I Survived! My First Trip to Europe
As someone who finds themselves much more comfortable in the confines of their own home, I have to say that traveling to Europe was a pretty massive undertaking in more ways than one. Fortunately, I didn't have to go it alone. I don't think I could've managed it nearly as well on my own and I am very grateful my wonderful girlfriend was there with me every step of the way.
That being said, the experience was a phenomenal one. It's comforting to know that I've seen a little bit more of the world. I'm well aware that I've barely scratched the surface of all that there is, but I'm also grateful to know that my own scope has been expanded drastically from the narrow view I've had up to this point. I'm far from a well-traveled person of the world, but I can appreciate things in a different light with the few experiences I was fortunate enough to have.
In just under a week, I had the chance to experience Copenhagen in Denmark, Kraków in Poland and Keflavík in Iceland. Admittedly, the amount of travel was rough. All in all, we took 8 flights across 8 days. Personally, I don't mind flying. I like to marvel at the engineering and minds it takes to build planes that can do what they do. However, it can take an incredible toll when you do so many for so long. It took 3 flights alone just to get from SeaTac Airport to Copenhagen.
The first layover was in Dallas. No time to look around, but fortunately enough time to relax and prepare for the seven and a half hours it was going to take on our next flight. Thanks to Applebee's for helping with that.
Fun fact, Copenhagen is 9 hours ahead. Despite all my best efforts, I passed out for the first four and a half hours I was there. I didn't want to, it was the middle of the day and everything, but it happened. Didn't really have a whole lot of opportunity to see things that first day. Just a little bit of the town and one amazing dinner.
Nyhavn is beautiful. The atmosphere was very casual and inviting. There's food everywhere. I don't often prescribe to tourist attractions but taking a canal tour was well worth it. The sights and stories were great and it's an experience I'll appreciate for an impossibly long time.
Poland was a very interesting place to experience. Fortunately my girlfriend's friend had moved there a few years ago. She did a phenomenal job helping us as both tour guide and unofficial translator where needed. It was a pleasant shift to go from full-fledged tourists to visitors. She was able to show us around, introduce us to the nightlife, show us hidden gems we would've never found on our own.
One thing I learned; while most of Poland has been destroyed in a lot of really unfortunate moments in history, Kraków somehow managed to survive it all. The town is beautifully historic and the people I met are rightfully proud of its beauty.
I know New York is the city that never sleeps, but I think Kraków means to challenge them for it. As I learned, bars stay open well into the latest hours of the morning. During our time there, we were treated to drinks and dancing at 4am. And it wasn't like going to a bar as the last patrons or being on an empty dance floor. Kraków was alive and well long after we called it a night at 5 in the morning. Praise be to the never ending food services that keep you going.
Admittedly, a lot of the time in Kraków was food and drinking. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It is what it is.
Our time in Iceland was oh so brief. Literally 24 hours from landing to take-off. There's no real way to explain how beautiful Iceland is. It's so rugged and just kind of there being the best island it can possibly be. I'm from Washington State and it's barely half the size of my home state. It's so open and so refreshing just to be in. I spent every day in Denmark and Poland being warm and sweaty. Stepping off into the brisk ocean air was beyond words.
There's way too much to try and capture in a single post. That being said, I wanted to do a quick rundown of some of my favorite and not-so-favorite experiences I had in my oh so brief stint abroad.
1 - The Food
I know this is a cop-out answer, but you can't blame me. It was amazing! I had some amazing dishes!
Restaurant Cofoco in Copenhagen blew my mind. The food was sooooo good. The service was lovely. It was a quick walk from where we were staying and it was worth every penny.
Where we stayed in Copenhagen was just above Mad & Kaffe's. The choose your own adventure menu was great and the food was even better. I'm fortunate I don't live right above this place or it would be hard to ever make anything at home.
Mr. Pancake in Kraków was both tasty and insane. Just look at that menu! Also, glitter mimosa? Yeah...not passing that up. What'd it taste like you ask? Basically just prosecco, but it sparkled! Also, check out that restaurant mantra would ya?
Charlotte's was the last place we ate before leaving Poland and boy did it leave an impression. Breakfast was a literal basket loaded with a variety of breads, 4 different spreads (chocolate, white chocolate, strawberry and raspberry), a glass of juice or coffee, a glass of champagne and a flawlessly fried egg. And it all cost next to nothing.
There was only time enough for one real meal in Iceland but it didn't disappoint. Lamb steak and lobster with a view of the ocean? Hard to beat, really. Didn't see any whales, though, despite our server's optimism.
2 - The architecture
I mean, just look at it...