In 1997, the summer before my senior year in college, one of my good friends was graduating from a college in Chicago and we decided to take a trip to Europe. This was the first real time that I had been out on my own traveling the world without a parent there. I saved for most of my junior year for this trip and could not wait to go.
We started out in London, England then moved on via the Chunnel to Paris, France. When we got off the train in Paris, my feet were killing me and I realized after a week of traveling that my backpack was WAY too full. My friend and I stopped at the post and I mailed over half my stuff back home. I just didn’t want to carry it anymore and I felt so much better once I did that. We saw all the standard sites in Paris and then went to Euro-Disney for day. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Disney theme parks. My parents started me off on that by taking me to Disneyworld and Disneyland when I was a kid. My best memories of my mom and dad were when we were at Disney, so naturally, my first opportunity, I went to Euro-Disney.
From Paris, we went on to Amsterdam. Holy moly! Amsterdam had some serious red lights and not the traffic type. I think I spent more time there just staring in shock than anything else. After that we moved onto Denmark, then Germany, and then Austria and Italy. That leg of the trip flew by fast, because we took the Eurorail and it was just country after country. I tried to take a lot of pictures and we met some great people and had a lot of fun, but it all really blended together.
My favorite place on this trip had to Salzburg, Austria. First off, it had a castle, which I thought was kick ass. The castle was up on this hill and when you were up there you could see the old city on one side of the river and then the new more modern city on the other side of the river. The old city had been built into the side of the mountain with brick and rock. It was really cool looking. They also had such good pretzels there. It really was food that got me through a lot of that trip and not because it was awesome. I didn’t speak any of the languages, so ordering something like a pretzel was sort of a universal hello.
After Austria, we went to Italy. We stopped in Verona, home of the famous Romeo and Juliet story. They had a statue in Verona of Juliet and you were supposed to go up and touch her breast and rub it for luck, sort of like a Buddha’s belly. The statue’s breast was all shiny and light because so many people for hundreds of years had touched her there. I had to take a picture of that! Then we went to Venice and while it was beautiful and I took tons of great photos of the canals and the birds and the people, I was not prepared for how badly the city smelled. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here, but Venice is stinky. Really stinky.
After Italy, we took a train along the Mediterranean coast back around to France. We visited Normandy and the World War II Battle of Normandy Museum there and I took endless photos of tanks, battle scenes, dioramas, and military displays. It’s funny how I packed up and went to Europe for a summer, but ended up having the best time in a war museum.
I have done a lot of great things in my life, but I must say this trip to Europe is still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Here are some of my favorite photos.
More next time,