I can’t pinpoint when I first realized I wanted to travel. I simply don’t remember a time before knowing I wanted to see Paris and London. This wish came true after my eighth grade graduation when my mom, grandmother, aunt and I spent over a week exploring Europe. That’s when I first fell in love with traveling. It was one of the greatest trips I had ever been on.
That is until my high school graduation, when I took my second trip exploring Europe with my friends this time in the Summer of 2011. One of the teachers at my high school ran a program through EF Tours and took a group of students on the Britannia Tour for a 10-day trip across the country.
The trip began in Killarney, Ireland and I could not picture a more beautiful town. The weather was absolutely beautiful when we landed in Ireland and I just remember everything being outstandingly green. We took a ride on Killarney’s famous jaunting cars, which are just horse-drawn carriages, to Ross Castle. In our free time the newly of-European-drinking-agers went off and ordered our first drinks in Ireland.
Throughout my time in Ireland we visited Dublin, The Guinness Factory, Trinity College, The Ring of Kerry, The Clifffs of Moher, and so many more breath taking sights I’ll never forget. We took endless horse-carriage rides and walked the anciet steps of countless castles. I climbed the steps of Blarney Castle and literally bent over backwards to kiss the Barney Stone.
After we left Ireland, we took the long way to England, stopping at Wales and Scotland. In Wales, we stopped at Conway Castle and got amazing scones at Anna’s Tearoom. We walked through the beautiful gardens of the Romantic poet Williams Wordsworth. We stayed the night on Scotland and had a beautiful tour of Edinburgh during the day and got to view both the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Castle. We had a hilariously funny ghost tour of Edinburgh at dusk, which was a very memorable experience.
AND FINALLY! I got the chance to return to one of my favorite places, London. The first day was gloomy with a lot of check-in and traffic delays, but we got to spend the night in Picadilly Circus and we even saw a play, the Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies. One of the most exciting parts for me was all the Harry Potter references around us. We saw the location where Gringotts Bank was filmed and I still have that picture saved in my phone four years later (yeah, I’m a nerd).
We visited Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards and took a tour of Windsor Castle. There we saw Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, the crown jewels, and even saw someone walking Queen Elizabeth’s corgis around the courtyard!
One of the coolest things about the trips was that while on the London Eye, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which is not the norm in England. We saw breath taking views and got our picture taken on the Eye. My friends and I were asked to sign a waiver in case they use the photo for promotions. We didn’t think anything of it, until another classmate visited the London Eye three years later and saw our picture as advertisements for the professional photos.
I haven’t been to Europe since, but as graduation from college now approaches, the desire to see new places has gone through the roof. Maybe Europe won’t be my next stop, but hopefully there’s room for plenty more adventures ahead!
Just a classic case of wanderlust.