Puching Zhang: 10 Top Things to Do on Your Euro Vacation

Written by Puching Zhang

Our Fegelein Puching Zhang went on vacation. Here are his top 10 favorite spots in London and Paris.

aNewDomain — So this summer I took a break from game reviewing and playing so I could see the sights of Europe. Well, I saw England and France, only. But that’s still Europe, right? I felt pretty silly running around these countries with the classic American attitude of attempting to squeeze a week’s worth of tourism into three days per city. That said, here are the top 10 highlights from my trip, and also things you’ve got to check out when you’re there. It’ll give you at least some idea of what to do when you’re on your Euro vacation. 10. Big Ben and The House of Parliament You really can’t miss the Parliament building if you are anywhere near it. And Big Ben juts right out of the landscape, too. Great for taking pictures, but hard to adjust the camera angle to include the scope of the building. Unfortunately, that’s all you can do because the Parliament building is closed off to the public and guarded by police.

Big Ben and Pariliament

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

9. The Louvre I am not the biggest art fan — in fact, if you asked me to name 10 famous historical artists, I guarantee you Bob Ross (The Joy of Painting) would be on that list. But the Louvre is a great museum even for me. It covers not only art, but also history, archaeology, you name it. Sure, I saw such famous paintings as the Mona Lisa, Virgin on the Rocks and so on. But then I got bored. Oh, well. Good thing the Louvre also has a huge collection of genuine statues from ancient Greece and Rome. And who wouldn’t want to see buff naked people made out of marble? While it’s not my cup of tea — yes, a joke —  if you are an art purist you should probably be dying to see this museum. It has all the highlights of Western civilization, and countless pieces from historical France. If you’re not an art purist, don’t skip the museum until you see the marble nudes. You won’t regret it. 8. British Beer Pubs Galore Okay, okay, before I get mistakingly roasted here for being a boozing dunce, British beer pubs are not about the drinks. They’re about the football. Visiting while the FIFA World Cup commenced in Rio, the pub I experienced was filled with footballers and fans. And with their accents they sounded like genuine football commentators. They screamed “Goal!” whenever someone scored. Sadly, by the time I went, England was already eliminated from World Cup play. But you still gotta hit a beer pub when you’re in England. 7. River Rides In England and France there are great riverboating opportunities on the Thames and the Seine Rivers, respectively. This was a great time to feel the crisp European air beat against my worn forehead. Of course in Europe it’s much cooler than in Chicago, where I live, so if you’re ever traveling in the summer, this’ll be a great opportunity to cool off. I still think that Europeans’ idea of wearing jeans in the summer is ridiculous, but, hey, to each their own. The rivers give great views of the city, and its always a good time to stop walking. 6. Notre Dame It’s giant, it’s pretty, it has a three-hour wait. Whether you’re Catholic and want to make a pilgrimage or just a regular tourist, this cathedral is a beautiful sight to see. You can even climb up to the upper level for a better view of Paris. I unfortunately never went in — I thought by the time I got to the end of that line, I’d be knocking on heaven’s door.

Notre Dam Paris France

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons 

5. Westminster Abbey Once again, you don’t have to go to church to enjoy this place, but if you do, the Abbey is still active and holds prayers every hour. This is also where a bunch of famous British people are buried, including every English and British monarch since William the Conqueror. Pretty awesome. You can see the graves of famous Brits like Charles Dickens and George Frederick Handel.

Westminster Abbey London  Westminster_abbey_northern_portal_20050523

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

4. French Military Museum No, this is not a monument to how the French le surrendered (the French actually had one of the world’s premier militaries). This is a great place for any military fan, myself included. Covering 400 years of military history from the 16th to the 20th centuries, it gives great insights on not only uniforms and weapons, but historical figures and strategies, too. There is a WWII section of the museum, and even then the French didn’t le surrender. 3. Garden of Versailles I’ll be upfront — no matter how much you like gardening, unless you are fit as a teenage boy don’t come here, ’cause it is huge. Yes, there is a golf cart service, but for 32 Euros, that’s a pretty stiff ride. That being said, you don’t have to have the physical endurance of Usain Bolt on steroids to enjoy the most-extravagant example of government spending ever. Honestly, it makes the U.S. Congress look like a dump in comparison. Go ahead and tour the incredible excess of the French monarchs, denoted in the large Greek statues and King Louis XIV’s giant bed (I mean seriously, you could fit five Rosie O’Donnells on that thing). Versailles is, however, a gorgeous place and I highly recommend it. 2. The Changing of the Guard Ever had problems seeing the stage at a crowded Justin Bieber concert? Well, shut up right now ’cause that’s nothing compared to trying to see the changing of the guard. It’s more than a simple switch of two guys with assault rifles (yes they have real guns). There’s a whole parade of guys who block traffic marching into Buckingham Palace, and they’re accompanied by a band. Then the band plays a nice concert of some sort, which is lovely. Although, I would recommend seeing the guard from the water fountain. Trying to get gatefront seats at Buckingham is like trying to get courtside seats at an NBA game.

Changing of the Guard London

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

1. Taking Random Selfies If there’s a defining moment of this whole experience, it’s the golden realization of myself acting like a complete idiot and taking random selfies with all kinds of ridiculous companions. From mimes to people in Egyptian costumes to even the Marquis de Lafeyette, my stupid facial expressions have been implanted on all of them. Selfies, and strange ones, are high recommended. They’re fun and a great way to remember your experience. These selfies are great because you’ve done them right — not half-naked in front of a bathroom mirror, but with a whole host of ridiculous foreign weirdos. The above are some of my favorite things to do in London and Paris. I only had 10 slots, so if you feel like I omitted something please say so in the comments below. Remember this is my opinion, so you might disagree with this list. That’s perfectly fine. Back from a selfie-filled vacation, this is Fegelein Puching Zhang for aNewDomain. Based in Chicago, Fegelein Puching Zhang is our gaming scribe at aNewDomain. Read more of his work here or contact Fegelein at puching@anewdomain.net.