With the fall fast approaching and the summer disappearing, I wanted to take a post to talk about my summer that was mostly one big adventure. I haven’t been blogging as often as I normally do for the simple fact that I haven’t been in the city for most of the summer. Unlike most other summers that are spent traveling between sporting events, camping and spending time at a cottage or two, this summer I went for the whole enchilada and took a month off to travel around Europe. The only other time I’d been to Europe was for a two day stop in Paris on my way to Tunisia. While it was amazing to see Paris, two days was only enough to get me infected with the traveling bug. So this year, when my brother asked if I wanted to travel with him for a while after he finished his exchange in England, I jumped at the chance. He could only travel for about two weeks but I wanted more! So I asked Sarah if she would join me for another two weeks. So for the month of July I explored Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence, Rome, Paris and London.
The first city my brother and I visited was Amsterdam. While many may think we were only there to take part in the local coffee shops and visit the Red Light district, there is so much more to Amsterdam. One of my highlights was renting bikes and exploring one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. We also got a taste of Amsterdam at the Heineken brewery, which has a great tour and you get a few free beers. Another highlight was the Van Gogh museum where you get the chance to appreciate the work of a true master! Don’t forget to get your picture taken with the IAMSTERDAM monument nearby.
Berlin is a fantastic city and is one of, if not the most important city in modern history. Having been the centre of the Second World War and then playing a central role in the cold war, Berlin is filled with history and amazing sights. They have amazing museums, nightlife, art, restaurants and people. Before the Second World War the city held close to 7million people, now it only houses about 3.5 million people. This gives the city a kind of empty feel but also helps keep costs down, making it one of the most affordable cities in Europe to visit. There is so much to see in Berlin that I recommend taking a tour. In almost every city I visited I took advantage of Sandemans New Europe tours. These tours are put on by freelance tour guides who only get paid by tips. If the tour is good they get paid better than if it was ok. All of the tours I got were great but the one in Berlin was particularly good! The three hour tour took us from the Brandenburg Gate to Check Point Charlie to museum island. There is so much to see and do, you’ll leave Berlin already planning your next visit there.
After Amsterdam and Berlin, my brother and I were ready for some nice weather, so we made our way down to Italy. Our first stop was Florence. I hadn’t done any real research on Florence and wasn’t expecting much but was I ever surprised! Florence is an amazing city. It feels like you’ve gone back in time as you walk down the narrow cobblestone streets, always in the constant gaze of the Duomo. The Duomo is the massive 13th century cathedral located in the centre of town. If you visit Florence you have to take the time and walk up all of the stairs to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views! After Florence we made our way down to Rome. Walking around Rome feels like you’re on a movie set, with the Coliseum, Vatican and Trevi Fountain all to be seen. While I enjoyed visiting Rome a lot, it was so hot that I was happy to head north to Paris.
After a quick stop in London to meet up with Sarah, it was off to Paris. If I was forced to choose a favourite city, I would choose Paris. Not only is Paris a beautiful and photogenic city, it also has some amazing food. While in Paris we did everything from visiting the Louvre, Versailles, l’Arc de Triomphe and climbed the Eiffel Tower. While these were all amazing things to do and see, my favourite thing that we did was to visit a couple of shops to buy everything for a picnic. Then head down to Place des Invalides, open a bottle of wine and enjoy a picnic while watching the world go by. If you’re ever in Paris I would highly recommend taking the time to go for a picnic! After Paris we were off to London
London was amazing! We were there for the first week of the Olympics, which was great. Leading up to the Olympics everyone was telling us how insane London would be, giant lines and an overloaded Underground. Well we hardly had to wait in any lines at the tourist attractions and other then busy times, the Underground was a breeze. The best part of being there for the first part of the Olympics was seeing my friend Michael Tayler compete in the white water kayaking salmon event. It was amazing seeing someone I know, in person, compete at the highest level. Remember his name because he is sure to be a force to reckon with at the next Olympic games!
London is an all round cool city, it has it all. If you like museums you need to visit the British Museum, which houses the Rosetta Stone and other amazing artifacts from around the world. If you like theater, there are tons of shows to see in London and you can even stop in and see some Shakespeare at the Globe Theater. London sure has some amazing food for a city which is the capital of a nation not known to have the best food. If you’re visiting London my top recommendation is to visit Borough Market. This local market has all kinds of amazing food, from raw ingredients to readymade meals, you’ll find everything here. It goes without saying that London is steeped in history; everywhere you look there is a piece of history. You have to visit London Tower, where you can see the crown jewels and meet a Beef Eater.
I could go on and on about my adventures in Europe. I’ve got stories about losing my bags, booking the wrong flight, watching a dog jump into a fountain at the Louvre and so much more. But the best way to experience it isn’t through my stories but by going on an adventure yourself! So go buy a ticket!
If you haven’t had enough pictures yet, check these out…