A mini-Europe trip in the middle of the semester (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

By Rachel L - 7:11 PM

Hi everyone! 

I bet you didn't expect to see me here, seeing as I've been gone for ... more than a year probably?? It's been hectic and I feel like a lot has changed, including my blog layout! I've gone for a more minimalist and clean vibe to match my maturing over the years. Since we've last talked, I have been through plenty of work experience and challenges - being faced with the real world does mentally age you. I've focused a ton on my career and real life, taking a break from the digital world (´。• ω •。`) ♡

Now that I've finished my internships and am underloading my subjects for the rest of the year, I figured I have a lot of free time to work on  what I love - creating content :) I feel super excited at this prospect and hopefully can build back that blog readership. I'm planning on sharing more experiences (whether they are travel related or general life events) on this blog through writing and pictures, because 

1) I realised I don't really like vlogging because I feel super awkward when I have a camera pointed at me in public 

2) I'm better at formulating a story through written language rather than videography

So this means, instead my YouTube will be for more planned videos ... think aesthetic fashion, makeup looks, challenges, scenic travel footage. If that sounds like your jam, make sure you subscribe to my channel, Heylinni

My focus on blog-documented experiences brings us ... back to this post! I was pretty keen to share my experience overseas for 2 weeks whilst uni was STILL ON, where I toured bits of Europe and got to compete in an International Case Competition with my uni team (and friends!).

Let's take you through my experience! 

The first memorable thing about the trip was before we even got to Spain. And that was the bloody long flight it takes to get to Europe. For someone who hates flying, a 27 hour trip is not on the top of my list of favourite things to do. We had a relatively bearable 16 hour flight to Qatar (with top-quality Qatar Airways on an A380) then a 3 hour layover, and then the horrid 8 hour flight to Madrid. The problem with the flight was I started feeling sick about an hour and a half before we landed and that really scarred me for the rest of the trip - cos I kept thinking back to that traumatic 1.5 hours and worrying about the return flight home.

Madrid, Spain

Once we landed in Spain though, it was all smooth sailing - oh, except for the fact that I left my bag of chargers and cords on the plane (think laptop, phone, kindle, mouse, earphones etc.) and had to borrow from friends for the next 2 weeks. 

So Spain! First thoughts? Wow, so different from Australia - the roads were cobblestoned and the buildings were intricate...plus I feel like the whole vibe was just different to back home. Like if Spain and Australia were filters, Spain would be an A4 to Oz's S2 

We stayed in a great hostel, right in the middle of the city so everywhere was walkable. We also got surprisingly upgraded by the hostel to an apartment, so everyone had their own rooms and bathrooms - it was awesome! 

A highlight in Spain would definitely be the tapas and abundance of food. Spain is very famous for its cured meats, potatos, beer and other various share dishes... we ate so much in those first few days, we began craving vegetables.  Food is also considerably cheap -- the dishes below were part of a EUR5 tapas menu and the portion sizes are so big. 

patatas bravas were the equivalent to fries
paella is a must!
and of course, a cheeky sangria

We also spent a lot of time walking around, appreciating architecture and the culture of Madrid. A must visit is Retiro Park, which is a massive park in Madrid, with lots of things to see - plus we went bike-riding there (rented bikes from a local shop for less than EUR10 for 2 hours) and you can also rent rollerskates. Oh, and there are rowboats and street performers too! 

Another must-visit is the San Miguel Markets. This is a building of food markets, open till late. There are plenty of options there at reasonable prices and you can try a little bit of everything. I only had a salmon tostas (EUR1.5) and it was super super delicious. The salmon was nice and fatty. The guys also had chorizo paella, which was probably the most yummy thing I had a bite of all trip. 

We also went to the Royal Palace of Madrid, which was incredibly grand and ... white. It was a pretty sunny day and light just reflected everywhere, so it was hard to keep your eyes open without sunglasses (pro tip; bring sunnies). The entry fee was around EUR5 for students, so we headed in for a spot of culture. Remember to bring your student passes, because you can get lots of student discounts with them!! The palace inside was really beautiful (and highly renovated) but we weren't allowed to take any pictures.

haha my friends checking out Madrid skyline over the fence

Lisbon, Portugal

We then headed to Lisbon for 3 days. It was only a 1-hour flight from Spain and by the time we landed, it was half an hour earlier than when we took off, because of time differences. Lisbon was my favourite city of the trip! It felt so light-hearted, carefree and seaside - like I was truly on a holiday. Plus the roads were even more different than anything I've seen before. They were hilly, cobble-stoned and all the houses were in pastel colours (I have never seen anything more beautiful ... I love my pastels). 

The most notable thing we did in Lisbon was check out Castelo de St Jorge. This provided the most beautiful views of Lisbon and was a lot of fun to explore. Absolutely stunning! 

We just spent a lot of time here chilling out; taking walks, stumbling into some amazing restaurants (make sure to visit Solar 31), watching the Avengers, doing our assignments... it also helped that our Airbnb was perfect. It even had a jacuzzi!! 

And one of the last highlights of my trip I'll mention today was visiting the Lisbon Oceanarium! We thought it would be just like a regular aquarium, but it was super fancy. It's called oceanarium because it has a large central tank and then sub-tanks around it, all connected, just like the ocean. We got to see really cool fish, but nothing captured me more than the cute otters!! They are so much bigger than I expected, but they were beyond adorable when they rubbed their paws on their faces or held each other whilst swimming hehe... 

Afterwards, heading to Netherlands, I didn't get many photos because we literally stayed in our Airbnb the entire time (even though it was King's Day - we're not very rowdy people) and then trained up to Maastricht for our competition. 

But I hope you got a taste of my wonderful experience overseas (even though the photos weren't very consistent or integrated). Look out for more posts coming in the future! 

UPDATE: Btw, just posted my "35 things to do in Europe" video, so if you're interested, you can check that out here! 

xx Heylinni 
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10 replies

  1. Looks and sounds like you had a fun trip. Welcome back to blogging.


  2. Hi. The place looks amazing, food really good. Might want to plan this for my holiday.

    Would you like to follow each other? If the answer is yes, please follow me on my blog & I'll follow you back.


  3. The trip looks soooo much fun
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