Hello friends, how have you been? As you may or may not know, my twentieth birthday is in less than two weeks. I will officially be a twenty-something, a fact that is both exciting and terrifying! Arn’t the twenties the time when you’re suppose to figure out your life- job, spouse, home, family, etc.? Well, I’m happy to report I have none of those things figured out, and that’s quite alright with me! What I do know is that I’ve cultivated a passion for travel and adventure. In my short 20 years on this earth, I’ve been able to visit more places than most people can in a lifetime. I feel so grateful for every opportunity I’ve been granted thus far, and I look forward to filling the next twenty years with equally amazing memories. So, with this milestone quickly approaching, I thought I would write a short review of the ten places I visited this past year, as a way to count my blessings. Continue reading and be sure to click on the country title to read more about my experiences and adventures in said country!
P.s. I’m excluding German from the count because, well, 11/20 just doesn’t sound as cool as 10/20!
Spain If I had to describe Spain in one word, it would be spicy. My group’s trip to Barcelona came at just the right time. We escaped those cold winter blues and exchanged them fun in the sun! We headed straight for the beach, where we were the only people
dumb brave enough to swim in the ocean, while the locals stared in disbelief. I ate Paella, sipped mango juice, saw a flamenco show, toured La Sagrada Familia, attempted to revive my high school spanish, and much more. All these little moments combined to form one unforgettable, spicy experience!
Switzerland Pepperdine has another abroad program in Lausanne, Switzerland, where students from Heidelberg are allowed to visit. My friend and I spent the weekend there, and took a day trip to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn. Let me just say, the real mountain is 100 times better than the Disneyland ride. Before this trip, I thought, what’s the big deal? It’s just a mountain. But when I finally saw it, I too was awe-struck by its grandure! The Swiss Alps are stunningly beautiful, and I hope to return again one day during the summer…preferably when I’m rich and can afford to eat real Swiss food, not that McDonalds isn’t great or anything…
Hungary I feel cold just looking at this picture. Budapest, you know I love you, but you pack a mean punch in January! Despite the bitter temperatures, my friends and I had a marvelous time traipsing around the gem of Hungary. Set along the Danube river, Budapest is a truly unique city in every aspect. The intricate architecture, distinct food, and world renowned sights such as the Natural Baths, all help make Budapest a must see city! Thanks for the good times, Budapest, and the frostbite…(but I kid, I kid).
Scotland This picture alone speaks to how fun my trip to Scotland was! I traveled with two of my closest girlfriends, and we were silly and goofy with each other the whole time. We spent a day traipsing around Edinburgh- climbing Arthur’s Stool, visiting the castle, and eating in the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter. The next day, we took a guided bus tour through the highlands, an experience I will cherish always. This trip took place on the last travel weekend of the semester, and I’m so glad it ended on such a high note!
Ireland As a former Irish dancer, I had always dreamed of visiting the ‘motherland.’ The emerald isle lived up to and exceeded my every expectation! This trip was even more special because my mom was able to join me. We spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin (OMG!), and the next few days touring the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, Kilarney, Cork, and much more! There is something magical about this little island- it’s no wonder it’s left such a huge mark on the world.
Italy There is so much to see and do in Italy, that I honestly felt overwhelmed. I was tempted not to visit the country at all during my year abroad, and save it for the solo trip it deserves. I wasn’t sure I could truly experience Italy right in a weekend. Never the less, I decided to make the pilgrimage down to Rome…and boy am I glad I did! Sure, I could have spent months exploring Rome, but those two days were filled with memories that will last a lifetime. The sights, sounds, and smells you encounter while wandering the streets are something out of a story book. And the food…my mouth is watering as I write! Plus, we saw the pope through an unexpected turn of events. If you love history and culture, Italy is a must see, whether you have two days or two months.
France Nearly six months later, I am still having dreams about the croissant I ate in Paris. They really are better. I was able to travel to Paris and Normandy during my time abroad, and I thoroughly enjoyed both trips. Paris is overwhelming in the best way- the Louvre, the Eiffle Tower, the Arc de Triumph, etc. There was so much to see and do, that I constantly had to remind myself to slow down and drink in the details of my surroundings. During my time in Normandy, I visited Mont St. Michelle and the D-Day landing beaches. Both places took my breath away, but for different reasons. The island monastery of Mont St. Michelle is an architectural feat set in the most gorgeous bay you ever did see. The landing beaches were sobering- I never grasped the magnitude of D-Day until I saw the setting with my own eyes. Overall, I give France a five out of five, would recommend.
Croatia I was lucky enough to visit Croatia as a child with my family on vacation, and always wanted to go back one day. So when a few friends mentioned their plans for trip to this beautiful country, I knew I had jump on board. Croatia is a dream- clean, safe, beautiful, historical- you name it, Croatia has it! We spent three days lounging on an island just off the coast, renting mopeds, barbecuing, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic. At the risk of sounding too dopey, I will add that this trip was a bit stressful at times! The language barrier was much stronger here than in many other countries, and the large travel group size was hard to navigate. But all in all, I’m so glad I got to experience Croatia not once, but twice!
The Czech Republic As a creative/artistic type, I was totally inspired by Prague! The city is bohemian and eclectic, every building is ornately decorated and unique. But the thing I will remember most about this trip is sky diving! I saw a flyer for sky diving in our hostel (*insert mom’s tears here*) and decided to take the leap. Prague looked just as beautiful from the sky as it did from the ground.
Austria My entire program spent a week in Vienna for out Educational Field Trip in October. I was a bit sick with a cold, so I couldn’t fully enjoy myself, but I still remember Vienna fondly. It is a city of museums, and I was able to see some of my favorite art pieces in person. I also thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Schloss Schönbrunn, the palace pictured above, which was modeled after Versailles in France.
And that my friends, is a brief over view of ten of the countries I’ve visited in my twenty years. I can’t begin to express how thankful and blessed I feel. I try to never take it for granted. This blog is a space to record my adventure in order that I may never forget God’s goodness in my life. I don’t know much about what the future holds, but I’m pretty sure my love of travel isn’t going anywhere.
Here’s to the next twenty!