As I was exploring the streets of Interlaken two weeks ago with my friend Brendan, another American student who is studying at York Saint John’s, it finally dawned on us how different Europe actually is to the stories and pictures we have seen online. In retrospect, there are so many places I wish I planned to see, and conversely, so many things that were not all that they were cracked up to be. As I approach my final month at the University of York, I can’t help but to wish that I could redo my entire experience differently. As I reflect on my experiences up to date, I Wish That I knew What I Know Now by Ooh La La automatically comes to mind. So, with that being said, I am creating this post to help the next novice traveler… may you know what I know now:
- Munich is a lot smaller than I imagined. I would allot for three days to explore all of Munich. Any extra time is better spent in Fussen at the Neuschwanstein Castle or heading north towards Berlin
- The food in Germany is not very versatile and it is fairly difficult to find vegetarian options- just something to note!
- The standard beer order is a liter of beer, not a pint of beer.
- Food in Switzerland is seriously expensive; stock up on alcohol and groceries from the local supermarket to save $100s (literally)
- If you plan on traveling to other parts of Switzerland, book your transportation in advance. Tickets with triple on the day of.
- One of the top tourist attractions in Interlaken is the Top of Europe excursion. This trip is roughly £200 or $250. You can see just as nice a view from the 007 platform for less than $80 and you will have free access to a pretty sweet James Bond museum by doing so!
- If you are planning to visit Auschwitz, it is much easier to catch an early train in the morning and wait in line for free admittance fo the concentration camp. Not only will you save a lot of money by not going on an organized trip, but it will also enable you to tour the camp grounds and leave at your own pace.
- If you weren’t planning on visiting Poland… DO IT! It was my favorite travel experience up to date. Truly a hidden gem.
- Hiking Arthur’s Seat is the most worth-wild experience in all of Edinburgh. Not only is it free, but it’s a great form of exercise and has the best view in all of Scotland.
- Deep fried Mars bars totally live up to the hype and are worth the stomach ache.
- Try to time your trip to Scotland in mid-November so that you can catch the Christmas markets. The market in Edinburgh is one of the best throughout Europe.
- The Gondola ride is only worth it for large groups. It’s about $120 per boat, whether you have 1 person or 6 people. It’s only a 30 minute ride and no, they do not sing during the boat ride.
- Because Venice is built on water, the only way to commute is via water taxis. A lot for extra time to travel when you are leaving the city (eg to the airport, to the train station, etc.)
- The bike riders in Amsterdam are extremely ruthless and WILL run you over.
- The 7 houses (zevenlandenhuizen) are not worth the visit… talk about anticlimactic!
- Go to an authentic Dutch bar instead of the tourist bars. The music is so much better and the people are great.
- Whatever you do, do not try Flugel (You’ve been warned.)
- Leonidas has the best chocolate.
- A lot more time for Brussels than the internet or other travelers may suggest. It is such a large, lively city and is underrated in Europe!