Continuing on my top five experiences in each continent that we visited, it’s now time for Europe! (FYI – Päť means five in Slovak). As I mentioned earlier, our almost two months exploring Europe was quite different than our previous 6 in South America. We were looking for something new mainly in the gastronomy department (which is why we spent so much time in Italy). We had our fill of the outdoor adventures and were looking to sit in a plaza with a glass of fine wine and to stuff our faces with world renowned food. And we did. And it was worth it.
Our time in Europe didn’t push me to my limits or out of my comfort zone much however, it was very relaxing to travel through after being in South America for so long. It was the right choice for us. Dan and I spent wonderful quality time together not feeling sick on buses or from food and lazily wandered around beautiful, historical places doing as we pleased.
Interestingly, we visited five countries in Europe and a memory from each country made the list. With that being said, here are much top päť favorite things that we experienced in Europe.
SAN MIGUEL MARKET. Location: Madrid, Spain
After arriving to Madrid from Ecuador, Dan and I had to take a nap before going out for tapas. Prior to this nap, we were talking about all of the things we wanted to see and do in Madrid. Since I’d been there a few times already, I badly wanted to bring Dan to a market I loved where you can walk around with a glass of wine or sangria and order different tapas from different vendors (aka heaven) but I couldn’t remember the name. As I was falling asleep later that night I suddenly popped out of bed and shouted “SAN MIGUEL!”
The next day we wandered around checking out some of the sights in Madrid before coming here for lunch. This market is in the center of the tourist area and tends to be really crowded but it didn’t matter. We started at the olive bar below gorging ourselves on different olive skewers and sangria. At one point as we were eating, Dan and I looked at each other and started laughing. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED! After eating our fill of olives, we headed over to the meat counter for Dan, cheese counter, and ended with some pre-made tapas.
I loved this experience as I couldn’t wait to show Dan Spain, the first country I fell in love with. And I could see instantly that he loved it just as much as I did/do. We loved it so much, we came back to this market to eat one more time before we left Madrid.
LUNCH, WINE AND VIEWS. Location: Positano, Italy
If you’ve ever been to Positano or the Amalfi Coast in Italy, you know exactly why this place would make any top five list. First of all, it is one of the most gorgeous cities I’ve ever seen. Nestled on a hillside with colorful buildings filling the area below to the blue, green water; it is simply stunning.
Dan and I had decided before we came here that we were going to splurge. Eat at a restaurant with the nicest view we could find and order as much wine and food as we desired. We settled on the Da Gabrisa Hotel which happens to have an incredible restaurant with unbeatable views of the water and the city.
If I could spend one last day on Earth, it would be a day like this. The weather was perfect, we ordered cold rose wine, ate some of the best ravioli, and had great conversation and laughs. I never wanted to leave this moment!
DINNER CRUISE ON THE DANUBE RIVER. Location: Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a beautiful city at night (and during the day too). Many buildings are lit up, not only the Parliament Building (seen below), although the Parliament is to me the most breathtaking.
Therefore, Dan and I decided to take a dinner cruise on the Danube River so we could experience all of Budapest’s beautiful night views from the river. It ended up being the perfect date night. The food was delicious, the entertainment was good, and although it was really chilly outside, the views were incredible.
We were some of the only two people standing on the front end of the ship to take in the sights!
MEETING DAN’S SLOVAK FAMILY. Location: Bajerovce, Slovakia
Meeting Dan’s Slovak Family is best described in the post he wrote for my blog: Answers and Ancestry. This was a once in a lifetime experience for Dan to see the tiny Slovakian town in person where his ancestors came from and to even meet some of his long lost relatives.
For me this experience stands out because I had never even thought about visiting Slovakia before and it ended up being an extremely beautiful and severely underrated country to visit. Not only was going along on Dan’s ancestry journey incredible for me to witness, I loved the countryside and the warmth of the people we met in that town. I had no idea that we’d be invited for lunch, given way too many gifts to bring home, an invitation for dinner the following evening, and more hugs than I’ve ever given to strangers before.
Our trip to Bajerovce was so special and memorable and meeting your extended family across the globe is something most people (including myself) will never have a chance to do in their lifetime.
SUNSET VIEW. Location: Prague, Czech Republic
I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere in this blog that I’m a sucker for a beautiful view with a sunset and beer in hand. And this sunset in Prague was impromptu and unexpected which made it even better.
Prague is a gorgeous city as you can see below and there are various points throughout the city where you can get a great view. After scouring over the internet, we went to a few and they were beautiful but well known and pretty crowded. One night as Dan was looking over Google Maps seeing where we could enjoy an evening beer in a park, he found this one below.
This view faces a completely different side of Prague and there was hardly anyone here. I felt as though we had found a hidden gem in the city of Prague that only a few locals know about (and of course now I’m completely outing this location). Anyways, we drank a few beers and watched this sunset fall across the city.
It was one of those moments I knew I’d mentally come back to for years to come.
Thinking about these top 10 experiences I’ve described and imagining myself in those moments, my heart skipped a beat and that longing to travel feeling returned. That nostalgia you feel when you think back to an amazing trip or time in your life. Although I’ve only written about 10 experiences, Dan and I had 8 months of top life moments that I will always remember fondly. This trip will always be a part of me. It has solidified my desire to continue to work hard and spend my money to collect top life memories.