This gloomy, wet, January weather has got me reminiscing about travels gone by, in particularly the 3 months my partner and I spent travelling Europe after we finished university. I decided I would put this day dreaming to good use and write a few posts about our experiences.
We started planning our trip during our second year as a motivation during the increased workload of the final year. We both worked the holidays at a local farm shop and pick your own. In between weighing baskets of fruit and pitting gooseberries I was busy reading my Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, making lists upon lists of places to visit, where to stay and what to take with us.
We toyed initially with the idea of buying a van and converting it into a camper van, however this proved very expensive and distracting to two third year students! We finally realised the cheapest way to travel was by car and to camp. Admittedly, we are more “glampers” than campers so the car was stuffed full of everything we could possibly need.
Two weeks after our graduation ceremonies we set off in our Renault Megane, packed to the brim with everything off my list and feeling ridiculously excited.
We travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and spent the first 3 nights at the lovely Huttopia near Versailles.
We spent the next few days catching the train into Paris from the nearby station. Paris is one of my favourite cities and we have visited a few times, I never tire of it. My favourite part of Paris is the Notre Dame cathedral. It’s situated so beautifully on an embankment in the Seine. The building is covered in ornate carvings and to stand and take in its height does make you feel quite small and insignificant. We also spent some time exploring the Tuileries Gardens that surround the Louvre – which we visited during our previous stay.
One place that we have returned each time we have been to Paris is the Maison de Gyros – unashamed to say the BEST kebabs we have ever eaten, so much so we’ve been 4 times on various visits, definitely check it out if you’re in the area.
For our last day in Paris we visited the Palace of Versailles; a short walk from the site, down a beautiful tree lined avenue. Upon arriving at the gates I realised we had completely underestimated the scale of the place and should have got up earlier! It really is a grand palace of a huge scale – occupying 70,000 square metres of land!
We spent hours walking the gardens, eating sorbet on the lawns and exploring Marie Antoinette’s Le Hameau – a small hamlet within the grounds built by her architect Richard Mique.
The opulence of the palace really is something you have to see to believe. Beautiful frescos cover the walls, gold gilding everywhere you look, it really is a spectacle.
The busiest area of the palace was quite obviously the Hall of Mirrors. Undeniably it is stunning, if not ostentatious. We tried to get the best photo we could but the place was packed with tourists – the mirrors made it seem even busier than it probably was.
The next morning, we packed the boot of the car (with much difficulty!) and set off again for our next stop – Barcelona.
Live, learn, love