10 Things I Discovered on My 10-Day Trip to Europe

  1. Pasta in Italy is a way of life

My Europe trip started off in Italy in the cities of Rome and Florence. I visited the Vatican, saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and—most importantly—dined on some of Italy’s most famed dish: pasta. And it wasn’t a one-time thing, either: I sat down to a 5-course, Tuscan-style meal in Florence where the appetizer included three (yes, three) different types of pasta; this was all even before the main course arrived.

  1. Florence is small, beautiful and surprisingly walkable.

I didn’t know that much about Florence before I got there, but—to my delight—I found it to be surprisingly small and easy to get around. The charming and historic city boasts beautiful scenery like the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, and even a historic synagogue! I only had a couple of hours of free time in Florence, but they flew by quickly with all that Florence has to see.

  1. Lucerne (Switzerland) looks like a town out of a storybook.

Seriously. Our first stop in Switzerland was in the town of Lucerne, which boasts the deep blue waters of Lake Lucerne (complete with swimming swans) and charming architecture. In addition, the town’s backdrop was nothing other than the beautiful Swiss Alps. I felt like I was wandering around a movie set the entire time I was there!

  1. Switzerland makes amazing watches and delicious chocolate.Seriously. While in Lucerne we stopped to purchase three of the main things Switzerland is known for: Swiss watches, Swiss army knives, and (my favorite) Swiss chocolate. I knew I wouldn’t have much luck getting an army knife through airport security, so I decided to focus on the watches and chocolate. Lindt, Toblerone…you name it! I was in chocolate heaven. Unlike Italy and its…organized chaos (shall we say), Swiss culture revolves more around precision and order. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Swiss watches are immaculate and world renown. Take a look!

         

  1. The Swiss Alps offer great day hikes.

After Lucerne, we continued on to our campsite in the town of Lauterbrunnen (in the Swiss Alps.) It is simply breathtaking out there. As much as I love living in Washington, DC, during the year, it is—at the end of the day—a city. And cities have physical and noise pollution. It was so refreshing to get out into the quietness of the Alps, and breathe in that really fresh air. While there, I hiked to a place called Trümmelbachfälle, or Trümmelbach Falls, which is a set of caves with really pretty glacial waterfalls!   

           

  1. Escargot isn’t really that bad after all!

After Switzerland, we moved on to beautiful Paris! I’d taken French for 8 years when I was younger and had always dreamed of visiting France—now that dream was finally coming true. One of our first stops when we got there was at a French café to try a very polarizing French dish—escargot, also known as snails. I’ve never been an adventurous eater, but when else was I ever going to eat escargot in Paris? So I tried it…and it actually wasn’t bad (well, when you don’t think about the fact that you’re eating snails.) Also, mine were cooked in a very tasty pesto sauce so I couldn’t taste much of the snail meat anyway. Glad I crossed that off my list!

  1. The Eiffel Tower is a lot bigger in person.

I’d always seen the Eiffel Tower in pictures, but I never realized just how big it really is! On our first night in Paris, we drove by it and saw it all lit up. The next day I actually got to go inside—I climbed over 600 steps up to the second level and got amazing views of the city.

                    

  1. The French take their macarons very seriously.

Another highlight of Paris was getting to visit the famous French pastry stop Ladurée. I’d never tried macarons before, and I immediately started salivating when I entered the shop. I ended up purchasing 5 macarons: salted caramel, rose, blackcurrant violet, chocolate-coconut, and chocolate-chocolate. They were divine: the cookie had a crumbly texture when you bit into it but it all melts in your mouth. Yummm…    

     

  1. The London Eye offers a spectacular view of the city.

I ended my 10-day trip in London, and stayed with my GW roommate Sarah (who is currently studying abroad on GW England!) Although the weather was somewhat colder and rainier than what I’d experienced in Tel Aviv, I braved the unfortunate conditions in order to do some London sightseeing. Nowhere did I get a better view of London than from its giant Ferris Wheel—the London Eye. Overlooking the Thames, I got a great birds-eye view of the city: 

       

  1.  On a cold and rainy London day, English pub fare is the best comfort food.

After a long day of seeing the sights, I was really craving some typical English pub food, and my Cottage Pie (beef & mashed potatoes) did not disappoint. It seemed like 10 days passed in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it I was on a plane back to Tel Aviv. I got to meet new people, taste new foods, and see new sights on this incredible trip—one I won’t soon forget!