My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night

My first trip abroad alone dates back to a study holiday in Europe. It was the turning point between the family vacations of the 90s and the first trips alone. I do not have pictures of that period because I was photographing only in analog. So negatives and albums remained somewhere in my parents' house. One day I will open the Pandora's box and I will have material to write a vintage post for the rest of the life on this blog.

But do not imagine my study holiday in one of those huge campuses that you see in the leaflets of language schools, were still in the nineties. The college where we were housed was a French public school with beds in dormitories for out-of-town students in the French countryside. The organization resembled more that of a summer camp, but I was in Europe alone, and the important thing was that.

Part of the epic nature of this study vacation was my first air travel. In practice, it was like traveling alone because I did not know anyone. In any case, during the flight, I was too excited to look out the window than to socialize. I never understood who is afraid of the plane. I immediately could not wait to see the landscape below me become small and capture the clouds!

The first myth to debunk during the study holidays is that one really studies, at least during adolescence. As adults, it is certainly easier to stay focused on studying, especially because it requires a sacrifice of time and money. But before the age of twenty, I think especially the adventure of a trip alone and the multicultural environment. What remains is the sense of freedom and independence rather than grammar.

In my two weeks, I had spoken very little French and the lessons were just a great review of grammar already studied at school. I was tired of listening to romantic songs like Dis Lui Toi Que Je T'aime by Vanessa Paradis that our English teacher, who earlier was teaching in Spain liked so much. Unfortunately, my romanticism was non-existent. Even then I did not feel at all the suffering of the love inherent in the song.

Study Trip through Paris in Europe

1. Study Abroad in France

My study holiday was spent between trying to familiarize myself with the other classmates and play ping pong. It is the only sport that at the time I managed quite decently. The best part, however, were the trips to discover France. We were loaded on a bus and taken around Paris, Strasbourg and even Disneyland Paris, which at the time was the best amusement park ever built in Europe not without making the obligatory stop at the Chateau de Chambord castle in the Loire Valley.

In the following years, I have been several times to Paris. I have also stayed for work, but my first meeting with the city of lights was a coming of age story during this study holiday. Instead of the city sightseeing bus tour, we had taken a ride on our bus, with the guide to show us all the main monuments and bridges in Paris. We have a boat ride on the Seine while having a macaron in France.

After the tour, we had come down to continue the visit to the city watching live the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Louvre. Here I suffered my first tourist disappointment due to the small size of the Mona Lisa.

In front of Notre Dame, I had instead bought a keychain with the words Paris written perfectly. I also buy a series of postcards to send home and to all my pen pals to show that I was really in France and precisely in Paris. In the days before low-cost flights, Paris was only a dream journey for many.

Another beautiful trip, whose footprints I retraced in Reims, was the one at the Champagne sites. The city of Reims is, in fact, famous for its establishments open to the public where it is also possible to book a tasting or a visit to the champagne caves. These are the cellars where the wine is produced and bottled according to a well-established tradition. This visit transmitted the French passion for wine and a love for fine champagne that will hardly disappear over the years.

In Strasbourg instead, we were greeted by the local administration with a party during which the mayor had told us about the history of the city. Unfortunately for him, we were all more interested in refreshments than to follow his speech. I'm still more interested in pastry than in a political discourse. But at least over the years, I've learned to keep a fake-interested expression on formal occasions.

Our stay in Paris ended with a day at Disneyland Paris. At the time it had a lot fewer attractions than today and it was still an incredible experience.

Our first return flight was canceled. So after a few hours of waiting at the airport, they arranged for us the first available flight. That was how I also felt the thrill of flying with another airline where everything was practically the same except for the colors of the graphics and uniforms of the hostesses. The following year I flew really alone to England, but that's another story.

Study Trip through Europe

2. Study Abroad in Malta

To travel to Malta is to delve into the history of Baroque Europe. The first of the cities you will find if you travel to Cottonera from Valletta is Senglea. Go through the main street, Settembru, until you reach the end where is the Forti San Mikel, a fortification built between 1551 and 1565 that offers an impressive beauty. In addition, from there you can see magnificent views of the city of Senglea, Valletta and Vittoriosa.

Triq It Tarzna borders the sea. Visit Forti Sant 'Anglu and the Inquisitor's Palace. The latter, built in 1530, is one of the oldest and most interesting buildings to see in Malta. Go to the Forti Rikazoli. This impressive fort has been the scene of numerous films like Gladiator or Troy.

Insider Tip: Cospicua, also known as Bormla, is the largest of the three. Take a Maltese gondola that takes you to navigate the Mediterranean to see from another perspective the spectacle offered by the three cities.

3. Study Abroad in Hungary

Hungary has always been the object of a dispute between great powers, and its monuments show this. It was the border between the western world and the Ottoman Empire and, in more recent times, between Western and Eastern Europe. its turbulent history has endowed the country with a very important cultural heritage.

Hungary also has a tourist destination of great importance in Europe. One of the characteristics of Budapest is its crowd of Ruin Pubs. They have become a symbol of the Hungarian capital and a full-fledged tourist attraction, as well as being the cornerstone of the nightlife in the city. The name is due to the poor state of the buildings in which these bars are located.

The building is not officially in ruins (since it would be totally illegal to set up any kind of business here). It's just old, disheveled, with chipped walls, retro furniture and screaming for reform. But that is the essence of all this. Many times the whole building works as a bar. In other cases it is only a part, but in general there are usually many rooms and nooks or hiding places with tables and chairs reused, old and different from each other.

There are furniture and vintage and retro objects, and decorative objects that range from bicycles, computer cathode monitors, bathtubs and even Trabants. The first Ruin Pub was the Szimpla, the most famous of all Budapest, so famous that most of its visitors are tourists, in fact many just go to take the photo and take a tour of the bar without consuming anything.

The tourist boom has pushed up prices a lot and the usual clientele has almost disappeared and marched to the new Ruin Pubs that have sprung up in the capital like mushrooms after the rain, and which are cheaper and less saturated. In spite of everything, Szimpla Kert in the Jewish Quarter in Erzsébetváros is a must on a trip to Budapest, and it is still advisable to have a beer, a shot of Palinka (the typical Hungarian brandy), or a cappuccino.

The city offers spectacular views of the Danube River and good opportunities for lovers of opera, museums and spas. The rest of the country is full of castles, baroque cities and small charming towns. Hotels are cheap in Hungary but, outside of Budapest, they do not offer all the amenities that would be desirable. Winters are freezing and not very suitable for sightseeing.

Insider Tip: Another of the most famous ruin bar is the Kőleves Kert. Very near there is Anker't , in the VI district, also well known in the Hungarian night. Instant, on the festive Király Street, is another famous Ruin Pub, so is Fogas ház, on Akácfa Street. As I said, in recent years they have multiplied, and not only in Budapest, other Hungarian cities such as Szeged or Pécs also have their ruinbars.

4. Study Abroad in Poland

As with many cities around the world, history and legends converge in Krakow among the Polish tourist attractions. This city of Central Europe located on the banks of the Vistula River, is for many the heart of Poland and offers tourists many attractions for its historic buildings, its museums and beautiful scenery.

A tour of the Historic Quarter will take you back to the Middle Ages, when the Main Square was the largest in Europe and overflowing with merchants and customers. You will see that the legendary castles, mysterious dragon caves, old churches and cobblestone streets coexist harmoniously with modern restaurants, bars and shops.

Krakow is also a destination for religious tourism, for the amount of churches and synagogues that we will find there, and the proximity of the Jasna Góra sanctuary of Czestochowa. And it is also a city that experienced the horrors of World War II, as you can see in a visit to the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp.

If you have Warsaw among your next destinations, you might be interested in these tips for traveling to Warsaw. MDM is the Soviet neighborhood, of large and sober buildings with a clear style of socialist realism. Jewish Ghetto was one of the largest ghettos in Europe, but entirely destroyed. Nowadays there is still a piece of the wall that delimited it.

Gdansk is an attractive city to include within a trip through Poland or in the summer holidays. The area of ​​the Three Cities consisting of Gdansk, the Sopot spa and the modern port of Gdynia has a thousand years of maritime history, glorious Hanseatic architecture and a modern Baltic atmosphere. The thriving Dluga Street, with shops, bars, restaurants and street performers, stretches from the Golden Gate to the town hall.

Insider Tip: The Historic Quarter of Krakow, a World Heritage Site, is divided into three areas of the mythical Wawel Hill, the Medieval City and the center of Kazimierz, also medieval. In the Medieval City of Krakow you can find the 13th-century Rynek Główny Square, considered the largest in Europe. Near Krakow is located one of the oldest salt mines in Europe, the Wieliczka salt mine.

5. Study Abroad in Bulgaria

The Tzarevets or Tsarevets fortress is one of the great symbols of the city and possibly of Bulgaria. The street that leads to the Varosha district is possibly a good dividing line between what is the modern part of Veliko Tarvono and the old town and Sveta Gora. The Maika Bulgaria Monument, located in the center of the city is next to the Marno pole park.

Insider Tip: Veliko Tarvono, the most beautiful city in Bulgaria or at least that was thought by several media outlets when, years ago, it was awarded this award and was even named capital of cultural tourism in the Balkans. Veliko Tarnovo is also considered as the capital of the medieval tsars of Bulgaria, between wooded hills and divided by the river Yantra, a true medieval city that today has lively nightlife.

6. Study Abroad in Romania

Brasov is located southeast of the historic region of Transylvania, in the center of Romania, about 166 km from Bucharest, at the point where the Brasov Depression meets the Carpathian Mountains. Well, it's small, but also a good base to visit other places like Bran Castle, the one that is associated with Dracula. Go to Sfatului square.

From there, Mount Tampa greets you with great lyrics that remind you where you are, in true Hollywood style. It's not the last poster you'll see in Transylvania. With the corresponding name, of course in Sibiu, Sighisoara, Bran, Rasnov. At the other end of the historic center, just opposite the current Brasov City Hall is the Modarom building in the Soviet style.

Poiana Brasov is praised not only for hotels on the slopes that offer quality services, but also because ski lessons are cheap.

Study Trip through Paris in Europe

7. Study Abroad in Ukraine

Ukraine is not among the favorite destinations of travelers. However, appearances sometimes deceive, because Ukraine has nothing to do with those prejudices. Surely there will be something that will surprise you as soon as you arrive in Ukraine is the Cyrillic alphabet! Ukrainian customs are highly influenced by orthodox Christianity. Undoubtedly, the most typical you will see are its monasteries and churches.

An example is the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in the capital, Kiev. Very interesting is also the city of Leopolis or Lviv. Undoubtedly the most beautiful city in the country, the poetic Lviv stands out in western Ukraine as an unpolished precious stone.

Insider Tip: Unlike its counterparts in central Europe such as Prague or Krakow, Lviv has not yet been deformed and shaped to become a great tourist destination. So, if you walk by right now, you can discover its streets, testimony of the richness of past centuries, more authentic by that feeling of slight urban decrepitude that accentuates the air of lost glory that the city gives off. It is a must-see destination during a trip through Ukraine.

8. Study Abroad in Lithuania

Lithuania is a country full of natural and artificial surprises, with a history forged by the fusion of pagan roots with Catholic fervor. The Hill of Crosses is a mountain where, since the 19th century, the population has placed crosses as an offering or to ask for a favor. It survived the Soviet era and it is estimated that, to date, there are more than 50,000 crosses in the place.

If when you are traveling you want to take a break and give yourself a thermal bath, those of Lithuania are unparalleled. You have to go to Druskininkai, the spa is located next to Lake Druskonis, surrounded by woods, in a beautiful spot. Bathed by the rivers Neris and Vilnia, the beauty of Vilnius is complemented by its wooded hills.

The resplendent Vilnius Cathedral stands proudly in the central square of the old city. It resembles a classical Greek temple more than a Christian church. Near the Castle of Gediminas rises a hill crowned by three crosses. In addition to the Europa Park, from Vilnius you can go to Gruto Parkas, a very original theme park, full of statues from the Soviet era. You will see mostly Lenin or Stalin carvings.

Another peculiarity of Vilnius is that within the city itself there is a bohemian zone that is self-styled as the Independent Republic of Uzupis, with its own constitution. The best time to visit Vilnius is in summer. In contrast, in winter, temperatures are freezing, almost always below zero degrees, and there are very few hours of light. Before each meal, you can taste the typical Lithuanian soup.

For dessert, the Lithuanians have mostly the sakotis, a pie in the form of spruce, as well as the honey donuts. To drink, the typical Lithuanian beers are the Utenos and the Kalnapilis. After lunch, try the midus liqueur, which can be drunk in the coffee. Whatever your taste, in Vilnius you can choose from design bars, casinos, discos, more traditional bars and dance halls. In summer there are many outdoor terraces in the center, especially on Pilies and Vokieciu streets.

Insider Tip: The Lithuanian coast is made up of immense beaches. The best ones are near Klaipeda, in the narrow strip of sand that forms the Curonian Spit. Trakai is the place to which everyone who visits Lithuania ends up going. A large lake in the center of which is an island and a medieval castle that currently hosts concerts and exhibitions.
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