For someone who has never traveled abroad, thinking about traveling to Europe was a little overwhelming (read scary). Honest to God, I never knew I would actually go for this Eurotrip. First off, I didn’t think my dad would agree (I come from a very strict family) and second, I applied for the Schengen Visa only a month in advance, so there was a high possibility that either I would not get a visa or I will simply get it too late.
Other than the fact that I screamed for a minute straight when I finally got the Visa, I began shopping and packing quite late. And as someone who loves making lists for everything, this was quite terrifying. Thankfully, I did not have a mental breakdown and packing went smoothly. I tried not to think about the places we were seeing as I just wanted to experience it without any unrealistic “Instagrammable” expectations. But, even without those expectations – boy, was this Eurotrip DAZZLING!
My first Eurotrip covered 4 countries in total: France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. While the entire trip, in general, was breathtaking, it was one hectic trip to plan. Thankfully, planning was done by my sister and I was just told to meet her in Paris. For someone who appreciates the planning and organizing things, let me tell you it was brilliant!
DAY 1: PARIIIIIIII
The city of love and its tour began with a heavy breakfast – Croque monsieur, Banana Crepes, omelettes, and fresh coffee.
Let me just clarify, we walked for almost 4 hours this day. So prepare yourself to walk and take public transport because firstly its much more convenient then taking a cab, and secondly, it’s obviously cheaper.
We walked along the Seine River, then took a stroll in Jardin des Tuileries. This public garden located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde has graveled alleyways that have been a chic promenade ever since they opened to the public in the 16th century. We next visited the world-famous Champs Des Elysees. This avenue needs no introduction, visited each day by nearly 300,000 people, who come either to admire its majestic monuments or enjoy a shopping spree, it has always something going on here.
After a horrible ice cream experience that contained a mixture of PISTACHIO and chocolate (ugh), we went for our Night river cruise, which let me tell you: is worth every dime. We picked the right time because our tour began with a twinkling Eiffel tour and ended with the same. The energy of this one-hour long tour was insane. There was a lot of collective ‘oohhhs’ and ‘aahhhs’, when different historic monuments were shown, while loud cheering was involved every time we crossed a bridge (there were many).
Day 2: The LOUVRE
We decided to learn from our mistakes and did not splurge on our second-day breakfast. We gobbled the yummiest coffee cake, pancakes, and lattes at a cafe nearby. Then we went to see the Louvre. Now, since we didn’t buy the tickets in advance, we had to almost stand for 2 hours to just get in and BUY TICKETS. Another mistake, I made (thinking I will be ART in the largest art museum in the world) was wearing boots that day. I had begun crying in the queue itself and like a poor child, I wasn’t even aware of what this looonngg day holds for me. For the one time that I have been there, it made me realize that you really need AN ENTIRE DAY for this museum. It’s the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument –for a reason.
The only issue I had was that the museum itself is very confusing. You really need to find the specific pieces you are looking for, through each section of the museum. The museum is GRAND and beautiful (I think I am downplaying it by just calling in that, but let’s just call it beautiful till I find that perfect word).
After that Boulevard du Montparnasse was our destination: We took a metro. Basically my sister wanted to visit this café, restaurant and brewery which had become one of the most important places in the American intelligentsia: Ernest Hemingway, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry Miller: La Closerie des Lilas. The Cafe has a rich history related to literature. My sister went in while I was crying on the bench outside due to foot pain. When she asked the steward inside if this is the same café that hosted Ernest Hemingway, he called her inside and actually showed her the small brass plates attached to the tables, engraved with Hemmingway’s name. Some of the café’s most famous regulars are Charles Baudelaire, Emile Zola, Théophile Gautier, and Honoré de Balzac. They have their names engraved as well. While it might not be that exciting to me, but for my sister, it was pretty exhilarating (I am not even kidding, she was almost screaming when she came out of the café).
We took the metro again to go to Saint Michel where we shopped for some souvenirs and visited the bookstore: Shakespeare and Company. We entered this iconic Parisian bookstore that took us back in time with its weather-beaten bookstalls, its green-and-yellow façade, and its hand-hewn, rustic-looking signage.
Day 3: Paris to Zurich and Lucerne
Early morning we left for our train to Zurich which took almost 4-5 hours. From Zurich, we had another train to Lucerne but we just took a quick break before and stuffed our faces with some fries. Our journey to Lucerne via train was one of the most beautiful train rides I have ever had. We were traveling along the Zurich Lake, so from the windows, the views were simply spectacular.
We reached Lucerne by 1.30 pm and we started to look for the bus to reach our Airbnb. After getting on it, we took about five more minutes to reach our Airbnb which was perfect in every way possible. Our host had thought of everything and has stocked this little studio of hers with everything we would need. (Mind you, with an instruction manual as well). While others went to get some groceries, I collapsed due to exhaustion.
Day 4: Lucerne
We decided to have a relaxed morning and just went around exploring the city in the afternoon. So we took the bus and did what we wanted to do the moment we got here. Yes, we took a ride on the Ferris wheel. While it wasn’t your everyday Ram Leela maidan Ferris wheel, it sure gave us some amazing views of the city. This little town itself is just gorgeous: with its lake right in the middle of the alps, it’s quite a view –
Our next stop was the old town and the old bridge: Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke Bridge), this bridge is a charming little beauty in this town.
Day 5: The Golden Triangle Round Trip to Mount Pilatus
This was a thrilling experience, to say the least. The Golden Triangle takes you first on a boat ride, and then to the 48-degree funicular. The half-day or whole-day excursion that includes a boat trip on Lake Lucerne and then, a ride up the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the peak (altitude 2,132 meters or 7,000 feet)- is something that should not be missed. This ninety-minute boat ride was from central Lucerne to Alpnachstad. From Alpnachstad, we made our way to Pilatus Bahn.
This thirty-minute journey to the Swiss alpine allowed us to soak our beautiful mountain surroundings. Instead of words, I think I would just show pictures. So, here they are:
Coming back we first took an Aerial Cableway ride back to Kriens and from here we took the bus back to Lucerne. Btw, this was our view during our gondola ride:
Day 6: Zurich
We reached our hotel in the afternoon and honestly just had to spend the night so we decided to just take a stroll instead of going to specific places. We took the tram to the old town, shopped for souvenirs and walked back to the hotel after grabbing our dinner.
Day 7: Salzburg
While this was the toughest leg for us, as we had to change modes of transportation while carrying our 15-20 kgs of luggage (each), it was the easiest one. We first took a train from Zurich to Bludenz (Train). From here, we had to take a bus to Otztale, another train ride to Innsbruck from there and from Innsbruck to Salzburg.
Half of the tension was drained away when we saw that, this route was COMMON. So we weren’t the only ones changing transportation. And the second half was washed off by the kind officials who were helping out everyone with catching the right bus or the right train from the right platform. Don’t know what KJo would’ve done because no way in hell can Simran lose her train here.
We loved the Altstadt (old town). This district in Salzburg, Austria is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. Situated on the left and right banks of the Salzach river, it corresponds with the historic city center. We also took a walk along the Getreidegasse (Grain Lane) which is a busy shopping street in the old town and running parallel to the Salzach river, today is a part of a large pedestrian zone in the Old Town quarter.
At the Makartsteg bridge in Salzburg ( also known as the Love Lock Bridge), we saw these cute love padlocks that were locked at the railing of the bridge. The romantic in me kept reading the sweet messages on these love locks (along with the dates) which symbolized their unbreakable and eternal love. Quite cheesy but cute. Don’t worry, ya girl was photobombed by a COUPLE on the bridge. 🙂
We went to see the Mirabell Gardens next and had our dinner at one Italian Place (the pizza was quite yum).
Day 8: Leaving for Prague
This was our longest leg during this Eurotrip. The bus ride took five hours to reach Prague.
As we were quite tired after our journey, we just went to take a walk around Wenceslas Square, Legions Bridge with Střelecký Island. We took the tram back to our place.
Day 9: Prague
As the Czech capital is a breathtaking mix of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, we decided to take a walking tour to Prague’s old town. This two and a half-hour free walking tour takes you through the narrow and picturesque streets of the historical center of Prague.
The sights that we covered were: Republic Square ( with an introduction to the Old Town), Celetna (the Cubist House of the Black Madonna), Mala Stupartska (Basilica of St James), Ungelt (Renaissance Ungelt Yard), Tyn Church (Church of Our Lady Before Tyn), Old Town Square (Architecture of Prague’s most famous square with the Old Town Hall & Astronomical Clock), the Jewish Quarter (Introduction to the Jewish Quarter with the Old-New Synagogue and more), Rudolfinum (Seat of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra), and the Charles Bridge which was our final stop.
We explored this stone Gothic bridge on our own. Connecting the Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana), Charles Bridge is also popular with Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors whose stands line both sides of the bridge year-round. If you come on the bridge during sunset, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully lit Prague Castle against the evening sky.
Also Read: 18 Of The Best Things To Do In Prague
Day 10: Old Town, Prague (and the end of our Eurotrip)
We decided to see the Prague castle on own this day. Built-in the 9th century, the Prague castle is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest castle complex in the world. It covers an impressive 70,000 square meters (17 acres) where the castle complex comprises of the gothic St Vitus Cathedral, a number of defence towers, a few museums and churches, the presidential palace and Golden Lane, a 16th-century street that once housed the royal goldsmiths.
We bought Circuit B tickets for the castle that allowed us to see St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower. While this grand complex offers exquisite sights, I would suggest it’s better to book a guided tour. Although a bit expensive, it’s better to get that instead of roaming around listlessly around the complex, which is basically what we did.
So, this was my itinerary of my first ever Eurotrip! How did you plan yours? Was it all you could ever dream of? Tell us in the comments below!