I’ve returned from my 10-day adventure abroad and I can say with confidence that it did not fall short of expectation. I could write a 10-post series on the trip, but I thought I’d spare the details and recap the highlights. So here goes:
I flew in Munich, Germany on an overnight flight (neighbored by the dreaded “crying child”) and met my group in the airport. We spent the first day on a walking tour and getting situated in our hotel. Day two was New Year’s Eve, and we spent it doing more touring. At night, myself and a few others headed to the city center to kick-off 2011. Though the night started off fairly orderly, as the hours went by, the streets descended into absolute chaos. Fireworks were shot recklessly into crowds and even directly at people (two in my group were hit in the face and body with them). The scene bore an uncanny resemblance to the New Year’s I spent in Amsterdam just two years prior. You can check out a quick clip of the Munich mayhem here (no sound, sorry). After midnight, we checked out a few clubs and made our way back to the hotel.
The following morning we headed for Venice (it would be my second time there), but stopped in Innsbruck, Austria, on the way. Innsbruck had my favorite scenery of all the places I’ve ever visited. There is something surreal about being surrounded by snow-capped mountains that feel as if they’re an arm’s length away. I’m not sure that anyone could imagine what that was like without actually experiencing it themselves. Though we only spent an afternoon there, it was the most memorable afternoon I had.
Once we arrived in Venice, we settled into the hotel for the night (it was already late). A water-taxi the next morning would take us to the city where we spent the day on a guided tour, “getting lost,” and testing the waters on a gondola. Just as the two previous times I’ve been in Italy, and one previous time in Venice, I find that either Italians have very limited tolerance for Americans, or it’s in their culture to brush off good customer service. I myself am Italian, so this was quite discouraging. Nonetheless, it was a great experience to be back.
On the way to Lucerne, Switzerland, we made a quick stop in Verona, Italy, to see Juliet’s balcony, along with all of the letters people leave her (a bigger tourist attraction than I anticipated). Switzerland was a beautiful country with very nice people, but it was a great way to break the wallet. Everything was outrageously expensive (around $5-6 American for a slice of pizza). Unfortunately, I had saved most of my shopping for Switzerland, so I exceeded my budget a bit, and though I don’t like to make exceptions, I figured this trip was a fair one.
We finished the trip in Heidelberg and Frankfurt of Germany. Both cities are rich in history (though Frankfurt was all reconstructed post-WWII). I spent these last few days a bit ill, so I have less to say about them, though there was still plenty to see. The highlights of these cities were Heidelberg’s Castle, and Frankfurt’s pedestrian area (packed with shoppers even on the rainiest of days).
The trip was a wonderful experience, and though it will be my last time traveling to Europe for quite some time, I will look to this trip and my last one as reminders of the great experiences I’ve had as a young adult. And now, as I get myself into graduate school, find a job, and settle down, perhaps they will also serve as motivation to find time to travel once I have a stable life!