They don’t know it yet, but one of my favorite Christmas gifts to give this season is a look down memory lane… I finally got around to putting together a photo album of the besties’ trip to Europe in May 2004 after graduating college. I know some may consider albums to be ancient, but I still like to flip through pages every once in a while and it was so fun to make (thanks to Snapfish)! Plus it gives me great reason to recap the best trip of my life thus far and to share the highlights from each place with you, my audience of five…
London – We saw a lot of sights here, all by way of the Big Bus and thus I remember it the most. The city is just as expensive and fun as New York, only with way better accents!
Paris – After being “lost in translation” for 99% of our time in the City of Love/Lights, Sara and I literally stumbled upon the original Moulin Rouge in Montmartre and I snapped this amazing photo.
French Riviera – We had a lovely time staying in Nice, especially exploring the Colline du Chateau, but my favorite moment was our night adventure to Cannes where we posed for the Film Festival red carpet and traded our American tourist gear for some H&M party clothes.
Venice – By far, my most treasured stop on our journey. From the gondolas, to the best Italian meal I’ve ever eaten (Spaghetti & Clams at Trattoria alla Madonna), to writing postcards daily at the foot of the Rialto, it felt like our own personal version of "Eat, Pray, Love"…well, the Eat part anyways!
Florence – Who knew that as we combed the streets on a quest we affectionately termed “Finding Duomo” after that year’s lovable clownfish star, we were actually looking for a church that had a small connection to my family’s original last name, Belfiore. Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral of the city known for its distinctive orange Renaissance dome. Its name ("Saint Mary of the Flower") refers to the lily, the symbol of the city.
Rome – All I can say is it would take an eternity to see all of the Eternal City! My advice – this should be one trip entirely on its own. Yet, we managed to see all of the “top 10” tourist attractions, with the Roman Colosseum definitely taking the cake for the hold-your-breath moment.
So, next time you decide to cross the Atlantic to visit what I consider to be some of the world’s greatest cities, give me a shout. I recorded every sight, meal and train ride in a little Penn State diary and would be happy to share its secrets. Buon Natale, besties!