Ello folks. Hope all is well. Just dropping in again.
Two weeks ago now I finished my 10 day 5 city tour of Western Europe. 42 hours of bus and 4800 kilometers later and I’ve seen more than 99% of the world has. This is going to be a brief overview of everything I did and saw with a little of my 2 cents of each city. My trip started in Berlin. Berlin was very unique. The mixture of history and German modern architecture/fine engineering made Berlin so memorable. One of my first stops was the historical Reichstag which for a long time in German history simply represented a false promise of democracy. The phony parliamentary building was barely put to actual use during its early years when Germany was still ruled by monarchs. It was used slightly during the Weimar Republic but then was burned down and bombed during the rise of Nazi Germany. During the reconstruction of Berlin after World War II it was reconstructed with meaning and symbolism. It now stands with a steel and glass dome. In this building now, visitors can freely walk up and around the dome, which is situated directly above the elected German parliament. A symbol not only of transparency but also the people standing over the government. This is just a taste of this historical but modern Berlin. Other than that, I visited the Brandenburg Gates, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall and a myriad of other memorials, gardens and monuments. To sit here and give you a history lesson would be boring and lame so if you’re that interested, let me know and I’d be glad to fill you in. Berlin and most of northern Germany in general has a big rave and metal scene. Your stereotypical guys in black skinny jeans, chains and ridiculous Mohawks are common pedestrians. Likewise goes for nightclubs, they’re your typical stone arch basements with sketchy huge bald bouncers. We went to the most well known club in Berlin named Matrix. Entry is sort of hard but we managed. Place is pretty big. On a packed night, all 7 dance floors are shuffle room only,no room for the Holy Spirit out here boys and girls, and every room is playing a different genre of music. Pretty sick and a must if you can in Berlin. Nonetheless prepare yourself for a good time & try to stay away from the insanely attractive hookers.
My next stop was Amsterdam. Amsterdam was one of a kind, filled with thousands of canals, it is a unique city. With an aspect of magic and beauty with a splash of mischief in its coffee shops and Red Light District. It’s one of a kind and for stories, you’ll just have to ask me in person. Amsterdam I noticed had an interesting demographic as well, I’m assuming because it’s government is so tolerant and opens its arms to refugees seeking asylum because I felt like a Dutch person was 1 in 6 people I saw. Possibly due to being in the more touristy areas of the city, nonetheless, just an observation. Last note about Amsterdam, definitely visit the Heineken factory and don’t be out in the Red Light too late, scene gets sketchier than it already may seem. Overall, great impression. Its Europe’s city of sin.
After the mischief of Amsterdam we headed out for Brussels. The center of the European Parliament, the grand palaces, Belgian waffles and their renown pommels frites (since saying French fries wouldn’t make any sense in Europe). Brussels was everything I expected. Clean, wealthy with a whisk of sophistication in the air, everything you’d expect from a country stuck in between France and Germany, the best of both worlds.
My trip only spent half a day in Brussels, plus everyone was anxious for Paris. So that afternoon we shipped off to Paris. After another long and uncomfortable bus ride, we arrived in Paris. We stayed in the Montmartre quarter and to my surprise the bus dropped us off literally right in front of the famous Moulin Rouge. Montmartre is an interesting neighborhood, originally not even a part of Paris it sits on a hill with a beautiful white church (Sacre Croix) on top. From that church you had a beautiful view of east Paris. In Paris I visited Notre Dame, many of the palaces in the city, the famous lovers bridge covered in locks, of course the Eiffel Tour, the Louvre, the Arch of Triumph, the famous Champs Élysées, all of the gardens in between and Versailles. Knowing I wouldn’t have enough time to calmly see the Louvre, I decided to leave that for another time, figuring I wouldn’t do it justice if I rushed through it. Versailles however was impressive, it’s immensity and grandeur was as expected. I was impressed more with the gardens than the actual structure. Versailles interior has been renovated several times, with the possible exception of the famous bedrooms of King Louis, his queen and mistresses. So a lot of the inside simply didn’t seem original. My favorite room was the Hall of Battles, a long hall with huge paintings of Napoleon’s battles. Lastly I noted that the city of Paris, more so the city center, is extremely clean but as soon I stepped outside of the city, that standard completely disappeared. Oh and one more, you wonder why they picked a rat to be the animal cooking in Ratatouille? Because in Paris these things are everywhere and they’re f-$&/&:?! huge. I fed a few under the Eiffel Tour and my God they put New York’s to shame.
Next stop, Barcelona. Off to the Catalan hub and home of Lionel Messi. After doing the walking tour of Barcelona, seeing the Olympic Park, Gaudi’s Segrada Familia, the Gothic District and all the sites, we had some free time. I ate paella for lunch and hung out by the port and beach, it was much hotter than I expected but it didn’t matter, I was in Barcelona. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Barcelona but it surely didn’t let me down. The first night we went out to a couple well known bars and ended up at club Opium right on the beach, the place was awesome(warning, the drinks are 10-15€ right off the bat so heads up) but the DJ absolutely killed it. We literally couldn’t leave the dance floor because the next song was always the best. It was absurd, we were out until 7 am where we then exited the back of the club and sat on the beach to watch the sun come up. Got back to the hostel around 8:30 and passed out until 2ish. Woke up and had a day to ourselves. I got up and checked out the port a little more but then got in contact with an old high school buddy studying there in Barcelona. Lucky for me, I come to find out il Classico was going on that night, in Barcelona! I don’t use exclamation points that much but, it was a big deal. After meeting my buddy studying there we went to a bar, grabbed an early table and watched the biggest rivalry game in Spain surrounded by Barca fans. It was glorious, granted I wasn’t at the stadium, it was still great. I mean when the game at the bar you’re at is on a projector and there are people on the second floor leaning over the balconies waving Barca flags and cheering, that’s as close as you can get without dropping €350 on a ticket to actually go to the game. However, final result, Barcelona 2 – Real Madrid 1. With one questionable non call for Cristano Ronaldo in the box, Barca fans got away with a 2-1 win over their rivals over in Madrid. After the win we all went to Piazza Catalunya to celebrate. Slightly partial to Barcelona I joined right in. It was unbelievable, wouldn’t have changed a thing. Good company good time, great timing.
And that was my night, called it an early one after stopping in at a bar with a couple of my roommates and then got up for the last 12-15 hour voyage back to Florence.
There you go, a small taste of my fall break. Hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for reading.