London was obviously the most English friendly, and it was a great place to ease into the Europe experience. Also, the metro system (called the Tube) was very easy to use and extended all over London which made sights easy to see. While there, you have to visit the places on the tourist bucket list of course. Tower of London, Tower Bridge (often misunderstood as London Bridge), Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye are in some pretty touristy areas but definitely must-sees while in the city. I also took a trip to Buckingham Palace and was lucky enough to catch a changing of the guard. If this is something you’re interested in, just check ahead for the schedule. Afterwards you can go for a lovely walk through Kensington Gardens which look almost as good as they smell. Additionally if you’re into visiting museums, the British Museum is free admission and I could have easily spent all afternoon there. Right now, they have the Rosetta Stone (no, not the language software). The other two museums I visited were Tate Modern and the National Gallery. Again, both of these were free but had tons of famous artwork.
After all this exploring you’re going to be hungry and thirsty. While in London, you have to do what the locals do and go to the Pub at the end of the work day. South Bank has a lot of great pubs and restaurants where locals hang out for a few hours after work and have a couple local brews. Borough Market has tons of options for any appetite, and you can enjoy an ice cold Pimm’s while you browse. If you’re dying for fish and chips or a full English Breakfast, you get them literally everywhere. One more thing to try is the Indian cuisine. London also has a huge Indian influence so if you can handle the spice, it’s definitely worth trying here.
Next on our trip was Amsterdam. It has the European charm with cobblestone streets, homes with window boxes and an intricate canal system. It’s also famous for its Red Light District, and I suggest if this is something you’re interested in seeing that you book a hostel or hotel right in that area. It’s very central and explodes with life at night. You can even see a sex show if you’re so inclined. I think one of the main reasons people travel to Amsterdam is for the weed. It’s legal there, and the Red Light area will also provide you with a lot of coffee shops to smoke at. Our favorite was Easy Times Coffeeshop. Aside from exploring the city and maybe taking a canal ride, I would say the only other must-do is the Heineken Experience brewery tour. I’ve been on a lot of brewery tours, but this was the best I’ve ever done. It’s a ton of fun, and kid friendly if you happen to have a few tag-alongs.
I liked Amsterdam’s food a lot. Warning, it’s a bit carb heavy. They’re famous for their pancakes so we tried out The Pancake Bakery, and it was phenomenal. The other notable place we ate was more pancakes at Japanese Pancake World. You have to make a reservation beforehand, but you can watch them prepare the pancakes. Make sure you go very hungry though, super delicious!
Berlin was easily my favorite stop on the trip. It was the hardest English-wise, but I would still say most people speak a little. Berlin has so much history to it, so we had to check out the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, and Holocaust Memorial. We also visited Mitte, Museum Island, the Berlin Philharmonic, Mauerpark, and took a walk through Tiergarten. Because of the WWII bombing, Berlin has turned a lot of the destruction into beautiful parks like Tiergarten. If you walk for long enough, you may just come across a beer garden on the water. The last thing I would suggest doing is going out to a club. You can dance throughout the night and often into late morning any night of the week in the Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain neighborhoods. Berghain is probably the most famous, but also the most exclusive. We had a great time at Watergate!
Food to try should include currywurst, which is a Berlin special, any other wursts, schnitzel, spatzle, and for dessert, their apple strudel is to die for. Berlin is also rich in Turkish food so you have to try Doner Kebab. I may have eaten it a few times while visiting, but Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap was my favorite. And of course, wash all of this down with their German Beer or sweet Club-Mate.