I was very recently lucky enough to attend a Europe city tour. The trip, comprised of three day trips in Paris, Brussel and Amsterdam, was one which offered three entirely new travel destinations for me; and was therefore one which I was keen not to miss out on. The fast-moving nature of the trip, however, did not hinder the authenticity of the cultural experiences; it in fact offered an adrenaline and enthusiasm to see and do as much as was feasible in the short space of time.
First stop, Paris.
The first of our stops was Paris: the city of love. From the moment we set foot in the metro station (and communicated with the ticket officer using google translate), all the way through to the breakfast the next morning (when we enjoyed a selection of breads, hams, and cheeses) we were immersed in the country’s culture.
To add some structure to the day, our first stop was the city centre where the eiffel tower could be seen for miles. This was one of my favourite moments of the trip: staring up at this magnificent landmark (built in an impressive YEAR!) which I had never imagined to be so enormous.
The remainder of our afternoon in the city consisted of walking around alleys of shops and restaurants, a photoshoot with the eiffel tower (of course!), and treating ourselves to a glass of steaming mulled wine.
Towards the end of the day, just in time to see the rest of the city in day light, we opted for taking a city cruise along the river Seine. Sailing along the river, and absorbing the incredible French architecture along the way, we were able to hop off the boat at certain attractions. During the trip we chose to explore Notre Dame, in particular the grand cathedral and nearby crafts christmas market, as well as the Louvre pyramids which, at dusk, were spectacularly illuminated.
The final destination of our Paris trip was a traditional, French restaurant which offered an array of French and international dishes.
Second stop, Brussels.
The second stop of our trip was Brussels, Belgium. Driving through the city upon arrival was the perfect opportunity to appreciate just beautiful the area was. Equally, it was an eye-opening moment, (this trip being my first ever winter holiday), as the city's christmas spirit pervaded all aspects of the city.
Walking to the city centre, we dipped in and out of traditional Belgium shops; enjoying a taste of the local cheeses, chocolate and biscuits as we went. Even better, we also saw glimpses of the delicious foods being made.
Reaching the centre treated us with a gorgeous panorama of high-standing buildings, which were accompanied by a large, lit christmas tree. Amongst these buildings, was also a selection of traditional Belgium restaurants which served delicious, and extremely flavoursome, dishes and drinks.
The highlight of our trip to Brussels was the large christmas market which we visited in the evening. The market, made up of hundreds of stalls which offered delicious snacks, ornaments and artwork, gave us hours of entertainment. Likewise, at the end of the market parade, was a large ferris wheel on which we could see truly appreciate just how beautiful Brussels was at christmas.
Final stop, Amsterdam.
Our final stop, which offered a completely different (but just as unique) city experience, was Amsterdam. Unquestionably, the city's stand-out feature was the intricate and quirky design of its buildings; each house tightly packed, but occupying its own character in the way of shape and colour. Another of the city's unique features was its abundance of canals which distinguished the town's cultural grip from that of other, heavily industrialised, cities across Europe. There was also a huge amount of cyclists which gave an insight into the city's eco-friendly ethos.
During the day we explored the city's antique shops, enjoyed traditional beer, and admired the light-strung buildings across the city. We also took a trip to the Erotic Museum which, located on the Red Light District, which was an amusing experience. This final aspect of the trip created a interesting parallel between the quaint areas of the city saturated with canals and coffee shops, and the sexual aura of the Red Light region.
Exploring these three renowned cities at christmas was an unforgettable experience which has inspired my future travel endeavours.