Recap (2/2): Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Tuscany, Verona, and Lisbon - Photos and Thoughts
Wow, time flew quickly and I can’t believe that I’ve completed my European trip! I definitely need a separate blog post(s) to even go through some of the different feelings I’ve had along the way, things that I’ve learned solo traveling, and even stuff that I’m still processing. There are definitely pros and cons to doing it the way that I did, but there’s nothing that I regret doing (actually, the only one regret I have was not accepting a dance in one of the village streets of Tuscany but that’s it - lesson learned. Go dance if you feel like it.).
So, if you want a quick picture journey, just go to my Instagram as I have them mostly all logged there!
Otherwise, I wanted to give y’all a recap of the second half my European journey, and I hope to also post other things that some of you have requested and that I would love to share.
Where Did I Go, What Did I Do?
*Click here for previous recap post prior to Amsterdam (Berlin & Leiden)
Amsterdam. Going to Amsterdam would’ve been a lot more fun if I didn’t do it alone because let's face it, shrooming by yourself around a bunch of strangers is probably not the best or safest idea. It was also my first time in a hostel, and I didn’t like it. Now, had I gone with 1+ people, it would’ve been fine, but sleeping within a feet next to strangers is not what I call comfortable. Or, had I done it a decade earlier, I would've been fine.Needless to say, I got myself out pretty damn quick (like the next day I packed my shit up at 6AM and left by using the Hotel Tonight app). The other thing about Amsterdam (and I guess Europe and everywhere in general) is the ugly history that is still represented and preserved through places like Anne Frank’s house. I'm happy places like this continues to exists as we need reminders more than ever of points in history that destroyed pieces of our humanity.
Went around the Red Light District. It’s always weird seeing a bunch of dudes because you can literally feel the heat from them. Ew.
Yoga on the Canal which turned into indoor Yoga because it was raining. Kind of defeated the purpose of me doing it, but that’s ok. Learned something new.
Museum Quarter in Amsterdam. Again, didn’t get to go into the Van Gogh museum because I didn’t realize everything has to be purchased online, BUT I was able to walk around the neighborhood and take buses around town. Had a nice lunch and wine, and a great stroll through the park.
I also went to see Anne Frank's house (didn’t get to go in because I didn’t realize you had to buy tickets months in advance).
Bought a CBD Chocolate Bar as a consolation prize because I didnt' get to go into a smoke shop - and yes, I do realize it does not have the same high effect (your girl makes her own CBD lattes).
Ate me some Bitterballen - fried balls of meat. Pretty tasty if you asked me!
Brussels. Ahh, Belgian Chocolates and some of the best chocolatiers are located in Brussel!
I didn’t want to miss the experience of learning how to make chocolates in a city that is known for it - so I signed up for a chocolate making class through AirBnb’s Experience! Had so much fun and was very inspired by the teacher’s story of how she ended up getting into chocolates after working in finance as her prior career.
Because Brussels was also a quick stay, I ended up using Hotel Tonight app to quickly book a room for the day.
Paris. It was a very quick trip plus a holiday in Europe so a lot of the shops were closed during the time I went. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get some good food!
Foie gras ravioli at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie. Taste was divine...practice...no so much...
I stayed at an amazing Bed and Breakfast with a great view through AirBnb.
Paris was the start to getting gelato every.damn.day.
Italy - Tuscany > Verona > Venice. This was my longest stint in Europe - rounded to about 9 days and 2.5 cities. I said 2.5 since I didn’t really see that much of Venice.
I met up with my friend and her family in one of Tuscany's villages called Sant’Ermo and stayed with them for 3 nights - it was AMAZING and was one of the coolest parts of my trip. Having the wonderful opportunity to be with them and really getting to know the various villages that most people don’t see was truly an amazing experience.
But I have to admit that my stomach was not ready for them. Every night, I had a tiny tummy ache from the amount of food that I ate. I clearly was not used to it, but I wouldn’t take that experience away. Next time, I’m PREPPING to expand my stomach!
I took the most trains in Italy, and to be honest I didn’t know the difference between the fast trains and Trenitalia at the time. Huge distinction being that it's the difference between having air conditioning or not having air conditioning for about an hour or so of your time. When it's 90 degrees outside, you can feel it. Next time, I will definitely pay an extra 10 EUR, because it makes a huge difference in the comfort of the ride.
Arena di Verona was such a crazy experience for me. Seeing ‘Carmen’ the opera in a Roman amphitheater was such a surreal moment because I was sitting in seats where spectators sat in 30 AD! How cool is it to imagine that? Albeit they didn't watch an opera at that time, more like bloody gladiator battles. But still, it was beyond amazing and fascinating.
I ate at a different Gelato place every single day! Every day. It was self indulgent and I loved it.
Lisbon - I was going to make my way to Lisbon and then somewhere in Scandinavia afterwards, but because I didn’t want to take off again, I decided to just extend my stay. I stayed in a small neighborhood called Graca for 3 days and really enjoyed my time there because it was only a few minutes walk to the city center, yet was still had the relaxed neighborhood feel. I could easily go to the super market, get food, cook at home and see a beautiful sunset.
- I learned how to make Pastel de Nata from an award winning bakery in Lisbon through another AirBnb’s Experience. What we made was SOOO good and I met some really cool travelers from all over the world there.
- Lots of massages at Karin Herzog spa when I got to Belem because it was situated in the Altis Belem hotel where I stayed after I left Graca.
- Feitoria was my Michelin restaurant splurge. I was blown away by the food and service. Every piece was so beautiful, and I literally wanted to cry because it was just breathtaking. I know it sounds weird, but if you ever get a chance to feel like this, it's pretty cool.
Reactions from the Trip
- AirBnb’s Experience are AWESOME and I highly recommend it while you're traveling. I've done it in Japan and in Europe and have had a great learning experience. Just make sure you read the reviews!
Get your Amsterdam Museum tickets in advance in Amsterdam, you just can’t buy it on the spot
If you’re in Verona, you must go see an Opera in the Roman Ampitheatre built during the 1st Century.
Italians can EAT and digest them carbs - prepare your tummy ahead of time.
- While hotels are great, staying at an AirBnb from locals can give you a different experience! Just make sure you respect their homes and not treat it like a hotel (i.e. take out the garbage, clean up after yourself, etc.).
- I used almost everything I packed in my Osprey 40 Liter backpack. I brought 6 shirts, but ended up wearing the same 5 shirts everyday. Because I didn't stay in a hostel very long, I didn't need to use my other sized padlocks.
- Brought a tub stopper and it came in handy at some of the AirBnbs in terms of washing my clothes and making sure my contacts don't fall into the drainage.
- I got me a personal fan. I looked classsssy, and it helped me cool down.