A Spring Break to Remember

Written by juliabernstein March 23, 2024

Traveling to four countries in ten days may sound crazy but I made it work and loved every second of it. Where did I go? What did I do? What was my favorite place? All are great questions, and I am delighted to let you know about my amazing experience from spring break!

Stop 1: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Many friends and family back at home heard my plans to go to Amsterdam and immediately worried about me going there for a few days. However, I had a unique experience. Arriving at the airport, I had to figure out how to get myself to my hostel on transportation that I could not understand, but my previous experiences on public transportation helped me greatly on this venture. The rest of my first day in Amsterdam was spent walking around as I love seeing how every new place, especially local grocery stores. I do this because someone once told me “The best way to learn about the food of an area is to visit the local food stores.” Turning in for an early night was the right move as the next day I went on a private tour through the Van Gogh Museum which was a highlight of my trip. The tour experience along with being able to stay in the museum all day was better than I imagined. Sadly, my plan to visit the Anne Frank house did not come to fruition as I was unaware I would have needed to book my tickets weeks in advance. Having visited a few smaller museums and the Heineken experience, I enjoyed the rest of my time in Amsterdam before catching a plane to my next location.

Stop 2: Prague, Czech Republic

Having the least time here, Prague is somewhere I will visit again. Having less than 24 hours here, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I got to see and experience. The hostel was amazing, and it even provided transportation from the airport when I arrived which took a load of planning off my chest. You may ask “why go see a country for less than a day?” Well, that is something I asked myself when planning spring break especially as it meant I would be losing sleep. I arrived still hesitant about my decision to cram a day of travel in here. But the Castel and cathedral I went to were well worth the lack of sleep. I saw some of the most breathtaking stained glass in the cathedral and was blown away at the amount of precision and detail that went into creating such masterpieces. The Castel was also incredible to see in person and I even got to see the changing of the guard happen! I was shocked about how much street presence there was as I walked around. There were musicians, artists, magicians, and so many places with good food and areas to watch what was going on around me. I was a little sad when I had to leave as I know there is so much more to see. However, for less than 24 hours here my experience was well worth it.

Stop 3: Vienna, Austria

Switching up my method of travel, I arrived in Vienna by train with a sufficient lack of sleep. Having to catch a train at four in the morning I learned can take a toll. I did not mind having only a few hours of sleep and I was too excited about the days ahead. After dropping off my things at the hostel, I found an open market to walk around where I got a delicious breakfast before heading off to the butterfly house. This was one place I had been anticipating seeing while in Vienna and I was not disappointed. I love nature and have really missed being near so much nature at home. While the butterfly house was technically in the middle of a city, I did not feel like it as I explored the house. I felt very content and enjoyed taking everything in. There were thousands of plants, butterflies, a waterfall and even Koi fish. Deciding to sit down and watch the butterflies go about their day was one of the best decisions I made in the house as I had a butterfly land on my hair. I was surprised a butterfly landed on me and after enjoying being immersed in the house, it was time to leave. Spending the rest of the day exploring the city was a delight and allowed me to find a good local food spot for dinner. My second day was spent at the Natural history museum where I took way too many photos and spent too much time looking at the millions of crystals. Spending so much time in one museum may seem crazy but with one day to cover 39 exhibits the full day was needed. I learned so much at the museum and would recommend it to anyone as it was not only interesting and enjoyable but also reasonably priced and allowed me to have a fun day while saving a bit of money. My time was done here before I wanted it to end and before I knew it, I was off to my last location.

Stop 4: Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Traveling by train yet again, I arrived in Zagreb late in the evening. Taking the night early to catch up on sleep was the best thing I did for myself as the next day I had to be up at three to catch a bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Getting up at three was not fun and I still almost missed the bus to the National Park. The lesson I quickly learned was, compared to other counties I had visited, Croatia did not cater towards the English-speaking traveler. I had to google just what words to ask bus drivers to make sure I not only found the right bus but got the proper instructions on getting back later that evening. Even with my struggle, I got to the National Park around 8 am. I am so glad I went to the national park and did not let the cold deter me as I was in awe of the nature around me. From the moment I entered the park I saw so many waterfalls, lakes, and natural ponds all day. Choosing my path to hike, I set off. Words cannot describe how beautiful this national park was and I am so glad I got the chance to see it in person. This was by far my favorite day the whole break. No service on my phone, a few photos and being surrounded by the wonders of nature was the most rewarding part of this break. I hiked for over 8 hours this day and would have stayed longer but sadly, I had to catch a boat back to the entrance of the park to board the bus back to Zagreb.  Drawing my spring break to a close, I spent the final day exploring Zagreb looking at all the architecture and eating some local food before heading back to campus. I can confidently say I will be coming back to Croatia again as it takes the place as my favorite country visited over spring break!

I am so glad I enjoyed spring break and, upon returning to campus, I found myself remembering I still have responsibilities and that I am over halfway done with my semester. I cannot wait for our last travel weekend, and I am sure I will remember this experience for the rest of my life!