that two hour struggle I made it in one piece!

All I wanted to do was drop my bags and just relax for a bit, so I went right up to my room. When I got to my room I got a chance to bunk with some of the most amazing people I have met on my travels so far. David, KC, Jesse, Callum, Cameron, and Bruno where some of the most sound people I got a chance to meet on any of my travels in the past year. David and KC are owners of an art collective in Rochester, NY called UUU Art collective, Callum and Cameron are two of the most friendly Scots that I have ever met. Jesse, who was surprised when I said I knew where Grantham was, is such a down to earth girl. And finally Bruno the 6'0 Pol that is always up for a good time. 

We formed a great bound from the beginning and when the first full day in Paris rolled around Callum, Cameron, David, KC and Myself went on a free walking tour! We started right in front of the Saint-Michael statue in the Latin district. And it was there that I witnessed my first pickpocket of the trip. It's a danger when traveling, but if you got your head on a swivel you have nothing to worry about. We also saw them get arrested as well later on. From there our guide took us to Notre Dame Cathedral and told us all about the French Revolution. I was in awe just standing there looking at the cathedral and it's architecture, and that wasn't the last time I was on this tour. But I got to hear the cathedral bells ring which was something I never thought I'd hear.

After the Cathedral we made our way over to the 'New' Lock Bridge because the old Lock Bridge couldn't hold the weight of the locks and the people that walk across it. There we learned about the lock tradition (where french gigolos use combo locks on the bridge), and saw that the water levels in the city were extremely high. The rain has been merciless on the city the past several days and it began to flood parts of the city. Before we got swept away from the water, our group made it over to the Louvre.

Our tour guide told us all about the Louvre and what the buildings were used for before it was an art museum. After that we got to see a cool art exhibit that was on the pyramids on the entrance of the museum. The picture doesn't do it justice. After we found good spot to see the Eiffel Tower, and that is where our tour ended. KC, and David had bailed when we got to the Louvre to go look at some of the art, however Callum, Cameron, and myself continued on the tour. We got a quick bite to eat then it was off to see the Eiffel Tower. First however we had to see the Arch de Triumph. 

The Arch was something that I always saw in textbooks (same as the Eiffel Tower) and wanted to see it in person. It was so large from what I thought it was and in such a nice part of the city. After that, the group of use made it to the Eiffel Tower without getting too badly lost. I stood in awe looking at this wonder of the modern world and it was something to behold. It was then I really wish I had someone to travel with, like Callum and Cameron, but traveling alone wasn't too bad.

After that we all made it back to the hostel and then went out for a nice meal. KC, David, and Bruno all meet up with use back at the hostel, before we left to get food. I got the Duck which if you are ever in Paris I totally recommend you should get. But after paying for our meals we wanted to just go out, but because we didn't want to venture far, we ended up in the hostel for a few drinks. We met some great people from EF College break, who were staying at the hostel, and just all in all had a great night.

We were all a bit slow getting up from the night before, but we all knew it was well worth it. I rolled with Callum and Cameron again, as we went to both Sacre Coeur, a beautiful church overlooking Paris, and the Paris Catacombs, pathways under the city where hundreds of thousands of people were put to rest. It was a great day, but I made it back to the hostel and I was a bit shattered. But everyone wanted to go see the Eiffel Tower at night, and with a little pressure and a bit of a second wind on the metro, I ended up going. 

Photo Credit: Cameron Swanson
I was glad I did. After seeing it during the day and at night, the Eiffel Tower is something special. But the Tower sparkling at night is something that I will never forget at all. After getting some photos, and just standing there looking at it, we all hit the wall and needed some sleep since we all left the next day. David called an Uber and it got us back to the hostel in no time. Most of us said our goodbyes that night, because we weren't sure if we would see them in the morning.

I rolled out early morning to caught my train to Montpellier, and everyone else was getting there next form of transport to their next destinations. As I sat in the train station I had to think for a moment, and say how lucky I was to get roommates like that. I wish them all the best in their future travels!

But I realize that I am a city behind so I hope to get a post about Montpellier out later this week, so look out for that. I will be posting trips like this for the next month so look out for that. But remember to stay safe and enjoy the day!