My first trip to Europe was with my two best friends when I was 17 years old. The trip was a high school graduation gift from my parents, but the only way all of our parents would allow us go on the trip at that age was if we went with an organized tour group. At that age I remember being quite the snotty teenager and complaining that going with a tour group was super “uncool.” No compromising there. Regardless of the tour group, the trip was one of the best experiences of my life.
Scenic bus stop on the way to Naples, Italy.
Especially if you’re on the younger side and going to a foreign place for the first time, a tour group is a safe idea and a reasonably priced vacation package. My two best friends and I flew into Italy, and the bus tour took us to the major attractions in a few Southern Italy cities such as Rome, Naples, and Sorrento. We then took a ferry to Athens, Greece, and after a couple days there hopped on a cruise ship through the Greek Islands. I HIGHLY recommend going to both Southern Italy and Greece if you ever get a chance.
Octopi doing the Can-can dance, Mykonos, Greece.
Being the know-it-all teenagers that we were, we had a tendency to overlook the tour group itinerary and tried to plan our own getaways. That presented some problems for us in a few different instances (i.e. almost missing the bus, getting lost, etc.) So with that said, be sure to follow the itinerary. Otherwise, you may end up getting stuck in a foreign country (then again, what’s so bad with that?!)
One last piece of advice to end this post: eat, drink, and make unforgettable memories! Kind of hard not to do that…but seriously, eat and drink a lot. One man in our tour group was your stereotypical Texan; he wore his cowboy hat everywhere he went. Every night that we ate together as a group he would come over to our table and in a very thick Texas accent ask us, “Ya’ll want a White Russian?!” Although that drink wasn’t Italian or Greek, I tried it just for the hell of it. Let’s just say it was a one-and-done type of drink for me.
Food is such a huge part of any culture, so immerse yourself in it by eating the native foods/dishes. Even being the 17-year-old picky eater I was, I made myself try new things, and ended up loving pretty much everything!
Left to right: Emilie, Rachael and Me. Homemade (right in front of us!) mozzarella tasting, Sorrento, Italy.
Now when you’re thinking about what unforgettable memory to make, maybe jet skiing in the mediterranean sea (which we did) or drinking wine at the steps of the coliseum in Rome (which we also did) is a better idea than getting a tattoo (I guess I had to keep one-uping myself). Hey, at least it’s a story I can tell the rest of my life…
Right after I got a tattoo of the Greek symbol for eternity, Rhodes, Greece.