For this part of my trip I bought a Eurail Global Pass, which allowed me to travel to the majority of the countries in Europe. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that a lot of train companies require you to also buy a reservation for a specific train, meaning that we had to plan a lot more than we’d originally expected.
After my mom left, my best friend Simone flew to London from Denver. We spent 2 days in London, and I saw all the major sites yet again. From the Christmas market by the London Eye to Tower Bridge and back to Buckingham Palace we saw it all.
After London, we flew to Lisbon, Portugal. We only had the afternoon in Portugal before taking a night train to Barcelona. To make the most of our time we did a city bus tour, taking in as much of the city as we could before it got dark. We got dinner and wandered the city before heading to the train station.
The next 13 hours were spent on trains getting from Lisbon to Madrid and then Madrid to Barcelona. It was New Year’s Eve and once we got settled into our Airbnb we headed out to Park Güell, a park made by famous architect and artist Antoni Gaudí. This was the one thing I wanted to do in Barcelona and it was well worth the trip. We spent hours walking around the park. Unfortunately, the tickets to get on the terrace and see all of the tile work were sold out.
Later that night we went to the “Magic Fountain” where the city had its big NYE festivities. The celebration was amazing from a local band to a water show and a massive finale with fireworks.
The next morning we caught a train to Paris. The six hours on the train were nice after being out so late and then getting locked out of our Airbnb room. We got a hotel close to the Eiffel Tower and that first night took some time to catch up on sleep. We ordered pizza and prepared for our full day in Paris.
We got up early the next morning, making it to the Eiffel Tower by 8:30, an hour before it opened, so that we made sure we were close to the front of the line. Once we got up to the top we got Champagne and took in the views of the city. We got breakfast and wandered around all of the shops in the tower.
Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t go up to the terrace, we just made a pit stop before heading to Louvre. The line to get in was crazy long and we opted to skip it and head to Notre Dame instead. The cathedral was impressive and walking along the Seine and was breathtaking. We stopped for lunch- French onion soup of course before finding a macaroon shop and heading back to the hotel for a nap.
That night we headed back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lite up and go to the Christmas market across the street. We had crepes for dinner and mulled wine for walking around the market.
The next day we headed to Brussels. One of our first stops was for Belgian waffles. We did some shopping and wandering around just taking in the architecture. We went to the Grand Place and saw the Manneken Pis statue that’s famous. We spent most of the day just wandering until our phones were gonna die and then headed back to the hostel to recharge before dinner. After a couple hours we headed back to the Grand Place for the light show and then ate at the Hard Rock.
The next morning we went to the Atomium. It was not at all what we were expecting. We thought it was just a cool sculpture but it is a building with rooms in each of the little bubbles. It was an interesting experience and a weird way to spend our last few hours in Brussels.
We headed to Amsterdam next. We spent the evening wandering around, going from canal to canal. We stopped in the Chinese district for dinner, and then headed back to our hostel.
The next morning we went on a canal tour of the city and then did some more wandering until our time slot at the Van Gogh Museum that afternoon.
The next morning I said goodbye to Simone and she headed back to the States while I caught a train to Basel, Switzerland. I spent the night there as a layover on my way to Venice. As I just had the afternoon and night in Basel I headed to the Kunstmuseum, an art museum . After walking around the museum for a few hours I decided to see more of the city and wandered for another hour before heading to my hostel to get some sleep.
I had to be at the train station by 6 the next morning to catch my train to Italy. Once in Venice I met up with Carmen, Rose, Sarah and Haylee. We made dinner and then went out for gelato. They showed me some of the sights they’d found in the last few days.
The next day we went to Florence. Florence was beautiful and we spent our first day figuring out what was around us, and walking the city.
The next day we went to the Dome and did some shopping. All exhausted from our weeks of traveling we spent our days in Florence relaxing and just taking in Italy.
Our next stop was Rome. Our first day in Rome we walked to the Coliseum. We explored around the area and found an old cathedral which was open to the public. We went in and admired the amazing art work and stained glass. On our way back to our hostel we found a cute little restaurant that had the best pasta I’ve ever had.
The next day we headed to Vatican City early so we could see the museum and Sistine Chapel (which happened to be closing early).
After making our way through both of these we went to St. Peter’s Basilica.
From Vatican City we made our way to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Our last stop was the Pantheon before we got dinner and made our way back to the hostel.
Our last stop in Italy was Naples. The first afternoon in Naples we made our way to the water hoping for a good view of Mt Vesuvius. We wandered around and just took in the nice weather that we knew we wouldn’t see once we are back in England.
We spent the next day in Pompeii. We spent hours there and still missed so much. It was amazing to walk around and see the statues and ruins of houses and other buildings. We didn’t bring food with us, which was a big mistake so we had to leave for lunch after about only two hours.
We spent the next two days making our way back to Rome and from there back to Nottingham.
My biggest takeaways from these 2 weeks of traveling are to prepare and plan in advance. If there is something you really want to do or see then look for tickets online at least two weeks before you’ll be there. Most importantly, I think it is important to pick people that you will thrive with if you are going to be spending days on end with them. I was really happy that I got to travel with so many different people and got to have such diverse experiences with them.