Aug 14, 2006 • Karen

In anticipation for my semester abroad, I've been researching travel in Europe. I'll be visiting Sweden and Germany in September as part of an all-school weekend trip, and there are day trips to various places in Denmark throughout the semester. The big travel opportunity, however, will be the three week mid-semester break from October 14 to November 5.

The first week I will be spending with the politics department traveling to Amsterdam, Brussels, and the Hague. During the second and third weeks two optional "adventure trips" are offered--one to Scotland, one to the Czech Republic--neither of which particularly captures my interest. I'm not that into whiskey or haggis (though the kayaking'd be fun). The Czech one actually looks rather awesome, but I'm pretty bad at rock climbing and spelunking...

So. Two weeks. Where to go?

The obvious candidate is France, of course. I've never visited a Francophone country before (except Montreal, which only kind of counts). About time I got to exercise what's left of my high school French. I'd want to do the tourist thing in Paris, sure, but I also want to visit southern France and the Loire valley, if possible. Taste some wine, eat some bread, and explore. A possible side trek here could be to spend a day in London, taking the train from Paris. But that would be a separate ticket--the UK isn't part of the whole Eurail pass deal--and as the Eurostar site is currently broken I can't say how much it would cost.

Ever since I read Bloomability (still one of my favorite books... shut up), I've had a ridiculous crush on Switzerland. I mean, how can you not love a peaceable, neutral, tri-lingual nation that makes the best chocolate in the world? Lugano sounds positively gorgeous (palm trees! and skiing!), as does Montreaux from my dad's stories ("Smoke On the Water"!). I'm doubtful that skiing in Switzerland would be within my budget (or even all that possible in October), but that's alright with me. And they have a "Chocolate Train"! Really!

I'm thinking about Italy, too. It's right by Lugano, and by all reports a gorgeous country. But I kinda want to avoid cramming in too much. With the train passes, the real expense is not in the number of countries but the number of travel days and I'm not sure if I'd see everything I wanted in all three countries with just five stops. If I'm gonna go to Italy, I don't want to just visit one city.

But I don't know. Hopefully I'll meet people on the program to travel with who are up for visiting Switzerland and such. Or not, and I'll go have crazy adventures in Austria or somewhere. It's all good.