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Munich

Recommended days: 3 days

I think Munich is really a place dependent on weather, actually, which city in Europe isn’t dependent on weather?

But our sole purpose of visiting Munich was to go to Füssen, to visit the Neuschwastein castle, as everybody else, so good weather was absolutely essential for a stunning view!

Initially, we wanted to go on Tuesday, but the weather forecast was bad (it ended up snowing really heavily), so we postponed it to the next day, where we were super lucky because we got the sun AND snow-capped trees from the day before, so lucky us!!

I think Munich is a really picturesque city, albeit expensive. If you were to ask me to choose between Berlin and Munich, I’ll choose Berlin because it seems to be still a little rough around the edges, and has an unpolished charm to it.

Having said that, I really like Marienplatz, the main square because it’s always hustling and bustling, and all the main city attractions are centred around that area!

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Copenhagen, Exchange

Final days in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is really such a wonderful place, I am wont to leave. But at least I feel that every single day I spend here has been fulfilling and meaningful, spending it exploring this beautiful city and hanging out with friends. When you ask someone on exchange what their biggest regret is, it is probably not spending enough time in their home city, or travelling too fast, too much at a fast pace.

I have probably explored more of Copenhagen this past few days, than I have been in the past few months – and I am not proud to admit that at all. I feel like Copenhagen is a city that you can’t just be a tourist in, you have to live in it, and live through it to really feel the city.

Finally managed to try out Grød (apparently, the most popular breakfast place in Copenhagen, but I didn’t really like it because I don’t fancy oats), ate at the Saturday food market at Kødbyen, checked out the Black Diamond, visited the Botanical Gardens, climbed up the Church of our Saviour Mary, explored Jægersbrogade (a hipster neighbourhood), paid the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek a visit and had many potluck dinners. I know I’m so going to miss this place when I leave 😦 #ineverwannaleave

Thankful that Yuxian came to visit, if not I might be too lazy to even head out and explore that much of Copenhagen!

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On my Copenhagen To-Do list remains the Tivoli Gardens, the Design Museum, Rosenburg Castle, Frederiksborg Castle, modern architecture around Copenhagen, Louisiana Museum, the Royal Danish Opera House, the harbour boat as well as the Harbour baths! Omg so many things to see, and so little time! 😦

And Distortion tomorrow!! Insanely excited 😉

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Kiruna

Chasing the Aurora Borealis

After a futile attempt to catch the Northern Lights in Iceland, I decided to head over to Lapland in Sweden to get a glimpse of the auroras! And boy, was I rewarded with the prettiest of lights! I’m so glad I got lucky this time, seeing it on my 2nd and 3rd night, and hopefully on my final night today too!

On the 2nd night, it was amazing because we decided to head out to the middle of the frozen lake to stargaze with our reindeer hide. We didn’t think the auroras would appear so quickly because the forecast said that it would appear at like 10 or 11 pm. However, we actually saw the aurora form, from a mere lining of green to a sky awash with colors. We probably sat on the lake for a good two hours, just admiring and taking in the beauty of the aurora. At first we thought we were hallucinating (wanting to see it so much that maybe our eyes were playing tricks on us), but then we all started seeing the same thing at the same spot, and we knew that we struck gold and started screaming HAHA.

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The whole sky was illuminated with the lights, and stretched across the entire horizon of the sky. It was constantly moving, taking on different shapes and I simply felt so, so lucky to be able to see it, within the comfort of our campsite. There we were, just lying down on the ice, gazing up at the sky. The feeling’s indescribable.

On the 3rd night, we saw it at the Abisko National Park, where the scenery was different because we had trees as the backdrop for our pictures. Even though we had a limited time at the park, we managed to take really good pictures! When we were on the way back, the northern lights were so strong, we could literally see them dancing, alternating between green and red. It must have been like a strength of 5 or something.

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This trip has been super fulfilling for me because I finally managed to tick the northern lights off my #bucketlist! And the weather in Kiruna/Sweden has been really beautiful as well. Clear skies and sunlight, what more could I ask for.

Tonight i’m heading up to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko so I really hope I get to see a beautiful light display! They say the third time’s the charm isn’t it 😉

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Malmö

Day Trip to Malmo

Studying in Copenhagen, taking a day trip to Malmo was just one of those things that you had to do. Why? Not that it was a particularly exciting or vibrant city, but because it’s a mere 30 minutes train ride away from Copenhagen! So early in the morning at 9am, we boarded the train from the Central Station and headed off to Malmo! All for a mere 142 kr as well! ($30 SGD)

We managed to cover nearly all of the main attractions in Malmo! Get ready for a barrage of photos!!

My tips for travelling to Malmo would be to bring a good windbreaker along, the winds were mighty strong and made walking pretty tough! And, take a bus to Turning Torso because it is pretty far out from the main city.

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St Peter’s Church

Super pretty interiors!

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Möllevångstorget

Lunch at a neighbourhood called Mollan. The most popular eating place is near the Central Station, at Lilla Torg, but students being students on a shoestring budget, we headed to the cheaper neighbourhood instead! It kind of reminded me of Norrebrø over here, with many immigrants, and having a good mix of ethnic restaurants, turkish, greek, middle eastern, chinese. We opted for a Swedish option but the food was so-so.

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Malmö Konsthall

A free museum, with a really artsy and contemporary vibe!

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Western Harbour, right beside the Turning Torso

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Stapelbäddsparken (A skateboard park right beside the Turning Torso)

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Turning Torso

This is the landmark of Malmo and what Malmo is most commonly associated with! 190 stories high, quite a sight to behold indeed.

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Lilla Torg

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Chocolate Factory

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The City Library

Ranked as one of the 1001 libraries to visit before you die, it is really a huge library, filled with Scandinavian design, very clean, white and simple.

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Malmöhus Castle

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the castle, the musesum and castle was already closed! We also didn’t have the time to check out Moderna Museet, which is a modern art museum that seemed really interesting!

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France, Paris

Eating my way through Paree

Paris was a food mecca. My initial plan was to crash-diet for 1 week before Tomorrowland, in a feeble attempt to at least get back into shape. But famous restaurants and good food beckoned, so the diet never happened. Instead of sightseeing, I felt that my trip in Paris was more of a eating my way through Paris trip, which I’m not complaining about.

My first stop was Restaurant Chartier, which was superb quality for the price. I first tried escargots in Morocco but didn’t like it. Over here though, it was SO good, and filled with pesto sauce and tasted sublime with bread. The duck confit with potatoes were really good as well, crispy and juicy! And it only amounted to 16.40 euros! Really crowded and popular place, even amongst locals.

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Also, the stereotype that the French are unfriendly people is not true at all! I expected everyone to be hostile, but everyone I met was really nice. The waiters were jovial, friendly and helpful, and there was a lovely old couple beside me at Chartier, who tried their best to talk to me, even though it was hard with the language barrier.

For dinner, I ate at le Relais de l’Entrecote, where there is no menu. It is an interesting concept because there is only 1 dish, which is steak and frites, and you can either choose to have it raw, medium or well-done. No option for medium-rare over here. They refill your plate once, so you get 2 servings of steak and frites, as well as a salad. This comes up to 26.40 euros, so a bit pricey but it was very good as well. Long queues over here, so it is advised to go before it opens!

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The next day I had L’as du Falafel for lunch, which has both a sit-down area and a takeaway counter. A really popular option for vegans and vegetarians. However, the portion was really big and I couldn’t finish it! Value-for-money at 6 euros. There was also a L’éclair de genie outlet nearby, but I totally regret not buying it because I was too full and I never got the chance to go back to try it 😦

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For a snack, I went to Odette, which has seen a surge in popularity due to it’s cream puffs or pate a choux in french which were sooo delicious and cute-looking. Recommended flavors online were the caramel, praline and green tea. I tried the praline one and it was really good! 1.90 euros per piece.

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The supposedly best crêpe is at Au P’tit Grec, where there are both savory and sweet crêpes. I wish I could have tried both, but obviously I couldn’t finish both. I tried the savory crêpe, with eggs, ham and cheese and it was delicious. As I walked along the streets, you could really see everyone looking enviously at it lol. For 5 euros, the portions are huge, and I could only manage to finish three-quarters of it!

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For the best icecream, go to Berthillion. I personally felt that their ice-cream flavors were better than their sorbet flavors though. I had vanilla and passionfruit, and you could really taste the quality in the vanilla icecream but the passionfruit sorbet was just average.

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For my final meal in Paris, I went to Café Constant. As both the famous Les Cocottes and Café Constant were in the same street- Rue Saint Dominique, and in fact a few shops away from each other, I was torn between where to go for lunch. But I decided to go to Café Constant because they had a set lunch menu that was pretty worth it. For 16 euros, I got an entrée and a main course, but you could also choose to get a main course and a dessert. And for 23 euros, you could have all 3! The restaurant was filled with Asians though, like practically the entire floor was Korean lol. I also decided to indulge in dessert, since it was my last meal in Paris, and I had profiteroles with hot chocolate, and it was SO good. The dark chocolate was very rich, but not too sweet.

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Would highly recommend all these places in Paris! It’s hard to have a bad meal here, as long as you do your wee bit of research. Bon Appetit!

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Budapest, Hungary

Budapest

Budapest falls under the category of “It’s so beautiful I can’t even” cities. It’s often named as one of the prettiest cities in Europe and that accolade is not undeserved. As you walk along the Danube river, there’ll just be so many WOW moments because the scenery is just breathtaking, both on the Buda and the Pest side. I don’t think anyone could ever get tired of the view! I also think it’s one of the most romantic places one can take a date too.

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Salisbury, United Kingdom

Day trip to Salisbury//Stonehenge

4/5

I thought to myself, when in the UK, I have to visit Stonehenge! So I did. Even if it’s a tourist attraction, it’s still a must-do. Travelling from Guildford however, was pretty troublesome because I had to change trains twice, once at Woking and once at Basingford.

And because I didn’t click the details of the trains, I was really surprised when I first found out that I had to switch trains! Thankfully though, I didn’t get lost, phew!

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I took the Stonehenge tour bus, because it seemed like the easiest way to get there. My ticket was 27 pounds, and this included admission into Stonehenge (which is already 14 pounds for admission – student price). The bus ticket alone was 14 pounds, thus I thought that it was more worthwhile to get the bus + Stonehenge ticket, and this included the admission to Old Sarum as well! The Old Sarum mainly consists of ruins from the Roman and Iron Ages and admission is 3.50 pounds if I’m not wrong.

I think that on the website it’s not stated clearly enough that the 27 pounds includes admission into Stonehenge (it says admission into the visitor center) and my first reaction was like what? Only the visitor center? Does that mean that I have to buy my tickets there again? But thankfully, my fears were unfounded.

If you’re not on the tour, you’ll have to buy timed tickets (online preferably) and this means that you can only enter at certain timings. However, if you were to take the bus, you can enter anytime, so your schedule is more flexible! A downside is that the bus only comes every hour in springtime; so if you miss one bus, you’ll have to wait another hour for it, so plan carefully!

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I spent about 2.5 hours in Stonehenge, where you can choose to take the free shuttle bus to the stone circle or walk there (20 minutes walk?) I took the bus there and chose to walk back. There was a free audio guide, which was pretty detailed and informative as well as a museum explaining the mythical Stonehenge. I especially liked the “Wish you were here” exhibition where they showcased how Stonehenge has been constantly referenced in our pop culture.

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I met Swathi from India on the bus and we did Stonehenge together! She was taking advantage of the bank holiday to check out Stonehenge and she was telling me about India, its’ language and its’ foods. Not to forget the dancing in Bollywood movies ha ha ha. I think that’s the perks of solo travel, you get to meet new people and stuff!

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Because I missed the 2.43 pm bus at Stonehenge, I had to wait for the 3.43 pm bus and this completely messed up my schedule so I had to hurry along. I couldn’t even get to see Old Sarum properly because I wanted to see Salisbury Cathedral and the Magna Carta before it closed! There was a siege at Old Sarum, which seemed interesting but I didn’t get to hang around much 😦

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And then I did the #yolotravel thing that people always talked about and hitchhiked! The church was going to close at 5, and the bus was only going to come at 5, so there was no way I was gonna make it so I took a leap of faith and randomly asked this elderly man who seemed to be heading to the carpark and I scored on the first try!! Yay!!!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

He dropped me off at the edge of the city, and from there it wasn’t too far a walk to the Cathedral and I managed to stop by the Parish church of St Peters and St Edmund, famous for its’ medieval doom painting before going to the cathedral!

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There’s currently a Magna Carta exhibition where it’s celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. There are only 4 original copies in the world, and the one at Salisbury Cathedral is the most well preserved one where all the words and the parchment are still intact!

Before researching, I thought that Magna Carta was some Christian thing, because it sounded very you know Jay Z and Kanye West, like it was what they would name their songs or albums. But the Magna Carta is actually a constitutional document, which states that everyone is subject to the law, including the king, and no one is above the law. Thus, it is the foundation of democracy in England and is an international symbol of liberty today. I think travelling definitely broadens my general knowledge.

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At first I thought I needed a timed entry ticket to enter, but the assistant told me that that was only for busy periods, and usually you can just walk in. And the church/exhibition closes at 5.30pm not 5pm! So I kind of rushed for nothing, but still, hitchhiking is a cool story to bring home.

I didn’t get to walk around The Close because by the time I got out, it started raining already, but I think 1 full day would be enough for a leisurely stroll around Salisbury//Stonehenge.

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