So, if you're reading this, that means you've made it through til the end. Yes- this is the final installment of my '32 most memorable experiences from my European Vacation.' It's a bitter sweet ending, but to tell the truth- I'm happy this the last of this series. With so much to write about and remember, I did my best to make sure I only included the most informative, and useful information for those of you who would eventually like to visit Europe one day. Hopefully some of the things I shared can help someone else have a smoother time along their journey. So, without further ado- let's get right to it.... Numbers 26-32! (Even though I cut my trip short by 2 days, I still decided to do 32 memories, instead of 30) Enjoy!!
#26. Something I think is an important topic to write about are the different currencies I used while in Europe. Sure, we all know that the most common form of currency in Europe is the Euro, however- I also used a couple of other forms while there as well. In Switzerland, the currency was called Swiss Francs, and in London, it was pounds. I found out that in London, they accept the Euro, but at a different rate. It was much easier to just use pounds, as it saved time (and money) from having to convert the prices into Euros. In Switzerland- they had their own system. The Swiss francs were the only form of currency accepted (where I was). I went to a Starbucks and tried using my Euros to buy coffee and they wouldn't accept it. I had to go and exchange my Euros to Francs to make purchases. Overall, it was a different currency system they had over in Europe. When I needed to, it was very easy to exchange money, whether it was US dollars, English pounds, the Euro, or Swiss Francs. While it may have been easy to exchange, each currency had their own exchange rate. The Euro was 1.17 for 1 US dollar. Swiss francs were 1.03 for 1 US dollar, and English pounds were approximately 1.25 for 1 US dollar. On occasion I felt robbed, but whenever I found an exchange place with no commission fees- I would exchange as much money as possible. Just to give you a better idea- I once exchanged $500 US dollars, and only got 390 Euro and this was in Italy. In Spain I exchanged the same $500 US dollars and only got 240 Euros. Each country had it's own commission fees. In Zurich, I exchanged $200 US dollars and got approx. 182 Francs. In London, I exchanged $300 US dollars and got approx. 197 pounds. So yea, not too exciting when you're on a tight budget, away from home, and without a direct income source. But as I've mentioned before, I went with a pretty healthy budget and didn't have to skip any meals during my trip. I managed my funds quite well. I shared this just to give you guys an idea of what to expect if you ever go to any European countries. Keep in mind, the exchange rates often change, and the US dollar either goes up or down in value. Just be sure to take enough money with you so you don't have to worry about running! The fees will get you every time!
(Pictures of the different currencies I used while in Europe)
#27. They say that whenever you visit a foreign country, you have to do something to remember your time there. And that's exactly what I did while visiting Amsterdam... I knew that I wanted to do something bold, something exciting, something fun... so what did I do? I got a tattoo! What better way to remember a country than branding yourself while there!? I got an infamous saying of mine tattooed on my right shoulder: BE. BELIEVE. BECOME. It means to BE who (or what) you are, BELIEVE in who (or what) you are, and BECOME who (or what) you are. I got it in a very easy print. Nothing too fancy, not too big, and not too much. It was my first time getting a tattoo in about 10 years. Yes- I considered myself done with tattoos once I hit the age of 30, but when in Rome (or in this case, Amsterdam) I decided to just go for it. You only live once, and the purpose of living is to make as many memories as possible before your time is up. Now every time I look at my tattoo, or share my European adventure, I definitely have a story to tell. Both the story, and the tattoo will stay with me for the rest of my life. Literally.
(Photos of me, my tattoo, and my tattoo artist in Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District)
#28. Another fond memory I have while on my European vacation was being in Italy. Italy was such a beautiful country and I got to experience a large part of it. From Venice to Pisa, to Rome, and Milan- Italy had so much to offer. It was one of the best countries I visited. The food was spectacular, the sights were amazing, and the memories were plentiful. I got to see so many iconic monuments that I'd only ever seen on TV. Monuments like the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the fountain Trevi, and the world famous Grand Canal. Which is where I had the opportunity to ride in a gondola. It was absolutely beautiful. An experience unlike any other. The gondola was amazing, my gondolier was a charm, and the weather was perfect. My ride was very authentic and worthy of praise. It lasted about 30 minutes and I paid 80 euro. It's a bit steep, but you can't put a price on memories. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I definitely would. In a heartbeat!
(Photos of the sights in Italy)
#29. Speaking of Italy- another iconic monument I got the chance to lay my eyes on was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And yes, it is really leaning! How they managed to pull that off and keep it standing, I don't know. But it was an awesome sight to see. I took several photos and videos in the area where it was located. There were other statues, cathedrals, and spectacular sights to see there as well; including several small mom and pop shops to buy gelato, pizza, paninis, and other authentic Italian dishes. The tower was a 20 minute walk from my hostel, but I enjoyed the city so much, that it took me about 40 minutes to get there. I stopped at several places along the way, took photos, and just indulged in the sights. I didn't want to move too fast to avoid missing anything. The cobble stone streets, the buildings, the people, the smells, the canals were all included in what Italy had to offer, and I didn't want to miss a moment of it!
(In front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa)
#30. What can I say about Buckingham Palace that hasn't already been said?! It was beautiful. A palace fit for a Queen, of course. However, the Queen was not in on the day that I arrived, but it didn't make the trip any less dull. I was able to see the royal guards marching through the garden as they do in full uniform with their big black hats. I got to see the royal garden itself, along with views of big golden gates that keep the public from trespassing. I learned about the history of Buckingham Palace, and about it residents, both past, and present. It was a remarkable visit and experience.
(Picture of Buckingham Palace from the Royal Garden)
#31. One last thing about Amsterdam was the history it held. I visited the Anne Frank house, and it literally bought me to tears. To know that something so beautiful came from something so sinister was enough to move anyone with a heart to tears. It was overwhelming. There were tons of museums to see, including a museum of prostitution that I thought was incredible. The infamous Red Light District, along with the canals of the city made Amsterdam such a unique place to visit. The people were friendly, the weather was a bit gloomy, and the food was delicious. And then of course, there was the marijuana. It was plentiful, readily available, and they had more than enough to go around. It was mind blowing to visit a coffee shop, and have the option to buy marijuana and smoke it right there. It was something I'll never forget, as well as one of my most fondest memories of my vacation. Did I partake in any marijuana smoking?? I'll never tell!
(Pictures of the sights in Amsterdam)
#32. So, we've made it. Number 32. The last and final memory of my series... and what do I choose to talk about? Paris! Of course..... what else? When most people think of Paris, they typically think of the Eiffel tower, or perhaps the Seine River. Having seen both of them on a previous visit to the city, I was more interested in what the rest of the city had to offer. I rode several trains throughout the city, including one to Disneyland as I discussed in my earlier installments of this blog. I flew in and out of CDG airport, which I have to say is overly engineered (in my opinion). It was so busy that it was almost frustrating. They have multiple terminals, like any other airport- only the terminals are a train ride away from each other. So if by chance, you end up at the wrong terminal, you could just miss your flight, or train. But other than that- the airport was the center of all my transportation needs. They have a domestic and country to country train station at the airport which made it easy to catch any train I needed to just about any part of the city or other country I wanted to visit. I simply got a map from the hotel I was staying in, and found my way around the city. Paris has so much more to offer than just the Eiffel tower. I advise you get out and see the city via train when visiting. You won't be disappointed.
Whew! I'm finally finished with this series just over a month after I started. I promised my followers that I would include them along my journey, and I tried my best to be as informative, and direct as possible. My hope is that you're able to use the most vitals parts of this information to help guide and navigate your way around Europe- in multiple countries. Although I've been to several different European countries, I am not a travel guru, so I don't know everything, nor do I have all the answers. But, I do know what I experienced and if by chance- you still find yourself curious about some things- please email me or leave a comment and express yourself. I will be glad to answer any questions or inquiries you have. Once again, thanks so much for reading my blog! Feel free to share, like, and comment on what moved you the most. Tell your friends and family to subscribe to my site and stay tuned for more travel adventures with me! As always, travel is something we all should experience, either in person or vicariously through other people. You can't go wrong with the knowledge you receive from traveling. It opens up a whole new world to you! Until my next blog post, stay safe and happy travels!!
xoxo- Ashawna Lane