My First Trip Out of the Country: A 14 Day European Adventure
Words escape me as I try to fit my thoughts and feelings on you in this tiny box. The letters jumble and my thoughts fly too fast as my fingers feverishly type.
This is a trip that changed my life. The experiences I had, both personal and amongst the group, shaped me and opened my eyes to a world unknown; a world I now love and adventure I now crave.
In many instances my heart ached for my loved ones to be by my side, but there was something about experiencing those firsts; those breath taking, soul-giving moments with myself gave me a sense of peace.
The journey began in Seattle, where I took a flight down to San Francisco to join Sam on a connection to Iceland, which would finally arrive in Paris. The flights were long but relaxing and I was so excited to be on my way. Sam was a great travel buddy and I followed his lead on most everything from getting my first passport stamp... yes, my first passport stamp (I was excited), to picking out food in the Iceland airport or knowing how to perfectly view the Northern Lights from 30,000 ft up. No matter what, Sam helped me feel at ease. Oh and did I mention I saw the NORTHERN LIGHTS? I knew my trip was already off to an incredible start. I marveled at the sight of the dancing lights and my eyes welled up as I realized my dream of seeing them had finally come true.
After many hours, snacks and naps, we arrived in Paris. Sam's friends Rishad and Jamal were awaiting our arrival. We became fast friends and hit the road towards Germany. The first few days were spent exploring all the country had to offer. We met up with Hannes Becker, an incredibly talented photographer based out of Germany, who showed us some insane spots and all in all added to the experience. The most notable spots we visited were Boppard, Burg Eltz Castle, The German Alps and Hintersee.
Afterwards, we made the quick trek to Hallstatt, Austria which proved to be well worth the early wake up time.
Italy essentially made the trip for me. Although I wouldn't have wanted to, if I HAD to leave after my experiences in Italy I would have still felt completely satisfied. Rishad was able to get us in contact with Sabine from @visitsouthtyrol and she went above and beyond my wildest imaginations! She provided us with the "must sees" of South Tyrol and hospitality like I have never known. For two evenings, we stayed at the magical Seiser Alm Hotel, (a 5 star hotel in the Dolomites), and dined like royals at their incredible restaurant. I could've cried tears of joy after every meal. We also stayed in some adorable b&b's and every meal at every restaurant was fantastic. Italy made me realize just how obsessed I am with bread and espresso. Sabine's recommendations allowed us to explore South Tyrol like it was our home and I truly thank her and @visitsouthtyrol for such an amazing, authentic Italian experience!
Switzerland provided a scenic stop over between Italy and Paris, where we would all say goodbye. We drove along Grimsel Pass, at an elevation of 7,100 ft, which was equal parts terrifying and gorgeous. The night we arrived we ended up getting into the small surrounding town too late, which led us to sleeping in the car. It ended up being entirely worth it because the next morning at sunrise we had front row seats to this view:
Our trip ended where it began, in the heart of the magical city that is Paris. We stayed two nights in the upbeat, artsy district of Montmartre where I wined, dined and shopped. Still to this day, the two most memorable meals of my trip were had at The Hardware Societe for an amazing breakfast and Ober Mamma for an Italian dinner of a lifetime. If you find yourself hungry in the city, I highly recommend both of these places for a beautiful atmosphere, lovely service and incredible food. The Hardware Societe is located directly outside of Sacre-Coeur or The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, which is a gorgeous Church with many musicians setting the perfect tone outside. You can enjoy a view of the city, feed birds or explore inside. I even sang with some street musicians to a huge crowd and was moved to tears by the experience. Needless to say, Paris changed my heart for the better. I cannot wait to return to Europe.
5 countries in 2 weeks. After never having been outside of the US, I'd say this was a perfect start.