My Top 5 European Destinations

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked is, “What has been your favorite place so far?,” to which, I usually reply, “Don’t open that door.” All the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit have been great in their own way, but I obviously do have favorites, so here they are as of now:

Nice, France

Nice is a change of pace from a lot of other European cities: there isn’t particularly a whole lot to do, but who needs to get out when you can lie on the beach in the year-round mild weather? Nice is characterized by its colorful buildings, blue water and amazing views from Castle Hill. Not to mention, it’s a short bus ride away from Monaco, a small country with a big personality, known for its casino and grand prix.

What to do: walk up Castle Hill, get lost in Old Town and hop on a bus to Monaco.

You can read about my time in Nice here.

Budapest, Hungary

I was pleasantly surprised with how much there is to do in Budapest and although I didn’t stay long enough to do everything I wanted, I hope you don’t make the same mistake I did. Budapest is relatively cheap compared to other countries, with a one-way public transit ticket costing about $1 and most full meals costing well under $10. The night life is buzzing thanks to its historical ruin bars and pubs. The two different sides of the city have their own unique identities worth exploring individually.

What to do: walking tour where you major highlights like the castle district, St. Stephen’s Basilica and Chain Bridge, visit a ruin bar in the Jewish quarter and take a dip in one of the thermal baths.

You can read about my time in Budapest here.

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Paris, France

At first (this may come as a surprise), I didn’t consider Paris a priority destination. But with nothing but amazing reviews from my family (especially my brother, Ryan, who went there in June), I decided to make it a reality for myself. I originally planned to go with Emily, but with the recent terrorist attacks, she didn’t feel comfortable going. I coaxed Ben into going with me instead and with that, we set off.

Saturday, 12 December: After getting in fairly late on Friday night, Saturday was our first real day in Paris. First, we went to the Arc de Triumph. We admired its vastness, then went to the top, which had amazing views of the city. From the top of the Arc, we saw a climate demonstration starting. For those who don’t know, major legislation regarding climate change action has been being reviewed in Paris over the last couple of weeks, with awareness marches all over the world. In fact, Ben and I (and another friend of ours) were at the one in London. However, due to the terrorist acts from the other month, the march in Paris was banned, but an alternate protest was held. After that, we went to the D’Orsay Museum. There were several interesting pieces and an intriguing temporary exhibit.

Sunday, 13 December: We started our day by visiting the Lourve, first taking a walk around the nearby park before going into the museum. The museum itself was really impressive. Like The Met in New York, you could spend days in that museum and still not see everything. With that in mind, we chose a few exhibits we were interested in and saw those, including the Mona Lisa. After that, we walked to the Notre Dame Cathedral and admired both the inside of the church and the view from the top some 400 odd steps up.

Monday, 14 December: Monday was Ben’s birthday, so I treated him to a trip up the Eiffel Tower. While the view from the lower levels were amazing, the view from the very top of the tower was clouded by fog, which was a bit of a disappointment. However, right after we exited the Tower, the sun came out. It was the first time I’ve experienced a sunny day since who knows when. We sat along the river and enjoyed the weather for a while. To end our time in Paris, we went to a wine tasting. I was just getting over being sick, so I wasn’t in any mood to drink, but Ben enjoyed it.

I loved Paris more than I anticipated and it has been one of the only cities I feel like I still have a lot to see and do.

I am heading back to Arizona tomorrow morning for Christmas break. I can’t wait to be reunited with my friends, family (including Bailey) and American delicacies like Chipotle and Target.

If you would like to see pictures of my journey, check out my album on Facebook here.

I have updated my Great Britain traveling post here with my time in London for the climate march and other various tourist attractions.

Nice, France

I can’t remember exactly when my infatuation started, but I know I’ve wanted to visit the small country of Monaco for a long time. Monaco is so small (less than one square mile), it doesn’t have an airport, so I begrudgingly looked at flights into Nice (pronounced “niece”), France, about a half hour’s drive from Monaco. As it turns out, Nice has several critically acclaimed beaches and after looking into it more (“it” being the outrageous room prices in Monaco), I decided to spend some time there, as well.

Friday, 9 October: After arriving in the early evening, I walked around for a bit. My hostel was a stone’s throw away from the beach and near a lot of shops and restaurants. I had a delicious crepe for dinner to start off my time in France the right way.

Saturday, 10 October: On my way to the port, I went up Castle Hill to get amazing panoramic views of the city. From the port, I took a bus to Monaco. First, I visited the casino and the casino square. I didn’t go in because I wasn’t bothered to pay ten Euros to probably lose even more than that. After that, I enjoyed a walk around the harbor and admired all the yachts. A boat taxi took me to the other side, where I visited the Oceanography Museum before heading back to Nice for the evening.

Sunday, 11 October: I welcomed a (somewhat) lazy Sunday with reading and relaxing on the beach. I dipped my feet in the water, but the crude pebble beach makes it difficult to enjoy the shoreline. After that, I went on a walk through Old Town, a series of thin alleyways and unique buildings with an atmosphere to match. North of Old Town, I stumbled upon the European Masters’ Games village square, where there were festivities celebrating the event. When I got back to my hostel, I met someone else from the United States, Lucas, who has been traveling Europe alone for five months. We shared about our traveling experiences and got to know each other better over (another) long walk through Old Town and around the port before watching the sun set over the hills.

I had a wonderful weekend of enjoying the sunny weather and beach atmosphere. Nice has been my favorite single city thus far, although my Ireland trip remains my favorite as a whole. My next international trip isn’t for another month and a half, so I’m going to take this time to explore parts of England, starting with Bath and Southampton this week.

If you would like to see pictures of my journey, check out my album on Facebook here.

My next adventure: Prague, Czech Republic!