Between switching time zones three separate times, sleeping on airport floors and combating temperature swings of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I am happy to say that I am safely home in Denmark.
I just returned from a three-week travel break from school. For the first and last week I participated in school trips, and the middle week, I traveled with some friends I have made since arriving in Denmark.
The first week, my travels took me by ferry, bus and plane through Germany and into France. It took us almost 18 hours to get there, but once we arrived it was totally worth it. We spent a solid day touring the battlefields of Verdun, visiting an old World War I fort, a war museum and the citadel.
That evening, we traveled on to Reims, site of the coronations of French kings all the way from the first Frankish kings. We also got to visit the champagne caves of Tattinger. It was absolutely amazing to see millions of bottles aging in caves that are actually underneath an old monastery!
That afternoon, I got my first glimpse of Paris. It was absolutely incredible. Never mind that our bus almost got stuck going up an extremely narrow Parisian street and blocked about twenty cars behind us – we made it! That night we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, and the Arc de Triomphe. Haussman, the man who redesigned Paris for Louis XIV, was an absolutely incredible city planner. Paris is one of the most gorgeous cities I have ever seen.
The next day, we got a guided tour of Paris by the best guide ever. He was a Swedish expatriate living in France, and he knew absolutely everything there was to know.
That afternoon, we went to the Louvre, where I realized that I am much more of an architecture person than an art one. I kept catching myself taking pictures out the windows or of the architecture instead of the incredible art.
Anyway, after much walking around and tired feet, a friend and I decided to have some dinner in a French cafe. We ended up meeting a couple from Highland Park (for you non-SMU folks, that is the neighborhood immediately surrounding my school at home). It was really strange, but I picked up on their Texas accents right away. It was my own little slice of home right there in Paris!
That evening, our group saw Edward Scissorhands the ballet, which blew me away. The next day, we saw basically every famous impressionist painting in the world at the Musee d’Orsay and I fell in love with Degas. He paints ballet dancers, and I could have spent days looking at his paintings. So gorgeous. Time was running out for our tour, however, and we had a great wrap-up lunch and all went our separate ways.
The next day, a friend and I indulged ourselves in some American culture and visited Disneyland Paris. It was shockingly similar to Disneyland in the United States, which was all at once comforting and a little weird. We had a great day getting to act like kids though, and actually met a lot of Danish families on vacation.
On to London
The next day, we flew into London where I spent the majority of my time with some British relatives, and my two friends stayed in a hostel in the city. The next day was Sunday, and I had the opportunity to go to church with my cousin. She attends the Church of England, and it was quite the experience. It was a great time, though, and I got to meet several of her friends.
That afternoon, her husband, John took me on a crash tour of London, and gave me a Londoner’s orientation to the Tube (the underground, metro, or whatever you will call it). It was surprisingly straightforward, and it was almost unreal not having to learn to recognize yet another language to get around! It was quite the luxury.
Also, a friend that I met in Paris invited me to go with him to a play in the West End for free! It was awesome and had John Hannah from Sliding Doors. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded.
Next up: Ireland
The next day, after having a proper English breakfast courtesy of my relatives, I met back up with my friends and we flew off to Dublin. My friend booked our hostel in the Temple Bar area, which was an amazing choice and location. There are an infinite number of clubs and bars to visit in the area, as well as anything else you could want to see.
The next day, my friend and I split up – she went on a bus tour, and I saw some museums. The weather was REALLY terrible that day … At one point, I swear the wind was blowing so hard that it was coming at me horizontally.
The next day, my friend left for Copenhagen to prepare for her next trip, and I took the opportunity to go out to the Irish countryside. It was literally the most gorgeous place I have ever seen in my life. No wonder they filmed movies such as Braveheart, PS, I love you, and Made of Honor there. We hiked to a mountain lake, visited Glendalough, Ireland’s most sacred and important monastery, and took a nature hike through a natural park. It was doubtless one of the best days of my entire trip.
Home – for a day
The next day, I spent about eight hours in the Dublin airport attempting to get home (something about that horizontal rain is hard to fly in, apparently). Once I got home about 11 PM, I had about six hours at my Kollegium before having to be back at the airport again! It was totally worth it, though, to get to sleep in my own bed for a night and take some of my massive loads of souvenirs out of my suitcase!
My fingers are about to fall off from this whirlwind repeat tour of Europe! And you think that you’re tired from reading all of this! Next installment: Italy and Election Day in Denmark!