…a Delorean. Before I explain why I’m thinking of the car Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd made famous, I’d like to apologize for my recent disappearing act. I was doing my best Marco Polo impersonation by traveling all over the Eastern Hemisphere… (or maybe just Western Europe but tomatoe, tomato). Starting April 7th, I met with Jo to travel around Madrid and Rome (we’ll get back to this part), then had Garrett and Kit fly over to explore my Suisse hood a little, then venture to Brussels and Paris. It was the final voyage of my European adventure, and while I was flat out exhausted by the end of it, spending time with friends I missed dearly while exploring new cities, as well as places I’ve been to, was amazing.
(For an updated ‘Worth It’ list, just click here)
So Back to the
Future the Delorean. The trip I want to focus on most was Rome. I’ve discussed history before in an entry so I won’t repeat. I’ve also discussed traveling with friends, so I want do that again either. I guess I could dive int oMichael J. Fox’s acting during the 80’s since I decided to make the Delorean the subject of this piece, but frankly, who cares. So instead, I’m going to give you a quick overview on Back to the Future, and let you know how I linked it to Julius Caesar’s era.
Summary: Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly), travels back in time in a Delorean that was created by Christopher Lloyd’s mad scientist character, Dr. Brown. He makes sure his dad falls in love with his mom (instead of himself), and he finishes by traveling in the machine to the present time, in other words, travels ‘back to the future’.
Great, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to tell you what I’d do if I had this Flux Capacitor powered Delorean…
When traveling with my buddies, I asked each of them what three places they’d travel to for 7 days if they had the magical car. Some answers were pretty cool (Such as the time of the dinosaurs), while others were rather interesting (Kit said the 7 days around when the Titanic sank… not sure if she realized that Leonardo wasn’t really there).
After some thought, I picked my three and still am sticking to them. First i said I’d love to spend 7 days during the American Revolution in 1776. Being around to see the founding of our nation and the passion with which they fought for their freedom I feel would be awesome. Seeing T. Jefferson walking through the streets of Philly or George Washington being the baller he must’ve been would be pretty cool.
Another time period I’d like to go to would be Jesus Christ’s final three days, then the following four. He is arguably the most influential person in the history of the world. I am a Catholic, but whether religious or not, the affect that one person has had on the evolution of mankind is unbelievable. A chance to see it unfold… surreal.
Now my last choice was simple, ancient Rome. Drinking wine and watching the battles and performances in the Colosseum. Marveling at the construction of the Pantheon. Being immersed in the culture of the most powerful empire in the world at the time. A place where togas were actually worn and not for frat party purposes. Where Roman Gods inspired people to work, and dudes walking out of columned buildings ruled (Well I guess that’s like the modern day White House too, but just bear with me). I feel it would be pretty dirty (so would the other two choices), pretty different living than how we live today (so would the other two choices), and after my 7 days I’ll be praying that the Delorean hits 88 mph (same as the other two), but experiencing this ROMANtic idea we all have of Rome would be unbelievable.
Jo and I would look at all the sites during the day, nap for an hour, then hit the town at night. The Trevi Fountian was insanely impressive, especially at night. The Pantheon so cool from a historical standpoint, whether during the day or night. And last but not least, the Vatican City was breathtaking. St. Pete did a pretty good job on his Basilica, and Michelangelo gets my vote for greatest artist of all time with the Sistine Chapel and Pieta. The Pieta was beautiful, but man… the Sistine Chapel left me speechless. I stared at the roof and wall (The Final Judgement) for 30 straight minutes and didn’t say a word. Just wow.
Rome itself, just wow.
You may be saying, well Evan, the Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, and Pieta weren’t around during the Roman Empire, so you wouldn’t be able to see those landmarks back then. But something tells me the Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, and culture/art/philosophy of the time would be enough for the 7 days. Plus who knows, those other things were obviously in the same city, just 1500 years later. Maybe the Delorean will have enough juice to make a quick pit stop during the Renaissance.
Two of my top four time periods taking place in the same city then? I guess so. Then again, Rome … just wow.
At least that’s what I was thinkin’.
…about my newly invented scale: the ‘Worth It?’ meter. If you were to ever ask my buddies at school if a certain act was ‘Worth It?’ the reply you’d get every time was, without fail, ‘It’s always worth it!’. Their rational was you only live once, therefore it’s completely worth doing something rather than regretting you didn’t do it later on.
Well for the purpose of this list, I’m going to go discuss the places I have visited thus far, 7 months into my 8 month stay in Europe (and actually include the amazing family vacation I took with the ‘rents and sis to London and Paris just a few weeks before the season). My final game is in 7 days, which is incredible due to how quickly the time has gone. I have two large voyages planned once the season concludes (Madrid and Rome, Brussels and Paris) which means I’ll update this entry later to let you know where Brussels and Rome fall in the ranks. (Updates are asterisked) But at this point I have a few cities I’d like to share my thoughts on.
Before I get the list started, there are two things that I need to discuss:
First, each trip I have embarked on, I’ve been fortunate enough to be accompanied by a close friend. As we know, no matter where you go, the company you go with adds an entire new element to the experience. I discussed before just how much their company means to me when traveling together. Bonding one on one (or in one case, with two others), is an amazing way to go deep into conversation and learn new things about your buddy which further enhance your relationship. Therefore, I’m omitting (as best I can) this factor from the Worth It Scale.
Second, I must describe what goes into this Worth It Scale. Took awhile to decide what blend of criteria determines the rating, but I came up with this: Would I visit again if it was not just a $100 flight on EasyJet? Would I recommend others visit (even if they had to pay more than that $100 EasyJet bill I just mentioned? Could I be there longer than 3 days and still feel there’s a lot to do? How were the sites? Did I enjoy the food? (and last but not least) Would I enjoy this place regardless of who I came with? I decided not to factor in the prices of food/museums/hotels in these places since I stayed like a true recent grad who’s not gonna reserve a room at the Four Seasons but instead sleep on a couch or alongside his 6’1 210 lb former roommate and share a cover.
The format I’ll use is:
Who I went with (In case you were interested)
Description of Experience
Rating on the scale
And here we go:
Who I’ve been with: Kawika Shoji, Dylan Kordic, Peter Geoghegan, Alex Pulido, Ed Howell, Alexa Baldino, Sara Martinez, Andy and Kate Hein, Kiley Hall, Andrew and Ashley Stewart (& soon Garrett Werner and Kit Garton).
So this region is basically where I live. Geneva -> Lausanne is about a 40 minute drive and Lausanne -> Montreux another 30. The reason why I’ve been here with so many people is that I’ve either lived/played with them as teammates, or had them as visitors who made a stop while traveling Europe. The region is very picturesque due to its location on Lac Leman overlooking Evian, France and the Alps directly behind it. I really do enjoy this place and recommend a visit here… just not for more than 4 days. It is more of a nature/relaxation place to visit (unless your skiing, which I haven’t cause I’d look like this). You may be saying, “Well I’d love to relax and enjoy nature for 2 weeks!” And let it be known, I would too…well maybe one week as opposed to two. But the thing is, everything here costs an arm, leg, and kidney. I said I wouldn’t consider money when developing my rating, but that’s a big part of Switzerland. The dinero. It’s what makes Switzerland, umm, Switzerland.
6.4/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: Brian Pingree
Gorgeous little city. The architecture is amazing, Vondelpark pretty, and everyone is happy. Bikes are EVERYWHERE. Locals and tourists alike, ride their old school bikes throughout the winding streets and take in the sites. There are however some bizarre aspects to this Dutch city. The Red Light District is absurd to me. If you walk around this part of town at night, you will see a packed area full of bars, hotels, and windows with half naked Barbie-looking women who should be making cameos in Demi Moore’s Striptease. One may think, ‘Damn, bars and half naked chicks?! Every (straight) man’s dream!’ Except, I felt a mixture of sad, uncomfortable, and sadly uncomfortable while walking through there. As the ‘workers’ tried to entice you by tapping on the windows and licking their lips, my buddy and I were unsure whether we should make eye contact and ‘take in the scenery’ or keep our head down. This may be a drastic example, but you know when you see a homeless person begging for your money, and if you dont have change on you… or ‘don’t’ have change on you… and you try not to make eye contact cause you would feel sorta bad about it. Well it’s like that. As for the entertainment factor of it, having a few beers at these bars and seeing what hoodie wearing guy was going to walk out of the building 50 Euros poorer was rather entertaining. The other bizarre aspect? The coffee shops. I’m not talking about Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. More Cheech and Chong’s hangout spots. They are everywhere. No need to hide anything since it’s legal. Whether in the coffee shop, or wandering the canals, you smell the cannabis throughout the day. It could be coming from the homeless man you ignored, or the banker and his wife walking from home from work wearing their Luis Vuittons and Armani clothing. All is fair game there…which is weird. But hey, the country seems to be doing alright financially so who am I to judge! Would I return? Sure. For longer than 3 days? No chance. Will I bring an extra 50 Euro? No, I’ll bring 54 so I can give 50 to the creepy hoodie wearing dude, and the other 4 on a pint of beer.
6.8/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: Jeffrey Schwimer and Brian Pingree
I went to Dublin on a special weekend: St. Patrick’s Day. Although I missed the main festivities, I was still able to make the second half of the weekend, which was absurd. The city was essentially a giant pub. Everyone was happy, drinking their Jameson and Guinness, wearing green, and looking absolutely beat up from a weekend’s crazy festivities. I didn’t do as much touristy activities since combining three college buddies in a weekend full of celebrations with beer or whiskey at their disposal may prevent one from visiting to many of the historic churches and such, but the city was actually really pretty. You could easily spend 3 days there, and maybe 1 or 2 others traveling to the cliffs and castles in Ireland. With a rich, unique history, friendly people, and pubs as far as the eye could see, I’d definitely make a trip back…preferably on a St. Paddy’s weekend.
7/10 on the Worth It
* 7. Brussels
Who I went with: Kit Garton and Garrett Werner
The weather is pretty bad. The city not really that big. The most famous landmark is a 2 foot statue/fountain of a little boy weeing and is called Manneken Pis. And with all that being said, the city is great. There are several gorgeous buildings, the Belgium beer delicious, the waffles and chocolate deliciouser (that’s not a word), and the city very clean. It’s sorta the same as Amsterdam in that you only have to go for 3 days or so, but still, one should definitely go. I was definitely impressed
7.2/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: Schwimer lives there
I really enjoyed Barcelona. It’s pretty much Europe’s version of Miami, except with more history; It is after all the native land of our Cuban ancestors. The city’s on the water, the Spanish being spoken refreshing to the ears (at least for me), the food great, and several sites to visit. As the weather warms up, I feel the enjoyment factor also rises. It’s a place I’d certainly return too, especially in the summertime.
7.8/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: The fam.
First and foremost, everyone speaks English which is great in terms of not ever feeling lost. The city has a plethora of historic places that we always heard about while growing up: Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. It’s home to the Queen. The place where Shakespeare’s work came to life, where Winston Churchill led Great Britain through World War II, and even the birthplace of Mr.Harry Potter! I didn’t think the food was anything to write home about, although I do love me some Fish N’Chips. The weather is pretty hit or miss, but regardless you’ll have a great time. No doubt I’ll be going back there.
8.8/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: Kawika Shoji lives there
I unfortunately was not able to experience the nightlife which I’ve heard is great, but I was entranced by the city the whole time I was there. The history aspect of this city was amazing. I went into it about a month ago, so what repeat myself, but it’s definitely a must visit. The language barrier is almost non-existent due to how diverse the city is. It’s also ‘the most affordable of the big cities in Europe’ people would tell me. It would be best to visit in the late Spring or early Fall where the parks are green and the heat not too much. No matter when you go though, the history will still be there.
9.1/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: Sage Wright
I loved Madrid. In fact, I’ll be going back for Easter weekend with Jo from back home. I felt the Spanish culture here everywhere I went (more so than Barcelona). It has it’s fair share of sites to see as well, but even more than that was the dining and absorbing the actions of those around you. When going to different bars around town at nighttime, it was so easy to spark conversation with whoever you ran into (in Spanish). I discussed Barcelona and Madrid in the post of traveling with friends, but to summarize what I wrote: one must visit. The food is superb, the ambiance awesome, and the experience great.
9.3/10 on the Worth It
* 2. Rome
Who I went with: Jovany Noy
For details on the sights and all that, I wrote a little entry on why I wish I could travel back in time there. So aside from the sights, the food was actually very good. I still prefer Paris’s food, but the Italian dining was delicious. The reason why I put Rome at 2, and why it doesn’t reach the level of Paris is due to the touristiness of the city. Granted, I was a tourist, you’d be a tourist, and you better tour around this city at least once in your life, but the cleanliness in which most of Paris is kept, regardless of the tourism, keeps it just a notch above. Also, I’d certainly go back, but I’d prefer to return to London or Paris before I’d return to Rome since those two are more cities, than tourist spots. But if you’ve never been… just wow… it’s impressive.
9.4/10 on the Worth It
Who I went with: The fam the first trip, then Kit Garton and Garrett Werner the second time.
I haven’t been to Rome yet, but this is so far my favorite city in Europe. I’ve heard from several people here in the French part of Switzerland that it’s wonderful to visit, but not to live there… and I can absolutely see that. But we are discussing places to vacation in, not reside. So with that in mind, if you could pick one place in Europe to go to, I’d pick Paris. It’s the most gorgeous city I’ve ever been too. It’s got the history, got one of the world’s most famous landmarks, and excellent food. The friendliness of the people is hit or miss, but then again, on vacation you want to sort of encounter a new culture. They are what they are. But whether you have a pleasant encounter with a Parisian or a poor one, it won’t matter as you’re walking through the Louvre, drinking wine on the Seine at night, taking pictures in front of Notre Dame, or gazing at the Arche de Triomphe. The buildings and streets light up the city at night, making it just as beautiful before dusk as it is after. Let’s see if Rome can beat that.
9.8/10 on the Worth It
Brussels and Rome will be added after I visit. Only one month left before I return home. I’m excited for what awaits, but also can’t wait to return to my 10/10 on the worth it (OK I may be biased, but hey, this is about what I was thinkin’).