When I was a little girl, my dad gave me a calendar filled with pictures from all over the world. I remember dreaming about the day that I might visit some of these beautiful places, but the one place that always mesmerized me was Switzerland. I desperately wanted to see the Alps! So, many years later, I asked my mom if she was interested in a Europe trip with me. It didn’t take her long to say yes, and the next thing we knew we were at the travel agency making plans!

We decided we wanted to see all the different sights and try all the different cuisines of Europe, so we booked a Trafalgar European Discoveries tour, followed by a stay with my nephew in Germany. As we flew out of Omaha, the excitement was so unbelievable! We were really going to Europe!

There were about 30 people on our coach, and we all got along really well. We made some great new friends and some of us are still in contact with each other. We had a fantastic Travel Director and Driver, who were very knowledgeable of every place we went to, and spoke all the different languages. They really made our trip special!

In London we saw all the famous sights, it was amazing. I told friends and family back home that we were supposed to have Tea with the Queen, but she was in Scotland for the day! The part about Scotland was true, but we would have loved to have had tea with her!

The beauty of the flowers, trees, ponds and all the gorgeous architecture was enough to take your breath away. Later that afternoon we took a long, scenic stroll past the church where the Pope was going to be speaking. There were people from all over who came to see him filling the church, and we could hear the beautiful music coming from inside.

Mom and I

Mom and I

In Bruges and Brussels we walked down cobblestone streets and saw Beethoven’s birthplace and the Heidelberg Castle. Mom had a small notebook where she kept notes and I took all the photos. Next up was the Rhineland, to see the Black Forrest and visit the Rhine Falls. But the best was yet to be seen, at least in my eyes: Switzerland & the Alps!

We went by train to a spot where we boarded a tramway, which we rode all the way up to the top. Mom sat back to take in the view from the top, while I went onto the lookout to take photos.  The Alps were so amazing and beautiful; they brought me to tears. There in front of me were the memories from my calendar that I cherished as a little girl! “WOW”, I will never forget that moment and what it meant to me.  I purchased a beautiful cuckoo clock memento. So much work was put into it, that it is definitely a treasure!

Such beautiful scenery everywhere!

Such beautiful scenery everywhere!

Next up was Venice, where my mom was most excited to go. She couldn’t wait to ride the gondolas! She loved it; we drank champagne as we cruised around the canals. We watched the Local Specialty, glass-blowing, in action, which was very interesting. I purchased a beautiful set of wine glasses made from red glass, with a gold trim.

Dinner that night was at a wonderful Italian restaurant; our waiter was so much fun. He gave all the ladies flowers and really ‘wined and dined’ us. Mom was having so much fun that she told him he could come with us, as there was an extra seat on the bus! Everyone burst out laughing! We have a great picture of him giving her a kiss. Next we were off to Rome to visit the Vatican. The art we saw was beyond belief.  Seeing the Colosseum and learning about all of its history was also very interesting. I can’t even imagine what the prisoners went through.

Mom's moment with the Italian waiter!

Mom’s moment with the Italian waiter!

We went to Florence and traveled to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. On our way to Nice, the Mediterranean Sea was yet another amazing sight! Seeing incredible cruise ships and all the amazing mountain-side homes were worth the wait! We had a great time in Monaco at the Monte Carlo Casino.

In Paris, we went to the Moulin Rouge; well that was simply fantastic! Our last day was my birthday and I remember saying to mom, “WOW”, here we are waking up in Paris on my birthday, how amazing is this!

During our trip we saw the most amazing sights, ate fantastic food and shopped til we dropped! There is so much more that we were not able to see, so I hope to someday return to do so, and to reconnect with the great friends we made along the way. Unfortunately, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer this last July & passed away after only two and a half months. She and I were in the planning stages of trying to decide where we would like to go in Europe next year. I have so many great memories of our trip and am so thankful I was able to share that time with her! I will someday return.

One word sums up this trip of a lifetime perfectly for my mom and I….WOW!

Janice Oswald, Nebraska

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