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Adventure to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam

Adventure to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam

It seems so long since I have been in Prague. I just got back from a 10 day trip to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. It was my first trip outside of Prague since I have been here. It was wonderful and full of adventures. I have to say that I cannot believe how convenient it is to travel once you are in Europe.  There are so many inexpensive ways to travel whether by bus, train, or discount airlines. I  can only urge you to save up as much as you can and  jump on a mode of transportations and see as much of Europe as you can.  Here is a little overview of some of the things that I did.

Paris- It is truly a beautiful place and words cannot describe all the splendor that it has. I knew I had to go here on my European tour so  I made it my first stop. I saw Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris right before I moved to Prague  (which I am obsessed with by the way, I just love Woody Allen films)  and I was literally counting down the days until I would be there. Plus, There is so much history and architecture not to mention the plethora of museums, pastry shops, art exhibits, tourists, shops, and more. My friends and I tried to cram as much as we could into our days. We visited the Louvre, which I can proud say we went in for free because we spoke in Czech and used our transportation passes as IDs which made us look like we were EU students.  I could have spent all day there because I adore art, but I settled for 5 hours of glorious art viewing. We went to Notre Dame, Champs-Élysées,  Arc de Triomph, Le Petit Palais, the Eiffel Tower of course, Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Cœur Basilica and meandered along the quaint streets. My favorite part of Paris is the neighborhood called Montmartre which is on the Right Bank of the River Seine. It is an area frequently inhabited by artists with the like of Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Degas and  Renoir all  having called it home at one point. Now, there are street performers at every corner and local artist still flock to the hill that overlooks the entire city.  This neighborhood is not as congested with tourists so you really get to know Parisians. Plus Amelie and Moulin Rouge take place there, need I say more.

Here are a few notes  to keep in mind.  Paris is the most visited city in the world, hence it is swarming with tourists. The amount of people can be overwhelming and this is coming from a city girl herself. With the high traffic, there are places in Paris that can be kind of dirty. Also, be aware of pickpockets. Unlike in Prague where they do not approach you head on, in Paris they are aggressive and even touch you fairly forcefully.  Just be extra cautious. Overall, my time in Paris was heavenly and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Brussels- As much as I loved Paris, this medium sized city  and capital of the EU  stole my heart. It is so international which I adore and they are super friendly. It is a walkable city and the tourist crowds are in control and very manageable.  We met translators from Malta, students from Poland and Ireland and many more people from all over the world. The city is broken into three districts; we spent the most time in the old city center and we ventured into the EU district as well.  The streets are a maze of shops, chocolate shops,  cafes and resturants. The town square which is called the Grand Place  has a unique mix of gilded baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV buildings.  This city has a unique charm that I personally loved and Belgians have a very interesting sense of humor.  Of course, I could not resist the  luxurious chocolates and literally sampled some from every shop and I had to buy some. Also, french fries were actually created in Belgium not France, and they have tons of stands that fry them freshly for you.  They speak both Flemish,which is extremely close to Dutch, and French.  Overall, I love Brussels and highly recommend it.

Amsterdam-This picturesque canal city of Northern Europe is certainly a gem. First of all, the canals make you feel like you are walking on a movie set, they are so beautiful. The shopping is perfect. There are thousands of small quirky shops that have unique gifts. The people are extremely friendly and are very eager to talk and give advice about their city. I went to the Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank’s Secret Annex. The Secret Annex was a great museum and (as most WWII spots are) an emotional place. I remember reading her diary as a young girl and I was so glad that I was able to visit the exact spot that she had hidden in for years.   Bicycles rule the land here. They have their own traffic lights and lanes. Amsterdam is infamous for its Red Light District and its coffee shops, but there is so much more to this quirky city.  I am very glad that I took the trek to the North and saw this wonderful city.

I was surprised at how much I missed Prague.  When I met people along the road, I felt like I bragged about Prague like it was my child or something. Traveling really made me appreciate my choice to study in Prague and I literally felt like a small anxious child waiting to return.

In other news, I got a job. I teach English to a 3-year old girl or rather I babysit her and teach her basic English words. I go every Monday to her house located on the other side of Prague and for four hours chase the little rambunctious girl around.  I also love talking to her mom and learning about the Czech Republic.

I am going to Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava this weekend. I will update soon with more updates.

Happy Reading!

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