Adventures in Europe!

Oh hello there! Me again! Sorry I have been AWOL for a couple weeks–I was in Europe without a laptop! I meant to post about it before I left so as not to worry my two or three readers (one being my mother!) but, alas, I forgot. Anyway, like I said, I was in Europe on a trip that my youth group (that BBYO thing?) sponsors. I went to England, France, Belgium, and Holland, and WOW was it amazing! Currently, I wish I could go back so badly that all I’ve been doing is laying on the couch and watching Netflix! Well, that could also be because I got my wisdom teeth out yesterday…

Anywho, our trip had a blog that the staff posted on the trip website and trip goers could volunteer to write on it! Since I missed doing this, I volunteered and ended up writing the last post, which turned out to be a sort of overview. Since I was going to post a version of the same thing here anyway, here it is, with some tweaks here and there to adjust for audience. Sorry if it sounds a bit cookie-cutter–I was writing to parents, remember! (However, my mom and my friend’s mom liked it, so I hope you do too!):

Good evening parents and friends! (Or perhaps good morning? Afternoon? Time change is weird.) As I sit here in the hall outside my hotel room writing the final journal entry for BBYO Passport Western Europe Discovery #1 2014 (wow, what a mouthful), I’m feeling nostalgic. We’re sad to be leaving, but happy that this trip has been such an incredible experience.
For my personal last night, I am sitting, as I mentioned, in the hallway, surrounded by an obscene amount of snacks and six of some of my closest friends from the trip. Why the hallway you may ask? Well, as a gender mixed group of friends, we aren’t about to break rules and all go in a room! See mom, I follow the rules!
Anyway, for the parents back home, you’re probably wondering what all has made this trip so fabulous. So here, for your enjoyment and in no particular order, please enjoy this list of The Top 8 Moments/Events/Activities of BBYOinWED1.
1. The Dutch Countryside
If none of you have been to the Dutch countryside, the first thing you need to know is that it is GORGEOUS. Chock full of windmills, green fields, rivers, adorable little houses, cows, chickens, horses, sheep, and goats, the Dutch countryside is truly beautiful, especially when viewed on a half-hour long, fairly flat bike ride. In case that doesn’t sound amazing enough, we then got to see how clogs and cheese are made on a real farm! (If your child is not bringing home flavored wheels of cheese, you should ground them when they return home, because man that stuff is good.)
2. Walking Home from a Synagogue
At this point you’re probably asking yourself why such a random event is even a point on this list. But it really was a high point for most of us. For the first Shabbat of the trip, the walk back to the hotel was around an hour. We walked down Oxford Street in England, talking to each other, and even stopping for an impromptu dance party with some people playing music on the street. Never have we had such a fun time walking!
3. The Eiffel Tower
If you were afraid your son/daughter was not going to get thorough exercise on this trip, what with eating their way through Europe and all, you were wrong. As I may have mentioned above, we have done a lot of walking here. Furthermore, despite the fact that the Eiffel Tower does indeed have an elevator, we walked up to the second platform. In case you are not familiar with the Eiffel Tower, that is 669 steps. Try that in your home. I dare you. But we all made it and once we did, the view was breathtaking. (However, I will personally be taking the elevator next time.)

4. Normandy Beach
The D-Day museum and cemetery in Normandy, France was very interesting and meaningful, but it was made fun by going down to the beach there. We wrote in the sand and played with strangers’ dogs! This included an interesting spectacle involving three dogs playing tug of war with one stick. There was also a dog who knew how to play nicely and was simply jumping in the waves, very much resembling a dolphin. Our favorite game was throwing something and watching her leap after it.

5. The London Eye
The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel in which the “carts” are big glass bubbles, if you will, that take you on an amazing view of the city of London. Not only were the views great, but we also got to know the other people in our “pod” a bit better. Apparently being put in a small glass space with 15-20 people does wonders for making friends.
6. The FOOD
This probably goes without saying, but my gosh, does Europe have some good food. From fish and chips in London to crepes, macarons, and croissants in France to Belgian waffles AND chocolate to homemade cheese in Holland, we have gotten the chance to eat some amazing food that we couldn’t eat at home. (My mom will read this and shake her head that I had to dedicate an entire point on this list to food, but it was necessary.)
7. Spending Time Together!
As much fun as doing activities is, the “getting there” is often half the enjoyment! Walks, bus rides, etc. have actually been vital parts of talking to each other and becoming friends. Although we have slept for many of the bus rides, many have turned into big conversations and/or games of “Cow I Win” (a rousing game where the first player to see a cow shouts “cow, I win”, at which point the game promptly starts over). As I have previously mentioned, we walk a lot, and though I will be booking a long foot massage for when I get back, I owe walks to a lot of conversations with new people.
8. The Boat Ride
In case you were unaware, Amsterdam is known as the city of canals. On our first day here, we got to take a boat ride on the canal through the city, which was one of the most fun things we got to do. Amsterdam is beautiful, and seeing it from a boat on the canal is a completely different way of seeing such an amazing city.
I was supposed to give up the laptop at that point, and it was already far too long, so I ended it there. But I hope you have gained some insight into the thrills of Western Europe! If you can scrounge up enough coins from your couch cushions, I highly recommend you go! I may or may not post again about my wonderful trip. If I don’t, the post will be about what to eat when you’ve just had your wisdom teeth ripped out. Until then!
Submitted with undying love for,
blogging again, Western Europe, my trip that I wish I was still on, Cow I Win (which I started by the way), and my mom for reading this post,
I remain Madilyn Jayne Turken

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