We all need to take that break once in a while; to get away from the everyday routine and spend some time relaxing. Most of the time, all we manage to fit in is a weekend away, but every so often we are lucky enough to have the chance to take a longer holiday. Fortunately for me, I just had that chance and spent the best part of two months over Christmas in Europe with a few friends.
While flying into Paris just one week following the tragic shootings last November was not the most positive way to start, the next two months went off without a hitch as we travelled more than 7,500 km from city to city, seeing the famous landmarks, sights that are not so well known; and taking the opportunity to immerse ourselves in cultures that are similar, yet so different from what we have at home.
Even though I returned in January, there are a few memories that have stuck firm in my mind. Standing at the top of Mount Vesuvius was breathtaking despite the clouds, while, during New Year’s Eve in Prague, it started to snow just before midnight, which, to a bunch of Australians, was something we had never seen before. As a soccer fan, visits to the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou, the home grounds of Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, had been long planned but still managed to surpass expectations; and off the beaten path, exploring a hundreds of year old salt mine in Poland was something very new to me since the miners had carved massive caverns and churches into the salt.
To anyone planning a trip soon to Europe, I have a few practical suggestions that might come in handy. If you are planning to travel to a number of closeby cities and have the time to take the train, Eurail has a number of deals that could be convenient. We found the system easy to use and much more relaxing than spending hours waiting in airport terminals for all but the longest legs of the trip. Also, the internet is a fantastic source of information that really impressed me; from airbnb for accommodation, to tripadvisor for suggestions of activities and places to eat, there has never been an easier way to easily access information and stay connected. Finally, I found google maps to be the most convenient way to find our way around, by downloading an offline map for each city we made sure we never got lost.
We all need to take time to step back, refocus and prepare for whatever is to come (JBS and more Uni for me) so we can put our best foot forward and have the greatest chance of success.