Friday, May 10, 2013

Backpacking through Western Europe


Today's Workout: 3 mile run with Tubby at the track, 45 min biking, 45 min elliptical


So as I prepare for my next jaunt in Europa - I can't help but reflect on my last time on the continent. I was a newly graduated 21-year-old with a mission to see the world - starting with Europe. The abridged version of how I ended up backpacking solo was that I had planned my trip and bought my ticket earlier in the previous fall with a then-current and serious boyfriend. We broke up  for a slew of reasons not long after. I knew my parents were not going to be in support of me going solo so we agreed that the boyfriend and I would accompany each other as friends. Eyes were basically rolling out of my head - I was a grown woman who can conquer anything! - well, kinda. The ex and I made it to Europe and split ways. I panicked shortly after. I was far far far from home. Alone. Sometimes in countries I didn't speak the language. But ya know what? I survived. I grew. I went WAY outside my comfort zone and am a better person for it.

I didn't have a planned itinerary but this is how it ended up playing out.

Madrid -> Paris -> Dublin -> Galway -> Clare County (Cliffs of Moher) -> Paris -> Brussels  -> Amsterdam -> Interlakken  -> Milan -> Venice  -> Florence -> Rome -> Nice -> Barcelona --> Madrid

How did I get around? With the exception of a RyanAir flight between Dublin and Paris, I used the Eurorail train pass. I got an unlimited pass for the duration of my stay so that I could be flexible with my travel plans. They offer awesome deals for adjoining countries and for different durations of time. This is one of the best purchases you can make if you are going to backpack.

What did I do? EVERYTHING! Just kidding. But I did do a lot of awesome things that I will remember forever. Most of the photos are sitting on memory cards at my parent's house. But I'll give a glimpse into my little EuroTrip.

First stop: Madrid

Madrid was the beginning and end of my trip. The city has beautiful architecture and great history, but of all the places I wanted to see in Europe this wasn't super high. It was, however, the most affordable point of entry that I could find from the U.S. The majority of my time in Madrid was spent exploring the city. I had beautiful pictures of the royal gardens, but they are in the lost pile back in Minnesota. Here are some shots, and oh yea, the group I met at the hostel convinced me to go to a bull fight with them. I was horrified. Left after 15 minutes. I got pictures to prove I tried...

Next stop: Ireland
I come from a very very very Irish family so this country was on the must see list.

A little luck of the Irish in Dublin

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Cliffs of Moher

I was dying to see the Cliffs of Moher and decided to make a run out of it with and a girl I met at the B&B was also game. Parts of the area reminded me of  the movie P.S. I Love You. I don't know if I love that movie because of Ireland of Gerard Butler but its a favorite.

I ran into so cows that we giving me some lip, so I gave it back.

It's like a verizon comericial... can you hear me now?

Before leaving the west coast of Ireland, a young Irish guy convinced some of us Americans to go surfing. You read that right...surfing in Ireland. It was cold, but the waves were pretty decent.
Next Stop: Paris

Next stop: Brussels

Next stop: Holland / Amsterdam

Anne Frank's House

The Wax Museum

Chilling with Lance (pre-scandal of course)

And Ronaldino

No description necessary - team Jen for life.

Next Stop: Interlaken, Switzerland

Getting ready to go paragliding

The rest of the group

Next stop: Italy




Il Duomo

 La Capella Medici

Ponte Vecchio




Palatine Hill

Roman Forum

Spanish Steps

St. Peter's Basilica - The Vatican

The Pantheon

Trevi Fountain

Next Stop: Nice, France

Next Stop: Barcelona

Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

America's Next Top Model Finale Locale :)

Sorry for the LONG post. Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!

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