This past summer I was lucky enough to join the second session of Travel for Teens trip for Older Teens to Amsterdam, Munich, the Swiss Alps, and Venice. I can say with complete confidence it is the best trip I have experienced with Travel for Teens insofar. I have noticed every year I enjoy the trips more and more as my confidence and trust in TFT grows and solidifies. I made instant connections with this trips two counselors; the extremely caring and understanding Marla, a college student similar in age to myself, and the hilarious and incredibly personable Ryan, who strictly maintained order while remaining a force I think everyone felt they could confide in and look up to. To me, this trip felt like a unique fusion of experience with cities, parks, natural landscapes, and history. Each destination offered something wildly different than the destination that came before, but there was a sense of seamlessness and awe that followed us through every train station, airport, and bus ride. Amsterdam allowed us to bond and ease into the language barrier and culture shock that varies across Europe for travelers, while serving as a balance between essential history and free time to explore the unique city with its canals, art museums, and countless shops. The leaders knew the best, hidden restaurants down seemingly random alleys, scenic routes to stroll down during the day, museums and sights that caused each of us to stop in our tracks, and were in tune when we needed to rest. Munich seemed less defined by the formalities and structure that were essential in establishing the group in Amsterdam, and Ryan’s love for Munich only made the experience more enjoyable. The authentic beer halls, outdoor markets, and ancient buildings were extremely effective in offering a look into the history and culture of Germany as a whole but additionally exposed what makes Munich such a unique and truly special city. I will not claim that our session’s trip to Munich went seamlessly due to the fiasco one night in a sushi shop with a woman who spoke only broken German, but we were able to laugh about it soon after and the experience proved to bring us closer as a unit. I cannot effectively convey the ethereality of riding a bike during golden hour through the gardens and parks of Munich; I just recommend you experience it for yourself. Another day that sticks out in my mind as one that you simply need to experience yourself is the day we visited Neuschwanstein Castle outside of Munich; I will never forget the dream-like state I was in for the entirety of the visit. I could not fathom the natural beauty of the landscape, the architecture, and the undeniably perfect weather. In saying this though, any trouble I encountered when we had to say goodbye to Munich was entirely forgotten when we entered Switzerland. It echoed the beauty of Germany’s natural landscape and introduced a heightened level of physical activity by way of mountain biking, canyoning, rope courses, and slack-lining. Every moment in this country was exhilarating, raw, and unforgettable. There was something intimate about the quiet nights when it rained, especially when we had free time to breathe in the landscape off of our cabins back porches. The windy van rides we took around the region, the swim in Lake Geneva at the base of a castle that offered unparalleled lookouts, and the sunsets over the snow-capped mountains every night that allowed even the most inexperienced of photographers to take pictures on par with National Geographic, combined to make our longest stop a defining feature of the trip. Despite the significant contrast between Switzerland and Italy, I can say with complete confidence that each offered something distinct and indispensable to the trip. Venice proved romantic and oddly like home despite it being my first time in Italy. There is something special about Venezians and their ability to welcome you as not even a friend, but like part of their family. Our time in Venice felt like we had arrived at the root of TFT’s goal for every trip; the trust, connections, and ease with which we could interact with each other that we achieved by the time we arrived at our final destination became strikingly clear in this hectic and loveable city. The relationships I built on this trip have set a standard for relationships I will build in my future. I have seen the instant support, understanding, and positivity that was offered by each member of our group, as well as the sense of adventure and appreciation for new things we all held in high regard, and have grown as a person because of it. Every dinner, tour, or plan does not have to run seamlessly to yield this final product, and TFT continuously proves to me its ability to facilitate an enjoyable and meaningful trip that exceeds my expectations time and time again.