So it appears we have 6 more weeks of winter. And apparently some groundhog bit some mayor or something. That’s what Facebook told me yesterday, anyway.
If I could choose
one day a time in my life to live over and over again – I think I would choose a day my sister and I spent in Europe together. That trip was almost 5 years ago! I’m not sure how that is possible, five whole years!? Time flies. Gah. Because it was 5 years ago, I can’t pinpoint a particular day, but I’d love to relive that trip over and over again.
I was finishing up my first year of grad school and Kelsey was wrapping up her semester in Spain. We planned a little tour that included Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Ireland. I am really close with my kid sister, so being able to experience what we did together was so special.
We booked flights and hostels, but outside of that – we went without a plan. I’m type-A and that was really hard for me. Kelsey is much more of a “go with the flow” personality and I ended up relying on her heavily as we made our way through Europe with minimal direction.
In each city we found a grocery store and bought water, Special K cereal, and apples. That was our diet. We “treated” ourselves to one local meal in each city. Hey, we were both college kids and on tight budgets. With what we ate and how much we walked, we both lost a decent amount of wait over those 13 days!
It turns out that all of those things were the recipe for the time of my life.
We picked Denmark because my great grandfather immigrated from there when he was a young boy. My mom had studied abroad there when she was in college. I have all sorts of nationalities in my background, but this is the one Kelsey and I identify the most with. We spent our days walking the city – visiting parks and museums. We took a boat tour and saw where Hans Christian Anderson lived, as well as the Little Mermaid statue.
Sweden was a day trip. We took the train from Copenhagen. The train went under the ocean. It was crazy. It was awesome. Sweden wasn’t originally part of our plan, but once we realized how easy (and quick!) it was to get there, we went for it. We did some shopping and wandering. There are so many beautiful parks! We had fun frolicking through the flowers and mimicking statues.
When we arrived in Berlin, we got lost trying to find our hostel. Trying to read a map when all of the words are no less than 15 characters long is hard. It was raining. I was dragging a rolling suitcase (yeah, learned that lesson, definitely backpack Europe, don’t do suitcases!). The sidewalks were stone. I was pissed.
Despite that, Berlin was by far my favorite part of the trip. We first found a free city tour and at the end they told us about paid tours we could take, including one to a concentration camp. We visited the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was surreal. Many of the original buildings were still there – complete with drawings some of the prisoners made on the walls. The camp was outside of Berlin, but in the city was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
We also saw a book burning site near the university where Einstein worked before coming to America. We visited the East Side Gallery, which is part of the Berlin wall, now covered in graffiti artwork.
Another notable stop the the Berlin Parliament. The building is lit by the reflection of light off of an impressive dome in the center.
Truthfully, Ireland was probably my least favorite stop. I wasn’t a fan of Dublin – it wasn’t much different than any old, dirty city here in the States. But, I know plenty of people have visited and loved it, so I suppose it’s just a matter of opinion! We picked up another free city tour (like we did in Berlin) that took us to see Trinity College and other historic sites. We did more wandering, toured Guinness, and took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. On the way back to Dublin we also made a pit stop at Kilmacdaugh monastery and Doolin Beach.
Kelsey and I had the best time. If I could relive this trip over and over and over … I would in a heartbeat. I got to relive our trip to a certain degree in August 2012, when Kelsey helped me plan a sisters trip to NYC before I got married. I don’t doubt that another sisters trip will happen in the future – which will allow me to relive our adventures together again and again.