Europe


Switzerland

From France, we journeyed on to Switzerland, the third country on our summer 1999 European tour.

Lucerne

Mt. Titlis, Lucerne

Mt. Titlis, Lucerne

Even though it was early during my summer break after graduating from high school and before going to college, it was chilly in Lucerne, Switzerland. Snow covered mountain peaks, but pigs and cows grazed on grassy mountainsides. This was the friendliest place I visited during my 5-country tour of Western Europe. The citizens were nice and soft spoken. The city was clean. The air was crisp.

We spent only a couple of days in Lucerne, so I don’t have too many recommendations for sightseeing. A gondola ride up and down Mt. Titlis is picturesque and scenic. You get a view of the city from high above and you get to see those pretty, pink pigs and cows (wearing cowbells).

Step into a shop that sells cuckoo clocks, cowbells, and knives — like we did — and you’re sure to find some Swiss souvenirs. In addition to a cowbell, I also picked up a Swiss Folklore CD (Jodel, Alphorn, Swiss Music) because music can take you back to a place and capture the emotions you felt there.

Next week… gypsies, heat, and street vendors take over, as I take you on my trek to Italy. Find out how I managed not to get pickpocketed, while others in my tour group fell victim.

France

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The second country on my post-high-school-graduation European tour, France, is one I’ll want to return to. We took a train from England in the summer of 1999, and our first stop was Paris.

Paris
Paris is romantic, no doubt. I love French style.

MUST-SEES:
1. Seine River. A boat ride down the Seine River was very relaxing; couples enjoyed the sunset along the banks.
2. Eiffel Tower. You can get a great view of the city from various sides of the lookout deck of Paris’ most iconic structure.
3. Louvre. The Louvre is the art museum of art museums. We hear so much about the Mona Lisa that it was neat finally seeing Leonado da Vinci’s painting in this world-famous art museum.

Mona Lisa, The Louvre

Mona Lisa, The Louvre

4. L’arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. This magnificent triumphal arch on the Champs Elysées is breathtaking. The tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier sits underneath.
5. Galeries Lafayette. A pricey department store, much like Harrods in London, Galeries Lafayette is more beautiful and ornate than any department store I have visited in the U.S. I bought one article of clothing: an over-priced French Connection shirt. But I like to buy clothing from every country I visit, so I can wear my experience.

Versailles
The main tourist attraction we went to in Versailles was the Palace of Versailles, home to three French kings. It was grand.

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay in posting this blog entry. I was on vacation — traveling! Coming soon (within the next couple of weeks), I’ll write about the next leg of my European journey: Switzerland, with another step back in time to 1999.

England

My high school graduation present (in 1999) was a trip to five countries in Europe. The first stop: England. The country is so often portrayed in movies, it’s almost exactly how I’ve seen it in film and imagined it. We spent most of our time in London and only drove through the English countryside on our way to France.

MUST-SEES:

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 1. Windsor Castle. The Queen’s home, it’s just one of those places you have to see. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to royalty. Tourists were teeming around the castle when we visited.
2. Buckingham Palace. Another grand estate, this is where official business of the Monarchy gets done.
3. Eton College. Prince William (Princess Diana’s older son) was attending school here at the time of our visit.
4. Westminster Abbey. Princess Diana is buried at this church.
5. Big Ben. It’s the world’s largest 4-faced chiming clock and sits above the Thames River.
6. Trafalgar Square. This beautiful public square is complete with fountains and statues and surrounded by art galleries and an opera house. It’s the kind of outdoor spot in which you’d want to sit down and sip a cup of coffee and maybe read a Jane Austen novel.

over Thames River

over Thames River

7. Harrods. Possibly the world’s most famous luxury department store, Harrods, Knightsbridge is unlike any other department store. Ornate, intricate designs are carved into the ceilings. Every detail is highlighted. The merchandise, no doubt, is expensive, but the experience of walking through the store is worth it. I managed to find a few affordable items.

Harrods

Harrods

And of course, don’t forget to grab some fish and chips at a local pub. Plus, take a subway ride to Picadilly Circus, where we ate at a Chinese restaurant with excellent wonton noodle soup. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the name. But I’m sure a local Chinese person who knows his cuisine can tell you. The days are long in London, albeit often cloudy and gloomy, so we took advantage of the daylight until as late as 11 p.m. London is an interesting mix of the royal and modern. I was conceived in London; my husband was born just outside the city.

Next week, my journey through Paris and Versailles, France. And as my Western European tour continues, we’ll venture to Switzerland, Italy, and the Vatican in this blog in the coming weeks.

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