My one goal for winter break is to plan my graduation trip. My family and I are going on a trip to somewhere in Europe, but we haven’t quite figured out where. We’ve considered everywhere from Portugal to Prague and still can’t make a decision. Part of the problem, which is by no means a bad problem to have, is that between my mom and I we’ve been to most of the places we would want to go. I decided this would be a good time to look back on the trips I’ve taken recently and try to think about what I did and didn’t like about them, and also get some feedback from you guys on the best places you’ve been.
Barcelona // Barcelona was amazing. It’s fun, it’s full of culture, it’s lively, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect going there, which made the experience all that much better. It’s a city that’s up until 5 AM and while I’m normally not big on clubbing, it’s a part of Barcelona you have to experience if you go. The next most memorable thing about Barcelona for me was the food. The tapas were amazing and I’m so glad I forced myself to try new things when I was there. I wish I liked red wine more so I could’ve appreciated that aspect of the meals more, but the food was really something else. The last reason I loved Barcelona was the landscape. There’s hills with amazing views, beaches, ports, and bustling streets all within walking distance.
Must see/do: Visit La Sagrada Familia Church, check out some other Gaudi architecture (Casa Batlló and Park Güell are probably the most popular), find local restaurants, walk along the beach, and tour the Camp Nou stadium.
Rome // Rome is one of my parents’ favorite cities. Although they’ve been before, they always left feeling like they didn’t’ have enough time there so in 2016 we did a family trip to Rome and Venice so we could spend a full 4-5 days in each city. I have to say, Rome was not my favorite. Rome is like your AP European History class coming to life, which is very, very cool, but I just didn’t fall in love with it the way I think most people do. I did love the pasta, the history and the architecture, but the 5 days we spent there felt like enough for me.
Must see/do: The Spanish Steps (they were unfortunately closed when we went), the Colosseum (I highly recommend the park across the street too), and a food tour in Testaccio.
Venice: Venice is without a doubt a beautiful and very cool city, but I have a slight motion sickness problem and we stayed at the JW Marriott, which is its own island, a 10-15 minute boat ride from the main area of Venice, which was slightly problematic. I think I would’ve liked Venice a lot more had it not been for the transportation issues. The good thing about Venice is it’s all walkable. My only must is visiting a Murano glass factory, because you can get a good feel for the city by just walking around. The boats are a great way to get around the city, but you can pass on the gondola ride, unless you want to pay a lot of money for everyone to stare at you and take pictures.
Germany // My favorite region of Germany is Bavaria, which is the southern part of the country. The Alps are absolutely gorgeous, the food is amazing, and the castles are breathtaking. Last August I travelled to Nuremberg, the Alps, and Munich with my grandma and the trip was incredible. She grew up in Nuremberg and there’s so much history there. It’s the place where Hitler held his party rallies and where the Nuremberg trials took place so there’s a lot to learn. If you go I definitely recommend hiring a guide who can really explain what you’re looking at. For 30+ years she’s been staying at the Sonnenalp, a resort in the mountains that was probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed at. I highly recommend it. We only had two days in Munich at the end of the trip so we walked around by ourselves one day and the second day we did the hop-on, hop-off bus tour. My grandma loved it; she thought it was the greatest thing ever, and honestly it was pretty great. We got to see a little bit of everything, including another palace right outside of the city.
I’ve been lucky enough to see so much already but I want to see even more, it’s just a matter of where to next! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite places to visit are and why you loved them!