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The 32 most memorable experiences about my European Vacation...part 3 (#11-15)

Hey guys, so it's been about 3 weeks since my last blog installment. As you all can probably imagine, being back home is such a great place to be. I've been able to rest, relax, catch up on what's been going on here, and let the "travel mode" fade off. And now that I've gotten those things out of the way, let's continue on with these memories....

#11. Being a semi-adventurous person, one of the highlights on my vacation was the adventure. Not knowing where I would go, who I would meet, or what I would do, from day to day was pretty adventurous. I enjoyed the not knowing and leaving it all up to my mood to tell me. Sounds funny, and rather risky- but a vacation is exactly what it means. To vacate your mind, and enjoy the moment. Although I was moving around from place to place, once I was settled- a new adventure began. New faces, new languages, new history, and new lifestyles to embrace. That was the total adventure package. From day to day- I would restrain from making plans. Instead, I would just go with however I felt. If I wanted to stay in and rest, I had that option. If I wanted to explore a city by foot, bus, or by train with a map, I also had that option. I preferred it that way. However, I would often find myself lost (not lost in the sense of "being deep in a heavily wooded forest with no people in sight" lost), but the good kind of lost. The kind of lost that leads you to find extraordinary places that you would not have found if you weren't lost. Another one of my many adventures that I enjoyed while out exploring a city, was shopping for my postcards. I bought one for each country I visited as a souvenir for my collection. (As I mentioned before, the goal was to travel light and not acquire a ton of stuff that wouldn't fit in my backpack.) While out exploring, I would mingle with the local vendors and shop keepers and try to find the perfect postcard that I thought would offer the best memories. The postcards typically cost about .30 cents in most of the Europeans countries that I visited. Some were over priced at 1 Euro, but I just couldn't come up with a logical reason to spend that much on one. The postcards were the highlight of my day because it was my way of remembering a city. Remembering how I felt while there, and remembering where I was when I bought it was special to me in more ways than 1. They're my little keepsakes from the countries I visited. Eventually I plan to frame them all in a memory book with small captions about my adventures. Yes, traveling is truly nothing without a little bit of unplanned adventure.

(A collection of my postcards)

#12. The sights! I am a big monument person. If it's there and it's iconic, memorable, noticeable, monumental, etc... I have to be there and get a picture of it. That's my thing when I'm traveling. If the city is known for something special all over the world, I must get selfies with it. It's like my seal of proof that I was actually there. I often tell people that "if I didn't get pictures, I wouldn't believe it for myself." So being in Europe, surely did not disappoint. There were so many beautiful things about each country I visited, that there just wasn't enough time to see half of everything they had to offer. My ultimate goal was that no matter where I went, I would find the most iconic monument for that country, and get photos with it; and I would say that I think I did a pretty good job. I have pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The Acropolis and Pantheon in Athens, Greece. The Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace in London. I even got a chance to see and take pictures at the Colosseum, including having the opportunity of a lifetime, by hearing the Pope speak at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. I have picture perfect ocean views from the top of Oia, in Santorini, Greece, as well as pictures of the world famous 'La Sagrada Familia' in Barcelona, Spain. All of the monuments were absolutely incredible. To be standing in front of something that you've only ever seen on television, or in movies was an unreal feeling. But it all goes back to me having to take pictures of it to believe it really happened. Otherwise, it feels so much like a dream, that I would probably convince myself that it WAS a dream if I didn't have the photos to prove to myself that I was actually there. I enjoy holding onto a moment, and what better way to do that than with photos, and videos. Images that can be shared to make someone else's day, or images that you can go back and look at to brighten your day. While the mind may deteriorate over the years, pictures and videos last forever.

(Me in front of some my favorite monuments from Europe)

#13. As some of you may already know, my big vacations usually surround my birthday, and this vacation was no different. I left the states early in the month of September and returned home in October. I spent my birthday weekend in Paris, France- and went to Disneyland there on my actual birthday. While I may have not planned any other major thing on my trip, the trip to Disneyland was definitely planned. I knew that I wanted to be there on my birth date. No matter what country I was in, or what I was doing- I was getting to Disneyland one way or another. It actually ended up costing me quite a sum of money to make that happen. I had been so busy enjoying my trip, that I'd forgotten my birthday was quickly approaching. By this time, I had already been to London, Spain, Santorini, Greece, and I was now in Athens, Greece trying to catch the cheapest flight to Paris, France. Did I mention this all happened on a Thursday night, and my birthday was that Saturday? Yep, I was having such a great time on my vacation, that I completely lost track of my birthday. Who does that, you ask? Me! That's who.... Fortunately, I was able to find a next day flight to Paris, from Athens with a 6 hour layover in Rhodes, Greece. Unfortunately it was way over budget for me. It cost me nearly 300 Euro! Which is about $360 American dollars. That ticket alone was the most expensive thing that I bought during my entire trip in Europe. But I had no choice, due to it being the weekend, the prices were only going up and the layovers would've caused me to miss out on Disneyland. So, I bought the ticket! And rather than to return to the other side of town where my hostel was, I opted to stay overnight at the airport in Athens. I had an early flight the next morning and didn't want to miss it by returning to my hostel across town. Luckily I was able to get some sleep at the 24 hour McDonald's they had in the airport. Lol.... Quite the unplanned adventure, I must say. But the next day I was able to board my plane bright and early, and get over to Paris, France (minus a 6 hour layover in Rhodes, Greece) I arrived Friday night and immediately bought my ticket to Disneyland for the next day. I was finally able to have a fantastic nights rest in a comfortable bed, in my own private room. I stayed at a hotel, instead of a hostel this time. It was my birthday weekend and I deserved it, as it was a much needed moment for me. The next morning, was of course my birthday. I woke up like any other person would do and appreciated the day, my blessings, and everything else that was going on. I grabbed a city map, and made my way to the train station. I then boarded a train straight to Disneyland. It was over an hour away from my hotel near CDG airport, but it was a leisurely ride. I made it to Disneyland right before noon, and spent a majority of the day walking around like a kid in awe of everything around me. I needed a moment to take it all in. I was so grateful in that moment to be where I was, on my birthday, and to even have the opportunity to call this my life! It was a moment too special to explain. For the rest of day, I wandered around Disneyland, hopping on and off rides, standing in lines, and chowing down on whatever I could get my hands on. Candy Apples, popcorn, sweets, treats, and everything else. I had a wonderful birthday weekend in Paris. It was more than what I could ever have imagined myself doing at the age of 32.

(On my 32nd birthday at Disneyland, in Paris, France)

#14. Also, while in Paris, I was able to handle some of my "American" needs as well. I know that Paris is pretty comparable to the U.S. as far as basic amenities go (things like nail care, facial care, diversity in beauty products, etc.) I knew this from having been to the city a year prior. So before leaving Paris and heading to Italy, I got myself a French Manicure. Cliche much? Maybe- but how many people (outside of the French) can say they've been to France and got a French Manicure? Not many, that's for sure. But I did it to bring my hands and nails up to par. Traveling for such an extended period of time can be a bit rough on a woman. Everything from hair, nails, feet, and skin care can be a big factor in an extended trip. After traveling to 4 countries, it was time for some self care. I treated myself to a manicure (which lasted about 3 weeks, might I add) and a facial. Both were much needed and very much appreciated. It helped me continue on with my journey without looking as if I didn't take care of myself. I also stopped at a local mall and did my usual "dump." If you haven't read part 1 of this series- you probably don't know what a dump is. But I assure you, it's not THAT kind of dump. I just called it that whenever I would dump some old clothes, and buy some new ones for my journey. Paris being one of the number 1 cities to shop at in the world, was just the right place for everything I needed to rejuvenate myself. And rejuvenate is just what I did. Looking good helps you feel good, and feeling good helps you do good. Finally, I was like brand new again.

(Getting pampered with a French manicure at a nail bar in Paris, France)

#15. Having my own space may sound silly as one of my favorite things on my European Vacation, but as I mentioned before, I was staying at Hostels- so any chance that I got to have to myself was overly appreciated. Having my own room, bathroom, patio, and rest place was the ultimate luxury. I had my own spaces in London, Santorini, Paris, and Venice. During my birthday weekend in Paris, I was lucky enough to have a small restaurant just steps from my hotel. That always makes things easier when traveling. Not having to worry about where to eat, and having something so close by is always a major convenience. I ate some pretty tasty food in Paris. It was identifiable, I could pronounce it, and it was something that I'd eaten before, so it eliminated all of the guess work. Having my own space was definitely something worth cherishing and I enjoyed every minute of it.

As always, thanks again for reading my blog (part 3 #11-15). Feel free to share if you enjoyed it. You never know who made need the inspiration and encouragement. This just might help you or them to finally get out and see the world. I truly appreciate all the support, and kind words from everyone. I will continue with this series, as well as other blogs about traveling, and travel offers. Much love and hugs and kisses. Stay tuned for more!

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