Visiting Europe for the first time was a way of celebrating passing my written qualification exams in January, passing my Master’s thesis defense in April, AND earning (and later accepting) a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, specifically funded by the Chandra X-ray Center, in May. I think I more than deserved a vacation, right? Especially a grand adventure! So, Noah and I bought tickets to visit my good friends, Kirsten and Jacob in Belgium.
We were in Europe for two full weeks. This was Noah and I’s first time ever leaving the United States (at the ages of 25 and 27!). We managed to visit SEVEN countries:
5. Czech Republic
Below I outline my favorites and highlight areas I think everyone should visit (!), and some tips for navigating Europe.
- Average price to visit here (1 $ being cheap to 5 $ being very expensive): $$ — not bad.
Switzerland: Interlaken is absolutely beautiful! Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by towering mountains and glacier streams. This includes Spiez and Grindelwald. We visited Harderkulm, a peer in the mountains nearly a mile above sea level, that overlooks Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and has a stunning view. In Grindelwald, we went up to ride the Toboggan! It was so much fun! Everyone should do that when visiting Grindelwald.
- Average price to visit here: $$$$ –the Frank is comparable in value to the US dollar but the cost of living is much higher. Four of us stayed in a one room AirBnB that shared a bathroom with another hotel room that was walking distance from the train station and to the city center for two nights: nearly $500.00.
Prague: The capital city of the Czech Republic has remarkable architecture with winding roads that all stream from the city center where the astronomical clock sits. The cuisine is divine! You feel like a king when you dine in Prague.
- Average price to visit here: $ — A big perk for me about Prague was the prices!! You could buy a decent beer for $1.00 at pretty much any convenience store. You could buy a fabulous sausage dish and a latte for $10. We did one of those tour buses for $25! It was awesome. Plus people are really nice. We have some very interesting stories from this city…. One being we stayed on the fourth floor of a hotel in downtown. Every night you would hear SWARMS of men stumbling in the streets, belting out famous songs (We’re not gonna take it and Don’t you love me baby to name a few) at the top of their lungs as they made their way to the next bar. I was still recovering from jetlag at this point so I wasn’t necessarily annoyed by it. In fact, I thought it was rather funny. If I can’t sleep, why not listen to Prague at night?
- Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Germany
- Brugge (great beer, good prices!), Belgium
- Toboggan ride in Grindelwald, Switzerland
- The astronomical clock in Prague, Czech Republic
- Harderkulm in Interlaken, Switzerland