I left France two weeks ago to travel Europe. My plans were simple in my mind. First take a train to Paris, then fly to Vienna, drive to Hallstatt, drive to Prague, drive back to Vienna, fly to London, fly to Dublin, catch a train to Galway, catch another train to Killarney, catch one last train back to Dublin, and finally fly back to Paris. Planning started over Thanksgiving break 2016. Each stop had its own motivation.
I wanted to go to Vienna because of the movie Letters to Juliet. I watched that movie and thought it would be so cool to visit the house of Juliet and maybe rent car and travel the countryside. Of course I didn’t realize until the research stage began months later that Vienna was not Verona. And in fact I was going to Austria and not Italy. I blame my dad, who agreed to come with me that thought Vienna was Venice. We are a rare breed of intellectuals that ended up going to a city we knew little to nothing about.
I wanted to go to Prague because for the last couple of years every time that I came into the Croft building I saw a picture of a student I didn’t know sitting in front of a graffiti wall and thought, that’s a cool wall. Under the picture was a small slip of paper that read, Prague. So when the time came for me to decide where I wanted to go while studying abroad the cool wall popped into my mind and Prague was added to the list.
I wanted to go to London because I had recently watched the show on Netflix called The Crown and was intrigued by the history of the monarch and Queen Elizabeth.
And lastly, I wanted to go to Ireland. The reason for this destination was probablythe most sincere. When I was little, my parents used to take my siblings and I to the bookstore every Sunday. One particular Sunday I found a book about the castles of Ireland and was immediately hooked. The book wa on sale so my parents bought it for me. I spent hours over the next few years looking at the pictures in that book and wishing that I could see the beauty Ireland held for myself one day. The cities on the schedule in Ireland were my most anticipated stops.
Regardless of any motivations I had for choosing the stops that I did, the 12 day, 5 countries, and 8 cities trip proved to be worth wild. The first week my dad travelled through Paris, Vienna, Hallstatt, and Prague with me. Vienna, though not Venice or Verona, was filled with carriages, faded bronze statues, and a Spanish Riding School performance. Prague had an electric mood. The city consisted of cobbled streets, old tram cars, and a surprising amount of absinthe.
Each city had it’s own, je ne sais quoi but I think my favorite was Hallstatt. The town itself doesn’t have much: a square, two churches, a couple of cafes, and of course souvenir shops. The attraction to this otherwise overlooked town is where it is located. We, unfortunately went to Hallstatt on a rainy day but that did not stop us from appreciating the appeal of the location. Nestled in a valley of the Dachstein mountains in western Austria, Hallstatt is set on the banks of a lake. It is surrounded by towering mountains and engulfed in beauty. The buildings in the town are bright and colorful against the backdrop of a small waterfall. The atmosphere of it all is incredible and undeniable.
The second week I travelled to London and the stops in Ireland by myself. I spent two full days in London and six days in Ireland. The stops I made in Ireland lived up to the images I spent hours looking at when I was younger. The Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, the Gaps of Dunloe, and Burren of Galway were magnificent sights to be seen.
All in all my spring break exposed me to different cultures, traditions, meals, and new experiences. I had a great time and hope that I get further opportunities to travel in the future. Although my motivations were somewhat misguided, I truly enjoyed each and every city I visited.