Belgian Day Trips

On our second day in Belgium, we headed to Brugge- known for its medieval charm and herds of swans. Unfortunately for us, we were informed that because of a recent bird flu scare, all the swans had to be put into quarantine, so there were none for us that day. Upon arrival, we strolled through some smaller, residential streets before reaching the main square.


We stumbled upon Old St. John’s Hospital, built in the 11th century and one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospitals. It is located next to the Church of Our Lady, whose tower can be seen peeking out from behind the hospital building.


Just past the church is the Bonifacius Bridge, or what many people refer to as the “Fairytale” Bridge. Legend has it that after you cross the bridge, the first person you see on the other side is who you will marry.


After wandering a bit further past picturesque buildings along the river, we sat down for lunch until our walking tour later that afternoon.MRN_0836Our tour began in the main square, called The Markt.MRN_0891

We were then led around the most significant areas of the city, according to our tour guide. The following are photos I took during the tour!


These (above and below) are good representations of the medieval charm I mentioned earlier.MRN_0849


More picture perfect shots along the river!


Of course I had to stop and snap a photo when walking past this vast field of flowers.


Anna versus old red door (located in the old red light district). It seems people used to be a lot smaller back then..


Our last day in Belgium was spent another train ride away from Brussels in Ghent. I would almost go so far to say Ghent was my favorite of the 3 cities. It was a lot calmer and less populated with tourists. Additionally, it seemed the entire city ran along the river!



Brussels & Beer & Lots of Chocolate

My month-long spring break began with a 3 day trip to Belgium. Gaby accompanied me and we met Anna and Madison there. The first day we stayed and toured Brussels. The following are photos of the Grand Place, the city’s central square. It’s amazing how the square is transformed from day to night. One night, we bought beers at the store to bring to the square and just sat for an hour to people watch. The place was full of people, including a group of teenagers playing music and a father with his baby, who joined the teens to dance to their beats. It was a heartwarming sight!




Like many European cities, Brussels boasts historic and grand architecture, including the Stock Exchange and Royal Palace buildings.


Brussels Stock Exchange


We took a walk just as the sun was setting, and it made for some enchanting photos of the city.



And of course we stopped at a “do it yourself” chocolate shop in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert to pick out decadent truffles and, my personal favorite, chocolate covered orange peels, to gorge on after dinner every night.



Austrian Weekend Trip

I decided to go on a weekend trip with the Erasmus Buddy Network (EBN) program at WU. They coordinated the transportation and lodging for the night. Our first stop was to Mauthausen, a former concentration camp. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from our tour. Next, we drove to Bad Ischl, where we had dinner and slept for the night. After dinner we took a night hike as a group and saw a beautiful view of the lit up town.


The next morning, we headed to Hallstatt for the day. We had a guided walking tour through the tiny town and then had some time to wander before the afternoon salt mine tour. We learned that the Chinese loved the picturesque town so much that they replicated their own version of Hallstatt in China.



Because of Hallstatt’s remote location, people in the 18th century began to run out of space to bury their dead. So instead they started painting their skulls, and a small church still houses more than 1200 of the decorative skulls.


The final stop on our trip was to Mondsee, where the iconic yellow church wedding scene from the Sound of Music was filmed. This was a film I watched almost every night before bed as a child, so it was a nostalgic end to the weekend!


Day trip to Mödling

Mödling is a city about 8.5 miles south west of Vienna, and only a short ride away via the Schnellbahn regional train. So, a few of my friends and I decided to take a day trip there to do some hiking and wandering through the city center. The downtown area is very quaint with small shops and restaurants. Additionally, we found a small hike to an old tower, where we spent about an hour relaxing and enjoying the view. It was pleasant day and stress-free trip!



Bunkers, Pt. 2

For my last evening in BCN, I ventured once more to Bunkers for sunset with friends from back home. As promised, here are photos from the most striking sunset I’ve witnessed yet. Like fire in the sky.MRN_0534MRN_0537MRN_0545MRN_0541MRN_0548

Parc de la Cuitadella

This 70-acre park is one of the city’s main green spaces. The Cascada Monumental is an impressive fountain crowned in gold that overlooks a small pond.


Grand stairs on either side lead up to the podium in the center of the monument.

Tall arches and columns encompass the podium. Below is the view during sunset from one of the openings on the platform.

The next day, we walked towards the Parliament building of Catalunya (seen in the background with the orange roof). The paths are lined with funny looking trees; perfect for climbing!


To exit the park, we walked to the Arc de Triomf via the long Passeig de Lluís Companys promenade. In 1888, this reddish-bricked arch was the main entrance to the World Fair in Barcelona.


La Playa.. Paraíso..

Perhaps one of Barcelona’s most appealing attractions is that it is situated on a coast.


We walked from the historic, and beautiful, Gothic Quarter (Barcelona’s old city center) to the port, where sail boats and yachts lined the docks. We continued on until we hit the sandy beach.

Barcelona, or Spain in general, is so unlike the rest of Europe. It feels almost as though you traveled to an entirely different continent.

We went out to the end of one of the long ports and sat on the rocks until the sun dipped and we couldn’t take the strong wind anymore. 3 days was not nearly enough time to fully enjoy this paradise!