One of the best decisions of my life occurred after I got accepted into TFA: I decided to quit my terrible cubicle job early and book a trip of a lifetime. I seemed to have blinked and suddenly been in Europe, surrounded by sexy Australian men. This was definitely a dream. Oh wait, that’s right, I was on a Contiki.
Now, on the days when living in the paradise of Oahu are bleak and exhausting, filled only with the frustrations of 7th graders, I think of these things:
London: Here’s where the streets were so cold and wet, but invigorating, like New York. Here’s where coats and boots walked past Westminister Abbey like it was nothing, while I snapped photos like the crazed tourist that I was. Here’s where Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle were a surreal, tiring day trip. Here’s where I went off on a red bus adventure by myself, finding it hard to leave Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Here’s where I first met the insane and amazing group of people I’d be spending the next few weeks with, packed onto a bus.
Paris: Here’s where I ate bread and cheese and meat on the grass outside the Louvre and felt oh-so-sophisticated. Here’s where I walked what seemed like hours from the Arc de Triomphe, just for the highlight to be a divine banana crepe. Here’s where I was satisfied just photographing and waving to the Eiffel tower, because wasting time waiting in a line would’ve killed the temporary Parisian me.
Beaujolais Region: Here’s where I could’ve kissed under the stars for literally days. Here’s where a “gender bender” in a château sounded like the worst idea ever and quickly became the best. The picture says it all.
Nice: Here’s where I got sunburned but didn’t care because it was a French sunburn.
Monaco: Here’s where I fancied up like a Bond girl and pretended I was one at the casino; lipstick, heels, and poker chips.
Pisa & Florence: Here’s where I started finding it hard to breathe from all the beauty. Here’s where I took illegal pictures of the statue David with the friend David.
Rome: Here’s where I learned how lovely crumbling, ancient rock can be. Here’s where I dropped two pennies in a fountain and begged with all my existence for both of them to hold true to tradition (one for love, one to return to Rome one day). Here’s where we all wore I ❤ Rome shirts and wrote all over them with sharpies, drinking and dancing and then heading back to our cabins for showers and mischief and sleeping bags.
Venice: Here’s where I was enchanted by the movie-esque gondolas and prosecco. Here’s where I ate the best lasagna of my life, wide-eyed, wine-filled, wishing I could sing in Italian. Here I could’ve died happy, surrounded by pasta and tipsy smiles.
Dachau: Here’s where I felt the most sobered and grateful that I’ve ever felt.
Munich: Here’s where I genuinely enjoyed swinging a beer around, scarfing down pork knuckle, and yelling things in German that I didn’t understand, watching blondes in short green dresses prance about (here’s where I was a “real man” for a little while).
Amsterdam: Here’s where no amount of vodka or coffee shop muffin could prepare me for the things I saw at a live sex show, or in the red light district. Here’s where the Van Gogh museum reaffirmed my love for him. Here’s where I laughed in a taxi harder and longer than I knew physically possible.
Here’s where I could write a novel about each city, each person, and each meal. But instead, here’s where I leave out a few stops, a LOT of fantastic details, hilarious details, inappropriate details, and definitely a handful of significant details (there was not one single insignificant moment on this trip).
Can’t wait to go back (after all, I did spend a whole penny making sure that will happen).