Or, “Flashback: All About My Trip to Europe, 10 Years Ago.”
In August of 2000, I flew from Detroit to London to begin a three month trip to Europe. I was going to be one of those dirt poor backpackers that stayed in hostels and ate very little while having the experience of a lifetime.
I was dirt poor but I did eat well and while I stayed in hostels here and there, I also was cared for by my dear Scottish friend, Anna, and her family and also by the folks at Swiss L’abri.
So here it is, ten highlights from my trip:
1) Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland:
This Fringe Festival is the original and largest arts festival of its kind and it was no disappointment. Our favorite act easily became the young Australian guy who claimed to have two stomachs, which aided in his ability to swallow the longest sword in the world (naturally). We caught his amazing act twice and kinda developed a little crush on him!
2) Swiss L’Abri
L’Abri is this wonderful place nestled in the mountains in Switzerland. It was started in the 1955 by the theologan, Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith, as a place for people to go to study theology and religion and to live in community while finding answers to their questions.
Nathan went to L’Abri two years before I did and when I found myself with a block of time to spare, he convinced me that L’Abri would be the best way to pass the time.
And he was right. Never in my life before or since have I ever had such time to read and reflect, to think and study. There were people there from all over the world and there was always someone new coming or going. I was there for five weeks and it was an amazing time.
While at L’Abri, I met someone who had been there two years prior and ended up being friends with Nathan. When Jon told me that he and Nathan had been roommates, my jaw dropped to the floor. He was planning to go to Italy after his second Swiss stay and I decided to go with him, after Nathan gave him the ok, of course! We headed to Venice and then a few days later, Cinque Terre. Both were amazing and beautiful in their own way.
4) The Marc Chagall Museum in Nice, France
Marc Chagall was an amazing artist whose inspiration came from many of the stories from the Old Testament. His paintings are colorful and dreamy and very meaningful. Going to his museum was such an inspiring experience and I’m pretty sure I went through twice!
On my way back to Scotland, I had an extended layover in Paris and literally did the city in a day. I did not go up the Eiffel Tower, which now, I kind of regret. But I did go up the Arc de Triomphe, visit Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Musee de Orsay and Montmartre. Being a huge fan of the Impressionists and art, in general, my day in Paris was so amazing. I saw the Mona Lisa (took a really bad picture of her!) and loved walking the floors of the two museums. There was even really cool art in Notre Dame and again, I was just so inspired by it all. My feet were in so much pain after that whirlwind of a day but it was worth it!
6) Radiohead and Kid A
I made it back from Paris in time to go up to Glasgow with Anna to see one of our favorites, Radiohead. They were on the brink of releasing their fourth studio album, Kid A, and we had tickets to that show. This was the second time I had seen them, but my first time to see them as the headliner. It was an amazing time with friends and great music.
7) Ireland and the Guinness Factory
So I’m a little bit Irish and when I made it to Ireland, I finally felt like I was home. I no longer felt like a tourist since I could find my family name (Sheehan) on the map. Ireland was beautiful and magical and I would totally go back in a heartbeat.
Going to the Guinness Factory was also so much fun. I had my first Guinness there and it was so tasty, apparently due to the Irish water. If you don’t know anything about Guinness, be sure to click the link as it is a fascinating tale.
8) Seeing ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ on the big screen.
I made it back to Edinburgh after a bit and got to go see the epic rockumentary, ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ at the movie theater. It was so much fun to quote the best of the best with a room full of ‘Tap’ fans. Yes, they turned it up to 11 and was awesome!
9) Doune Castle
Anna’s parents live in the highlands of Scotland and we visited them often. One day they took me to Doune Castle, which is where the filming of the hilarious Monty Python movie, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ As a gift to my family, Anna and her mom bought the script book and we took it with us, reciting classic lines and reenacting our favorite scenes. It was so much fun! We were the only ones there, which was probably a good thing, since we were being pretty loud!
10) Being with my dear friend Anna
Anna was a foreign exchange student to our little town in TN and she dated my brother for there 10 months she was there. I got to be good friends with her during that time and I was excited for the chance to go and visit and see her in her element!
This trip was a great time of life and I am so thankful for this experience!