Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Isabelle Furth (the author) and her boyfriend, William Dvorkin of McLean.
Where, when, why: After graduating from college last spring, I knew that I wanted to take a trip to Europe. I spent six weeks in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, then my boyfriend met up with me and we traveled to the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Milan, Budapest, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Paris, London and Dublin. My total trip was about three months long, from May to August 2014.
Highlights and high points: The beauty of the Amalfi Coast made me want to abandon all ambition and become a tour guide on the cliffs of Italy for the rest of my life. There is nothing in the world like Positano. The grandeur of Vienna awed me, as did finally seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, which William surprised me with toward the end of our trip. (I’d thought it was too much of a splurge.)
Cultural connection or disconnect: I have been in love with Italy since I studied abroad there three years ago, but I’d never been to Milan. I’d really hyped it up in my head and was envisioning somewhere as charming as Cinque Terre or Rome. Milan totally missed the mark for me. Of course, it has beautiful architecture and people, but it didn’t feel like my idea of Italy. Since that was my last city in Italy before moving to other countries, that small disappointment almost made it easier to say “Arrivederci.”
Biggest laugh or cry: William and I attempted to take a very athletic hike around the Amalfi Coast on our first day there — the weather was glorious, if a little hot, and we were ready to see the sights. Four hours later, though, we were completely lost, shaking from exhaustion, dehydration and frustration. Somehow, we’d taken a wrong turn and it brought us to the base of a cliff. Our options weren’t great — walk four to five hours back up the mountain, or risk our lives on the steep cliffs with the crazy drivers. We decided to gamble with the crazy drivers. It was harrowing, but we survived.
How unexpected: In Budapest, I was following an adorable black cat near the apartment we’d rented. Apparently, the cat’s older owner thought that we were loitering around his apartment for nefarious reasons and came angrily running after us, yelling in Hungarian. When he realized that we had only innocently been trying to pet his cat, he apologized profusely . . . and gave us his cat, telling us to keep it for the night.
Fondest memento or memory: I have a million memories and mementos from my trip, but I think the best revelation for me was that these places aren’t going away. I had spent time abroad while I was in college, and treated this trip like a “last hurrah” before joining the working world. On my flight back, I was so upset to be leaving. Now that I’m back in the States, I realize that my love of travel, and especially Europe, is still there, and I can always take trips if I plan things accordingly. I’m working on a (shorter) trip to Spain and Portugal this summer, too.
To tell us about your own trip, go to washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.