In the last four weeks I have been to 5 countries, explored 16 cities, slept in 8 beds, flown on 5 planes, taken 3 trains, and ridden on a number of coaches. And although it’s been so surreal traveling around Europe for the past month, I can honestly say I am happy to be back in Leeds. (Even if I have a whole semester’s worth of work due in the next few weeks).
The last time I wrote, I was in Barcelona. Since then, I spent 10 days in Italy: riding on gondola’s in Venice, eating gelato with my parents in Florence, exploring ancient ruins in Pompeii, and kicking it with the Pope during Holy Week in Rome.
If Italy taught me anything, it’s that The Lizzy McGuire Movie is a joke. For my more mature readers out there, The Lizzy McGuire Movie is about a 14 year old girl who goes to Rome on a class trip. She is mistaken for an international pop star, and spends most of her days sneaking out of her hotel to meet a 17 year old Italian and riding on the back of his Vespa through the streets of Rome. They meet up at the Trevi Fountain, do cartwheels on the Spanish Steps, and perform Italian pop songs for crowds of screaming fans at the Colosseum.
Okay, okay. First of all, it is incredibly unsafe for a 14 year old to ride on the back of a stranger’s Vespa. Especially in Rome. People drive like lunatics there. Also, the crowds of tourists trying to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain would make it almost impossible to meet up with someone there. As well as the Spanish Steps! There are way too many people standing around to even think about doing a cartwheel on them! (It should also be noted that doing cartwheels on stairs in general, is never a good idea).
The biggest shock of all was when I went to the Colosseum, only to discover that a pop concert could never be held there! Check out the picture of what it looks like on the inside.
Lesson learned: The Lizzie McGurie Movie is not a realistic portrayal of Rome.
After the hustle and bustle of big cities in Italy, we flew to Germany where we stayed with my incredibly hospitable second cousins in Otterberg. They work on an army base near Kaiserslautern, and they have access to all kinds of American goodies. While we stuffed our faces with Oreos, Ranch dressing, and Diet Coke, we made sure not to miss out on any delicious German cuisine. After three weeks of bananas, eggs, and toast (a cheap meal for students on a budget), it was like heaven being fed home cooked meals and waking up to fresh nussblunder (a type of chocolate pastry) and laugenbrotschen (pretzel bread). And I thought I ate a lot in Italy…
When they weren’t feeding us, my cousins were driving us- all over Germany and the boarder of France. We spent Easter in Freinsheim, an old walled city, eating a traditional German lunch and sipping wein shchorle (half wine, half mineral water). We went to St. Goar and explored Rheinfels Castle-the biggest castle on the Rhein River. We drove to Heidelberg and saw another castle (seems like every city in Germany has one), and another day, we went over the boarder into France and saw the biggest US Military WWII cemetery in Europe. On our last day in Germany, we went to three different towns-Trier (the most northern Roman settlement in Europe and the birth place of Karl Marx), Bernkastel, and Traben-Traubach… All the while making sure to sample the local food and drink.
I still can’t believe I spent a month traveling around Europe. How many people get to do that in their life? But the break is over. School’s back in session. And I’ve got a pile and a half of work to do. I’ll write soon…that is if I’m still alive! Until next time…