The Grand Finale in Western Europe
Salamanca was not our last stop in Spain; we still had a few days left in Madrid. What perfect timing. We were lucky enough to be there when Real Madrid won La Liga championship, and lucky enough to catch the after party. It was also lucky that all of our roommates in our hostel were amazing. There was a brother and sister from Florida who we kept in touch with when we came back to the States. The sixth roommate was Chris, someone I eventually was lucky enough to travel with on more than one occasion. I will never forget the Cabaret we found on a Sunday night; from the street it was just an inconspicuous door. When we walked through the door it was a multi-level gay bar, complete with a drag queen show.
Celebrating in the streets of Madrid
Next stop, Paris. Paris would not have been the same without Greg, one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met, and someone I would come to know as G-Bomb. Within a few days, the four of us visited the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Catacombs, Notre Dame, Pantheon, Versailles, Eiffel Tower… The list goes on. Paris was all about the marvelous sights. The one thing I regret from the entire trip? Missing out on the Moulin Rouge. There is just too much to see in Paris!
Oh hey, Louvre
Suddenly we were down to our last country, the closest to Marpessa’s heart, Holland. Traveling with a local was such a great experience. No hassles with public transportation or trying to decipher which bathroom to enter. We started off in Rotterdam and stayed with her family on their farm. Marpessa, Chelsea and I stuffed our faces with poffertjes and croquettes at every chance possible. We visited the city of Dordrecht and spent some time with Marpessa’s childhood friend, Max. And finally, off to Amsterdam.
Our good friends Whitney and Ben met up with us in Amsterdam, so where there had been three, there now was five. I have learned that the last city on any trip is usually going to be neglected due to exhaustion, so we did not get to see as much of Amsterdam as I would have liked. Despite this, I still had an amazing time and managed to squeeze in a trip to the Heineken Brewery.
With friends at the Heineken Factory in Amsterdam
This was the end of trip. The five of us caught a flight home from Dusseldorf, back to Fort Myers, Florida. I know it is cheesy to say, “this trip changed me,” but I have to say it. Before this trip, I wasn’t an open person, and now I will talk to anyone. The greatest part about traveling to me, more so than the new cultures, food, or historic sights, is simply meeting people. I want to know everyone’s story when I travel; I want to talk to locals and other backpackers. I have no fear in starting a conversation with anyone who looks interesting or looks like they have a great story. Some of the greatest people I have met are people I would never have had the courage to approach before I went on this trip.