My final flight back to the United States flew out of Heathrow Airport in London. Despite having spent a semester studying here, there were still a few things I knew I absolutely had to see. I gave myself a final four days in London before I had to fly home, and in this time I had the most lovely sights and experiences, topping everything from my semester. If you’re interested in picture-perfect sights and instagram-worthy settings, here are my must do’s.
1. Notting Hill
This neighborhood of London, home to Portobello Market, is worthy of being famous for much more than the movie. Behind the tube station “Notting Hill Gate,” as well as further into the neighborhood towards Portobello Market, the houses are painted in gorgeous pastel hues, with vibrant doors as centerpieces. This is my absolute favorite neighborhood in London for simply walking around.
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!