Sometimes you have to go without things to realize how much you really appreciate them. This couldn't be more true in our lives than right now. Aaron and I are officially back from our 16 day adventure through Europe! We had an incredible time traveling the world, meeting some amazing people, and seeing some of the most well-known places on the planet. In honor of our trip, and our last Friday off before school starts (boo, hiss), here are five things that I really took for granted before our European Adventure:
Holy smokes, folks. Europe is a crowded place. As we worked our way around some HUGE cities like London, Paris, and Rome, I grew increasingly aware of just how thankful I am for our lovely 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a garage (unheard of over there unless you're a millionaire). I realized just how thankful I am for green space, a backyard, and a deck. And I grew oh so thankful that I don't have to navigate through so many people or so much traffic on a daily basis (yay, Kansas City, how I love you.)
|A crowd outside Sacre Coeur. None compares to the line at Versailles though!|
I knew bringing a water bottle would prevent us from buying bottles of water (just like it does here in the states). I also knew that people tried to sell you expensive glass bottles of water at restaurants. But what I didn't know is just how hard it would be to find a water fountain or get free water at a meal. Seriously friends, wine and pop are cheaper than water there. And until we got to Rome (which has awesome fountains all over with cold, delicious water), we had a heck of a time finding anywhere to fill up our water. We got creative in our hotel rooms or other sinks we could find that didn't look sketchy. And fountain drinks were nowhere to be found- so I'm making a QT run this afternoon in celebration of their return :)
|Fontana della Barcaccia fountain in Rome, in front of the Spanish Steps.|
I had heard about paid toilets, but it still felt so weird and foreign to me. I know our public restrooms in the US are sometimes pretty nasty, but still, you can do your business for free. It blew my mind that I would have to pay 0,60 euros just to relieve some bodily fluids. I mean, what if I had no cash or change? Thankfully, we have teacher bladders, so we just used the restroom when we were paying customers in a restaurant, in our hotel, or when we found a random free one elsewhere. The things we take for granted, folks!
|The stairs up to our B&B in Rome.|
Okay, I'll give it to London and Paris (and probably even Geneva)- they've got AMAZING public transportation! Their underground metros are speedy, easy to navigate (even for foreigners), and very time-efficient. And they weren't even that expensive. I really did have fun charting our way through the days and getting up close and (very) personal with the often sweaty locals on their evening commute home. But oh boy, was I ready for some more "private" transportation once we got home. I am so thankful that I can just go hop in my car and drive somewhere without having to figure out what stop I need, how long until the train arrives, if there will be room for me, where to validate my ticket, and if I'll have to stand the whole time. Plus, I don't have to worry about being on time for my next connection. I just get in the car and go. Ahhh freedom.
5. Knowing a Language
I'll start by saying that we were able to find English in almost every place we went. Ireland and England had our native language everywhere, which made things easy. When we got to Paris, I was oh so excited to put my three and a half years of French to good use, and I must say that it was pretty fun being able to order in French or read things on signs. But there were always times in more local areas where a little bit of a language barrier made things difficult, especially in Italy. We had to worry about if the taxi driver was going to rip us off, what the random Italian announcement was on the train that made everyone yell and throw their keys (which was a 30 min delay for the record HA), and if the woman behind the counter would give me the right type of pizza. Small things, I know, but still. I felt very language deficient while in Europe, as I saw people speaking three or more languages in different circumstances, while I really only know about one and a half fluently. Needless to say, I'm thankful to be back home where nothing is lost in translation (and Aaron and I have a new desire to learn Spanish).
It was an AMAZING sixteen days, but I am definitely very thankful for some of the things we missed back home, which also included our family, friends, and the freedoms we have in our country. We feel very very blessed. Stay tuned for more updates on our travels, with lots and lot of pictures and travel advice. Happy Friday, friends!
I'm linking up with DIY Vintage Chic, Mummascribbles, The Painted Teacup, A. Liz Adventures, The Felicity Jar, Uniquely Unfolded, Faith Along the Way, Grace and Love Blog, Running for Cupcakes, Momfessionals, Life in Leggings, and Fitting it All In. Check them out for other great posts.