Traveling Through Europe

by : Jonathon Hardcastle

The summer of 2005, my friend and I decided to apply for a summer program as part of our graduate degree and travel from United States to Brugges in Belgium , to attend an intensive seminar at The College of Europe on Politics, Policies, Lobbying and the European Union. Although I have never visited Belgium before, I was really excited to discover, while browsing the internet, that I was about to visit one gorgeous and historical city of the 'Old Continent,' while enhancing my academic knowledge and meeting new people.

Before leaving the US we printed any information we could find regarding the city's tourist locations, interesting cafes and historic buildings. Although Brugges is a very small town, it offers a lot of possibilities to those interested in exploring its excitements. But even if it surpassed our expectations, visiting only one European town or country seemed a waste for such a trip. Thus, we decided in advance to research the options we had. The most convenient, cheap and interesting way to go from city to city and country to country, as we found out, is via train. The Eurorail trains are a simple way to visit a variety of European destinations, as boarding a train actually offers adventure-seekers the opportunity to admire Europe 's exquisite landscapes that plane travelers would miss out on.

Upon the completion of our summer program, we packed our bags and traveled from Brussels to Amsterdam . The Netherlands ' capital is a combination of beauty and adventure. The city streets, the people walking or bicycling around, the fantastic weather and its countless river docks create a unique combination of images. Since we had less than 48 hours available to see as much as possible, we decided to pay a visit to the Van Gogh Museum , walk the Red District by night, and of course take the tram to travel through the city and experience its pulsating beat.

Next stop was Paris , France . We were fortunate to find an affordable room as soon as we disembarked at the train station, and off to explore the city we went. Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower , the Bastille, Champs-Élysées, small cafes and long walks across the Seine River or through the area of Montmartre, made our stay in Paris unforgettable. In fact, one of the best pictures we got from this trip was in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

Italy was up next. Florence and Venice , two of the most important trade cities in Europe offered us some life-time opportunities. Historical monuments, paved streets, canals, museums, restaurants and Italian cafes convinced us that Italy is actually so much more than any travel brochure can ever tell. In fact, I fell in love with almost every single building we crossed. I wish our trip could have lasted a lifetime, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Images of my Europe trip will remain forever imprinted in my mind.