We went on a trip to six countries in Europe! Shopping, food, sightseeing. Sit tight and buckle up please. It’s going to be a glorious ride.
UNITED KINGDOM // LONDON
Double decker tour buses were a convenient and budget friendly form of transportation. The route included many tourist locations. We took it to Harrod’s, the giant beautiful mall. We were on the lookout for food and shopping (who doesn’t want souvenirs!) A great restaurant we came across was called Lobster and Burgers located in a nearby department store. For 20 British pounds we were able to get 0.5-1lb lobster in garlic/butter sauce and fries. It really hit the spot after the flight and walking through the chilly weather. Also, try fish and chips from the real masters of the dish.
On another day we boarded a boat to sail down the Thames River. The water was brown (?) as it was in the middle of an industrial city. The boat ride took us to the famous London Bridge. It was awesome to have built the lego version of the London Bridge and to finally see it in real life!
Then we crossed the amazing Ladies Bridge. It was built by women (men were drafted for the war) and legend has it that it’s the only bridge built in the history of bridge-building that has been completed on time and on budget. Leave it to the ladies to get IT DONE!
Our tour bus led us into our next destination.
BELGIUM // BRUSSELS
So, you know what is the first thing I wanted to eat in Belgium? FRENCH FRIES! Belgian fries are the OG in the French fry world, so we just HAD to try these. We bought some Belgian fries and they came with a packet of mayonnaise! Mayo? That’s a first for us!
Check, done: Belgian Fries
Next up: Belgian chocolate.
We bought some Belgian chocolate for under $10 US dollars, just a few pieces though.
There was a square/courtyard area that was very cool to see. There were traditional-looking wooden sign posts. Peddlers here and there sold interesting wares and postcards.
Off to sail on the Rhine River.
Again more brown water. (I’m just setting expectations here. When I think river, I think Pochahontas rowing down a blue river bend. Call me crazy, whichever.)
As we sailed on a little ferry boat, it started to rain. However, we were able to sightsee some abandoned castles on the hilltops. Also, a castle or two was bombed during World War II, and it just made me think again about how destructive wars can be. I think it would have been a good time to have a drink since there was a bar on the ferry.
GERMANY // FRANKFURT, ROTHENBURG
Next, the bus took us through to Germany. We took a stroll down a charming road called Romantic Road. We walked through towns and villages with medieval towered gates and battlements.
We even saw a tower that was featured in the Harry Potter films.
There were quite a few German snacks to taste. We had a skeeball (?) it was a sticky, rice-like ball.
Christmas in Germany is a big deal. I’ve heard it’s beautiful and amazing. Maybe one day I’ll go back and visit Germany during Christmastime. There was a year-around Christmas shop. It was a huge shop! There were thousands of ornaments. Sparkle overload! It was very fun to see various holiday decorations.
AUSTRIA // INNSBRUCK
We hopped on the bus again onto Italy (but we passed by Austria on the way). As we crossed into a tunnel, we came to a standstill in the traffic. Something had happened in the middle of the road. We didn’t know what it was, but it was quite claustrophobia-inducing since were stuck in a tunnel with a bunch of other cars/buses. After what seemed like half an hour, we finally started moving as the workers cleared the road. The road was quite windy, so props to the bus driver for navigating us through twists and turns.
The bus took us over the Europa Bridge and also through a winter wonderland with a view of the Alps. Amazing views!
And we visited the Swarovski flagship store. Diamonds are really anyone’s best friend.
We were able to have some Austrian (?) food fare. We had Weiner schnitzel and noodle soup! It was the best Weiner schnitzel I’ve ever had. And, the Noodle Soup! Of all things! Asian cuisine features noodle soup, but Austrian cuisine as well? How cool.
ITALY // VENICE, VERONA
We took a boat ride along the Giudecca Canal to Piazza San Marco. We gazed upon the palazzos and crossed through the maze of streets along the canals. Italy truly does have a romantic charm to it.
On that note, our tour guide, bless her, was truly candid and I appreciated it so much. She warned us to be on the lookout for pickpockets and the cat calling. Yes Italy is great, but the cat calling? UGH. So. Annoying. She gave us great advice based on her experience: if someone cat calls you, if you do it back they’ll most likely not expect it and be caught off guard and leave you alone.
Trust me, though, I’ve heard my fair share of stories/warnings about being a woman and traveling. The number of relatives warning us about the pick pocketing (— They’ll cut open your purse! They’ll drug you! Don’t let your bag out of sight! They’ll make you pass out! They’ll steal everything! They’ll kidnap you! Did you hear about the Americans that got their money, purses, clothes, skin, souls, organs, bones, cows, their pet cat, pet bird, pet snake, pet cow, grandma, etc. stolen/kidnapped/skinned/fried
As we walked through the maze of streets and alleyways, we passed by several boutique shops selling clothing, shoes, and handbags. Also, wouldn’t you expect Italy to be bustling with people and just crowded? NOPE! St. Marks Square was almost completely empty and I LOVED it! It was as if we had a private tour of Verona and Venice. Ahh, the peaceful atmosphere. Also, since I’m super paranoid all the time about being pickpocketed, the fact that there weren’t a lot of people just calmed my nerves as well and I could actually enjoy strolling around.
As for food, we had to try gelato! I bought a cup of hazelnut gelato and it was deliciously sweet and nutty. It wasn’t all too expensive either!
Along the bus route, we stopped at a station that seemed to be a restaurant/convenient store/gas station all in one! It was absurd at first, but this was my American ignorance getting in the way. It was actually a very decent stop! I know, once I mention gas station, you’re like what?! But seriously! It was a one stop shop. The pasta we had was also pretty good and I’ve eaten pasta that costs over $50. I don’t think I’d try this again, but it was good to see that even in Europe the gas stations are nicer than the ones I’ve seen in the States. Also, the bathrooms cost money for “admission.” It’s like a single digit euro (and the nicer the toilet, the more expensive it is), but worth it. I hate using bathrooms on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, like the ones on the I-5 from SF to Las Vegas or LA. It’s just a nasty experience.
We also attended a glass blowing watching experience. The skill and mastery of the glass blower is pretty cool.
Then in Verona, Italy we entered a charming looking village area and visited Juliet’s Balcony. I would like to imagine Romeo and Juliet happened during a time in which they weren’t like 10 years old which is quite controversial in today’s society. Anyway, it was nice seeing a piece of literature come to life in some shape or form. There was also a cute embroidery shop that sucked me into embroidering my name on a piece of paper. The guy gave it to me for free* (*I’m pretty sure he expected me to buy something). There’s also a wishing wall where you write all your love-related wishes that you want to come true on the wall. It was full of wishes and scribbles. 🙂
SWITZERLAND // LUCERNE
$witzerland I dub thee. Lake Lucerne is beautiful. I can imagine the green grass mountains surrounding the deep blue lake in the summer time. During the winter, it was still beautiful, gray, and tranquil. We couldn’t buy much here. It was quite expensive and we also had to use francs. I had euros in my pocket, so converting to francs would be extra work. There were many clothing shops, but they were above my budget. Also, this was before I had my credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
I still dream about the cheese fondue I had at The Fondue House! It was delicious. Best. Fondue. Ever. If only I could remember the types of cheese used (Emmental? Gruyere? Probably something unobtainable?)
Lucerne definitely felt like a modern area.
FRANCE // DIJON, PARIS
Visited Notre Dame The Cathedral. It was a quite surreal experience when you think about the millions of people that have prayed in this space.
We also had to go the museum, Louvre in Paris. I loved feeling like I was a character in a Dan Brown novel.
The Eiffel Tower was absolutely amazing at night. We admired the glittering structure with its lighthouse-like light as it danced in a circle around Paris. Since it was the wintertime, we had the chance to go ice skating in the Eiffel Tower. Also, we took a lift up and it was quite exhilarating.
The food was a little disappointing. We probably needed to try some better restaurants, but we tried French onion soup and croquet-madame. We also had steak and escargot, but it didn’t wow us.
Next we had to visit the Disney Park in Paris. We stayed in a nearby hotel in Val d’Europe that was near a subway stop. The subway could take us to Disney Paris. It wasn’t too far away. The subways were nicer than the subways I’ve been taking on this side of the world. We also tried boba! Tapioca! They had boba! It was good. We had to get some every day. The old Chinese man seemed to recognize us every time we visited.
Disney Paris was smaller than I expected, but it was still super fun. I even ordered mulled wine in the parks! It was hot mulled wine and it was great on a cold winter’s day. Aurora’s castle was pink and dainty. We rode Crush’s ride more than seven times. Tip: the ride is way more fun going backwards!
Who would’ve expected Space Mountain to feel faster than the one in Anaheim? Can someone please confirm this?
Nooo! The end of our trip. We had a blast travelling to over 6 countries in Europe.
Now, I’ve been to ALL DISNEY PARKS in the world!
Update: Shanghai Disney just opened, so I have one more Disney park on my check list!