Eurotour was the best three weeks of my exchange so far, for sure. Obviously, I have enjoyed my time in Denmark so much, and there are memories I have made and shared here I will never forget, however, Eurotour was a once in a life time experience that I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in. I met some amazing people and saw places I had only dreamed of, each with its own culture and history.
Hopes were high as we begun our journey, Latin music playing through the bus and an excited buzz of chatter. Taking the ferry across to Germany, I was very happy to begin my trip around Europe. I had been awaiting this day for months, and it was finally here, surrounded by friends from around the world. A few hours later we arrived at the Olympic stadium in Berlin from 1936, took a group photo then headed straight to our hostel in central Berlin. During our time in Berlin, we took a tour of the city, visiting the remains of the Berlin Wall including the East Side Gallery, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Brandenburg Gate. We learnt to use our free time wisely because this was a chance we may not get again.
On our way to Prague, we had our lunch break in the city of Dreseden which I will be returning to shortly for my Rotary summer camp. The city was extremely charming with a traditional German touch, and good ice-cream.
After Dresden, we stopped at the most confronting place on our tour. If you know the story of World War II, you would know of the thousands of lives who perished under the Nazi regime, and the terrible concentration camps which were set up as part of Hitler’s reign. Our visit to Theresienstadt concentration camp put a solemn halt on our cheerful mood as we remembered that not all parts of history are good and the effect of the war is still prevent today.
Prague, Czech Republic:
Prague was weird. I think that is the best way to describe the eccentric city with its pretty buildings and massive castle, bottles of absinth and men with pythons. We spent half a day in Prague Castle, the biggest castle in Europe, and it was absolutely amazing. I adore castles, so this quickly became one of my favourite places on Eurotour. Together, we walked to the Charles Bridge and enjoyed the view with the city infront of us and the castle behind. Continuing our little tour, we walked to the Astronomical Clock in the city centre. Free time lead to a much needed cool drink in Starbucks and more ice-cream as we explored the city centre.
I don’t know what it is, but no matter where you go in Vienna, it is grand. Starting our time in the lovely city, we visited the Schönbrunn Palace, the old summer residence of the Austrian Royal family and Austrian Versailles. It sits outside the city and after a long walk up a big hill through the gardens, you are able to see all of Vienna laid out before you. That evening, we watched a classical concert, listening to the works of Mozart and Strauss. It was most enjoyable. The next day we walked around the city to see some of the more well know buildings of Vienna, including St Stephen’s Church. The heat was getting the better of us, so Matthew, Issa, Nathan and I decided the Natural History Museum was our next stop. Greeted by rooms full of crystals and precious stones, along with fossils and taxidermy, the cool break was much needed and appreciated. I would love to go back to Vienna and explore the many other museums and sites.
A quick trip to Lush (which had been greatly missed by Issa and I in Denmark) and we were set for Italy!
Lido di Jesolo, Italy:
Almost everyone will agree that Lido di Jesolo and Venice were some of, if not the best places we visited. Lido di Jesolo is a small beach holiday town outside of Venice, a relaxed stop in our busy schedule. Our day trip to Venice left us amazed, the beautiful modern Atlantis. The gondola ride set a peaceful mood; no matter how touristy this tradition may be, it was well worth it. Whether its the high class shops or waterside cafes, Venice has something for everyone to enjoy. Venice was a dream come true.
After a busy trip and a lot of walking the day before, we finally had some time to relax on the beach. With sunburnt skin, we played all day in the fabulous weather, the sun high above us. The water was cool, the sand was hot, and the smiles were wide. By this point on our tour, everyone had grown closer together so spending a whole day among friends was perfect.
The following day we drove through Verona, a small town famous for its Shakespearean ties. In a small courtyard, Juliet’s balcony sits and despite the crowds there is an eerie sense of a fairytale from long ago. With another stop at Lush, a taste test of hot chip pizza and more gelato, we were on our way once more.
Middle of nowhere, Italy;
Due to the long driving distance, we spent one night at a hotel in the middle of the country side, then drove through Nice to get to Avignon. Nice was another relaxed stop with salty sea air settling over the city. Gabe and I soaked up some more sun at the beach, some kids were brave enough to get into the cold water. I collected some sea glass for my blazer, a pretty reminder of a pretty town. A quick Maccas run (for those non-australian’s, McDonald’s) for some lunch before heading straight on to Avignon.
Eating in a 50’s themed American dinner, playing pool and bowling, along with visiting the small, yet historic town of Avignon was our first real experience of France on the tour. Although not French, the food at Tommy’s Dinner was pretty good and presented us with a homey atmosphere after a long day of driving. The next day we visited the city centre, with its massive fortress which once housed the Pope and quaint streets. Gabe, Melina, Sarah and I decided to sit in a small park for lunch, and although nothing much happened I will remember that moment for years to come. I was in the south of France, with new friends, enjoying cold drinks and taking polaroid pictures.
Despite the rain, Paris was magical. The city of light and love, full of some of the most famous sites in the world. There is a reason almost everyone dreams of visiting Paris. On our first evening, we took a boat along the Seine River, experiencing Paris from the calm atmosphere of the canals, then climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, overlooking a glistening city that went on for what seemed like forever.
The next day was full of exploring the streets of Paris. Starting our day at the Arch de Triumph then strolling down the Champs Elysees, before walking to the Louvre and along the Seine River. David, Nathan and I enjoyed crepes in a small local cafe, topped with chocolate and cream. To finish our day, our group met at the Notre Dame Cathedral, its imposing figure standing upon one of the islands in Paris. The day ended with a sprint to a camera store, a game of ping pong and a nice meal. Now we were ready for another day of adventures.
Our final day in Paris allowed us to see both the Louvre and Paris Disneyland. I though the task could not be done, but the day was a huge success and everyone had a wonderful, if not magical time. Lining up to enter the Louvre in light rain was not the best start, but one inside the enormous building it didn’t matter. Heading straight to the Mona Lisa, we saw art like never before. Her lack of size was interesting but it was more about the experience than the artwork itself. My personal favourite painting is the The Coronation of Napoleon and my favourite sculpture is Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. After looking at marble sculptures, ancient Egyptian relics and grand paintings, it was time for Disneyland. A quick note for anyone visiting the Louvre; there is a great exhibit about the Louvre itself and the story behind the building, so I highly recommend looking at this if you have time.
Donning Mickey Mouse ear the sun had begun to shine once again and it was a mad rush of trying to get on as many rides as possible. For many of our group it was there first time in Disneyland, so it was very cute to see them so excited. It was a great way to end our time in Paris.
Before arriving in The Netherlands, we briefly stopped in Brussels, Belgium. I would have liked to stay a little bit longer here, with the quirky, unique boutiques striking a lot of interest for Issa and I. Our councillors we very nice and gave us all proper Belgian waffles before we got back on the bus bound for Doorwerth, in the east of Holland.
Doorwerth, The Netherlands:
The Netherlands held an eerie resemblance to our home in Denmark. We stayed on the east side of the country and travelled into Amsterdam for a day. Beginning with a canal tour we spent the day strolling through narrow streets and avoiding some of the more scandalous parts of the red light district.
Unfortunately it was time to end our trip, and so with a quiz from Glen, a small dance party and roasting marshmallows over a fire together it was time to pack our bags one last time.
The next day we drove home and although it had been so good, saying goodbye to so many friends was hard. Many of these people we will never see again, but at least we had shared countless good times together over the tour.
This is only a brief overview of the time we had on Eurotour, it is simply not possible to recount all the stories and adventures from those spectacular 18 days. Tusind tak to our bus driver Carsten, our gorgeous counsellors Juila and Anne-Sophie, and our tour leader Glen, as well as everyone in Rotary who organised this tour. I can not thank them enough for the effort they put in to make it as good as it was, I am forever grateful.
I will not forget this adventure, but not it is time for another one to begin.