My best friend is a world traveler. AND she’s the bomb . com. I asked her to do a guest post on her most recent travels and this is what she had to share…
Unlike most of my sensible friends who went out into the “Real World” and found a “Real Job”, I decided to hide in school for another year to give myself a little more time to decide what I want to do with my life. Nine times out of ten I think that they made the right choice because they all appear to be moving forward with their lives (read: careers) while I am slowly treading water in the deep end. The one time of year that I am sure that the decision I made wins is April. While they are all struggling through 70-hour workweeks and filing taxes because of all of the money they make, I get to go on spring break.
Since this will likely be my last spring break (my poor father may have a stroke if I tell him I am going to remain unemployed) I thought I should really do it right. To increase the fun, I brought my French friend, Laure, along. She proved very useful because she can speak both French and Spanish which got us out of a few scraps, although oddly none of the countries we visited were French or Spanish speaking.
We began our trip in Vienna (where we are both studying International Law) and took a train to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.
This is a city with a beautiful city center. There is a canal that runs through the center of the city and each of the bridges that crosses it has a different design. Some were solid and industrial while others were light and artistic. There was even a bridge covered in padlocks in the ancient tradition that if you and a lover cross the bridge and add a padlock then your love will be true forever. I had never had Slovenian food before, but it turns out that it is not very different from Austrian food. A lot of meat and potatoes.
After exploring Ljubljana for a while we took the train to Bled to see Lake Bled. We were told that it is one of Slovenia’s most beautiful locations and we planned to hike around it and visit the local castle. However, as luck would have it, it was pouring with rain and we could not actually see very much of the lake at all due to all of the fog. Laure and I being the troopers that we are decided to walk around the lake anyway and we had the whole place to ourselves. Clearly, we were the only two without enough sense to stay indoors.
After returning to the hotel and drying out a little bit, we finished exploring Ljubljana. Changing into dry clothes was a wasted effort because it rained on us all afternoon anyway. (As it would turn out, we would only have a day and a half of sunshine the whole trip.)
The next day we took a train to Koper, Slovenia where we were met by my friend Jamie and her husband, Randy. The rain followed us the whole way, but even the grey weather couldn’t detract from the beautiful countryside.
Everyone should take this train ride at some point in his or her life.
The city of Koper is a lovely little place, but there is not a whole lot to do there. We had a car, so we went driving down the coast to Piran, which I enjoyed a lot. We explored the tiny town and then walked up the mountain to the church and further up to the castle. The views from there are worth the short little walk.
The next day we headed to Trieste, Italy. This is where my grandmother grew up and I felt very close to her by being there. It made all of her stories so tangible because I could see everything that she spoke of. There is a pier off the main square that she always talks about and is her favorite place in the world. Here it is on the day I was there.
Randy had to go back to work after Trieste, so the girls headed to Milan just in time for Easter Sunday. What better way to celebrate than to go to Catholic mass in Italian?
The next morning we took a plane to Istanbul, Turkey. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me because I knew that the culture would be so different from anything that I had ever experienced before. We only got to spend three days there and I know that I could have spent much longer. We saw the Hagia Sophia, the Spice Market, and the Topkapı Palace. We saw where the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea meet and we even tried Turkish coffee. In Turkey, they read coffee ground and not tea leaves. My three favorite things from the visit were:
The Blue Mosque:
The Grand Bazaar:
And taking a boat across the Bosporus to the Asian side of Istanbul for some less touristy food.
Then on Thursday we flew to Athens, Greece. The moment we landed we realized that it wasn’t raining! So quickly dropped all of our stuff at the hotel and walked up to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and catch the amazing view of the city.
Athens is such a beautiful city, but I think I am a little biased because it was the only city we visited that it didn’t rain constantly. We managed to do a lot in Athens, including: the Acropolis, Philopappos Hill, the National Archaeological Museum, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Ancient Agora, Syntagma Square and the Parliament building, as well as the Acropolis Museum.
In the afternoon we took a bus to Cape Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon.
The next day we saw Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. This is the largest ancient temple in the world.
Then we went to the Panathenaic Stadium where you can run in the footsteps of the original Olympic winners.
Purely by accident, we were in Greece during Orthodox Easter (just like we had been in Italy during Catholic Easter). We thought this would book end our trip nicely so we went to a midnight Easter service at the oldest Orthodox church in Athens. It was certainly an experience that I will never forget.
Today I am thankful for: receiving my passport in the mail. I don’t even think it took a week to expedite! And now it’s official. I get to see my best friend in Vienna in May!!!!