Teen Treks' European Grand Tour is the definitive European experience for teens! This edition of The Adventurer brings this truly life changing experience alive through stories of days spent sightseeing in Paris, touring Belgium, & exploring bicycle heaven (aka the Netherlands).
On this incredible 4-country adventure, you’ll bike through major cities and quaint villages in Britain, France, Belgium, and Holland, visiting major museums and monuments, eating at great local restaurants, and getting to know each place’s music, art, history, landscapes, and people!
Unforgettable Paris; Experiencing Paris the Teen Treks Way
The European Grand Tour crew spent Saturday morning at the palace of Versailles seeing how the French royalty used to live (among lots of gold items and giant paintings of themselves.) Then we rode to our hostel in the city. We were lucky to discover a concert in the plaza nearby, so we grabbed a quick dinner and checked it out.
On Sunday we spent the afternoon on a walking tour, during which our tour guide told us tons of stories about Paris' history and monuments. (Did you know that on statues, the position of the horse's legs tells how they died? The front legs in the air means that the rider died in battle, four legs down means that they died of natural causes, and one front leg and one back leg up means that they died of unnatural causes, like assassination. Cool, right?)
For our final day in Paris, we first went to The Louvre, where we spent a couple hours admiring the amazing and plentiful masterpieces by some of the most influential artists in the history of art! After visiting the beautiful Mona Lisa, we let ourselves get lost in the art (literally) as we wandered down the halls within the humongous confinements of the museum. After seeing more pieces from eras such as the Renaissance, Ancient Greece and Egypt, and the Medieval ages, we left the Louvre and rode our bikes to the Eiffel Tower!
Sunday evening was the highlight of all our time in Paris, because we went to see the fireworks at the Eiffel Tour in honor of Bastille Day. It was really amazing to see the tower silhouetted by the fireworks behind it, then lit up with flashing lights. Though we had seen it lit up by an incredible firework display the night before, seeing it up close gave it a whole new beauty. After many failed attempts to get a decent group photo (sans bunny ears, goofy faces), we headed back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.
For our final dinner, we decided to splurge a bit in Montmatre, a lively and showy district where Moulin Rouge originated from. We went to a traditional French restaurant where many of us had our first taste of escargot. We had a delicious mix of foods which included foie gras, scallops , a hearty and flavorful beef stew, and"beautiful steak" (as described truthfully in the menu). After dinner we concluded our exciting day with an assortment of scrumptious pastries in downtown Montmatre.
Au revoir, France! Till next time :)
Belgium - "The Greatest Country in the World"
As we leave the greatest country in the world and venture to a country known for its tulips, it is a proper time to reminisce and remember the glory and beauty that is encapsulated in brave little Belgium.
While we only stayed in Ghent and Bruges for two nights total I can 100% say that I'm hooked. We got into Ghent on the 16th and I was astounded by the center of Ghent, which surrounds a river. ALL the people that we spoke to in Ghent seemed friendly and laid back, even the natives, who are called called "free boaters" or Ghentians(?). This fact, multiplied by the amount of bikers, waffles, chocolates, french fries, castle in the center of the city, amazing hostel, and lack of *bike thieves, made the medieval-looking Ghent one of my favorite places on the trip. It was a bittersweet departure from Ghent, but I was able to contain my tears.
I was skeptical that anything could live up to the paradise of Ghent, but after a confusing and easy bike ride, we arrived to the just-as-medieval-looking city of Bruges and I was pleasantly surprised. While Bruges is a little more touristy, it is just as awe-inspiring and has even higher cathedrals. The city seemed out and about the whole night, but it still maintained a quaint placid feel that was cool. (The only critique I had was that the restaurant we ate at made us pay for water.) The departure from Bruges was even harder as this was our last day in the beauty of Belgium.
Amsterdam & the Nation of Bicyclists
The lasagna and bicycling in Amsterdam is awesome! Yesterday, we went for a walking tour of the city. Our guide was so animated! We learned that the Dutch have a long history of social reform. We crossed canals, sampled fine cheeses, and saw a house just 1.8 meters wide (the man who lives inside is taller than that!) After the tour we wandered around for a while to soak up the city, exploring shops, books, chocolate, bridges and other neat stuff. This morning we mustered the courage to enter the Anne Frank house. It was really intense and quite sobering to reflect on the atrocities committed during the war. Afterwards we cheered ourselves up with a visit to the site of the first flea market (there's still one I operation today) and some warm coffee in a leaning rickety old building that was once a gatehouse for a canal. After that, we visited the waterfront to see Renzo Piano's Nemo. Then we went for a ride on a canal boat before winding down at the hostel over some delicious nachos. Life is good.