It was August 29th, 2010, when I boarded the plane to France. It was my first trans-Atlantic trip, and I was at the edge of my sweaty airplane seat in uncontainable, nerdy excitement. I was going to see the infamous Palace of Versailles, built by the notorious King Louis XIV. I would snap photos of the remains of the Bastille, infamous for its fall to the National Assembly during the dawn of the French Revolution. I would stroll through St. Peter’s Basilica, admire the Vatican, and gawk at the wonderfully naked David. For ten days, I would be in the midst of the countries that were part of some of the greatest wars, revolutions, and political regimes that made all those late nights studying AP European History worth it. As a history nerd, I was bursting with excitement as we took off from the tarmac in Seattle and soared through the air to France. Two romantic comedies later, four hours of restless sleep, and one unfortunate mishap with the airplane yogurt and my cousins and I finally landed.
And so my adventure began.
Arriving calorie-deprived and airplane-haired, my cousins and I started the day off at 9 am Paris time exhausted and craving some Starbucks. After getting settled into our hotel across from the lovely St. Augustin Church, we breathed in Paris, choked on the cigarette smoke, and set off on our Parisian adventure.
Despite the language barrier, the jerky subway rides, and the many anti-American sneers from the French, I instantly fell in love with the different cathedrals, palaces, and monuments that we saw. Walking through the Palace of Versailles – the same palace that was home to King Louis XVI and the outrageous Marie Antoinette – ultimately took my breath away. The beauty of the Palace went beyond the peeling paint, the dusty furniture, and the Hall of Mirrors. It wasn’t just because it was beautiful; it was because three hundred years ago, kings and queens thought it was beautiful too. The history that Versailles embodied fully entranced me, and as I awkwardly stood in the sweaty, deodorant-lacking crowd at the entrance, I was bubbling with excitement for what I would see in Italy…
Walking through the cobble-stone streets of Rome was an adventure. Between dodging middle-aged men with roaming eyes and stuffing our mouths with gelato, my cousins and I walked to the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. However, my favorite places in Italy were the Vatican, the Castle di SanAngelo, and La Galleria dell Accademia, where we saw the statue of David. Their historical beauty was astounding and the kind of intelligence it took to create such marvelous masterpieces left me in awestruck respect. Running through the Castle di SanAngelo was like running through the pages of a fairytale, standing under the Sistine Chapel was like watching a movie between Heaven, Earth, and Jesus. Even David was a gorgeous specimen, despite his anatomically disproportionate reproductive system. I loved Italy and from it I took back a bigger appreciation for art, history, and pizza.
Going to Europe was the highlight of my summer. From it, the stories that I memorized by heart about unscrupulous kings and greedy bishops, bloody wars and even bloodier revolutions finally came to life. Walking through Versailles, the Castle di SanAngelo, and the Vatican was an experience that left me with such a huge admiration for the history that is often left forgotten and unknown. This trip was awe-inspiring and unforgettable – just like the history that lay between the covers of my textbook and the walls of a French palace.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.