What to Pack on a Trip to Europe: An Open Mind - My Family Travels

On April 11th, 2006, me and 28 fellow students, teachers, and parents set out for Philadelphia International Airport, eager and excited to board our flight to Germany. As I waited for my seat section to be called, I made some last minute checks: Passport? Yes. Euros? Right here.

Reading material? Uh oh; where was my reading material?! After some rummaging in my backpack I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew! Can’t get on an 8 hour flight without something to read. I settled into my seat and started talking to a German couple next to me.

Pretty soon everyone was sleeping; or at least, they were trying to sleep. Finally, we landed in Frankfurt at 6:00 am. We met up with our tour guide, who informed us that we were going to have to wait until 11:30 am to leave.

Unbeknownst to us, there was a group from New York that would be joining us, and their flight would not be coming in until 11:00. We were given a choice: we could stay in the airport, or visit some of the surrounding sights in Frankfurt. Most of us students opted to stay in the airport with a few adults.

We all wanted to see Frankfurt, but our jetlag was making it impossible to keep our eyes open. We walked to a waiting area, sat down, and almost instantly fell asleep on our luggage. Finally the other group arrived, and we boarded our double-decker bus.

Over the next 8 days we visited beautiful castles and cities in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstien, and Switzerland. One of the most memorable places we visited was Dachau, the site of the first concentration camp in Germany. As I walked the grounds, I thought about how lonely and hopeless Dachau’s prisoners must have felt.

After sight-seeing cities like Munich and Lucerne, I was eager to taste some of the local foods. At one restaurant, I ordered a chocolate croissant for lunch. The pastry had chocolate drizzled on top, so I figured that was the extent of the chocolate; but when I bit into it, I was surprised to find warm, gooey chocolate spilling out of the center.

At the end of the trip, as I boarded our flight back to Philadelphia, I thought about all the amazing places I had seen,the things I’d done, and some discoveries I’d made. I had visited the city where ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed. I climbed to the top of a snowy mountain in Switzerland.

I realized that 2 rolls of film were not enough to capture the beauty of Rothenburg and Wurzburg. I began to truly understand the magnificence of architecture that is over 700 years old. Overall, I came away with a new perspective of cultures and customs outside the United States.

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