During my Master’s Degree, I had 8+ hours of class per day from Monday to Friday, field visits that began at 5:30am and a thesis to write. Still, I found time to travel. Thankfully, Europe provides the perfect setting for weekend getaways and cheap ways to “pop over” to other countries.
From watching a childhood friend compete in the Ski World Cup in Austria to running a 10km through downtown Madrid to having a tour of the Sauber garage before the Monaco Grand Prix, I fittingly managed to make a few of my trips revolve around sport in some fashion. Although not on purpose, I somehow found myself away from home for most weekends in 2016 during my course.
I can’t speak for my bank account but I am 100% content with my decisions. Planning ahead, especially when booking items such as trains, Airbnbs and event tickets, also saved me hundreds of Euros/Francs. Some of my most memorable and sport filled weekend trips are highlighted below!
AUDI FIS Ski World Cup
As soon as I managed to find classmates interested in skiing, I pitched to them the idea of a ski weekend in Austria where we ski as well as watch one of my childhood friends compete in one of the world cup events. During this time we were still in Milan and had an exam or paper due every 11 days. Timing was tricky and we ended up driving 11 hours home on the Sunday and writing an exam on the Monday…but everyone passed, and did well in fact. It must have been that out-loud study session in the car 😉
It was a whirlwind trip that involved passing through Salzburg, Innsbruk, Söll and Hinterstoder, whether it was for a yoga class in German, an Airbnb to sleep in, a crazy day of skiing (where as a Canadian I was expected to be the expert yet was put to shame), or to attend my first professional ski event.
EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Marathon
While still in Leicester and working out at the beautiful gym De Montfort University offers, one of my roommates suggested a run in Madrid. By the time we moved to Milan we were fresh into the new year with aspirations of working out – and more so running since the gym was unaffordable – so 4 of us girls signed up to run the 10km and 2 of the boys signed up for the full marathon.
Most of the people going were using this as an opportunity to see a bit of Madrid since the run is directly through the centre of the city and they hadn’t been to Madrid. As I had lived right in the centre for a few months almost 9 years prior, I was incredibly excited to go back to one of my favourite places. This also meant I could skip touring around the day before the race and focus on the great shopping!
The 10km was my first race, and as a relatively fit person who ended up not working out at all the months leading up to the race, I finished it feeling pretty good about myself. Later on, watching the marathon runners as they reached kilometre 40 still running faster than the top speed of my “run”, I didn’t feel quite as accomplished anymore. However, running the 10km also meant we could take pictures outside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and my roommate could point out where she used to work while we were running. Our two boys also did extremely well in the marathon and only one ended up in the hospital!
The French Open – Roland Garros
On May 20th, 9 of us embarked on a weekend trip to Paris that included attending Roland Garros…
During our week off – the time given for us to move from Italy to Switzerland – tickets for the French Open went on sale. One of my more diligent classmates sat on his computer for hours and managed to snag 8 tickets for the Suzanne Lenglen court.
As the only North American in this group, and one who had grown up watching tennis tournaments such as Wimbledon from ‘across the pond’, attending one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world seemed like a fairytale. Watching a live match at this tournament was like a dream come true, even if I didn’t get to see Milos Raonic play because most of the games were rained out. Simply the atmosphere, having watching and romanticized these events as a child, made it worth it for me. Having French speaking friends tour us around Paris the day before, staying in an Airbnb behind the Moulin Rouge, and a road trip with a few of my favourite people that included traffic in the form of cows on a countryside road in Switzerland definitely didn’t hurt!
Monaco F1 Grand Prix
Nice, France & Monte Carlo, Monaco
The Monaco Grand Prix is known as the most luxurious Formula 1 event and I’m happy to note that it did not disappoint! Monaco is a tiny country but having the highest per capita GDP in the world puts it in a class of its own. I have never seen so much luxury and wealth as I did that weekend and wow was it insane.
Since finding accommodation in Monaco was nearly impossible, we chose to stay in Nice, France which was a short 15min train ride from Monte-Carlo. We spent day one exploring Nice in the morning and Monaco in the afternoon. Thanks to the FIFA Master alumni network, we met one of our alumni, who was working for Sauber, for a “backstage” tour.
Day two was race day, and it also turned out to be arguably the rainiest day in Monaco this year. This rain was predicted far in advance and it caused a 45min delay to the start of the race. However, these events take place rain or shine, and the entire weekend was an unforgettable experience.
After getting wrapped up in all the fame, power and status of the Monaco Grand Prix, there’s nothing like getting stuck in Geneva and having to sleep on the floor of the airport to quickly bring one back to the realities of the student life!