Easter break just ended and boy am I upset about that; I spent my holiday vacation on a European excursion to some of the most wonderful world class cities. From the tight streets of Amsterdam to the water highways in Venice, the incredible sites covered in my trip exceeded far beyond expectations. To kick off backpacking around Europe I first arrived in Amsterdam, Holland in the Netherlands the most famous of Dutch cities. Everyone talks about the overwhelming hub-bub and bright lights around this Dutch fantasy location and now I understand why. In the middle of the city you will never ever find your self alone as the tourists and local natives are ALWAYS out and about. The Dutch might very well be the most social people I have ever encountered. As you walk the narrow streets, and I mean narrow, you feel like you are walking through a real life gameboard filled with cafes, sweet shops, casinos and much more. The section of town my hostel was located near is the Red Light District which is both shocking and incredible. Besides the city lights and fast pace night-life, Amsterdam is also one of the most beautiful cities to visit due to its many canals, bridges and unique architecture. And don’d forget about the bikes…BIKES BIKES BIKES! Everyone rides bikes to get around the city whether they be a suited business man or a mother of three.
It is a wonderful thing to see but makes crossing the streets a death sentence. I swear I will forever have anxiety whenever i hear the ringing of a bike bell in the near distance.
Amsterdam is also home to one of the most famous beers in the world: Heineken. I was lucky enough to tour the Heineken brewery/factory, tasting the very hopps they put into the beer. Heineken is the only beer company that is allowed to used the specified sweet wheat they use, giving them a secret ingredient and advantage over other lager. Enjoying one of Amsterdam’s dutch dessert waffles while sipping on an ice cold Heineken definitely gave me a true Holland experience, and a delicious one at that!
Heineken can from vending machine
The next step in my journey was the gorgeous city of Prague. This was arguably my favorite place I went on the trip, although it may have a little to due with the sunny 75 degree whether we had while there. Prague is much larger than Amsterdam, thus to see as many sites as possible my travelling partner and I segwayed around the city which proved to be one of the most joyous experiences. Prague is filled with so many beautiful sites including the John Lennon wall and the Prague Castle hill view of the city.
Prague is also famous for beer and their many breweries in the city. I have never seen so many different types of beer in my life! And since beer is so popular around the country it is extremely cheap, which makes dinner and drinks outing s very popular around places like the Old Town Square. Recommended from a tour guide I was able to find the oldest restaurant/brewery in all of Prague and ate some traditional Czeck food which includes dumplings, goulash, beef and cream.
The third stop on my excursion was Budapest, Hungary a place I never would have imagined going to. Hungary is an interesting place with a very inflated currency ($1 = 228 FT) meaning I was able to take out a 10,000FT note from the ATM! We took a 7 hour bus ride from Prague to Budapest and were able to see the beautiful countryside of Hungry with colorful houses on colorful farms. Budapest, unlike Prague and Amsterdam is much more city-like similar to New York or Boston with multiple lane roads and wide streets. The weather in Budapest while we were there was amazing, so people were all over the parks and lawns napping and soaking up the sun. Since we were nearing Italy, we noticed ice cream, and more so gilatto, was very popular around Hungary. My favorite part about Hungary are the thermal baths scattered around the cities. They are essentially large scale spas that anyone can go to for a day or a month, year etc, kid of like a gym membership. The baths contain indoor hot-tubs saunas, a gym, and outdoor pools and thermal baths (like a very big hot-tub). From the outside you cannot see the baths as the glorious building wraps completely around the outdoor waters.
View from Fisherman’s Bastion
As the sun went down, the city of Budapest seemed to grow in beauty. Hungary, by far, has thee most beautiful Parliament building I have ever seen, which can be seen best across the river. Two other famous buildings in Budapest are the Buda Castle and even more impressive, the Fishermen’s bastion which is basically a castle.
The most impressive view of the city can definitely be seen from the . steps of the bastion and the back of the castle.
Last on my backpacking excursion was Italy which I think tied with Prague for my favorite. First up in Italy was Florence, a city filled with friendly people, scrumptious food and beautiful nature. Italy is really a place you need to see rather than read about so I will try to show you how wonderful it is through photography.
There is no beating the food in Italy, especially the gnocci pasta and bruschetta you see above. In Venice the water-filled streets are perfect for gondola rides and outdoor restaurants. I could talk for hours about Italy but it is a place everyone should experience for themselves. I hope one day I can live in Italy for a few years and be able to travel around the whole country.