Travels around Central Europe

Vienna, Austria

Oktoberfest, Germany

After only a week of living in Prague, my first venture into Europe was in the Southern German city of Munich. Under the organisation of an Erasmus student’s events company situated in Prague, we went on a day trip to Oktoberfest. This iconic Bavarian festival was something I have always wanted to experience, especially because my Grandad was a very proud Bavarian. The festival consisted of 17 large and 21 small tents, supplemented by small food stalls and fairground rides. Each tent was filled with singing and clapping and lots of very merry Germans. Many locals and tourists were dressed up in the traditional Bavarian outfits, the Lederhosen and Dirndls, making the whole experience feel very immersive.

One of the large tents of Oktoberfest

Hungary, Budapest

Only a week after our trip to Oktoberfest, I travelled via FlixBus to the capital of Hungary, Budapest. This was another exciting trip for me as my mum had studied in Hungary on her year abroad, and her experience there was something that encouraged me to take a year abroad. This was another trip organised by an Erasmus student’s events company, where in which we stayed in a lively hostel called The Hive. This hostel is known to be one of the most popular in Budapest. I recommend when on a year abroad in Europe, to get involved with Erasmus events companies as you will find that they organise numerous affordable trips and account for most of the night life events for students at your university.

Whilst in Hungary, we went on a walking tour of the city which involved seeing the Parliament buildings, visiting Holocaust memorials and going to the Thermal Spa. One of my favourite parts of the trip was travelling across the river via the metro to Fishermen’s bastion lookout tower. Situated here are some beautiful lookout terraces, the architecture was incredibly unique, providing panoramic views.  

Fishermen’s Bastion
Thermal Spa Baths

Krakow, Poland

In October, my friends and I travelled to the city of Krakow in Poland. Not knowing much about Krakow before going there, it is safe to say it exceeded my expectations. Not only was the old town so picturesque and grand, but the city had such a buzz about it. Our hostel was only a street away from the main square of the old town which made it easy to access all the dynamic restaurants and bars. A great advantage of Krakow to travel to as a student is its affordability in general.

Krakow’s Main Square

Although our accommodation was on the expensive side due to leaving booking to the last minute and the busy time of year with travellers, all the food and drink we bought was such a reasonable price. With only a short amount of time in Krakow, we mostly explored the old town, visited the castle, and went up the lookout tower.

View from the lookout tower
Streets of Old town
Krakow Castle

Vienna, Austria

Our final venture of Central Europe in the Winter Semester was to Vienna, Austria. This was by far my favourite place we had travelled in the Autumn. As we visited Vienna in late November, we were lucky to catch the beginning of the city’s Christmas markets, which were impressive to say the least. Vienna was filled with festivities, with the markets lighting up almost the whole city centre. We made sure while visiting the markets to try the Viennese goulash that comes in the bread rolls, which was the most cosy, Christmassy thing to enjoy whilst strolling round the city. Vienna stunned me with its pristine and prosperous ambience, it appeared to be a very sophisticated, stylish city. In the daytime, we visited the Parliament buildings, the famous Spanish riding school, and the grand opera house.

Christmas markets
The Spanish Riding School
More Christmas markets
Vienna Opera House

My favourite part of this trip was my friends and I accidentally finding ourselves in an event where a famous DJ – Robin Schulz – happened to be playing on the Saturday night we were there. This was one of the most unforgettable and exciting evenings of my entire year.

Inside Praterdome, the venue

More travel blogs to follow…

Christmas in Prague

Christmas in Prague

Spending the Christmas period in Prague was something I was very excited about before moving here. Its impressive Christmas markets are known throughout Europe for being rather impressive. After spending the most part of the festive period in the city, it is safe to say that Prague really comes alive at Christmas.

Although it is a beautiful city throughout all points of the year, with its buildings’ colourful and unique architecture, there is no question Prague comes into its own in the winter months. The city’s magical atmosphere at Christmas, the snow falling and being surrounded by the grandest of buildings, really makes you feel like you are in a snow globe. This, paired with the magical Christmas markets immerses you into a Christmassy, festive, chilly bubble. In as early as November, all kinds of shops started opening up their windows, serving mulled wine and hot chocolate. This signified the start of the festivities. Walking through the little, cobbled streets of the centre of the city, you would be struck by blaring Christmas music, coming from pubs and restaurants with merry tourists singing along. This is something I will really miss when I go home.

It is without a doubt that during winter in Prague, the weather can reach really low temperatures, with snowfall. When packing for a year abroad in here, I had to keep in mind the temperatures it can reach. The majority of my luggage consisted of thermals, jumpers, fleeces, warm coats, hats and gloves. In reality, the lowest temperature I have experienced here, so far, was in December whilst it was snowing heavily, the temperature had dropped to -11 degrees Celsius.

Prague’s five main Christmas markets opened up the weekend of November 25th and since then, the streets were filled with even more tourists than normal. The main market was the Old Town Square markets that was home to the largest Christmas tree in Prague. Incredibly impressive, this tree signified the centre of the Christmas festivities in the city. In this specific market, there was traditional Czech food stalls, with goulash and gingerbreads, and even a stage where Christmas carols were being performed. It took some getting used to this completely transformed Old Town Square as it became a snowy Christmas vision packed with tourists carrying mulled wine.

As our time to go home for Christmas neared, and some of our friends were starting to fly home, issues with the weather and flights were starting to present themselves. As much as we were all enjoying living in a very festive Prague, I was very excited to get home to see my family. There were concerns over flight cancellations the week I was planning to home, with three days left until Christmas. Luckily my flight went ahead as planned and I made it home to see my family. Returning to a still-cold, yet less festive, Prague in January made me realise just how magical the city is around Christmas time and made me realise I would definitely like to return around that time of year one day.