It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
I was fortunate enough to spend most of the month of September travelling in Europe with my boyfriend. It was a wonderful trip and I thought I would share some tidbits from it. I found lots of cool and unique illustrations posted throughout the trip as well as some beautiful sighs and cultural experiences.
Though I felt like I needed a bit of a transition period after the trip to recoup, I wanted to share a little bit about the places we visited while in Europe. Our trip was three weeks long and we visited four countries, totalling to four nights per country.
Our first stop was Paris. We stayed in an adorable little (it was actually quite spacious) Airbnb in the heart of the city. We arrived in the late afternoon and after a quick nap, we made some dinner and enjoyed the magic of the city at night. One thing I love so much about Paris is how much light there is in the evening, it’s just as alive at night as it is during the day. The sparkling Eiffel tower, friends sitting together outside at a cafe enjoying a drink, it never sleeps!
Of course, we did all the touristy things, seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, some shopping, sipping wine, visiting Montmartre, Le Louvre and La Seine. It really feels like you’re travelling back in time to the early 1900’s. I saw the most incredible Starbucks EVER near the Opera, which was coincidentally called Starbucks Opera. The walls were adorned in gold trimmings and mirrors as well as tropical plants and painted ceilings. I had never seen anything like it!
I visited the place where my mom and I stayed in Montmartre three years ago and nothing had changed! That tiny apartment felt like home to us for our time there. Montmartre is especially nice because it has the most beautiful sights looking over the city, and there are lots of families living nearby which means lots of great parks, local cafes and marketplaces.
2. Brussels, Belgium
Belgium was stunning. We especially loved Bruges and Ostend, which are just a train stop away from each other. Bruges felt like the definition of quaint with old structures and cobblestone streets, while Ostend had a beautiful and super wide beach along with amazing shops and a well kept harbour-front with incredible sailboats and speedboats. We also found an incredible restaurant in Ostend called Cappuccino which served me the best vegan burger I’ve ever had! It came on a delicious fresh multigrain bun with fries and a salad. Ostend felt super clean and modern compared to Brussels and Bruges. I loved it there!
I found lots of inspiration here in the many gardens and quaint landscapes as well as local art featured in coffee shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a delicious real-chocolate-hot-chocolate at a place called In Choc, which my hot chocolate illustration as well as I found a cute illustrated poster on the wall that also inspired an illustration of a rabbit I recently made.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
We stayed in the Student Hotel (West) in Amsterdam and it was actually quite nice to have a hotel room instead of an Airbnb, although our Airbnb in Belgium felt a lot like a hotel. We got an upgraded room in the Student Hotel so we could get some cooking supplies during our stay. We rented bikes for 2 days of the trip and biked along the canals during the day and night. Amsterdam has a lot of beautiful parks that are so much fun to bike through, once you get used to just how many bikes are on the road! I did get a little bit stressed out while biking in the city at times, because there are more bikes than cars it’s a bit difficult to manoeuvre in the city when you’re unfamiliar with the routes & rules.
With that being said, I would say that biking in Amsterdam was definitely the highlight of our time there. We visited lots of local shops, the Van Gogh museum (which was amazing!) as well as the new Eye Film Institute, which we took a ferry to get to. Amsterdam has a real “badass” attitude feel to it, from the relentless bikers to the red light district and coffee shops, I felt like I had to adopt the attitude of the people there to get by… Not to say that was a bad thing, I felt quite empowered once I got the hang of the bike routes! We also did a river canal cruise on a big long boat, which I found interesting despite the gloomy weather, but Mark found it a bit boring!
I didn’t get to draw much in Amsterdam because I fell quite sick and the sudden cold weather wasn’t helping! Despite this, I still really enjoyed our time in Amsterdam.
4. Munich, Germany
Munich was a long train ride away from Brussels, but it was so worth it. I never knew how beautiful Munich is! Lots of brightly painted apartment buildings and parks with aging trees letting the sun shine through in a sparkling glimmer while the swans and ducks tag along each other in the lakes.
We happened to be in Munich during Oktoberfest, which was so much fun! It’s like your childhood carnival meets cool parties - only German style. I loved the live music in the tents and, surprisingly, I was able to finish nearly two giant beers in one night! It was so cool to see how many people from all over the world came to Germany just for Oktoberfest and how the German culture was so well preserved and celebrated at the festival.
I actually ended up getting sick in Germany, so I didn’t really feel like sketching all that much. Luckily our super-kind Airbnb host gave me some natural medicine which helped me get better much quicker.
5. Engleberg, Switzerland
Oh my, do I have a lot to say about this place. Honestly, as a girl who grew up camping in the woods and being surrounded by trees and grass for most of my life in the suburbs, this place was absolutely heaven on earth.
Imagine waking up to a gentle sound of bells ringing from the cows in the distance and looking out the window of a cozy wooden cottage home to see mountains covered in snow at the very tops and trees, fields, adorable little homes and not a sky more blue than it’s ever looked before. Ok, maybe that last part was an exaggeration, but seriously, this place took my breath away.
Engleberg is a small town about 30 minutes from Luzern and has become a popular tourist destination thanks to a special certain mountain that was featured in Bollywood films. Although we visited the mountain and the tourist attractions, we enjoyed the sights along the way up much more. We hiked around a gorgeous clear-water turquoise lake, saw endless mountains in the distance, met some cow friends, found some abandoned farmhouses and trailed through sceneries that looked like they were right out of a movie.
Switzerland has so much incredible natural beauty and lucky for the residents, a strong economy as well, which means things are kept up to date and kept clean and modern. We enjoyed lots of hiking during our time in Engleberg and we were both quite sad to leave!
I would do this trip 100 times over. It was so much fun and so great to see so many different countries in a mere 3 weeks. Everything went so smoothly, and the train system in Europe is incredible! I loved spotting little illustrations here and there along the way and seeing the many ways they were used throughout the countries. I was happy to be home where people speak English and (Quebec) French but I’m definitely already missing it!