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A pre-university inter-railing trip around Europe with my best friend… Yessss please!  Tickets purchased, rucksacks packed, and we were off into London to catch the Eurostar, we were both beyond excited. Two cancelled trains later and barely a minute to spare as we hopped onto the Eurostar, we didn’t get off to the most relaxing start!  

Tip number 1: Listen to your parents when they say ‘give yourself plenty of time’.

First stop Paris. Having arrived at our hostel, we were invited to a ‘backpackers UV rave.’ Now, bearing in mind this was our first UV rave, we hadn’t realized we would be covered in glow in the dark paint.

Tip number 2: Never wear your favourite outfit to a UV paint party!

The next morning we took the Metro to the ‘Louvre’, where the famous painting of the Mona Lisa is exhibited. I was shocked at how tiny the painting was, after seeing so many gigantic replicas online. It couldn’t have been much bigger than an A4 piece of paper. We continued to explore over the next few days with a visit to the Arc de Triomphe and had an amazing picnic in the gardens below the Eiffel Tower. I must say: forget croissants, snails and frogs legs, we ate Macaroons for breakfast, lunch and dinner! If you ever go to Paris make sure you squeeze in a visit to ‘Pierre Herme’ to try them.

Next Stop, Cannes. Now let me tell you… Cannes was like being in an episode of ‘Made In Chelsea.’ Everywhere we looked there were teeny dogs hanging out of designer handbags, dog grooming parlours and big sunglasses.  We didn’t exactly fit in wearing our hiking boots and huge backpacks, but absolutely the best place to people watch! Next, we headed to Pisa, to see the famous Leaning Tower and to get the obligatory photos of us holding it up! We also found the most delicious pizzeria and had the best-tasting pizza for our trip there for only 4 euros! #bargain 

Next up – Rome, which was by far our favourite place and also the liveliest.  We were greeted with an unexpected toga party at the hostel. Who needs a fancy dress costume when you’ve got bed sheets?

Tip number 3: Don’t challenge your fellow hostel mates to a jaeger-drinking contest the night before sightseeing. (Let’s just say we didn’t leave the hostel until noon the following morning.)

To save our feet we hopped on and off the red bus to sightsee and managed to cover a lot of Rome that day, visiting the Trevi fountain, St Peters Basilica, the Coliseum and the Vatican.

Venice was our final destination, and whilst there we visited Murano (famous for its glass factories) and Burona (famous for lace making). My favourite part of our stay here was a visit to see the Bridge of Sighs; we have a replica across the River Cam in Cambridge, so it was fun to see the real one! And our stay in Venice would not have been complete without a ride on a gondola, it was wonderful to sit back and take in such a picturesque city.

Tip number 4: Work hard, earn lots of money and travel as much as you can!!! You’re only young once.

Harriet Yates completed work experience with The Student Housing Company in 2014.