Monday, March 19, 2012

My top 6 European cities

Looking for some recommendations on what not to miss? Here are some places in Europe I thought were pretty cool..

PRAGUE - my favourite
Sights: Breathtaking. Make sure you walk along the Charles Bridge and visit the castle on top of the hill. The city is like something out of a fairy tale. Castles and beautiful architecture and old cars and carriages everywhere. It was by far my favourite city.

Food: I don't remember much of the food, but the kebabs are amazing there when you are drunk haha.

Nightlife: Amazing. Make sure you check out the Karlovy Lazne, a five story nightclub with a different genre of music, different dj, different bar and different dance floor on each story. It was the most impressive club I've been to, and so much fun. Just make sure you know how to get back to your hostel because Prague can be pretty easy to get lost in.

Cons: The czech currency was a pain in the arse. Beautiful money, but very confusing to try and convert in your head. For example I brought a jacket that was about 110 AU and on the tag it was something like 2500 czech. Makes you unnecessarily conscious of your money.

FLORENCE - my most visited
Sights: Amazing. There is so much to do and see in this city. Wait in the long line to climb to the top of the Duomo because it is a view you will never forget. Try to get to the Uffizi Gallery. And by try I mean really try because seeing Leonardo DaVinci's work in person has changed my life and my art! The work in there is amazing. If you love shopping, suss out the San Lorenzo market. It was the most amazing collection of goods I have ever seen. Again shop around for a good price. And one more place.. Please find a little shop called the 'Scriptorium'. Im not sure if it was because I was an art student or not, but I could have spent hours in that shop, and if I had of had the money, I would have spent up big.

Food: Awesome but very expensive. Make sure you shop around for prices and dont just go straight to the first food stand you see. Suss out the side streets and you will undoubtably save money!

Hostel: I stayed in the Plus Hostel Florence when I was on my Topdeck tour. It was a pretty cool hostel and really close to everything. Has a crazy pool that changes colours! I dont remember it being a very sociable hostel though. Probably would give it a 6/10.

Nightlife: Pretty decent. As long as you dont get sucked into one of those American promo people on the street during the day. I would recommend 'The Red Garter', we had most of our fun here. 'Twice' was pretty good, and we also sussed out the 'YAB' which had a really cool set up but was tricky to get into. There are so many places in Florence, get a good group of people and explore!

Cons: The expensive prices were ridiculous. Most of my trips into Florence were from Prato where I was living, which was a 20min train ride. I could buy a large gelato from Prato for 3.50EU. In Florence the same thing was 10EU - over triple the price. Be wary of the Gypsies and the con artists, as they can sniff out a tourist from a mile away. The only other thing I found annoying was the obnoxious tourists everywhere. Make sure you go see Florence in the off-peak season, otherwise you will be wasting most of your trip waiting in some godforsaken line.

ROME - my first solo backpacking city
Sights: Ancient. If you want to see some amazing historical ruins, visit Rome. It is a very large city to explore though, so give yourself a decent week and a bit to see everything. Make sure you do a guided tour through the Vatican also while you are there. It is beautiful.

Food: Amazing. And lots of choice!

Hostels: I stayed at 'The Yellow' and 'The Hostel Beautiful 2'. Both were close to the train station and had good and bad points. The Yellow had great breakfasts, free wifi (but only in the bar), a good bar/social area and lockers under the beds and pretty good facilities. Id give it 7/10. The Hostel Beautiful didn't have lockers but I did get a private room. The facilities weren't that great but the staff would go out of their way to help you. They reel you in with free breakfast but all it is is a coffee and a pastry. Id prefer to pay 4 euro at The Yellow and get muesli, fruit salad and yoghurt. Id probably rate it 6/10.

Nightlife: I dont really remember the Rome nightlife. Not to say it wasn't any good, but majority of the time I spent in Rome was when I was first travelling alone, so nocturnal activities weren't something I took part in.

Cons: It takes a lot of walking to get to everything, and it is a nightmare city to visit if it is bad weather - as you get very sick of saying no to the umbrella pests.

PARIS - the city with the most to see and do
Sights: Well I have no idea where to begin.. but make sure you do a Fat Tire Bike Tour. Or hire a bike while you stay in Paris. Go see the Eiffel Tower, especially at night, go to Moulin Rouge, go to the Louvre, go to Central Park. It's such a beautiful and bustling city.

Food: Unbelievable. You have to try frogs legs and escargot. Not as bad as you think.

Nightlife: Good, but not as fun as Florence or Prague.

Cons: I found the locals not as friendly as the Italians, but I didn't get a chance to stay in Paris for very long.

AMSTERDAM - the crazy city 
Sights: The shopping in Amsterdam is amazing. Such a beautiful city. Check out Anne Frank's house too, a very interesting experience. Make sure you get a chance to stroll down to the red light district. Very much an eye-opener! And don't take photos unless you want to be chased, possibly bashed and have your camera confiscated by a prostitute. Just respect that they are working.

Food: Good.

Nightlife: Crazy crazy fun. Check out the 'Paradiso' - A church that the Dutch turned into a nightclub to prevent having to deal with squatters. I have never felt so strange parting in a church haha. But so much fun!

NICE - the pub city
Sights: This is an interesting city, with most of the sights including rock beaches and amazing shops. Everywhere. It was an awesome city to go shopping in, but other then that there wasn't too much else to do. Make sure you check out the casino and the view at night.

Nightlife: Fun! If you consider table top dancing a fun activity.. but who wouldn't?! There is a lot of variety for pubs here, and they are all relatively very close to each other.

Cons: There wasn't much to do, so 1 or 2 days here would probably be plenty.

A few other amazing places that I haven't mentioned above are: Switzerland, Berlin, Austria, Naples, Venice, Athens and London. Just see as much as you can!

Whats your favourite city... and why?

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