July 29, 2018

Summer Holidays in Europe

I always look forward to the big summer vacations that my mother plans for the whole family to embark on. I never quite know where we’ll be heading to next, so by the time the end of May comes around, it’s always a nice surprise to find out where in the world she will be taking us.

For most of my childhood, every summer was spent traveling to a different state until in 2015 we finished our last and 50th state visit in the summer heat of New Mexico. Since then, my family has been fortunate enough to leave the continent and experience more and more European culture and famous landmarks.

Lucerne, Switzerland - 2015

Paris, France - 2015 

Bath, UK - 2017

Edinburgh, Scotland - 2017

Lake Bled, Slovenia - 2018

Budapest, Hungary - 2018

With all the years that have passed by, the timeless pictures that have accumulated, and the memorable stories that have still not been told, I think it’s high time that I sit down and share with all of you some of the unique adventures we’ve experienced along the way.

I’d like to start off my travel diaries with our most recent visit to Europe, more specifically: Eastern Europe. We visited a total of 8 countries: Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic respectively.

Unlike our travels to the states where my mom would haphazardly plan most of where we went the day before, she wisely decided that for our vacations in Europe, it would be altogether more efficient (and reassuring) to sign up for a traveling bus tour that offers the best of safety, security, accommodation, travel expertise, and transportation. Another advantage we would later gain from choosing bus tours over traveling by ourselves was the sense of community felt from getting to know the other people traveling with us. When up to 50 people travel together for an extended period of time, sooner or later everyone gets the chance to introduce themselves and develop friendships. That special benefit is part of the reason why we always choose to join group tours when visiting Europe. Based on our enjoyable experience with the Trafalgar company during our Europe whirlwind tour in 2016, we decided that we would sign up for their tour again, but this time based in Eastern Europe.

Zagreb, Croatia

Poznan, Poland

Our last day in Vienna, Austria

One of my overall trip observations was how similar yet characteristic each country was compared to their neighboring countries. Our tour guide was, of course, very knowledgable about Eastern European history and described to us in detail the different wars and regimes that had repeatedly altered countries' boundaries and sometimes wiped them off the map. (Click here for a cool time-lapse video that shows the change of European borders over 1,000 years). For example, I was shocked to learn that in the 1770s Poland was completely partitioned and off the map up till World War I by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

I was not expecting to absorb so many history lessons throughout our trip, but I’m so happy that I was able to. The way our tour guide was genuinely enthusiastic in his story-telling helped to bring to life each city that we visited. It felt like we were allowed not only to admire the different architecture, the scenic views, and the good food wherever we went, but we were also invited to contemplate what had actually occurred within and had shaped the places we were visiting. We didn’t have to feel like detached tourists, but were welcomed to become as knowledgable as connected localists, and that made our trip all the more exciting and beneficial!

To get a preview of the particular places I will be blogging about in the next few weeks (and months, to be honest), here is a list of all the Eastern European destinations we went to in chronological order. You can also click here to go to Trafalgar’s website where they provide a travel map and itinerary of their tour in much more detail.

As you can see, first up on the list will be Vienna, Austria. As a musician, it was so inspiring to visit the music capital of the world. I look forward to jumping into the details of our visit in my next travel blogpost. Stay tuned till then!

Have you gone on any exciting vacations this summer? What has been your most memorable trip to date? I’d love to know! :) 


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