It’s quite the leap of faith to move to a country you’ve never before set foot in, trusting that you’ll be able to make a home there. It’s also very much against my Type A, super-planner personality. But two years ago today, that’s exactly what we did, and I am certain that we are better for it.
In Geneva, Gui found an exciting and fulfilling job and I found a unique opportunity to attend grad school. We’ve loved experiencing a new culture, making some lovely friends, feasting on cheese and chocolate, and, of course, using whatever airline and train deals we can find to see as much of Europe as possible.
I won’t pretend there aren’t serious tradeoffs — the missed birthdays, holidays, weddings with our family and friends certainly top the list, though sometimes it’s the inability to get coffee with your best friend or chat with your mom after a tough day that sting the most. And that feeling of being an outsider? It’s not going away any time soon.
But we’re learning, we’re growing and we’re embracing the ups and downs of the adventure — And we’re so happy that you guys are following along with us.
I thought I’d ring in our one-year Geneva anniversary by highlighting some of our favorite spots from our wanderings over the past year (to 11 countries and more than three dozen cities!) in case any fellow travelers are looking for recommendations. In no particular order, here are my top 10 from our first year in Europe, with links to the original posts for more details:
This Dutch city led my travel wishlist before we moved across the pond, and remains at the top after our wonderful visit last May. If you’re going to Europe, make sure it’s on the itinerary: The relaxed vibe, streams of bicyclists, and beautiful art and architecture will not disappoint.
I’m not even sure I knew that Corsica existed before we moved to Geneva, but that’s probably partly why I loved it so much: Minimal tourists paired with wild landscapes, beaches, mountains and countless tributes to Napoleon… ? It’s not to be missed.
This Swiss town won my heart almost immediately. It may have been our guidebook’s description of its many waterfalls that led me to pick Lauterbrunnen for a weekend getaway, but the entire landscape is breathtaking, from the mountain peaks to the spotted cows. It’s a real Swiss experience.
I still remember the overwhelming smell of lavender, the steady buzz of busy bees and the fields of purple as far as the eye could see like it was yesterday. Cliché, I know, but that incredible sensory overload sticks with you. Don’t take my word for it.
What started as primarily excitement over extremely cheap plane tickets turned into a full-blown love for pirogies. Go for the history, but also the present: Krakow is lovely and the secret’s getting out, so those relatively light tourist crowds won’t last forever.
You’ll find plenty of Italian charm in this Amalfi Coast town, not to mention more delicious Italian food than you could ever eat. Wander through the winding, narrow streets, sip prosecco on the beach and breathe it all in. Bellissimo!
There’s no way I could leave the city of Nyhavn and Tivoli off the list. Bring your long underwear and pick up a steaming mug of glögg because this Danish city is cold — but fabulous.
A quiet ski town nestled underneath snowy peaks, Grindelwald is a short train ride from Lauterbrunnen and another Swiss treasure. I’m sure the skiing is fabulous, but don’t leave without trying your hand at tobogganing. Your inner kid will thank you.
Number 10 on this list is known for romance, but I found Budapest to be a solid contender. Visit Széchenyi thermal baths, ice skate in City Park and watch the sunset from Fisherman’s Bastion and you’re sure to see what I mean.
Not creative, I know, but Venice is a wonder. Visit to marvel at the architecture and canals before it’s too late. It’s one sinking city that you need to lay eyes on yourself.