Looping Around Northern Europe

In two solid weeks of Fall Breaks, Bus2alps whipped around Northern Europe with 110 happy students who would not normally have 10 days in the middle of their Fall Semester to disappear into the depths of Europe’s top cities. Handsome Joe of Bus2alps recounts his time with these 110 students over his 2 weeks adventure in Northern Europe.

The Northern Loop trip started out with a bang in the beautiful city of Prague. The general consensus was that Prague was the city of the four that the group had the least expectations of because they had a lack of familiarity and understanding as to what it was all about. This quickly made Prague the sleeper city for the trip. The majority of the group was blown away by the walking tour because they didn’t realize how much important history there was in Prague. The beautiful buildings and gothic architecture made it really enjoyable to walk around the city to shop, explore, or just grab a beer as many of us did. The wide range of nightlife activities, including the many bars and clubs came as another surprise to many students in the group as they were unaware of Prague’s reputation as a party city. A good amount of the group claims the last night in Prague at the 80’s and 90’s dance club “Lucerna” to be their favorite night of the trip.

Berlin was an incredibly worthwhile stop in the trip. We hyped up the Berlin walking tour as one of the best in Europe and it didn’t disappoint. The guides went into such detail about the past events that occurred in Berlin and really portrayed how the city literally broke Europe down and rebuilt it again. We were able to really grasp that although Berlin is now one city, there is still clear differences between the East and the West. We stayed in former East Berlin which was conveniently located near the “East Side Gallery” one of the largest preserved remains of the Berlin Wall, now covered in paintings of many well-known artists. I was particularly fascinated by the actual dividing of the city via the Berlin Wall and how it literally took place overnight. The personal stories that were told during the tour and the significance of the events that took place after that are difficult to try and grasp. Everyone understood that they were standing in the city with the most historical significance of the past century and it truly felt eerie at times.

Berlin at night time is quite eccentric, even more so on Halloween. I couldn’t help notice the high volume of vampires, devils, and zombies that flooded the streets of Berlin that night. Although great costumes, the lack of originality and creativity leads me to believe that Berliners are not as evolved with the concept of Halloween as Americans. Nonetheless, the students really enjoyed the pub crawl that conveniently ended across the street from the hostel.

Amsterdam is a city that a lot of the group was looking forward to. I tried to relay the message beforehand that the city is not all just drugs and prostitution, but that there as a historical significance to these concepts. Of course there is also many historical aspects of the city such as the house that the Frank family occupied for two years during the war, museums paying tribute to famous artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt, the home of Heineken beer with an amazing factory tour, and the fact that it was all started by two fisherman building a dam on the Amstel river. Ancient philosopher Decartes once said, “God created the world, but the Dutch created Amsterdam” and the people here are “dam” proud of it. I particularly enjoyed this city because it was more hands off as a guide due to the fact that there was so much to do and certainly something to do for everyone. By the end of the stay here the group was definitely impressed with uniqueness of the city and all that it had to offer.

Ahh and then there was Paris – the city of love. Again, we got lucky with the weather which made the walking tour around the city that much better. I was surprised, along with many others of how enormous the city actually was, which is why everyone made it a point to get to one of the many amazing viewpoints of the city. I went up to the Arc de Triomphe with a group and I know another group went to the Sacre Coure and a few wasted no time getting to the Eiffel tower. One thing we stressed was getting out to see the city lit up at night. The sight of Paris lit up at nighttime is quite enchanting and unforgettable and many students now boast facebook profile pictures depicting that very description.

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