Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Art of Planning

Planning is both my escape and the bane of my existence. I always want to know what exactly is happening when and my philosophy on timing is: if you aren't early, then you are DEFINITELY late.
With that being said, I've already started mapping out my attack on how to conquer Europe during my three week spring break in Scotland. Because if I don't do it now, then I'll be behind! And let's be perfectly honest, researching train times and castle tours is far more stimulating than writing the last final paper hanging over my head.
My spring break begins on March 30th and runs at least until April 20th (depending on when my exams start) and I've made a rough sketch of where I will be traveling during those 21 days. I purchased my Eurail pass ($700 well spent I hope!) so this adventure is happening, whether I'm ready or not.
I plan to travel from Dundee to Edinburgh to get to the airport after my classes. I may stay a day or so there just exploring castles and such. From Edinburgh I will fly to Krakow, Poland for a mere $70 and travel to Auschwitz in Oswiecim. I have no experience with the Polish language, but Auschwitz is a huge thing on my bucket list and it would be best to get the depressing bits out of the way first.
From Poland I'll take an overnight train to Prague in the Czech Republic where I can ogle the one thousand year old Prague castle and six hundred year old Charles Bridge. Monuments and buildings older than my own country have to be staggering. If I feel the urge I can wander to Cesky Krumlov, a car-free city according to my guidebooks, with another castle overlooking the Vltava River. I imagine I'll spend at least one night in Prague in order to experience Karlovy Lazne, the largest nightclub in central Europe.
From Prague I'll take a train to Vienna, Austria to see St. Stephen's Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, and Lobau water forest before making my way to Salzburg to see the hills alive with the sound of music. From Salzburg, I'll travel to Venice, Italy and wander the canals. Getting lost in Venice doesn't sound too bad. From Venice I can get to Florence, relatively close to Arezzo, a small town where my friend Taylor will be studying. Who better to romp around Italy with than someone who shares my own name?!
After Florence and Arezzo I have to go to Rome to feast my eyes and my brain on the Colosseum, The Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. I'll be sure to channel my inner Lizzie McGuire at the Trevi Fountain. Wherefore are thou Paolo?
From Rome, Naples is only a short train ride away, and then I can meet the preserved city of Pompeii. After a hike to Mt. Vesuvius, I can catch a ferry from Sorrento, Italy to the Island of Capri where the Blue Grotto would meet me.
After the color blue is forever ruined for me after such perfection, I'll head back to Naples to catch the train to Milan, Italy where I can window shop in one of the oldest malls in the world and not even think of touching my wallet in the Rectangle of Gold where designer shops reside.
I haven't quite decided exactly where my next destination will be from here as the towns are rather jumbled, but I would like to go to Zermatt, Switzerland to see the Matterhorn, Montreux, Switzerland to see the fairy tale castle, Chateau de Chillon, and to Chamonix, France to take a ski lift over Mont Blanc that would land me in the Alps of Italy.
From any of those places, I would head to Paris, France in hopes of staying wtih my middle school friend who attends school there. The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe are all on my must-see list for Paris.
From Paris I can take a train to Bruges, Belgium, a medieval city perfect for aimless exploring. After Bruges, Amsterdam, with its tulips, Anne Frank House, and red light district, is calling my name.
After Amsterdam, I need to visit several towns in Germany. Cologne for its cathedral, Heidelberg for its quaint charm, and Berlin for its infamous wall.
Depending on how my funds are doing at this point I plan to take the train to Denmark to visit the Little Mermaid statue and see the marriage of the waters in Skagen, Denmark. If I'm still not broke, I'll take a ferry from Denmark to Oslo, Norway to maneuver the fjords and take in the Northern Lights.
My European adventure will start coming to a close after I fly back to Great Britain (probably for only $62 dollars, I can't get enough of these banging flight prices). 
I plan to give proper attention to England and Ireland during well-planned weekends throughout the academic semester. 
Figuring out my top places to go was half the battle. I love the freedom the Eurail pass will give me to spend more time in a particular city if I feel I need to recover or just explore even more. 

All other college spring breaks will pale in comparison to this mega-adventure. Good thing it's more than likely my last one! A Very Lucky Girl will go out with the most enriching experience of my life. 

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