Erasmus break in Stokholm, Sweden

I went to Sweden 2 years ago to do my Erasmus back there. Sweden was quite of a dream for me, I always wanted to go to Scandinavia and so when I had the opportunity to go there for my studies, I took this opportunity.

I lived in a small city north from Uppsala called Falun. However I’m going to talk about the capital city of Sweden: Stockholm. So far it’s my favorite capital! What is great about Stockholm is that it is a sort of archipelago, you have water everywhere and it’s very clean! You can have a look at it and you won’t find any trashes inside. The other positive aspect of Stockholm is that the city is “small” you can basically walk everywhere and avoid the subway (which is expensive, because let’s admit it, Sweden is bloody expensive especially alcohol!). So when I was in Stockholm I’ve never been in the subway BUT you should give a look over there, the walls inside are painted and are beautiful. Now, what shall you do in Stockholm? Well, my favorite part was Gamla Stan (the old town) a little island with paved streets and little cute shops (this little island was the heart of Stockholm in the early days). You can have a nice walk everywhere in this island; however beware of the tourists in summer, since the streets are really narrow you can barely walk there. Another great thing I’ve found in Gamla Stan is Aifur; a Viking restaurant where you can drink mead, eat a Viking meal on a large wooden table, listening to live music. The food/drinks are quite expensive but are delicious (they even have a vegetarian/vegan option) and the atmosphere there is incredible. You won’t find anything similar elsewhere. (If you don’t want to wait too long at the entrance you should book it before coming!).

What you can also do is going to the castle and watch the changing of the guard (not as impressive as the British one but still nice to see)

Stockholm has a lot of museum as well; the most famous could the vasamuseet: where you can visit a ship. You will find it in Djugården. In this island you can have a nice walk as well if the weather allows it or just go to ABBA’s museum (no kidding it exists). If you’re in a party mood I’m sure you will find plenty of places to go but be careful because most of the club won’t allow you do go in if you’re under 20 (which was my case when I was there so I cannot give any advices regarding clubs). Same for alcohol! In Sweden you can only buy alcohol in a shop called Systembolaget, there you will find plenty of alcohol but it’s quite expensive, and moreover if you are under 20 you won’t be able to buy anything from there (they control ID cards). However, somehow in some bars you can get any drinks you want although you’re younger than 20 (I still don’t get it –anyway-). To conclude: if you have the chance to go to Stockholm, just take it!

By Lucile Rouet, from France

Advertisements

My Trip to Brussels!

My journey to Belgium was pretty amazing. My friend Marie and her lovely family hosted me for 4 days, and they were 4 amazing days.

Their house was located on in a small town of Belgium called Nivelles. The first day of my stay, I walked around this small, but magical little city. It has its own cathedral and people seem to be really friendly there. On that same day, I just stood in Nivelles, relaxing a bit from my flight and getting to know Marie’s family and house (both amazing xD).Just one more thing: Marie’s grandmother rocks! We went to visit her to an elder residence and talked in Portuguese between us, most of the time. It was amazing the amount of words and expressions she could recall. Later, at dinner, at 7.00P.M, (which was a really awkward thing for me, because of the time being too soon), we talked about the culture in Belgium, their typical food, their daily lives, and most of the conversation in French!! (yes, I’m learning how to speak fluent French, and I guess the conversation went really well ahahah). Did you know Belgium has 3 official languages?! Crazy,right? French, German and Dutch (before I left Belgium I bought a Dutch book just to practice some Dutch vocabulary!). Other thing that I noticed in my stay in Belgium was that they separate the bathroom in, let me call it, “two pieces”. The part of the toilet is separated from the shower zone. I thought that was really interesting. And the other thing was: oeuf à la coque! It’s so delicious! I have never tried to eat an egg like that! Well, in general, Belgian food is just wow! The Meatbread dish is amazing and the waffles, OMG. Let’s just not forget about the beers. I’m not a really appreciator of beers, but the one that I tasted wasn’t bad at all, even though I didn’t finished it.

Well, back to business. On the second day, I’ve visited the “Cinquentenaire”, a really beautiful arch, which was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium. Then, we went to AutoWorld Museum, a really huge museum that holds a large and varied collection of 350 vintage European and American automobiles from the late 19th century until the seventies. I had also I great time there. We took a lot of great photos! After our visit to the museum, we went to a very renowned coffee where I asked for an apple pie and of course: Hot Belgian Chocolate. I still can’t forget that moment. <3. It was getting late, so we went back home. In the time I was at home, I tried to refine my French. I’d talk about my day with my Belgian family; watch the news and read books or dictionaries (and write down the words or expressions that I didn’t know). I was doing this every night, while being there.

The third day was the big day! I went to discover the center of the city of Brussels by subway and walking around. I could say that I visited a lot: Grand Place, or in Flemish, the Grote Markt, Manneken Pis (the boy who pies) and Jeanneke Pis(the girl who pies), Place Royale, Mont des Arts, Town Hall, the famous Delirium Tremens Bar, Chocopolis (chocolate and more chocolate!), City Museum or Maison du Roi in french, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert and many more things. Just forgot about some parts like Atomium, the Mini-Europe, so in the future I’ll be travelling again to Brussels to complete my visit.

Day number 4: the hardest part. Leaving. I had spent great days with Marie and her family and it was hard to leave.

So, I strongly recommend everyone to visit Brussels! Is a beautiful city, with great food and amazing people!

Vive la Belgique! Vive Brussels!

By Nicole Pereira Brito, from Portugal

Working Holiday Visa en Nouvelle-Zelande : Dossier complet

Romain Buisson, français et en voyage depuis plus de 5 ans, nous fait partager son récit  en Nouvelle Zélande Il partage avec nous des premiers conseils pour y suivre le programme PVT. La suite de l’article se trouve sur le site original, Votre Tour du Monde.

La Nouvelle-Zélande. La terre des hobbits, des volcans enneigés, des plages de sable noir, de ses étendues sauvages à perte de vue. Comment ne pas résister à l’appel d’y passer un an, de découvrir soi même ce pays, ses habitants, sa culture? Si cela vous parle, le Working Holiday Visa est peut-être fait pour vous!

Si vous avez moins de 30 ans,vous pouvez passer un an sur place, travailler et découvrir ce pays magnifique. Moins connu que sa grande soeur l’Australie, le Working Holiday visa en Nouvelle-Zélande commence depuis 4/5 ans à attirer de plus en plus de monde (sans doute que la coupe du monde de rugby en 2011 ainsi que les récents films du Seigneur des Anneaux/Hobbit y sont pour quelque chose). Comment organiser un an sur place, comment trouver du travail, un appartement? On vous explique tout ici.

L’arrivée sur place et les premiers jours

Concernant la somme à emporter pour une année en Nouvelle-Zélande, on conseille d’avoir 4000/5000 dollars sur son compte (environ 3500 à 4000 euros) afin d’arriver l’esprit tranquille, et bien sûr de pouvoir prévoir en cas de coup dur. Beaucoup de personnes partant un an en Working Holiday Visa prennent un aller/retour en avion… Réfléchissez bien, la Nouvelle-Zélande est proche des iles du Pacifique (Samoa,Tonga,Fidji,Nouvelle Calédonie) et sur le chemin du retour vous avez l’Asie qui peut être un stop intéressant avant de rentrer en France. Privilégiez un billet Open avec date de retour modifiable ou prenez juste un aller simple et voyez sur place comment vos plans évoluent!

Ça y est, vous venez de débarquer a Auckland ou Wellington, vous vous étirez après avoir passe en moyenne 28h d’avion à côté d’un voisin ayant ronflé tout le long, et votre première pensée est toute simple: un lit et une douche. On conseille de réserver à l’avance ses premières nuits dans un pays que l’on ne connaît pas, surtout de l’autre cote de planète!

Des sites comme hostelworld.com ou booking.com sont très pratiques pour vous aider à faire votre choix, parmi les centaines de backpackers (auberge de jeunesse) existant dans le pays.

Si vous voyagez seul, privilégiez les dortoirs (4 ou 6 maximum si vous voulez un peu d’intimité et de sommeil). Si vous êtes en couple, une chambre double sera plus appropriée. Comptez en moyenne 50 a 60$ pour une chambre double et 20 a 25$ pour un lit en dortoir.

Après une bonne nuit, profitez de votre première journée sur place pour faire toutes les démarches administratives. Premièrement, l’ouverture d’un compte en banque, car pour pouvoir toucher son salaire en Nouvelle-Zélande, il vous faut un compte Néo-Zélandais.

Rassurez-vous, vous n’êtes plus en France, et tout est beaucoup plu simple ici, vous entrez dans une banque (les principales étant Westpac, ANZ, et KiwiSaver), avec votre passeport et une adresse de domicile en Nouvelle-Zélande (une adresse d’auberge de jeunesse suffit), et votre compte sera ouvert en 10 minutes, montre en main! Vous recevrez votre carte bancaire sous 10 jours. Utilisez ce temps pour faire un transfert international de votre compte en France vers la Nouvelle-Zélande, comme ça, lorsque vous recevrez votre nouvelle carte, l’argent sera déjà sur votre compte.

Autre point important: Demandez une carte bancaire avec laquelle vous pouvez payer en ligne, car beaucoup de réservations (hôtels/vols/activités) se font sur internet et nécessiteront une carte valide en ligne.

 

Par Romain Buisson, de France

How a couple of Athenians became like family in only five days

IMG_0821
Credits : Toon Voets

I’m almost in Athens, Greece. Golden fields disappear from my view. They are replaced by concrete. In the Macedonian capital Skopje, I used CouchSurfing for the first time. Athens will be my second CouchSurfing experience. It is always exciting to get to know it would go on. When I arrive at the station of Athens, my hosts Alexandros and Ilias are already waiting for me. Phew, they have not forgotten me.

The table in the apartment of Alexandros’ family is ready. Greek delicacies are ready to be eaten. But first they have a surprise for me: a little road trip to Cape Sounion. “It is worth the 40 minute ride.” And they were right.

A five days stay in Athens must be enough to visit everything. Through the day I would have to amuse myself without company, but in the evening Alexandros and Ilias had time for me. Or that was how I thought it would go. But in the end I was only alone in Athens for one day and I even witnessed local Greek elections. And we saw a lot more than just Athens.

The big road trip

“I just called Alexandros. Maybe, if you want, we can visit some other sites in Greece together?” – Ilias

Whaaat? That’s something you don’t have to ask me twice. So we jump in the old jeep of Ilias’ dad. First stop: the Corinth Canal. Next on the menu: Mycenae with the famous Lion Gate and the old Greek capital Nafplion. In Nafplion I meet the climbing legs of the Greek. A staircase with thousand steps was no problem for them. And for me… Yeah.

#Historynerd

I am a #historynerd, so it is a hashtag I like to use. And by coincidence Alexandros and Ilias are history students. Perfect match. They know a lot about the richly filled Greek history. Calling them a walking encyclopedia would be disrespectful, but how much they can learn me about their country is really amazing.

But there was one thing they did not know. Behold, the fun fact that became the fun fact of the trip: King Leopold I, the first king of the Belgians, once had the chance to take the Greek throne. But today, Greece is no longer a Monarchy.

Also in Athens Alexandros and Ilias show me around. Interesting museums, but also shisha bars and the best places to eat “souvlaki”. Even the classmates of my hosts join us. Fancy names like Theodoris and Konstantinos become part of the fellowship.

Beer with a view

“All my friends love that place! You have to see it!” – Ilias

It is the last day in Athens. It is the forth day Ilias is talking about his rooftop terrace. Alexandros confirms: “Maybe it is the most beautiful spot of Athens.

So on my last evening it is finally time to visit that spot. With a bag full of Belgian beers we get in the elevator and press button number six. The view indeed is marvelous. There is no better way to end a week with your “adopted family”.

By Toon Voets, from Belgium
http://gaateensvoets.com/
https://www.instagram.com/gaateensvoets/