Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Eiffel Tower... it's much bigger in person.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

When I came to England, my plan was to travel during my breaks and during my spare time.  For the last 8 months, I have been quite overwhelmed with what I have experienced.  I never imagined anything like what it has become, and I think it will take me at least a year for it all to soak in.  After backpacking Italy for nearly 2 weeks during December, I quickly realized that I need to see more of Europe.  Once I got back from my Italy trip, I began to think about where I should go next, and what I should do.  Luckily, the University of Leeds has a full month break for Easter, which also separated the second semester into term 2 and 3.  After checking out dates and locations, I decided the following route: Leeds, England to Paris, France; Paris to Zurich, Switzerland; Zurich to Munich, Germany; Munich to Salzburg, Austria; Salzburg to Vienna, Austria; Vienna to Prague, Czech Republic.  These locations all had something I wanted to see, and additionally, the route laid out nicely around Europe which allowed me to see a large portion of the countryside.  My initial plan was to fly from Leeds to Paris, train between each city to Prague, and then fly back from Prague to Leeds.  Up until Prague, everything went just as planned (more on that later).  By training between cities, I was able to have the privilege to see for my own eyes a nice portion of the countryside of Europe.

View of canal next to St. Christopher's Inn (Paris)

The first day began with me catching a bus out of Leeds that would take me to the Leeds/Bradford Airport.  Everything went smoothly, and before I knew it, I was in Paris (arrived around 14:00).  I took a 45 minute train to an underground station, which I was then able to walk to my hostel.  I stayed a St. Christopher’s Inn (see review below).  Shortly after checking in, I walked to a nearby grocery store to buy some food.  I quickly noticed that the food was quite cheap.  I found a box of chocolate truffles for 0.84 EUR, which I thought was amazing (equivalent of these in the US costs ~$4).  They reminded me of the $4 boxes of milk chocolate truffles that I get to rarely eat in the US.  After grabbing some food, I went and walked all around the area near my hostel.  It was situated just next to a canal, so I was able to watch the sun go down off of a lift bridge just next to the hostel.  When the night arrived, a met a Canadian girl and 2 guys from Argentina; all of which were staying in the same hostel room as me.

I woke up the next morning planning to go on a free walking tour, but I ended up going with the Canadian (who I met the night before) to the Palace of Versailles.  It was her last day in Paris, and I had the next 3 to do the walking tour, so I figured why not.  I doubt I would have went to Versailles if I didn’t go this day, and in the end, I was very glad I went.  It took about an hour on the underground to get there from my hostel.  On the way there, we met a girl and her mom who were also traveling there, and ended up spending the entire day touring Versailles with them.  After the tour, we went to Jim

Overlooking the gardens behind Versailes.

Morrison’s grave (the cemetery was nothing like I had seen before – the gravestones were the size of small sheds, and there seemed to be no order of how/where they were placed, which made it very difficult to navigate), and then went to a museum that had an awesome overlook of the city.  It was the first time I laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower.  In the night, I ended up meeting an American who has been studying at Oxford (in England) for the last 3 years.  I also met a Scottish guy, and also a guy from Colorado Spring, Colorado (small world, eh?).

The next day, I ended up going on the walking tour that I was planned to do the day before.  I met some people in the lobby of the hostel who were also going on the walking tour, so we ended up going to the meeting point together.  The walking tour was nice – we saw all the main sites, and also got a lot of history of the city.  During the tour, I met an American who was in the Air Force and was based in Germany.  He decided to take a small break and go to the Paris for a couple nights.  After the tour, we ended up going out to eat and drink, and then Kelly and I walked to the Eiffel Tower.  Later, Kelly had to catch a train back to Germany, so I went back to the hostel.  By this time, I was ready for dinner, so I went to the store near the hostel and bought a sandwich, a drink, and some chocolate.  I brought the food back to the hostel to eat, and as I was eating I met Alvin – a Malaysian who is living San Francisco.  Apparently he came to Paris to do an audition for an opera (he is training to be an opera singer).

The next day I considered renting a bike and going around town on that, but I didn’t want to take the chance of it getting stolen or damaged (there was a fine of £600 for a lost bike, even though these bikes were like £20 bikes).  After deciding not to, I met up with Alvin and re-toured a lot of

Eiffel Tower... it's much bigger in person.

Paris.  During the walking tours, you don’t really get the chance to go into museums and look at the places much, they more-so just show you and tell you about them.  So the rest of this day, I walked a lot.  We went to the Louvre and walked inside.  It has over 350,000 pieces of artwork.  If you spent 30 seconds at each piece (to read about the history of the art piece), and you went to the Louvre everyday during its opening hours, it would take you over 30 days to see every piece.  So basically, I just walked in, checked out some of the more famous pieces (like the Mona Lisa), and left.  Since I had my international student visa, I got in free, or else I would have been inclined to stay longer (TIP: if you have an international student ID card of any sort, and you live/study in an EU country, you get in free to most museums in Paris).  After, we went to the Arc de Triomphe and climbed to the top of it.  It sits in the middle of the huge roundabout.  It is apparently the world’s most dangerous roundabout, with an accident every 30 minutes on average.  It had 12 huge roads coming into it, and there were no painted lanes.  It was hilarious watching traffic enter the roundabout, because it seemed like there was no order to their driving – I can definitely see why there are so many accidents.  After that, Alvin decided to go to back to the hostel and go to bed, while I went to a science museum.  It was basically a museum with old, original scientific instruments and machines, such as the world’s first calculator and original engines from the 1800’s.  It was a very interesting museum.  I then headed back to the hostel and relaxed until 8pm or so when we decided we go watch the Eiffel Tower light show (we also ended up paying to go to the top of the tower, and ended up getting to the top around midnight – it was amazing).

March 29th, 2010 – Zurich bound

I woke up around 5:00am on the next day because I had to catch a train to Zurich, Switzerland that left at 6:20am.  After showering and eating some snacks, I had to walk to the nearby underground station and then take that to the Gare de l’Est (Paris Est train station).  I arrived at the station around around 6am and printed out my reserved ticket from the self-service machine.  The train ride took just under 5 hours and before I knew it, it was 11:00am and I was at Zürich Hauptbahnhof.  I walked around for a bit and eventually found my hostel.  I arrived there and met a guy my age from Australia who was on a

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

8-month world backpacking trip.  He had already gone through Asia, and had spent some time in Europe, and would eventually make it to the US where he would spend 3 months.  After meeting him, we made a quick run to the local store.  On the way, the girl that I met in Paris and toured Versailles with spotted me walking down the sidewalk and said hi, small world!

Later in the night, I met up with Eivind, a Norweigian cuber who is working on his PhD in Zurich – I met him on my speedsolving.com website, and he also attended the World Rubik’s Championship in Germany last year, as did I.  He showed me around the city a bit, and we went out to eat and did a bit of cube racing.  I headed back to the hostel afterward, and met an Austrian guy (in his twenties) from Vienna who was applying at a hospital in Zurich,  and an Italian guy (in his fourties) who was trying to find a job in Zurich.

The next day, I walked much of the city, checking out the infamous Swiss banks and tasting the delicious Swiss chocolate.  In the afternoon, when I was relaxing in the hostel, I met a girl my age who was from Colorado.  After talking a bit, I found out that she went to highschool with one of my good friends (who I lived with for the last 2 years).  It was absolutely crazy.  Shortly after, I went to make dinner and met 2 German girls who took a small vacation to Zurich, and a Brazilian and Czech girl, both who were on a eurotrip.  After dinner, I walked the city with the Italian guy (he had lived in Zurich before, so knew it quite well).  He was a pretty dodgy character – addicted to cigarettes and marijuana.  It wasn’t long before I found the red light district of Zurich, which I never knew it existed.  After finding my way back to the hostel, I went to sleep.

The next day was my last full day in Zurich.  During the morning and afternoon, I walked on both sides of a large lake that is beautiful and sits very close to

chess on huge outdoor board

Some Swiss guys playing a game of chess on the big board.

the city center.  It has nice views of the Swiss Alps, and the bright sun brought everyone out to sit along the coast.  In the afternoon, I met up with Eivind again, and he brought he new camera.  It had some very nice lenses, and he let me play with it, it was amazing (and really made me want to buy a nice camera).  When it got dark, we were walking and decided to play chess on a huge board that sits at this park-like place that overlooks the city.  So with very minimal light, we set it up and played (see pictures).  In the end, Eivind ended up destroying me, but it was a fun game nonetheless.  Shortly after, Eivind had to leave, so I went back to the hostel and talked with some of the people staying in my room.

My train to Munich, Germany left the next morning.  It left just after 9am and was scheduled to arrive in Munich at 1:30pm.  However, around 1:00pm, my train came to a sudden halt.  They announced on the speakers something in German, but I didn’t know what they said.  After about 20 minutes of waiting, I asked the people next to me what they said.  They said that there was a bomb threat at the Munich train station, so all incoming trains were told to stop.  After about 20 more minutes of waiting, another guy came through discussing the situation.  The people next to me kindly translated for me: he basically said that there wasn’t a bomb threat, but that some construction workers were digging and found an old un-detonated WWI bomb – crazy to say the least.  I later found out that it shut down the entire U-Bahn (the Munich underground) as well.  After about an hour total of waiting, the train finally started going and I made it to Munich safely.  My hostel was right next to the train station, so within a short 5 minute walk I was at the hostel.

Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany

After checking in, I went to rest in my bed for a little while.  I was feeling sick when I arrived, so I decided to go to a nearby store and buy some vitamin C and some medicine.  Everything was in German, so it made buying it quite difficult.  After buying it, I went to the hostel front desk and asked them how much of each I was suggested to take, and they kindly told me.  After resting, I walked around city near the hostel.  When I came back to the hostel, there were 4 people in my room – 3 girls and 1 guy, all Americans (went to Georgetown University) who were studying in London and traveling around Europe for their break.  I met loads of Americans this trip, so I wasn’t too surprised.

The next day was April 2.  I had been traveling for over a week by this point.  I went on the walking tour during the day.  I ended up meeting up with Daniel, a friend I met in Florence, Italy back in December.  He had been traveling Europe for the last 4 months, and happened to be in Munich at the same time I was.  After going on the walking tour with him, we walked back around the stuff we saw on the tour, such as the Hofbräuhaus – one of the most famous beer halls in the world – they serve beer by the liter.

I decided to go on a tour to Neuschwanstein Castle the next day.  It cost 30EUR which included the transportation costs.  It was a 2 hour ride one way to get there, but well worth it.  This is the castle that the Disney logo is based off of, and was also seen in the movie Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, one of my favorites as a child.  We had to take a 50 minute train, then switch to a different 1 hour, 10 minute train, and then bus for about 15 minutes before getting to the village

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

near the castle.  Once there, we had to hike about 20 minute up the hill to get to the main castle.  At the base of the hill, there is a smaller castle, and at the top of the hill was Neuschwanstein.  Around the castle are some trails that provide amazing views of the country side.  Around the back side of the castle is a bridge which gives people the best view of the castle.

After leaving the castle and getting back to Munich, Daniel and I walked around a bit more.  He had to leave to meet up with some other people, and one of my friends from Leeds arrived in Munich to stay for a night before leaving to Rome, so I ate dinner with him.

April 4th was my last full day in Munich, so I decided to take another tour, this time to Dachau, the site of a former concentration camp.  It cost 15EUR for the tour, which included a full 3 hour walking tour of the camp, as well as the transportation to get there (it was a 1 hour train ride + a 10 minute bus ride to get there one way).  The camp is now a memorial, and it was absolutely beyond our imaginations.  I took very few pictures, simply because I didn’t think it was appropriate.  After doing the tour, it really got me thinking.  Why are places like these still open?  I don’t think it is something that should be remembered.  Yes, all the people who went through them should be remembered, but the camp itself is such a horrid memory, I don’t see why they are still standing.  In fact, I was told that all the barracks were in such bad condition that they had to be torn down.  In order to display the barracks to the visitors of the former camp, they built a replica of the barracks.  I find that quite disappointing.  Reconstructing such a thing is absolutely ridiculous.  I must say, even though it was the first former concentration camp I went to, it is highly likely to be my last.

rubik's cubes in store

Yep, they sold Rubik's Cubes at the Munich train station in Germany.

After touring the camp, I ended up going to a beer hall with 2 people that were on the Dachau tour with me (we ended the tour around 3pm).  One of them was Scott from Canada (he was in his late twenties).  He was about 6’9″, and had to weigh around 375lbs – he was one of the biggest people I’ve ever seen.  I also went with Sara (about my age), an Australian who was traveling Europe.  After eating dinner and drinking some dark German beer, Sara left to go on a pub crawl, while Scott and I walked to a different beer hall.  It ended up being a fun night – drinking with a bunch of Germans and a Canadian at the beer halls.  Scott had to catch a midnight train, so he took off around midnight.

On April 5th, I took a train from Munich to Salzburg, Austria.  The train left Munich at 9:30am.  I didn’t have a seat reservation (just a ticket), so I got there early to make sure I got a seat that wasn’t already taken.  While on the train, I met a guy from Mexico who was studying in the Netherlands.  Before I knew it, I arrived in Salzburg (11am).  The hostel was about a 10 minute walk from the station, and I had no problem finding it.  After checking in, I met a guy named Todd (from Tennessee) and we walked the city together, and grabbed some delicious Chinese buffet (8EUR all you can eat).  In the night time, I ended up sitting in the hostel room BS’ing with 2 Americans who just started studying for the next 4 years at St. Andrews in Scotland.

The next day, Todd came up with the brilliant idea to take a lift into the Alps.  It cost 13EUR to take a lift up well into the Alps and overlook Salzburg and

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

many of the surrounding cities.  It was quite an experience, and well worth the 13EUR.  After hiking around there for a couple hours, we headed back down, grabbed some lunch, and then hiked around the hills in Salzburg.  After, I helped Todd buy a train ticket to another city.  I watched the sun go down that night, and then headed back to the hostel and called it a night, since I had to catch an 8am train to Vienna the next morning.

I arrived in Vienna at 10:30am or so.  I went to the hostel to check-in, and also to meet-up with my girlfriend Sophie (who flew in from London).  When I got to the hostel, she was still on her way, so I checked in.  However, the rooms ended up not being ready until 2pm.  After meeting up with Sophie, we put our stuff into a locker at the hostel, and grabbed some lunch.  After, we walked the city a bit, and then at night when out for dinner in the city center.  We ended up staying in an apartment owned by the hostel (they had very cheap, elegant apartments which were only a bit more expensive than the hostel.  They were only available to couples, who were staying minimum 4 nights, so it worked out nicely for us).  Once back at the hostel, we went to the hostel bar and met a girl from Massachusetts and a girl from the Czech Republic.

The next day, we walked around the northern part of Vienna and found a huge park.  In the park, there was a small theme park.  So we decided to get on a

mary-go-round with real horses

Mary-go-round with real horses in Vienna, Austria

roller coaster and a drop-tower.  We also saw a mary-go-round with real horses, it was crazy (see pictures).  We ended up renting a pedal carriage to check out more of the park – it was awesome, but tiring.  It had a steering wheel on one side, but pedals on both.  We ate lunch near the theme park, which was expensive for what you get, but was relaxing. After messing around there all day, we went back to the hostel, and met a guy from Bozeman, Montana who was traveling Europe by himself.

The next day was the last full day of our time in Vienna.  The previous days had gone by ridiculously fast, and this day was no different.  We decided to to walk to the Schönbrunn Palace that was quite close to our hostel.  The palace was quite large, and the garden behind it was massive as well, with loads of nice fountains and statues.  There were also nice views overlooking the palace and the city once we climbed up to the top of the hill.  Additionally, there was a zoo in the garden, which we spent much of our time at.  It was 14 EUR to get in, but it was well worth it.  We ate some snacks for lunch at the zoo, and then had a couple drinks at the biergarten (Beer Garden) in the zoo.  After leaving the zoo, we walked more of the garden, and then left the palace back to the hostel (it was a 10 minute walk).  After relaxing there for a bit, we went to the city center for dinner.

April 11 was our last day in Vienna, as I had to catch a train at 2:30pm to Prague.  We woke up somewhat early, and then went to the Belvedere Garden.  The

Belvedere Garden in Vienna, Austria

Belvedere Garden in Vienna, Austria

garden had a palace on it, with a huge open area around it, similar to Schönbrunn Palace, but not quite as large.  After that, we ate lunch near the train station.  At 2:15pm, we headed to the train station and I got on my 5 hour train to Prague, Czech Republic.  Sophie had a flight later in the day back to London.  I arrived in Prague at 7:25pm or so, and then took the metro (the underground) in Prague for about 30 minutes out to a stop near my friend Martina’s house.  She met me there and drove us back to her house.  Martina currently lives in the same flat as me in Leeds, England, and she is a student at the University of Leeds as well.

The next day, I woke up to a nice breakfast with Martina, and her mom and dad.  Then Martina and I took the bus from her village to the closest metro stop, and then took the metro into downtown Prague.  We walked around until about 4:30pm, and then took the metro toward her house, where we met up with her mom and dad who gave us a ride back to their house.  They provided dinner, and I talked with her family about a vast range of cool things (both of her parents grew up during the communist era, when Czech was still together with Slovakia).  It was fascinating to talk to people who lived through the era first hand.

On April 13th, I woke up, caught the bus to the metro (takes about 20 minutes), and then took the metro into downtown again (about 20 minutes more).

Prague Castle

Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic

Once downtown, I grabbed some quick breakfast, and then went to the Old Town Square to join a free walking tour.  The walking was once again a good one.  We walked for about 3 hours, learned some nice history about the city, and also got used to the layout of the city.  Oddly enough though, this was the first walking tour I’ve ever done where I didn’t meet anyone.  Everyone in the tour seemed to simply mind their own business.  Like with most tours, I always go back and re-walk, but spend more time as each place, such as going into a museum we learned a bit about.  After the tour, I went to the top of a hill that had a massive metronome on it.  Apparently there used to be a huge statue of Joseph Stalin, but when that was torn down, the metronome was put up.  The tour guide told us there was a biergarten up there, but when I went up, I didn’t see it.  After hiking up there, I walked back down and went to a pub near the Old Town Square.  Prague is the beer capital of the world, and it was apparent.  Not only do they have some of the best beer in the world, it is also very cheap.  Pints were roughly 1EUR, which is less than half of what beer costs in England.

On the 14th, I basically did the same as I did the previous day, except walked to different places in the city.  I wanted to check out a hill that had some really cool buildings at the top, and also had a tower that had a similar appearance as the Eiffel Tower.  Martina’s mom told me that the person who built it tried to replicate the Eiffel Tower somehow.  It took me a couple hours to walk to the top, but it provided some nice views of Prague.  I took this video when I was about half way down after spending several hours walking around the top of it.  After walking down, I grabbed some chocolate and some drinks at the store and then went to walked around the Old Town Square some more.  At night, I ate some dinner, and then headed back to Martina’s house and called it a night.  I ended up watching some Czech TV with Martina’s dad.

The final day (or the expected final day) in Prague began with a morning breakfast.  Martina’s mom was explaining how she saw on the news that a volcano

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

was erupting in Iceland and that some of the Scottish flights were being canceled due to it.  Shortly after, the news came on saying that most flights into the UK were going to be canceled.  So I went on my airlines website to see what they said, and it said that all flights had been canceled until the next day (the 16th), which was Friday.  I tried calling the airline help center to setup a new flight, but had no luck.  After failing to be able to rebook online nor over the phone during the day, I decided I would wake up the at 3am the next day to see if the phones weren’t as busy; I still had no luck.

So, the next day, I woke up, tried calling some more with no luck.  I also checked the airline website to see that all flights this day were canceled as well.  So Martina took me to a really cool castle that was like a 30 minute drive from her house in the hills.  We did a small tour there, and then went back to her house.  After, I decided to go into Prague again to tour it a bit more while I could.  In town, I went to a cafe and tried calling the airline company to rebook about 50 times over a period of about 3 hours, and had no luck.  After getting back to Martina’s house at night, I talked with her dad about possible options.  Her dad and mom were going to fly out to India the next morning, so he suggested I go to the airport with them to I could talk to a real person and not have to wait on the phone.

So the next morning, Martina drove her parents and I to the airport.  I walked all over looking for the Jet2 counter, but had no luck.  I finally asked someone, and they pointed me to some desk that wasn’t Jet2.  After waiting in the queue there for about 30 minutes, a woman (who worked fro Jet2 and was talking to people who were in the queue) came up and told me that there were no flights available until Thursday (this day was a Friday).  Right there and then, I told Martina (who was kindly waiting in the line with me) that I had no option but to take a train or bus back to England (I had class on Monday, and I suspected if I waited until Thursday that I’d have more problems than if I just let ASAP).

Castle outside of Prague, Czech Republic

A castle near Martina's house outside of Prague, Czech Republic

Once getting back to Martina’s house, we both searched everywhere for buses and trains to London.  Pretty much all of them were booked.  With no luck, we took a break to rest and think about the situation.  A couple hours later, Martina ended up finding a bus that was starting in Slovakia, but would stop in Prague on Saturday afternoon, and would eventually make it to London on Sunday (she had to call some woman and speak Slovakian to her).  I told her to book it, and she pulled it up online and I got it reserved (thanks so much to Martina!).

So, here I am, stuck in Prague for the last 2 days, now having to take a bus (that was scheduled to be around 19 hours) across Europe, pay about £150 more than I should have, and spend 19 hours just to get to London (instead of flying out 2 days earlier, spending 2 hours, and saving £150).  Nonetheless, Martina gave me all the directions and maps I needed to find the coach station in Prague.  The bus was scheduled to arrive in London at 7:15am.  I debated with myself whether I should book a coach from London to Leeds ahead of time or not.  I figured if I booked ahead, I may miss it, but if I didn’t book, I could be stuck at London Victoria Coach Station again for a long time (all domestic flights in the UK were also canceled, so buses/trains would be busy too). I booked my coach back to Leeds from London for 9:30am.

The next day (Saturday), I went into Prague around 9am, walked the city, and around 1pm walked to the coach station.  The bus was scheduled to stop there around 2:15pm.  After waiting for a couple hours, it finally showed up at 3:30pm.  I ended up getting placed next to a very friendly woman from Czech, but the guy in front of me had his seat pushed back, so I had very little room to even move.  It was horrible.  So we started going, and I figured, heck, I’m already 1 hour and 15 minutes off schedule, but it shouldn’t be a problem to make my 9:30am bus out of London.  About 3 hours after riding on the bus, we get pulled over by the German police.  Apparently the German police pull over buses like this all the time, because there are often people riding across borders illegally.  2 German officers came in, looked at everyone’s passports, and then left.  We started going again, and then about 10 minutes later I see the bus pulling off the highway again.  We were following the German police back to the police station….

The police wanted the bus to get back to the station so they could scan many of the passports that seemed fishy.  So we sit there for about an hour (just

Canceled flights due to volcano in Iceland

Canceled flights at Prague airport due to the volcano in Iceland

sitting in the bus), and then the officers come back on, hand the passports back, and we get on our way.   So another hour behind schedule.  The Czech woman next to me said the German police are real jerks about buses from Slovakia, and she said she wouldn’t be surprised if the bus got pulled over again in Germany while we were passing through it.

Several hours later, we get to Calais, France, where the bus will get onto a ferry to cross the english channel.  But before we do that, we need to pass through the UK Border Agency.  So everyone gets off the bus, and we all have to go through passport control (this is at like 6:30am on Sunday).  After going through passport control, I get back on the bus and begin waiting.  The guy who was sitting in front of me was apparently being denied, and this was causing the entire bus to delay before getting on the ferry.  Oddly enough, the ferry was just about to start going so we had to get on it, or else we’d have to wait for an hour until the next one started.  Low and behold, we start going, and we see the ferry pulling away.  So here we are, missing the ferry by 5 minutes, and having to wait another hour for the next.  So I tried to relax on the bus, and hope that I can make it to London by 9:15am.  The guy who was having problems was left in Calais, France (who knows what happened to him).

After an hour, we got onto the ferry and were finally on our way to England.  The ferry took about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and shortly after, we docked in Dover, England at around 8:30am.  The bus to London was scheduled to arrive in Leeds around 9:30am (just in time for my bus to Leeds).  Low and behold, we show up at 9:35am and by the time I get into the station, I had missed my bus to Leeds by 10 minutes.  If the bus had arrived in Prague on time, or if we

Sun going down in Germany

Watching the sun go down from the bus; somewhere in Germany

wouldn’t have been pulled over by the German police, or if the guy didn’t delay us in Calais so we could have made the ferry, I would have made my bus.  So, here I am, stuck at London Victoria again because I missed my bus by 10 minutes after busing for the last 19 hours (the timezone change allowed us to gain an hour).

London Victoria Coach Station was very crowded, and the queue for tickets was massive.  But I started waiting.  Luckily, it was moving quite quickly, and I waited for about 20 minutes before reaching the ticket counter.  I told the guy at the desk that I missed by bus due to a late bus, and that I wanted to get on the next bus to Leeds.  Luckily, he was able to get me a spot on a 10:30am bus, and I had to pay £6 additional to move it.  Fine by me.

At 10:30am, I caught my 4 hour, 15 minute bus back to Leeds.  The bus was practically empty, with open seats all around me, which was really nice considering I was squeezed in a bus for the previous 19 hours.  I arrived back in Leeds around 2:45pm, and took a taxi back to my residence.  Home at last!

Disregarding the issue at the very end of my trip, the rest of the trip went amazingly smooth.  It was an amazing experience, and certainly changed the way I look at the rest of Europe.  There are so many beautiful places in the world that you hear about a lot, but seeing them in person is a completely different experience that can’t be described in pictures or words.  I’d highly suggest doing a eurotrip to anyone,

The coast of England near Dover

The ferry arriving back into England

even if you don’t like to travel.  In the end, I pretty much guarantee you won’t regret it.  This experience has really made me want to travel even more – check out more of eastern Europe, some of Asia, and of course Australia.  People have asked me what my favorite place I visited was, and I can’t really just say one, because they were all amazing – Paris and the Eiffel Tower, Zurich and the banks/the Alps, Munich and the history, Salzburg and the elegance, Vienna and meeting my girlfriend there was amazing, and lastly, Prague and seeing how beautiful it really is and spending time with a good friend and local there.

This experience made my time living in Europe that much better.

Hostel Reviews

St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel (Paris, France): This hostel was nice.  It was quite expensive, at around 29 EUR average a night (included 2 week days and 2 weekends).  It has checkin open 24/7, and a bar connected to the main lobby.  It has many, many computers for getting online, but it costs a couple EUR to use.  In the same area as the computers, there are 2 big screen TV’s where you can sit and watch TV on the couches they have, which was a relaxing way to meet new people. There is a grocery store just down the road (with cheap food and drinks), and there is a canal and lift bridge right next to the hostel.  The rooms are somewhat large, and each bed has a curtain (which I really liked).  There were also wooden floors, and huge lockers in each room.  It can be reached easily by 2 underground stops.  Overall, I would suggest this hostel (it is in a nice part of the city, and seemed to be in the same price range as all the other hostels in Paris).

Backpackers Hostel (Zurich, Switzerland): If you want to stay in a hostel in Zurich, you really only have 2 options, and this is the cheaper of the 2.  It was a nice and cheap place to stay, and the people at the front desk were nice.  You have to hike like 4 stories in order to just reach the front desk, which was quite tiring about about 3 times.  There were kitchens on each floor, which made eating relatively cheap (Zurich was incredibly expensive, and eating out will definitely kill your budget).  The location of this hostel was very nice.  It was a 10 minute walk from the train station, and was positioned nicely to stores and the old town of the city.  The old town of Zurich is relatively small, and I’d definitely suggest spending a couple nights at this hostel.  It cost around 35 Swiss franks/night.

Euro Youth Hostel (Munich, Germany): This hostel sits next right next to 2 other big hostels, which are all a 2 minute walk from the train station.  Euro Youth Hostel is very good for the price.  There is a bar which has 2EUR pints, and there is also free WiFi and computers to use for guests (which cost like 1EUR for 30 minutes).  The rooms are quite nice.  The first room I was in had a bathroom ensuite (it had 5 beds), but then I was switched to a place that had like 10 beds, and the bathroom was shared for like 30 people.  This hostel is in a perfect location, the price is good, the staff were friendly, and it is really clean.

YoHo International Youth Hostel (Salzburg, Austria): This has to be the only hostel in Salzburg.  It was about a 10 minute walk from the train station.  It was situated nicely in the town.  The receptionist was very nice.  There were computers available to use (1EUR for 45 min I think), and free WiFi.  The rooms were nice and clean, and the lockers in the rooms were quite nice and big as well.  There was a bar, and they served breakfast and lunch there (both were quite expensive, and weren’t too great).  The price was very cheap, and I’d suggest it if you’re backpacking through Salzburg.

Hostel Ruthensteiner (Vienna, Austria): The hostel was a bit hard to find at first.  I ended up not staying in the dorm rooms here, so I can’t speak for them.  But the main lobby and the sitting areas were very nice and clean.  There was a bar, and there were gardens where you could sit outside, which was nice.  The apartments that this hostel had were incredible for 28EUR/night (per person).  There was a private kitchen and bathroom, and was very comfortable.  The apartments sat directly across the street from the hostel.  In order to get to the apartment, you have to go through like 4 sets of locked doors, which made it very secure.  The location of the hostel was nice – it was a 10 minute walk from the main train station.  There was a U-bahn at the main station, and it was about a 5 minute ride to the city center.  Overall, I’d recommend this hostel.

Picture Albums:

624 pics of my trip (on Facebook – you must login to view):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4