Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A European Tour

When I was in high school, I made plans with my best friend Tori to go on a European adventure after college. As that time draws nearer, I've begun to realize that the idea of going to Europe after graduating - at a time when I should be looking for a job and hopefully eliminating all free time I could potentially have with a full-time career - is probably not as feasible as it is wonderful.

Next fall, I'll be going to London to study for a few months. For the first time in my life, I will be living in a foreign country for longer than a two-week period, and I've had the luck of being placed in the middle of a city that I love more than any other.

But I also recognize that there are so many other places outside of the metropolitan, not-so-foreign confines of Londinium that I have never explored. And for the first time I'll be a train ride rather than a plane, train and cab ride away.

A few years ago when I was planning my world exploration with Tori, we decided to compile a list. With my new computer missing all the files from my past, I couldn't even begin to recite off the exact locations, but I still have some idea of where it is I want to go. And so I'm going to tell you my top three, here, in a spot where I can easily refer back and remind myself that this fall I will not be allowed to forget my dreams of being a European traveler.

1. Copenhagen

It started sometime around my 50 billionth viewing of The Little Mermaid. I purchased the Disney Platinum Edition, featuring a lengthy making of presentation on the film. In the process of watching the presentation, I learned about the Disney Animation big wigs of the 1990s, the talent behind the voices in the film, the composer and lyricist who "gave a mermaid her voice" and one other little guy, Hans Christian Andersen.

Andersen wrote the original fairytale The Little Mermaid, tragic ending and all. You see, in the original story, Ariel (the little mermaid doesn't have a name in the fairytale, but I'll still call her Ariel) does not get the handsome Prince for her own. Instead, she turns to sea foam per her bargain with the evil sea witch and floats away as Prince Eric rides a wedding cruise with his intended.

Horribly depressing as this version is, I've always had a deep connection with the story - perhaps because my knowledge of it coincided with my love for The Little Mermaid. My grandma bought me a copy of the Andersen version of the story when I was a wee little one. It was in Japanese, but she and my mom would read the story to me in English.

In time, I discovered that Andersen hailed from Copenhagen, and immediately I became enamored by Danish culture. After seeing The Prince and Me (I should not admit to having seen that movie), the idea of Denmark became all the more appealing.

This doesn't mean I'll necessarily get a chance to go out there - despite a friend of mine studying in the city this fall - but a girl can dream, can't she? As long as she doesn't give away her voice to get what she wants.

2. Rome

One of my favorite anecdotes about Italy is one that I am not particularly involved in. My sister, after dating her then-boyfriend for over a decade, was proposed to in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome. In advance of the proposal, I had been informed by my father with whom Matt had asked permission. If Emily reads this, then surprise - I knew you were getting married before you did (I don't think you knew that I knew)!

A few years before, I'd gone to The Lizzie McGuire Movie premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. When I finally saw the movie myself a few weeks later, I wanted nothing more than to get to go to Italy myself. Even now, sometimes I listen to the song "On an Evening in Roma" sung by Dean Martin and pretend I'm on the bus with Lizzie, riding past the Coliseum and Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti (the Spanish Steps), as the yellow lights of the city illuminate the cobblestone streets and attractive Italian men on vespas (sigh).

Fast forward a few years and I'm sitting in a theater with my dad watching Bright Star, a film about my favorite poet John Keats. Keats went to Rome soon after he became ill with tuberculosis, his friends assuming that the warmth of the sun might cure his ailment. He ended up dying in an apartment close by the Spanish Steps and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome.

If for no other reason than to visit Keats' grave, I feel utterly implored to go to Rome. The city itself seems such a beacon to art and culture, to beauty and, need I even remind you, food. Of anywhere in Europe, this is one of the most important to me to visit for its personal and broader significance.

3. Bruges

Those who have seen the dark crime comedy In Bruges will no doubt understand why I put this on my list. Those who read the synopsis, on the other hand, might give me a quizzical brow.

Bruges is a city in Belgium. It's one of the most picturesque towns in the world in my humble opinion. Even in a film filled with blood and gore, the city gleams like a glorified fairytale village. The quaint streets and adorable canals speak of another century, preserved in the town squares and itty bitty store fronts.

After watching this movie, I couldn't have wanted to go anywhere more.

So many times I've toyed with going to Bruges or Brussels with my father, but after putting it off time and time again, it's finally the right moment to go. After all, I've used my terrible French in Paris and alienated virtually all French people I've encountered, so who better to try out my horrendous attempts at speaking Francais than on the Belgians?

There are so many beautiful places to go all throughout Europe, and I have the luxury of having each place at my fingertips in just a few months. It's time to find that old list of cities that I'd hoped to visit with Tori, because maybe, just maybe, I'll get a chance to visit them even if the post-college European tour doesn't pan out.

No comments:

Post a Comment