Alright guys. It has been an absolutely insane month! But I owe you all (and myself) a post about my trip to Europe because it was AMAZING! Once I got back, I was so flustered, getting sick twice, trying to get my sleep back in order, and trying to pay all the bills I owed once I got back! But now that I’ve kind of got my life back on track, here is my blog post about Europe. This first part is just going to be a basic rundown and notes about my trip.
I want to start of by talking about my airport experience because, despite me trying incredibly hard to act like I knew what I was doing, and have my life together, I totally failed. I was at my home town airport, like I literally hadn’t even left the state yet, and I tripped over a table trying to get to the bathroom in the airport, and got a huge gash in my leg. Great. Off to an awesome start. Luckily, I was prepared and had brought a mini first aid kit. It came in handy. After that, I had a connecting flight in Chicago, with only an hour layover. Talk about hectic! I ran all the way from my terminal on one side of the airport to the one where my next flight was and made it JUST in time. After that, I had an eleven hour flight from Chicago to Rome. Our landing in Rome was a bit bumpy and I embarrassingly threw up on the plane. It seemed that this trip was not off to a great start, but I decided to push on with a happy attitude. Once in Rome, I took my wallet out of my backpack, only to lose it IN THE AIRPORT IN ROME!!! Seriously?! I was starting to get annoyed. Luckily, I found my wallet, nothing missing from it, but I had to go through security questioning and stuff so people didn’t think I was a bad guy. Surprise. I’m not. Anyways, at this point, I’m just ready to get to my hotel and drink some water and lay down. I was still trying to push on with a happy attitude, because afterall, I was in EUROPE! It was a dream come true and I wasn’t about to let some silly things ruin my entire trip. Anyways,
DAY 1: Rome
When we got to our hotel, I was greeted by little Vespas everywhere as decoration. We had some time to rest and get ready for an excursion out to the city and a dinner following that. We travelled to Michelangelo’s Square where we explored the history of some of the statues and architecture that littered the square. From there, we were able to view some Ancient Roman Ruins and see the exact spot that Augustus was brutally murdered so many hundreds of years ago. We also saw where old chariot races took place and an old theatre, much like the Coliseum. After our brief exploration of some of the historic parts of Rome, we had a beautiful buffet dinner and went to bed, where I slept pretty mediocrely, due to my body clock being a total disaster.
DAY 2: Also Rome
I woke up early and got ready so I could get a bit of a jump start on the day. I ate breakfast, explored more of the hotel (only to discover MORE Vespas!) I made my way all the way to the top of the hotel and was greeted by the MOST AMAZING VIEW! I went to the rooftop and saw the entire city of Rome, as the sun was rising. It was the most breathtaking and beautiful view I ever had, and probably ever will witness. The multiple different colors of all the houses and building being illuminated as the sun rose over the hilltop of the stunning city was something I will NEVER forget. I made my way to the lobby where we left to go to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City. We explored the ancient Vatican City and made our way into the Sistine Chapel. It was so chock full of art and history and ancient stories and just pristine beauty. It really was breathtaking. After our exploration of the Vatican city and its ancient stories, we toured the historic Coliseum. This was one of my favorite parts.I love ancient Roman history and being inside of something so historic seemed almost unreal. Following that, we headed back to the hotel where I took a quick nap and prepared to go tour the city of Rome. I experienced the popular Trevi Fountain, and then headed toward the ever venerable Pantheon. Its grandeur and elegance was unmatched. The tall ceilings, the ancient columns, and the history behind it all made the experience seem lethargic. To finish off our night, we made it to a popular square in Rome, where we had a beautiful dinner, (with a fresh, Italian, Minestrone soup included.) some real Italian gelato, and a bit of touring around and watching the live singers and lively people around the square.
DAY 3: Florence
One of my favorite nights in Europe (though, who can really pick a favorite?) was when we went to Florence. We travelled by coach from Rome to Florence and made our first pit stop pretty early in the morning, at a gas station, but it was so much more than a gas station. They had fresh food, and basically a miniature restaurant inside the gas station. That wasn’t the crazy part though. What was crazy, was all the yelling, from the employees of the restaurant, and the restaurant goers. It was an adventure for sure. After that stop, we completed our leg of the drive to the city of Florence. What was really amazing, was the whole drive through the hillsides into the city, we would pass these grand, old, Italian-Style castles and cathedrals up in the hills. Its beauty was transcendent and astounding. When we finally made it into Florence, we immediately went into the city, where we went to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the Statue of David is hosted. After that, we walked through the cobblestone streets, where we passed one of Picasso’s old homes, and were even witness to the oldest building in Florence. We went to view The Duomo, which holds one of the most architectural wonders of the world, the dome on top of the church. Florence is also home to real leather shops, all around the city of Florence. I spent some time shopping and bought some real leather beauties. (The smell is AMAZING!!) By this time, my feet were pretty much dead, so I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. This would prove to be a mistake. My taxi driver was up on sidewalks, pulling in front of speeding cars, swerving everywhere, and driving through alleyways just big enough for one very small car to fit. What an experience to say the least. After that, we had time to rest before getting dressed to go eat dinner in an Italian Vineyard, owned by a renowned chef, who served us the most incredible dinner! We drove up to the vineyard, where we were greeted with live music and employees handing us these crazy blue drinks. Our five-course meal consisted of an appetizer buffet, complete with fresh picked olives, and cauliflower bread dip.This was followed by a second appetizer-type meal, with truffle ravioli, and three cheese macaroni with italian sausage. Then, our BEAUTIFUL main course came out- a roast literally ON FIRE. We had roast and cooked potatoes. Lastly, we had a chocolate souffle-type dessert, and then cheesecake topped with strawberry sauce. It was truly stupendous to say the least. Not to mention, our wonderful Italian singing man pulled me out of the chair and we danced while he serenaded me with song and our dinner mates cheered and laughed. To make it even more memorable, on our way back down the vineyard, our stuffed selves stopped atop a hill overlooking the entire city of Florence. It was a sight to see and absolutely, incredibly beautiful. Words can’t describe. Then, we made our way to the hotel for a long night’s rest.
DAY 4: VENICE
Venice was one of my favorite days too, but like I said, I can’t really choose because this whole trip was so mind blowingly amazing. First of all, the entire city of Venice is water locked so we had to take a water taxi just to get there. After that, we toured around the city for a bit, taking in its extravagant colors and historical and elegant architecture. One thing I noticed right away, was how humid it was; because of the intense heat and surrounding water of course. Venice is well known for its glass blowing, so we went and watched a glass blower blow glass, which was pretty incredible. After this, I took some time to myself to explore the beautiful city. I wanted to buy so many things, but it seemed to be a bit of an expensive city, so I just window shopped; but nonetheless, it was amazing. I met up with my group after a bit of exploring where we went on a gondola ride! Complete with singing, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. After that, I made my way to Per San Marco, where I sat outside and had a nice meal, with beautiful, live music in the background. It was really the most picturesque, and perfect moment. After I ate, I decided to wander a bit more and ended up getting lost, which was scary at first, until I decided to turn it into an adventure. Once I found my way back to Per San Marco, I was walking through the square, when I had a pigeon poop on my foot! Gross, I know. But they were everyone and it was pretty much unavoidable. After this, I met up with my group to head to our hotel for the night, and we rode a water taxi out of the city and the sun set in front of us, illuminating the magical place that is Venice. I understand that although it was one of my favorite days, I don’t have much written for Venice. It was just too purely magical to even put into words.
DAY 5: Lucerne
Lucerne was quite a bit calmer than the few days previous. Most of the days, we were on the bus, driving from Venice into Switzerland. When we finally made it to Lucerne, we took a train up into the alps and from there, switched to an open top Gondola that took us the rest of the way up the mountain. We explored the mountain, and admired the scenery, before heading back down, where we took a boat to get from the Alps to the city where our hotel was. The view of the city coming in from the boat was something out of a movie, and was truly beautiful. Once we got into the city, I explored for a bit, shopped for some original swiss knives, and chocolate, then went back to the hotel. One thing that really stood out that was so different from the architecture I had seen the last few days, was that all the buildings were very neat, and everything was exceptionally clean and orderly. A cool thing about my hotel was how old it was. The stairs were slightly crooked and there looked to be hidden corridors and little magical things like that all around that made everything just a little bit more mysterious and mystical. I enjoyed a locally cooked dinner before I went to bed. Although it was slower, and less hectic, Lucerne was still lovely and a nice little break from all the walking I had done the last few days.
DAY 6: Paris, Day 1
Most of the day of heading into Paris, I slept, since most of the day was driving. We arrived in Paris around 4 in the afternoon, which didn’t leave us much time to do any exploring, I spent what little time I had getting ready and dressed up for a night out on Paris, before we went to the Moulin Rouge. This was TRULY a dream come true for me. I felt like a movie star being there. We had a stupendous meal and every time I went to go up the red carpeted stairs that led to the restrooms and outside area, I was escorted by gentlemen in tuxedos and bowties. Not to mention, the sparkling, magical, and absolutely breathtaking show, that left me wanting more. This event alone was enough to make me never want to leave Paris. Not only that, but since I was a little girl, Paris is somewhere I’ve dreamt of going. It truly was a dream come true, and was so beautiful and fulfilling, it warmed my heart, and I felt truly at home.
DAY 7: Paris, Day 2
The morning started off rainy as we made our way to the Arc De Triomphe. We basically just did a huge tour around the city, stopping at Napoleon’s Church, and making our way all the way to the Notre Dame. Outside the Notre Dame, there’s a star engraved on the ground that’s supposedly been there for years. It’s said that if you walk on it, it’s good luck and it means you will end up back in Paris within a year of you walking on the said star. Of course I walked on it 4 or 5 or 6 times. Just for good measure. The day took a sunny turn and we walked throughout the cobblestone streets, to the Latin Quarter, a historic, and beautiful section of Paris. The alleyways were narrow, and used to be streets, where Parisians walked and did their shopping and socializing. The city, unlike Italy, whose architecture is thousands of years old, was inspired by the gothic era of art and living, which gave it a very elegant feel. We took a few hours to tour down The Seine River, by boat, enjoying the sights and smells of Paris. We shopped down the Champs Elysees, before going back to our hotel to prepare for a big, Parisian dinner. However, before we ate, we made a stop at the Eiffel Tower, and went up to the second story of the tower. I definitely cried while I was there. Not embarrassing crying, just a little tear trickling down my face kind of thing. It was just so absolutely perfect. Since I was a little girl, I would dream of being in the presence of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Having that life-long dream come true was really one of the most unexplainably beautiful moments in my entire life. We eventually made our way to dinner where I had Escargot, fish, and Creme Brulee. Yes. Escargot. It was cooked in butter in garlic, so it tasted fine. It was the eyes that really put me off. But I ate it nonetheless. To end the night, we went back to the Eiffel Tower one more time. By this time, it was probably about nine p.m. and the sun had just set, casting a purplish hue into the sky. When we made it to the Eiffel Tower, the light show had just began and the purple sky behind it was just the most exceptional thing I’ve ever seen. What a memorable and beautiful night.
DAY 8: London, Day 1
Again, this day was seemingly uneventful. We rode the bus into Caillat, where we took a ferry across the English Channel. I got to witness the White Cliffs of Dover and reminded myself that I had to go back to that one day. (but I would have to bring my mom with me; she would love it.) Then, we drove into London, where we checked into our hotel. I shopped for a little bit, then went back to the hotel for a small dinner and an early bedtime.
DAY 9: London, Day 2
This was my last day of exploring Europe before I had to leave. During my trip in Europe, my boyfriend was in Germany, visiting an old friend, and he decided to come surprise me in London, since I hadn’t seen him in about a month at that point. We spent over ten hours that day exploring the city. We took the TRAM into the city, where we walked for what seemed like forever, until we made it to the London Bridge. The London Bridge has quite a bit of history behind it, and we took a haunted tour underneath the bridge for some quick history and a bit of fun. After that, we stopped at a Pub and Grill that looked to be straight out of a history book. We ate a quick lunch before hopping back up to get on with our exploring. We followed the Thames for most of the day, since that seemed to be a good guide and reference point if we were to get lost. We stopped for a bit at a little beachy area along the Thames where we enjoyed our view of London and the sounds of the locals enjoying their cloudy, but warm London afternoon. We also stopped in an alleyway filled with shops, where we spent some time looking through all the homemade crafts and selling items. We finally made it to the London Eye and looked across the Thames to the Big Ben and city surrounding it. We walked across the bridge over the Thames to get to the Big Ben (which was sadly under construction). For our last leg of the adventure, we walked to the Houses of Parliament and then to Buckingham Palace. On our way back to the TRAM from the Palace, we walked down an absolutely gorgeous street lined with trees and engraved columns. We finally made it back to the hotel around ten p.m. where we ordered room service for dinner and enjoyed a lovely night in. London is so vast with so much history and beauty that one day just can’t fit all of the sight-seeing in, but we did our best.
Okay, sorry this is literally the longest blog post ever but I had to fit in all of my adventures into one post, which was tricky considering I had just toured around Europe. My trip was fast, but so amazing and priceless. Everything I did was just another amazing thing to remember for the rest of my life. I met so many amazing people and saw wonders of the world, that I really feel that this trip changed me a little bit for the better. This is something I will never forget, and I definitely plan on going back as soon as I can.