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Recap: My Trip to Europe (Part 1)

recap my trip to europe

There's no way I can sum up this amazing nine day, four city trip into one post, so I'm going to do two. I'll try to give you all a simple breakdown of what I ended up doing, places I stayed, and things I can recommend trying. Have any recommendations for other things to do in these cities? Share them in the comments below.

Day 1 - Amsterdam

AmsterdamAGingerAway

Flight
Lufthansa
Duration Approx: 10.5hrs
What did I think? : Happy to report Lufthansa was a great airline to fly with. The seats were comfortable and each passenger had a touch screen that had a wide array of movies, audio books, games, and music to choose from. Bonus: Bottomless wine on the flight. Cons: The meal was not good.

Hostel
St. Christopher's at the Winston
Stay: 1 Night
Cost: $54.89
What did I think? : This hostel was great because it featured a smoking room for travelers needing a place to smoke the local cannabis Amsterdam is known for. The bar/restaurant, Belushi's, also had a discount for hostel guests. I also liked this hostel because there were lots of smaller dorms. Smaller dorms, with 6-8 people, I believe are ideal because they are less overwhelming than larger dorms and I find people tend to speak up more if there aren't too many people around.

Food:
Amsterdam has a lot of American food options. The Red Light district is home to a variety of restaurants, much appreciated by tourists looking to satisfy their cannabis-induced munchies. Many customers walked the street with their food. I saw very few that would stop in to eat food that could be eaten to-go. I  mostly saw Fry stands and New York Style pizza.

 

Fries Amsterdam

What did I do?

Coffee Shop
Legalized marijuana is one of the things Amsterdam is most well known for. The Cannabis industry appears to be extremely lucrative. Coffee Shops, where marijuana can be sold and consumed in Amsterdam can get crowded, especially if you go to more well-known ones, like the Bulldog. I purchased my pot there but then ended up taking it back to my hostel to smoke it on the patio.

Dance/Music Festival in North Holland
How I found/ended up at this concert/festival/party/not too sure what to call it, on the distant outskirts of Amsterdam is a long story meant for another time. Ruigoord is a small village-like place in North Holland. Ruigoord is a short walk down a path from a main road in the dutch countryside. In the middle of this small 'village', there is an old church turned into a concert/event venue which just so happens to host a rave-like party the last Saturday of every month. Luckily, It was the last Saturday of the month when my hostel friends and I stumbled upon this place. $20 dollars got us wristbands that allowed us into the party on the inside. Outside the church were scattered bonfires and locals enjoying each others company. The dancing and conversations lasted until sunrise, at which point, my hostel friends and I decided to call an Uber back to the city center.

Day 2 - Dortmund

MayDay Dortmund

Train
Deutsche Bahn
Amsterdam - > Duisburg 2hrs
Duisburg - > Dortmund 36mins
What did I think? : Typical train ride. There is no service for drinks or food, which I wasn't really expecting anyway since the train is long and short service between stops. The train wasn't crowded at all either giving me plenty of space to stretch out for a nap.

Hostel
A&O Dortmund Hauptbahnhof
Stay: 1 Night
Cost: $95.99 (included ticket to MAYDAY Dortmund)
What did I think? : A Good quality hostel. Had good facilities and a nice common room and bar on the first floor. There were a lot of rooms and honestly not too many people staying there. I was glad it wasn't crowded but not super thrilled about not having any roommates. No joke, I had a 6-bed room all to myself. It was great for privacy but I was really hoping to meet some people that were also going to MAYDAY Dortmund in my hostel.  The common room wasn't filled with lots of guests either so I ended up just heading over to MAYDAY alone. 

 

#travelblog #instatravel #instatraveling #travelblogger #girlslovetravel #festivaltravel #dortmund

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What did I do?
MAYDAY Dortmund
MAYDAY is a music festival that happens every year around May 1st. The line-up featured some extremely popular European techno artists like Chris Liebing and Neelix. 
It wasn't too hard to find people to hang out with once there. The venue had several performances going on at once and had areas to eat, shop, or get your face painted. I just sat down to eat a pretzel and was able to strike up a conversation with another woman my age who asked me to join her group. I ended up hanging out with those people until about 8 am when I decided to go back to my hostel for a quick nap before my journey to Brussels. 

Day 3 - Brussels

Bus
FlixBus
Duration: Approx 5 hours
Cost: 20,26€
What did I think? : I would definitely use FlixBus again. the bus was clean and on time. The driver was nice and the bus wasn't crowded so I had room to stretch out to sleep. Which is what I did for the entire journey. Thankfully, a woman woke me up when we arrived in Brussels.

Hostel
Brussels 2GO4 Quality Hostel at Grand Place
Cost: $24.85
What did I think? : The hostel was in a great location, on a small side street right next to Grand Place. This made it easy for me to drop my stuff and head out to do some sightseeing. There was a newly updated kitchen for hostelers to cook and eat their own food as well as a quaint lounge area. The rooms felt spacious though the hostel was at fully capacity. I would definitely stay here again. Unfortunately, I only planned less than a day in Brussels or I would have been able to meet more friends and make myself comfortable there.

What did I do? 
Walked Around/SANDEMANs tour
In the late evening, I took a long sightseeing stroll just to get a feel for the city. I basically just walked around and strolled into a few souvenir shops and took pictures of the beautiful buildings.  I ate at Pizza Hut, which is not unique or exciting in the least, but it hit the spot. Technically, I did my SANDEMANs free walking tour the morning of Day 4 but feel like I should dedicate my writing for that day to Paris as that's where I was most of that day.I felt like I was able to see several main attractions like Mannequin Pis and the shops and buildings around Grand Place. I made sure to also stop by the Godiva store to pick up some Belgian chocolate for my mom.  

Made it to #brussels #grandplacebrussels #bruxelles #solotrip #backpackingeurope #femalebackpacker #followmyjourney

A post shared by A Ginger Away (@agingeraway) on

A post shared by A Ginger Away (@agingeraway) on

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What I’m doing in Amsterdam, Dortmund, Brussels, and Paris

I'm heading to Europe... What should I Do???

In one day, I will be boarding my first flight to Europe. I will be traveling to Amsterdam, Dortmund, Brussels, Paris, and then back to Amsterdam. While, I know where/when I'll be in each city I haven't really sat down to figure out what I'll do while I'm there. Once I'm there, I plan on playing each day by ear but figured it would be best to compile a list of things I'm interested in doing and how much they will probably cost. This way I can easily plan my day each morning. Currently, I only have concert planned to go to and SANDEMANs Free Walking Tours scheduled in Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam.

Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas of what you can do on your own European adventure.

Why am I going to Dortmund, Germany?

MAYDAY Festival

The reason I'm traveling to this more obscure german town is because there is an annual electronic dance music (EDM) festival on April 30th. I will be landing in Amsterdam but have to take the train the next day to Dortmund. The festival, MAYDAY Dortmund, is housed in the city's Westfalenhallen concert venue. This event is held every year in late April/early May. Not for the weak at heart, this event will go from 7:00pm till about 9:00am the next morning.  So, I'm sure I'll be a zombie the next day. 

I'm big on EDM and music festivals. After booking my ticket to Amsterdam I did a search on Festicket to see if there were any festivals going on while I am there and luckily enough MAYDAY is happening, is only a 3 hour train ride from Amsterdam, and happens to be a quite affordable. My package (ticket and hostel) only cost me $95 USD. 

 

What I'm gonna do in Brussels...

Sandeman's Free Walking Tour (In Paris and Amsterdam as well)

I actually don't have much time planned in Brussels. I will be arriving in the late afternoon via bus and will be leaving about 24 hours later to take a train to Paris.  Luckily, I was able to schedule a free walking tour thru SANDEMANs. SANDEMANs is a free tour company that does walking tours of many European cities. Simply sign up online for a free walking tour in the city of your choosing. I have already signed up for my tours in Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris.

Visit the Godiva Store...

I'm not a huge gourmet chocolate lover, but my mother sure is. Godiva is her favorite, I'm always sure to stop by my local shop for her Christmas and birthday gifts. Since my mom isn't coming with me on this trip, I'm going to be sure to bring her back her favorite Belgian chocolate from their flagship shop on Grand Place, which opened in 1926. If you're a Belgian chocolate lover, like my mom this might be up your alley.

Eat some Belgian Fries...

belgianfries

Now, let me just get this out of the way. I LOVE FRIES! Belgium is known from being the origin of frites(fries). So, I'm super excited to go to a local friterie (a place that sells fast food particularly, fries) to order one on my favorite foods. I'm not much of a foodie so this is about as excited as I get for a local dish. Here is a list I found of the best friteries in Brussels.

Things to do in Paris...

Balloon Generali...

With the Hot-Air-Balloon being a French invention I thought, there could be no better way to get a great view of the city. Balloon Generali is the worlds largest hot-air-balloon and is located in Parc André-Citroën in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. The Balloon operates everyday from 9am to 8pm and is first come first serve. I will be trying to go early in the morning to avoid a long wait. And the best part is, this experience is only 12 Euros person.

Have a Parisan Picnic...

Now, I have heard some conflicting things about whether or not it is illegal to consume alcohol in public in Paris. I've found that I basically just depends on where you are. I'm going to ask the staff at my hostel if they can give me some guidance. Once I figure that out, I plan to bring some wine and a baguette to a local park or by a river for a quiet picnic. Sounds instagram worthy, right?

Visit bouquinistes along the River Seine...

Bouquinistes (used book sellers) are a fixture in Paris. These sellers line the River Seine and the area around Notre-Dame. The River Seine is often referred to as the river between two book shelves. Might be a good place for a walk and to find souvenirs. 

Try Berthillon ice-cream...

Located on Île Saint-Louis, Berthillon is home to world famous Parisian ice cream (glacier in french). I hear the line can get long so, depending on what it looks like that day I may or may not get some of this ice cream, but it's definitely on my list. If I have to I can always buy a tub of it from a local store and take it back to my hostel for later. 

Wander around Montmartre

Montmartre is one of the trendier neighborhoods in Paris. This picturesque hilltop neighborhood boasts great restaurants, local art scenes, and cobblestone streets. This part of Paris will likely be a great place to wander and explore.

Pleasure Cruise on the River Seine...

While exploring my hostel's website I discovered that they offer tours as well. After looking through my options, I decided to take the Pleasure Cruise (18 euros). This cruise comes with a with a glass of champagne, a spirit or a fresh made authentic French crèpe with a beverage. The cruise tour will begin near the Eiffel Tower and will end toward the city center. This cruise also comes with audio guides in multiple languages. When traveling you might want to look and see if your accommodation offers tours or other special perks as well. You can often find some good deals this way. I'm excited about this cruise because it's possible other people from my hostel will be joining me, which will help me try to make a few friends while there.

What I am doing in Amsterdam...

Checking out the local coffeeshops...

Amsterdam is home to over 200 coffee shops, not to be confused with a cafe. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are where you can buy your weed. As this is one of the main reasons I'm visiting Amsterdam, I'm beyond excited. These coffee shops are where weed can be legally sold and consumed in the city, a true pothead paradise. Here is a list I found of the most famous Coffee shops in Amsterdam. 

Visiting the NDSM Wharf...

While researching off-beat things to to in Amsterdam I came across the NDSM Wharf. NDSM stands for Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) and wharf means a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships dock. Basically, this thing is an old shipbuilding facility located in Noord, just a 15 minute free ferry ride across the River IJ. The space has been converted by local artists into a cultural hub. Seems like a cool place to check out and I wouldn't mind taking a free ferry to get there.

Taking a cruise...

Amsterdam is known for it's beautiful canals that connect throughout the entire city. The city has so many cruises to offer; theres a pizza cruise, and cheese and wine cruise. I'm cheap so I'm going with the 1 hour cruise thats about 18 euros.

Biking the Dutch Tulip Fields...

My last day in the Netherlands I plan to visit the famous dutch tulip fields and go to the Keukenhof. April and early may are when the flowers are in bloom. I'm thankful my trip happened to coincide with this gorgeous display of flowers. A roundtrip bus ticket and entrance to Keukenhof is 29 euros. There are apparently several bike rental locations near Keukenhof, once there I plan to rent a bike and enjoy the scenery.  Bike rental is 10 euros with this company. They even have route planned out for tourists. (Note: you cannot bike in Keukenhof, only on the roads around the tulip fields.)

Have any suggestions for things I should do? Comment below>>>

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