Hello, dear ones!
About a week ago I returned from a nineteen day trip to various places along the Mediterranean coast via cruise boat, and it was amazing! I’ve been wanting to blog about it since I got home, but I am a processor; I need time to fully digest things I see and experience before I can adequately put my feelings into words. Now that I have pretty much gotten back into the swing of everyday life (ugh), I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings concerning traveling, the ports we visited, and humanity in general.
I was bitten by the travel bug before I can remember. My entire life has been punctuated by dreams and adventures; whether that be by physically traveling somewhere or just by reading and dreaming about a place, the need to travel is stitched into the fabric of my being. I have been blessed with many opportunities and have traveled relatively extensively for my tender age. This has greatly influenced the woman I have matured to be, and it has greatly influenced how I view the world. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I have been given.
I believe the key to staying cool and comfortable while traveling is to connect the unknown with the known. Bring a little bit of your comfort zone with you, and when you find yourself whirling out of familiarity it can help to find similarities in the craziness. Washington state is vastly different from Heidelberg, Germany, just as Vermont differers from the island of St. Lucia; however, there are a few things that I have found are 100% universal and transcend language and racial barriers alike:
- Smiles! Not to sound too much like I have rainbows coming out of my ears, but smiles truly are universal. As are other facial expressions, of course.
- Sneezes. Just think about it.
- Vocal tone. As we were walking through the streets of Barcelona, Spain, we heard a loud commotion. We quickly figured out a couple was having a yelling match, even though we had no idea what they were saying (which was probably for the best). From a mothers words directed at her crying child to a marital dispute; the language is may not be understood but the tone used tells it all.
- Travel ALWAYS brings out the worst in people. I understand that its stressful. We had a totally of four flights this trip and every single one of them had a 1-4 hour delay. It was stressful, and resulted in us running full-speed through the Philadelphia airport. You’re tired, you’re not familiar with your surroundings, and you probably just paid $7 for a water bottle at the airport kiosks. But still, none of this gives you an excuse to be a crappy human being. I noticed people yelling in Spanish, French, Chinese, and English. I understand you are frustrated, but don’t take it out on the poor steward who has to deal with several people like you on a daily basis. Seriously, I think that anyone who works with travelers deserve a pay raise and a crown of honor. Just keep this in mind next time you travel, readers: nothing gives you an excuse to be a crappy human being or yell at someone who is just trying to do their job 🙂
The ports we visited were all amazing. All in all, we visited the following corners of the world: Barcelona, Spain; Nice, France; Pisa, Italy; Rome, Italy; Sorrento, Italy; Venice, Italy; Zadar, Croatia; and Kotor, Montenegro. I loved every port in different ways, but Venice was my favorite with Kotor a close second. Wait, maybe Barcelona was my second favorite. No, Pisa. I refuse to make this decision. They were all amazing. I could easily write five blog post per port, but for the sake of you, readers, I will limit it to one interesting fact/story per port. You’re welcome.
Nice, France: They have a giant splash-pad in the middle of the city. I saw women in a very nice suit carrying a briefcase and her heels walk through on her lunch hour, a man who couldn’t have been younger than 85 splashing around in one corner, and countless little kids overflowing with joy. I think that’s pretty awesome. One little girl came up to my mom and I and spouted off a question in rapid French. We looked at her and said “English?” She just spoke some word of acknowledgement and giggled at our inability to communicate, then continued to splash around with us for a few minutes. It was precious.
Pisa, Italy: The leaning tower is not only insanely impressive, but truly beautiful! Simple, sleek, and so awe-inspiring. The town has a very laid back, happy feeling and I could easily make my home there.
Rome, Italy: Busy! I feel like in the romantic (no pun intended) view of Rome most people entertain, they forget it is a major metropolitan city and doesn’t really differ from Chicago or New York in that way. However, seeing the Roman Forum, Vatican City, and the Colosseum was amazing. And so was the pizza.
Sorrento, Italy: This town is famous for all-things lemon! Even the air is lemon-scented! This was a quaint little town that had amazing pizza, limoncello (lemon whiskey), and lemon gelato!
Venice, Italy: OH, my heart! This was my favorite port, no question about it. The second I stepped foot off of our water taxi and onto the hot Venetian cobblestones I knew a sizable piece of my heart would be left there. Sure, St. Marc’s Square and the Rialto Bridge were overrun with tourists, but if you explored you discovered little sidewalk cafes, locally owned boutiques, and just charming scenery. There are no cars in Venice because there are no streets. The canals are, obviously, water; and you just walk along those. Instead of parking spots in front of hotels, there were places to tie your boat. Between the gondola ride, the cappuccino, and the pizza; I am 100% sure I could make the happiest little home in Venice.
Zadar, Croatia: This was an amazing port. We traveled to the KrKa national park, and went for a bit of a trek through the gorgeous forests. Then we came to this huge waterfall that was able to be swam in! You could tell that’s where the locals went for an afternoon of paradise, and I can most definitely understand why. The cool, fresh water; the amazing scenery (swimming. under. a. waterfall.); and the hot Croatian sun to slowly dry you off? Amazing. So amazing.
Kotor, Montenegro: I was not expecting this port to be so beautiful! But the mountains….the sea…the buildings (most from the 12-14th century)…everything. I could definitely vacation there for a few weeks!
So there is the VERY MINIMAL description of the ports we visited! Overall, I was again reminded how much I long to spend an extended amount of time in Europe, if not make a home there. Who knows what my future may bring?!
Lastly, I just want to make a few comments of the nature of humanity and the world as I viewed it those sacred nineteen days.
I met a lot of new friends on our cruise boat, and I even found a few kindred spirits (If you are reading this Rebecca; hi!). Overall, there were only a few people who I wanted to throw overboard. What I really noticed was the way people came together as they shared these new experiences. I watched a seven year old’s face turn to utter disgust as she tried escargot for the first time; I watched a newlywed couple dance on deck under the stars of Rome; I watched how my dad grabbed my moms hand in a crowd to keep her close; and I watched how elderly couples never left each others side and act as if they were fifteen years old again. That’s magical, guys. I love to see how people come together.
Overall, I was reminded just how big the world is, and how small our usual view of it is. SO everyone, if you have stuck with me to the end of this blog post, remember your place in the world and remember that there is always something new to learn and explore. As for me, I cannot wait to explore some more.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” -J.R.R Tolkien