For winter break I spent about 2 weeks traveling through 4 cities in 3 different countries. I ventured to Eastern Europe for the first time and saw the beauty of Prague, Czech Republic and Budapest, Hungary during Christmas time. After a delayed flight from Budapest I ended up in Barcelona to ring in the New Year and ended my trip in Valencia, Spain. It was interesting to see the cultural differences between Eastern Europe and Western Europe, especially with food. My eating habits are somewhere between a pescatarian and vegetarian so countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary are ironic because they LOVE their meat. I didn’t mind because they had pizza and pasta everywhere; there were Italian restaurants left and right!
Impressions of Prague and Budapest
Prague and Budapest are very cheap places to visit despite the currency conversion of the Euro or the U.S. Dollar. If you only have a few days, you need no more than 2 or 3 in each city because they’re small and walkable. I expected snow, but neither Prague nor Budapest had it. Prague was also warmer than I expected while Budapest was very windy. Prague reminded me of a fairytale town like the one in The Beauty and the Beast and Budapest has more history than I realized. There is a lot of Jewish and World War 2 significance I forgot about so it was nice to have a refresher on a free walking tour. I also loved their Ruin Bar concept in the Jewish District aka the Party District. Ruin Bars are old warehouses that have been converted into eclectic bars. I didn’t snap many photos, however I highly recommend them for a night out.
New Year’s celebrations in Barcelona
Barcelona for New Year’s was definitely an experience. I have never been in a huge city like that, so it was all new! I saw the countdown into 2017 at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic and headed over to Poble Espanyol until 3am or so. I wasn’t a huge fan of the music or that the set-up was outside in the middle of winter, but with a few drinks it was still fun enough. Europe lives for the techno music, the “5-story” club in Prague played a techno version of Adele’s Hello, so that’s something to keep in mind for next time when researching clubs to go to for night life. However, sight-seeing was fun because I love the art in Barcelona! Gaudí was a genius and the whole city proves it. I went to Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia and both are just gorgeous.
What to see in Valencia
The last stop was Valencia and I was worn out by then! Luckily, Valencia’s tourist attractions aren’t as tedious as Madrid or Barcelona so my friends and I were able to relax, but still see everything we wanted. The City of Arts and Sciences (COAS) was beautiful and the paella was delicious! The COAS is a very interesting attraction because in some cases it’s not an attraction at all. The all-in-one museum was meant to bring more money into Valencia, but there hasn’t been much of a profit and it’s become more of a financial burden for the residents. All the main tourist attractions (aside for COAS) were in one area within walking distance of my Airbnb, which is always a plus. If I had the time I would definitely go back to Valencia when it’s warmer since it has a both city and beach vibe. I would love to experience the sun and heat!
This winter vacation pretty epic! I was excited, surprised, tired, full, annoyed and satisfied all at once. Traveling throughout the continent is some work, but worth every step and every euro thought I did appreciate sleeping in my own bed upon returning to Logroño. A special shoutout to all the strangers I met along the way for those two weeks. Being in countries where English is spoken, but not their first language, can be tough and there were so many strangers who help my friends and I as we got lost or caught the wrong bus. Good samaritans make this world a little brighter! It also makes me want to learn more languages…we’ll see…