I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Europe over my winter break this year. I’ll admit it, no matter how many trips I take, traveling always stresses me out. First there is packing, where I over pack regardless, then making sure I get to the airport on time and all my flights and connections go smoothly. International flights add some extra pressure, but I am happy to say all of my travel endeavors involved with this trip went off without a hitch. My husband and I left the day after Christmas to fly to Milan, Italy. Unsurprisingly, for those that know my picky eating habits, I had my typical plain hamburger order as my first meal. It was a delicious, grass-fed delicacy for over there. I also quickly learned that when out to eat, most Europeans drink “sparkling” versus “still” water. It was so strange to me that beer was only slightly more expensive than water at a restaurant.
For our second day we hopped back on a plane and went down to Naples, in order to take a tour of the Pompeii ruins. I have always been fascinated by Greek and Roman history, as well as having taking a class on Pompeii specifically in undergrad. It was so cool to see all of the places in person I had only seen pictures of, and to walk along streets where so much history had taken place. The weather was beautiful for our tour and the city was so huge, even bigger than I was expecting. We also went to the museum in Naples to look at all of the artifacts and frescoes from the city.
We stayed in Italy for several more days, and I even ran into fellow Badger Alum, now professional volleyball player, Lauren Carlini.
We then drove through the mountains and Switzerland to get to Austria. The town we stayed in is called Dornbirn, and was the cutest little village. Our place was very close to a river walkway, so it was refreshing to take in the beauty on my daily walks. I grew up surrounded by nature, and even though Madison is quite filled with it, it was nice to experience a new kind of nature and wildlife.
My husband’s grandparents immigrated from Austria, and have some family left in the area so I got to meet them and learn all of their family history. They even had a “museum” in their house filled with artifacts that were hundred of years old, detailing their history through the generations.
For New Years Eve, we went up to the top of a mountain called Bödele, to a ski resort for a delicious, and authentically local dinner. It was a five-course pre-set menu, with all sorts of yummy drinks to accompany. Over there New Years Eve is sort of like our Fourth of July so everywhere had fireworks shooting off. The view at the top of the mountain was fantastic; it was like a 360-degree light show.
We also went to visit a healing stream a couple of towns away. A local saint blessed it and it is said to heal a variety of maladies if you wade through it. I was too chicken to get all the way in, as it was full on winter in the mountains, but I dipped my hand and the traveling elephant, while my husband did a quick barefoot walk through. Afterword’s we participated in the all-important afternoon ritual of coffee and cake.
I wanted to bring something back to remember this trip, so we were able to go to a local glassblowers workshop/gallery and look around. His shop was located at the base of the mountain, and it was a snowy day so just getting there was an adventure, but wholly worthwhile. His pieces were so beautiful and unique, I ended up taking two home with me. A teal vase and a white blended with purple vase. Even though I was nervous to fly with them, they packaged them up tight so they survived the trip in one piece.
We drove back through the mountains and spent a final day back in Italy before we flew out of Milan, through Newark. This was an incredibly rewarding trip for me. I have always wanted to travel to Europe, and it was so much fun to see all the places my in-laws always talk about and to meet their extended family.