It’s our last day in Europe.
As you might remember, our first day in Europe was a disaster. Read more about that hot mess here. Don’t worry, things got better, a lot better! We had a nearly perfect trip and made memories that’ll last us a lifetime. It’s hard to believe all of the cool things we’ve done in the past month. After hiking the Meteora Monasteries, my husband said, “When we have kids, we can say, ‘Listen, your parents are hella dope. You are lucky to have parents this hella dope.’”
Kidding, of course.
In the coming months I’ll post about the experiences we had and places we saw, but for now here’s a sneak peak of our thoughts on the trip as a whole. My husband and I answered the questions independently so our reflections wouldn’t influence each others.
My reflections are noted with an “E:” and my husbands with an “M:”
What was one touristy attraction that you thought would be lame, but was actually very cool?
E: Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. I always thought they were just ‘add ons’ to the Roman Colosseum tour, but they were actually a remarkable piece of history so wonderfully preserved in the middle of the city.
M: The Trevi Fountain. I thought, ‘Eh, it’s a fountain.’ In person, it’s so much more spectacular. It’s huge, and full of little sculpted details.
Which country do you already want to go back to?
E: Italy. I feel like I only saw a small piece of Rome, just barely scratching the surface of what is a really incredible city.
M: The Netherlands. I’m still shocked by how friendly everyone was! The weather was amazing and Amsterdam was beautiful. It was great.
What was one of your biggest ‘WOW’ moments?
E: Kissing Michael under the Eiffel Tower. It was a bucket list item I had written in my journal shortly after Michael and I started dating 7 years ago. I just couldn’t believe all we’ve been through and that we actually made this trip a reality.
M: I remember a moment in Kalambaka, sitting on a cement wall overlooking all of the monasteries and thinking, ‘Is this really happening?’ I didn’t think I’d ever see a more beautiful view.
Could you see yourself living anywhere that you visited?
E: Uitgeest, Netherlands or a similar small town. I loved the architecture, the people and the surrounding attractions. I felt very at home there.
M: Uitgeest, Netherlands. It’s close enough to Amsterdam, a beach and quiet countryside villages.
What was your favorite hotel, hostel, or AirBnb?
E: The SAS Attrap’Rêves Bubble Hotel in Allauch, France. Hands down the coolest place I’ve ever stayed in my life. It was a really unique experience that I’m so glad we splurged on.
M: We_Croceferi Hostel in Venice, Italy. I wasn’t expecting much from a hostel, but entering in to a large courtyard and sleeping in what used to be a monastery was really cool. Plus, we had a private room, which I wasn’t expecting.
What was the best meal you had?
E: The steak at ZoetWater Hotel in Nieuwkoop, Netherlands.
M: The 4 € slice of Philadelphia cream cheese and mushroom pizza I had at Pizza Florida, a hole in the wall spot under our hotel in Rome. We didn’t take photos of it, you’ll just have to trust me that it was awesome.
Do you feel like there were any unnecessary splurges, or areas where we could have saved money?
E: Breakfasts! A couple of times we went to the supermarket and bought granola bars or yogurts to hold us over for the mornings, I wish we would have done that the entire trip. Europe breakfasts aren’t like back home — they’re usually a loaf of bread with meat, cheese and jam. It just felt like a waste of calories and money first thing in the morning.
M: Dinners. We didn’t need to eat nice meals out as often as we did. In each country it felt like we said, ‘We NEED to go out for [insert food here] because the country is known for it!’ Most times the food was just like what you’d find anywhere else in the world.
What was something you are glad you can say you got to experience?
E: Swimming in the hot spring of the Nea Kameni volcano in Santorini. The ocean water goes from cold to warm and the sand is a rusty orange color.
M: The Dult Festival in Regensburg, Germany. It was cool to attend a local, authentic Oktoberfest and dance on tables yelling, “PROST!”
What was the hardest day of the trip for you?
E: Probably the 2nd or 3rd day of our trip when we were in Germany. Almost everything that could have gone wrong did. I truly felt like throwing in the towel, quitting my blog, and ceasing to travel outside of my comfort zone. It was a hard day.
M: Our Santorini to Rome travel day was the worst. First, we missed our bus. Then, the Santorini airport was a hot, crowded, disaster. When we arrived in Rome, our hotel was closed (no 24 hour reception) so we had to scramble to find a new hotel room, paying double the price for lodging. Our computer and phone were dead, and I had to leave Emma alone in a restaurant with no way to contact her. When I got back with the good news of a booked hotel room an hour later, Emma was in tears thinking that something had happened to me because I had been gone for so long. It was the hardest day by far.
Was there anything you think we should’ve spent more money on?
E: Hotels. We were so budget conscious when booking and chose some really crappy AirBnbs and hostels. The last thing I wanted to do at the end of a travel day was share space with fellow stinky travelers or go sleep on a stranger’s dirty mattress.
M: Audio guides or guided tours in English. We saw so many cool things, and didn’t know the context behind half of it.
What town/city would you be content with never visiting again?
E: Regensburg, Germany. Loved the town! But it was our first destination and we had enough energy to see everything on our list. I feel confident that I saw the best of the town.
M: Regensburg, Germany. We had the most time there for how small of a place it was. We were able to see the best of it.
What stands out as the best day of the trip?
E: ATVing through Santorini. Laying out on the Perissa Black Sand Beach. Finishing the day with a romantic dinner overlooking Oia.
M: It’s almost impossible to say. Probably the day we rented ATVs in Santorini. We were scared to drive it on the busy roads at first, and ended up cruising all over the island, in and out of traffic with huge smiles on our faces.
What was one thing you did that you wish you could’ve given a little more time?
E: The Cat Sanctuary in Rome. I felt such a sense of purpose there, and realized it was a calling of mine to volunteer at a Cat Sanctuary. If I could, I would’ve spent a full day playing with the stray cats, just loving on them.
M: I would have cliff dived in Manarola. I wish I would’ve had my swimsuit, or had the guts to just dive in my underwear.
We’ve been away from home for 35 days, and it sure feels like it. Sometimes vacations go by too quickly and in the blink of an eye you’re back home again. This trip has been quite the opposite. I feel like my days in Denver were a lifetime ago!
Tomorrow, we catch a flight back to the United States and three days later we move from Colorado to California. Some would call us crazy, and to those people I say, you’re abso-freakin-lutely correct.
Thanks for reading,