I really, really enjoy traveling. In September, I was on eight planes, two trains, and an uncountable number of subway cars. I can’t help myself, and I take every opportunity I can get to go some place new. This time, I decided to go on a ten day trip to Europe with friends from high school.
When I was a child, I used to prance around the house speaking in what I imagined to be a perfect British accent. I dreamt of going to boarding school in London, spending time wandering the various castles, making friends with princes and princesses. Everyone dreamt that, right?
This was my second trip to London, and it did not disappoint. I went to many of the places I had been on my last trip, unable to stay away. The city is gigantic and there are many things to see and do, but I wasn’t ready to take a step back from the major historical landmarks. Well, that and my travel companions hadn’t been before.
We took Sandman’s New London tour, which I highly recommend if it’s your first time going to a new city. We took a Sandman tour in Amsterdam and Paris, too, each better than the last. The tours are free, and you can choose to tip your tour guide whatever you feel your tour was worth. And trust me, it’s worth it.
Over the course of three and a half days, we went to the Camden Locks Market, to the Tate Modern, and to the British Museum. We went and enjoyed high tea with perhaps the best tiny sandwiches and tiny desserts that every were created (or at least it seemed that way). We spent time wandering the cobble stone streets just trying to take it all in.
I did not know what I should expect when it came to Amsterdam. It was completely and utterly beautiful. The canals and the bridges, while completely confusing when it came to directing ourselves anywhere, were breathtaking. About every five minutes we’d pass over another bridge and have to stop to take pictures.
#Tourists, we know.
We spent some time in some major museums, including the Anne Frank museum. Of all of the tours we did while abroad, this was certainly the one that impacted me most. I read her diary as a young teenager as well as the companion guide. I went through a period in my life where I couldn’t get enough World War II history, reading everything I could get my hands on. I haven’t touched the diary since, but going to the apartment and up those narrow wooden steps into the emptied rooms have made me want to revisit it.
Our trip wrapped up with two and a half days in Paris. Once again, we took a Sandman tour seeing everything from Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Our tour was history packed, with our guide Alexandre giving cheery anecdotes about people in the street stomping on pumice soaked in blood. Lovely, right?
One of the best parts about our stay in Paris was the studio apartment we rented on AirBnB in the 10th Arrondissement. After staying in hostels with numerous people and high activity evenings, it was nice to have a calm place to retire (plus a fridge to store important things like fig jam, cheese, and wine). There was even a little balcony we could sit on and enjoy Parisian air.
There is something in the air in Paris. You breathe it in, realize the beauty and the history behind every building surrounding you, and you can’t help but fall in love.
So, the big thought/question I’m certain you have on your mind is, “You’ve been to more than 10 airports in the past year. Where are you off to next?”
I’m not sure. There are so many more places I want to go, both for the first time and to visit once again. I have no plans and no flight tickets bought for the first time in over two years. But don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll be off again somewhere soon, temporarily satisfying my immense need for exploration.
PS – I also wrote about why I love to travel in my latest Grammar Style Life blog post.