I only have 8 weeks of school left. Then I’ll be done forever.
What shall I do to celebrate? Go to Europe, of course! Not only will I get to soak in all that sun, but I’ll finally get to experience all that amazing culture and mouth-watering food!
The enjoyment of a trip is invariably linked to food that city has to offer. I think everywhere I go, its always centered around what to eat next. With Europe and its concentration of a myriad cultures, it’s almost a no-brainer. That is, until I have to narrow down the places to go. I mean, saying “Let’s go to Europe!” is a lot more simple until you get down to the details, like what country, what city, for how long, etc. etc.
To help organize my thoughts, I’ve decided to make a blog post on my current findings.
Past Trips to Europe: Mixed Feelings
I’ve been to Europe before, but most trips weren’t exactly enjoyable, albeit memorable. The first was when I was 11-years-old, much too young to soak in any culture at all. I remember feeling quite miserable as my parents dragged me from city to city. I’m embarrassed to say that my happiest moment was when my parents left me in the London hotel room and I got to watch Cartoon Network. Terrible, right?
I’ve also been on one of those dreaded tour groups where the “goal” was to take pictures next to monuments and then jump back onto the bus to the next monument. We visited 8 cities, yet I didn’t experience a single one of them. Did I mention that we ate crappy Chinese food (in a basement) the first day in Rome!? It filled me with absolute rage. And horror. Then sadness. Yes, a very broad spectrum of emotions swept through me at the tender age of fifteen. These people had no idea the culture they were missing out on. I’m determined to never go on these tours again.
My latest trip to Europe was last May, when I visited one of my closest high school friends in Copenhagen. I mean, she was studying abroad and I finished school a couple weeks early. It was perfect! We ended up having a great time, taking a week to go to Oslo then the absolutely quaint, beautiful sea side town of Bergen. It was there where I realized that planning a trip and going with friends (not parents) is leagues better than that sad tour group many summers ago.
Planning a Trip: The Art of Anticipation
I remember reading a NYTimes article about how anticipating a vacation makes you happier. Anticipation is like building up a sense of excitement and expectation. Imagining and relishing the possible happiness that much-needed vacation in the distant future can result in a happier state of being today.
Elizabeth Dunn, a happiness researcher, says that there is an art to anticipation. That is, there is a way to optimize that happiness you feel today for the vacation you’re daydreaming about everyday. Hint: it’s not just daydreaming
Step 1: Immerse Yourself
Immerse yourself in cultures of the region. Read up on the culture, be it travel books, fiction books, cookbooks, or food/travel blogs! Listen to music! Brush up on art history (if you’re into that stuff like I am) or learn a language!
There’s so much you can learn about any place in the world. Not only will you become more knowledgeable about the place you want to visit, but you’ll be slightly more cultured in your daily life. If you’re stuck in a daily routine that can easily transition into a pretty boring existence, looking up the rich cultures of other places can brighten an otherwise boring night of Netflix binge watching.
If you’re thinking about…
Paris, read My Paris Kitchen, watch Ratatouille
Italy, watch Under the Tuscan Sun
Spain, watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Spain (season 4, episode 17)
Scotland, read The Outlanders Series (I read them all, so addicting)
SO…I realized that all those suggestions are food related, but what can I say. It’s late. I’m hungry. I just want to go to Europe already!
Here are some inspiring blog links:
Little Towns of Europe – How picturesque!
One Week Itineraries of Europe – Half the work is done for you, basically.
Italy Itineraries for the foodie, or cultured, or outdoorsy! – Or maybe a hybrid…
More reasons to visit Barcelona – This may be a perfect blend of food and culture
Supposedly the prettiest city in Europe…
STEP 2: Share your upcoming travels
Tell your friends about where you’re planning to go! It’s not like you’ll be bragging the whole time about your future vacation, either. Sharing travel ideas could always lead to new ideas about future trips as well. It’ll help you organize your thoughts and, apparently, just talking about traveling can boost happiness!
I guess my version of sharing comes in the form of this blob of mine. This unknown abyss that is the Interweb, where anyone anywhere can access my very thoughts is kinda scary.. Hm. But at the same time liberating to think that there’s so much bullcrap out there that nobody is probably even reading this.
Reminicing vs. Anticipating
Similarly, reminiscing about a trip also increases you happiness. After going through my photos of the past Euro trips I’ve taken, I definately remember the happier moments peppered throughout trip. The fact that anticipation brings about greater happiness relative to reminiscing makes perfect sense. With anticipation, your imagination runs wild. Everything glitters with the possibilities of tomorrow. Reminiscing about a trip, on the other hand, always has a tinge of reality, of the imperfections of life. Plus, if said vacation is indeed a complete bust, at least you had a wonderful time fantasizing about it.
Nobody can take that away from you. NOBODY!!!
On a lighter note, anyone have suggestions for a must-see city in Europe?
until next time,