Sciences Po winter break: day 1
Here it is: the first day on my whirlwind week-long backpacking trip though Europe.
I know “backpacking through Europe” normally refers to longer trips — weeks or even months — and it’s probably better that way. I would have loved to have months to travel, to actually get to spend more than 24 hours in each city I visited. But that sort of travel is expensive and time-consuming, and as a student, those are two adjectives that I can’t necessarily indulge in right now. One day, I’d love to go back and really live the nomadic lifestyle for a longer period of time. But for an only one-week winter holiday in the middle of a semester, I made the most of the time I had.
I hit seven countries in total in one week — Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, and Spain. In each country, my friends and I had between 12 and 48 hours. Our shortest stop was Slovenia, with just a half day, and the longest stop was Spain, which I visited on my own at the end to see my friend Emma for two days.
Up first on our agenda, though, was Frankfurt, Germany. Notice the spelling there — Frankfurt, not Frankfort. Once again, as was the case with Versailles, there’s a city in Kentucky with a similar name to a much more famous European city. In this instance, though, the pronunciation is the same but the spelling is different.
I’ve been to Germany only once before, and that was on a day trip to kill time during a long layover. That time, I visited Munich, in what was my first visit to mainland Europe ever. I was there for Christmas Eve in what is possibly the most famous city for Christmas festivities (save, I suppose, for Bethlehem — which I’ve also visited — and the North Pole — which I have not).
This visit to Frankfurt was also very short. My friends and I — Megan, Margo, Ebba, and Garrett — all arrived via night bus from Paris in the morning, and we departed by evening for a night bus trip to our next destination. All in all, that probably means I’ve only ever spent 24 hours max in Germany in my entire life.
Frankfurt really only has one small part of town, Römerberg that looks like “traditional” Germany, with a big church and quaint little houses that look like they’re made of gingerbread and come out of a storybook. The rest of it looks like a modern city, with big skyscrapers and glass buildings. For my friends and, as tourists, this made it perhaps the least interesting city to visit. If I were a young German professional looking for a place to settle, though, I can absolutely see the appeal.
After taking photos in Römerberg (which was practically empty and devoid of tourists, since we were there at 9AM on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter), we stopped for breakfast before making our way across the famous Eiserner Steg footbridge that’s covered with love locks. I know that basically every European city has that — a bridge that’s covered in locks for couples to figuratively represent their love by placing a lock on a beam and then throwing away the key, essentially the European equivalent of carving your names in a heart on a tree — but I think they’re cute anyway.
In the afternoon, we checked out a thrift shop where I almost bought a beautiful dress (only regretfully putting it away because it was slightly big), a food market, and a botanical garden. Then, we tried to visit the roof of one of the tall skyscrapers in order to get a panoramic view of the city from above, but we were disappointed to discover that the line was too long to make it worth it.
But that was okay because we were hungry and exhausted from walking all day (and from having slept on a night bus — a common theme you will find through all of these retrospectives), and so we decided to get some dinner. After trying one tavern that had good reviews online only to find that it was full, we picked one across the seat and ate a meal of sausages, spaetzle, and beer.
After dinner, we were off to the station to catch our next night bus to Prague. Though a bus is certainly not the ideal way to sleep, I think we were all so exhausted that we crashed almost immediately once we sat down in our seats.
As a final note: here’s the link to the Spotify playlist I created for the whole trip. There are songs meant to represent each country we visited. Give it a listen!
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life during my semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest,Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Coat: A vintage shop in Budapest (thrifted)