The trip everyone should take on their first visit to Europe
When it comes to travel, Student Flights consultant Ben has been there, done that and has the t-shirt to prove it (or selfies rather). He gives us some insider tips on what to do on your first (or next) Europe holiday...
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Where did you go on your last Europe trip?
We ended up doing an awesome Topdeck trip called The Europe Express, which is perfect as an intro to Europe. We started in London and went to Paris, Interlaken in the Swiss Alps, Venice, Munich, and then a little section on the Rhine Valley in the castle region, then onto Amsterdam where I spent a bit of extra time.
What was your favourite city?
My favourite would have to be Amsterdam, it was just sick. The classic Dutch building facades, the people, the red light district, it was all so interesting. I’m a massive fan of Vincent Van Gogh so it was incredible to see his work up close in the Vincent Van Gogh museum. Also as a tip: If you step into a cafe expect coffee, but if you step into a coffee shop, you should expect something else.
What advice would you give to someone who has never been?
Be open minded and step outside of your comfort zone. Eat something new, try something that you normally wouldn’t back home and your experience will come tenfold. Also take heaps of photos, it doesn’t matter how much of a tourist you look. You will be thankful for them when you get home.
What's the best thing you ate?
There’s so much, I think one of the best food related activities we did was a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. Now I’m vego so I didn’t exactly go for the Escargot but I did have some of the most amazing penne pasta in Italy sitting next to one of the channels with a glass of locally produced wine. Bellisimo!
A really iconic food to try at Oktoberfest was of course pork knuckle and bratwurst but there was also the delicious garlic mash, sauerkraut and then gingerbread cookies.
How did you end up at Student Flight?
It was kind of luck of the draw, I used to work for Flight Centre and left for two years to live in Canada. I was then working with a company called Discover Banff and got to go on all the tours. So then two years later I came back and applied for the same job with Flight Centre and the recruiters decided that my personality was best suited to Student Flights.
What’s the one thing you could not miss from your Euro bucket list?
We made sure that we had Oktoberfest ticked off on our tour. To take on one of the biggest beer festivals in the world was a total bucket list must not miss item and it did not disappoint one bit. We stayed in a hostel in Munich and the whole festival kind of had this small community vibe at the same time as having a HUGE legendary party vibe. There was drinking, singing whip cracking, traditional dances, and of course we had to dress up - unless you wanted to stick out like a sore thumb.
Our Topdeck tour leader also took us around to see all of the lederhosen varieties throughout the centuries and we learnt all about the history rather than just getting dressed up in the first pair we saw and getting tanked. That expert knowledge is what we were looking for on when picking our trip.
What is your favourite memory from travelling Europe?
Definitely has to be when we were in the Swiss Alps and funnily enough it was on the bus. Driving into Interlaken was like passing through the gates of heaven. The mountains part and there’s this emerald lake with these picture perfect wooden buildings speckled around the perimeter - exactly how you would expect the Swiss Alps to look. This was also the exact moment I realized where exactly I was and how lucky I was to be there, a very humbling moment.
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