Around the world in 43 days.

Despite the fact that it requires many thousands of dollars/kilometres for us New Zealanders to holiday abroad, and our currency is always being picked on by the bigger kids, we Kiwis continue to travel overseas in rising number, and with craftier luggage tricks. Good on us! And earlier in October I became one of those statistics!

I chose Europe and boy oh boy did it not disappoint. I’ll keep going there annually if they’ll continue to have me, despite my terrible attempts and pronunciation of “grazie” and “bonjour” to name but a few…

Some reasons for this trip included:

Friendly warm welcoming Europeans
New countries
Ricotta cheesecake
Wearing a beret
Everyone looks great because everyone wears sunglasses always
More carbs

And do you know what? It was all of these things and so much more. God, it’s good. And I’m not alone in loving a trip to Europe: USA and Asia aside, Europe is where most Kiwis go for holidays. And good on us, I say! If we can suck up a 30-hour flight to get there, we bloody deserve it.

Depending on our age or life stage, everyone’s Euro holiday will vary tremendously. But they’re all significant, whether they’re building resilience, or inspiring us creatively, or just giving us some unrivalled memories.

Our European escapades took us to 16 countries in 42 days. It was the total blur trip in which we combined the Contiki party trip with the fun seeking adventure and the grown up Euro holiday. We kick started our adventure in London for a week before embarking on our 23-day Contiki which saw us ticking off central European countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, the Vatican City, Switzerland and Paris off the proverbial bucket list. And it was fantastic for what we wanted to get out of it – a sample of Europe’s best tasting plates. It was easy for us mostly because of the organised tours, hostels and the compulsory socialising with strangers. We then went completely left field and explored Iceland for a week before breaking up the long slog home with a quick two-day stopover in Dubai.

The thrill of being overseas far outweighed the expensive and largely prohibitive experiences of getting to visit places like Paris and London. But when in Rome! (or Paris or London) right?! We didn’t care that our bedrooms were the size of a mandarin in some countries, and it didn’t matter because it was nothing more than a place to store our suitcases and occasionally, our heads. By the end of the trip we were as robust as McDonalds lard, which, funnily enough, was our major food group, along with street crepes and pringles. My main ‘why’ for this trip was adventure, for excitement, and for experiences: good, bad, uncomfortable, ecstatic: all of it. And where my energy, resilience and enthusiasm was disgustingly buoyant.

We saved up a lot for what seemed like forever to take this trip, so we undoubtedly chewed the bone and sucked the marrow with no landmark left unphotographed, no three hour queue unjoined, no signature dish uneaten and where our souvenirs extended beyond keyrings and shot glasses. We gave every day 120% with our sore feet, depleted bank accounts and sky high calorie count as proof. And it was an easy feet to accomplish because the best thing about Europe is that you can walk or catch trains everywhere. We were all in agreeance that seeing and appreciating other cultures was at the forefront of our minds, collecting memories along the way, and amass a nuclear social feed. (Duh. No trip is immune to that.)

To me, the holiday experience is all about playing along. About immersing into the city or country you’re in. So if you’re in Rome, you eat pasta alla norma, cannelloni and gelato and you drink sangria by the jug. If you’re in Switzerland, you dunk your taste buds into a fondue of melted cheesy goodness, get suckered into testing a swiss army knife that has 120 functions, and you buy nothing because it’s actually really expensive. If you’re in Paris, you bathe in a pile of freshly baked pain au chocolat, you rock a beret like the gullible tourist you are and OF COURSE you go to Disneyland, because it’s Disneyland and you want to push all of the little kids out of the way to ride the teacups. Travel is the Real Life Instagram; you see things that inspire and delight, and in that moment, in that piazza, in that autumnal sunshine, you play along. Even if it’s with a Ciao or a Prost you give it your all with a bucket of holiday confidence.

Europe you cute little heart thief! You’re the crush I’ve had since I had the capacity to realise that there was more outside the 13,000 population wall of Friendly Feilding, and a continent I vow to visit over and over again. And there’s more where that came from! You can read the next installment of “I went to Europe, didn’t you know?!” in the next blog post.

Cheerio, Vaarwel, Auf Wiedersehen, Ahoj, Do Widzenia, Viszontlátásra, Zbogom, Ciao, Au revoir, Bless!

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