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The Paree-fic Break having an amsterDAM good time CZECHing out Brussels & BERLIN!

The Paree-fic Break having an amsterDAM good time CZECHing out Brussels & BERLIN!

Everyone needs a break sometimes. Some breaks last for hours with a book at hand, others are for days when you simply go for a weekend getaway, while the best lasts a little more than 10 days taking you around the world, so you can see why it is you never needed a break in the first place.

Few hours in our lives are ones we will fully remember forever, fewer days can be told beginning to end, and even fewer weeks are what some would be able to call perfect for every second. March 5th began the start of what would be a trip no other could ever compare to. No matter what city I was exploring or if the sun was rising or setting, there was never a moment I wouldn’t always take with me and forever treasure.

My vacation was not meant to be spent lounging at a top resort located on a beach with a margarita at hand like the typical college student. Instead it was finally the time to cure the disease of being bit by the travel bug. Although all my weekends in the past and future would be filled with trips here and there an urge to travel and see new lands continued to remain within me, leading me to plan what would be my greatest adventure yet.

I’ve always had this mentality to travel as much as I can, as far as I can, and as long as I can because my life was never meant to be lived in one place. I’d already made the move to Rome, and realized after much reflection that the world was mine and I had every chance to see it. Nothing about it scared me, it just encouraged me to pack my bag and go because nothing was stopping me and my opportunities were endless. My dreams of experiencing, seeing, and adapting to new cultures always intrigued me, which was embodied in one trip many would call “Spring Break”. With my best friends, Allison and Zach, and new friends from my program, Ali and Roshni I was ready.


My long overdue realization that of being filled with wanderlust, lead me to find myself undergoing a trip that would take my feet to 5 famous cities within 5 countries during the duration of a week and a half! Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris weren’t ready for me and in return I wasn’t ready for the lessons they’d teach me. I witnessed the beauty and authenticity found within the walls of Northern Europe and was surprised to see just how much I’d crave to return again.

Every place in the world is unique and I feel as if it’s my task to find out why. Some are more difficult to discover, while others you know simply by first site. Prague was one of these places where automatically you’d found yourself walking through a fairytale. It took one stroll along the Charles Bridge and participating in walking tours of New Town, Old Town, and the Jewish Quarters, to realize this was where Disney got it, this is where dreams became a reality. Prague was the place.

I experienced first hand the impact and aftermath of what had once been a division of 5 towns and how each came together, but still remained to be completely their own seen through the preservation of their culture and landmarks. Within only a short period of time, one would go from seeing the Jewish cemetery of what holds more than 30,000 bodies placed within the Jewish Quarters in the center of their neighborhood to Old Town Square filled with vendors selling “turtle neck” dessert and tourist waiting every hour on the hour to watch the 12 Apostles Clock performance. Sites of the National Museum, State Opera, Old Town Hall, Petrin Lookout Tower replicating the Eiffel Tower, and the Prague Castel were followed by an 80s Dance Club, the Kafka Museum, John Lennon Wall and Charles Bridge, although so different it only took one a short walk across the river to go from feeling like you were the next Cinderella to being apart of what many would consider the greatest boy band of all time, The Beatles.

It was the perfect mix of liveliness and being trapped in a daydream. There was nothing like it, but the feeling it gave me only made me want more. It’s a place you simply can’t just Czech off your list, you’ll always want to go back not only to see it, but be reminded that life can be its own make believe place filled with joyous people, endless hardy food, and castles that tower over you. You don’t just see the city of Prague while walking the streets, you get lost in the daydream of fun filled energy.


After fully accepting my life as a dreamer, I was taken back to the times of Hitler in the city that shows one country’s ability to overcome a difficult past. I was transformed into a historian walking the paths of world leaders before me, being taken back by one place’s ability to make such an impact on the world. With a sausage in one hand and Haagen-Dazs in the other, I strolled the Flea Market found within Museum Square meeting the strong willed, yet kindhearted German people.

I later found myself directed to what I’d consider, the most fun and unique embassy I had ever seen and was proud to discover it was the United States’ placed directly across rows of grave tomb stone like statues making up the Holocaust memorial. Moments after stepping in, one realizes they are alone and gray like all that surrounds them allowing the piece to transform you and remind you of those who made the world what it is today, taking appreciation of all people. I later spent hours reading the stories of Jewish families described through artifacts left behind and admired current Germany’s ability to learn and grow from it’s past.

Berlin was seen and experienced through a tour of Brandenberg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, The Reichstag, Mitte Town, and Museums Island, followed by a shopping break at Potsdamer Platz and an afternoon strolling bits and pieces of what makes up the 100 mile wall created with the intention to divide East and West Berlin. Art liberated the people and brought visitors to awe over their mural talents communicating a message of freedom, equality and peace to all those who witnessed. As if the sites weren’t moving enough, the German people had this way of appearing intimidating, but once opening their mouths only filling your ears with love. The city and wonderful community was a reminder of anything’s ability to pick itself up and make it better, and how there’s always more than meets the eye.


The city of walls, sausage, and history was later traded in for bike paths, tulips, and canals leaving behind Berlin, for the city I thought I’d like the least, Amsterdam. Once hearing of places all over the world one has a way of creating an impression on it, some being positive while others disgusting you in more ways than you can count. Amsterdam was one of these locations that held three of my least favorite things: bikes, the Red Light District, and “coffee houses”.

Once arriving, I realized how thankful I am for one of my greatest traits, my ability to constantly be open-minded. This changed my whole view of Amsterdam, seeing more than what it was known for world wide and getting myself lost in the tulip market, I am Amsterdam sign, works of Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, and the most moving museum found behind a simple bookshelf, the Anne Franke House. I explored the city, unlike what guidebooks had suggested and found my own unique reasons to fall in love with it. When walking along the never ending canals, I couldn’t help but think that if I picked any two places in the world Nether land would be as perfect as where I was standing in that moment. I lost myself in it’s simple natural beauty and architecture not realizing that where I was standing was a place I had disliked for much of my life.

Amsterdam changed me. The one trip I thought would be a waste of money, was one I never could fully pay enough for. I walked into my hotel after immediately arriving saying I was done with the city, but left coming up with plans to be a resident in one of the narrow black brick painted buildings along the never ending canals. I lost my negative perception and got a friendly reminder that life always has a way of being filled with surprises. Who would of guessed I’d learn that in Holland!


As if I hadn’t eaten enough already in between the heavy meat and potatoes found within the previous three cities, I embarked on a journey to what I’d consider my personal “land of food” supplying me with the goodness of French fries, waffles, and chocolate. I had entered Brussels, Belgium with the full understanding that no matter how much I prepared my stomach it would never be ready. I strolled around the Grand Plac, a large square found within the center of government and retail buildings and was placed with the difficulty of having no hands due to the food breaks I continued to participate in.

Although my stomach was happy, the feeling and contentment of the environment was what was rewarding. I felt the calmness that was passed along the streets of the city and saw its beauty in its simplicity. Within minutes, I understood why it was the capital of the European Union because it simply made everyone happy. A few hours is all one needs to enjoy the small town found within two large countries, but if you could take its mentality and plates with you, you’d forever be lucky. It’s one that seems to be forgotten by many, but cherished by all those who find themselves at its’ coordinates. Brussels was the perfect break to prepare me for what was next, Paris!


It’s said that you’re always meant to leave things with a bang, with France as my final destination it was fulfilling it’s purpose by doing just that. Couture, High-Class sophistication, and romance surrounded me as I walked along the streets of Champs Elysee holding bags filled with my purchases inside, followed by eating nutella crepes and the best macaroons in the world, LaDuree in the parks alongside the Love Lock Bridge. To see the city from more than floor level I made my way to the top of the Arc du Triomphe, searched for the hunchback in Notre Dame, gained a new appreciation for art in the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay while catching up with Mona Lisa and the works of Monet, and couldn’t get away from the view of the Eiffel Tower regardless of where I was in the city. I enjoyed authentic French cuisine, the best meal I’ve ever had, when meeting up with other friends from our program and enjoyed nights that turned into morning in the city with my closest friends. As if enjoying Paris to its full capacity wasn’t enough, I made my way to Versailles to admire what is considered the most notable palace in the world admiring the gardens that go as far as your eyes can take you and entering rooms you can’t imagine only one royal family lived in. It was everything I thought it would be and more. They were right, Paris is always a good idea.

Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France were more than places I checked off the list, they were filled with moments I will forever remember, placing the Northern Loop and the greatest Spring Break in my heart forever. I found my future in the canals of Holland, love for food in Belgium, brought out my high end classy side in Paris, met the man of my dreams from Germany, and walked through the streets of Prague waiting to bump into Disney princesses. 10 days did more than make me fall in love with Europe, it confirmed that I’d be living here someday. It was more than a Spring Break, it changed my life path I’d always thought I’d be taking. My dreams of having the “American Dream” transformed into life traveling throughout Europe, taking the culture and energy forever with me. It was meant to be a break from life, but instead taught me why you always have to keep living. I vowed to myself to never take a break from seeing the world. I’ve been bit by the travel bug and there’s nothing that will ever stop me.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

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