December 11th, 2017 ~ The day I received what I believe to be the only genuine ‘surprise‘ in my life. My father, who swore up and down it was not feasible for him to come to Denmark, surprised me in the CPH airport at 7:05am. This joy and excitement set a precedent for an unforgettable trip as my parents, and I made our way through three cities in eight days.
In an attempt to get away from the wind and the cold we made our way to Rome. A dream my mother has often stated, “has been twenty years in the making.” My initial impression of Italy was classical architecture, beautiful language, and insane driving. In classic Ladouceur fashion, each day was packed full of walking, tours, and family activities as we average about 20k steps per day.
On our first night, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with our location so we headed for a stroll around the Vatican. It ended up being the first of many surprises during our trip as we somehow managed to stumble into the Mass little did we know that this was a mass people wait in line for hours and make reservations months in advance. Imagine our surprise when we realized that Pope Frances was presiding, it makes me laugh as I can envision my grandparents rolling over in their graves at the thought of us in our athleisure wear taking communion in St. Peters Bascilla. The Vatican became the center point for a significant part of our trip as we had an audience with the Pope, explored the hidden city of the dead under the Vatican, climbed to the top of the dome, and had a chance to channel our inner Robert Langdon’s in an attempt to uncover the real secrets of The Angels and Demons.
Our biggest day and my favorite day was our day trip to Florence and the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Duomo — and it’s 463 steps–, Pointe Vecchio, Leather Markets, Paper Markets, and Christmas Markets. Phew, I still can’t believe we managed to pack all of that into a 12 hour day trip. We embraced everything la culla del Rinascimento has to offer even though our day ended up being a little rainy.
Thankfully our hotel in Rome was right next to the Pantheon. It pushed us to explore the countless historical sites and set the most perfect backdrop for our rainy morning runs. It also meant that we had access to the most amazing restaurants and people watching less than a minute away from us. I need to brag on Italy a little bit, because of their national health laws it is one of the easiest countries to find authentic and delicious gluten-free meals. Pasta, Pizza, and Pino Grigio were the backbone of our Italian leg of the trip.
On December 17th for one last time, I flew back into Denmark. It was a strange feeling as I realized how genuinely comfortable I have become with this place and these people. I got to spend two extraordinary days showing my parents — and particularly my father — the amazing Winter Wonderland of Copenhagen. We explored all of my favorite spots, stores, and restaurants one last time. We all agreed that Tivoli and its’s Christmas decorations took the prize for best Copenhagen family memory.
Check out the Vacation Montage!
It is a crazy thing to think back on this year. I am so fortunate. On December 21st, 2016, I received my PADI Scuba Diving Certification in Punta Cana, and from there I made my way to Costa Rica, Cuba, and 12 European countries. As I head home, I hope that 2018 brings the same sense of health and opportunities for adventure.
NÆSTE STOP: USA