Exploring New Places with Family and Friends
Michaelmas term ended back in the beginning of December and the students at LSE were relieved that they could spend the coming weeks relaxing while rejuvenating their minds to take on another intense term. Some took trains back to their hometowns throughout the UK, some flew back to other areas of the world to be with their families, while others decided to either stay in London and relax or travel. Understanding that there was a whole continent to explore, a friend and I decided to embark on a fast-paced journey, covering five countries in a span of twelve days, ranging from adventures in the frigid Icelandic tundra to sunny Venice. Following the trip my family and I decided to approach Christmas differently this year by exploring what the great city of London has to offer while enjoying each other’s company for the first time in months.
When my friend Sanjay and I planned this cross-continental trip, we focused on selecting places which we never thought we would go to in our lifetime. We wanted to diversify this trip, making each location as different from the previous as possible. A goal was to see completely contrasting cultures and landscapes, and based on the locations we selected, I believe we achieved said goal. On December 10th, we were on a plane to Reykjavik, Iceland, a city of 200,000 people, constituting approximately two-thirds of the entire Icelandic population. Iceland has seen a significant boom in tourism in the past decade (there are more tourists on the island at a given time than inhabitants), and considering the adventures on which visitors can embark, there is no need to question why. The country has a beautiful landscape, ranging from snowy glaciers to green pastures which appear to come right out of Game of Thrones. The horses there are indigenous only to Iceland, and we were able to see them run in unison along the countryside on the way to go snowmobiling in Lanjökull, the second largest glacier in Iceland. The conditions were rough that day, as there was a severe blizzard, yet we thought of it as a part of the adventure, making it feel like we were truly in the tundra. When combining this experience with witnessing the Aurora Borealis, Iceland was truly an unforgettable experience, one of which I would recommend to anyone who hungers for adventure in the Arctic.
Following our adventure in Iceland, we made short stops in Amsterdam and Venice, touring the Dutch city’s illustrious Heineken Brewery and meeting our friend Allison in the Italian port city, where we embarked on a gondola ride and toured around San Marco. Our next destination was in Slovenia to meet our friend Matic, who is a Masters student at LSE. We spent the first day hiking at gorgeous Lake Bled, followed by a nighttime trip to a Christmas market in the capital city of Ljubljana, which was filled with delicious food and drinks in addition to lively music. The final destination of the trip was in Budapest, a city filled with ruin bars (abandoned warehouses/homes which were turned into bars), Christmas markets, art galleries and museums, and the infamous Buda palace. It is difficult to pick a favorite destination among the ones visited since each is quite different from the other, yet each place was fantastic in its own way.
This trip did not mean the end of my winter break adventures, as my family arrived in London 36 hours after I returned. We were ecstatic to see each other, as it had been months since the entire family had been together, and I was incredibly excited to show them a city which has become another home for me. We spent the week touring the city, visiting art galleries, pubs, and common iconic locations like 10 Downing St. and Trafalgar Square, making that week an unforgettable adventure. Between my cross-continental trip and adventures throughout London with my family, winter break was an experience which I will remember forever. Now that term has started back up, I am back to focusing on my studies and overall making the most out of the LSE experience. I hope everyone’s New Year has been off to a fantastic start! Cheers.