Adventures Abroad: A Walk Through Europe

I recently had the extraordinary experience of traveling to six different European countries over the winter break. I started the journey in Ireland where I met up with my boyfriend, Andrew, and stayed with him and his family for a week. Although this was my third visit to the Emerald Isle — the first having been my study abroad experience when I was a sophomore — I never grew tired of the wondrous country. Its breathtaking beauty, the air’s lingering smoky scent from the wood stoves and the easygoing culture of the people never fails to amaze me.

Shortly after arriving in Ireland, Andrew and I went for a walk around his town. We walked by two churches, past some small shops and down towards a marina off the River Shannon. After visiting the old manor, a castle-like estate, we walked towards the old Friary. As we turned the corner, we saw that the cows were right up close to the edge of their field. Being an animal lover, I walked over to get a better look. Then, as we turned to continue our walk, we noticed another four or five cows right next to us — on the wrong side of the fence.

After the week in Ireland, we hopped on a Ryanair plane and jetted to Amsterdam. By the end of our trip, we concluded this was our all-time favorite city. It was so different than anything else we had seen — the tall, narrow houses that color the streets, the thousands of bikers chaotically traversing the city with everything from baby carriages to giant wooden carts attached to their bikes, the beauty of the canals and the many bridges crossing over them, and the diversity of the city and the tolerance of its inhabitants. Tolerance is the buzzword typically used to describe the way of the Netherlands. Many things may technically be illegal, but they are tolerated. They have this sort-of “out of sight, out of mind” attitude. This tolerance and the diversity of Amsterdam were deeply reflected in the streets of the city itself. We walked down a cobbled road, taking in the beauty of an old church. A few steps later, we walked by some windows, lit with a red glow and occupied by beautiful women. Then, we passed a coffeeshop, eying the clouds of smoke emanating from the doorway, a sex shop, and finally, an authentic Dutch cheese shop.

After Amsterdam, we visited Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Germany and finally Bergamo, Italy. Each city was unique, each one offering us an entirely different perspective. Berlin, a chaotically beautiful city full of contrasts. Prague, the fairytale city. Salzburg, a mountainous marvel. Bergamo, a quaint old town still showing the footprints of its Roman ancestry. There is so much to be learned from these different cultures, so much to experience. Find your travel partner, let go of what you think you know and enjoy the little things. Those are what will make your experience an adventure.