“What were your favorite highlights in Europe?“
That’s a question I was asked a bunch once I returned from 3 months of backpacking through Europe.
At that time I was so overwhelmed I had no idea how to answer.
A few things would stand out above the rest.
But then I’d forget about something else that was great.
The countries I traveled to during those 3 months were:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland.
I’ve had the time to reflect on the trip, go through pictures, and read from my journal.
I can now finally list My 12 favorite highlights in Europe:
12. Cesky Krumlov, Vltava River Pub Crawl.
The small fairytale-like medieval city of Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic is a really cool place.
It has that old cobble stoned street/small alley vibe like Brugge but with a darker feel similar to Prague.
But unlike those places Cesky Krumlov is not overrun by bus loads of tourists.
Besides the city itself being unique there’s also a pub crawl that is just as unique.
Hosted by Hostel 99 is a Rafting Pub Crawl in the Vltava River.
Riverside bars and beer stands are your gateway to a cheap inebriation.
While your rafting partners will be your bad rowing entertainment.
Drunken rafting down a nice relaxing river is the way to go.
11. Belgian Junk Food.
I’m sure Belgium has some great dinner dishes; but I have no idea what they are.
I had some pizza and even a bowl of spaghetti(hardly Belgian).
Other than that I was solely hanging out with My 3 Amigos: Chocolate, Frites, and Waffles.
When Belgium brags about the quality of those 3 delicious foods you have to see if they’re right.
And when they’re right(they are) you have no choice but to eat as much as you can.
You’ll convince yourself that fruit and whipped cream covered waffles are a decent breakfast.
A hardy lunch can be skipped for some chocolates.
And your obvious choice for dinner will be frites.
In the U.S. people have fries with their dinners all the time.
So who cares if frites is the ONLY thing you have for dinner while visiting Belgium.
Haters Gonna Hate.
One hour east of Tarifa, Spain is The Rock of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, but it shares a border with Spain.
So make sure to bring your passport.
The top of Gibraltar is a nature reserve that is home to over 200 Barbary Macaques.
Up near the Queen’s Gate is the “Apes’ Den” where you’ll see the monkeys hanging around.
They’re posing for pictures and trying to steal any food you might have.
Leave your food behind or keep it well hidden because
1) These monkeys want your food.
2) It’s illegal to feed them.
If caught feeding the monkeys you’ll be hit with a £4000 fine!!!!!!!
So don’t bring food.
DO bring your camera because these furry little bastards are so cute.
Gibraltar was a great little day trip for me.
But it was made extra special with all the monkeys around.
9. Isle Of Arran.
When I went to Scotland to visit an uncle I expected most of our time would be visiting Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Little did I know that he had a getaway trip planned for us.
A 50 minute ferry ride from Ardrossan is the Isle Of Arran.
This 167 square mile island is a great place to disappear into nature.
The population is a little under 5000 people, but it feels like there’s only 500.
If you’re hiking the trails or walking along the coast you feel like the only person on the island.
Isle Of Arran also has castles, waterfalls, caves, stone circles, and amazing landscape.
There’s photography opportunities around every corner.
Poland was a country I was looking forward to because of the history.
But I had no idea how much more of it I would come to love.
Polish Food! Polish Women!
Polish History! Polish Women!
Polish Nightlife! Polish Women!
Polish Vodka! and Polish Women!
I cannot think of anything I disliked when I was in Poland.
I stayed in Krakow, Wroclaw, and Opole(with some locals I met while in Prague).
Everything I did, saw, ate, and drank was awesome.
It’s one of my favorite countries in Europe and it’s definitely a place I will go back to again.
Plus, it’s unbelievably cheap there!
Undoubtedly a must visit destination when you go to Poland.
It’s a brutal look into our past and a very educational reminder of the horrors of man.
Auschwitz 1 is where you’ll see the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.
You’ll also get a real glimpse into how many lives were taken during the time of these camps.
Throughout the tour you will enter rooms full of shoes, suitcases, eye glasses, and human hair.
Auschwitz 2 – Birkennau; is the labor camp/extermination camp.
While this place doesn’t have as much information to read it is more open to freely explore.
It is also a lot creepier than Auschwitz 1.
You can walk into the gas chambers, sleeping quarters, and the toilets.
There’s also a mass grave that still hasn’t been excavated.
Eerie as it might be it’s an important part of history that should be visited by everyone that goes to Poland.
6. Church Of Bones.
The Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora is without a doubt one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever walked into!
A church decorated with the bones of 40,000-70,000 people!
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
The bones are from the surrounding cemetery.
Where many Europeans died during the Black Death of the mid 14th century.
During the 1500’s the skeletons were exhumed and stacked in the chapel.
Around the late 1800’s the Schwarzenberg family hired a wood-carver to organize the bones.
What you see today is the morbid masterpiece he created.
I had other plans.
However those plans fell through I had 3 weeks available for some new adventures.
Going to Spain seemed like the logical choice, and boy am I glad I decided to go there.
The historical sites might not be as pronounced as in France, England, or Poland.
But there’s so much cool stuff to see in each city.
There’s also a young vibe to each place I visited.
Spain seemed like a really hip country.
Complete with wild nightlife, delicious restaurants, and gorgeous outdoors.
My favorite city EVER!!!
Fetish Clubs, Check!
Variety Cuisine, Check!
Almost anything you can think of, Check!
London blew me away within the first couple of minutes after I arrived.
It blew me away the 2nd time I visited and I’m sure it will continue to blow me away each time I visit.
London will always be a destination I have to visit whenever I go back to Europe.
3. Surviving Switzerland.
I love Switzerland and I love extreme sports.
So naturally I love that Switzerland is the extreme sports capitol of Europe.
The 2nd time I went to Swtizerland I made sure I’d do almost every extreme sport activity I could.
Each day I was looking death in the face.
Some days it was Twice.
Death is gonna have to wait for me because I won.
I jumped, fell, climbed, floated, slid, propelled, and flew as much as I could while I was there.
And I’ve lived to tell the tales.
Just don’t put me in Switzerland during the Winter.
I might not live through the cold to talk about that.
2. Swiss Alps.
But staying in the small village of Gimmelwald, across from the Alps, was breathtaking.
The Swiss Alps certainly aren’t the largest mountains in the world.
But I’ll be damned if they aren’t some of the prettiest.
The best views of the Swiss Alps are in the Lauterbrunnen Valley area.
Photographic opportunities present themselves to you every step you take.
They’re also the perfect backdrop if you’re just looking to sit around and relax.
The Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland might be some of the most jaw dropping scenery in the entire world.
That alone could be why it made it so high on my list.
1. Everyone I met.
Traveling to far away lands by yourself is something that frightens most people.
The 1st time I did it that wasn’t really a concern of mine.
I was actually looking forward to doing everything by myself.
But it didn’t take long for me to realize I’m not the only one out there doing it.
There are thousands of people traveling all over the world and I met a lot of them along the way.
The people I met from all over the world was my biggest highlight while traveling.
You learn so much from other people’s stories and backgrounds.
It opens your eyes to the world that’s out there.
When you meet fellow travelers you already have many things in common.
You left home to explore the world.
You are very independent people.
And you want to enjoy life and party together.
I hardly met any douchebags while traveling.
If I did I would just meet other people who were cooler and hang with them instead.
I met many people along my travels that showed me around their cities when I came through their area.
Some even gave me a place to stay for a few nights.
For all the cool sights I saw, and all the fun things I did, it was the people I met along the way that made my travels worth it.
What are some of your favorite highlights in Europe?
Do you have any that are the same as mine?
Let me know in the comments below.