American in Brno: Traveling Europe

One of the best things about Brno is its location. In the middle of Europe it is a great place to be if you like to travel. By bus, train, or even plane you can travel all over Europe for reasonable prices.

I am Kaleah Mcilwain from Philadelphia, USA, and I am sadly coming to the end of my study abroad experience in Brno. This blog post will be dedicated to my travels around Europe during my time here.

Before coming to Brno to study abroad I had never given much thought to traveling around Europe. Traveling is another part of my study abroad program, so we were encouraged to use our free time to do so. However, I had no idea where I would travel to because I had never given it much thought. I always wanted to go to Greece (in the summertime) but other than that it was not something I looked into and then everything was so hectic preparing to come here, that I never looked into it.

But no worries because once I got to Brno everyone told me how easy it is to travel and all the must see places to go to like Prague (no I have never been to Prague and sadly will not be able to see it before I leave), Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, Krakow, etc. I now had a whole list of places to visit.

Unfortunately, due to my very busy schedule with studying full time and doing an internship I was not able to make it to a lot of places but I am very thankful for the places that I was able to travel to.

With that being said, here are my highlights of the places I traveled to:

To the UFO tower in Bratislava

Bratislava was the first place I traveled to. We took the train and it took a little over an hour to get there. We stayed in an airbnb located near the city center.

We explored the city and visited some of the top sights in Bratislava such as the Devin Castle, which had a really nice view of the countryside. We also saw the Church of St. Elisabeth known as the “Blue Church,” the Old Town square, and the Bratislava City Museum.

My absolute favorite part of this trip was going to the top of the UFO tower. I love heights and who doesn't want to go into a UFO tower? The view was amazing and the restaurant was really nice and they had good drinks and food.

I of course had Tiramisu (twice) there and it was good, but not the best I had while in Europe.

Overall it was a nice place but I would not go back just because I feel like I have seen all that I wanted to see that weekend since it is a smaller city.

Christmas in Vienna

Capital of Austria was definitely one of the most recommended places to travel to, particularly for their Christmas markets. I traveled by bus which was under two hours (oddly closer than Prague).

The city was amazing, so amazing that I decided to go twice, so that shows how much I liked it. The first time I went it was to explore the city. We of course had to visit some of the top sights so we went to see the Rathaus, Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Museumsquartier, Volksgarten and a couple other places.

Since the Christmas markets were not open then I was told I had to see them, so my friends and I went again to see their Christmas markets. Let me just start by saying I was pretty amazed by the Christmas markets in Brno because they're awesome and I had never seen Christmas markets before (at least not done the way they are here).

So when I seen the Christmas markets in Vienna...I was like wow. I only got to see the one at the Rathaus but it was great.

Overall I loved Vienna and I feel like everytime I went, there was so much to see that I could go again and again and discover so much more.

Sightseeing in Krakow

This was one of the places that I did not hear much about in advance like Vienna which people talked about all the time. Therefore, I did not know what to expect going to Krakow because I had not heard much about the city but I did know that there was a lot of history to be learned.

I traveled there by Polskibus service and let me just say that it was the worst traveling experience I had while in Europe. Going there the bus was over an hour late to picking us up from the bus station and coming back the bus showed up on time but somehow managed to be behind schedule still, so not the most time reliable bus in my experience.

However, we got there and had an amazing time. We did a free walking tour of the city and even though it was freezing we got to see so much and learned a lot about the history.

Side note, free walking tours are awesome and I had no idea they existed until my friend mentioned doing one. I definitely recommend them, it's a great way to see the city and actually learn about what you are seeing. I wished I had known about them for the other places I went because sightseeing is fun but knowing the history about what you are looking at is also nice (I also am aware that I am late to knowing about this).

We also got to see a lot of the historical sites within the city and we also attempted to visit Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory (tickets sell out fast and we did not book in advance so we could not see the main museum but they had a smaller exhibit) and on our last day we went to Auschwitz.

Overall, Krakow was really nice, definitely a place worth visiting and I am glad I got to go.

That concludes my travels while in Europe. While I was not able to travel much I did enjoy the places that I got to see. There are a few places I wish I got to see but that just means I will have to come back to Europe one day to complete my travels.

Sadly we are reaching the end of my stay in Europe. I have left this Sunday. I will be doing a final blog post to wrap-up my experience and maybe a transition back to the States blog, we will see.

Masaryk university