Over the past two weeks we have been on somewhat of a whirlwind journey, moving throughout five different countries. We have been to Greece, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Hungary. The past two weeks have been some of the hardest on the trip, not only because of the amount of traveling we have been doing and how often we have to pack up and move, but also because of the fact that we had midterms.
One of the most exciting things we have experienced so far was going to Athens and seeing all of the ruins we have learned about and seen pictures of. “Seeing the Parthenon with my own two eyes was an incredible experience for me. When I first learned about Ancient Greece in elementary school, I realized that I wanted to visit and study history. Now I am on this trip as a history major … mission accomplished,” Nick Booth said about visiting the city.
All of us were stunned at how old everything was and how it all still held a sense of importance that was too much to try to comprehend as we wandered around the Acropolis.
After Athens, it was time to get serious about our studies. While this was stressful, it was worth dealing with because of how beautiful our surroundings were. We got to stay right on the water, in Nafplio. It was amazing to watch the sunsets. It made studying much easier, and the study breaks way more fun.
We were heading into more of Eastern Europe than any of us had been to before, but before we arrived in Croatia, we took a short two-day stop in Venice, Italy. The city was astounding, and more than lived up to the hype that we had heard prior to our arrival. Of course, we took a gondola ride through the canals, which was a beautiful and unique way to see the city. Our gondolier was incredibly knowledgeable about the city – as he was a seventh generation gondolier – and even sang us some songs during our ride. We went souvenir shopping for Venetian glass, one of the most popular souvenirs in Italy, and then went on our way to Croatia.
Croatia was a little bit of a shock for most of us, in the best way possible. The landscapes were unbelievably beautiful. It didn’t matter if we were on the coast sitting next to the Sea Organ, or in the inland capital city of Zagreb sitting at the street restaurants and enjoying food and drinks among many other tourists and locals.
One of the best stops we made in Croatia was in Dubrovnik, where “Game of Thrones” was shot. Many people on my trip were excited about taking a tour to see all of the filming locations, but I opted to sit on the rocks with an iced coffee and watch all of the kayakers and boaters enjoying their days on the water. I was genuinely surprised at how relaxed I felt when leaving Croatia: partially because midterm stress was over and partially because it is incredibly hard to not feel relaxed after experiencing all of the beauty we saw in these past few days.
We move on to Budapest now, with higher expectations of Eastern Europe than we had before. I have a hard time believing that Hungary will not live up to the hype.