After four years of waiting, a year of saving, and months of anticipation, I am finally going on my three-week trip to Europe! Woohoo!
I haven’t been to Europe since 2010, which hurts my heart. The old world-charm, living breathing history, myriad of different customs and languages and cultures, had me falling head over heels in love. Going back to Europe makes my heart skip a beat.
But enough about my romantic love affair with the continent, here is how I decided to go to Europe, and where I’m going!
My love of Europe has been steadfast since I first visited Italy, Greece, and Turkey in 2008. And it was renewed again in 2010 when I went to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. But this trip really was born last summer, the summer of 2013.
I had just graduated with my Masters degree in Teaching, and had finished up my stint as a long-term substitute teacher/my student teaching. My plan was to move to Florida in August, find a teaching job, and start working.
But, there was this little matter of money, the general lack thereof, from June until August. So, I decided to brush up on the job that had supported me in high school and part of college: lifeguarding.
I have been a lifeguard for so long, and actually loved it. That’s what happens when you grow up going to swim practice twice a day and playing at the pool all day long in between. Being a lifeguard was my equivalent of being a fireman. I still kind of feel like a hero (and yes, I’ve saved multiple kids from drowning, I’ve lost count of how many).
Anyway, that summer would have been pretty normal had it not been for three guys that I met on the job.I worked for a company that hires a lot of college-age students from Eastern Europe who come over on visas to work at the pools from May until October. In June I worked with a couple of people from overseas, but never really got the chance to sit down and talk with them. But then, in July, I met one guy, from Serbia, who was literally one of the nicest people I have ever met.
I’m ashamed to say that I had barely even heard of Serbia until I met this kid. But I loved talking to him about where he was from. It was like, talking to him woke up this dormant desire of traveling, and Europe, and I was fascinated by everything that he told me.
Eventually I had the chance to meet his two roommates and friends from college, who were also working for the same company, but at different pools. And we became friends. I wanted to literally show them everything in America, but they worked six, sometimes seven days a week, all day, for barely any money. It made me upset that I couldn’t show them more about American culture, or take them to more places. But we still had fun.
They made me coffee, which was strong and delicious, while showing me pictures of Belgrade, their hometown and telling me about their city. I took them grocery shopping because they didn’t have a car (seriously pool company?). They made me dinner, on multiple occasions; I picked them up in DC one night and drove them home. Those boys taught me about their culture, and showed me a different way of life. We went to Kings Dominion and even though they got angry because I wouldn’t go on a lot of the rollercoasters, I still had a blast.
They even came down and visited me in Florida when I moved. We attempted to surf, and walked around St. Augustine. They cooked for my sister and I (again), showed me a movie about the time when the US bombed Serbia (which I didn’t know anything about) and explained what being in a bomb shelter was like.
By the time that they left, I felt like I had changed. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I would be visiting them as soon as I possibly could.
And I began planning. I wanted to visit them in Serbia, and also see a few more countries while I was over there as well. I factored in how much money I thought I could make, and how much time I could spend over there, and decided that I would be in Europe the summer of 2014. And here I am!
So as for my itinerary, here it is:
July 8th: Arrive in Belgrade, Serbia; shower, eat, sleep
July 8th-July 9th: Overnight bus to Vienna, Austria
July 9th-July 11th: Austria
July 11th-July 14th:Prague
July 14th – July 15th : Overnight train from Prague to Amsterdam
July 15th– July 18th : Amsterdam (maybe a day trip to Paris 🙂 )
July 18th: Flight from Amsterdam to Belgrade
July 18th-July 27th Serbia
Yes, it’s a pretty packed itinerary. I fully plan on being exhausted by the time I arrive back in Belgrade for my 9 days of hanging out with my friends. But I planned it that way. In Serbia I’ll have more time to relax, move at a slower pace. Which is perfect.
Why these specific countries? Well…don’t laugh.
In January the Librarian at the school where I was teaching, came into the classroom and explained the Virginia Young Readers Choice Awards. Of course, I was probably more excited about this than my students. One of the books of 2013 was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I read it in one sitting. The book takes place in Prague, and Taylor’s descriptions of the city are breathtaking. I wanted to visit Prague after the first twenty pages of the book. So Prague was on my list.
Next, my sister and I listened to this song during the summer of 2013, called “Amsterdam” by Peter Bjorn and John. I instantly loved the song. My sister and I thought we should make a video of our visit to Amsterdam and put it to this song. Unfortunately, my sister won’t be in Europe with me. But I will be in Amsterdam, and I may even try to make a video and put it to “Amsterdam”. We’ll see.
Vienna is simply because its one of the boy’s favorite cities and they said I should visit. I trust them, so I added it to my list.
And Paris (maybe) is because everyone should go to Paris at least once in their lifetime, at least I think so.
I am so excited to visit some major European cities and cross some things off my bucket list, but I’m most excited to see my friends who taught me so much and really woke my passion for traveling.
I can’t wait to show you guys all the awesome things that I’ll have done in Europe. Until then, safe travels 🙂