I Guess We’re Not 20 Anymore

Brian and I are about to embark on an awesome three-week trip to some beautiful European cities (Munich, Berlin, Oslo, Prague and Budapest), most of which we’ve never visited before.

I know. I feel like a jerk-face for having such a sweet travel opportunity. Does it make you feel any better to know that we’re not able to take the private jet and are having to fly coach and take trains like all the other commoners? I thought it might.

While we were planning this trip, I realized three things:

1. Brian and I have never traveled together for such a long block of time (the closest we’ve come was our 2005 road trip from New Orleans to Sonoma and back).
2. I haven’t traveled for three consecutive weeks or visited so many cities in one trip since I studied abroad in 2004 and then moved back to France in 2005.
3. Traveling at 28 with your husband is probably different than traveling at 20 or 22 with your girlfriends.

On all of my college and post-grad travel adventures, I had very little money (thanks for not letting me starve during the lowest points, Mom and Dad), very few plans and probably very little common sense. But we had a blast.


Gettin’ piratey in Mykonos

Among the highlights:

  • Losing my passport on the train from Paris to London and getting yelled at by the mean English lady who worked at the American Embassy
  • Crashing for the night in an anarchist squat with Nay Nay and Parisa in London (and feeling wretched the next day after eating the free vegan shepherd’s pie)
  • Karaoke-ing up a storm with Kaila and study abroad program friends near Place de la Bastille in Paris


Kaila in her natural Scottish habitat

  • Getting locked out of the Christian hostel in Amsterdam (the only one available that night, which happened to have a curfew) with Nay Nay and Parisa and trying to sleep in the train station after the bars closed




Parisa (Trouble #1) and Nay Nay (Trouble #2) in Amsterdam

  • Winning the pick-up lines bar trivia contest in Barcelona with Nay Nay and a team of Irish guys (and getting mugged on the way back to the hostel that night)
  • Getting lost on a mountain hike north of Barcelona and meeting a delightful old man and his goats
  • Befriending a bunch of New Zealanders with Jenna in Santorini, who convinced us to go swimming in a hotel pool (not our hotel), resulting in us running from security guards and going dancing at a club in our wet bathing suits

greek wine

Jenna and I discover you can buy 1.5 L bottles of wine in Greece for less money than bottles of water

  • Taking an 18-hour ferry with Jenna from Greece to Italy with no supplies except snacks, a pack of cards and a bottle of whiskey (we befriended awesome Germans who stayed up to play cards with us)

I pulled out the last comprehensive Europe guidebook that I purchased, a very well-worn copy of Let’s Go Europe 2004, that I used on all of these shenanigan-filled trips. I love some of the notes I’m discovering in the margins:

  • Brick Lane: Indian food, hipsters. Camden Town: shopping, coolness. (London, from Nay Nay)
  • Kebab = good (Zaytoons, Dublin)
  • I ♥ U (St. Malo)
  • LAME (Mulligan’s, Dublin)
  • Shelter City = psycho “Jesus is Lord” hostel (Amsterdam)
  • Obscenely well-lit (Cafe de Jaren, Amsterdam)

A gallery of Nay Nay awesomeness:

bugs in venice

Sad Venice: killing mosquitoes in our weird spaceship-shaped cabin outside the city

gelato in venice

Happy Venice: Eating the zillionth gelato of the day

crackers and mustard

A record low on food desperation: saltine crackers and mustard on the ferry to Corfu


Yarrrrrrrr! Can you tell the eye patch is homemade?

I’m looking forward to traveling with a little more cash and research on what I want to see and do (and I hope a wee bit more sense… no guarantees), and I know Brian and I will have an amazing, slightly more grown-up trip. We’ll stay in budget hotels and rental apartments instead of questionable hostels where you have to rent the sheets separately and sleep in a room with 15 other people. We’ll eat some good meals as well as bring bread and cheese for lunch on long train rides. Fingers crossed, we’ll return with all of our belongings and most of our dignity.

I’m probably a little too old to travel the way I did in my early 20s… but I am ready for my sweet ladyfriends to come back to Europe so we can see how we roll in our late 20s. Takers?


1 NayNay { 09.30.11 at 7:27 am }

I am literally cackling out loud over your memories and those photos!! (That pirate one is just screaming to be a profile picture!)

You are going to have a blast in Eastern Europe – and even though you will have clean sheets that come with the bed, that doesn’t mean you can’t still sleep in the train station if you want. ;)

Miss you Gillie!!!

2 Gillian { 09.30.11 at 7:55 am }

Haha, I know, I was dying just going through the photos I have. So much fun! Can you and Parisa come over to visit me together so we can get up to more mischief? We can sleep in a train station to remember the good ol’ days :) Miss you lots!

3 Kaila { 09.30.11 at 8:48 am }

Haha! Ouch, that picture was before I lost the 30lbs of chips and cider weight. Those were some fun times. But, next time, were staying in hotels and B&B’s! (Not that I didn’t enjoy having a Belgian transvestite for a roommate in Dublin. She was very nice.)

4 Gillian { 09.30.11 at 8:54 am }

Haha, oh my goodness, how could I have forgotten the Belgian transvestite?! She was very sweet. And you look lovely, as always, in that picture, Kaila. Next time we are absolutely taking the class up a few notches (hard to do, I know).

5 Parisa { 09.30.11 at 9:37 am }

Oh girl, thanks for the trip down memory lane! What awesome fun-times we had; I’m definitely down with Europe Trip 2.0 with you guys.

You’re going to have a great time, though traveling with just your partner is different. I find that Mike and I don’t talk to as many people as we would if we were traveling with friends – it’s kinda weird. So don’t make that mistake. :). Have an awesome time, and I do expect a postcard!

6 Gillian { 09.30.11 at 3:16 pm }

Hurray for Europe 2.0! It is totally time. It is different traveling with only you and your significant other. Brian and I have done enough shorter trips to see that… though it’s still fun making random friends out and about, we need to make more of an effort to do so! We met some super fun Irish people in Sardinia (always the Irish…). Postcards! I need to start sending those newfangled thingies…

7 DK { 10.03.11 at 3:11 am }

Bon voyage! I know you and Bri are already knee deep in schnitzel and the like but I thought I would tell you that Amaia and I are thinking of you and Brian as you traipse around Eastern Europe.

You bring up very good points about traveling when you’re 19-23 and…now. Amaia and I have had this convo a few times as well. The thing that I noticed the most is my willingness to shell out a few more € to stay in a private room, especially if it has a kitchen. No more 15-to-room adventures where the stinky one always manages to forget that he is top bunk–not bottom. That’d be mine.

Besos and we expect a full report upon your return!!

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