The University of Leeds is quite unlike McGill University in a number of ways. One of them is the month long Easter Break. As I came to Leeds from Canada, I wanted to take full advantage of this break from school to explore parts of Europe that I had not been. Slightly ambitiously, I planned a lengthy itinerary through 10 countries. My travels brought me to: Bath, Hamburg, Warsaw, Krakow, Milan, Cinque Terre, Venice, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Malta, and finally London. While this kind of schedule may not have worked for some people, I love power sight-seeing as many places as possible – so it worked out wonderfully for me. While I could write pages about every single place I went, I made some observations along the way that may or may not be helpful to future travellers:
- In Hamburg, you have to pay by cash almost everywhere but ATMs are few and far between.
- In Poland, you can get heavily fined for j-walking but intersections are SPARSE.
- Booking hostels through Hostelworld is better than just randomly finding them through Google because there will be old men sharing your room and they will snore aggressively loudly.
- All the buildings in Prague look like cake.
- In Eastern Europe, people still smoke cigarettes in bars/clubs.
- There are an extraordinary number of dogs in Europe that are dachshund shaped.
- In Malta, you can never trust the drivers. They do not indicate whether they are turning or not. Beware.
- Hiking in Cinque Terre in April feels like a pretty genuine Italian experience because there are tons of Italians on the trails. The 6 hour hike between 4/5 villages was the highlight of my trip (The hike between Manarola and Riomaggiore was closed).
- Brick Lane in London is one of the coolest places I have ever been.
- If you need an escape from cities, I would highly recommend the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia.
While the last month has been incredible, I am excited to be back in Leeds to enjoy the last couple weeks of my exchange with the amazing friends I have met since I’ve been here!!
by Victoria Spiteri – McGill University – Canada