As my return to the good ol’ US of A draws closer, I’m hoping to share a few more places with you! In this endeavor, I realized I never gave the inside scoop on Versailles. So, without further ado, the lovely royal château.
Ever seen the movie Marie Antoinette, with Kirsten Dunst? Versailles was all that and so much more. Pastel, ornate, gilded glory, pure and not-at-all-simple. As you walk through the town of Versailles to get to the Chateau, you’re first greeted by a huge, brilliant, gleaming golden gate, which lets you inside the Chateau grounds to access the ticket office. As soon as you step through the first gate, the ground changes to cobblestones and the architecture becomes ornate. After you make it through the ticket office, you can go inside the next gate (also gleaming gold) and view the vivid colors adorning Chateau du Versailles.
I spent more time in Lisbon that I did in any other city over the summer, and I absolutely fell in love. The sidewalks are paved in intricate designs, the buildings are painted in brilliant colors, the sun shines brightly and a lovely breeze is never far away.
My number one tip for traveling to Spain in July: Bring a motorized fan that sprays water! Both Madrid and Barcelona in July are the epitome of hot, and this is coming from a home grown Texan, where it regularly breaks 100 F.
Despite the heat, enjoying two of Spain’s most vivacious cities is a breeze (pun intended). With the cities separated by a short and sweet 3 hour train, it would be easy to base yourself in one and take a day trip to the other. Or, like I did, it’s great to spend at least one night in each place. For me, I found it best to start in Barcelona.
Barcelona has dozens of great discotecas, but before checking those out, there are at least three must do’s during the day.
1. Font Magica de Montjuic
This gorgeous fountain puts on a water show every evening, with lights and movement synced to blaring music. While I was there, the musical repertoire included “Libre Soy”- the Spanish version of Frozen’s “Let if Go” – and Route 66, as well as some other hit American classics. Yes, this does mark the fountain as an American tourist attraction, but it’s still a must do. The incredible colors against the blue night sky, and the excited atmosphere of people from around the world singing along to 80’s American classics is too unique to skip!
Before Prague, I was in Baden Baden. I took a train to Nuremberg, Germany, where Mom and I discovered a Dunkin’ Donuts in the train station and proceeded to rejoice at the sugary goodness there. Then, we hopped on a 3 hour bus to Prague. This was the absolute most luxurious bus ride I have ever taken; a two story bus, with a bathroom, air conditioning, high speed wifi, wide seats, a luggage compartment, and drink and food options. You could literally push a button above you, and a bus stewardess (complete with classy stewardess outfit) would magically appear, take your order, and bring you wine (or anything else you ordered, but let’s be real, you want the wine). You could then sip wine while you streamed Netflix until you arrived in Prague. Best arrival ever!
Prague is chock-full of historical landmarks, and I only had two days there; in an attempt to see it all, I signed up for a walking tour. I failed to realize it was a six hour hour walking tour, from 11am until 5pm. This included a cruise along the river and a late lunch in an original medieval restaurant. In retrospect, 6 hours is way too long to hold my attention. Luckily, the next day in Prague I had time to enjoy the city at my own pace. There are a few highlights I gathered from my trip that are definitely must sees and dos!
1. Charles Bridge (at night)
This bridge is lovely during the day, but it’s a true star at night. Lights from the town and passing boats illuminate the arches of the bridge, creating a truly lovely view.