Between the end of our intensive language course and the beginning of the winter semester, we were granted two weeks of absolute freedom! I, along with two friends, took this opportunity to capitalize on our recently purchased Bahncards and see just how easy it is to travel around Europe. All together, we spent 11 days traveling and stepped foot in 7 countries, 2 of which I had not yet visited. Please enjoy all the pictures of our trip to London, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and Amsterdam!
Our first was London. We hadn’t originally had any intention to visit London, but our 42€ tickets to Copenhagen left us with a 13-hour layover at the Stansted airport. So we really had no option but to do some exploring! Our layover was, however, between the hours of 6pm and 7am, leaving our sightseeing experiences rather limited. This was also a surprising first encounter with reverse culture-shock. England is an English-speaking country! For the first time in over a month, everything was in our native language and it felt very wrong – like we were in an upside-down Chicago where everyone had weird accents. Not having to think about which language I should be speaking left me feeling like I was almost cheating on my study abroad experience and made me all the more excited to get to Denmark.
On to Copenhagen, Denmark! I was probably most excited for this stop since I’d not only get to add a new country to my list, but was also visiting a friend from Madison. Despite being absurdly expensive, Copenhagen was absolutely stunning and I enjoyed every second of our time there.
We were blessed with blue skies and sunshine for our main day of wandering around and the port-city did not disappoint. We walked a lot this day. Somewhere around 33,000 steps, to be exact.
Among the highlights were what was possibly the most aesthetic brunch of all time and a contemporary art museum featuring a mind-twisting virtual reality exhibit.
We also took a day-trip to Malmö, Sweden (adding my second new country of the trip) where everyone was dressed impeccably and we drank some good coffee. We also climbed the tower of a church in Copenhagen to see this incredible view of the city. Overall, I loved this city and Danish was super fun to hear and attempt to figure out. It’s similar to German in construction and vocabulary, but the pronunciation is impossible. So many thanks to Sally for letting us sleep on her floor and showing us around! I’ll never forget our Wisco reunion in Cope!
After tragically missing our first bus to Hamburg, Germany, we finally made it to this, once again, port-city. Being back in a German-speaking land felt like something of a reprieve. We did however visit on a Monday, meaning lots of museums were closed so we again spent the day wandering aimlessly. No complaints.
We visited the Rathaus, Gängeviertel (an incredibly artsy district), a restaurant devoted entirely to Spätzle, and the local brewery (which had the best pretzel bread I have ever come across).
The final destination of our journey was Amsterdam, The Netherlands! The last time I was in Amsterdam, I was approximately 4 years old. This experience was far different. We ventured to use a service called “Couchsurfing” for the first time – it’s basically like airbnb, but the owner is still also living in the space. This was a surprisingly positive experience. We were granted not only cheap accommodations and breakfast food, but also museum cards which allowed us free entry into many of the museums across town. We certainly got our value out of them and visited the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Eye Film Institute, and the Anne Frank House, among others.
This city is breathtaking and we spent hours aimlessly meandering through the network of canals, stumbling upon bakeries and cafes. I have not even a rough estimate of the number of cafes we went to, but I was so grateful to be back in a land of good coffee.
We also toured the Heineken Brewery and spent an evening in North Amsterdam, where we found what may possibly be the most interesting Brewery I have ever heard of. Oedipus Brewing is located in an old warehouse and everything is operated in-house. Their beers are also weirdly unique (to the point where I think they actually belong in Portland), including one based on Thai spices.
This 11-day journey was an amazing adventure spent in beautiful cities with wonderful friends and I would return to any of our destinations in a heartbeat. Coming back to Freiburg at the end of it all felt like coming home and living in Europe continues to be everything I hoped it could be and more. And the year is only just beginning! I feel so lucky to be able to travel and share my experiences, thanks for following along!