We created a perfect guide throughout Europe based on one of our favorite novels, “Eat, Pray, Love”. This is a map to our own perfect vacation that focuses on our three favorite pastimes: eating, dancing, and romancing. If you are studying abroad in Europe this semester, try visiting these three European cities with a specific purpose in mind.
Best places to eat?
Food is vital to our nutrition and physical health, so let’s start the journey from there. Beginning with the combinations of the best cheeses and wines in the world and it’s off to Paris. Paris is world famous for their cuisine – needless to say, their food is amazingly delicious. There are countless delicacies to try that we have broken up our favorites according to each meal of the day.
Breakfast: In France, big breakfasts aren’t the typical norm. What Parisians usually eat pastries with a cup of coffee in the morning. Since you are on vacation, start your day off right and indulge in a pan au chocolat– a crispy, flaky pastry with rich chocolate on the inside. If this is too sweet for you, go ahead and have a fresh baked baguette with jam and butter. It is equally satisfying and delicious!
Lunch/ Dinner: A classic French lunch is the “Croque Madame”. This is a way better version of what we refer to as grilled cheese. It is a grilled sandwich with cheese on the outside and ham on the inside topped off with a sunny-side-up egg. A great start for dinner is trying escargots, a French classic. Obviously, not everyone is going to like snails served straight out of their shells, but if you are traveling all the way to Paris, this really is a must try. It is served with tons of buttery sauce which is great to dip your fresh baguette into it. Lastly, a quiche which is a an open-faced pastry crust with a filling of custard with cheese and either meat, seafood or vegetables. The most popular quiche in Paris is quiche Lorraine, made with egg, cream, cheese and pieces of ham.
Dessert: Our personal favorite, the famous desserts that Paris has to offer. They are known for their chocolates, caramels, and macarons. Our personal favorites are the “Madeleines” which are sweets halfway between a cookie and a cake. Our recommendation, stop by a patissiere to pick up a dozen of these treats and wander around Paris indulging.
Best places to party?
Get ready to not sleep (at least not during the nighttime). This is the normalcy for this city of night owls where very little happens before 2 AM. Dinner starts around ten pm and usually lasts until midnight and then everyone goes out afterwards, that includes locals and tourists. Barcelona has more bars, cafes and clubs per capita in comparison to any other city in the world. The clubs in this city are outrageous — they don’t start until 2 am and won’t stop until the sun comes up. Whatever day of the week it is, it doesn’t play a factor in the fun this city has to offer. Our suggestion? Go on a bar crawl! They will take you to the best bars and clubs throughout the city so there is not much planning required on your part. Also, whenever you go to a new bar or club, drinks are provided at each individual place that is included in the fee you pay before hand. Not to mention you will be saving on cover fees to enter the venues. Bar crawls will also take you to the most popular places in the city so you can cover a lot of ground in one night.
For those of you who are looking for all-night spanish dancing, we recommend “La Terrazza” which is literally its own city on a hill. The club has a beautiful venue having formerly been a mountaintop castle that is now a Spanish style chateau. This place is known as “the Open Air Circus” because it has no roof!
Also if you are staying in Barcelona, our suggestion would be not to go through a hotel. It is cheaper to look for apartments to rent for the week or weekend. However, since the theme is partying, hostels are a great place to stay. There is always an after party at hostels after you shuffle home for the night. The party is never-ending when you choose to stay at a hostel with other people who are there for the same reasons you are.
Best city for romantic adventures?
Maybe Paris or Barcelona was a success for you and you may have bonded with someone over delightful cheese or some sexy music — the next trip is perfect for a romantic getaway. Florence is a small city which is perfect for walking everywhere and exploring the city hand in hand. Romance fills the air of this Italian city and we have tracked down the most picturesque environments.
One of the most gorgeous places is the Bardini Gardens which are beautiful and intimate. Once you reach the very top, you can see all the entire city of Florence as well as the border of Tuscany. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West actually got married right by the Bardini Gardens at Fort Belvedere. Since Tuscany is so close, you can rent bikes for the day and bike ride from Florence to the countryside. En route to the countryside you will pass vineyards, olive groves, medieval castles, and villas. End the afternoon with some wine tasting and cheese! Soak up some of the great artwork which makes it virtually impossible not to set the mood. You can go visit Michalengelos’ David at the Accademi or Botticelli’s Venus Rising at the Uffizi. One of our suggestions is never to go in the middle of the day, either in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid crowds and tourists. Stop by and watch the sunset from Pizzale Michelangelo for the best panoramic view of Florence. This a whole plaza dedicated to the works of Michelangelo and chapel sculptures. There are so many amazing restaurants to finish the day with where you can split a bottle of wine and some delicious Italian pasta.
Just a few travel tips regarding these three countries. France now has a new rule where your passport must be valid for 3 months rather than 6 months. Italy and Spain still have the 6 month validity rule. If you need a new passport or a renewal, contact us for any of your passport needs!