Now that I’m preparing to move back to France for at least ten months, I can’t help but to be beaming with excitement of all the possibilities that I’ll have to explore Europe again.
For those of you whom don’t know, I’ll be moving to Paris at the end of August to teach English at Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle as well as study as a graduate student. Not only will I be getting a decent pay and the opportunity to live in one of the most glamours European cities, but I will also be getting 12 weeks paid vacation. Yes, you saw that correctly. 12. full. weeks. paid vacation. The massive travel nerd inside of me is ready to burst at the seams and has got me looking so forward to traveling again.
I’m sure many of fellow travelers out there can attest to having an ultimate travel list, and if you are like me, then you take it to the extreme and actually write it down and make it pretty and gawk at it every now and then in hopes that soon again you’ll be able to get back out there, traipse across the world, and connect with it.
To be honest, on this sort-of travel blog of mine, I’m not sure why I haven’t shared my list before now.
So here’s where I’ve been first:
The United States:
Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri.
I would say Indiana, but girl, you know you can’t consider your home state as somewhere you have traveled. However, I do find every now and then that visiting random towns in my own state that I never knew it existed can be rather refreshing.
I went to Puebla on a whim. Feeling overwhelmed and depressed because of school and the Wisconsin winter, I decided three weeks out from my Spring break to book a flight to Mexico to go visit my friend Pablo, who I met while teaching English in France last. I had always wanted to go to Mexico to see how it differed from American stereotypes about it. I ended up falling in love with the rich and beautiful culture and feeling frustrated because 5 days is nowhere near enough time to spend in one city, let alone an entire country. I must go back, and someday I will, especially because I went there to visit a friend and came home with three new Mexican brothers and a Spanish sister.
Oh France, my love, my second home. Even though I feel a little overwhelmed moving to France for the third time because I’ll be moving my entire life again just as I’m starting to establish one here in Milwaukee, France truly is my second home, and I’m so ecstatic to fall even more in love with it. I have a billion pictures of my life and times in France, it’s hard just to choose one. Cities /towns I’ve been to in France include Paris, Nantes (where I studied in the Spring 2013), Laval (where I taught English for 7 months), Rennes, St. Malo, Bayeux, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Amboise, Angers, Blois, Château-Gontier, Versailles, Tour, Caen, Le Mans, and Reims. I’m sure there were a few small towns around in there, but I still view France as something to conquer. I still have so much more to see.
Places I’ve been in Spain: Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Sevilla, and Madrid. Granada and Sevilla were by far some of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen throughout all of my travels.
Places I’ve been in Portugal: Lisbon and Sintra. I had never really ever dreamed of going to Portugal, but when my travel companions suggested it, I thought “why not?” and I ended up falling in love. Then again, I have a hard time not falling in love when I travel, especially with views like this.
Places I’ve been in Belgium: Brussels. The mixture between French and Dutch culture here is awesome. Also, can we please talk about those waffles and French fries? Or should I say, (cheesy joke alert) Belgian fries *wink wink*.
Places I’ve been in the Netherlands: Amsterdam. To be honest, my time in Amsterdam was a little rough. I was tired, cold, constantly hungry, staying in a sketch ball hostel, and it rained for the entire time. Also not to mention that the amount of pot-smoking and the red light district, despite knowing full well that they are a part of that culture, pushed me into culture shock. My time in Amsterdam was pretty awesome. I learned so much about World War II history and that culture shock forced me to keep opening up my mind about world views. Not to mention that the buildings were gorgeous.
Places I’ve been in Germany: Stuttgart, Cologne, and Berlin. My time in Berlin was a little rough as well due to circumstances beyond my control concerning my lodging situation. However, great beer and beautiful art work on the Berlin wall definitely made my time worth it. I definitely need to go back and establish some more good travel memories there.
Places I’ve been in England: Bristol, Bath, Oxford, London and Stonehenge (not a city but worth noting). My love of literature, cockney accents, and the Spice Girls has always pushed me to go to England. England blew my mind. I fell head over heels for Oxford, in the land of some of the most well known authors, and my bookworm self almost couldn’t handle it.
Places I’ve been in Ireland: Dublin and Cork. Ireland was the first time I ever traveled solo, and it was so liberating in so many ways. Not to mention that those Irish folk are adoringly accepting and nice and how beautiful of a country it is. Not once was I asked about my American accent, despite the fact that I very much know how thick my accent can be to people from other countries. Also, Guinness anyone?
Places I’ve been in Scotland: Edinburgh. What Harry Potter fan wouldn’t adore Edinburgh? Also those Scottish accents. fantastic.
Places I’ve been in the Czech Republic: Prague. Prague took my breath away. Maybe it was the color of the architecture against the backdrop of late October leaves or maybe it was the language itself, but never did I think I would feel a bit of romance in an Eastern European city.
Places I’ve been in Poland: Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Again with Eastern Europe making me feel all romantic and such. I never had much of a dream of going to Poland outside of seeing Auschwitz. I was pleasantly surprised though. The architecture and the food combined made my day and a half there completely worth it. Though being in Auschwitz made all of the feels happen, I am of the firm belief that every single person alive needs to go there to understand the depth of what happened during the Holocaust. I left that camp a changed person.
Places I’ve been in Iceland: Reykjavik. Iceland is like a magical land that I can’t get enough of. Some of my most favorite musical artists are from this tiny island where the amount of people that believe that are elves are real is almost equal to the number of adults that believe in angels in the U.S. I only had 18 hours in this beautiful country, but I can’t get enough. It’s definitely on my list to go back, and the next time, I’ll be doing a 2 week road trip around the island. Also, that fresh salmon. Can we say mouthgasm, anyone? Also, there’s a penis museum. What other country has a penis museum? Let me ask you that.
In my humble opinion, this list of mine is nowhere near long enough. My travel dreams are never-ending. My list just keeps growing longer with each trip that I take. So, here’s where I hope to be going. Some of these places are places I’ve already been but there are still plenty of places left to explore in those countries.
The United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean (Aruba, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Costa Rica, Haiti, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Curçao), and Canada
Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Trinidad
France, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Belgium, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Russia, Andorra, Lichtenstein, Romania, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Estonia, and Ukraine
Israel, Iran, and Turkey
Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia
Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, China, Cambodia, and the Philippines
South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Algeria, Tanzania, Egypt, Ivory Coast, and Madagascar
I can’t live this life without exploring every inch of this world possible, and the list just keeps getting longer. And the more that I explore this world the longer my list gets. My exploration envy will never stop.
So this is the gargantuan list I’m contemplating while I daydream about those 12 weeks of vacation while I’m in France. However am I suppose to choose?
What does your travel list look like? Where do you want to go? Where have you been? What are some of the places that have changed your life the most?
I’d love to hear about your personal experiences.