Student Blogs/Larisa in Belgium

This year has flown by. It’s been crazy, exhausting and eye-opening, but it’s not over yet. Going into this year, my main goal was to travel as much as possible and that is exactly what I have been doing. Luckily, I was able to arrange my school schedule so I have long weekends, which has allowed me to make quite a few weekend trips. As you may recall, I started this year having visited 14 countries, now that number is at 32. So this is where this year has taken me:

Iceland: I did a three-day stopover here when flying to Europe. It’s one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. 100% lives up to the hype.

One of Iceland’s many waterfalls, Seljalandfoss!

One of Iceland’s many waterfalls, Seljalandfoss!

The Netherlands: My mom and I visited Amsterdam and stayed with family in the countryside before she dropped me off in Brussels.

A market near my family’s rural town of Garderen, The Netherlands.

A market near my family’s rural town of Garderen, The Netherlands.

London: I visited my childhood friend, Noah who is doing exchange at University of Essex. He is one of my best friends and being able to do most of our travelling together has made every trip even more memorable.

Exploring the canals of Camden in London.

Exploring the canals of Camden in London.

Munich: OKTOBERFEST. SO MUCH FUN.

Myself, Noah and his mom at Oktoberfest! Noah's mom has connections in Munich so we were lucky enough to have dirndls and lederhosen provided to us and a reserved table at the Lowenbrau Haus, a true Bavarian experience!

Myself, Noah and his mom at Oktoberfest! Noah’s mom has connections in Munich so we were lucky enough to have dirndls and lederhosen provided to us and a reserved table at the Lowenbrau Haus, a true Bavarian experience!

Slovakia: I went and visited more family. It was my first time here and it was so nice to meet new family members and see where my grandparents grew up.

My family’s hometown Trnava in Slovakia. Trnava is nicknamed Little Rome because there are so many churches in town.

My family’s hometown Trnava in Slovakia. Trnava is nicknamed “Little Rome” because there are so many churches in town.

Luxembourg: It is a three-hour train ride from Brussels, so my friends and I made this into a day trip!

A cloudy day in Luxembourg.

A cloudy day in Luxembourg.

Poland (Warsaw & Krakow), Budapest, Vienna & Berlin: During a week long break my friends and I did a trip here. Poland and Hungary are so inexpensive it’s amazing and Vienna is probably the most beautiful city I have ever seen.

Auschwitz-Birkenau. We took a day trip to both camps and also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines which I highly recommend!

Auschwitz-Birkenau. We took a day trip to both camps and also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines which I highly recommend!

Photo of Budapest, Hungary overlooking the parliament building across the river.

Budapest, with the parliament building across the river.

Belvedere Palace in Vienna. Vienna is packed with stunning architecture.

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin.

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin.

Morocco (!!): This was one of my more extravagant and interesting trips. A Brazilian friend of mine recommended a tour company for Noah and I, so we booked it in English. But to our surprise, as soon as the vans doors shut on the first day, our tour guide started speaking in Spanish… So our tour through the desert was completely in Spanish. Thankfully, some Mexicans on our tour were able to translate and help us out. Spanish tour aside, it was still one of my most memorable trips of the year.

Trekking to our campsite for night in the Sahara

Trekking to our campsite for night in the Sahara!

Paris: Yes, Paris is always a good idea. I’ve been multiple times now.

Noah and I enjoying a quiet afternoon in the Louvre.

Noah and I enjoying a quiet afternoon in the Louvre.

Strasbourg, France & Cologne, Germany: I did a mini Christmas market tour here before returning to Canada for three weeks. I highly recommend gluhwein (mulled wine).

The Strasbourg Christmas market.

The Strasbourg Christmas market.

My favourite Christmas market in Cologne, I think the Germans do Christmas food the best.

My favourite Christmas market in Cologne, I think the Germans do Christmas food the best.

Italy (Milan, Alps, Florence, Padua, Venice): After exams, I used my time off to go and snowboard in the Alps, explore new places and indulge in Italian food.

Perfect conditions at Sauze d’Oulx!

Perfect conditions at Sauze d’Oulx!

Picture says it all, Italian food has my heart.

Picture says it all, Italian food has my heart.

Malmo, Copenhagen and Amsterdam: My two best friends came and visited me in Europe! It was really nice to explore new places with them because that is basically how we all met!

The Cathedral in Lund, Sweden, a 20 minute train ride from Malmo. Lund is a small, but lively University town.

The Cathedral in Lund, Sweden, a 20-minute train ride from Malmo. Lund is a small, but lively university town.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen. We chose the coldest and rainiest day to bike around Copenhagen, but nevertheless I think biking is the best way to see Copenhagen!

Nyhavn, Copenhagen. We chose the coldest and rainiest day to bike around Copenhagen, but nevertheless I think biking is the best way to see Copenhagen!

Amsterdam has a small town feel which I love. It was especially nice to visit during February because streets weren't very crowded, making us feel less "touristy". It also made for great photo ops.

Amsterdam has a small town feel which I love. It was especially nice to visit during February because streets weren’t very crowded, making us feel less “touristy”. It also made for great photo ops.

Ireland: Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day was absolutely crazy. We also did a tour to the cliffs of Moher, two days after St. Patrick’s, which gave us a much-needed day to recover.

Noah and I at the Guinness Storehouse one day before St. Patricks day.

Spain (Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Seville) & Portugal (Albufiera, Lagos, Lisbon): I travelled here on my two-week Easter break. It was amazing to travel to warm locations, because Brussels rains 300 days a year… Spain is incredible; I think my favourite city was Granada. It’s small and sits in a valley, looking up at Alhambra Palace with snow capped mountains in the background. If you plan on visiting Granada anytime soon, I highly recommend seeing the Alhambra but buy tickets in advance! I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to line up for a chance to get a ticket… But it was worth it!

Magnificent Alhambra Palace

Magnificent Alhambra Palace

And of course Portugal is Breathtaking! I spent a week in the Algarve and I have to say, I think this region has some of the nicest beaches in Europe.

Cliff hike around the point of Lagos, Portugal.

Cliff hike around the point of Lagos, Portugal.

I feel so fortunate to be able to travel as much as I have. These months have been unforgettable and I can’t wait to cross off the remaining countries on my list before I return home! Talk to you soon!

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