Michael on Tour

Below is a copy of my blog article for Maastricht University International Relations Office, the original blog can be seen on the this link

Hey! So month two in Maastricht was filled with lots of travel and very little sleep!

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Hungarian Parliament Building

We had a week off for Carnival – which is a festival where everyone dresses up in whacky costumes and heads down to the main square where there is a parade amongst other events. I travelled to Budapest for 4 days during the time off. It was a place I never thought about travelling to but I’m really glad I went. It is a beautiful city and gave me a chance to see a part of Eastern Europe – somewhere I’d never been before.

It was only till I booked my flights that I actually found out that Buda and Pest are two separate places either side of the River Danube (duuhhh). So I was feeling a little bit like an ignorant tourist by the time arrived, but thankfully I was able to learn loads about the history of Hungary and the city when we went on a couple of walking tours on the first day. It was really interesting to hear about their history with communism and the efforts towards true democracy in the country. Also, did you know that Hungarians invented the likes of the electric motor, nuclear reactor, digital computer and of course not to forget the Rubik’s Cube.

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Amazing view over the River Danube and the city

The next day I traveled to a small town outside of the city called Szentendre. It only takes around 30minutes on the train to get there and it was a really nice change to the hustle and bustle of the city. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed lunch by the river and ice-cream (highlight of my trip) I would definitely recommend the town if you are ever in Budapest. It only cost about 3 Euros to get there and back so it was really cheap and it gives you a chance to see another side of Hungary.

The following day I was treated to some stunning views over Budapest after walking up to the top of Gellert Hill, which overlooks both sides of the city and the River Danube.It was a really clear day and the breathtaking views were probably the best I’ve ever seen.

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St. Michael’s Church in Vienna

I then went on a day trip to Vienna on my last day. It took around 2 and a half hours on the train so we decided to explore the city rather than spending time in the museums and galleries which were also quite expensive. If I had to describe the city up in one word I would say “grand.”

I can’t recall seeing one ugly building, every one of them seemed beautifully made and I frequently had to remind myself to watch where I was going as I was too busy admiring the buildings. We also stopped in one of the Vienna cafes and I enjoyed Apple Strudel and some coffee which rounded off a really nice trip.

I was also lucky enough to go to Paris last weekend on a trip organised by the ESN Group here at Maastricht. We left at about 4.30am on the Saturday for a 5-6hour bus journey so once again I was a bit sleepy by the time we were walking through the Palace of Versailles. After Versailles, we headed to Sacre Coeur – where there were wonderful views over Paris as the sun set. At night we saw Le Tour Eiffel and went on a boat trip/party along the River Seine, so by the end of the night/morning I was suitably tired, which seems to be a common theme as you probably have noticed.

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The view from Sacre Coeur

The weather on the Sunday was perfect; around 20degrees and not a cloud in sight (I even got a little burnt). We started the day by having a quick look around Le Louvre and I saw Mona Lisa. I actually thought that the picture opposite was more impressive (am I allowed to say that??). We then spent time relaxing in the gardens outside before heading to Le Tour Eiffel again to enjoy a baguette under the Tower!

ImageWe mostly walked and used the metro to get around Paris and it was quite easy to get the hang of. The public transport was also free all weekend due to pollution which was lucky. After lunch we passed more sights on our way to see Notre Dame, before enjoying dinner in the ‘Latin district’ of Paris which had a really good atmosphere and buzz about the place. I had a savoury crepe and then followed that up with a nutella and banana crepe which was so good (I think they are much better than waffles, don’t tell the Dutch!)

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Michael ft. Eiffel Tower

We left that night for Maastricht and arrived back at about 4am so I was absolutely ‘knackered’ the next day, and the whole week to be honest! I can’t believe I have exams in just two weeks; I am used to having exams in May so to have exams in the middle of the second semester is a bit of a shock to the system, so there will be no travelling in the next couple of weeks 😦

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“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

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Please feel free to ask me any questions or comment below!

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