An international day trip: Vienna

The two capitol cities of Slovakia and Austria are the closest together in all of Europe- and with only an hour trip by train, of course we had to visit Vienna! I would like to return some day and really explore the city, as we only had about 10 hours. Fortunately, Vienna’s Christmas markets stay open until the New Year, so we got to enjoy those as well.

Belvedere Palace

One of many palaces in Austria, the Belvedere was built by the reigning Hapsburg family during the 18th century, and today is located only a few minutes away from the train station! As we were on a tight schedule (and budget), we didn’t go inside and chose instead to wander around the grounds. They were beautiful even in late December, so I’m sure they’re stunning in the spring and summer! The gardens are a slightly higher ground than the rest of the city, offering a lovely view of Vienna!


the palace

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Geeking out in Berlin


 I have been dying to go to Berlin for quite some time- it was on my list of places to visit before I left to study abroad in Montpellier! I didn`t make it there during my junior year abroad and placed it #1 on my travel list  when I found out I was accepted to TAPIF!  I majored in history in college, after all, and grew up with my dad teaching me episodes during the Cold War. Berlin just has so much to offer for me to learn about WWII and the Cold War, I couldn’t wait. Luckily, there was a flash sale on Ryanair linking Berlin and Adam’s #1 travel destination, Bratislava, so our Christmas trip was practically planned out for us!

There’s just so much to see in Berlin that I felt like I barely scratched the surface! 

All. The. Christmas. Markets.  Continue reading

Its Christmastime in the city…

When I found out Adam was just half an hour outside of Paris by train, I knew we had to tack on a few days in Paris before jetting off to Berlin for Christmas. One reason: to see the Paris Christmas markets and the city all decked out for the holidays! Paris certainly did not disappoint. Everything was decorated for Christmas- from the train station to the restaurants to the sidewalks to the national monuments. I absolutely love holiday decorations and felt like I was whipping out my camera every five seconds (probably because I was!), but it really was that good. You can read more about the Christmas markets of Paris here.

Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord

As I mentioned during my October break, Galeries Lafayette is seriously underrated as a beautiful spot in Paris. Best part is: it gets even better for Christmas! Continue reading

Christmas markets of France…(and Germany and Austria)

One of the best things about studying abroad during the fall semester (and the full year!) is the array of Christmas markets than you can enjoy. Europe really does it up for Christmas, and French Christmas markets are spectacular, along with those of other nations’! Here’s a roundup of the Christmas markets I was able to attend in 2013!

Update: Christmas market additions from 2015!


Of course, the that I knew the best is the one near which I lived! The Christmas market was located within the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle- or park at the end of the Place de la Comédie. The two main passages were lined with chalets selling chocolates, jewelry, scarves, Christmas tree ornaments, decorations, hot wine, or food. A big attraction was the ice skating rink located at the front of all the boutiques, with both French and American Christmas carols playing for the skaters. This first Christmas market was where I- along with all the study abroad students- developed a taste for vin chaud, or mulled wine. You can learn more about the Montpellier Christmas market here.


“Les Hivernales”: the name given to the Montpellier market

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