In 2007, a Rob Reiner movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman changed the way we planned our lives forever. This movie, “The Bucket List” followed the lives of two terminally ill men who set out to do everything they hoped before they died, or as the saying goes, “kicked the bucket.” Since then, people across the world have been obsessed with making Bucket Lists of things they want to do, try, and see before they die! Now, people have gotten so into lists that they do them for specific periods of time rather than just their full lives.
Now, I’m a planner. I am a very organized person and love seeing all of my color coded planner notes, perfectly bulleted lists, and lettered bullet journal entries. For this trip I’m about to go on, I needed to make sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do and see while I was abroad. Below, you’ll find the complete list of what I hope to accomplish!
1. Kiss the Blarney Stone – Ever wonder why people say “Kiss me, I’m Irish” every March? Well, that phrase originates from the tradition of the Blarney Stone! In Cork, Ireland, there is a beautiful castle surrounded by enchanting gardens—some portions poisonous—and one legendary stone. The Blarney Stone is an attraction that people bend over backwards to see. LITERALLY! In order to kiss this stone, guests need to lay on their backs, and bend backwards over a ledge to kiss the stone upside down. Why? Legend has is that if you kiss the stone, you are granted the “gift of gab,” or extreme persuasiveness. So, if you’re not able to make the trip to Cork, then you should try to find someone Irish to kiss because that’s the closest you can get over here! Hence, kiss me, I’m Irish!
2. I AMsterdam sign! Photograph it differently than everyone else – I AMsterdam is an innovative way that the city has chosen to rebrand itself. Amsterdam is a very independent and diverse area that is rich in culture and idea, and this landmark sign highlights that perfectly. A quote from the I AMsterdam sums the idea up perfectly: “I choose Amsterdam for business. I choose Amsterdam for education. I choose Amsterdam for inspiration. I choose Amsterdam as my home. I am Amsterdam.”
3. Visit Disneyland Paris – In 1992, the Walt Disney corporation expanded it’s parks to Europe with the opening of Disneyland Paris. This month, the park celebrated it’s 25th year of being open to the public. As an avid Disney go-er, and especially as a fellow Disney blogger, I can not wait to go experience Disney in Paris! Seeing how another culture celebrates a theme park that connects children around the world is something I’m looking forward to most.
4. Take a ride in a gondola – Gondola rides are something that seem to peaceful and surreal that I’m not sure if they’re a phenomena from movie scenes that only tourists indulge in, or if people in Italy casually stroll down the riverside and see them floating by. Whatever the case may be, I know that I will be making a point to henge my bets of being labeled a tourist and hop on into one of these serene boat rides while I’m in Florence!
5. Enjoy the bloemenmarkt – Although a lot of people think of the red light district when they think of Amsterdam City Center, I think of all the tulips! Tulips grow very well in the Netherlands, and are showcases all over the country. Bed and Breakfasts across the city are named after the vibrant flower, and are located in vases in every home. Amsterdam even has a Tulip Museum! However, I am most looking forward to see the flowers brighten up the rows of the flower market alongside more colorful and delicate flowers and succulents.
6. Become a certified Guinness pourer – Growing up Irish, I learned all about the claddagh ring, and I drew celtic trinity knots all over my notes in class. When I got older, I started to hear the jokes and stereotypes about drinking in Ireland. I’m from the Clearwater area, and there’s a small Irish store in Dunedin that I distinctly remember seeing a green shirt that stated, “Ye can’t drink all day if ye don’t start in the mornin’!” About a year later, I learned about the Guinness Factory as we studied Irish culture in high school. My teacher told us all about this black beer that’s as thick as tar that has to be poured in a very specific way. Since then, my Irish heritage has been tingling and I’ve wanted to learn how to pour this beer! Now, I’m going to get my chance.
7. See the Eiffel Tower – This one is obvious! I mean, come on now, I can’t go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower!
8. Have a soft pretzel anywhere in Germany – If I’m being honest with myself, soft pretzels are my kryptonite. I don’t know why, but that salted and woven dough is something I’m always in the mood for and will go out of my way to get. Early on, pretzels were designed with Christian roots: three holes to symbolize the Holy Trinity and the twist to symbolize arms folded in prayer. Germans took this religious treat and made it soft and commercialized it with the world “bretzel” from the latin word for little arms (folded in prayer). Well, I’ll definitely be thanking God for the soft baked deliciousness I’m about to eat everyday!
9. Take the classic Pisa pic – The Leaning Tower of Pisa…we’ve all seen the picture. Perhaps you’ve even done it yourself. So, thank you to the architects who didn’t check the foundation well enough. Now all of us tourists know what to do for our photos!
10. Eat a real paczki in Poland – Growing up, my Polish grandmother taught us all “masz błędy na dupa” and all about pierogis! For those of you who don’t know, that phrase is a question often asked in frustration to energetic children meaning, “Do you have bugs up your ass?” And if you don’t know about pierogis, drive yourself to the closest grocery store and find them in the frozen potato aisle. However good, this is about paczki. These donut like pastries are usually found in Polish bakeries around Mardi Gras time and are traditionally eaten in times of celebration, but they should be available year round in Poland. The University that we’ll be staying at in Germany is just across the river from Poland, so I see myself crossing over quite often to devour as many paczki as possible while they’re at my disposal!
11. Drink LOTS of coffee – Being a college student, I am addicted to coffee. If I had to guess, I drink about five cups of coffee a day, and that’s a slow day for me. I love the taste, and I definitely need the energy. Not only do I enjoy drinking it for the caffeine benefit, but I love what’s associated with “going out for coffee.” Maybe I’m enjoying a lavendar white mocha as I’m planning socials as my sorority Vice President, maybe I’m having a simple black coffee while studying for my LSAT, or maybe I’m savoring a vanilla cold brew while reconnecting with friends. However I may be drinking this cup, I am sure it’s good coffee and better company. I just have to watch out for the “coffeeshops” in Amsterdam—that’s where you can pick up legal, recreational drugs from. No, thank you! Just roasted coffee beans for me.
12. Remember at the Anne Frank House – Speaking of Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is located just outside the City Center and is home to so much history and heartbreak that people can come to witness every day. This house is where Anne Frank, along with seven others, hid from Nazis for two years. In this house, Anne wrote the diary that people now look to and study to understand the pain and fear that a young Jewish girl had through World War II.
13. Devour an Italian cannoli – As you’ll probably learn through future blog entries, I’m a major foodie. I am highly picky, but always open to trying anything and usually like the strange things, like pimento cheese and bbq pork pate topped with a fried okra. Yet, I can’t stand simple things, like bacon. This pickiness does not spread onto my dessert palate! As long as it’s sweet, I’m down with it. One of the most difficult questions for me is “What’s your favorite dessert?” I often come down to an internal conflict as I try to decide between two options, but always end up saying a cannoli. Cannolis are absolutely to die for, and to be able to have one—or ten—in their home country is an amazing opportunity! Our Italian excursion can’t come fast enough!
14. Appreciate nature at Cliffs of Moher – Cliffs of Moher is considered to be Ireland’s most visited natural attraction! This magnificent cliff is on the southwestern edge, and is visited by about one million people each year. I guess you can count me as one of the many as I plan to see this natural beauty on my first day abroad!
15. “Critique” at the Van Gogh museum – The word “critique” is in quotations on this one because I, most certainly, am not an artist, therefore I have no right to critique anyone’s work, especially that of a famous painter. I simply chose that word to have a little fun as I continue through the history that is Amsterdam.
16. Take part in the Bow St. Experience at the Jameson Distillery – Like previously mentioned, the Irish love to drink. And though a good Irish beer is always a classic, you can’t travel to Ireland without learning about it’s whiskey. Back in the heart of Dublin is the Jameson Distillery, and a few students and I will be participating in an hour long guided tour of the factory while we learn about the best selling Irish whiskey.
17. Real macarons from Laduree – Macarons are a delicate dessert that first entered my mind during a Netflix binge watching session of Gossip Girl. Blair Waldorf is one of the main characters, and often mentioned her love for macarons. Soon thereafter, macaron shops starting popping up in my local malls, and I even learned to make them myself. However, I’m sure that mine do not even compare to those of Laduree. After all, that is the shop that made them in the first place!
18. Bask is the beauty of Rue Cremieux – Have you ever heard of Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina? Well, this street is it’s French cousin. Rue Cremieux is a street full of character and vibrant colors that is often hunted down by tourists and bloggers alike. This is one portion of Paris that I simply cannot pass up!
19. Anacapri – If at all possible on my few days in Italy, I have been told by numerous friends that I need to try to get over to Anacapri. This small city is on top of a mountain on an Island off the coast of Naples, Italy. Not only is this town rich in history and culture, but it is said to have beautiful views of the nearby towns of lower elevation. Fingers crossed that I can make it that far south!
So, if you’re planning to travel anywhere soon, here’s a bucket, now go make you’re list!