So you are planning your FIRST EVER trip to Europe. You want to do it all. You are overwhelmed. Everyone is hitting with you with their favorite cliche things to do. How are you ever going to plan a trip yourself? I went to Europe for a study abroad in Barcelona for my spring semester in 2016 and didn’t plan anything until I got there. For me, I didn’t go with a travel companion like most, so I met people along the way with similar interests. I was able to maximize my trips by finding the best people to go with to each place, rather than relying on one person to compromise with. Based on this, these were my top experiences that made my trip complete!
1.) Sparty (Budapest, Hungary)– Spa. Party. Sparty! There are multiple places that boast these fabulous, late night thermal bath parties in Budapest, but the one I hit up was called Széchenyi. There are daytime joys to visiting the baths but there is nothing in the world like a DJ blasting music with a bomb light show to a couple thousand people in hot bath water. My friend and I paid a little extra to have our own locker to change in and leave our things behind and it was a blessing. This is an excellent place to bring your GoPro! Be warned: this water isn’t exactly somewhere you want to swim around.. with your face touching the water… it’s just too many drunk people congregated in toasty water to feel comfortable about the pH levels.
2.) Cheese & Chocolate (Interlaken, Switzerland)– Cheese and I have a love hate relationship; I love it and it hates me. I’m so lactose intolerant that Switzerland was three days of wishing I could eat whatever I wanted. So I did. What? How often are you swirling the majority of your food through fondue in the Swiss Alps? Some things are worth (almost) dying for. I also went to Zurich, but our group was not impressed. In comparison, Interlaken is extremely walkable and activity-filled. Also, all of the water is potable. Literally, you can drink out of any fountain in the city. Traveling Europe you start to realize there is such a thing as nasty water (cough cough Sparty) and this offers some sweet, thirst quenching relief.
3.) Spanish Nightclubs (Barcelona, Spain)– This is nightlife like no other. I’m really not a big drinker or partier, but Barcelona offers one-of-a-kind weekend nights. The most well-known clubs, Opium and Pacha, are right on the beach but my favorite, BY FAR, was Apolo. It had a much more local vibe and I even witnessed a guy get a free tattoo on his butt cheek right on the DJ stand. It’s got the real Spanish vibe and the locals aren’t as scary. On the beach side, the men can be much more grabby with American ladies and there is a higher risk of being pickpocketed by the club promoters on the sidewalk. Don’t take anything to Barcelona you wouldn’t someone else to have!
4.) Catacombs (Paris, France)– Ahh the city of love. There’s a lot to love. Oh, for sure. I went on Valentine’s Day. I loved the food, I loved the sights, and I loved the dead people. (Wait, what was that?) The catacombs are a unique part of the depths of Paris that have HORRIBLE reviews and I think it’s because the overhype that’s happened. TripAdvisor is telling you people wrong! I got cheap tickets at a hostel, showed up 20 minutes before it opened, was the first inside, and out in 45 minutes. That’s the only way to do it. A private tour is so unnecessary- you’ve seen one wall of bones you’ve seen them all. Don’t let it eat up your day because that line can get super long (there’s already 6 million people down there, how many more do you think they can cram in there??) But, it is very worth it.