It’s been over a year since friends and I travelled to Europe and the Middle East and I am finally getting around to sharing some of my travel photos! I spent 6 weeks backpacking and visiting friends in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Qatar, and Spain.
I don’t always take my camera on vacation but I knew this trip would be filled with so many photo opportunities and cool sceneries, so it had to come along. This trip brought such a diverse mix of destinations, each with their own highlights. Much of the adventure was planned along the way including accommodation/cheap flights booked with just a few days notice. Some people enjoy the planning process of a trip, but it’s actually my least favorite part and I prefer to be spontaneous and flexible along the way. I photographed most days and there are a lot more photos, so here’s just a little preview!
Belgium, France, & Germany
We starting the whole trip by flying into Brussels where we stayed a few nights, eating waffles, drinking beer, and exploring the city on foot. From there we rented a car and drove to Arras, France for a few nights, using it as our home base to explore Vimmy Ridge, Beaumount Hamel, and other Canadian war memorials. Afterwards, we trained to the picturesque town of Bruges in Belgium where we spent 4 or 5 nights. Of all, Bruges was my favorite since it was filled with winding old streets, was really bike friendly, surrounded by a nice canal, and had tons of history. To cap off these first two weeks we travelled to Frankfurt to stay with our friend and regroup before the next adventure - Italy!
After a couples weeks of rainy and dreary weather, I was ready for the sun. Having about 10 days unplanned, we checked Google Flights to find the cheapest flight to a fun destination, and settled on Italy. Although I’ve been twice before, Italy is one of my favorite places to visit and I was so excited to go back. We flew into Pisa, took the train to Florence, and I travelled solo to Tuscany and Milan. The food, the cheap wine, the views, the vibe, I love it all.
Any time you travel you have to expect hiccups along the way, and Italy threw me a big one. My friends and I parted ways in Florence as I had plans for a road trip while they went to Rome. I had a really remote Airbnb booked in the hills far outside Florence and planned to rent a car to explore a bunch of Tuscan towns over 5 days. When I arrived at Hertz to pick up my car, I found out my PEI driver’s license had just EXPIRED! It was something I never even thought to check (expires every 5 years) and I was unable to rent any car, throwing off all my plans. I vowed to roll with it. I left Hertz (in the pouring rain) and searched for wifi to find a bus or something that could drop me off near the Airbnb since I couldn’t cancel it. Even though it took triple the amount of time to get there, I somehow still made it that night after a very long bumpy bus ride. In the end I was stranded at this house on the side of the road, 45 minutes away from the nearest town and had to make the best of it! Without a car or reliable public transportation I couldn’t explore the area as planned as it was so remote, and opted to relax, read, cook, and try and enjoy the peace and quiet. Thankfully I stopped for groceries before I left as there wasn’t even food anywhere close.
The hiccup forced me to change all travel plans/flights but in the end it was something to laugh about, and forced me to slow down for a few days. I suppose I wasn’t meant to do explore Tuscany this trip which just means I’ll have to go back again!
Germany & Austria
After Italy I flew Milan to Munich to spend some time with my friends Tobi & Sara who now call the Munich area home. I had a such a great visit enjoying their small town, surrounding area, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, and crossing the border to Austria. Munich is one of the few places I’ve visited where I said I could certainly live. The city itself was so clean, had a massive park, lots to see, and had a really good vibe to it. We definitely left raving about Munich!
Our friend Daniett has been teaching for a few years in Doha, Qatar and we’ve always been super interested to know more about it. Travel plans and dates worked out, so we made the long trek to see her! After my time visiting in Munich I met back up with one of my friends, and we flew to Doha a couple days later. Qatar ended up being a fascinating country that was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The sheer wealth everywhere, how everything was over the top, the extreme heat, and the different culture was all so interesting. With a local’s perspective I think we had a much better experience than someone would coming on their own and staying in the (very expensive) tourist area of the city. I believed we stayed for 5 nights. We boated, did a wild Land Cruiser tour of the desert, rode camels, ate and shopped at the local markets, and really enjoyed our visit to this part of the world. A very cool experience I was fortunate to enjoy.
To end off my trip I flew to Barcelona, Spain, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. Originally I had planned for just 4 nights in the city but twice went back to the desk at my hostel to add more nights. In the end I spent 8 nights there! I loved that the city had so many different things to do every day and I never ran out of options. From the nearby mountains, the beach, the Gothic Quarter, good food, shopping, and the countless attractions, it really had it all. I loved Barcelona and would love to visit it again some day.
One of the highlights of my trip was spending the day at Montserrat outside of Barcelona. The mountaintop monastery and hiking had some of the most incredible trails and views I’ve ever seen. Long lines for the cable car meant I didn’t have as much time as I wanted, but I still really enjoyed being up there.
After that I flew to Malaga for a night and then spent 4 nights on the Costa del Sol in the beach town of Fuengirola. I splurged a little on a great Airbnb by the beach and cooked lots of amazing local food. I knew nothing about Fuengirola but found it by zooming in on Google Maps, doing a fast Google, and quickly deciding it looked like a chill, cheap, and easy place to relax in.
From there it was back to Brussels, and back to reality. Until next time!