After finals week I was ready to take on my next ten day adventure. Although I was upset at the thought of leaving Marseille and all of the incredible people that I had met over the course of the semester, I was thrilled to cross some more places off of my travel bucket list.
In short, Rome was a dream come true. The food, the sights, and the atmosphere exceeded my expectations. Because most of my friends were still finishing up exams, I met up with a friend of mine who was living in Amsterdam to explore the city. From the start TJ and I were eager to see some of Rome’s most famous landmarks like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. Fortunately for us, our Airbnb was only a 10 minute walk to the Colosseum so it was super easy to find most of our destinations. Shoutout to our Airbnb host for giving us a driving tour of our neighborhood and plenty of guidance on what to see and do! In addition to stumbling upon so many beautiful sights, we ate great food that day (actually we did this every day). I remember having an incredible shot of espresso and probably the best pizza that I had ever eaten.
The next day we spent almost entirely at the Vatican. We walked around the museums and I stole a lemon from one of the lemon trees… You know, things you do during your run of the mill visit to the Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel was probably the highlight of our trip. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I managed to get a couple of photos even though it’s not allowed… It seems that I just wanted to break all of the rules there and I had fun doing it! After we finished up at the Vatican, we went to the Pantheon which was so cool to see at night. There was music and lots of people which made the atmosphere so incredibly neat. Eventually we found a place to eat near the Colosseum that had the most wonderful pasta that was made in-house every day. By the end of day two we were exhausted, but excited for our third day.
Because we had already hit most of Rome’s highlights, we spent day three basically just wandering. We found a small art gallery that we spent some time in and several awesome street musicians that we would stop to listen to. We attempted to see the Pantheon from the inside, but because it was an Italian holiday it closed early so we missed our chance to do that. There was still tons to see so we weren’t too upset about it. After all of our wandering we made reservations at restaurant near our Airbnb. The owner was friends with our host so he made sure our evening was perfect. His food was impeccable and it was so nice to eat somewhere that wasn’t crowded with tourists. By the end of the meal we were both stuffed. We called it a night so we could get plenty of rest before traveling the next day.
Brussels in December is overwhelmingly fun. The whole city is overrun by Christmas markets and the food is to die for. Except if you eat too much you may actually die because it’s not the healthiest food. I knew that I’d be eating tons of waffles, fries, and chocolate and drinking lots of Belgian beer, but what I didn’t know was how much fun I’d have doing it!
I arrived later in the evening and met up with some of my friends from Marseille. We were all tired, but some of us managed to get out of the Airbnb to explore the closer parts of the city. That’s when we discovered the markets. After a little while of walking around we worked our way to Grand Place. We were blissfully unaware of the light shows that take place every 30 minutes, so when the lights dimmed and music started we thought we had entered the most magical place on Earth. After the show, we ran home to tell our friend who had stayed at the apartment about all the fun things we had found and make our plans for the following day.
The next day and the day after were really just full of us walking and eating. There were lots of pretty buildings to look at and even prettier waffles to eat so that occupied most of our time in Brussels. We had a blast trying to find the best food and bar booths. I think our favorites ended up being the Big White Sausage booth and anywhere that we could find pork buns. I’m really unsure why Brussels had the best Asian food of anywhere I visited in Europe, but it most definitely did. We also spent a lot of our time in chocolate shops and eating anything we could find with andalouse sauce. On our last day we swung by Delirium which holds the record for the most beers available. After a couple hours there we were ready to find dinner and get home to rest up for our next leg of the journey.
Prague started off fine and was continuously fine until my last afternoon and then it got progressively less fine. I won’t blame Prague and I’ll try to make this a positive post, but in the end this was not my favorite trip (you win some and you lose some!).
After an entire day in the Brussels airport I eventually made it to our Airbnb to meet up with the same friends from Brussels plus our friend Coleman. We learned that our apartment had no wifi so we spent that night watching videos of people’s pets on Czech television. Once we got up the next morning we ate at a lovely cafe (that wasn’t as lovely to me in the end, but I’ll get to that) and made our way to old Prague. The architecture is incredible and we had a great time exploring the older parts of the city. There was plenty of hot wine everywhere and so many trdelnik stands. Eventually, I got to try one of these pastries and it was off the charts yummy! We found a traditional Czech restaurant for lunch and pretty much all of us tried beef goulash which was also super delicious. Later, we found the Lennon wall which made for a great photo op and after walking back towards our place we ended the day at a Belgian restaurant because we just couldn’t stay away! Although this day was good, I was looking forward to finding more specific destinations the following day.
We started our second day at the same cafe… Then we made our way back to old Prague to see the Astrological Clock. We made it just in time for the hourly show, which is a big ‘ole disappointment. Sorry, folks! However, right next to the clock was a big Christmas market where we spent the next few hours. As time went on, I started to feel worse and worse and unfortunately I couldn’t eat any of the amazing food that surrounded us. Eventually, I had to leave because I was feeling so sick and to top it off my Uber was probably the worst Uber in the history of Ubers. After I got back to the apartment my condition steadily worsened and once my other friend came down with the same thing I knew that our ham croissants from the cafe had indeed poisoned us. Yippee!
Fortunately for me, I was feeling a bit better by the time my 3 AM wake up call came around. Flying with food poisoning wasn’t one of my favorite memories, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger I guess.
I made it to London in one piece, but I knew that I couldn’t have the day I had originally planned for myself. Because I was in the city alone I thought that I’d go to the British Museum and then eat at some good restaurants and maybe have afternoon tea… My sickness ensured that I only made it to the museum and only until my hostel would let me check in at 2:30. That gave me a few hours to wander and look at things like the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles which I was super excited to see! Once I made it back to my hostel I realized that my room was legitimately a prison cell. The whole hostel was once a courthouse so some of the private rooms were converted cells. Kind of cool, kind of weird, but I was so ready to rest that I honestly didn’t care where I was. I fell asleep at 7 or 8 PM that night and peeled myself out of bed at 2 AM to catch a bus to the airport in order to get back to Marseille for one final night in my city.