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Cornish pasties and Fanta.. what else could you ever need?

ENGLAND

Where it all began. Don’t worry, we’re not going to regale everyone with every story of every place we visited over the nine months we were living and studying in England and traveling Europe.. we’ll just give you a brief summary:

As you may or may not already know, we met as participants in the same study abroad program while both attending the University of Minnesota Duluth. It was the Study in England Programme for the 2007-2008 academic year. There were 44 UMD students in the program, and we really didn’t get a chance to meet anyone until we were already in England. We lived and studied in Birmingham, England, on the campus of the University of Birmingham. Among the 4-5 regional trips we took together as a program, our favorites were to the Lake District in northern England; Edinburgh, Scotland; and areas in northern Wales (Betws-y-coed, Conwy, Llanberis).

Trying to look casual with Scotland’s Falkirk Wheel.

In addition to those trips, we went on several weekend trips to locations all over the UK, either just the two of us or with a few friends. Our favorite of these trips was a backpacking trip we took from Land’s End to Penzance (a distance of 16 miles, which we did over the course of two days).

Rain pants never looked so good.

EUROPE

As for Europe, we tried to fit in as much as we could during our 3-week winter break and 5-week spring break (and one weekend trip we did to Stuttgart, Germany, specifically to visit nearby Castle Neuschwanstein). During our winter break we visited Portugal, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. Ehren managed to coax Brittany and another friend, Don, into skiing with him in the Swiss Alps while staying at a hostel in Lauterbrunnen over Christmas. Ehren was already an accomplished skier, while the rest of us had never gotten on skis before. Needless to say, it was a very memorable experience!

Over spring break we ventured out further. We began in Dublin, Ireland, to see some friends visiting from back home. We then flew to Copenhagen to meet up with our friend Nikki, took a train to Gothenburg, flew to Warsaw and then traveled by train down through Eastern Europe, spending a few days each couchsurfing in Krakow, Budapest and Bucharest (we either stayed in hostels or couchsurfed with locals while making our way through Europe). We then met up with some friends in Venice for a few days then took another train to Ljubjlana. This was a must-visit on Brittany’s list as her paternal grandmother’s heritage is Slovenian.

Overlooking Ljubljana from Ljubljana Castle.

Lookin’ tough on our quads.

After a few days in Ljubljana we parted ways with Nikki and the two of us returned to Italy, stopping off to switch trains in Venice before continuing on our way to Rimini, where we stayed a night in order to visit the nearby microstate of San Marino. We then took a train through the Appennine Mountains on our way to Rome. Spent three days in Rome soaking up the sights before heading to Bari on the east coast of Italy to catch a ferry to Patras, Greece. Once we got to Patras, we took a train into Athens and spent the night in a hostel. The next morning we got on another ferry to take us out to the volcanic Greek island of Santorini. While in Santorini we rented two ATVS and rode them everywhere we possibly could on the island. Another very memorable experience! We also were able to witness an Orthodox Easter candlelit procession through the streets of Fira as we were walking around one night.

We then returned to Athens for a day or two over Orthodox Easter (we had never seen such a big city so quiet) and flew back to London to finish out our last few weeks in England before returning to the U.S. Oh, the adventures to come…