Six Countries, One Month

Mariah Mikel is a student at Iowa State University. She is an ISA Featured Photo Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Athens, Greece.

After exploring my wonderful home country of Greece for the first few weeks, I decided to go big the following weeks and do…. six countries in one month! You are probably thinking, “Mariah, you are insane!” My wallet might think so, but honestly, it was the best experience of my life! I am only in Europe for a short 3 ½ months and the weekends are limited. This means I have to try and travel to as many countries as I can. The countries I visited are Italy, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, and Serbia. With Athens being the hub of Greece, it is easy to book flights to countries all over Europe. I loved my travels exploring these six amazing countries, but there is nothing like coming back to Greece, throwing out stuff in our rooms, and then going out to get gyros (which has now become an after trip tradition!)

1. Rome, Italy

I have been dreaming of going to Rome ever since I saw the Lizzie McGuire movie when she travels there for a school trip. Thoughts of pizza, gelato, and beautiful sites filled my head when I booked my trip. Although it was raining on my trip, it was still unforgettable. Here are a few of my favorite things I saw in Rome!

They say if you throw one coin into the Trevi Fountain you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins in you will fall in love with a Roman and if you throw in three coins you will marry that person. If my boyfriend is reading this, do not worry, I only threw in one!

The Colosseum, an iconic landmark of Rome, was just as good as everyone says! It is so amazing to stand in a place that so many interesting things took place! Protip: If you go on the first Sunday of the month entrance is free, but prepare to wait in line a bit!

Rome has many Piazzas throughout the city. A piazza is a public square usually with restaurants, shops, and fountains!

2. Dublin, Ireland

I have always wanted to go to Ireland, so early on in the semester, I booked a trip to go to Ireland…by myself! It sounded really scary, but I booked it through a tour company so I would be with a group when I got there. Not knowing anyone on the trip I was nervous, but I made amazing friends and memories! I would defiA highlight of the trip was definitely the Cliffs of Moher!

Temple Bar is a district of Dublin that is home to the majority of Dublin’s pubs. Many people go to the pubs to go get pints of the “black stuff” which is Ireland’s famous Guinness!

The Cliffs of Moher were spectacular! It’s unreal to finally see them in person. They are a bit far from Dublin (about a 3-hour bus ride) but it is so worth it for these AMAZING views! Plus, during the bus ride, you get to see Ireland’s beautiful countryside.

3. Paris, France

Mid-February we had a few days off of school so we planned a 6-day trek to across Europe! The first stop was Paris! I love Paris because all of their buildings and landmarks are so beautiful. There is also so much to see and do there that you never get bored. My favorite part of my trip to Paris was our picnic in the grass by the Eiffel tower. Baguettes, cheese, and macarons in hand we laid out a blanket and spent the afternoon eating food and admiring the tower!

We spent three hours in the Louvre! There are so many things to see in the Louvre. Of course, while we were there we had to look at the famous “Mona Lisa” painting.

The hunchback, Quasimodo, had the day off, but the bells still ring on the hour!

Any angle of the Eiffel Tower is amazing! If you have the chance, go to the top for an impeccable view of Paris!

4. Brussels, Belgium

The next stop was Brussels! Belgium is famously known for their chocolate and waffles, but did you know they have some pretty awesome places to see as well? I was wowed by everything I saw. I wish we had more than just a day there, but we fit in a lot in our short time!

The Grand Place was one of my favorite things in Brussels. It is a bustling square with many grand buildings surrounding the whole square. This picture only shows a small part of it!

Galeries Royales Saint Hubert is a shopaholic like myself’s dream! There were so many shops to stop and take a peek in. Also if you are looking for Belgian chocolate, you can buy a lot of it here!

Another Brussels staple is this little boy statue! Throughout the year they will put outfits on him to reflect the seasons. He has over 800 costumes!

5. Cologne, Germany

To end our 6-day trek, we stopped in Cologne, Germany! All three of these countries on our trip were easily accessible, and cost-effective, by train. We loved seeing the countryside getting from place to place. Getting around Cologne was a bit tricky at first due to everything being in only German, but once you get the hang of it, it is super easy!

This gothic marvel is a must see in Cologne! They started building it in 1248 and it went unfinished many years until its completion in 1840!

These colorful houses are located in Old Cologne. This part of town is right along the river and has a bunch of yummy restaurants and bars among beautiful architecture.

6. Belgrade, Serbia

My last country to visit in February is Serbia! While it is not the most common tourist destination, it was still amazing! I have two friends in Serbia and with it only being an hour and a half flight away, it was the perfect weekend getaway! My weekend was full of reminiscing with friends, eating amazing food, and seeing all the beautiful Serbia sites.

There are over 30 preserved fortresses in Serbia. Most are along the river and protected the people from attack in previous years. I loved seeing the fortresses because the views from them are wonderful. Also, the fortress itself is very cool to see!

I took a day trip to the city of Novi Sad to visit a friend who lives there. I tried a traditional dish of meat called pljeskavica and a sweet plum dessert called Knedle. Besides eating delicious food, we walked around downtown and climbed 2,000 stairs to see the whole city from the top of a fortress!

This picture does not show the whole church but it is huge! The church of Saint Sava is one of the largest Orthodox church in the world! It is located in Belgrade and is a must see!

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