January 2k17: from France to Austria and everything in between.

January 2k17: from France to Austria and everything in between.

Last month was incredibly exciting! In a matter of thirty days I was able to visit six different countries. I spent time in Germany (of course), France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and finally Austria. Here’s a quick recap of the month of January and all its adventures:

Paris, France: 30.12.2016-04.01.2017

As I previously wrote about in my last blog, I spent my New Year’s holiday in one of my all-time favorite international cities. On my first day in the city, I visited someplace new that I hadn’t been to the previous two trips I’ve taken to Paris. This time around, I made my way out to Monte Martre and visited the incredibly beautiful cathedral, Sacre Coeur. A bit out of the city, but nothing more than a thirty minute metro ride. Unfortunately, as it was early January in Paris, the skies were overcast and gray, leaving little views of the surrounding city. Still, it was worth the trip, and I’m glad I finally made it out to Monte Martre this time around.

 

My next main event during my time in Paris was to take a walking tour around all the top sites. Most of which I’ve seen previously, but it was great just being back in Paris, surrounded by the narrow streets, beautiful architecture, and all sorts of different people from around the world. Also, because it was New Year’s day when I decided to wander the streets of Paris to view the top sites, the busiest street in the city, Champs Elysees, was still closed off to traffic from the night before. Therefore, it was virtually deserted; I was able to walk down the middle of the street with the Arc de Triomphe behind me, as I made my way towards the Louvre. It was very interesting to experience such a busy street in such an unusual way.

Next up on my agenda in Paris was DISNEY! I’m a huge fan and I was given the opportunity to go back to Disneyland Paris for FREE! I reconnected with a friend from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in more than ten years. What a unique way to experience Disney, all alone. It certainly made decisions quick and easy. There was no one I had to bounce ideas off of all day, basically I went wherever my heart so desired. However, being that it was the middle of winter in Paris, it was REALLY cold. I even got to experience my first official European snow fall right in the park itself. Overall, a very fun day letting my inner-child out to play.

Brussels, Belgium: 04.01.2017-07.01.2017

The next and final stop on my Christmas break venture around Europe was another new country, Belgium! I absolutely fell in love with Brussels. The people are fascinating, the architecture is a mix of old and new, and the BEER. By far, the Belgians know how to do beer best. Some of the sites during my three day tour of Brussels included the Atomiom, the Mannekin Pis, the Belgian Comic Book Center, several beautiful cathedrals and churches, a city bus tour, and best of all…Harry Potter- the Exhibition!

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: 20.01.2017-22.01.2017

Happy Birthday to me! And a very happy birthday it was, indeed. I spent my birthday weekend exploring yet another new country; this time I set my sights on Luxembourg. Only a three and a half hour train ride from Neustadt, I took the day off from work on Friday as a treat to myself, caught a mid-day train from Neustadt to Trier, then on to Luxembourg, and spent the next two days exploring another wonderful international city. Originally my cousin was supposed to be joining me on Friday evening for a fun girls’ weekend together, but due to unforeseen circumstances she had to back out last minute. Upon hearing this news, I was a bit bummed that I’d be spending my birthday on Sunday alone, but I only allowed myself to dwell for a very short while. I have been traveling on my own for the past eight months, what’s another weekend of solo travel, if not an amazing opportunity, new experiences, and an incredible blessing! The theme of the weekend, #treatyoself2k17. As it was my birthday, and I was turning twenty-seven, officially entering my “late twenties” as my family so quickly reminded me, I knew I wanted to make this weekend special. Truthfully, it didn’t take much. As I was staying in an actual hotel and not a hostel, on Friday night I ordered room service, used the pool and sauna, and enjoyed a relaxing evening in. Then on Saturday I headed out to explore the city, and what an incredible day that was! Luxembourg City is essentially laid out on two levels, making for an incredible day hike around town. I saw castle ruins, churches, modern architecture, and beautiful scenery. It was a wonderful day, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect gift for my twenty-seventh birthday. The opportunity to travel and see the world this year has been an incredible blessing, full of experiences I will surely never forget.

Zell am See, Austria: 29.01.2017-03.02.2017

The mountains are calling and I must go. -John Muir

My final adventure during the month of January was Austria! I had the incredible opportunity to chaperone and attend a week-long ski trip with students, staff, and parents from ISN. It was an amazing, albeit exhausting week. Myself and four other adults (two teachers and two parents) boarded a coach early Sunday morning with thirty-nine students from grades 6-10. After a seven and a half hour bus ride, we had made our way to the Austrian Alps, to a small resort town called Zell am See. Despite being on board a bus with thirty-nine loud and smelly teenagers, when we reached the Germany-Austria border, the bus ride was breathtaking. Being surrounded by mountains all week reminded me so much of home. It also reminded me how centered and peaceful I feel when I’m surrounded by snow-covered mountains too. I had a blast snowboarding again (for the first time in over two years) and enjoyed my time getting to know my students outside the classroom setting.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. -Anne Frank

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