Best International Experiences Part 1 - England, France, Italy, Switzerland

Although I may still have more domestic moments to share - driving down parts of the PCH is another one - I wanted to quickly say my pieces of enjoyment there so I could get on to these experiences. Most likely, I'm going to be able to say at least one per country and sometimes more depending on my length of stay.  These are what truly made these trips great. Not just the new setting, but the new experience. Furthermore, if you've read any of the travelblogs then these experiences are familiar to you. Still, it's refreshing to give a new take on. We shall see how much I can fit before I move onto another part.

Anyways, without further ado here is the start to some of my best international experiences ever.

Victoria Island Flowers: Why is this on here? Simply put, this was one of my favorite parts in Vancouver. Riding the elevated subway was cool, but the flower arrangements here were beautiful.  Also, this memory sticks out to me more than almost any other Vancouver memory (Do wish I had better memory for the First Nations Museum) as I remember taking pictures and simply wandering in the glory of the flowers. One of the initial sparks.

London - The Churchill Museum: You ever want to see a museum dedicated to a country's hero? Check out the Churchill Museum. There is so much information, history and amazing artifacts from Winston Churchill it's unbelievable. The presentation is also nice, in a small museum space with transparent glass to see all around the accomplishments of Churchill. He was a warrior from day one who has one of the best museums in the world dedicated to him.

London - Beefeater Tower of London Tour: This is entertaining. The Tower of London with its armory, well guarded crown jewels, and battlements is a sight to behold. However, what really brings this experience together is an old english beefeater giving you a tour of the Tower and explaining the plight of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It sincerely enhances the experience to being elevated than just your own tour.

England - Tripping out at Stonehenge - I love stonehenge, sorry I can't help that. I find the mysticism behind it fascinating. They're as old as the pyramids, but nobody understands how the stones were built/placed. We understand that the pyramids had brilliant African mathematicians, but Stonehenge - why, how, who and when continue to mystify us.

Paris - Seeing the Eiffel Tower: One of those iconic pieces of architecture that you just cannot fully comprehend. The excitement when you see it is unmatched and even as you get closer to it, it never loses its excitement. I think it is amazing iron lattice work that keeps the structure looking so grand. Along with that, the views from the tower (middle level is the best) are quite spectacular as you get to see Paris's brilliant street layout that shoots a line through all of its monuments (Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon's gate, the obelisk). Lastly, this was also a memorable experience because I had my first international attraction connection - the ticket lady found me cute, a kind family let me in front of them and I flirted with her before I had to go see that tower.....If I had the awareness I had now

Paris - Montmarte at Dusk: With some West African chaps singing Bob Marley, climbing through the postcard Parisian streets of Montmarte, and the view of Paris from the Sacre Couer as the lights of the city began to turn on created a romantic love affair with the city. Overall, this was an intoxicating experience even as my mom struggled to climb the stairs (I was incorrigible to be around with my parents on our London, Paris, NYC trip) with the assistance of my dad, the whole scene on Montmarte was beautiful. I encourage everyone to make this journey with some wine and just relax until sunset.

Versailles - The entire estate: Versailles is excessive. While the hall of mirrors and the gardens are gorgeous you can absolutely see why the French Revolution happened. This is a small hop from Paris and you can spend hours here touring in the grounds. While this would be my first of many European palaces, the excess and Marie Antoinette's side palace are so grandiose you will not soon forget.

Caan/Normandy - World War 2 Museum: First of all, the amount of World War 2 memorabilia here along the shores of Normandy (D-Day) and in the museum is extensive. Thus, you have a top tier museum, especially in regards to World War 2 memorabilia. What is the true shocking experience is the amount of 9/11 artifacts here as it is in the only place outside of the US with any pieces from that catastrophe. The most notable of these is how other countries reacted with unexpected condolences or celebrations.

Zurich - Upper Class Airport: Even today, I have yet to see a fancier airport than Zurich's. I remember being taken aback after the brisk air and swiss army knife crops (no seriously) of how modernized Switzerland can be. It's phenomenal as it moves like Swiss clock work and the people are kind enough to support you with customer service. At the same time, there's a veneer over the whole place that you know you can't afford.

Firenze/Florence - Stroll: Walking around Firenze remains to be one of my favorite times I've ever had in a city. Sure there are plenty of small museums here, but there is also tons of relics from the Renaissance here, plus the cobblestone streets transport you back to the 1500s. The food in this city is also fresh Tuscan Italian food with ingredients from the countryside. It's easily one of the best walking cities I've ever been to.

Rome - The Colosseum: This place requires many double takes. I could not get enough of it. I was excited the entire time and there's even the Roman Forum right next to it. The entire place is like walking around Ancient Rome. The Italian kids thought I was weird for being excited but like the ESB for me, hey it's exciting the first time!

Vatican City - St. Basilica and the Sistine Chapel: All of this is amazing. There's brilliant sculpture (the Pieta) and the painting (Judgment, God and Adam) from Michelangelo and the climb to the dome is entertaining with narrow walkways. Overall, the Pope's domain is powerful in how much money the Catholic Church gives out and what real estate they're working with. It's awe-inspiring and also disappointing in that there is all this elegance here, but so much attention the Church isn't giving the world.