i met H, my travel buddy and now friend, at our study abroad pre-departure orientation back in april. she and i were the only two students studying in spain in the fall that attended the meeting, so we immediately buddied up and decided to embark on this journey together so we didn't each have to go at it alone. (this turned out to be one of the best decisions i/we could have made! this girl is a godsend). during the orientation, granada alumni spoke with us about their decision to go to europe a couple of weeks before their semester in spain began to take time to travel and get acclimated. this had never crossed my mind, but i loved the idea of it, and so did H! when she and i started talking about booking our flights, we decided to take their advice, arrive early, and backpack around europe to hit up all of the popular tourist destinations we'd always dreamed of visiting.

on sunday, H and i got together and nailed down our itinerary. we opened up a map of europe and made a list of the potential places to visit and then went from there, taking city locations, attractions, and our allotted time into consideration as we narrowed down the endless list of possibilities. even though i kept coming up with more and more cities i would love to visit (i'd see 'em all if i could!), it was actually easier than i thought it would be to simplify our trip to just a few major destinations.

and now, i present to you! the official "h + r european expedition" itinerary!
we fly out wednesday, august 20 and are expected to land in madrid, spain on the morning of thursday, august 21, where we'll drop off our luggage to store in the madrid airport. that afternoon, we'll head straight to...

london, england

our must-do list: big ben, westminster abbey, the london eye, the tower bridge, the tower of london, piccadilly circus, and buckingham palace.
next, we fly to...

paris, france

our must-do list: the eiffel tower, louvre museum, lock bridge, arc de triomphe, and versailles.
then we're off to...

munich, germany

our must-do list: dachau tour, schnitzels, beer, and buy birkenstocks. #priorities. if only we were going to be in munich in september during oktoberfest. ;) but hey, i get to practice my german!
and then comes...

venice, italy

our must-do list: gondola tour. we just really want to ride a gondola.
after that, it's...

rome, italy

our must-do list: basilica, colosseum, pantheon (which i awkwardly mistook for the parthenon - apparently not the same thing), vatican city, see the pope (obvs), trevi fountain, and pizza.

after our time in rome, we'll catch a flight back to madrid on september 5, pick up our luggage, stay the night, and head to granada to prepare for the start of our program orientation on september 7.
we're spending almost an exactly even amount of time at each location - three days, two nights, except for rome, where we'll be for four days. we'll be taking cheap flights from madrid --> london --> paris, and probably to travel between the majority of our other destinations, too, but are considering trains and buses as well. our next plan of action: booking transportation and hostels. as "free-spirited" as the entire idea of this trip makes us feel, we type-As want to have some  sort of control and prior knowledge as to how and where we're going before we get to europe. :) aaand lastly, our must-do lists obviously automatically imply shopping and food, because, duh. 

we would love any recommendations or tips you might have on either backpacking in general or traveling to these beautiful cities, or even better, tips on backpacking in these cities. as brave, organized, and informed as we feel we are, we're honestly clueless, flying-by-the-seats-of-our-pants-ish and would really appreciate any guidance you may have.

now that we've created an actual itinerary, the whole thing seems *that* much more real. i can't believe i'm finally taking the trip of my dreams, traveling to the cities i've always longed to visit. pinch me.

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