The holidays are always packed with people leaving for vacation at the office, so I decided to use my time before everyone started leaving to balance things out. After a few relaxing days celebrating Thanksgiving, I caught a red-eye flight from Boston to London, arriving the next morning. While not technically a “backpacking” trip, it certainly felt like it, since I was flying by myself, hopping from country to country, and meeting friends in different places. Other days continued in separate posts!
LONDON: Day 1
8 AM Well, the trip got off to a VERY ANNOYING start. After a relatively smooth flight, I prepared to take the airport train into the city to meet my friend who was hosting me for the night – and then promptly got pickpocketed as soon as I boarded the train. Losing the phone was fine, but difficult as I no longer had a way of navigating my way around. Thankfully I had memorized my friend’s address and somehow made my way over to her apartment, and after some freshening up we started our day by meeting up other friends for afternoon tea.
My day in London was mostly just to catch up with expat friends rather than sightseeing, but we ended up visiting most of the iconic sights anyway – Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower of London, riding the double-decker buses, taking photos near the smelly telephone booths, etc. The tube is pretty expensive, but relatively easy to navigate, and when we wanted to save a bit of money we just took the bus instead.
The evening was spent at the Alchemist meeting up with even more friends, and then a relatively early night to my friend’s apartment for some wine, cheese, and Gilmore Girls bonding (priorities!)
CAMBRIDGE: Day 2
Although I originally wanted to go to the Peak District or Edinburgh while I was in the UK, we took the safe route and did a much shorter day trip instead to Cambridge. A charming, but small, city with a great Christmas market, punting, and beautiful architecture. And the train was from King’s Cross (yes, where platform 9 ¾ is currently housed).
COPENHAGEN: Day 7
The last leg of the trip was a long layover in Copenhagen. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t there for that long, but I wasn’t too impressed besides the colorful houses and bicycles everywhere. Everything was super clean (but also expensive), but I was very happy to fly home to NYC after a week of hopping to multiple cities!
Flights between countries were extremely cheap (as are most European flights – I paid the extra to check my bag in for Ryanair, but I could’ve gotten away with not…), and I stayed in pretty cheap AirBnbs (or crashed with friends). Most admission prices to museums and castles had student discount prices, and I didn’t skimp out too much on food. I estimate my entire trip was around $500 (got flights reimbursed). Unfortunately, after having lost my phone, my European trip expenses more than doubled as I now have to buy a new iPhone! L But, this is just to show you that you can totally do a budget-friendly Western European trip!