A Vacation Taken Moments Before Disaster

Joseph Kalmar
March 28, 2020

Even though I've unfortunately had to return to the United States due to the current epidemic, I still have many stories to tell about my experiences in Europe. As you will undoubtedly be able to tell, my friends and I narrowly escaped a pretty sticky situation by accidentally scheduling our flights at the exact right moments as we embarked on a whirlwind tour of Europe during our winter break in late February.

Typically, one would think of a school break as a time to sit back, relax, and maybe get a bit ahead on some homework. When one is studying abroad in Europe, however, that’s not really an option. By looking on cheap airfare websites to see the least expensive flights on any given day during the week of February break, two of my friends and I were able to take a whirlwind trip through Italy, Germany, and Ireland for much less than one would typically anticipate spending on a European vacation.

Fortunately for us, we had literally perfect timing when we travelled to Venice. Sure, we saw information about the Coronavirus in northern Italy on the news, but A. it was all in Italian and B. we hadn’t heard anything before travelling to Italy, so we figured it wasn’t too big of a deal. So we arrived in Venice on Friday evening, explored the city during the day on Saturday, and left on Sunday afternoon. Later that day we discovered that they had shut down Carnivale that same day to prevent the spread of the virus. And although navigating Venice’s less than straightforward public transportation system via Google Translate and one of us who has a working knowledge of Latin wasn’t exactly ideal, we had a great time exploring the city itself and indulging in some great Italian food.

Berlin was the polar opposite of Venice: inexpensive, easily navigable, and modern. Getting to our Airbnb from the airport was so easy I could hardly believe it! Out of all the European cities I’ve visited, Berlin was by far my favorite, which was good because we spent the longest amount of time there during break. Over the course of several days we visited various Berlin landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Victory Column, went hiking in Grunewald to get some fresh air, and were able to hit three out of five museums on Museum Island. Charlottenburg Palace was our last destination before we left, which worked out perfectly because we were able to check our very heavy backpacks and receive a guided audio tour for free!

Our last destination was Dublin, which I appreciated less for the city itself and more for the easy access to an absolutely spectacular hiking area. We took a DART train from central Dublin to the suburb of Howth, which takes up most of a small peninsula to the north of Dublin. From 10:30 am to around 4:30 pm we hiked all the way around the outskirts of the peninsula for some completely stunning cliff views overlooking the sea and the mountains in the distance. We topped off the day with some great fish and chips before making our way back to our Airbnb. The next day we flew from Dublin to Paris where I was able to meet up with my mom after not having seen her for about two months! The next post I make will describe all the adventures we had together that week, from the good to the not so great.

Joseph Kalmar

<p>I'm a sophomore in college who has studied French for over seven years. In addition to reading, singing, and playing various musical instruments, I'm an avid fan of birdwatching, watching hockey, and traveling.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
College of Wooster, The
Bowling Green, OH
French Language
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