By Jasmine Lu, Regular ContributorJune 26, 2015
Over the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring three different cities of three different countries.
Walking around each city was such a treat, and there are so many aspects of each city that are worth describing
and I know I won’t be able to do them justice in one article. I will, however, try to illustrate my impression of the personality of the cities Paris, Brussels, and Prague.
Paris, France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world because of its rich history and status as a global hotspot. But the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Versailles (just to name 3 of hundreds) aside Paris belongs to the locals. Everywhere you turn there is a picturesque scene. Look to a side and you’ll find a quaint little cafe with smiling faces conversing while sitting, faced toward the street to people watch. Look to your other side and you’ll find inspired pieces of art in a small boutique sized gallery. Look up and you’ll be amazed by the beautiful detailing of the buildings, whether it’s yet another museum or apartment building.
There’s truly something to be found in every corner of Paris.
And even if you exhaust yourself by trying to get to every museum or landmark, you’ll still have the hundreds of small stores or cafes to explore. My favorite part of the trip to Paris was dining at Cafe de Flore which was known to be frequented by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus.
Brussels, Belgium was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Seated right between the powerful countries of France, England, and Germany, Belgium often found itself in the midst of many conflicts throughout history. Now, it functions as one of the three centers for the European Union (the emergency meeting for Greece will be held in the center at Brussels). When visiting, we had the pleasure of dining with some students at the University of Leuven and met one man in particular who knew how to speak English, French, and Dutch. For me, it was interesting to consider how much of a norm it was for many of the people in these smaller European countries to deal with the multiple identities that make up their culture. I was told that by car, it takes about two and a half hours to get from one end of Belgium to the farthest other end.
The charming city definitely proved to be much more than just its beer and chocolate (which I admit both were really good in the city).
Prague, Czech Republic is one of the most interesting places I’ve been to in my life.
As my dad described it, it’s the city for everyone.
Supposedly one of the quickest to surrender during any war, Prague has saved its beautiful buildings and bridges from war and was the first city to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Definitely not as clean or well-kept as Paris or Brussels, however Prague holds its own because of the unique array of cultures from sidewalk shops to street performers to small, curious museums. Walking along the Charles Bridge you’ll be floored by the beauty of each sculpture that lines each side of the bridge every ten feet or so. The city is full of music as well with concerts every night. The homes of famous figures such as Jan Hus, Mozart, and Franz Kafka are definitely one of the most underrated attractions in Europe.
It’s amazing to consider how these cities are so profoundly unique in their culture and history yet are only a few hours away from each other. And a person who grew up in one city will have a life incomparable to that of a person in another city.
Have you ever traveled to any of these places? What did you think? Where are some of you favorite places to travel to? Tell us below!
Jasmine Lu will be attending Duke University in the fall and will be pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She has many interests including global health, computer science, and film. You can learn more about how her mind works at her personal blog j-------lu.tumblr.com
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