Back in the summer of 2006, I traveled to Europe with my brother.
Me climbing the Eiffel Tower.
This picture is from when we were goofing around and “climbing” the Eiffel Tower. It would be fun to take this picture and superimpose it on another to make it look like we were really climbing it :)
France was a lot of fun. I had taken French in junior high and college and it was neat to go there and hear the language being used and see the places and culture I had learned about in those classes.
I remember on the first day we were looking for a church. After going over my carefully composed sentence again and again in my head, I went up to someone and spoke it as fluidly as I possibly could (it was something like Est-ce que vous savez où se trouve la rue (something)?). The guy replied speaking full speed ahead. I tried hard to hear and remember any words I could recognize and I watched where he was pointing, hoping to glean the desired information. I thanked him and walked back, proudly informing my brother that I had no idea where we were going (ok, I did have the general idea…kind of). At least I had spoken well enough to give him the idea that I knew what I was doing!
Another cool moment was when we were wandering around Paris just after arriving and we were looking at the side of a church. We turned around and right in front of us was the Centre Pompidou, which houses one of the most famous modern art museums in the world (second in collection size after New York’s MOMA). It’s such an exciting feeling to actually be at a place that you’ve seen and learned about in books and movies. Plus, the Centre Pompidou is a pretty cool looking building.
After traveling from France to Italy via the gondolas and trams at Chamonix, we asked for directions from an older lady in a shop. The language we had in common was French, not English. This is one of my favorite things about traveling (literally, in the top 3) – trying to communicate in another language. Any communication difficulty in these situations is easily overshadowed by the enjoyment and the challenge.
We carried on to Milan, where we witnessed very young people smoking (apparently more common in Europe than the US) and ate a pizza that, frankly, I expected to be better as we were in Italy, after all! To be fair, I only had one pizza. At one restaurant. In one city. It did help me to realize that when I say, for instance, that I like spaghetti, I’m referring to the spaghetti that I know and love. The spaghetti that I ate growing up. The spaghetti that is my favorite food and that my mother always made, and sometimes will still make, for me on my birthday.
We rode a train across Italy to Venice. Ahh, Venice! What a rad city, where everything your average city has an automobile for, you’ll find the marine counterpart. The gondola ride was definitely a highlight. The fact that it’s cliché didn’t detract at all from an enlightening and fun experience. Our gondolier taught us about the history of the city and the workings of the gondolier’s trade. A knowledgable guide can give such value and insight into any visit. Hiring a good one is well worth the cost.
Since this romantic picture was taken 7 years ago my brother has returned with his wife. Someday I will do the same.
There are definitely more stories to be told from this trip. They may find their way into future blog posts, but for now this overview will certainly suffice to record these events.
Go out and do something fun! And be excellent to each other!