Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an undeniable longing to travel the world. I had watched my parents and sisters tour through indescribable places, and all I wanted was my own opportunity. I got my chance to experience the world when a teacher from my high school put on a school sponsored trip to Europe. I quickly signed up, and convinced many of my friends to come along as well.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
My favorite spot on the trip was a small town nestled in the Swiss Alps. Engelberg was cozy, lively, and situated in a valley with towering mountains. Sitting on the roof of the hotel looking out over the valley with my closest friends was a defining moment of the trip.
I was determined to make my trip unique, so the next morning I woke up an hour before everyone else to watch the sunrise. I sat there in silent awe as the sunlight slowly hit the right side of the valley
That day we were granted a ‘free day’ because we had gone five days in two different cities with a strict schedule. As a group, we decided to take a cable car to the top of Mount Titlis, the mountain framing the picturesque city, and then hike down. Upon exiting the cable car, we saw that there was a small mountain lake conveniently located for an impromptu plunge.
For those of us who were willing to take part in our little “polar plunge,” the rush of the freezing water, the laughter of new and old friends, and probably the effect of the water on our slow-moving limbs made time stop. Although the water was ice cold, I would do anything to return to that moment.
After a long and rejuvenating hike down Mount Titlis, we ate at Restaurant Unterturbsee where we ate locally made macaroni and other side dishes that originated in the area. We competed to see who could play the alphorn, a Swiss instrument, the best and learned games that the Swiss play.
Even though the whole ten day trip far exceeded my already high expectation, this day stands out when I look back on it, for two reasons. One, I added my own personal, unique time; and I got to experience, if only for a small time, the culture of the people I was surrounded by.
On a group trip there will almost always be a generalized schedule, and it is safe to say that it will feature highlights of wherever the trip is with the expertise of a tour guide who knows the place inside and out. However, every trip is a journey and needs to be unique. It is special to use free time to seek out areas that wouldn’t be highlighted on a group itinerary. I tried my best to do this, such as when I woke up to watch the sunrise, and it makes a trip memorable.
Lastly, taking vacations and visiting different parts of the world is not all about seeing the main attractions and taking pictures. A key part of traveling that is often forgotten is the need to immerse yourself into other cultures. To understand other cultures by experiencing them first hand is a rare opportunity which must be taken when offered. Doing this will add another dimension to your trip and give you a feeling of satisfaction which can only be achieved through seeing the world and the people living in it.
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.