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  • Writer's picture Kalpana Ravulapati

Things to do in London, Amsterdam and Brussels!

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Happy first day of Autumn!!! The summer flew by especially whilst traveling and having fun exploring new places. I’ve finally got a moment to catch up on my blog to share my European adventures which has been long over due. I went to London, Amsterdam and Brussels in July with my younger brother. It was the BEST holiday for my first time to Europe and fantastic new experiences with my brother as we bonded and share memorable moments together. Along with us was our cousin who lives in Nottingham, England who joined us on the adventures. He made me laugh so hard for 2 weeks straight and was a very caring brother on our holiday. I loved traveling with both of them, so much fun! The moment I landed, it was the beginning of the adventure. Traveling to a new place you’ve never been before, scared and excited at the same time, curious as to how people on the other side of the world live, what I will see, what will happen, it was all so overwhelming. I was taking every moment in and cherished it all. My cousin literally made me walked more than 10,000 steps I believe all over London my first day. Our first stop of course was the Royal Buckingham Palace and gardens, the gorgeous park across the palace, Parliament, Carnaby street, Picadilly, Oxford street, Regent street, Abbey road, Bricklane, The Strand, Baker street, Big Ben, The London Eye, and much more. London stole my heart the moment I arrived. It was everything and more that I had imagined from movies and TV shows, and most of all I love the ACCENT and Englishmen!!! I finally got to be in the infamous red telephone booths in London, it felt surreal to be there. I absolutely loved the old antique cars they still drive as taxi’s, double decker buses, the cobble stone streets, the beautiful craftsmanship of the old world buildings and most of all the polite etiquette of the proper English ways. My heart melted every time a hot English man called me “love” or “darling”, they truly have an amazing charm and gentlemanly ways of courting you to feel like a true lady! My poor cousin, he was my personal photographer literally the entire trip but he is so talented with taking the perfect shots. I truly felt like the streets of Europe were my runways, why be restricted to the stage when the world is your oyster, right?! It didn’t matter if it was day or night, the city was bustling with people everywhere, so much energy. I felt as if I was in Chicago but London is 10x better in so many ways and bigger! I thought Chicago had so much to explore but London is a beast of its own, I have to go back to explore more new places I have yet to see or experience. The markets in Europe are way better than the USA! I was so glad my brother is a bigger foodie than I to find the best spots for us to eat at. We went to this extraordinary Borough Market in London where I had eaten so many delicious cheeses, macaroons and drank fruit smoothies. They had a variety of cuisines to try from at this market, it was ridiculous. This was what I also loved about London, the endless options of ethnic cuisines of any kind you craved from around the world were available at your fingertips. There is so much diversity and so many South Asians, lol…..I felt right at home! The next day we went to the Shard for the best views of the city. The Gong Bar has extremely unique and potent cocktails I’ve ever tasted, they were yummy and worth the price tag! The views were from this sky lounge were amazing and I got this spectacular shot of the London Bridge or as the Londoners call it, the Tower Bridge right behind me. The ambiance was so posh and loved the velvet sofas and pillows. Also, if you ever visit here, use their heated toilet seats, that was a surprise I wasn’t expecting haha. Next holiday was a train ride with Eurostar from London to Amsterdam. I personally loved that we took the train to travel within Europe and see the pretty countryside and landscapes. I booked an Airbnb in the East Side of Amsterdam which was a tram ride away to the city center. We arrived late at night but immediately was out and about exploring the local cafes. It was an interesting experience with my brother and cousin but I was with trusted people and we had a great time! Amsterdam is literally Las Vegas on steroids. Way better party scene than I’ve ever experience thus far. But it has more to offer than just partying. I didn’t realize how the entire population rides bicycles, all the Dutch were so fit and healthy looking. It was definitely overwhelming and scary crossing the streets but got used to it by the second day. Also, the Dutch are the 3rd best country speaking English in the world, who knew! Although Amsterdam is a man-made city, the architecture is colorful and breathtaking. The canals are so gorgeous with the flower pots, cycles and boats along side them. There are so many tourists all year round bustling the city. The vibe there was so free and accepting; the Dutch are so friendly and open-minded. You literally meet people from all over the world, mainly across Europe. It was major eye-candy central for this single lady. We took a canal cruise around the entire city, explored the Red Light district which was awkward with my brother & cousin as well as shocking how normal prostitution is there but the most woman friendly city, walked and took the tram all over the city, saw the IAMSTERDAM sign, explored the Ruks Museum, enjoyed great music with spectacular city views from the Sky Lounge Rooftop bar at the Hilton, partied with the Dutches while dancing to amazing house music, explored the Sex Museum, ate so much variety of food from around the world, explored the two largest markets in Amsterdam and spent a lazy Sunday in Vondel Park watching the ducks swim and people tanning & having BBQ’s. The best part was that we were in Europe during the World Cup and got to experience watching the football (soccer) games with people from around the world rooting for their country. I was personally rooting for England since I have family in both London and Nottingham. We witnessed England and Belgium win while in Amsterdam and that was incredible! I will definitely come back since there is still so much to explore. After three in a half days in Amsterdam, we took the Thalys to Brussels for a two day holiday. This city is magnificent, the architecture from the old buildings were breathtaking. I loved the cobble stoned streets all over the city, it was left just as is in it’s original beauty. The Belgian waffles, chocolate and beer were divine! I normally don’t drink beer but in Europe, it tasted so smooth, light and refreshing. The Dutch and Belgians know how to brew! We started off exploring the Grand Place which has numerous restaurants to eat from and an open center to take amazing shots like this picture my cousin took of me. A must see when you visit Brussels, they always have various events and festivals held at the Grand Place. Absolutely stunning at night when lit up with different lighting. I actually explored the city for a few hours by myself as my brother and cousin took a nap. It was scary at first but then I felt as ease as I felt safe. I didn’t know that Brussels was mainly French influenced and it was a surprise as the locals spoke French to me, I felt as if I was in France. I walked up and down each street which I came upon so many bakery stores with delicious macaroons I devoured, gourmet ice cream shops, spectacular antique shops that had an overwhelming amount of items throughout the centuries. It was like traveling back in time with all the historical antiques, each of course having their own unique tale. I highly recommend buying from these true antique shops in Europe, I bought my dad a small Jade Buddha, a rare find. We explored the Brussels Palace, Parliament, the courtyards, the city center, cafes, the Atomium which is so cool to explore inside and Delirium Village where you can get thousands of beers to taste. My favorite moment in Brussels was that we got to experience watching Belgium against France in the Semi-Finals of the World Cup at a local bar where the excitement in the city was so high. We represented the Belgians that night wearing their country colors and partied together despite their loss to the French. I loved and respected the sportsmanship of the Europeans, they take a loss honorably and still treat each other with dignity within the game. One of my favorite memories celebrating with the Belgians. The Belgians are so friendly and warm, they speak to you in French even though you don’t understand a word but such lovely people who are laid back and free spirited. Our Airbnb at the Villa Sablon was within the best squares of the entire city, very posh with designer boutiques and a beautiful old church that was stunning inside and out right next door. Go explore yourself, it’s a quiet city but marvelous! After our last holiday in Brussels, we heading back by Eurostar to London. Spent the day exploring Camden which has the best food stalls, ate the most delicious gourmet mac & cheese. The market here is massive and so unique with a variety of options to eat and shop from, must visit here! We then had a road trip to Nottingham to spend time with family before my nieces wedding. It was so lovely spending quality time with my English side of the family in the UK, meeting new amazing human beings that are genuine and real. It was so much fun getting ready with all the pre-wedding festivities and shopping together in Nottingham. I got to see the famous Castle of Nottingham, the city of Robin Hood and visiting the second oldest pub in the world at the Trip to Jerusalem Inn attached to the bottom of the castle. It truly smelled, old, medieval and musty but it was a wonder for the eyes!

I’ve never attending a Christian wedding before and this was a first for me as well as I witnessed my beautiful niece marry her love in an old church from the 1300’s, was stunning. Then we drove about an hour away to Derby, England where the reception took place at an old estate that was torn down and turned into a wedding venue. It was the most magnificent view of the true English countryside I’ve ever laid eyes on, serene and breathtaking scenery of the trees, old brick left from the estate and massive pond.

After the reception, we all glamped since there was no lodging near by. This was another first experience that was incredible to be apart of with everyone. The tents we all glammed up and had all the necessities we needed for the night and morning. The next morning we had a true English brunch before heading back to Nottingham, tasty! The last day we spent the day just cooking, drinking, enjoying the each others company and soaking up in the Jacuzzi. I truly had the most marvelous time in Europe for my first trip and won’t be the last. I LOVE LONDON!!!

I made my someday dream into a today reality and hope the same for you all. Stop making excuses and make it happen to see the beautiful world around us and create your own amazing memories!

If you’d like to see more photos and videos from my holiday in Europe, I invite you to come over to my Instagram at @kocobeauty05, see you there!

Cheers Mates!

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