It has been an active week and a half for me in Europe! At IAU there is a week break after midterms and this is the time when most people go out and travel as much as possible. There are an infinite amount of options and I have friends who were able to hit four countries while only spending $350 in travel and stay. Personally, I took an even cheaper option and went to a few spots with my parents. Although I at first thought I would feel like I was missing out on what my friends were doing, I loved having them come and see where I live. It was also particularly exciting because it was their first time out of the country.
We started our vacation in Paris and saw all the main tourist attractions. We went to the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and many other must-see spots. We stayed a little bit outside of central Paris, but I have this app(that I strongly recommend getting) called “Transit”. It shows you all public transportation routes to where ever you want to go. For us, a 4-day metro pass was well worth it and got us all over the city. A fun activity we did was a boat tour on the river. We did this at night which was an interesting perspective of this beautiful city. Seeing the tower glimmer on the river was a unique experience. My parents also put a lock on the famous bridge of love in front of the tower which was once-in-a-lifetime for them.
Next stop, we went to Rome for a few days. Again, their metro system was super easy and takes you to every tourist spot. My dad’s personal favorite from this trip was the Colosseum and Roman Ruins. It was fascinating to see such an old structure and how it had changed over time. There was so much history to take in and the views were wonderful! We also went to the Vatican and Spanish Steps. These were beautiful places as well. I wish we had spent more time in Rome!
After this, we returned to Aix so they could see where I live. My parents enjoyed the market with fresh produce and cheap clothing one street over! We also visited Avignon for the day to see le Palais de Pape, and just like that, they had to go back home. My favorite part of this whole break was watching a slight culture shock come from my parents. There were a lot of things that they did not expect from Europe or Europeans. They were constantly asking questions and pondering why certain things are the way they are. Fortunately, I was more prepped for certain culture differences so it was fun to watch and explain to my parents the “why” and the “how”. Feeling more like a “local” was a cool experience and I am glad my parents got to share an experience like this with me!