Stereotypes

My friend in Switzerland said something to me that stuck after I commented on the Swiss Alps, telling him that it was “the Switzerland I came to see.” He replied, “you’re not here to confirm stereotypes; you’re here to discover new things.”

He was right. After a bit of travel fatigue, it was the reminder I needed to renew my sense of wonder and avoid going through the motions of just “seeing the sights.”

With that in mind, I present…

Five things that have left me awestruck in my travels:

1) The Austrian Alps. I had no idea there was such beauty in the country — especially given how small Austria is.

2) Northern Italy. Taking the train from Switzerland to Venice, it was incredible to witness the snowy mountains give way to endless vineyards backed by towering cliffs and tree-covered hills.

3) Budapest’s beauty. Before visiting the city, I think I carried preconceived notions of Eastern Europe that it would be a little derelict. I was wrong.

4) Belgium’s Gothic grandeur. I barely gave the country any priority during my trip planning — only two days split between Brussels and Bruges — but I left amazed by its architecture.

5) The good conversation provided by total strangers. I’m not usually one to strike up a conversation with someone I’ve never met before, but I’ve met some fascinating people by doing so.

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