How To Plan Your First Trip To Europe
It’s almost time to say goodbye to US Airways, my all-time favorite airline! I am thrilled to announce that I just started planning my first trip to Europe,
which will be this December. (Update: my first trip to Europe has been temporarily post-poned because my friend backed out, so I’ll keep you posted about the new date)! I will continue to update this post as I learn more and discover more tips to help Europe “newbies.” This is something I have wanted to do my entire life so I can’t wait to start planning it all out and finally making those long awaited reservations.
One of my biggest reasons for not visiting Europe sooner was because of the language barrier, which really creeped me out! But after a little research and talking with a few people who have been there and done that, it’s great to know that it won’t be a problem. There are so many English speakers in the cities I plan on visiting, especially in highly touristy areas.
Actually, I considered doing the study abroad program in Paris but wasn’t too sure about being alone on the other side of the earth, lost and possibly confused! But the main reason I choose not to do this program was because it required me to take courses in French, which didn’t sound like much fun. So instead I will be spending Summer 2014 in Las Vegas and Fall 2014 in NYC (then I’ll be graduating the following Spring!), as part of the in country study abroad program. It’ll be great to finally move out of Tennessee! I knew I would be moving away after graduating, but not this soon, so this is really going to be a treat.
Getting back to my first Europe trip, we’re choosing to go in December because I will have a month off from school and because of all the holiday festivities. On Christmas Day, we will spending the day in London! I’m looking for a trip filled with plenty hot tea, crepes, fish and chips and all of that jazz. Not to mention plenty of culture, with world renowned paintings by Picasso and Monet, a day at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a look at the 100 year old (and still not finished!) Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, and so much more! We’ll be going for a little over two weeks and we want to visit as many cities as possible in that short amount of time, so right now we plan on visiting the following cities:
The Big Itenerary
Day 1: Lisbon, Portugal (population 540,000) –
Day 2: Madrid, Spain (pop. 3.26 million)- The capital and largest city in Spain
Day 3: Barcelona, Spain (pop. 1.62 million)- It’s the second largest city in Spain with
Day 4-5: Milan, Italy (pop. 1.35 million) – The second largest city in Italy, Milan is loaded with extravagant attractions and it has a rich bit of history under its belt. The minute I saw that they were home to Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting (in the Santa Maria della Grazie church), I started reminiscing back to my art history class. It looks like I will have to reserve a timed 15-minute slot to be able to see this piece, which really goes to show that it is quite extraordinary. Just research all of the history behind this masterpiece and you’ll see where I’m coming from.
Milan is known for being one of the fashion capitals of the world. Top fashion houses, including: Gucci, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace, are all headquartered in this city. So it sounds like you can’t go to Milan without bringing back your very own designer courture.
A must see would have to be the Cuomo, which looks absolutely breathtaking (see the pictures!), so I can’t wait to actually see it in person. It took 500 years to complete! This massive marble church features 3,500 statues and 135 spires. The five bronze doors were each carved by different artists, really helping set this church apart. Head up to the roof of this church to get a view out at the alps on a clear day. Can’t wait!
Not heading to Venice? Well you are in luck because Milan is a city of canals! I can’t wait to finally say I’ve been on a canal ride at somewhere other than the Venetian resort in Las Vegas! I’m also looking at going to my very first opera. La Scala is a little pricy but would definitely be worth it to see a performance in this 2,015 seat theater with some of “the best acoustics in the world.”
Day 6: Geneva, Switzerland (pop. 194,000) – The second largest city in Switzerland,
Day 7-10: Paris, France (pop. 2.2 million) – An absolute must see for any visitor to Europe, France has always been number one on my list of must-sees in the Eastern-hemisphere. It’s the capital and largest city in France and one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe.
Day 11: Cologne, Germany (pop. 1 million) –
Day 12-13: Amsterdam, Netherlands (pop. 820,000) –
Day 14-16: London (pop. 8.1 million) – It is the capital of England and the largest area in the UK. London has six airports, which, when combined, receive more traffic than any other city in the world, receiving over 134 million annual passengers (the USA’s Atlanta, GA Hartsfield-Jackson airport is the world’s busiest individual airport, receiving over 95 million annual passengers).
We want to be sure to take a ride on the futuristic London Eye ferris wheel. It features indoor capsules which each hold 25 passengers. It actually takes 30 minutes just to make a complete rotation! It is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe and was once the tallest ferris wheel in the world when it first opened in 1999 (height 443 feet). Fun Fact: The tallest ferris wheel in the world title will go to the Dubai Eye when it opens in 2015 at a cost of 1.6 Billion (height 688 ft).
We also want to be sure to see Buckingham Palace!
I’m super stoked to have such an opportunity and I look forward to sharing more right here on US City Traveler. Stay tuned!
What do you think of our planned schedule? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.