A couple of months ago I wrote a post detailing my upcoming three-week trip to Europe entitled Europe 2014 Itinerary. And after that post, I have not been heard from since. Just kidding, although, it is partly true. Why have I not shared my amazing glorious trip with you all? Well, the answer is, simply, I am still traveling. Three weeks turned out to be not enough, and as I was on the phone and internet talking to airlines, trying to switch flights, when I realized that I did not want to go home just yet. So instead of finding a later flight, I simply missed my flight back to the US, and started browsing job boards in Europe. And then, I started backpacking Europe!
I must have applied to dozens of different jobs, hostel worker in Croatia? Check. English teacher in Prague? Yep. Long-term volunteer in the UK? Absolutely. But none of these jobs ever panned out. Granted, I was on a strict timeline. I had to have a job before all my money ran out. So, I ended up as an au pair in Rome. As of right now, I am settled into my family’s home in Rome, and am learning the daily swing of life. But, before I tell you more about au pairing and Rome (honestly I’ve only been here for four almost five days so I should probably wait a bit before writing anything about it) I wanted to share what I’ve been up to for the past eight weeks! More details will, of course, be added in later blog posts, but enjoy these snapshots if you will.
July 8-11 Vienna, Austria
Vienna was like my practice run at traveling solo. I had never traveled by myself before, never stayed at a hostel, never been so completely alone. But I think I did pretty well for myself. I didn’t have a whole lot of time in the city, and jam packed as much as I could with a walking tour, personal metro hop on hop off self-guided tour (of my own design of course), and a Mozart and Strauss concert. Vienna was nice, but I didn’t fall in love with Vienna. This could have been because I didn’t have enough time, was trying to figure out how to travel solo, or simply because the city didn’t vibe with me. It was still beautiful, and fun, and a definite learning experience.
July 11-14 Prague, Czech Republic
It took me approximately five minutes to fall in love with Prague. Seriously, the place looks like it was designed by Walt Disney. I was actually sitting in the old town square, eating pizza, with my jaw open and my head on a swivel looking at all the beauty around me. The city is out of this world beautiful, the mix of baroque and gothic architecture looks straight out of a medieval fairy tale. In addition to the beauty all around me, I met a couple awesome people who explored the city with me. I had the chance to go on a couple of walking tours, explore some wonderful restaurants, and watch the end of the world cup in this magical city.
July 14-18 Amsterdam, Netherlands
I had mixed feelings about Amsterdam. And I plan on writing a post entitled just that: My mixed feelings on Amsterdam. Some things were spectacular,the history, the canals, the boats, flowers, bikes, windmills, and clogs, and cheese, not to mention the out of this world pancakes and the awesome people that I met. But other things I didn’t like, the sex shops on every corner, the red light district. And other things that I wasn’t sure what to think, like the coffee shops that line every street. Amsterdam had this vibration that was unmistakable, and even if I didn’t like all of it, it was quite an experience to get to know this little city.
July 18-August 4 Serbia
Serbia was probably my favorite place that I visited. It felt the most real to me, the most authentic. Serbia is not a tourist destination, and for most of my trip I didn’t see any tourists (until the very end when I went into the center of Belgrade, there are some tourists there). I was treated to some pretty spectacular sites, and had a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including three marriage proposals from complete strangers. The culture of Serbia just draws you in, and you can’t help but fall in love with it. Which surprises most people because when I told people that I was visiting Serbia, I had very interesting reactions. But I’ll talk more about that later.
August 4-August 6 Milan, Italy
What can I really say about Milan Italy? It didn’t look like the typical picture of Italy that I have in my head. I’ve been to Rome and Naples in the past and Milan just didn’t cut it for me. There was no energy. It felt more like a business city, or shopping city, not really my cup of tea.
August 6-8 Venice, Italy
Now Venice Italy on the other hand, was exactly my cup of tea. I was lucky to be traveling with a friend that I made in Amsterdam, and we stayed on a separate island from the main touristy island. It was nice to have a taste of what life was really like in Venice, complete with hanging laundry, authentic markets, and really wonderful people. I wandered the canals and alleys for hours, just getting lost, and eating all of the pizza and gelato that I could possibly fit in my body.
August 8-August 14 Nice, France
Nice was wonderful. I spent almost an entire week at the beach laying out, completely and utterly content with everything in my life. It is hard to get stressed out when you’re lying in the sun, staring out at beautiful blue water, and eating an almond pastry that was baked fresh a few hours ago. I loved Nice. And, we even snuck in a half day trip to Monaco. I’m so fancy!
August 14-23 Switzerland
My friend welcomed me to her home country right before my stint as an au pair in Rome would begin. Switzerland was a country that I had never really thought about before, but loved as soon as I got there. The mountains are breath-taking, and I had the opportunity to climb some pretty tall ones and was rewarded with spectacular views. The cities are also very picturesque with their art-deco buildings and clock towers. I enjoyed all the free festivals in Switzerland, as well as hanging out with some of the nicest people in the world.
August 24-? Rome, Italy
And last but not least, Rome. I just got in a few days ago. I went to the beach in Ostia, and that’s about it. I’m spending time with my host family and the kids, learning their routines and figuring out life in Rome. And I’m excited to try and learn Italian, and meet other Au Pairs. I’m excited to go into the center of Rome and travel different places on the weekends. It feels like my life right now is full of endless possibilities. My heart feels so free.