When the beautiful Jenni, (another girl crush-duh.) sent me her top ten europa places - I just about keeled over in happiness. i love this top ten list! and her!
Enjoy reading and seeing this incredible list! Then pop on over to Jenni-Austria-Germany for hilar.ious. posts and spectacular european travel stories. ...
Over the past 3 years, I've done a bit of traveling around Europe. Living in both Austria and Germany has allowed me to visit 12 countries since 2008. Sound impressive? It's not, actually. Most European countries have such great railway systems that traveling from country to country is too easy to not do. The sad part is, I don't know if I would be qualified to even make a top 10 list for America (where I was born and raised)....because I've been to more European countries than American states. Someday, I'll rectify this. Until then, here you go:
10. Munich, Germany
I'm not a huge museum-goer or sight-seer but the Geschwister-Scholl Platz is possibly my favorite sight in all of Europe. In order to fully appreciate it, you must be familiar with the story of the White Rose Nazi resistant movement and I highly recommend the Oscar nominated film, Sophie Scholl und die letzen Tage, as well. If the story means something to you, as it does to me, then you will no doubt get chills when you walk the same halls of the University building where Sophie was first arrested by the Gestappo and you'll find the tribute to her and her counterparts in front of the building to be quite moving as well. There is also a small museum inside - definitely worth seeing. It's really a haunting experience and can be quite emotional depending on your familiarity with the White Rose. After watching this film in 2007, I became fascinated by her story, which was the catalyst in my learning German, which eventually resulted in my moving to Europe and though Munich has so much beauty to offer, this is certainly the biggest highlight for me.
9. Corfu, Greece
During the summer of 2008, due to some unexpected itinerary changes, I ended up in Greece. For a week. Alone. At the age of 20 years old. At first I was utterly frustrated by the situation until I realized, "Um...I'm in Greece." I took an 8 hour ferry to the island of Corfu and stayed on the beach, where I did nothing but swim, read and eat (and eat and eat and eat). It was magical and I have to go back someday; it was truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. When I return, though, I'll do one thing differently - bring a friend. I find that while traveling alone can be relaxing, peaceful and sometimes necessary for your sanity, I prefer these experiences to be shared.
8. Filzmoos, Austria
Can we say Narnia, anyone? When I was living in Salzburg in 2009, my friends and I took a sleigh ride to the top of the mountain and it was hands down the coldest I've ever been in my life. And Germany and Austria can get pretty cold, in case you were wondering. Despite the fact that I was thinking, "What are my parents going to say when I tell them I lost all my fingers and toes to frostbite?" the whole time, it was an amazing experience. Unreal. I literally felt like I was living in another world (the Alps tend to have that effect). And in case you were wondering, the ride to the top of the mountain was worth it - a Bavarian feast awaited us inside.
7. Berchtesgaden, Germany
Just outside of the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden proved to be the perfect day trip for my friends and I in Salzburg. I've been at different points of the year but I highly recommend going in May or June when the weather is warm. Living in this part of Austria has been my greatest pleasure of life to date. There were so many moments when I'd have to stop and marvel at the beauty around me and think to myself, "How do I live here?". The day these photos were taken (in 2009) was full of those moments. Oh and that picture of me? That's the border between Germany and Austria as well as the path walked by the Von Trapp family at the end of Sound of Music. Funnily enough, the scene was filmed with the actors crossing the Austrian border and entering Germany whereas in the movie, they are said to be fleeing Salzburg by crossing the Swiss border. Silly Hollywood.
6. Budapest, Hungary
Here's the thing about Budapest: the city is divided into 2 parts (Buda and Pest). If you're on the Pest side, good for you. If you're on the Buda side, well...I'm sorry. When my friend and I visited for the first time, we knew nothing of this Buda and Pest business and we wasted the first 2 days of our visit wandering around Buda and thinking, "Why did we come to Budapest?". Then, once we crossed the river and made it to the Pest side, we said, "Ohhhh, we get it now!". And we loved it. Honestly, the baths in Budapest (and no, they are not just "pretty swimming pools" - they are actually filled with hot, medicinal mineral water) are reason enough to make a visit.
5. Wrocław, Poland
When I tell my students (I'm an English teacher in Germany) that I love Poland, they always ask, "But why? It's so ugly and gray and full of communist blocs." Okay, so sometimes Poland can be ugly, gray and full of communist blocs. But most of the time, I find it to be homey and charming, full of friendly people and great food. Wroclaw is a perfect example of all of these things. While most tourists focus on seeing Krakow, Warsaw or visiting the Auschwitz grounds, I think Wrocław is the hidden gem of the country. Oh, and it's pronounced Vro-sauve.
4. London, England
Alright, enough of the "I'm going to be different and name all these places that most people have never heard of". I love London. I do. I've been there 5 or 6 times and each time, I fall in love with it more and more. In my few years of traveling, I've found typical touristy destinations like Rome and Paris to be overrated (Rome much more so than Paris) but London is heaven to me. I am so comfortable there. I love the underground, the musicals, the parks, the shopping (oh, TopShop on High Street - kill me now). I even love the food, despite the stereotype that English food is bland and boring. Whatever. Oh, and I could spend the rest of my life in Notting Hill and I wouldn't complain.
3. Cinque Terre, Italy
The best part of Italy, hands down. The best food, the best landscape, the best people. Oh and did I mention the best food?
2. Vienna, Austria
I went to Vienna in March 2009 and I thought it was okay. I went back a few months later and thought it was more than okay. I moved there May 2010 and fell in love. For a more of why I love Vienna, you can read this. Otherwise, you can let the photos speak for themselves.
1. Salzburg, Austria
Like Vienna, I visited Salzburg prior to living there and I was by no means obsessed with it. Then I moved to Salzburg in February 2009 and, despite the fact that I had to eventually move away, my heart has resided there ever since. My dream is to live there again....and someday, I'll make it happen. I've been back a dozen times since I left and I've yet to become immune to the charm of the people and the allure of the city's backdrop (the Alps). I am happiest when in Salzburg and for that reason it is my #1. Though I plan to continue traveling for the rest of my life, I can tell you right now that no city on earth will ever replace it.