A few years back I had the opportunity to visit some friends in Europe,
and connecting the dots between Greece, France, Spain, and the UK made
for a great Europe vacation. I liked the way I could mix up my days —
road-tripping and pub-hopping with friends, and visiting former palaces
or world-renowned museums.
I thought getting around was about as effortless as possible thanks to discount airlines
and efficient train systems. Some lines in the countryside were poky, but
passing those overnight in a sleeper car made the ride more comfortable.
For me, the history of Athens is
almost unmatched. It’s remarkable to climb to the ancient Acropolis and wander around the
Parthenon and other classical structures that are some 2,500 years old.
I met up with my friend and former Orbitz colleague Yanni, who showed
me some hip restaurants and bars, and an art space showing movies
I met my friend Eric in Cambridge next. The colleges in
Cambridge have an incredibly long and rich academic history, and the
campuses and the town itself are charming and iconic. We spent a
weekend in London, an short train ride away, for a little more
excitement and a few more pints.
Two weeks in Spain came next, beginning with bustling Madrid. Its dense historical center, packed with landmarks and restaurants, is lively day or night. Toledo,
an ancient regional capital an hour away from Madrid, was my favorite
spot in central Spain. It’s a historical time capsule, with a giant
cathedral and high stone bridges.
Barcelona was my favorite city in Spain -– large but unintimidating, with a comfortable pace, great public transportation and excellent cuisine. I ate tapas, sometimes way too many, at small taverns and enjoyed music at night in the oldest quarter, the Barri Gotic. I wanted to see some of the architecture of Antonio Gaudi, including the Sagrada Familia basilica, Casa Mila and Parc Güell.
Bordeaux was next, en route to Paris to visit my friend Nadine. She calls Bordeaux a "little Paris" –- with its narrow streets, sidewalk cafes and classical French architecture. Bus excursions for tours of wineries in nearby Saint-Emilion are popular. I rented a bicycle to see more of the countryside.
In Paris, we dined and hung out in fun, informal places around Montmartre, Pigalle and the Marais. I like staying in different areas each time I go back, and from my experience, Montmartre is
charming but noisy, the Sorbonne is central but a little more mellow,
and the area around the Oberkampf metro is great for hip, non-touristy
places to eat, drink, and hear music. I think Paris has one of the best subway systems in the world, and the regional RER trains made getting to the airport very easy.
Here are a few photos:
Related Orbitz resources:
- Europe vacations
- Athens vacations
- Barcelona vacations
- London vacations
- Madrid vacations
- Paris vacations
Andrew Day, Associate Creative Director at Orbitz, lives by the motto "Go
places and eat things." He has traveled extensively and is planning a six-week
backpacking trip around India this winter.