30 Countries By 30: My Month Long Journey Through Europe (Week 1 Recap)
In my first week, I went to three countries: England, France, Belgium. Here are my highlights.
My second week’s countries are Netherlands, Germany, and Czech Republic.
I came to London with a dollar and a dream to party like they do across the pond. But if I’m honest, it was probably the British people I encountered in Colombia that led me to London. It was something about their witty honesty that attracted me. I had thought about visiting London before and perhaps I would have, but it was a desire to know more about these curiously wonderful British people (and a relatively cheap flight) that made London my first stop.
I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon , after a delayed flight from Medellin, Colombia landed me in a hotel in Bogota, Colombia. When I got there I went straight from the airport to the underground (or tube as they refer to it). My bag was a traveller’s duffel and definitely not fit for wearing as a backpack. Nevertheless, I tried to carry it on my back to my detriment. So my first interaction was apologizing to an American who I had accidentally hit with my huge bag. After a few stops, I got off near London bridge and walked to my hostel, an popular party place that a British friend had recommended. There was live band karaoke (I love karaoke, but didn’t sing this time). I did impress a few people with my dance moves, including an American med-school student who said “I’m not usually this forward, but do you want to make out?”
Thursday was a great time as well. I went into town to see some of the major sights, did a bus tour, and of course bought more clothes to squeeze into my already overpacked bag. I also met a few people who invited me out with them, got to practice my Spanish with some traveling Spaniards, and drank Jack Daniels for the first time since college.
The weekend was a blast and is now a blur. I can say I went to one of the largest night clubs both Friday and Saturday. The line (or queue as it is called in London) was outrageous on Saturday. I waited for two hours. The only good part of that was that I made some friends and the bar closed at 5am. I booked a hotel for Saturday i (just in case ;)) but check-out was at 10am. So when I finally returned at 6am Sunday morning, I knew I would have a hard time checking out. To make up for this, I visited Pop & Rest, a bar in London where you can pay to take a nap and had the best nap of my life. So worth! Afterwards, I headed to Starbucks to order a “red-eye” and they had no idea what it was!
Paris is one of the places I was most nervous to visit because, well, I don’t speak French and everyone kept telling me that I should learn some French before going. I never got around to it. I literally knew 3 French words. But in the end, it was fine. While yes, everyone assumed I spoke French and continued to talk to me even after I looked at them dumbfounded, they were happy to speak with me in English.
At Starbucks I asked the Barista if he spoke English, and he looked at me as if I had spit on his foot, before responding “of course”. But if I read the situation right, he was more concerned that I had to ask if he spoke English rather than the fact that I didn’t speak French.
I spent maybe half an hour just staring in awe at the Eiffel Tower, wondering how something so magnificent could be made by people. Then I took a boat tour and saw the city a little more. I also bought a new backpack!
Brussels was also beautiful and had a stunning architectural style and lots of cool restaurants. While I didn’t spend much time in the city (work to do), I enjoyed a relaxing stroll that was less crowded than London or Paris. I noticed that there was many refugees or displaced people in Brussels. They didn’t bother me at all.
When it got dark, I took a second stroll that landed me in a karaoke bar. There I met a few cool people and sang some of Queen’s top hits. Afterwards, we stopped from some classic after-bar food.
By this time, I was wishing I could stay another night in Brussels but I knew that I would have an equally great time in Amsterdam!
DJ Jeffries is a self-proclaimed “intrapreneur” and entrepreneur with an obsession for challenging the status quo. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he’s been awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Fellowship, the University Innovation Fellowship (through Stanford University) and the Richard B. Fisher Fellowship (Morgan Stanley). He is the founder and editor of http://Led2win.com , an online motivation publication, the host of the Hacking Happiness podcast, and is currently an HR Innovation Analyst at Morgan Stanley.