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A Dash Across Europe: Four Countries, One Unbelievable Spring Break

Photo+Courtesy+of+April+Varela
April Varela
Photo Courtesy of April Varela

For years, the idea of traveling around Europe was nothing more than a distant dream. Little did I know that this journey would not only allow me to develop highly-valuable skills but also gain a global perspective on the culture and places while making friends from around the world. I embarked on a culinary journey through the heart of Europe during spring break, exploring the enchanting cities of Budapest, Prague, Oslo, and Amsterdam. I set out to discover more than just the flavors that define them, though. This trip was also about unraveling the new stories and memories I would make along the way. The adventure promised a blend of rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful surroundings. 

Photo Courtesy of April Varela

The first stop on this trip was Budapest, best known for several distinct features and a rich cultural scene. During the day, we soaked in the thermal baths, relaxing in the warm water under the golden glow of the setting sun. We took a stroll at the city park called Varosliget while passing by the Corvin castle. As the sun cast a warm palette of purples and oranges across the sky, our journey led us to the Heroes’ Square, where the statues and architecture were bathed in the glow of the twilight. As night fell, we strolled through Kossuth Square, where a beautiful building illuminated the surroundings with a soft radiance. Its glow reflected on the gently flowing river adorned with the shimmering lights of the city. On our second day, we went to the town square, where we passed a market with vibrant colors and a symphony of a culture so rich that it overflowed onto the streets. I tried a chimney cake for the first time and it was delicious! We made our way to Buda Castle, which offered panoramic views of Budapest, and learned about its history. We ended our Budapest trip with a river cruise, on which we observed the majestic Parliament building against a backdrop of rain-kissed skies. Undeterred by the weather, we wholeheartedly embraced the experience.

Photo courtesy of April Varela

Right after Budapest, we went to Prague. Wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town, I was captivated by the medieval charm that seemed to seep from every building. We went into the Prague Castle as well as the St. Vitus Cathedral, which greeted us with a series of courtyards, palaces, and gardens. St. Vitus Cathedral is an example of Gothic architecture with stunning stained glass windows that illuminate the interior with a kaleidoscope of colors. Walking every day on the Charles Bridge was refreshing and offered a breathtaking view of the city. I had the chance to see and walk through the skinniest road in the world; it even had a traffic light on each side to let one side pass. We were wandering the city so much that we found a beautiful garden. The Wallenstein Garden was captivating and worth visiting. Another highlight was seeing the Astronomical Clock and the Lennon Wall. They are popular tourist attractions that offer a unique and enriching experience. 

Photo courtesy of April Varela

Next on the itinerary was Oslo, a city that effortlessly blended modernity with nature. We strolled along the waterfront filled with live music and dancing, and the Oslo Opera House emerged like a contemporary masterpiece. It was a breathtaking view across the water, along with the floating sauna rafts and hot tubs. It was very cold in the spring, it was even snowing. We walked throughout Oslo for hours, enjoying the city, and catching a view of the Royal Palace. We ended up at Vigeland Park. It had many interesting sculptures each telling a unique story of human emotion. Walking several miles was worth the experience, enjoying the timeless tradition it had to offer. 

The final destination was Amsterdam, a city alive with canals and bicycles. Every street we walked down was filled with tulip markets and narrow houses. In fact, Amsterdam has the narrowest house in the world. I felt the embrace of a culture of vibrant energy. The Anne Frank House offered a touching reminder of the city’s wartime history. We browsed through the canals and saw the infamous bench from the scene in the movie “The Fault in Our Stars.” The

Photo courtesy of April Varela

next day, we went to the Keukenhof Garden. It was absolutely stunning and seeing the different types of flowers was such an experience. In the evening, we went on a canal cruise where we learned the history of Amsterdam. It was truly eye-opening to learn about the city and culture. We passed the Prinsengracht, Brouwersgracht, and Binnenamstel canals, as well as the National Opera and Ballet. As the sun dipped below the canals, casting a warm glow over the historic city, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the unforgettable moments and vibrant experiences that Amsterdam had generously provided during this enriching journey.

As I reflect on the whirlwind of cultures and landscapes that I’ve come across during spring break, I unraveled the chapters of this global experience where each country I visited left an unerasable mark within me. I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the memories created during this unforgettable spring break. This spring break had not only been a geographical exploration but a soulful immersion into the histories, landscapes, and spirits of these captivating cities, forever engraving their stories into the chapters of my travel tales.

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