Hello! In this post I’m going to tell you a little bit about my traveling adventures in Europe so far, and hopefully these tips can help you! When you are in Europe and there are so many amazing places just a few hours away from you, travelling becomes an important part of your exchange experience, as you will see next.
I went to Brussels on a day trip a while ago, in the Carnival week. One day was enough to get to know the main places in the city, and it’s a perfect place to go to on a weekend, since it is so close to Maastricht.
Transportation: We got to the bus station with Flixbus, and then we took another bus to go to the city center, but you can go walking, too. Once you get there, everything is pretty close, so you don’t need to take more buses.
Food: I want to try at least one “traditional” food from each place I go to without spending too much. From Belgium, I tried the fries and the famous waffles! There are a lot of places selling them around the touristic spots, so you should find it easily.
Attractions: The Grand Place is very beautiful, specially at night, and from there it is easy to find the other places. The Cinquantenaire Park is farther than the others, but worth the visit! Also, there are soooo many chocolate stores and they usually let you taste some chocolate (that was the best part).
In the end of period 4 I went to Amsterdam for 3 days. If you are staying in Maastricht, you should definitely go there at some point, since it’s just some hours away by train. The problem is that NS tickets are usually expensive, so it’s better if you can gather some friends and buy a group ticket or if you get some promotion on a website!
Transportation: For transportation there, we got a 3-day travel card (they also have it for 1 day or 2 days) at the train station. It cost 26 euros and we could use any public transport in Amsterdam unlimitedly! You can find more information about it on the NS website. It was very worth it for us because we used it a looot, specially because our hotel was 30 minutes by tram away from the city center (that way, it was cheaper than a hostel in the center).
Food: Albert Cuyp market is THE place to go! There you can try some of the most famous dutch snacks: the stroopwafel, the kibbeling and the poffertjes, for example. Also, Amsterdam has this famous apple pie from Winkel 43, we tried it and it was delicious, indeed. It’s not very close to the other places, but I really recommend it.
Attractions: The places I liked to go to the most were, besides the Albert Cuyp market, the Van Gogh Museum, the Voldenpark and the canals for a canal cruise. I really wanted to go to the Anne Frank House, too, but there were no tickets left ): If you want to go, you should book it really early (I tried to book it in March and it was already sold out until May). Also, for the Van Gogh Museum you should book your ticket, but for the canal cruise you can get it when you go (near to the station or the canals).
Also is the end of period 4 I went to Paris for 3 days. I think it was enough time for us to see the main attractions.
Transportation: We arrived there on friday and stayed until sunday, so we needed to buy 3 day tickets each. For friday, we got one called mobilis, that cost around 12 euros and was valid for unlimited subway and train travel in the zones we chose (you should check which zones you plan to visit before!). For saturday and sunday we were able to get the jeunes week-end ticket, which is also for unlimited 1 day travel for people under 26, and it cost 4,1 euros, so it’s a lot cheaper! You can buy that at the station, too.
Food: Unfortunately I didn’t try many traditional french foods, just the croque monsieur and their crêpe (which I really recommend)
Attractions: Good news! Most touristic places in Paris don’t charge you for the tickets if you are a student in Europe (which we are now!). So basically we didn’t spend any money with that, but we still had to book some of them before. My favorites were the Palace of Versailles, Sacré Cœur, Arc de triomphe (in which you can go to the top and have an amazing view of the city) and the Louvre Museum (I recommend getting an audioguide there, because the museum is huge and the guide has some predefined routes that direct you to the main pieces and explain them).
After the exams week we had an one-week break before period 5 started. Since my exam was on tuesday, I had almost two weeks free. So I decided to spend 4 days in London and 4 in Dublin. London was (probably) my favorite city so far, there is so much to do there!
Transportation: If you are staying in the city for up to 4 days, the best option is the Oyster Card. You can buy the card at the station for £5 and recharge it with an amount of credit that depends on how long you are staying there. The advantage of the Oyster Card is that you have a discount on the ticket price and there is a maximum amount they can charge you per day – £6.8, if I remember correctly, which would be equivalent to less than 3 subway tickets for zone 1 and 2 and less than 5 bus tickets. This means that if you use the subway more than 3 times (which would cost £7.2 or more) or the bus more than 5 times (it would cost £7.5 or more), or any mix of transportation usage that exceeds the “daily cap”, you will end up saving money and not paying more than £6.8 per day. I think that is a good option for tourists. Knowing that is the maximum amount that will be charged, when you are going to put credit in your card, you can multiply it by the number of days you are staying there. But the best part is: if you don’t reach the daily cap and, therefore, have credit in the card in the end of your trip, you can go to a machine in a station and request a refund of that amount and of the value you paid for the card (£5). It is very easy and you receive the money at the same time. If you are staying in London from 5 to 7 days, however, I think it would be cheaper to buy a 7-day travelcard.
Food: In London I tried the famous fish and chips at Covent Garden, but you can find it everywhere in the city. Also, my favorite part was having the traditional afternoon tea, with tea and scones with jam (in a place in front of The British Museum).
Attractions: There are many museums you can visit and the entrance is free! You have a lot of options you can choose from – I chose to visit The British Museum (which has a really nice ancient Egypt part) and Tate Modern. I also really liked the markets, specially the Portobello Market an the Borough Market (which is mainly for food). At Covent Garden you can find very nice food options, too. They also have amazing parks, like the St. James Park (I liked it even better than Hyde Park). And, finally, there is the changing of the guard at the Buckingham Palace, which was one of my favorite things! You can check the dates on their website, and I recommend going early, because it gets very crowded and then it gets hard to watch it.
As I said, I spent 4 days in Dublin, but I think 3 days would have been enough for me, since I’m only going to the main tourist attractions. However, spending 4 days in that amazing city was very, very nice! It is so calm and people are sooo nice.
Transportation: You can go walking to all the main attractions, and I really recommend it! Dublin is a lovely city and you should take some time to appreciate the streets, houses and nature there. The bus terminal is also not that far, but the airport is, so, depending on where you are staying, you will have to get an aircoach or a taxi to get there. I stayed in an Airbnb in Ballsbridge, and it was only a 30 minutes walk to the center.
Food: I couldn’t find many traditional dishes in Dublin, so I only tried the cottage pie (and it was delicious!)
Attractions: Going to the Temple Bar and listening to some irish music is a very nice experience when you go to Dublin. It’s also interesting that you end up learning quite a lot about the history of the city by going to some of their museus, like The Little Museum of Dublin and Dublinia (which I didn’t really enjoy because there were a lot of school groups there running around and yelling all the time), or even the Dublin Castle. The National Gallery of Ireland has some free tours to explain a little bit about the highlights in the gallery, it just takes about 30 minutes and is very nice to guide you. But one of my favorite parts was actually the Merrion Square Open Air Art Gallery on sunday, where artists expose and sell their paintings. They were all so nice and their art was amazing! Another favorite was the Phoenix Park: there are a lot of deers living freely there, and you can try to find them. They are very pacific and so cute! In the park there is the Magazine Fort, which is also worth the visit.
These were the places I’ve been so far, I hope by the time I write the next post I’ll have gone to other places as well. See you in the next one! (: