In my previous post, I talked about life pre-departure, but now I will be focusing on the actual trip itself.  And the pictures I include will be of my favorite stops in each country.

The Netherlands

Our first country we visited was The Netherlands, or Holland as the locals call it. I think this country was the best one to start in just because of how welcoming it felt. We did tons of horticulture-related activities while in The Netherlands: we visited Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips, went to three different Hortus Botanicus (botanical gardens), went to the Bloemenmarkt (a “floating” flower market), got to visit Syngenta and Dümmen Orange (both companies I was familiar with thanks to my time working at UGA’s Trial Gardens), and we even got to see a green roof! And then unrelated to horticulture, we went to the Rijksmuseum as well as going on a canal river cruise to see different historical sites. My favorite stop in The Netherlands is hands down Hortus Botanicus Leiden (the botanical gardens of Leiden, Netherlands). It was, in my opinion, the best of the three Hortus Botanicus because it was the biggest one, had the most to see, and everything there was so gorgeous.

Pictured here is me in awe of the size of this massive alocasia at the Hortus Botanicus Leiden.


Now, we move onto Belgium. This was the shortest part of the trip as we were only here for a total of four days, two days in Antwerp and two days in Brussels; as this was the shortest part, we did not do as many big things. While here, we walked around local gardens, got to explore the cities, went on another river cruise, and got to make chocolate. My favorite part of Belgium was hands-down the chocolate making; I would even go off to say that it was the most fun thing of the entire trip (simply because of how different it was from everything else).  

Pictures included show me mixing the chocolate that would be poured into the molds as well as a big group picture of those of us who were making chocolate upstairs (in the nut-free zone for the people who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts).


And now we move on to the final (and my favorite) part of the trip, France. This part of the trip was very special to me because I’ve been dreaming about going to France as long as I can remember, so it was incredible watching a dream become reality. While in France, we got to see Château de Chantilly, Château de Versailles, Monet’s garden, the Louvre, yet another river cruise, and of course we got to see the Eiffel Tower! I even got to go see the outside of the Moulin Rouge on one of our free days! I had so much fun this entire trip, but France holds a special place in my heart because it is a place I had always wanted to visit, as well as being a place where some of my most favorite stories are based in (such as Beauty and the Beast, Pokémon Y, and the Moulin Rouge movie to name a few things). I had so much fun spending time with my friends, making new friends, and getting to immerse myself into cultures that are so different from my own; this trip was such an invaluable experience and I am so grateful for the memories I get to carry with me for the rest of my life.

Pictured here is the beautiful Eiffel Tower lit up at night! The tower has a light show every night where it lights up and sparkles for five minutes,  it was such a breathtaking sight!