Travel and adventure are held very dear to my heart, so when I found out I was going to Europe for the first time, I was thrilled! Going to Europe for 2 weeks was an absolute dream. My family and I spent time in Paris, Amsterdam, London and Barcelona, soaking in history and culture. I could talk about this trip for hours, but I'll try to summarize as best as I can...
Arriving in Paris, I immediately fell in love with the architecture. It was a sweet, charming, old city feel with a fast-paced, new city population. You know all those Parisian stereotypes? Ya, they're true. Many Paris natives were rude to us American tourists. EVERYONE seemed to ride on mopeds. I mean, seriously, they were lined up for miles on the streets. Cafes? They're everywhere. And there are people sitting at all of them, all day. There are also cigarette butts covering the streets, but, as one tour guide pointed out, if a cafe isn't littered in cigarette butts, you know it's not authentic Parisian.
The Louvre was incredible, but it's also MASSIVE. We spent hours then and didn't even make it through one wing. And the Mona Lisa...seeing it is a bloodbath. The viewing area in front of it was more crowded than any concert mosh pit I've ever been in. And once finally pushing and shoving my way to the front, you're too sick of people to really appreciate it, but it was definitely worth seeing once.
Overall, the sights of Paris were beautiful. I expected the Eiffel Tower at night to be overrated, but it wasn't at all. It was spectacular. It's hard for words to explain the beauty of this City of Love!
Another city whose stereotypes proved true. Yes, everyone rides bikes. There's an entire rush hour for bike traffic and these guys don't yield to pedestrians. Trust me, my mom almost got run over by some suit-clad businessman on an old bike returning home from work. And, yes, there are "cafes" (for the purchase and consumption of marijuana) everywhere. You smell it walking through parks, streets, markets, etc.
Markets...lots and lots of markets. This was one of my favorite parts of Amsterdam and Europe in general. The markets were full of souvenirs but also of highly affordable fresh produce, trinkets, clothing, shoes, etc.
While here, we went on a beautiful canal tour, the Anne Frank House, and the Van Gogh museum. All stunning and inspiring in their own ways and highly recommended. In all the cities of Europe we stayed in Airbnbs which was really incredible because you truly get a local feel of where you're staying and usually a plethora of space and amenities without outrages costs. Our Airbnb in Amsterdam was my favorite. It was a house boat! It was such a cool experience to fall asleep on a boat on the Amsterdam canal, waking up in the morning and sitting on its balcony sipping a coffee and watching boats float by.
The vibes of Amsterdam as a whole, with such a laid back attitude, eco-friendly and people-friendly technology, clean streets, and so much more made it my favorite place in Europe for sure.
Coming to London, I had some preconceived attitude that the British would all feel like they were better than us Americans. But, in my experience, that wasn't the case at all. We always had great service and met the most hilarious and kind people.
One thing I was disappointed by was the fish and chips because I felt that they were bland, but I LOVED their meat pies and ended up having one every night. Some true stereotypes for London were the black cabs, red busses everywhere, and packed-full pubs everywhere.
One sight I really loved in London (we went to many including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, etc) was the Tower of London. It was really interesting to learn the history and our tour guide was perfect; he was a real "beefeater" at the tour and it was obvious he loved his job. In total, London was great and I couldn't get enough of the accents!
Barcelona Bonita. This city was dreamy. Its rich culture, its beautiful and original architecture, its great diversity of landscape...and its unique Spanish accent. Here, we went to markets, the Gaudi houses, a flamenco show, a monastery (Montserrat), the beach (Sitges), and more. I really enjoyed the monastery, tucked away in beautiful mountains, where we went for a hike and then went to see the choir boys singing the most heavenly sound.
While here, we made sure to eat typical Spanish meals including paella and tapas! The food here was delicious and there was a wide variety for everyone.
On the last night here, we saw musical fountains at the palace, which it seemed like the whole city came to see. For a free attraction, it was really worth going to.
Overall, Europe was an amazing place to go and I can't wait to explore more of it one day! This trip was only the beginning of a great adventure!