Day 14: Good-bye Europe, Hello Home!

For most of us, the (very long) day started off too early and emotional. We had to get up and go to Vienna Airport at 4:30 in the morning where one of our tour guides, Octavian, said his good-byes and heartfelt words to us. Our first flight took us from Vienna, Austria to Amsterdam, Netherlands where I discovered my new favorite international airport since it was humongous and so very modern.

After the long flight, leaving behind Europe and traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to go back home to the US, we stopped in Detroit, Michigan for a layover. This is where I sit, attempting to write my post and think about what I should say exactly. So I have decided that what I want to write about is a trip down memory lane with my favorite activities in each country.

Two weeks, five countries, and too many pictures and memories to count. Our first country was Germany, and my favorite thing there was when we were in Potsdam and had time to walk around the gardens of the Sanssouci Palace. The entire grounds were enormous with multiple palaces (one of which is now a university) and unique buildings all around.

After Germany, we went to Prague in the Czech Republic where the best guides ever prepared a surprise for us. Flavia and Octavian had bought some spray paint for us to leave our own marks on the John Lennon Peace Wall. This was a really unique experience for all of us, not only because it was some people’s first time spray painting public property, but also because it was done in another county on a famous site.

Our third destination Krakow, Poland and my favorite memory from here was something that only some of us was able to experience. Part of our tour of Krakow’s Jewish Quarter took us to the site of the former Schindler Factory where thousands of Jews were saved during the Holocaust. When we got to the entrance of the Factory, there was a man standing in front, and he pointed out a picture of his mom, who was a Schindler Jew. Seeing a person whose family was impacted at this site was impressionable on many of us.

If you ever go to Budapest, Hungary, a must is the thermal baths there. A group of us decided to go to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, which was honesty probably the best decision we made while there. They had all sorts of indoor, scented baths and a large, hot pool outside that felt like heaven on earth.

Our fifth and last country of our trip was Austria where we did what was probably my favorite activity of our entire trip. A local guide took some of us on a bike tour throughout Vienna, and it was amazing (excluding my minor scrapes from not having ridden a bike in years). It felt like we were flying through the city, and we saw some picturesque views.

All in all, I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that we all had an absolutely amazing time that we’ll never forget. We made new memories and friends, discovered different countries and cultures, and had the time of our lives.

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