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EuroTrip 2017 - Week 1 (The Hague, Brussels and Bratislava)

For the last number of years, I've been itching to interrail through Europe.  

It's a bit of a time commitment though, so I've only ever been able to do bits and pieces at a time... Until now! 

My first stop? The Netherlands. 

While I have admittedly been to The Netherlands before, flying Cork to Amsterdam was really cheap. I figured it was a good a place to start my European adventure. 

Since I've been to Amsterdam twice already, I headed south, to The Hague. 

And I loved it. 

My favourite area will come as no surprise to those who know me. It was the beach. 

Even though it was really windy and a little rainy when I went, it was still incredibly charming. 

It has a beautiful shop-lined wooden promenade, sandy beaches, an aquarium, a bungee jump station, and a towering ferris wheel. What's not to love? 

I'd say the place is absolutely hopping in summer. 

Other highlights of The Hague include the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring painting by Johannes Vermeer, the trippy art works at Escher in the Palace, and The Hague Tower. 

For the tower, you pay €9 to get to the top which is an observation deck and a bar/restaurant. 

Included in the price is a drink at the bar. I'm happy to report that I got a cosmo. And it went down very well indeed. 

Onward then, by train, to Brussels, where I spent two days walking around the city and soaking up the laid back atmosphere.

I wasn't there very long, but I did really like the architecture. 

I visited the town hall, Notre Dame du Sablon, and St Michael's Cathedral. 

I'm a self-confessed church addict though, as anyone who follows me on Snapchat (username: Kellingtondawg) can attest to!

Perhaps it's a by product of having travelled the church-riddled Camino de Santiago, but I just love the way religious buildings look and feel and smell... from churches to cathedrals to monasteries to mosques to basilicas to synagogues to Sikh temples... and everything in between. 

But I digress. 

Brussels was beautiful, but it was time to move on, by plane this time, to Slovakia. 

I arrived in the capital, Bratislava, and hopped on a bus into the city centre. 

It took me forever to find my hostel, but sure at least I got my steps up! In the end it was right under my nose, but was badly signposted. 

Turns out the location (very near the Cumil statue) was perfect. 

It was a short walk from most of the central attractions, and a stones throw from the river. 

Seeing the Cumil statue was nice - he's a sewer worker peeping up at people from below the street. Apparently it's good luck to rub his head. 

Another highlight for me (church alert!) was the aptly named Blue Church. 

It was like something from a Salvador Dali painting. Very surreal and beautiful. 

Mass was taking place while I was there. I'm not sure if it was in Slovak or in Czech, but it was beautiful to listen to. 

The highlight of Bratislava, for me, was the huge observation deck called the UFO.

Unsurprisingly, the name is derived from the fact that it looks like a giant UFO has perched itself atop a tower. 

The structure dominates the skyline down by the river, overlooking the whole city. 

I took the elevator to the top and had a good look out. The view was fantastic. 

Oddly, there's also a great view from the cubicles in the ladies toilet, which each features a floor length window so you can see the sights while doing your business.  

All in all I'm having a great trip so far, though it is getting a little bit lonely now. 

Solo travel is not without its pitfalls... And isolation is one of them. 

But I'll keep going regardless. The beautiful sights and cities more than make up for a few weeks of self imposed solitude.  

Next stop: Vienna! 

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