It seemed like a fantastic idea at the time, and it was. But at four in the morning, it’s hard to be enthused about the five flights, three trains and countless shuttles, subways and cabs involved. But seeing Germany, Italy and France in just eight days was the best spring break ever.
It all started in Berlin, where it became apparent that maybe I should have either traveled to a country where I spoke the language or traveled with someone who did. Looking at the train schedule, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Through luck and a helpful German couple, I found my way to my hostel.
From then on, it was hitting the sights. First was the somber Berlin Wall Memorial on a cold, rainy day, wet cement lit up by colorful graffiti. Then, there were the impressive and ornate offerings of a collection of museums located on a place dubbed Museum Island: The Nefertiti Bust in the Egyptian Neus Museum and the recreated Ishtar Gate in the half-open Pergamon.
There is the nearby Berliner Dom, a large cathedral that is gorgeous on the outside and inside. Its best offering had to be the view from the top. After countless stairs, you can see the majority of the city from there.
But after only three days in Berlin, and a quick stop at the German Wittenberg, it was time to board a flight to Rome.
Now I have to say my favorite place in Rome, despite having only spent two days there, is the Roman Forum. This is just acres of history, temples and an aged villa. Gardens started in the Renaissance are next to ancient statues dating back to the empires. There are fountains that still run and those so overgrown with plant life that if it wasn’t for the dripping sound, you’d think it was just a bush. A really big bush that was about 10 feet tall.
And of course I couldn’t ignore the standard sights of the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain and Vatican City.
But in the nature of this trip, as soon as I had a grasp on what I was doing in this particular country, it was time to leave.
It was off to Paris now.
The Louvre is bigger than you think. I spent a day and a half wandering the halls of that place, and I think I saw half of it. There’s “Mona Lisa,” “The Venus de Milo,” “The Spirit of Victory” and so many other famous and beautiful works of art in there.
But then there’s the Catacombs. Deep underneath Paris are these tunnels lined with skulls and bones arranged artfully in morbidly beautiful displays. Every now and then, I felt reminded that the bones used to be real, living people, and the tunnels felt creepier. The Latin written over top of the door telling me to “Remember you will die” probably didn’t help.
When Paris was through, it meant a long journey back to Stirling, Scotland. A trip that was too long, too early and completely worth it.