3 Countries. 1 Week. Let's Go! | Study Abroad Weeks 3 & 4 | Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris

Hey there! So, this post is just a weeee bit late (okay like 2 weeks late) but it’s because I was in 3 different countries within one week, so I had a ton of pictures to compile together! In Europe, there’s this incredible thing called “ski break.” It’s just like what it sounds like; basically everyone takes a week off to go skiing! Unfortunately, I don’t know how to ski, but you can bet that I took the opportunity to check some places off my travel bucket list!

AMSTERDAM

To kick off my “ski break,” I hopped on a train to Amsterdam and met up with Mark and our Austrian friend, Clemens!!! Mark and I have known Clemens since our senior year of high school, when he studied in Indiana for a semester! We’ve all kept in touch over the past 3 years and it was SO fun to finally be reunited. And in Europe, of all places!

When we arrived in Amsterdam, snowflakes were just beginning to cover the city in a blanket of white. The snow, combined with the beautiful canals and quaint houses, made for the perfect first impression. The first activity we did was a three and a half hour bike tour (yes, thru the cold and snow!) with Mike’s Bike Tour! Biking is a huge part of local life in Amsterdam, so the tour was the perfect way to see the city, learn some history, and experience a little but of everyday Dutch life. One of my favorite facts that I learned is that since Amsterdam was built essentially upon water, the houses have slowly started leaning over the years. I didn’t even notice until our guide, Gideon, pointed this out!

Another highlight of the weekend was visiting the Heinekein Expereince to see how they brew their famous beer. One of the best things about Amsterdam has to be the food. Frites (Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx), pancakes (The Happy Pig) and apple pie (Winkel 43) galore! Our weekend in Holland was too short, but luckily, ski break was far from over! It was time for our next destination! And luckily, sunshine was in the forecast J

MADRID

The next few days were spent exploring Mark’s host city – Madrid! Apparently it’s the sunniest capital in Europe, and I’d have to agree! The weather was just beautiful every day I was there! If you’re ever in Madrid, you must go to Chocolatería San Ginés to enjoy their fresh churros and chocolate! They were sooo yummy! One of the best parts of getting this random week off of school in February was that I got to spend Valentine’s Day with Mark in Spain! He surprised me by taking me on a rowboat ride thru Parque El Retiro followed by dinner and an authentic Spanish flamenco show <3 The show was definitely one of the coolest cultural experiences from my time abroad so far.

PARIS

To top off this incredible week, I got to bring Mark to my city and show him why I love Paris so much. Living in Paris is amazing, but experiencing everything it has to offer with my best friend made the City of Lights even more beautiful in my eyes. I mean who doesn’t want to be kissed at the top of the Eiffel Tower!? I planned a weekend full of sightseeing at all of my favorite spots and eating all of my favorite French treats. I basically stuffed Mark full of crêpes, macarons, and cheese before letting him go back to Spain :P One afternoon, after getting chocolat chaud and pastries at Angelina , we were walking down the street when we saw a small group of people with their phones out, peering into a window of a restaurant in a hotel. I asked one woman who she was looking at, and to my astonishment she said, "Emma Watson!" I then too looked into the window, and there Emma Watson was! Haha it was such a crazy coincidence and definitely one of those "pinch me I'm in Paris" moments. To end this perfect week, Mark and I spent our last evening at a Chainsmokers concert in Paris!!!! Seeing them play their new song “Paris” IN PARIS will always be a great memory. I'm so happy that I got to fulfil my dream of exploring Paris with Mark, and now I'm just hoping that I can convince him to come visit again soon ;)

Thoughts of the Week:

What I’m loving right now: Life. Haha but really, I’m just so happy here and am so very thankful for all of these experiences!

What I’m not loving right now: The rain. It’s been raining a lot here in Paris, but I just keep reminding myself that the rain is going to bring the spring flowers!

What I’m surprised about: That I got a week off of school after only have two weeks of class….c’est la vie!

Favorite moment: going to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the first time!

Favorite travel item: My Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 Lens! This lens is a really popular lens among photographers these days, but I have just never loved mine for weddings and senior portraits. I have to admit though, it’s a great travel lens! The wide angle really allows me to capture an entire scene in a city, but the sharp focus also enables me to get in close and shoot the small details.

If you made it all the way to the end of this blog post, then you deserve a pat on the back! Haha, leave a comment if you have any travel or photography related questions! Until next time!

- Cassie XO