Last year I took my hard earned vacation days and went to Europe. By “hard earned” I don’t mean blood and sweat, but that’s a topic for another time. How my job approved three weeks off is beyond me, but things just happen to workout sometimes and who am I to question it?
I visited three countries that trip, and life just clicked.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
One country was with my non-biological family. Another with my beautiful mother. The third I did by myself, as a lone wolf in the wild, or a lost puppy left alone in the living room. Either/or. That one depended on the day. That country was Switzerland.
Before you read on, I want you to know this in case you feel it too.
Prior to booking this trip I questioned it, because the world doesn’t always seem pretty, and you never know when or where things could go wrong. I was nervous and a little scared. But when it came down to it, I thought to myself the famous phrase “let it be” and off I went. And guess what? The world is that pretty, but only if we choose to see it.
The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.
After I came back I didn’t post the majority of my Europe pictures. I neglected speaking of Germany and Italy, and I’m not sure why. Maybe I wanted to keep them to myself. A memory of a trip where I saw people, including myself, in a different light. One that I truly loved.
Or, maybe it was because I had an overwhelming amount of memory cards that I was too lazy to go through. At this point, we’ll never know.
Fine, it’s the memory card thing, I’m sorry.
But, I’ve come to realize that I want to share those experiences.
For those of you that complain about people that post too much; People sharing their experiences was what gave me the courage to want to do this. And maybe, just maybe, I can pay it forward and do the same for at least one person, and maybe that person is you.
We have nothing to lose and a world to see.
This post isn’t about a country, it’s about the cities that make it up and probably deserve their own post. But, for the sake of this blog, let’s simply say Italy and I’ll try my hardest to show you a glimpse of all the personalities it has to offer.
I came with nothing, but six days, no set plan, and my mom.
We had nothing but cities marked on a list, and by “we” I mean me because my mom thought I had it all figured it out. Who was I to tell her otherwise?
This list included Rome, Florence, Pisa, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Naples. No big deal I thought. The internet had a very different opinion.
I had two options: 1. Listen to travel experts online, or 2. Ignore the bunch and pretend I knew what I was doing. I chose the latter.
Have I ever mentioned that I lost Principal’s Honor Roll multiple times because I kept getting A2C’s? You know, A as the grade, 2 as effort, C as conduct? Well, I think lack of following instructions may have played the biggest role in that.
This time wasn’t any different, and they say people don’t change, pfft, please.
Please Note: My vacations aren’t really vacations, they’re torture to the feet, but heaven to the soul. They don’t stop, I squeeze the life out of days, hours, minutes, and seconds.Until the days dying breath.
Usually that works out okay, but the problem with this trip was that it was like a paper you had to finish in a couple of hours, but all you had was a vague outline and no real content.
But, this was okay, because a spontaneous and procrastinating person is the ideal candidate for “winging it”, and I happen to fit that mold to a T.
My luggage wasn’t lost, I was just waiting for a special guest to make an appearance.
Originally, I wanted to do this whole trip by myself. But, I wouldn’t have laughed as much without my mom, or ran after as many trains as I did. Since we started traveling we made an agreement to take a trip together every year, this was 2016’s.
Things you should know before reading on:
•We stayed at a BNB that cost us less than $500.00 for the entire stay, with breakfast included.
•It was in a local neighborhood, not the main part of the city.
•I firmly believed that the Spanish and Italian languages were very similar. I was wrong.
This was our neighborhood. Our BNB was called Abbraccia Morfeo, and it was actually at the top of a hill.
The time that we spent in this neighborhood was minimal, but eye opening to the neglected side of Rome that most tourist don’t see. There were a lot of little stores, broken buildings, and terrible driving. It was a subtle reminder of Cuba, except with more diversity. At first I wasn’t sure about Rome to be honest, but as the days passed, it began to feel like home.
If you visit Rome, and want an authentic experience, I hope you’re not afraid to venture off to the local areas. You’ll see what many others never will.
I was told that starting a vacation with one of the tourist bus rides was like having a summary of a city, and you just had to find what called out to your heart and explore it deeper. And that’s exactly what we did.
We hopped on, and hopped off, and wandered around. We explored the city by foot, and traveled by bus. We came, we saw, we conquered. By the outside at least.
The first day was just a little flirt with the city to see what we could expect from this one week fling.
When I go to cities, I rarely visit museums, there are exceptions though. Strangely, Rome wasn’t one of them. Museums tend to be time consuming, and the city itself is a masterpiece waiting to be seen. Time was of the essence.
The city has so much to show, ruins, and structures, endless fountains, and people. Did I mention naked statues in every other block? Good thing I went with my mom, the most mature person I know (cough, cough).
That same day we went to the Vatican (I recommend not being claustrophobic), ate too much, walked too much, and it rained on our parade sporadically. But, we truly enjoyed it, the rain afterwards not so much, but we managed.
We visited twice on our first two days, because to tell you the truth, I fell in love; Regretting that this fling would only last a week. The fountain is a site that can’t be put into words, but it’s worth a shot. It feels greater than you, and overwhelmingly beautiful. Maybe it’s the color, or the water; Maybe it’s the scene that it shows, or maybe it’s just a little bit of everything put together.
Third Day: Amalfi Coast
We took a train from Rome to Salerno, the train ride itself left me in awe, showing Italy from afar and up close. But, when we got off at the train station and started wandering around, it was something else. Like taking off scratched glasses after along day. Rome with all its majestic history, architecture, romance, and sculptures, was a site from a text book. But, Salerno was a site from a coloring book; Vibrant, colorful, and full of endless possibilities. Like the child in all of us, waiting to be let out.
The city felt light and relaxing, unfortunately, I did not spend a lot time there. But, I saw the water caress rocks and people swimming in the Tyrrhenian sea, and I saw countless boats lined up on the opposite side making me dream of fishermen I’d read about in books and seen in movies. I spent an hour or so there, just people watching and taking it in, but then it was time to say goodbye.
From Rome, the plan was to take a train to Salerno early morning to spend all day on the coast. So, train to Salerno, bus to Amalfi and Positano, and back to Rome. Turns out, plans don’t always work out, but we already knew that didn’t we?
After trying to communicate in Spanish, with people that only spoke Italian, we came to the sad realization that buses don’t run to Amalfi on Sunday’s during the month of September. The icing on the cake.
But, there was an alternative that I didn’t know about. So off we went.
We made our way towards the little boats from earlier, because there was a ferry leaving in five minutes and we were a long way from it; And like I said before, time was of the essence.
So, we ran, and ran, barely making it without hyperventilating, and buying tickets as the ferry was beginning to close it’s doors. But, we made it to the top floor, and in we took the view that the coast of Italy had to offer with out hearts popping out of our chest.
Amalfi These steps were just the beginning of the millions we would have to climb on this trip.Amalfi’s personality popped out from every corner. The vibe was different from Salerno; It felt like you just belonged. For some reason, even though I knew there were tourist everywhere, it didn’t feel like they were really there. It felt like everyone was a local, just gathered together for some celebration, and truly loving the place they called home. There were coffee shops, plays, and music being sung where we stood. Amalfi welcomed us as an old friend, and as old friend it will forever be in our hearts. We ventured off to the stairs and halls that acted like streets leading to homes. Everyone was friendly, and some partially understood my Spanglish, and were able to help guide us to finding the best place to admire the coast. All they kept saying was “head towards the cemetery,” which we took as reassuring; But up we climbed, and higher we went, taking wrong turns but ending up exactly where we were meant to. Now, off to Positano we went. In a very packed bus, going up streets that seemed too thin to sustain this monster of transportation, but we made it.
By the time we got to Positano, it was apparent that we had not accounted for the right amount of time that was required to do these explorations. But, we had packed one additional clothing item, just in case. Bloody brilliant. We got off in Positano, and off we went to find accommodations where there weren’t any. Up and down stairs we went, hotel by hotel, looking for a place to spend the night.
After countless visits to lobbies and loving their views and taking in as much as we could, we made it to one that once again, was sold out. But, this little hotel had a solution, it gave me the name of four hotels in Positano that could possibly have availability.
We visited one, and it had sold and then I began to panic. Just slightly (more than that). I ran and left my mom behind because we needed speed and there was no need for both of us to roll on the floor from exhaustion. I headed down and as an owner was closing down, I got there and asked if they had a room. After a little hustle and bustle (I felt brave), we got the most unexpected beautiful room for 150 euros flat. I wish I had a picture, but all I can show you is the view at sunrise.
We went to have dinner right by the sand with the sunset and a drink, this was a victory to be celebrated. I dipped my toes in the water once again, and realized that an adventure for the books began from being unprepared; And that’s when I learned the beauty of being lost.
Positano was like the coast itself, surreal beyond words. But, different from it’s siblings. It felt classy, like a glass of wine, not a cup of coffee. It was like being in a dream and not realizing what was really happening, but only noticing after waking up and looking at it from afar. Something out of a storybook filled with love notes, but love notes to yourself, signed with hugs that jumped from the page. A village like no other at the edge of the sea.