Bikes & Badinage | A Weekend in Amsterdam

For those of you who don’t know, badinage is the French word banter. To be honest, I’m not really sure whether I like the word banter but I needed something to alliterate with the word bikes and hey, now you know another French word.

Anyway, more to the point, last weekend we travelled to Amsterdam! It was honestly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to go. The 9 hour bus journey was definitely worth it. Our hostel (ClinkNOORD) was also the best hostel I have ever rested my head in. It’s a 5 minute ferry ride away from the central station but we hired bikes to fit in with the locals (literally everyone has a bike) which meant we could explore all corners of the city!

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We stayed for 4 nights and 3 days and packed it full of fun Dutch things. The various stops on our sight-seeing list were the Anne Frank House, the Heineken experience, the Van Gogh museum and of course the famous I Amsterdam sign in Vondelpark.

All of these are incredible and I couldn’t fault any aspect of them. The Anne Frank House is incredibly moving whilst the Heineken experience provided some light relief in the form of making your own beer.

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Of course, you can’t visit the Netherlands without sampling some of their delicious delicacies. Our trip consisted of Oorlog (chips in a cone covered with satay sauce and mayo), Haring (raw herring – slightly questionable), Poffertjes (mini pancakes) & Rijsttafel (Indonesian tapas). Foodie’s paradise.

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All in all, Amsterdam is now one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s beautiful and everything that should be so illegal is just so legal, if you know what I’m saying. Can’t recommend it enough!

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À bientôt,

Sascha 

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A Year Abroad Bucket List

I like to think I’ve got quite a lot out of my year abroad so far; my French is improving, I’ve made fantastic friends of all nationalities and I’ve been travelling to Germany countless times (OK well, about 4).

 

However, when I was walking through a German drive-thru McDonald’s last night after many a vodka limonade, it occurred to me I only have 2/3 months left here in France and I should really make the most of them. So, I have undertaken writing this “bucket list” to make sure I actually do the things I keep saying I’ll get around to doing eventually.

  • Make more French friends (I have made 2 within a 6-month time span. The French are a pretty closed off race in all honesty, but I’ll try a little harder to get out of my Erasmus bubble)
  • Visit Heidelberg and have a spa day in the Black Forest town of Baden-Baden (I was supposed to do these two things last week but the -3 degree raining weather put me off slightly)
  • Go to Amsterdam (Don’t think this one needs that much explaining)
  • Go on a post-exams trip to Prague, Budapest & Vienna
  • Explore France more (You can read about my recent escapade to Paris here but despite living in France and studying French, I’ve spent more time discovering Germany than France so far this year…)

That’s it for now, but if I think of any more I’ll be sure to add them to the list. What are your travel-related bucket lists? Let me know in the comments below!

À bientôt,

Sascha 

 

Paris reste toujours vivant!

I must admit, I’m getting a little bit blasé about all these wonderful European cities I am fortunate enough to have the chance to visit.

I’m off to Germany next week to visit the Black Forest town of Baden-Baden and Heidelberg. Then I might wander my way down to Switzerland, and plans are already being made for a couple of cheeky weekends away to Amsterdam and Budapest!

Anyway, I spent this past weekend visiting friends that live in Paris and it was so lovely to see the capital through grown up, non-touristy eyes. Not to mention the friend that I stayed with lives right next to the Eiffel Tower (qu’est-ce que what?)

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During our time there, we munched on divine confit de canard and visited the coolest Tiki bar in town. I always prefer being shown cities through the eyes of locals. There’s no way I would have known about all the Parisian nooks and crannies otherwise.

Then, we climbed the Arc de Triomphe and sauntered down the Champs Élysées before we got the metro to the oldest bookshop in the city. Shakespeare & Co. Dreamy.

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Friday evening was finished off in perfect style with a late-night Louvre sesh followed by an Marks & Spencer’s curry night. If you’re lucky enough to still live near an M&S, don’t underestimate just how satisfying they are.

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Saturday brought along with it the opening of the Six Nations rugby, which the squad had tickets for. I’m not going to lie, despite having lived with two rugby players, I had about 10% idea of what was going on.

But the atmosphere was incredible and it was such an honour to be present at the first rendition of La Marseillaise at the first sporting event at the Stade de France since the November attacks. I also know a fair bit more about rugby, which can’t be a bad thing!

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Saturday night was finished off with beautiful galettes for dinner and squad drinks at a bar near the Pantheon. €10 for 2 cocktails? Yes please!

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Our final day in Paris was spent meandering through Montmartre and the Musee d’Orsay. Then we got on a boat and it started raining halfway through, but all in all it was a pretty fantastique weekend.

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The one thing I’ll take away from Paris most though is the incredible spirit of the city. Just 3 months after the heinous attacks on the capital, it’s admirable how full of joie de vivre the city continues to be.

À bientôt,

Sascha

 

 

2016 | Cologne!

I lost track of what week we were on a while ago if I’m totally honest. But after spending a week ill in bed (probably due to excessive alcohol consumption every night for about a week), I’ve decided it’s about time to make a return to the year abroad Blogosphere.

I had a wonderful Christmas visiting friends & family back in the UK and stuffing my stomach with as many pigs in blankets as it could handle. Then I had to fly back to good ol’ StrassyB to sit my final exam on the 4th January (why so early?), which miraculously I think I’ve somehow managed to pass.

Anyway, after the exam stress was over and naps were had, I got a bit restless. All my friends still had exams for practically the whole week but I had nothing to do. So, as you would, I decided to hop on a 5 hour bus journey to Cologne.

Despite it’s recent New Year’s Eve controversy, it’s a beautiful German city with Roman foundations. Travelling alone was therapeutic and eye-opening, too. Enjoy the snaps!

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Catching a breather on step number 250 of 533…

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View from the top of Kolner Dom!

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Chocolate musem? Yes please!!

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À bientôt,

Sascha xo

Week 14 |On the twelfth day of Christmas

This week has been a pretty mundane one. Reality set in that I have exams coming up in 2 weeks and have done absolutely nothing but travel Europe and drink wine for the past 3 months.

So, to that end, most of the past few days have been spent in the library. Half the time actually learning stuff, the other half questioning why on earth I decided to study a degree in French Law.

Anyway, tales of library woe probably aren’t that interesting for you, non-surprisingly, so I’ll move on.

For some reason, since moving to Strasbourg, I have become friends with more Irish people than I’ve even met in my 20 years of life combined. Cue Irish Christmas traditions heavily steeped in drinking. Cue the ‘Twelve Pubs of Christmas.’ Essentially a bar crawl, where you go to twelve pubs, drink a pint in each and have to abide by a rule in each one. All whilst staying in each pub for no longer than 30 minutes. My kind of Christmas tradition.

After saying I’d only go to the first couple of pubs, I found myself still standing (just about) at the 11th one, glass of mulled wine in hand. I didn’t, however, manage to outdo one of the American girls, who brought along her mum AND grandma. No word of a lie (they probably had more stamina than me…).

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week, but a week in the library doesn’t exactly make for exhilarating photographic material.

À bientôt,

Sascha

Week 13 | Squad Reunited in StrassyB

Part of the reason I haven’t had the chance to catch up with my blogging properly is because we had a little course reunion in Strasbourg a couple of weekends ago. Us Strasbourg residents played host to 7 of our friends from Bordeaux et Paris.

Of course, nothing runs completely smoothly when a big group of friends gets back together after months apart. We got on fabulously – there was no issues with that. Just the slight issue of one of our friend’s ending up in hospital after a nasty fall through some glass on a night out. Then, being the drunken messes that we were we ended up on a bus which we thought was going to Kehl…

Until one of my friend’s got out her Google Maps and we saw the little dot moving further and further into Alsace. Kids, don’t get drunk and end up on a bus to a club in the middle of nowhere. It’s also not as if things couldn’t get any worse; we spent an hour on the wrong tram home and finally arrived at our abodes at around 6.30 am on Sunday morning. Ensuite, we discovered two of our Eramus friends had been beaten up on their way home. As you can probably tell, the squad was somewhat defeated and hungover on Sunday. Cue Bridget Jones, fajitas and infinite cups of tea.

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The rest of the weekend was, however, class. It was lovely to have everyone back together again and spend time exploring StrassyB in all it’s glory, complete with marchés de Noel et la Petite France. 

À bientôt,

Sascha

Week 12 | Freezing in Frankfurt

Hey there! I feel like I spend most of my time on this blog apologising for not writing on it enough, but it is honestly very hard to find the time in between partying, travelling and now actually studying.

Three months ago, a couple of friends and I booked tickets to a Years & Years gig in Frankfurt so that we committed ourselves to travelling. The weekend finally arrived and we set off on our 4 hour Postbus adventure. (Postbus is amazing if you are travelling around Germany by the way – only €18 for a return journey!). We arrived at our hostel and realised we’d chosen the same weekend as a gaming conference so we met a very interesting array of travellers, but it was a brilliant weekend all the same.

The weekend consisted of gig going, cocktail drinking and strudel eating. Frankfurt’s a very industrial city but I would definitely recommend it if you’re ever in the area. The skyline is incredible!

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À bientôt,

Sascha