It was around March that my best friend began to convince me to take a European vacation with her this summer. I say “convince” because honestly, I’m not really big on traveling. I’ve been taking mandatory vacations to see my family in Italy ever since I was in the womb (no joke). So for me, traveling meant giving up my summer at home with friends and gaining a few pounds in a place where I didn’t know what anyone was saying.
But this summer would prove to be something quite different.
We found this program offering all-inclusive tours to various countries around the world for college age students.
The price almost seemed too good to be true for the Rome, Paris, London tour, but I went against my better judgment, extended my credit card limit and told myself that I should take advantage of my youth and do something impulsive for once. So I did.
Like all European vacations, we started off excited and after hours of plane claustrophobia and layovers we arrived exhausted.
Our trip did not begin well as we stood in the Rome airport staring at the rotating metal belt that never spit out our luggage.
Most likely it never made it to our connecting flight to Rome when we arrived late in Munich, Germany, and had to bolt to the next plane.
So, with oily hair and recycled breath-soaked clothing, we arrived bright and early in the morning to embark on our Roman holiday.
It was there that we met our EF college break tour director, Mike, as well as the 51 mostly female students from all over the United States.
Apparently a tour this size should have had two directors, which never happened.
I think it was our second day in Rome (we still did not have our luggage at this point) when my friend and I got fed up with traveling with a busload of blabbering women and trying to keep up with our fast footed tour director, that we decided to separate from the group and take the trip at our own pace.
We had a wonderful night that evening at a restaurant near Vatican City and while the service was always terrible, the food was always great.
For the rest of the trip we avoided the group as much as possible and even gained a few followers, or friends rather, along the way.
In Rome we continued to see breathtaking sites like the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain as well as a few off-the-map places like a pub near our hotel called Julius Caesar’s where we met other college age people from all over the world.
Finally we got our luggage back from the airport just in time to be able to take it with us on our 15 hour night train to Paris. Reunited and it felt so good.
I slept for nearly the entire trip and woke up to yet another foreign scent in the air. That day in Paris, we visited the massive 21 mile long Louvre where we saw the famous three ladies: the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa.
Later we took a stroll along the Seine River, which happened to lead us to the glorious face of Notre Dame, where we ate lunch right beside it.
We would go on to see the beautiful palace and gardens in Versailles where the French royals lived, take an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower and marvel at the setting sun over the expanse of the city.
Paris was only too short and it was off to the sites and streets of London, where we took a ride on the London Eye (a type of giant Ferris wheel constructed for the millennium), and visited the Tower of London, where the blood of tyrants and royalty resounded through the old stone walls.
When I returned to my life in Arizona, it was as if I had just woken up from some beautiful dream fading into my memory.
I never thought I’d say I’m glad I went against my better judgment.