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Final Thoughts – Brussels, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Spain

St Emilion, France

My return to Europe 10 years after my first backpacking trip there was a blast. No Visas, no currency exchanges, no need to show evidence of onward travel. The hospitality of my friends and couchsurfing hosts was amazing. I have definitely learned how to treat my future guests in the right way. Cathedrals, royal palaces, world class museums, and fine dining. Trains, planes, and buses driving on smooth asphalt.

Laura leads the way in Paris

Highlights –

  • couchsurfing with Geraldine my first night on the continent
  • partying in Brussels on Christmas Eve and night with a great group of guys
  • seeing Gela again and walking around desperately cold Holland
  • seeing Laura again, and drinking wine with her friends my first night
  • visiting Montmartre, the Pompidou, the Eiffel Tower (again) and the holiday-decorated Champs d' Elysees in Paris
  • New Year's Eve at a French house party
  • the high speed TGV train ride to Bern
  • hanging out with Stefan again
  • visiting the Einstein Museum
  • staying at Balmer's hostel, one of Europe's most popular
  • seeing the Swiss Alps (Eiger, Munch, Jungfrau) from atop Schilthorn's rotating restaurant and snowy platform at 10,000 feet
  • the train rides throughout Switzerland
  • couchsurfing with Calen in Geneva
  • touring the European HQ of the United Nations, and Red Cross Museum
  • being greeted by Magali and Sebastien at the Bordeaux airport
  • meeting Magali's brother, uncle, and mom
  • touring St. Emilion and the Monolithic Church, while in between, enjoying a wine tasting at a centuries old chateau and lunch by a roaring open fire
  • climbing Europe's largest sand dune, enjoying oysters in Arcachon, visiting the Point and climbing on the old WWII battlements, and being reminded of Anthony Bourdain's similar visit in A Cook's Tour
  • the guided night walk and daytime beach stroll in Barcelona
  • the Picasso Museum
  • Gaudi's Familia Sagrada
  • attending the FC Barcelona v. Atletico Madrid match at Camp Nou – front row center seat!
  • couchsurfing with Yair and drinking some beers with his friends at tapas bars
  • Retiro Park, the Prado Museum, and the Royal Palace

Dorm room at Balmer's in Interlaken

Lowlights –

  • losing my wallet and ATM card to a pickpocket in Barcelona

Salmon tapa in Barcelona

Eating –

  • Belgium – waffles, french fries with various sauces, chocolates, strong Trappist (monks') beer
  • Holland – Gela's home cooking, hot chocolate
  • France – tons of bread and cheese, croissants, pastries, Bordeaux wines, champagne, duck, foie gras, meat fondue, Arcachon oysters, coffee
  • Switzerland – chocolates, cheese fondue, risotto with red wine and a side of bone marrow
  • Spain – tapas, churros

My Geneva couchsurfing hosts

# of Nights Couchsurfing –

18 – both by visiting friends and using the website

Street performers in Madrid

Average Cost Per Day –


Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

HR Mailing Lists

Tuesday 1st of February 2011

nice photographs


Friday 30th of April 2010

nice dish... nice photographs....


Friday 30th of April 2010

nice dish... nice photographs....


Saturday 19th of December 2009

Red Lobster is one of my favorite restaurants, although I haven't eaten there in a long time. However, a friend of mine recently gave me a coupon and told me that the restaurant has just added 3 new Mediterranean flavored dishes to their already mouthwatering menu.

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