Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Hi everyone!

Madalyn and I have just returned from a two-week trip to Europe, my very first time “across the pond.” In the short time we were there we were determined to see and experience as much as we possibly could, and I daresay we were in admirably good shape after so much walking! We also made valiant attempts to record as much of our first European trip as possible, as our poor camera’s exhausted memory card can attest to.

We began our adventures in London, a beautiful and fashionable city with an impressively efficient (and clean!) public transportation system. In addition to stepping through the amusing film “Movieum,” exploring the Tower of London (my favorite!) and wandering across the Tower Bridge, we also observed that the natives there are polite and friendly; seem to be committed to preserving and caring for their city; and are concerned with its appearance. For instance, putting up posters or flyers on lampposts is prohibited because it is considered littering. Most everything is well maintained and looks attractive – yes, even McDonald’s, which, due to the stylishly modern chairs and tables with decorative flowers, we almost mistook for a classy restaurant (an embarrassing blunder!). We also loved the old wooden telephone boxes.

A short plane ride and several pounds of luggage away was Paris, the dream city. It did not acquire its reputation as a city of romance without basis! Exception must of course be made for the catacombs… Despite the number of young couples found braving the network of underground passageways lined with human skeletal remains, the atmosphere is far from romantic. Anyway, charming outdoor cafes and restaurants line the narrow, cobblestone streets, where one finds people who are all united by one defining common factor: that they are all French. I was particularly struck by the strong presence of nationalism among the Parisians. They share a pride in their beautiful city, country, and culture, which includes their language, their history, and their exceptional food and wine. The city is full of beauty, and one is surrounded by fine art, gardens, and architecture. I could describe more fully the other fascinating and gorgeous qualities of Paris (like Nutella crepes!), but I would also like to address the last and certainly not least segment of our trip, namely, Berlin.

Berlin was for me a fascinating experience. Very much a young person’s city, it is brimming with energy and life. In a travel guide I perused, Berlin was described as “noisy, dirty, and overcrowded.” The guide’s author had obviously never been to New York, because I found Berlin to be in comparison very clean, uncongested, and if the Berliners had not been busy celebrating Germany’s World Cup victory against England at the time of our visit, it would have been very quiet! What becomes apparent is how quickly and beautifully the city has grown since 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Also what was fascinating was to see buildings under construction because they are being built to last. Unlike the speed construction seen so often in America, the materials used to construct the buildings of Berlin are hardy and substantial and will last a few centuries. This was a revelatory observation. Berlin is also an exciting city because it takes quite a while and quite an effort to become familiar with it. It has much to explore and much to divulge to the explorer.

An eye-opening and perspective-altering experience was this trip, and my dream to become at least trilingual and live in Europe is now a goal towards which I will be working. I do hope you enjoyed reading this entry. If you have reached this point, thank you for reading!