An Ending; A Beginning

Well, readers, it’s my last couple hours in Europe, and I’m sorry to have failed you. I totally stunk at this whole “blogging while traveling” thing. Think of this post as an intermission; I’m not done blogging the trip, but I feel that I need to say goodbye to travel properly before resuming the blog. I’m about 8 or 9 cities behind, and have so much to cover. But I can tell you with absolute honesty that I did not fail myself.

This trip was everything – and nothing – like I expected it to be. If you follow my instagram or see the photos I post on Facebook, you might think that my trip was all about glamorous shots in faraway, beautiful places, not a care or worry in the world. There were definitely moments like that, don’t get me wrong. But there were hard moments, too. I once listened to a professor in college lecture about the subject of happiness. She had us look at our lives and ask ourselves when we were truly happy, and then pointed out that you can’t be happy all the time. Instead, we exist in a state of contentment, punctuated by spectacular moments of joy or happiness. The rest of our lives are filled with moments of frustration, sadness, boredom, etc. We are not always happy; we can’t be. This trip made me realize how true that is. I could be blissfully happy one evening, sipping Prosecco at a restaurant overlooking Positano on the Amalfi Coast, and the next morning be absolutely frustrated to the point of tears that our bed bug problem wasn’t resolved, or that I didn’t know which bus to take to get us to trail head for Path of the Gods. The thing about travel is that you come to recognize your moments of happiness, and savor them, tucking them away because of how special they are. And for me, these moments come more frequently when traveling than when doing anything else. This is how I know that this is not my last trip.

This is one of the hardest posts I’ve had to write, for two reasons.

  1. I don’t know how to make this a “goodbye” post, because I’m not saying goodbye. I’m saying “see you later!” to the many cities, countries, friends, cats, and landscapes that I’ve seen. There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back someday.
  2. There is only so much that can be captured by words. I can describe the walled city of Dubrovnik to you, with its orange tiled roofs that contrast the blue sea. But it’s an entirely different matter to stand upon the actual city wall, smelling the salty air and listening to the gleeful shouts of the cliff divers. I can only bring you so far.

I can only hope that my words inspire at least one person to take the leap and travel – to a place you’ve always wanted to see, or a place you know nothing about. Take with you a good pair of shoes, a backpack, and a travel towel. Do not go as a tourist: go as someone who wants to see, not look. Someone who wants to experience, not merely dip their foot in the water. Find moments to yourself to reflect on what your experience means to you, and how it fits into your view of the world. Taste the local food, and do not go carefully, or quietly. These are not travel words. Go boldly, go proudly. Shout out to the world what you want, and then take it. And when you do finally travel, leave your bubble behind. The bubble has no place in the big wide world. The bubble will not allow you to meet foreign best friends, order something off the menu that you can’t pronounce, or hike to the top of a mountain.

I hope that you’ve been enjoying this blog so far. While I did fail in my writing mission, I’m partly glad. As I play catch-up with my posts over the next couple weeks, it just means that I get to relive everything that’s happened.

I will miss the daily cappucinos, the buttery croissants, the sound of Aussies wanting to go party, the late nights spent laughing and drinking wine, the endless bottles of prosecco/rose, and many, many more precious moments.

See you later, Europe.

– Kayla

Bit Ihop!

If you don’t know about The Cinque, well, now you’re gonna know.

Cinque Terre is a national park, a collection of five small fishing villages situated on the coast where the mountains meet the sea. The order of cities, from south to north, is Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. They are characterized by their brightly colored buildings, clustered on the edge of the water. Each town is small; it takes no more than an hour – usually less- to see one in its entirety. There is a train that runs through the area and stops at each town, with the shortest travel time between cities at 4 minutes and the longest at about 15. In addition to using the train to travel up and down, there are hiking paths going from city to city. Due to natural forces, some of these paths are closed, but the (arguably) best one is open, going from Corniglia to Monterosso (or the reverse).

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Manarola! City #2

When visiting The Cinque, most people (I’m talking about backpackers on a budget here) try to stay in La Spezia. It’s about 30 minutes south of Riomaggiore, and there’s a great hostel located there. Since we like to book things less than 4 days in advance, this hostel was completely full when we wanted to stay. Instead, we booked the only hostel in Biassa, a small mountain town between La Spezia and Riomaggiore. When I say small, I mean two-restaurants-two-small-markets small. When we tried to eat at the locals’ favorite restaurant, we were given the silent treatment from a couple rude waiters who didn’t care if we ate there or not. They literally wouldn’t give us any of the (open) tables. Safe to say, the people of Biassa really don’t like tourists.

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The amazing coastline 

After eating dinner at the hostel instead (the food was actually delicious), we drank some wine with a couple of the girls at the hostel. They’d been there a couple days, so they told us about their experiences with the hostel (bad) and in The Cinque (good). The men working at the hostel must have associated me and Em with these girls, who pissed them off, so of course they treated us like crap our entire stay. Still, we did make friends with our girls Anna and Zoe. Anna was a Swede, and taught us the phrase, “Bit ihop,” meaning “bite it” or “just do it.” This became one of our favorite sayings during the trip, and sort of a motto for us.

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Vernazza

For our first full day, we decided that it was the right day for the beach since the weather was warm. Em, Anna and I took the train to Monterosso, the only town with an actual beach. As we laid there for a couple hours, alternating between swimming and tanning, we discovered where to get the pina coladas we’d been craving: a little beach shack serving Drunk Ass Buckets (real name). The bartenders made them right there in front of you, pina coladas and margaritas and other delicious, alcoholic beverages. The buckets were huge and made perfect companions for our beach day. That night, we hung out at the hostel with Zoe, Anna, and our new friends Nick, Cain, and Heather. “Hanging out” means a couple bottles of wine, several limoncello shots, and trading stories. While not a huge fan of limoncello in the past, the stuff in The Cinque is delicious and well known throughout Italy.

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The only “true” beach in Cinque Terre. This is Monterosso! Look at that water – it’s so clear!

Our second full day there, we decided that we would hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, and then (hopefully) Vernazza to Corniglia. Think of it as going from 5 to 4, and 4 to 3. Anna, Em and I took the train all the way up, and followed the crowd up the hill to the beginning of the trail. While it’s not the hardest hike, it’s definitely not easy. The entire thing (to Vernazza) took us around 3 hours. While there are some flat parts, much of our way was made up of stairs. Add to this the fact that the day was warm and muggy, and you can understand why everyone on that trail was sweating buckets.

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The end of the hike, looking down into Vernazza

The hike is one of the best ones I’ve ever been on. It feels like you’re trekking through a jungle when suddenly you can turn a corner and be met with a stunning view of the sea. At certain points, you can look up the coast line and see where the other 4 cities jut out. The water is blue and clear and sparkles under the sun.

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When we finally made it to Vernazza (we ran out of water with 45 minutes of the hike left), we grabbed food and gelato. I ducked into a random gelato place and got some of the best of my life: they were known for their blackberry and their lemon flavors. I got them together in a cup, and I have to say that I don’t think I’ll ever have something that good again.

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After wandering Vernazza a bit, we took the train to Corniglia; we were tired and didn’t want to walk. However, Corniglia is not like the other towns: when you get off the train, you then have to climb 400 steps up the cliffside to the village itself. It was very cute and quiet in a quaint sort of way. The view from the lookout spot is spectacular, especially since you can find 3+ cats roaming around or lying in doorways.

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One of the many cats lounging around Corniglia

That night at the hostel was much the same as before: wine, limoncello, laughing with new friends until 1 in the morning. We made a plan for the next day, however: we would meet back in Riomaggiore at 7 so that we could watch the sunset all together. Anna, Em and I spent a lazy day in Manarola, swimming and sunning ourselves as best we could with not a lot of sun. We headed back to Riomaggiore, where we shared a bottle of cheap, house wine and an awesome appetizer platter. We met back up with the group, picked up a couple of beers and some cones of seafood, and went to watch the show. Riomaggiore doesn’t have a beach, per se; there are a bunch of rocks that you can sit on, and stairs leading down to the water. We clustered on the rocks, each finding our own little nook, and sat back. The sunset was amazing, breaking through the clouds and lighting up the coastline. Somebody suggested a swim, so at 8pm I jumped into the sea and watched the sunset from the water. Trust me, it’s way better from there.

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The best way I can describe The Cinque and how I felt about it is that you constantly get a little jolt of realization. I’m here. I’m in Italy. I am so lucky to be where I am right now. And, most of all, there’s nowhere else I want to be. Surrounded by great people, who are now my friends, and one of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s a kind of perfect bliss that doesn’t come along that often. Fortunately for me, Europe has given me several of these moments.

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Europe is full of fun doorways

We were very sad to leave The Cinque, and our friends. But we were headed somewhere just as amazing, but in a different way… Florence.

Ciao, Cinque Terre!

The Travel Took Over

Wow. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve last put out some words to you, and I can’t even begin to cover everything that’s happened since Asti, the subject of my last post. It is, however, my intention to cover as much of this trip in blog posts as possible, so it looks like everything will just be… a little late.

Written: September 11, 2016 on the train from Firenze to Siena.

Days spent in Milan: August 24th-August 27th

After the dazzling and impossible evening spent meeting my family, Emily and I traveled to Milan, where I spent most of our time sick. We were in a rare 5-person dorm, and I was assigned the top bed in a 3 tier bunk bed. We hadn’t seen anything like it yet, and it ended up being the perfect place for me to try and recover. It was promptly dubbed “Kayla’s Princess Tower.” When I felt better, we explored il Duomo di Milano, a giant structure with thousands of carvings – gargoyles, angels, spires. It was quite the sight to behold. In Italy – and several other European countries- women’s shoulders and knees must be covered. Even if you wait 2 hours in line, officials will turn you away without hesitation if you have nothing to cover yourself with. I brought a big infinity scarf to wrap around my waist, over my skirt that was a bit too short. As I tried to put it on, however, the wind betrayed me and revealed to about half of Milan just how white my ass is. Emily and our new friend/roommate, Pheobe (girl, if you’re reading this, we think you are a wonderfully awesome human being and we’re glad we met you!) laughed at me but said no one noticed. No, guys, they definitely noticed.

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il Duomo di Milano

 

Inside, we saw the replica of the golden Madonna that sits on the top spire, and explored some crypts with some dead saints whose names fled my memory the second we left. As always, the selfie sticks were rampant and endlessly obnoxious. We also took the lift to the top of the dome, where we got amazing views of the city and the many intricate sculptures that were a part of the building. I can only imagine how long that thing took to build, and how long all of those carvings took. Once we’d had our fill of il Duomo, we visited a store that sold wine – and lots of it. They had bottles of red, white, and sparkling delicious nectar from every major wine region in Italy. Pheobe picked up some prosecco while I went for a bottle of Moscato d’Asti. We also indulged ourselves and visited Laduree for macarons. I am not at all ashamed of how much money I’ve spent on macarons during this trip. There are times when I like them more than gelato.

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Promise, I’m holding my beloved Laduree bag

On our last night, at Pheobe’s recommendation, we visited the Navigli area, situated on the river. We ran into a frequent problem: we went over there around 10, hoping to find a fun bar with drinks and dancing. What we found instead is that everyone was still eating dinner. We had a late snack of arancini – fried risotto balls filled with cheese and prosciutto – and gelato, then found a bar that let you take beer to go so that you could walk along the river and hang out with friends. The best thing about is that I found a stout! Finally! All through Europe I’ve been searching for a good, creamy stout beer. The alcohol content wasn’t as strong in this one and so the chocolate flavor didn’t have quite the same effect as others I’ve had, but it was still delicious. With nothing else to do, we sipped our beer by the water, indulging in our favorite activity: people watching. People in Europe are fun to watch because you don’t understand anything they’re saying, and they have different habits and mannerisms than Americans do. This makes it very fun to try and figure out their backstory. Eventually, we’d finished our beers and had 30 minutes until we had to take the metro back, so we grabbed two more stouts. The bartender didn’t seem to want to stop talking to me, even asking when we were leaving Milan. Sadly, “the beautiful girl from California” (his words, not mine), had to leave.

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Can you believe this is somebody’s crypt?? Me neither! Photo taken at the main cemetery in Milan

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It was like something out of a movie – this old man appeared out of nowhere, speaking no English, and showed us he’s a caretaker at the cemetery. Then he gave us a tour!

Speaking of leaving… we will now leave this post for the next one – Venezia!

It’s in the Eyes

I don’t know if everyone else feels this way, but I’ve always had a maddeningly insatiable thirst for knowing where I come from. There’s a deep, visceral part of me that still belongs in Italy, in Germany. I took Italian in college in order to feel closer to the culture; with my mom, I poured over old family photos, trying to decipher who was who, and how we were related. On both sides of my family, we’re either in contact or have been at some point with extended relatives. We can trace our ancestors back, and we know names and dates and places – except for my great grandfather’s relatives.

My great grandfather (my mother’s grandfather on her father’s side) came to the states in 1916 from the Piemonte region, specifically a place called Settime right outside of Asti. He’d been born in 1893 – or so we thought. He was the only one in his family to leave for a new life in America, where he met my great grandmother who’d grown up a mere 16 miles from him. We knew the name of his mother, and that his brother was the captain of the guard to the King of Italy at the time. When he was alive, my great grandfather didn’t talk about his life in Italy that much, at least to my mother. And when he died, contacting this part of our family fell to my grandparents, my nonna and my nonno. And when we lost my nonna, we lost the letters and the contact information as well. We lost that side of the family in one fell swoop as they sat on one side of the world, and we hopelessly stared back across the ocean.

What all that amounts to is that we hadn’t spoken to this side of the family in nearly 20 years, and had never had the chance to look for them. None of our family members in the states have been to Italy in that time. So when Em and I decided that we’d spend 2-4 weeks exploring the land of our ancestors, my mother posed an important question: would we go find them? Would we go reestablish the link between our families? She needn’t have asked; I had already assumed we would try. Since we weren’t planning our trip more than 2 stops ahead, we had the freedom to make a detour. But where would we start? How would we look? Asti is not a big place, but I wasn’t about to go into every shop or restaurant and ask, “Do you know anyone with the last name Roggero?” It could take days, and we were only staying two nights.

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Countryside in Settime

Settime is a small community of houses on the outskirts of Asti, so I figured that we could start our search in Asti and ask for regional information. Our Airbnb host recommended we try a public building which turned out to be somewhere they stored information and could help find things. The first day we were there, they had just closed, so we wandered around this tiny city that I was from, knowing that we’d have to wait a little longer for answers – if there were any to be had at all.

The next morning, we returned to the public office. At first, it seemed like nobody spoke English well enough to help. My Italian is garbled and halting, and I didn’t know how to explain what I was looking for. Never had I more regretted not taking more Italian classes or continuing the study of the language. They fetched a nice Italian woman from her office, and she explained that she knew some English, enough to understand. Apart from her surprise that there was a young American woman sitting in her office, looking for long lost family, she seemed eager to help, and soon she was on the phone with a contact in Settime. She asked me questions, asking if I knew a name or another date that would help with the search, but I had next to nothing. Her friend on the phone, a cop, did not have much to go on.

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One of the few roads in Settime

How her contact found the information, I don’t know, but the ensuing onslaught of facts was like a bright ray of sunlight filtering through dark clouds. She confirmed the date my great grandfather was born, and from there the information sounded too similar to what I knew; it couldn’t be coincidental. His parents were Louisa and Giovanni. His brother was Filippo, who had been in the military and then a mayor. And then: I had a cousin in the area! And it was only seconds later that she was telling that he would meet me back at the building at 6pm, and would I like to spend the evening with him and the rest of my (newly re-found) family?

There are very few moments in life that feel like a movie script. Your mind tells you, “This is crazy. This does not happen to people. Real life does not work this way; you can’t go searching for family with just a last name to go on. This is not happening.” Except, after we had profusely thanked Vera, our new friend and helper, and left the building to walk back through Asti, it was happening. 

That evening, we met with Tullio back at the office. He didn’t speak any English, and as he drove Em and I through the countryside to his home in Settime, I tried to understand him as he spoke. I would estimate that I understood 30% of what he said. When we reached the house – where, as I later learned, my great grandfather had been born and raised – there were people waiting. Tullio’s sister was there, as well as her daughter. Tullio’s own daughter was there, not even 10 years older than me. Any suspicions floating around that I was not who I said I was, or that we had found the wrong family, were dispelled the second that pictures were brought out: I had pictures of Annibale, my great grandpa, and they looked nearly identical to the pictures of his brother. They also brought out old pictures of one of the women in the family, and pointed out how I shared her eyes, her lips, and her jaw bone. “Roggero eyes are always blue, or green.” This was it; this was my family.

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Near the family crypt

They showed me lots of pictures of my great uncle; he stood at attention in his captain’s uniform, the tallest man in any room at 2 meters (about 6 foot 7). As I looked around at Tullio and the others related to me by blood, I began to see the resemblance between them and Annibale. My mother, who I’d called earlier to relay the good news, told me that she cried when I posted a Facebook photo of the whole family; Tullio was practically the spitting image of her grandfather.

After trying to explain the lack of contact all these years, and catching up as best we could, they drove us to the cemetery, where we saw my family’s crypt. Then, we ate dinner at a local restaurant, where the food was locally grown – and had 7 courses! We tried to trade stories, and while we had limited success, there was one thing we all knew and agreed on: we were happy. We had found each other again, and it was nothing short of amazing. A miracle, indeed.

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Red wine from Asti at dinner

Unfortunately, we had to leave the next day for Milan. Now that I know what I do, I feel a sense of belonging in Asti. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know that I’ll be back someday.

Look out for my next post about Milan! I spent most of our time there sick and not feeling well, but it’s still a beautiful, awesome place.

Ciao Asti e Settime!

Kayla

 

 

 

What They Never Told Me

Sometimes in life, things don’t go the way you’ve planned. The same goes for traveling. Ideas and goals change, but it’s the bigger stuff, too; the stuff you didn’t expect. When I was prepping for this trip, I knew there was much I hadn’t thought about, I just didn’t know how much. Turns out, there’s a lot.

I’ve had people tell me, “Oh what a wonderful vacation!” After what we’ve experienced so far, I have to politely disagree on that description of what we’re doing. Vacations are a relaxing time, a time to unwind and take a break from the world before diving back into your daily life. This trip is different; it’s an adventure, where good and bad things happen and you don’t just go home afterward – you have to keep going, and carry the mistakes and frustrations with you.

There’s more to backpacking, too. You don’t anticipate the sweat from walking to your hostel from the train station; if you experience one kind of weather, you’ll get sick of your clothing options in a week. You leave for the trip excited and resolved to keep up the blog, keep up the blog, keep up the blog – and then somebody asks if you want to go get a beer or late night pizza, and that’s the rest of your night. Or when you get to your bed at the end of a long day of walking – 5 miles, 8 miles? – and fall into bed to get the most amount of sleep possible before getting up to do it all again the next day. And unlike a vacation, when you know that all of the shit you’re going through is only temporary because you’ll be back in your comfy house and walking around in sweats and slippers to find the cereal in the cupboard, this doesn’t stop. We’ve planned on three months; the comforts are small and fleeting. Once you become relaxed, it’s off to the next stop.

Why am I going on and on about misfortunes and disappointments? Well, dear reader, it’s because we suffered our first travel mishap. Okay, more like… disaster.

We didn’t technically miss our flight from London to Amsterdam. When we got to Gatwick Airport, the bag drop had closed 7 minutes before. It wasn’t enough that we were tired – London is an extremely exhausting city – not to mention a little hungover, and sad to be leaving a place we’d fallen in love with. Add to that the crushing realization that because our bags couldn’t make it on the flight, we couldn’t either. After an hour and a half of scouring the internet for options that did not include buying another flight for over 200 pounds, we realized that there was no way we were getting to Amsterdam that night.

Fortunately, we were able to spend the night back at our hostel due to some overbooking we’d done months earlier. Knowing that we had to get to Amsterdam and not wanting to waste even more money, I turned to an app I had only heard about: Bla Bla Car, an international rideshare service. I had no experience with the app, but after searching London to Amsterdam I found a single ride for the next morning, leaving at 11am. He had two seats left; I booked them quickly, and only stopped to caution myself after. Everybody had warned us about being “Taken,” and I’m certainly not trying to prove anyone right on that one.

We met the driver and his friend the next morning, and picked up another guy soon after. It was squishy in the car, but our fears were dispelled right away. The three were Londoners on their way to a techno festival in Amsterdam for the weekend. Conversation slid easily from topics like travel to music to the things they wanted to buy in Amsterdam. These weren’t a bunch of creepy guys looking to kidnap us; they just wanted to take a lot of drugs and dance to their hearts content for three days straight. Personally, I think we got a great deal.

The drive took about 8 hours, as we traveled through 4 countries. We spent 1.5 hours in the car to the port of Dover, where we drove on to a giant ferry. Despite all of the disappointment about missing a day in Amsterdam, wasting the flight money, and generally messing up, this ended up being a crazy and wonderful alternative. As we left the port, we could see the White Cliffs of Dover fading away in the distance. It’s definitely not something I had ever expected to see, and it makes for a great story, right?

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Strait of Dover

After two hours spent relaxing in the lounge and eating ship food, we got back onto land at Dunkirk, France. From there we spent about 4 hours driving through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to finally reach the much anticipated Amsterdam. I don’t remember a happier moment than meeting up with Kassidy (Emily’s friend!) in the street and going up to the flat to set our packs down. By this time it was 10pm, and we went out into the streets. Giant pita with falafel has never been so welcome, nor scarfed down so fast.

As I write this, we have just finished our first full day in Amsterdam. After waking up late (it was the first morning I’ve woken up later than 6:30am, so yay!), we went downstairs to a highly recommended coffee shop called Bocca. Around the corner, we grabbed giant crepes filled with nutella, strawberries, and bananas; with nowhere to sit down, we found a dock floating on the edge of one of the canals and sat with our toes dangling over the water, trading stories all the while. The threat of rain had us grabbing our rain jackets, and then we were off into the city.

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Fat crepes!

 

If anyone’s ever been to Amsterdam, or heard about the Anne Frank Huis, you might know that it’s always busy. Tickets sell out amazingly fast, and the line to buy tickets at the door is insanely long. We got there around 1:30pm today, and people can buy tickets at the door starting at 3:30. Not wanting to wait 2 hours in line, we decided to walk around the city, and try again later. We bought a hunk of goat cheese and a baguette, eating on the canal again; we took pictures of all of the many tree-lined canals and the beautiful buildings on either side. Completely by chance, we happened upon the Banksy museum; the three of us love Banksy, so we decided to pay the euros and go through. Safe to say I was in awe, and it was a fun museum.

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Banksy’s “Pornography of War”

For dinner, we went to Nes 41. Their menu changes daily because they get their food fresh, so we dined on a charcuterie plate followed by tender beef with goat cheese and a raspberry sauce. This was all accompanied by Fanta cocktails (shoutout to Auntie Lori and Omi! The fanta is just as delicious as it was 10 years ago, although the Spanish liqueur they put in it really added to it).

I took a walk through the city alone today to go back to the Tulip Museum we’d seen earlier.  As I walked among the canals and the casually – but still fashionably – dressed people of all ages and creeds, I realized that within less than 24 hours, I had fallen in love with Amsterdam. The city is large enough to have lots of things going on, yet you can easily walk everywhere. The people are nice and the food is wonderful.

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My favorite photo so far – it’s the troll looking to exact his toll!

I  bought myself a pink tulip from the museum today. As a sentimental traveler, I’ve decided to pick up one small memento from each city, my way of remembering what I most loved. The tulip will remind me of the quaint buildings squished together; the music as the Pride celebrations began Friday night and people began to dance; and the way the sun set as I stared down the length of a canal, watching the light beam across the water and set the trees on fire.

I don’t know how I’ll leave, but at least we have one more day.

Your wayward, but most importantly alive traveler,

Kayla

It All Started with Food and a Phrase

There’s a saying on the Italian side of my family: “Mangia veni grassa!” I grew up hearing this phrase at mealtimes, so often that when it wasn’t said I felt something was missing. People asked what it meant, and my mom always shrugged and said, “Eat and get fat.” There was also something about a sumo wrestler in there, but I’m pretty sure my mom was just being funny. Nice one, mom.

When I was younger, I was fascinated by this phrase. It made up the few Italian words that my mom knew. My grandmother (who’d spoken Italian) had passed when I was 9. The three words heartily yelled during mealtimes with my family were all I had. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to know more – or, better yet, to go abroad and hear it firsthand. I wanted to learn it, I just didn’t know how.

Fast forward to college. When I switched out of my first major of Animal Science and into English, I was told I needed to take a language. When I found out Cal Poly (my alma mater) offered Italian, I didn’t stop to think. Studying the language ended up motivating me to want to go see the country even more, leading me to the first big decision I’ve made (on my own) in my life: I would backpack Europe. I would see everything I’ve ever read or heard about, and finally visit the beautiful country my ancestors come from.

This is all the lead-up to today. There are only 60 days left until I leave for Europe, and I figured it’s about damn time this blog got started. Keep up with my posts to learn about me, my travel companion, our lives, and why we’re going to be living out of backpacks for 3 months through 10+ countries. It’s about to get really wild.

Until next time,
-Kayla