I’ve never had a desire to travel to Lisbon, let alone Portugal, so when my roommate suggested that we go our first weekend of the semester I thought why not. Turns out, this was one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to. Lisbon is an insta-lovers dream! The city sits alongside the Atlantic and is littered with picturesque, colorful buildings. Many describe the city as the European equivalent to San Francisco so it's an absolute must-see. If you ever decide to visit, I would recommend grabbing a pastéis de nata from the historic Pastéis de Belém and enjoying it by the water!
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamt of going to Paris, but when I visited ten years ago with my family I was completely disappointed. Ever since that trip, I’ve always wanted to go back so that I could be proven wrong. After visiting for a second time, I can confidently say it did not disappoint. For spring break, my mom and I stayed at the Disneyland Paris resort. While we did spend the majority of our time at Disney, we took a train into the city for a day. While there, we strolled down the iconic Champs-Élysées while eating macarons from Ladurée and window shopping. We ended our day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower which was incredible. Although a dislike of Paris seemed to be the resounding opinion throughout the Rome center, I think that if you’re lucky enough to travel there more than once, you’ll definitely grow to love the city a little more with each visit.
Now, I fully understand that Malta isn’t a city, but my visit there was so amazing that I just had to include it in the list. I was granted the opportunity to travel there on a student-led trip through the Rome Center to learn about the refugee crisis. We were able to visit the towns of Sliema and Valletta, the island’s capital. I never even knew Malta existed up until I visited but I’m so glad I decided to go. We visited in early February so the weather in Malta was cold. While the month we went wasn’t ideal, I was still able to learn so much about the island’s history and culture. A Maltese vacation offers the perfect balance of relaxation and activities. I would definitely recommend whisking away to the island during the summer when you’re after a much-needed beach break but still want to learn about a new place.
Unexpectedly, Austria turned out to be one of my favorite countries I visited during my time in Rome. During the semester, I visited both Salzburg and Vienna. Both cities were filled with beautiful architecture that I’d never experienced before. However, Salzburg remains at the top of my list for the sole reason that it was the setting of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Sound of Music. Like the classic Disney geek that I am, I decided to go on a movie tour which took me to the film’s most iconic sets. Even if you’re not a huge Sound of Music fan, I would definitely recommend spending a few days in the city to admire the beautiful scenery and indulge in some authentic Austrian food.
Switzerland is absolutely number one on my list of countries I want to go back to and explore more of. I feel like I didn’t get enough time to spend there. I was introduced to Interlaken through one of my friends who invited me to go for a weekend. While the city is pretty expensive, as it’s a luxury resort town, it's definitely worth saving up for! While we were there, I went kayaking on Lake Brienz, a completely surreal experience, while my friend opted for skydiving. If you’re not the most adventurous person, I would still recommend staying in one of the many local resorts or even opt for an Airbnb, like we did, just to take in the beauty of it all.
Like Portugal, Spain wasn’t really at the top of my list. However, this seemed to be a popular destination for many people at the Rome Center. Barcelona ended up being the last trip of my semester and it was the best way to conclude my time in Europe. The city, while incredibly touristy, has so much to offer! My friend and I were able to hit all the biggest tourist destinations in the span of two days but I would love to go back and spend more time there. I would definitely recommend stopping by the La Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, and the infamous Park Güell.