Hudson siblings Ingrid, Anna and Carl Petterson threw open the door to the world and spent their summer vacations exploring Europe.
They left in late June and spent the next month and a half following a loosely cobbled together plan which included visits with family and friends.
Each has their own favorite memory from the trip.
"Luckily we did not have any mishaps," Ingrid says from Clemson University where she is starting her sophomore year. "The funny stories may vary depending on which of us you ask ... but we did keep journals and we added a quote section of funny and memorable quotes from each of us."
Plans for the trip began almost a year ago when Ingrid and Carl talked about going to Europe.
"My sisters and I have always been great companions," Carl says. "All of us have always been extremely active so running and other outdoor activities have connected us."
But it was their dad's job as a pilot for United Airlines that helped the plan come together. "We were able to fly standby to and from Europe for free," Carl says. "This summer worked out well because we all happened to be free."
As none of the siblings had ever been to Europe before, Ingrid said they each came up with a wish list of places to see. They compared their lists and then formed a plan. "We did not do much planning in terms of booking accomodations or transportation," she says. "We left ourselves a very flexible itinerary with a list of cities we would like to try to see."
The Pettersons arrived in London on June 24 and spent two days there before flying to Dublin to visit relatives. They stayed in Ireland for another week visiting more relatives in Belfast and Ballycastle, both in Northern Ireland.
"We flew out of Dublin to Dusseldorf for two days," Ingrid says, "Next was Landsberg [Hudson's sister city]."
While the Pettersons had never been to Germany, they were well-acquainted with Landsberg native Elias Steiner, and spent the next couple days visiting with him and his family.
"We hosted Elias Steiner twice when the Landsberg Community Band came to Hudson to visit and perform in 2007 and 2010," Ingrid says.
They stayed in touch over the years and knew when they were planning their itinerary that Landsberg was a must.
"The Steiner family were very gracious hosts," Ingrid says. "While staying with them, Elias took us to see King Ludwig's Linderhof Palace. We also went to the Landsberg Summer Music Festival and walked around downtown Landsberg. We do not speak any German, but Eli and [his friend] Julian [who also stayed with the Pettersons in 2010] and the Steiner family all speak great English."
Carl agrees. "Visiting Elias and the Steiners in Landsberg was definitely one of the highlights of the trip," he says. "They were fantastic hosts and we had a ton of fun there."
Anna, who was in college or working when Elias visited Hudson, says she loved seeing Landsberg and meeting his family.
"I went running both mornings on the path behind their house that followed the river and went through some agricultural fields," she says. "It reminded me a lot of the towpath trail in Peninsula."
Emailing from Germany, Steiner, now an environmental engineering student at the Technical University in Munich, says he was really excited to have Ingrid, Anna and Carl in Landsberg.
"When we were in Hudson, the Pettersons where absolutely lovely with us and we had a great time there," he wrote. "So it was a pleasure for me and my family to host them in Landsberg."
Steiner says Landsberg is completely different from Hudson.
"Landsberg has a big old part in the city with colorful houses," he says. "Hudson is a very young city compared with Landsberg and the plain on which it is built is much bigger than it is in Landsberg. The houses in Hudson are not so close together."
Besides beautiful places throughout Landsberg, Steiner also took them to a concert by members of the Berlin Philharmonics. Then he and Julian returned to Munich and showed the Pettersons around that city too.
"What I really liked about Hudson was, of course, the high school marching band which was really impressive because we have never seen such a big band before," Steiner says. "I also liked the nice houses and the big gardens everywhere and, of course, simply the American flair."
After saying goodbye to the Steiners, the Pettersons continued on to the Czech Republic where they visited Praque, Olomouc and Cesky Krumlov.
The Czech Republic was Anna's choice.
"I really loved Olomouc and Cesky Krumlov," Anna says. "Olomouc was a small, college town with only a handful of tourists so I really enjoyed experiencing the Czech culture and getting a break from the crowds. Cesky Krumlove was also small and beautiful, but much more touristy than Olomouc, with lots of amazing restaurants and shops to explore."
Italy -- Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, Assergi and Rome -- came next. Anna spent 10 days there and headed home at the end of July. Carl and Ingrid were there for almost two weeks.
In Assergi, the Pettersons sayed with one of Carl's former roommates from California Polytechnic State University.
"He was working at one of the national labs in Italy," he says. "They do a lot of sensitive physics there so the lab is a mile underground. We were able to tour the underground lab and afterwards climb the mountain it is underneath."
The original plan had the siblings spending the last two weeks of their vacation in Kenya. When that changed, Anna planned a reunion with friends from college -- Denison University -- and a trip to New Hampshire to visit another friend.
When Anna flew home, Carl and Ingrid spent a couple more days in Rome before flying to Portugal.
"My brother and I crewed on a 50-foot sailboat for nine days," Ingrid says. "While on the boat, we were anchored off of an island called Culatra and then in a river near Portimao."
"When we were looking into places to visit, I pushed hard for Germany, Switzerland and eventually for sailing in Portugal," Carl says.
"I don't have one place that was my favorite, but I really enjoyed Landsberg and the Assergi/Corno Grande area in Italy."
For Ingrid, Ireland was her favorite country. "My favorite city might be Florence and my favorite activity was hiking Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Italian Peninsula in Assergi.
For Anna, Olomouc and Cesky Krumlov rank at the top of her list.
Ingrid, who graduated in 2012 after attending Hudson Schools for all 13 years, is now majoring in biosystems engineering at Clemson.
She explains her major as "the application of engineering design and analysis to biological systems to achieve sustainability."
"We study the fundamentals of engineering as well as biological sciences," she says, adding she plans to graduate in 2016.
Carl recently graduated from Cal Poly -- with a degree in materials engineering and a minor in sustainable environments -- and began a job with Cypress Semiconductors in Seattle as a product marketing engineer this Fall.
Anna is now back in Texas. She works at the Houston Independent School District's Outdoor Education Center in Trinity.
"I teach outdoor/environmental education to fifth graders who come for week-long field trips from the HISD," she says.
For now, the Pettersons says they don't have any solid plans for future trips beyond visiting home for the holidays.
Carl says he hopes to return to Europe though.
"I will definitely be back someday," he says. "Hopefully soon."v