There are two types of people in the world, those who take pictures and those who don’t.
I fall into the second category. Taking time out from an experience to pull out a camera or a phone to snap a photo always seem to detract from the moment. Trips in which the camera was always out were always a very different experience than just enjoying the moment. However, the downside is that as time passes I forget certain details and this is where all the photo taking people get to laugh and scorn me since they can whip out their photos and show me what they saw.
At any rate, I figure it would be a good memory exercise to put into writing a few things that are of little interest to anyone else but myself. Feel free to stop reading anytime as this is a rather selfish exercise more suited to a journal than a post.
What are you still reading? You rebel, I like you.
Wandering around Europe at Seventeen
As a highschool graduation gift to myself and with the blessing of my parents I was allowed to take a trip to Europe by myself. I had managed to save up enough from my small lawn care business over the year and had the cash to buy plane fare, train fare and food and lodging if I was careful. My sister was studying abroad in Italy and the Idea was I could go with her on her Spring Break and then spend some time with my Aunt and Uncle who were stationed in Germany at the time.
Now as a homeschooled student I finished up my high school year early to take advantage being able to travel. Now I know what you are thinking, how does an unsocialized 17 year old homeschooled graduate manage to navigate by himself all around Europe? Well it’s simple, I did not speak the language, so apparently its life as usual. All that social awkwardness that I acquired from being able to discuss world events with adults would not be noticed by these non-english speakers.
So there I was, a bright eyed kid stepping off the plane in Frankfurt Germany.
My uncle picked me up at the airport and took me to his home in a little town near the Base. It was my first experience on the Autobahn, so no speed limits, everyone was going at whatever speed suited them. It was like driving in West Texas only legal.
As a history buff I was fascinated just traveling in a country that had been the center of so much turmoil over the past century especially as we pulled into the idyllic town my uncle was calling home for the moment. I suppose the US military presence, granted friendly, spoke to that history.
My sister flew in the next day and we all went to Belgium to the walled city of Bruges. Bruges was once quite a port city but build up in the waterways many centuries prior blocked access to the sea. Bruges is a pretty city connect with canals similar to Venice only less congested less touristy and the residence were not as ticked off by the influx of money bringing but noisy visitors. It was nice to be able to ease into the whole traveling abroad with experienced travelers and also it was one of the only places I stayed that had actual accomodations, you know bath, bed oh and toilet. From there we, my sister and I took off on a wild whirlwind tour of western Europe.
Our first stop was Paris.
We did some of the typical touristy activities, took a tour bus and saw the sights compete with 50 cent headphones and a crackley British tour guide telling us all about them. From the top of the double decker bus we saw all the landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph and the Louvre and Notre Dame. We managed to get some street crepes with Nutella (this was before it hit the states) and I came to the conclusion that my Europe trip was going to be fueled by the stuff.
Paris I have been advised by many a Parisian is a very romantic city, but it was rainy, the city was going through riots, there were French troops patrolling the train stations with automatic weaponry, which I found cool, but I was not getting the romantic vibe. I had expected this to be the case as I was traveling with my sister, but with folks urinating alongside the train station, this Texas boy was wondering why we were called unsophisticated.
The next day was awesome as we decided to do a very American thing and go to the happiest place on earth the money can buy and went to Euro Disney.
In a land where they have real castles we went to a place that had imaginary ones and had a good time. Don’t ask me why we did that, I mean we were in Europe and as very young people we had been given the ability to make any adult decisions we wanted and basically used that freedom to do something childish. To this day I have no regrets, It was one of the best days with my older sister.
For those of you interested enough to want to read more I will be posting more soon…