By: Gabriela Velasco
Last year I started to get frustrated with my work, for a long time I had the itch to take a trip to Europe, but because of issues that I couldn’t take many vacation days, it never materialized. Earlier this year I made the decision to resign and be free to travel. The best of all or perhaps what scared me the most but at the same time adventure was going alone.
I bought a round ticket to Madrid without telling anyone for the end of April, I quit at the beginning of April. Later I told my sister and my mom, and a week or less before I left I told a few more people (I wanted to avoid bad vibes and envy).
I started to put together a flexible plan (I didn’t want to be strict about the itinerary and only put together the first few days, since the plan was adventure).
I took the flight in Guadalajara with too many nerves since it would be 36 days away from home, I took a pill to calm the nerves and to sleep during the long flight. I finally arrived in Madrid at 12 noon from there (perfect to be able to start without wasting time). It happened that one of my friends was on vacation there and we agreed to see each other, we toured one day (Royal Palace, the Retiro, Prado Museum, Puerta de Alcalá, Puerta del Sol, the Gran Vía, etc.), try a delicious churro with chocolate (the rainy day called for it) and another party where I met a special person.
The next day I missed my train to Valencia for 5 seconds at the Atocha station, just one girl was crying because she missed hers to Barcelona, I started talking to her and we had a coffee where we ended up laughing and passing our contact. I finally took a bla bla car and got to Valencia with a Mexican friend, where he had a party and we almost got taken away by the police, I met a lot of Latinos on that day.
Days later I took a bus to Barcelona, I had a little time because of the weather changes, so I took the light days before my birthday. I used to go running in the morning on the beach, I visited several works by Gaudí (Casa Btllo, Park Guell, La Pedrera and the Sagrada Familia), the Arc de Triomf, the Barcelonata, the Barcelona Stadium, the Ramblas, I was an expert in the metro and I met great girls at the hostel, who celebrated my birthday and made me feel happy.
From there I left for Romania where a friend was waiting for me, I was nervous since it is a more distant country with a different culture and language. My friend was very happy and we started the tour in Bucharest, then we went to Brasov where I tried the typical food and my favorite dessert of the trip: the papanassi. Another day we went to the region of Transylvania where we visited Dracula’s castle and there was a beautiful landscape with snowy mountains, plus typical food as well. Then we went through more cities and small towns to go to Craiova and visit his parents, they made me a typical Romanian barbecue. The people are warm and in the end I noticed that it is a country with a lot of difference from the western countries of Europe.
From Bucharesti I flew to Athens, where I had to take a break that day as I had a cough and needed to rest a bit. I started by visiting the Agora, the Temple of Efestus, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple of Zeus, and of course the Parthenon. I tried typical food (chicken gyro and Greek salad). That day I knew that I urgently needed a sunscreen, because I ended up super tanned and my skin burned. I also took a 1 day tour to 3 islands near Athens, since I didn’t have much time to go to Santorini, I visited Aegina, Moni and Agistri. The last day I decided to walk around the city, I went to the highest viewpoint, to the Parliament that used to be the Palace (here I saw the guards with their typical costumes and their traditional march) and finally to a national garden. They have many cute themed taverns and cafes, like one from Alice in Wonderland. I noticed that in the city there is a lot of graffiti and the language is extremely complicated, also that they love pistaccio and I bought some typical sweets.
From there I flew to the city that I was so looking forward to seeing and that is synonymous with romance, Paris! I took the train from Charles de Gaulle airport to Gare du Nord and from there I walked to the hostel, I left my things and started walking aimlessly, I ended up arriving at the Louvre, the Seine and I got to see the Eiffel Tower (I didn’t walk to it as I planned go the next day), I tried the crepes with a drink. The next day I started walking again, and I arrived at the Latin Quarter, then we went to a typical restaurant with some Mexican friends. We toured the Elysées Gardens, Princess Diana’s memorial, and we walked along the banks of the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and I sat in her gardens like a true Parisian. I started to use the subway that has many lines, always taking care of my bag, since everyone warned me about pickpockets in this city.
The third day I went to visit Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, I went to an old cemetery and I also visited the Moulin Rouge area, then I walked some streets with a Parisian friend and we had a drink French style. Then my sister arrived and we visited the Eiffel Tower from above, the Trocadero, the surrounding gardens, etc. We also visited Euro Disney, which is very similar to the one in Anaheim (we are Disney lovers). The last day my sister wanted to see Sacré Coeur, we visited the Louvre, Notre Dame (only from the outside) the Luxembourg Gardens and we walked several streets).
We tasted French wine, crepes, croissants, and the smell of the Parisian metro hehe. I was left with a bad impression about the cleanliness of Parisians, I verified that it is true that they do not bathe or at least do not use deodorant haha.
The next stop was Brussels, (we went on a fast train and it was exciting since it was the first time we took it) we took a free walking tour and got to know a little about the big city, we tried typical food and a good Belgian beer, we visited the Manneken Pis, and of course a waffle for dessert. Before leaving we also visited the symbol of the city, the Atomium.
Then we went to Bruges where the weather was cooler and we ended up buying more adhoc clothes. We toured its square, its streets, we went to the Torture Museum, we saw the tower, we ate in the square with an excellent view and again for dessert a Belgian waffle.
The next stop was Amsterdam, where I did not realize that the hotel was not within the city, so the logistics issue was a bit complicated for us, but we still took advantage of it. We saw the Palace, the canals, we ate a hamburger that is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. We visited the Heineken museum, the Anne Frank house (only outside since the tickets were sold out when I had a date to come), the Red Light District and we experienced the unmistakable smell of the city (cannabis).
I noticed that the people as you go north are a little colder and indifferent, not all of them, but most of them.
From here we took a night train, which was an uncomfortable experience since they were not numbered and I was never told that I had to buy a reservation to take place, so throughout the night they were moving us from place to place, with this I was left with always check and ask if I need anything extra when buying a train ticket.
We arrived in Zurich very sleepless and tired, we decided to pay to enter the hotel beforehand and have breakfast, to start sightseeing since everything in Belgium and Switzerland closes very early. My sister had the idea of going to a viewpoint, so we literally climbed a mountain until we reached the highest point in the city. From there we went down and went to see the museum of an architect that my sister was interested in, also a Chinese garden and the cathedral of Zurich, I was delighted to see the very clean lake. We also noticed that in Switzerland there are no machines that check metro or bus tickets, they trust that people do it.
From Zurich we went to Geneva, where I arranged to visit a friend. Very clean city with people from many parts of the world. We went to see the Water fountain, the Montblanc Bridge and we took a tour on a train. Geneva is where many international entities are based, the UN for example where we saw the sculpture of the chair. We tried a delicious Swiss dinner (raclette and red wine).
Later we left for Italy by bus, we saw beautiful landscapes of mountains still with snow, rivers and very long tunnels. We arrived in Milan where a friend from Mexico was waiting for us to start the tour by car, unfortunately we did not stay in Milan so I will have to go back. We went straight to Venice. That day, barely on the way, we booked the hostel, which was not on the main island, so we had to take a water taxi (I loved the experience). We left our things and went back to the island to see the Church, eat something delicious (Italian food is my favorite so there was no way to miss it), walked around the square, watched the water rise and then had dessert. The next day we had breakfast on the shore of the island and then we took the typical Gondola trip.
From there we go to Florence, where we take another walking tour to learn about the history of the city. We learned about the Medicci, about Michelangelo and his David, his spectacular Duomo, how the city is a symbol of the Renaissance and more. Eat more pasta and gelato obviously, and then go to sleep in Pisa. In Pisa we got up early to go to the Torre area and also visit the Duomo.
We left for Rome and our shock at seeing the Colosseum, it really is something extraordinary! We were too hungry so we ate right in front of the Colosseum (not every day you can), a delicious pasta of course. Then we saw the Colosseum from the outside (there were no tickets for that day) and we began to walk around the city and get lost in its beautiful streets, with classic and small cars. We went to see the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and Plaza España. The hotel was on the outskirts so we decided to go early. The next day we got up not so early and went to the Vatican, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica are impressive, we took a bus tour of the tourist spots and then we returned to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, I loved the exhibition of the popemobiles. We are also encouraged to use another means of transport: the lime skates, it was fun to go around a piece of the city on them
The next day we moved to a B&B near the Colosseum, just my sister and me. We took a free walking tour near the Colosseum, we visited the Victorian Palace (I thought it was old and I was disappointed when I found out that it is recent, the building seemed impressive to me) we tried more pizzas and another gelato, we continued walking through the streets and seeing places cute. Another day we went to buy the ticket for the day to go to the airport to avoid any setbacks. Finally we entered the Colosseum, it is beautiful on the outside and inside you can’t imagine how it is still standing, we also visited the Roman Forums, the Arch of Titus, tried another restaurant with pasta and wine, last gelato of the day. I refused to leave Rome.
The next day super early we took the fast train to the airport, when we arrived at the counter and wanted to fix a problem with the check in, the lady was very rude and did not want to help me, her response was to buy another ticket. I got very frustrated since she hadn’t considered that expense, and even worse, it was almost triple the price of the first one she had bought, in addition to wasted time. I had from before 6 am at the airport and my other flight was until 5:20 pm. I finally arrived in Madrid and met up with my sister (she was able to fly on the first flight) and with my friend, they toured during the day. I rested because it was exhausting being at the airport.
The next day I took them to the Plaza Mayor, to see the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, La Puerta del Sol, we went shopping and they tried the chocolate with churros from San Ginés. That day we returned and rested for a while, because the next day we would walk a lot in Toledo. To the trip in Toledo we were joined by a boy I met in Valencia, Toledo seemed very beautiful to me, a combination of several cultures, beautiful buildings and again we took a free walking tour. We returned to Madrid and my sister and I went to the roof of the Riu, which is very famous, the view is beautiful from there. My sister’s flight was at dawn and mine until night, so I still had almost all day to visit more. I had a delicious Spanish rice and had a French-style cafecito with another Mexican friend. It was time to say goodbye and already being an expert in public transportation I went back to the airport to face my return to Mexico hehe.
Acts. Gabriela Velaso
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