During my personal travel time while I’ve been in Europe, I have explored many different locations that could make the most accomplished world traveler’s jaw drop. Don’t get me wrong; I have also explored many beautiful and amazing places within Italy with my class. But, this is a story about my travel time outside of Italy and how the people I met made the lands I visited even more interesting.
It all started with my first weekend away in Munich, Germany. I have never met more friendly people (even in my sweet home, Alabama)! More than once, when we asked for directions, they would get out their iPhones for addresses and take us to the spot we were looking for. Whether in a museum or a biergarten, I was amazed at the Germans’ helpfulness and hospitality.
My next weekend to travel was a flight to Greece. I was skeptical when we were going to a small island called Aegina, but I went along because it was a last minute decision. Little did I know, it was the best decision I could have made. The quietness of the island was calming, and the scenery was beautiful. My travel companions and I found our own Greek family while we were there! We got to experience their culture to its fullest by having dinner with them as we all celebrated a birthday in authentic Greek style. I’ll never forget trying to learn the traditional dances!
I decided to explore Seville, Spain next. I was pleased with the weather and the atmosphere of this colorful city. I loved how alive it was, and how the people all seemed to enjoy their life there. Mealtimes were fun; I especially loved the tapas we ate. I think it is such a lovely idea to have a meal where everyone shares each dish; that shows such a sense of community!
The most extended time I have spent away from Italy this summer was with my mother when we went to France. In Nice, we took a night tour of Monte Carlo and Monaco with a skillful and talkative driver, who took us on the route of the Grand Prix. In Avignon, our small hotel was truly our home base. The owners took an interest in us, advising us on places to go. They even sat down and had a glass of wine with us! I loved the hospitality in Avignon, and I enjoyed getting to learn my way around the city. Each market in all the French towns and villages we visited had its own charm, made more memorable by the conversations we shared with the sellers.
The next place I visited was gorgeous Austria! My friends and I had fun singing along to the songs on the Sound of Music Tour with our hilarious British guide. We even ate some yummy Austrian food. The lady who hosted us was so caring. It was almost like having our own Austrian mother! The views were amazing; Austria is a place I want to visit again!
Finally, I toured London and Newbury, England. I have grown up with a love for all things British, but the last time I visited there, I was only seven years old, so, it was time to go back! Renee and I had tea at The Orangery, toured Kensington Palace, and even saw a show in the theatre district! Kensington Palace has a fashion exhibit happening right now, so I was particularly interested. (My major is Apparel Design and Production Management.) I enjoyed seeing garments worn by Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. The dresses were beautifully constructed of gorgeous fabrics, and as you can imagine, every detail was perfect. We headed off to Newbury next to see the famous Highclere Castle, better known by television viewers as Downton Abbey. What an amazing experience that was! Being a huge fan of the show, I thoroughly enjoyed walking where the stars walked and seeing the rooms where they film! I found myself thinking in a British accent!
As my summer abroad comes to an end, it is nice to reflect on all the awesome trips I have taken this semester. This program has given me an amazing view on culture of many countries. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to see the world and experience a taste of so many different places. My next adventure will be the one back home, and I look forward to seeing my family and telling them about all the places I explored. Goodnight from Ariccia!