There’s something magical about a city when the sun goes down and nightlife begins. Every city reveals a new charm, new characters, and new opportunities to experience the local culture.
Coming from a suburb of Los Angeles, nighttime often meant that commuters had made it through the LA traffic to their track homes and were watching the nightly news before going to bed. As a high schooler, I used to dread the time after the sun went down because it meant that I had to start all my homework for the next day. Outside, the streets were empty and erie, and I even feared going to the grocery store after 8pm because who knows who could be lurking in the shadows.
But, when I studied abroad in Spain, nighttime meant bar hopping through the neighborhood, watching an FC Barca game, dancing at a discotec, meeting new people from all over the world in hostels, or simply hanging out with friends in the placa. It meant smiles, laughter, dancing, jokes, and making some new friends along the way. It meant living life to the fullest.
I didn’t fear walking home alone through the streets and allies of Gracia, my neighborhood, or taking a stroll next to classic monuments, such as the Trevi Fountain in Rome the Parliament building in Budapest, or the grand Marketplace in Brussels. I didn’t have to worry about finding an uber or designated driver to take me home, and learned the night bus or metro schedules instead.
Instead, I could breathe, relax and live life to the fullest in the company of some really really cool people.
So, in honor of some of my favorite nights during my six month vacation in Europe, I’ve attached some photos of some pretty remarkable landmarks, that… well, you just don’t get to see everyday in the US.
Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary
This view was preceded by a beautiful sunset over the Danube with three great mates that I studied with in Barcelona and traveled with during spring break around Eastern Europe. Even though this picture was taken about four months after I arrived in Europe, it was one of the first times that I realized how lucky I was to be traveling around with some of my best friends while everyone back home was stressed about school, finding jobs and passing classes. It was a beautiful moment in a beautiful location and a night I’ll never forget.
I absolutely love Rome. If I didn’t study abroad in Barcelona, I would have loved to live in Rome and spend a lifetime there. One thing that I loved about Rome was that every single street and plaza had charm- and it transformed at night. Locals went out for late dinners and stayed to drink wine with friends and relax in the warm nights.
My trip through the Andalusia, the south of Spain, was one of my favorite trips of all time with delicious tapas, life changing flamenco performances, and strolls through beautiful streets.Cordoba surprised me with is local flare and passion for life. As this picture was taken, there was a group of high school students were playing an acoustic guitar and signing along to Bailando by Enrique Iglesias- the anthem of our Andulucian adventure. Later that night, my friend and I attended a local block party in a plaza and danced the night away with dozens of other Spaniards because, who needs sleep when you can live amirite?
Every plaza filled with people as they finished their 10pm dinners. Plaça del Sol was one of my favorite places to be on a Friday night in Barcelona because all of the locals came out with a six pack and their closest friends and just chilled in the placa to drink and unwind after a long week. The people from my study abroad program had some picnic dinners here as well and it was a perfect way to reflect upon our time together. Font Magica was the favorite hangout of mine on weekend nights in the summer. Beautiful music coupled with cotton candy colored water to produce the most magical of experiences. Sure there were a lot of tourists, but hey, sometimes things are touristy for a reason, right?
Marketplace, Brussels, Belgium
The first time I walked into this square, it was daytime and I was shocked by the beauty and intricate designs of every building. The second time I walked through this square it was nighttime and I literally wanted to cry it was so beautiful. I remember walking back through this marketplace on my last night after bar hopping (which ended at the famous Delirium Cafe). You definitely don’t see architectural wonders like this in the suburbs.
Prague, Czech Republic
If anyone ever goes to Eastern Europe, they have to visit Prague. Unlike lots of other places in Europe that I had been to, the nightlife here consisted of either going to American bars, or relaxing with some beer in a pub after dinner (probably because its super cold here and we essentially froze to death). But walking through this square made me feel like I was walking through Fantsyland at Disneyland.
Probably one of the most cliche pictures on this list, I do believe that every single person must see the Eiffel Tower glisten and sparkle in the city. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Paris my first day in town. But after witnessing a double rainbow span across the city and the Eiffel Tower, and then watching it sparkle at night, I was sold. Paris truly is magical, and its moments like the one above that make me want to go back.