The world drifted by in a haze of blues and greens as the dimly lit sky cast its mellow shadows across the rolling hills of western Germany. A tranquil landscape sprinkled with clusters of quiet houses that only helped to accentuate the already elegant dawn. A light rain left mirrored water droplets along the window of the train that would carry me away from this beautiful countryside, leaving me only to wish it all didn’t have to end.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
The world has begun to shrink in today’s modern age, with the ability to travel to the ends of the Earth with airplanes and enormous cruise ships, admiration for intricate architecture or understanding of distant cultures has been repressed by the desire for luxurious relaxation. However, parts of the world do exist where people still revel in the beauty of handcrafted works from a different era. Few individuals are able to experience such phenomena first-hand; fortunately, I was given the opportunity to observe societies that differed greatly from my own, in the countries of England and Germany.
No trip can be planned perfectly. Preparing for countless variables to make a vacation run smoothly can be a serious task. My trip to Europe was no different. After arriving at 6 AM in a crowded city bustling with people rushing to their various jobs, resisting the urge to fall asleep after a long, sleepless night on a plane was no one’s idea of a strong start. With a stroke of luck my family and I were able to check into our hotel far earlier than expected, earning us our much needed sleep that would allow us to continue our trip in a far less cloudy manner.
A bus tour was the highlight of my experience while in London, England. As we traveled through the crowded streets, witnessing the everyday life of the residents of the city as well as observing the extensive amount of fellow tourists that wondered the labyrinth of roads that guided people through the metropolis. With buildings more than four centuries old, it was an understatement to say I felt young and insignificant. Also on our list of places to see was the old ruin of Stonehenge.
Gusting winds and a chilling rain were the hardships I endured throughout my viewing of Stonehenge. Unable to concentrate as much as I would have liked, as well as being poorly dressed for the weather distracted me from being able to fully experience the rocky monument that has interested me ever since I first heard about it. Although not the best of experiences, Stonehenge was still a strong ending to my visit to England.
After a short plane ride from England, we arrived in Germany well-rested and prepared for our next set of adventures. Meeting up with a few family friends that lived in Germany enhanced our experience, providing us with a guide to lead us through the city of Berlin. The most significant location we viewed was a portion of the Berlin wall that fell in 1989 that separated West Germany from East Germany. After seeing the remnants of a structure that affected so many people only years before I was born made the feelings of insignificance only increase.
A humbling experience to say the least, my vacation to Europe helped me to better understand that people everywhere are not the same. Society guides us to become the people we are today, and differing morals or the ability to comprehend our place in the world can only be found within ourselves, regardless of the direction we are led by those around us.