EXIT. Laura’s European Adventure. Pa ri s, Fr an ce – New Year’s Eve Weekend 2006.
Laura’s European Adventure
I had been living in Germany for about a year and the USO was offering a trip to Paris for New Year’s Eve Weekend (round trip, two guided tours, a New Year’s Eve Party at Champs Elysee, and accommodations for three nights at a 4-star hotel – all for $400). I had never been to Paris, and jumped at the chance. The best part was that two of my German friends were going to be in Paris for New Year’s Eve at a schoolmate’s parents’ house (in the suburbs, not the island). So not only did I get to enjoy all the sights of Grand Paris, but I spent New Year’s Eve with some of my best friends!
Even in the Louvre Museum I can get my Starbucks fix! That kept me wide awake for “The DaVinci Code Tour.”
Amsterdam is also called “Venice of the North” because, like in Venice, Italy, you can get around the city by boat in its many canals. I was able to go to Amsterdam for 42 euros round-trip on a bus with two friends. They gave us 12 hours to explore the city. We tried to get into the Anne Frank House, but the line was wrapped around the corner for at least 5 blocks so we never got to go in. This is also the home of the Van Gogh Museum where his famous Sunflowers painting is located.
There is also tons of shopping in
the many streets and alleys.
It was the first time my friend ever ate escargot. Yummy!
The Anne Frank House
Living in Germany was like living in a coffee table book. I walked up the stairs to the bell tower of a 740 year old cathedral in Cologne. I was able to walk in the home of Friedrich Schiller, one of the greatest German playwrights and best friend of Johann Goethe. I celebrated Fasching in a traditional German tent. I purchased groceries in open air markets where German princes used to hold court. And I lived within walking distance to two different castles. I went to several major cities: Stuttgart, Cologne, Heidelberg, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, etc. But I also spent a lot of time in tiny villages where I would buy a pretzel for 55 euro cents
and walk around on streets that were
hundreds of years old. But my best and
most personal experiences were the
time that I spent with the friends that I
made and the families that invited me
into their homes for holidays and
Blaustein for Fastnett / Karnival Feb. ‘07
Home of Friedrich Schiller, German Playwright Nov ‘06
This beautiful city is called “the winter capital of Poland.” Tiny little cafes, tons of skiing, and unique shopping. Oh, and everything is very inexpensive! I stayed at a beautiful resort / spa that was so cheap that I was able to get a massage, manicure, pedicure, and all of my meals for less than $200 USD. The skiing was great for a beginner like me, and I met people from all over. The best day was when we went to a little café to get coffee and cake and the waitress gave
me some little
to Poland.” It
wonderful - - -
but really cold!
My finger got in the way – I was afraid I was going to drop my camera going up the hill. But I had to take the shot!
Where better to spend your 30th birthday than on the island that claims to be the birthplace of Aphrodite? This beautiful island is amazing. For thousands of years different nations have fought over this tiny piece of land that is located in the Mediterranean Sea. I stayed at a resort in Pafos which is located on the western side of the Island, but I traveled all over the island - - - all in a rental car while driving on the “wrong” side of the rode. I went to the Kikos Monastery in the Troodos Mountains where they “rented” clothes outside of the main cathedral because shoulders and knees had to be covered. I was able to walk in the UN demilitarized zone of the city of Lefkosia where walls were built in the middle of buildings because 33% of the island is being occupied by a rogue Turkish government. I also got to swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the actual day of my 30th birthday.
the last divided capital in the world
The USO was offering a day trip to Prague for $150. I jumped at the chance to go because at the time, I had never been to Eastern Europe. Plus, my friend had just arrived for a three month internship in Germany and we wanted to take a really good road trip. Prague is absolutely stunning. In just 12 hours, I was able to walk across the famous Charles Bridge, watch the Astronomical Clock strike on the hour, eat two meals, walk past the Dancing House, explore St. Vitus Cathedral, and shop in an open-air market. I wish I had been able to see so much more, like the Jewish sector or the castle. But one day I will go back to the 1,100 year old city. (And, yes, I did take the picture below.)
In front of the Parliament - - the guards are unflappable. Trust me, we tried to get him to laugh
Austria - - - the first and the last place I ever skied. My friend, Sabine, took my to Mayrhofer (a beautiful, tiny village where I was told I was the first American in years to ski there), and by the second day, I was flying down the red slopes. Then I went to the end-of-season party in Ischgl for some spring skiing. How awesome is that I was able to ski down a black slope while wearing a t-shirt because it was so warm?! But Ischgl is unique because when you go up a couple of lifts, then you can ski down and either be in Austria or in Switzerland. One of my friends tried to trick me
and told me that I needed my passport
and Swiss francs (when all I had was
my blood-type card (O-) and about
30 euros) if I skied down the “Swiss
side.” . Not funny!
Whew-hew! Second day on the slopes
and I am already skiing “red”!