I went by train throughout much of Europe and saw the hills, the houses, the meadows all flash by my eyes at over 250 kilometers per hour. That is how fast it feels like time is flying by. I can’t believe that my trip to Europe has come and gone, but I will treasure my three and a half weeks abroad for much longer than that.
My college apartment mate and I did so much—we started in Prague, ventured to Vienna and Salzburg in Austria, visited the castles in Fussen, Germany, and explored Dachau and the Hofbrau House in Munich. Then there was Italia. Goodness. We spent time in the big cities like Rome, Florence and Venice but we also paid homage to the smaller ones like Siena, Verona, Positano, Capri, and Salerno (which were my favorites).
More than the museums or the artifacts, my favorite part of my trip was experiencing European LIFE. I loved trying the food, particularly the gelato, and attempting to talk with the local Italians in the sparse Italian I could sputter out. I loved spending more than an hour at dinner and not being rushed to pay the check. I love how they hang flowers on their windowsill (why don’t we do that?). It was these little things that made Europe magical.
I also loved fostering a friendship with my apartment mate, Sarah. She planned with such great detail and I’ll always be indebted to her for her sense of direction (of which I am immensely lacking, I have been told).
I wanted to detail my 10 favorite memories of my trip and I’ve included a slideshow below so that you can get a taste of my summer abroad:
1. Taking the ferry home after a day in Capri: The sun hit the water in a way that made it glisten and sparkle. The wind was just right—enough to blow your hair a little but not so much you couldn’t keep your eyes open. It was divine.
2. Eating gelato twice daily: I think I tried almost every flavor. Stratacella, blood orange, cherry amaretto, raspberry, cinnamon, peach, chocolate, cookies, shall I go on? There was never a flavor I didn’t like.
3. The David: We had this magnificent statue all to ourselves as we arrived at 8:00 am. I loved the long tunnel entrance and then seeing him up close. Everyone says it’s incredible and they’re right.
4. The Basilica in the Vatican: We went at the perfect time of day. The choir voices rang throughout the church because it was during their mass. The light was shining through in three equal parts, like the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, just as the sun was setting. A moment I’ll never forget.
5. Paddle boating in Prague: At sunset we rented a little yellow foot paddle boat and it was so fun being surrounded by swans and ducks while looking out on Charles’ Bridge.
6. The little birds: Europe is no stranger to birds but I especially love the little finches, who had a hankering for my apple strudel and risotto. They are bold little birds and they would often hop on our table and eat my food right in front of me! Still, it was somehow endearing.
7. The food: This is just an overarching statement. I have to admit, I was not as mind-blown with the Italian food but I was doubly impressed with the German food. I ate as much chicken schnitzel, spatzel, and strudel I could get my hands on. But I also had some amazing Italian dishes like shrimp risotto, a fresh pesto, and my favorite, the pasta Bolognese. I also had a fantastic hot cocoa in Siena that was as thick as chocolate pudding!
8. A gondola ride in Venice: Yes, it was ridiculously overpriced. But I genuinely did enjoy it. The lull of the boat in the tiny canals was so peaceful. It was eerie to see the steps slowly cover with water but fascinating nonetheless.
9. The Sound of Music sites in Salzburg: I love all things Julie Andrews and especially The Sound of Music. When I competed in pageants, “I Have Confidence” was my talent. So seeing some of the places where they filmed the movie was so thrilling for me.
10. An egg shop in Austria: Like I said, it was the little things in Europe that made the trip special. Sarah saw a decorated egg shop that was unlike anything I have ever seen before. They had decorated thousands of eggs in every different color, theme, and holiday. I was in heaven. Although not all of my eggs survived on the trip back home, I loved that store and I wish I could have bought an entire egg tree!
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook