Europe: Newcastle, Amsterdam, Istanbul & Hamburg!

London, Paris or Milan? I'm not going to serve those predictable destinations any attention, let's save those pennies and enjoy four destinations within the European continent for a lot less money? Yes! I'm a city boy at heart, so if you share that state of mind then stick with me! OK? Will you let me show you the way? Newcastle, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Hamburg won't wait!  

Newcastle, some call it the Geordie Shore but I won't allow that chat! A city like Newcastle keeps quiet throughout the day, saving its energy for the twilight hours. Resting your head in this North-eastern city won't bankrupt you, just choose the Backpackers Newcastle to make the best of a cheap bed in a spotlessly clean dorm that's has the location factor fulfilled. I stayed in Newcastle in August 2014 for two nights, I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the city. Get on that Hostelworld hype to find your dorm with ease, I even got a cup of tea made for me on arrival! Newcastle can be reached by coach, rail and air, getting to the Toon doesn't have to be a chore! Being cost conscious I took the Megabus from Birmingham city centre to Newcastle within six hours because of that £6.00 bargain! Trains take the biscuit so don't bother with that business, would you still class yourself as a backpacker? Newcastle won't be judging you if a budget hype is what you have chose to be on! Newcastle, showed me an eventful weekend! Yes!

Take what you want from Newcastle! I did! Grey's Monument demands your attention because the Tyne Bridge doesn't need be arrogant! Take the city in at your own pace, the Geordie vibe will stop you from doing anything in a rushed nature. I had put off my visit to Newcastle, I had to break free! Sydney might well have the same bridge but Newcastle's Tyne Bridge came first, it still stands strong as the prototype for the once growing Australian continent. Built from cast-iron is the Angel of the North, she stands strong like a glamazon over the peaks of Newcastle and Gateshead. Take the 21 bus from Newcastle city centre to bow down to the North East's female phenomenon? Newcastle has a compact Chinatown but you can grab a tasty meal for a few pounds to save your paper for the nighttime. Dress to impress, sure the Pink Triangle brings the beat when the sun sets. Promise this, Newcastle's a keeper! London might have the Queen but you can see Beauty Killer at Eazy Street pet! The Toon kept it real, genuine and down to earth!

Hallo Amsterdam! Me and my Brother spent two days in liberal Dutch city of Amsterdam, it's where the grass was greener on the other side for us. Tulips might not be the native plant because they are Turkish but this Dutch city has enough canals to last a lifetime! If your travelling from the United States or further afield then trust in Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport to get you to the Dam! My September weekend in 2013 served me and my Brother a glorious sunny weekend. The Red Light District really deserves more respect, so show it some appreciation because those working girls command their windows like a businessman would run his empire. I must say it was really quite something to see some of the women wave at me and my Brother, trying to suggestively coax us to their windows but that's not my cup of tea. To the right the canals along Oudezijds Achterburgwal looked every inch the Amsterdam scene I wanted to see. Mary Jane! We found her, she showed us the right path! Yes, we loved the Dam! 

The sale and consumption of Cannabis may be legal in The Netherlands but stringent rules must be abided by otherwise its curtains for you! Me and my Brother favoured GOA, it had a young and current feel with a certain tone of hip hop music playing whilst the customers blazed throughout the day. It's no joke in Amsterdam you can legally buy an abundance of kooky looking drug paraphernalia but we left the habits of Coffeeshops in the Dam. Nieumarkt and its square served Dutch cuteness and hipster style at the same time, lined with lovely cafes and restaurants it wasn't difficult to find a tasty Full English Breakfast in a fully Dutch environment. Take a canal boat trip to experience the life blood of Amsterdam's famous canal ways, the weather played ball so the former warehouses along the canals looked darling. Get Dam Square to go, morning time serves this Dutch focal point because people flock to that Amsterdam sight. Take a deep breath, Amsterdam doesn't do stress so blaze the day away! Dankuwel, Amsterdam! 

Istanbul, Turkey is the city where east meets west with its inter-continental connections, it is a sure winner! To take Istanbul on, you must embrace the craziness of the Grand Bazaar because nothing else really matters. I'm not a shopper but you can try for yourselves, Istanbul serves many opportunities. Be greeted by a former Catholic Church that also served as a Mosque, the Hagia Sophia puts the cat amongst the pigeons when places of worship are concerned. Sultanahmet takes you back to the days of the Ottoman Empire where the Blue Mosque rubs shoulders with the Top Kapi Saray, words don't do it justice but I'll do my best! During my two visits to Istanbul I managed to capture the same amount of craziness, Istanbul doesn't waste time! Are you intrigued by this Turkish mega-city? Leaving my family in the Southern Turkey had to be done, I wanted to seek the sights of Istanbul on an independent hype! The category was the Bosporus! Yes, that waterway served the views that compared to no other place! Truth!

Making back over the 'Golden Horn', I was fronted by the Galata Tower! My breakfast had disappeared rapidly, getting a Turkish pastry bake and some Ayran was the right thing to do! Heading over to Taksim Square calms the crazy down, its a modern yet authentic hangout for the young Turks of today with the usual Turkish tea shops and Topman fashion stores. Istiklal Caddesi is the international infused streets that I'm introducing, its completely bizarre if I do say so myself. My hostel was located in Taksim Square on a side street that oozed Istanbul city realness not for the faint hearted but life is all about drama. Going hungry in Istanbul is a lie because the International pallet can be satisfied with the small Kebab cafes on one corner next to a KFC restaurant, so all parties can be happy. The Bosporus Strait defines the European and Asian borders, separating the two continents. Take a stroll along the Galata Bridge over to Beyoglu, barter the best price for a fish supper! Don't ever miss out on Istanbul, Turkey! Never!

I don't usually care for Hipster inspired places but Hamburg, Germany sold that sub-culture to me good and proper. I was hooked on Hamburg! Hamburg stands as Berlin's little sister close to the North Sea, take a detour from the next one to spend some time in this Hipster like dwelling that plays Industrial regeneration just right. Embrace the Rathaus, Hamburg's council house serves face in all respects with its grand chandeliers and onyx bathrooms. I wanted those Onyx fixtures and fittings! Not fair! Getting around Hamburg can be done by the city's Underground system that has links with Hamburg Airport so from beginning to end you can ride on time! HafenCity stands strong, breaking the dawn with its changing dockyards that are being transformed into trendy dwellings. Don't be a hot potato in Hamburg just have one for lunch, dine out on a hot Kumpir for a few Euros to fuel your sightseeing quest. You can rely on Deutsche Bahn to get you to Hamburg on-time for a great price. Germany, I'm so very jealous! 

Even though Hamburg's city centre had be at 'Guten Tag' I wanted some down time, choosing the St. Pauli Backpackers Hostel I made the best of my time in a trendy and historically rich part of Hamburg. Located close enough to an Underground station I was still connected to the action, anyway I embraced the Hispter charm of the outdoor bar/cafes and restored clothes stores during my early evening discovery. Lamachun anyone? Germany is the second Turkey so that boded well for my search for Turkish food on the run. Dining alfresco with an ice cold jug of Ayran suited me just fine. I can endorse Turkish Hipster life completely! Whether it be England, The Netherlands, Turkey or Germany I love my continent and then some B! Travelling on a budget in Europe is number one, you know it's my first love! Hostels hold the key to a comfortable, compact and affordable stay wherever in Europe, don't be a hater! Don't just think about London, Paris or Milan! Let us love Europe the right way! Yes, it's my home continent!

Europe, More Than The Song Contest! 

Joseph Harrison 


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