The trip started in London. Something The U.K. is notorious for is it's rain so you can bet that I also get drenched. I met one of the people I was travelling with the day before leaving to Paris. We walked all around the city... our feet basically had six packs. I think my favourite part in London was when I walked over to Big Ben and the London Eye on my first day there. As I was walking down the Thames river, just passing the London Eye, I noticed this small path with cool looking lanterns hanging in the trees. I'm still not sure how to describe it but they had this bar that slowly turned around in circles with people sitting inside, a lot of food and drink stands and some sort of stage. I hung out there for a while, relaxed and recorded before heading back out into London. I definitely prefer London at night opposed to the day. It really comes alive at night and looks different, in a good way.
This was probably my favourite picture that I took while on my trip. It was the day I arrived in Europe, before heading to London and then back to Paris (weird itinerary, I know) but I wanted some alone time in one of my favourite cities. Anyway, after I managed to find my hotel, I took a nap right away and woke up as the sun had started going down. I was quite anxious... this was my first time travelling all alone and I was a LONG way from home, in a country where English was no longer a first language. My hotel had a bit of a view of the Eiffel Tower. It was around a 10 minute walk, so I took a deep breath, grabbed my camera and decided to venture out into Paris. I got to the field overlooking the tower and I just took a seat... suddenly all my worries and anxiety of being alone and so far away had just left me. I was living in the moment had the biggest appreciation of where I was and the life I lived.
Barcelona was a bit of an eye opener for me. The city itself, was stunning. However, as we were driving in, I saw lot's of shacks and people living in poverty. In the city, their were lot's of disabled and disfigured people, using skateboards to manoeuvre around and ask for money. It made me appreciate Canada and how much better we are with taking care of people. For our free day, we went to one of their local food markets, did some shopping downtown and then spent the rest of the day down at the beach. When night came around, we went out for tapas, sangria and a performance of flamenco dancers. The culture, history, and scenery of the city was amazing to indulge in and I can't wait to go back.
I only spent half a day in Monaco and that was enough for it to be one of my favourite areas in Europe. With 0% unemployment and no murders in the past 10 years... that's quite an achievement in this world. I also learned that you have to apply for citizenship, you must apply directly to the Prince at a price of 1 million dollars to apply for citizenship in Monaco, something Michael Jackson had done 3 times and been denied for all. It's the second smallest country in the world. We spent most of our night up at the Monte Carlo (of course). I'm not much of a gambler so I sat in on my friends while they played. Nobody one, but I did walk away with one of their 0.08 Euro vouchers as a souvenir. Photography was prohibited from inside the casino and you had to pay 100 Euro just to get to the second floor... a floor where the minimum bet is 10,000 Euros. What was really cool for me, was walking outside the front of the casino. Some of the most incredible cars that I've ever seen in my life just surrounded this place. It overlooked the harbour where there were nothing but multi million dollar yachts. It was definitely a special experience to be amidst all of this luxury.
You know when you see pictures or postcards of a certain place and think to yourself "there's no way that's real". I kind of had that thought in my head when before I saw Venice. The city was exactly like what I've seen and heard of. Walking around Venice was like a maze. Every street would have random turns and dead ends, the buildings were nearly all the same around you as well, so it made it all the more difficult to mark where you've been. While we were wandering the streets, we stopped for a slice of pizza. In Canada, you're going to pay around $3 for a small slice... I was expecting something similar to that or more expensive since Italy is famous for their pizzas. However as I asked for a slice, they told me that's be ONE Euro. I gave them the Euro and they gave me an entire quarter of the pizza. I had to hold the thing with two hands while walking. Venice was everything and more that I had hoped for.
One of the coolest experiences I'll ever have is getting to witness the Pope speak. The Pope is actually located in Vatican City, in the centre of Rome and is a country of it's own, the smallest country in the world in fact. We had a bit of free time in Rome, so me and a friend ventured out into the city to explore. We did some shopping, saw the Colosseum, and of course got lost but that's all apart of the adventure. We stumbled across this park that overlooked the whole city with some amazing sculptures and fountains throughout the park. It started raining at this point and luckily enough we found an abandoned umbrella that was half working. By the time we got back down into the city, the streets had started to flood a bit. The streets almost turned into a little river that actually ran directly down into the subway system. We had no idea where we were but spotted a McDonalds and ran over for wifi and directions. The umbrella wouldn't fold down and we were getting drenched so it was just thrown into the street as we ran inside. Someone picked it up and started using it shortly after, so I guess we were just sharing the good deed.
So the Greece part of the trip started off in Athens. I have to say that the driving in Athens is some of the most terrifying things I've ever seen. I just had to sit on the bus and I was still stressing a bit that we were gonna hit. It's almost that theirs no rules of the road and nobody cares that much if they do hit you. Athens was so full of history and a beautiful city though
The Greek islands were another one of my favourite locations of Europe. The white and blue buildings with trees filled with pink leaves were so vibrant and beautiful. In Santorini, a group of us rented donkey's and rode them down a cliffside. At the bottom, we hopped aboard this old pirate ship and sailed over to an active volcano. We hiked to the top and I could see steam coming out from the ground. I know this may sound dumb but I did put my hand around it just to feel the temperature. From there we hopped back on our ship and sailed to a hot spring that was powered by the volcano. There was no way of unloading the boat, so we all jumped off, into the water and swam over. There was a lot of sulphur at this hot spring and we all rubbed it on ourselves, looking like mud monsters. I had so much on myself that it had dyed my face a some facial hair all orange. I went from a mud monster to an oompa loompa real fast.