One thing to start off this blog post - if you haven't visited one of the many, many beautiful locations in Europe yet, you should probably cross that off your bucket list (and I have plenty of recommendations on where to go.)
All persuasive attempts aside, I just got back from a ten day, whirlwind trip through Europe. There was a group of about 50 people, a fun mix of both students and adults, and we traipsed through Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland alongside our (rather energetic) tour guide.
If you have ever been on a group tour before, even just for a day, then you know the feeling of being herded around can be tiring. At the same time, it gave a really comforting sense of belonging, especially since this was my first time visiting Europe. Nonetheless, having hours of free time in foreign cities with nothing else on the agenda but getting lost? Best feeling in the entire world.
Almost every city that we visited was filled with tourists, which, though annoying once in a while, was also pretty comforting. I wasn't the only one getting lost! In total we visited ten different cities, each of them so different in style, architecture, and character, and all of them brand new adventures. In (what I really hope) is chronological order, we spent time in Frankfurt, Rothenburg, Fuessen, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Verona, Lucerne, Freiburg, and Heidelberg. The world whirlwind cannot be understated when I talk about this trip!
I'm actually really proud of a lot of the photos I took on this trip. I of course traveled with the intentions of photographing, and it took me a couple days to really adjust to being away from home, away from my close friends and family. However, comparing these photos to ones that I took a year, two, or even three years ago, I just get so happy seeing the improvement. There are so many little things I have learned and now I feel much more like an artist (and traveler) than I ever have in the past.
Europe, though, was a really big adjustment. I wasn't quite shocked at all the small differences, but it was really interesting to be able to speak to people in another language and get around on my own. Though of course I was with a group of other people, the time that I did get to myself taught me a lot about living on your own and managing your own life, time, and money. It was a great learning experience! Which is just another reason why I think people my age need to travel like this - you don't understand how big the world is until you sit on a plane for eight hours and ponder how you've still not reached your destination!
Of course when I got home I was continually asked (hi Mom and Dad!) what my favorite parts of the trip were. It's such an impossible question! There was so much to love, and so much to wonder about - was it the alps of Switzerland, or the winding canals of Italy that I adored? The hearty potatoes and bratwurst from Freiburg and Munich, or the tantalizing bread and pasta that I dined on in Venice? There were truly no bad points on this trip - which sounds crazy, considering all vacations have ups and downs. But it felt a lot more like a journey than a vacation. I wasn't quite relaxed, but I felt like I had more purpose, and less time to worry about little things. I spent more thought on when and where I was going to eat, and what to wear so I could be most comfortable during the day. Nothing too challenging, but surely eye opening.
I know I'm throwing a lot of ideas around in this blog post - seeing all the pictures and reflecting on this amazing trip is a lot to process! But the basic idea that I want to get across is - travel is a necessity. We live in such a big world, and there are still people on the planet that are completely unaware of things happening in other countries, even other states! It's so good to be aware. There are always going to be people struggling in the world, and it's dangerous to consider yourself apart of existence when you don't even understand what's going on. This wasn't a volunteer trip, and I got to stay in plenty of nice hotels and eat wonderful food, but it was still a very eye opening experience. There are people on the planet who don't know English, in the same way that I didn't know any Italian and how I'm still learning German.
Whew! It just started to pour like crazy as I write this - just another little thing that makes me want to go back to Europe. I hope nobody has a worry about that. These are far from the last photos you'll see of mine that are taken away from home. I'm elated that I took this trip, and I'm already counting the days that I can go back.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on my little adventure, and that you liked the photos. If you have a favorite picture, or you've gone on a similar trip before, feel free to comment below! Any likes and shares on social medias are much appreciated, and I hope I'll be back soon for more!
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