After almost six months in Latin American countries, it was time for a change. I was ready for a different pace than the chaotic wonder that comes from backpacking across such a diverse region, and as such embarked on a plane yet again with Europe as my new destination.
My first stop wasn’t entirely too contrasting as Madrid was to be the beginning of three weeks of Old continent adventures. With rainy weather, my first day was spent eating churros and visiting museums.
I quickly embarked on my first train journey the day after to Barcelona, time to visit friends and family from my exchange program three years ago. As welcoming as ever, I spent my time with my host family revisiting memories and visiting the few destinations we hadn’t managed to fit in way back then. The weekend passed by and already it was time for goodbyes.
From there, Lyon! A midway stop before Paris, I walked its streets and had a blast discovering the hidden gems of its thrift stores! As it was my second time visiting Paris, I took the time to spend a whole day visiting the Louvre, but still revisited famous landmarks as are the Eiffel tower, Sacred heart basilica and the Arc de Triomphe. My final night, I jammed along a favourite musical band of mine named The Lumineers.
When backpacking, you have the freedom of choosing where and when you will spend your next few days. I choose to head to Luxembourg after my time in France, a sort of been there, seen it type of travels which I normally don’t undertake. Luxembourg was pretty in the European style of old and quaint city centres, and had free public transport which made it easy to go trekking on my second day there through the country’s part of the geographical Ardenne region.
Luxembourg was also a midway stop between Paris and Cologne where I was heading to see my German friends from my time volunteering in Campeche, Mexico. We were all so excited to see one another and we spent our time together reminiscing on our past travels and sharing our future plans.
From there, I travelled to Bruxelles where my mom and grandma joined me for a week travelling in Belgium. We revelled in the Belgian fries, waffles, sweets, mussels and beers! My favourite town was Ghent, a beautiful city filled with history and canals, but visiting the Wallonie region also had its charm. I was happy to spend those days with family and hug them once again!
Our week ended as quickly as it took to say hello and goodbye and I was off to my final destination in Europe. Amsterdam was as crazy and yet amazingly cool as people say and it was extra special to visit it with my friends from Cologne! They joined me for three days and shared with me their attachement to this city. I loved walking along its many streets and seeing it all; the Red Light District, the canals, the quirky museums and the liberal culture exhibited while trying to avoid the oh so numerous bikes!
Europe was so different from Latin America, but it was time to head off for a well deserved reprieve for my wallet! I managed to see so much in just three weeks, and I know I will be back to not only visit the main cities, but also the numerous villages and regions that I have yet to see.
Stay tuned for more as I am heading to my final country of this particular segment of my gap year. After, I will be heading home to work before sauntering off again in the summer!