This is my Pinterest board for this assignment
Pinterest is fun! Before this assignment, I didn’t have a Pinterest. Sure, I’d been on it, but I just never created one before. I will say: it’s addicting and so easy to use! I love all of the pictures, and how it links out to places to check for authenticity.
My Dream Vacation would be traveling through Europe, looking at all the old architecture and churches. I love medieval architecture, whether from the 5th century or the 15th. I will say, for me personally, the older the better! In addition, I am Catholic, so I love to see old churches and other places of worship that have centuries, or even millennia, of people of my faith gathering there and praying, and where I can take part in that long line of faith. I have never been outside of North America, so I have yet to see any medieval architecture in person yet!
I would start the UK and Ireland, and work my way down. The UK, from what I have seen online and know, has beautiful architecture and a rich history that fascinates me. It also speaks English, which would make it easier on me. I have tried to learn French, but unfortunately I am still very much monolingual. Ireland also has speaks English and beautiful architecture and a rich history. It is a majority Catholic! That might mean (as I’ve never been) that if I go to a cute little chapel in rural Ireland, it would be Catholic, and I could pray there. However, I would be more than happy just to take a smaller trip abroad to see the churches in the UK, even if I can’t go to Mass in them.
Next, I would take the Chanel down to France. French architecture, in my opinion is gorgeous, and what little I’ve had of French cuisine has been amazing. As a chocoholic, I am quite partial to pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissants. t’s interesting. In the south of France, as well as other francophone places such as Quebec, they are called chocolatines, while in Paris and Northern France, they’re pain au chocolat. Not only do I want to see and eat in Paris, but all over France. My grandfather, while born in the US, was French by ethnicity, and his mom was from the Loire Valley and his dad from Gap, France. I would love to visit the places where my ancestors lived, to reconnect with my roots. I also want to see the beautfiful old churches there too. Even if France is becoming more secular, that doesn’t mean the architecture and beauty of the churches has faded. Even when in ruins or when gone unused, their allure lives on.
Next, I would want to head down south to Italy, again to see the architecture and eat the food. I love Italian (Italian-American) food, especially pasta. I could eat pasta all day! Rome has always fascinated me, even more so in the past few years. The history, ruins, and churches tempt me so much from over here in the US, and I would jump at the chance to work or intern in this “Eternal City”. Another place I would want to visit is Assisi. From the pictures I have seen, it looks to be a beautiful town, and according to my mom, it feels holy to be in. That would make sense, as one of the more well-known Saints, Saint Francis of Assisi lived there (hence his name). He is the saint I am named after. I would love to visit where he lived. Finally, I also would love to visit Southern Italy. It you can’t tell by my name, I am part Italian. My ancestors immigrated from Southern Italy to the US. As with France, I would love to see and experience the culture they came from.
My last leg of the trip would be to Poland and the Ukraine. I would take the train at least part of the way, as I like to ride in trains, and it would be more scenic perhaps than a place. Although, perhaps a car would be a better choice, as I’m sure I’ll want one when I’m actually there. As with France and Italy, I have ancestry from Poland and the Ukraine. Out of the four countries, I know the least, and have the least amount of cuisine, from these two countries, especially the Ukraine. It would be nice to learn more, straight from the source. I do not have any particular places I would to go yet, as I am not sure where in those countries my ancestors were from. Perhaps I should do some more digging!
I think part of this trip may be possible for me someday. I hope this summer I will be able to go to Paris as part of the Historic Preservation study abroad program. Perhaps just going to one country, or one city like Rome, will be possible, as part of a vacation or honeymoon. However, I doubt that I’ll do this whole trip at once. It requires a long time to do properly and a lot of money. Paris is very expensive, and I;m sure Rome is too. This trip would require at least one plane ticket to get there and then one to get back. To do the traveling this trip requires would require a car, which would have to be rented. The money, too, would have to be exchanged, as the UK uses the pound, Ireland and France, and Italy use the euro, Poland uses the złoty, and the Ukraine uses the hryvnia. This could rack up currency exchange fees and varying levels of strength when it comes to one form of currency to another. Historic Preservation, my major and once I graduate the overarching field that I will go into, is not the field that you go into expecting to make much money. It might take a long time in the field with whatever salary I have to make enough money for a trip abroad, especially such a long one as this.
Another challenge is language. As I have stated before, I only speak English. I have tried to learn French, and I did successfully pass French 202, completing UMW’s language requirement. However, I still struggle, especially with speaking and understanding it when spoken. Obviously, English is spoken in the UK and Ireland (thick accents and slang aside). English, too, can be understood in touristy places such as Paris and Rome. However, I would to go to more rural, less touristy places. English probably won’t be spoken there. It might be a good idea for me to find a tour guide, which would cost money, or somehow make friends with people who speaks French, Italian, etc. who can help me. Polish and Ukrainian would be the hardest, I’d imagine, because I at least do know some French, and Italian is another romance language. Polish and Ukrainian are neither romance languages, instead being Slavic. I can’t even wager a guess on how to read, write, or speak anything.
The final hurdle of visa, vaccinations, and other legalities isn’t really a hurdle at all. All 6 places I want to visit (UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Poland, Ukraine) allow in US tourists without visas for under 90 days. That’s more than I would be staying. As long as my passport is valid for at least 6 months after I plan to enter any of the countries, I would be fine. In addition, according to the State Department, I don’t need to get any vaccines. For Ireland, France, and Italy, I can’t bring in more than 10,000 Euros or equivalent. Other than that, I don’t see any restrictions or major problems government-wise. With the UK leaving the EU, getting to France may be a bit harder, but that shouldn’t be much a problem either. The only other problem I can think of is terrorism. As of January 10th, 2018, the Travel Advisory says that for the UK, France, and Italy to “exercise increased caution in the United Kingdom due to terrorism”, and for the Ukraine to “exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk.” For the trip, when it would be time to plan I would have to look at the current climate and see what the US government advises, and be willing to adjust if anything happens or if the advice changes. For the Ukraine, I would avoid the areas with more risk. However, with the tensions between the US and Russia, the Ukraine would be the most dangerous to go to, and it would be possible that I would have to drop it from the trip if it gets too risky. However, in general, these countries still aren’t the most dangerous in the world, and so I feel safe and secure enough to want to go.
So, here is my Dream Vacation through Europe, exploring architecture, culture, and my ancestral past. Hopefully, one day, with enough money, time, and the right political climate, it will happen. In the mean time, I’m hoping to go on smaller trips abroad, and to travel here within the United States in our own backyard.
This is the Writing Assignment that this is for!
Also, here is the Featured image I used for this post. It’s not any of the pictures from Pinterest, as I really wanted to use a “labeled for reuse with modification” picture, to avoid copyright and such. The first picture I chose for my Pinterest Board was one of the Eiffel Tower, so I thought this was a good match,