I had the joy and pleasure of taking a two week trip to Europe in 2018 and it was (mostly) magical. Once home, many people asked “What was it like?”, “How was your trip?”, and so forth…
I shared many stories on various online platforms then, but wanted to go back and relive the spontaneous stops made, sights seen and many cups of gelato enjoyed during our time there.
Here goes. I will attempt to take you through a 2 week journey over the ocean,
through 3 American cities,
5 European countries,
countless cups of Starbucks,
1 Eurostar ride,
multiple bus rides,
numerous subway stops,
1 train that reminded me of Hogwarts (aka: Harry Potter),
and (thankfully!) only one plate of “Fish and Chips”
(bland, absolutely no flavor)
Get in, sit down, and hold on tight.
We are about to take off..
Let me go back to the very beginning…
In mid January, my friend called to tell me she was getting married
(I already knew she was engaged a few months prior) in Italy and we were invited.
I immediately began planning a fairy-tale trip,
but on a low key date night I ran it by my at the time fiancé.
Luckily-for-me he agreed it would be the trip of a lifetime
and that we should go.
I started pouring through books on European countries,
Must See Locations,
and so on.
Having never been anywhere in Europe,
it was a bit like the blind leading the blind,
but I tried to make the best choices of how our route should go,
where we should spend more and less time,
and most of all
HOW TO MEET WILL, KATE, HARRY AND MEGHAN! =)
I planned and planned and planned some more,
to make sure EVERYTHING was handled and it would go smoothly, for MONTHS.
Tickets were purchased, we were packed and ready to go.
THEN, 4 days before we were supposed to leave,
I get a text message about a change of gate…
ON SEPTEMBER 10.
Our flights were booked for September 11.
Thinking it had to be a typo, I called the airline
(Norwegian Air, in case you want to know which airline to NEVER FLY, EVER.)
I casually mentioned our itinerary and wanted to make sure they had the correct info. They said
“No, your flight was cancelled. We moved you to Sep 10”.
Well, there was no way I could leave a day early.
I had arranged to be off work beginning 9/11.
Norwegian SUPER GENEROUSLY (eye roll) said they’d change my flight at no cost
since the flight was changed by them.
multiple phone calls,
and 1 scream later,
we were flying
(instead of Nashville—>Newark–>Rome)
going clear across town to JFK,
THEN flying JFK–>Oslo, Norway
had a 6.5 hour layover,
THEN flying Oslo–>Rome
Where we get in around 11pm local time, ran through airport
trying to locate the train station,
hop a train 1.5 hours away to Orvieto, Italy
where we FINALLY get to sleep,
37 hours AFTER leaving Nashville.
THAT was just the first day.
Keep in mind I had never flown “across the pond”
and didn’t realize last minute flight cancellations were “the norm”.
The next morning, we attended a beautiful luncheon for the bride and groom to be,
at a little B&B.
We had delicious pizza, wine, wine and more wine, and delicious cheese.
Let me stop right here and tell you I am lactose intolerant.
I HATE cheese, and don’t put it on anything except pizza.
If/when I ever consume dairy, I have to take a dairy pill.
So basically, I avoid it like the plague.
Italian cheese is different.
I took a whole pack of dairy pills with me to Europe.
I had used almost all of them (24 pack) in the 4 days we were in Italy.
Between the AMAZING gelato,
and the POUNDS of cheese I consumed…
Let me tell you…
get you some real Italian cheese.
It will change your life.
And the WINE!
They serve wine like water.
Actually wine is cheaper.
And you NEVER feel woozy, tipsy, and much less drunk.
It is seriously the best thing I’ve ever tasted.
I don’t even like white wine!
And I drank glass after glass of white wine while in Italy!!
We walked all over the little village of Orvieto and absolutely loved it!
And the wedding was MAGNIFICENT!
It was outside of a castle.
Like, a real, live castle.
I half expected Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine or someone to come walking out.
Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe it.
After 3 amazing days In Orvieto, we spent 1 day in Rome.
That’s all you need. We literally saw the Vatican,
Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square, Trevi Fountain
and obviously, ate more gelato!
It was gorgeous!
From Rome, we hopped a flight to Amsterdam.
Let me just tell you what this little sheltered girl from small town USA expected…
I knew pot was legal.
So….I assumed people would be walking around,
annoyingly smoking weed right in front of you.
Basically, I imagined a kid being left home alone for the first time,
and eating all the candy they could find. Right?!
No, no, no….
Amsterdam was a quaint little city full of bridges
that crossed from one side of a street to the other,
over the water that seemed to be everywhere.
We took a canal cruise on an open top riverboat and saw
We walked a TON, walked through
more bakeries and sweet shops than I could imagine,
past tons of cute little stores,
ate pizza, drank Starbucks
(because I only had to walk into 1
“coffee shop” to determine coffee was
NOT the main thing sold, there)
and yes, we did go into a coffee shop and
found out THAT is what they call “weed shops”.
As someone who has (very proudly) never smoked marijuana
in her entire life, walking into a “coffee shop”
in Amsterdam can change your life.
I was seriously like a child who sees Mickey Mouse for the first time –
all huge eyed and staring like an idiot.
I was like “People come here to get high?!?” HA!
We moved along…
1.5 days in Amsterdam was enough.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty it was
but I was STILL waiting to be “stunned” with
how awesome something was.
I was waiting on Paris. Easily the place I was most excited to see!
Well, after Amsterdam we flew into Paris. At night.
My face was plastered to the window of the plane and I was instantly mesmerized.
That lasted until we began exploring the next morning.
We had gotten tickets to Disneyland Paris,
AND Eiffel Tower ALL in the same day.
I figured the rest of the trip was leisurely. What was ONE busy day?!
Ummm, NOT my brightest move.
Mind you, every time we travelled to a new place we had to re-pack
our suitcases, haul them across each city to the airport,
pay for luggage fees, etc.
It was a lot.
When we arrived at the train station
to head out to Marne-la-Valle (where Disneyland is)
I only then realized it was AN HOUR AND A HALF train ride.
Umm, well that’s where we were staying for the next 2 nights.
We get to the place we are staying
and can’t get into the place.
Almost 2 hours, and 1 breakdown in tears later, we get unpacked,
grabbed our tickets for Disney and head over.
We squeezed in a few rides at the Magic Kingdom
and then went over to Hollywood Studios.
We rode 1 ride (which was NOT Eric’s favorite, to put it mildly)
and it began raining.
A cold, soaking rain.
Half the rides were closed (Special effects and all that…)
so it was a LOT of money wasted.
We decided to grab lunch and head back
to shower, and get ready for our 1.5 hours train ride
BACK to downtown Paris, for Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge!
We get lost after a police officer sent us the wrong way towards Eiffel Tower.
Let me backtrack and say, it was MY experience
that, Parisians do not like Americans.
No one spoke English (or claimed not to),
We had issues getting train tickets, getting around the city,
and people were NOT nice,
except for other tourists from America we found, who helped us out.
We toured the Eiffel Tower at 8pm, so we were there when it “sparkles”.
Every night at 9pm, the tower has twinkling lights
that last for 30 seconds.
It’s the only time each day they come on,
so I highly recommend going at that time.
It was breathtaking and I loved it.
By the time we got to Moulin Rouge, I was ready to relax and enjoy a magical show.
Well, “magical” is one word for it….
You are ushered into a run down, open “auditorium” type space, where
we waited for about 30-35 minutes.
Then we were taken into another, much nicer theater room where we
were seated with 2 other ladies (from Kentucky!)
and given a bottle of “complimentary” champagne.
The LEAST they could do since the tickets were over $200.
THEN, the show started….
about 20-30 topless women danced onto the stage.
Yes, it was completely unexpected by me.
I had seen the Hollywood movie and it was NOTHING like this.
At one point a dancer dove into a tank that rose up
from the front of the stage with 2 enormous
(like, probably 15 feet long!) pythons.
She swam around with them, topless for an entire song.
We left early.
Needless to say, we were NOT amused NOR did we enjoy it.
The next day, we walked along the Seine,
took a cruise on the Seine River
and saw lots of beautiful things.
We found the Alma Tunnel, where Princess Diana died.
We saw the memorial by the flame, on top of the tunnel.
We found the famous art museum, the Louvre, the Lover’s Bridge, and many other sights.
Easily the highlight of MY time in Paris.
I must say, by the time we arrived in Paris, we’d been gone from America for a week
and I was exhausted.
It is hard to enjoy ANYTHING when you’re exhausted.
My fiancé (now husband) put up with a LOT. =)
I’m grateful we are still together, ha!
After Paris, we took the Chunnel to London and
I am ready to go back if anyone wants to go?!
It was everything I imagined, and MORE.
We went to Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace,
House of Parliament,
Big Ben, London Eye,
and everywhere else you think to see while in London.
We took the tube everywhere, stayed in Ealing,
right off the Piccadilly line
(I HIGHLY recommend staying somewhere
near that line as it is MUCH easier to get around the city)
and loved every minute!
We also took a river cruise
(why not keep the tradition of going on
every river cruise we could find in Europe?! Ha!)
along the River Thames and saw London Bridge, Tower Bridge and Globe Theater.
It was a super special time and I loved everything about London.
From there, we flew to Boston and enjoyed part of one day.
We saw the original “Cheers” bar, ate seafood in the harbor,
saw Sam Adams’ tombstone, and
as much else as we could pack in to half of a day!)
Then, we flew to Nashville and I don’t want to leave, for a long while =)
I kept saying, I knew
all of my gripes and complaints were
but I don’t think I’ll try and pack that much into 2 weeks, ever again.
It was a wonderful trip and I’d love to go back to other places in Europe but I will definitely plan for more leisurely days.
Indeed, there is no place like home.