Filtering by Tag: italy

Savoring Sorrento

I'm gonna hit fast-forward for a second here.

This post should *technically* be about my next couple days in Florence. I tend to be a chronological order kinda girl. But today, I woke up thinking about Sorrento.

IMG_0972.jpg

And so that's where we're gonna go.

I don't want to write about my entire stay in Sorrento--though it was amazing, and I'll get there eventually.  I want to focus on one moment in particular.

By the time I reached Sorrento, I'd been on my own for nearly two weeks. I'd traveled to two different countries. I'd made new friends, tried new food, experienced new things.

And I'd been scared the entire time.

Last year, I'd begun living my life by a new motto: Feel the fear and do it anyway. And that's exactly what I'd been doing this whole trip. I'd spent the last two weeks terrified, nervous, unsure. But I woke up each morning and attacked the day in spite of those things coursing through me. But in Sorrento...

I arrived mid-afternoon, with plenty of daylight to find my hotel. Mapquest did not like Sorrento. There were stairs and winding paths that confused it. And, so, I got a little lost looking for my hotel. Once I found it, I was sweaty, exhausted, and all nerved up. This was the worst part of travel for me--switching between locations. I'd spent five days in Florence before this, and I was anxious about the new place. In fact, if I didn't have my heart set on Pompeii, I might have skipped Sorrento altogether.

And that would've been a mistake.

Once I got to my hotel, the beautiful man at the front desk gave me my room key, a map, and a couple pamphlets. He'd circled a few restaurants, and told me that the marina was not far from there. I tucked that piece of information away and went up to my room. I collapsed on my bed, welcoming the cool air and comfort of my own space. I could've stayed there the rest of the night, but the word marina kept bouncing around in my brain. I'd caught a glimpse of the Mediterranian Sea through the train window, and I couldn't wait to see it up close. So I forced myself to get off the bed, put my shoes back on, and head out the door.

The walk lasted about ten minutes and took me down a twisty road and through a long tunnel. 

 

I emerged from between a cluster of tall, brightly-painted buildings to find it there, sprawled out before me. Majestic, overwhelming, beautiful.

I walked along the street to a dead-end that dropped off a few feet, right into the thrashing, wild water.

waves.jpg

I video-called my mom so I could share this absurd beauty with her, and then I hung up and walked down the dock. On one side, boats lay beneath tarps. A few fisherman were calling it a night, unloading onto the dock. A little boy ran on wobbly legs to his father. An older couple wandered to the edge of the dead-end street.

 

IMG_4181.jpg

I stood there, breathing in the salty air, listening to the waves crash. And my heart stilled

A few minutes later, my stomach interrupted my reverie. I hadn't eaten since Florence, and I was starving.

Just ahead, a couple restaurants lined the street. I chose the one with the best view and requested a table overlooking the Mediterranean. There, I ordered the freshest fish I'd ever eaten, washed down with delicious wine and a decadent lemon dessert.

While I waited for my food to arrive, I pulled out my journal, and I wrote. And that was when it hit me: Sitting there, my first meal alone at a restaurant (I'd eaten with friends or on-the-go the rest of my trip), the sea-kissed air whipping my hair into my face...this was it.

This was the moment I'd been searching for my entire trip.

It was in that single moment that I felt it: the bravery everyone had been telling me I possessed from the moment I'd booked my trip.

Now, back home and surrounded by real life, I cling to that moment. When I set the deadline to release my book. When I hit "publish." When my sweet old dog died. When I sat beside accomplished and talented authors and talked about my own writing. Every single time I tell someone I'm an author--and not a *writer*--I feel it: the waves roaring in my ears, the buzz of wine in my bloodstream, the taste of freedom, sweet on my tongue.

I hold that moment tight to my chest every time self-doubt, fear, uncertainty starts to creep in. I can do it. I've done it before.

And I'll do it again.

 

Fair Verona

With my heart still firmly in Amsterdam, it was a challenge moving on to Italy.

You read that right. A challenge. Being in Italy. What's wrong with me, huh?

Well, that's a loaded question, and one I'm not digging into right now.

Anyway.

I left Amsterdam Friday morning, dragging my feet the whole way. I made it to the airport with no problem, got on my flight, and off I went. It was smooth-going the entire journey. Touched down in Milan that afternoon, hopped on a bus to the train station, where I caught a tram to my hostel (here's a secret: I accidentally stole my tram ride. I was unsure of where to buy a ticket, so I got on, thinking maybe I could purchase one there. Nope. I spent the entire ride afraid the Italian police were going to cart me off to jail!). Found my hostel and checked in with absolutely no problem.

And then I burst into tears.

You won't find any pictures of Milan here, because I didn't leave my hostel. I sat on my bed and cried. Ate a granola bar, sure that it was hunger bringing on the emotions, called my best friend, who Googled the nearest restaurants for me so that I could get some real food in me, and when we hung up...I cried some more.

At some point, my roommate wandered in. A middle-age Austrailian woman. She seemed sympathetic at first, asking if I was okay. I assured her I was. Just hungry and tired. I got my tears under control long enough to go downstairs to the hostel's bar and eat a hot dog and fries (that's right...my first meal in Italy was a hot dog and fries). 

When I came back to my room, I sat down and...yep. Started crying again. My roommate's patience ran out. She sort of rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, no. Are you going off again?" And then rattled on about how I must be a water sign, because I'm really sensitive.

We had a nice conversation once I stopped crying, and then I got a full night's sleep. The next day, I was off to Verona. I woke up, packed my things, and headed to the train station. I was okay until I got to my B&B.

And then I cried again.

I don't know what my deal was, guys. Maybe it finally hit me that I was thousands of miles away from home? Maybe I was sad about leaving Amsterdam? Whatever it was, my onslaught of tears took two days right out of my itinerary.

But you know what? The next day, I got up, got dressed, and hit the streets. Once I got into Verona, I was so caught up in the sights and sounds that those tears were long gone.

The first day, I did the requisite Casa do Giulietta, where it is believed Shakespeare's Juliet lived. I groped the bronze statue in the courtyard below the balcony (it's supposed to bring you luck in love...which is weird, if you think about it. That story did NOT have a happy ending), stood on the balcony, and left a letter for Juliet. Touristy as heck, but still fun!

I followed up with some gelato:

(WHITE chocolate...stupid autocorrect)

And a visit to the Arena di Verona:

This place was really cool. It's smaller than the Coliseum, and way more preserved. To this day, it's still used for concerts (you can see the floor seating in the picture). In the summer, you can attend operas here...makes me almost wish I'd gone then...

I was back in my room and ready for bed by 630pm. My feet were tired, my brain was overloaded with beauty and history, and I needed a rest!

I started bright and early the next day with a hike up the 200-something stairs to Piazzale Castel San Pietro. I'd heard the view was not to be missed, and, well, it was free, so...of course I was in.

The stairs, though.

I couldn't feel my legs, definitely couldn't breathe (I started to get a cold this day), but that view...

I sat on that ledge for what seemed like minutes, but was actually well over an hour. The church bells rang, the breeze blew by, and I sat there, soaking it all in. I didn't want to leave, but I had started shivering, so I knew I had to get moving.

The rest of the day consisted of tours of a couple of churches, a delicious plate of Lasagna Bolognese, more gelato, and a trek across the Castelvecchio.

All in all, a very successful two days in Verona! The next morning, I packed up and hit the road. Next stop: Venice!

Side note: If you want to follow my antics live, my Snapchat is meika622. You're missing out!

Feel the Fear

Forty-five days.

Forty. Five. Days.

October 2nd, 2016.

Forty-five days away.

Excuse me while I have a nervous breakdown.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
...okay.

So. Yes. In forty-five days, I'll be boarding a plane aimed for Europe.

Amsterdam, Italy--north to south--and Paris.

Just over three weeks.

By myself.

People tell me I'm brave.

I don't feel brave.

I feel terrified and crazy and anxious. But not brave.

I had a meltdown the other day. It occurred to me that, once I arrive in Europe, I'll have no idea where anything is. My exact thought process looked a little something like this:

"What if I can't find the grocery store in Florence? I'm gonna starve. I'M GONNA STARVE TO DEATH IN ITALY!"

Right. Starve to death. In Italy.

This is what my brain has become. A constant stream of nonsensical fears and neuroses.

I'll be fine. I know this. I'll be fine and I'll come home stronger, more confident. Changed.

I'm looking forward to it.

You know, in between the meltdowns.

The quote. Yes, it was Pinterest.
I read a quote somewhere the other day. Pinterest, probably. It was something like, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

Well, that's what I'm doing. Each step of the way. From buying that first ticket to booking my hostel in Amsterdam. I'm terrified, but I want this more. I want to see and experience new things. I want to venture out all by myself, to discover new things about myself and the world. I want to claim the independence and confidence that has been just out of reach for most of my adult life.

I want to come home changed. Stronger. Braver.

And, dammit, I want gelato.

And so, in forty-five days, I'll get on that plane.

But that doesn't mean I won't freak out until then.

Forty-five days, guys.

Shit.


IWSG: Doing the Thing That Scares You

A couple months ago, I did something. Something big. Something scary. Something I have always wanted to do.

I bought a ticket to Europe.

Not as part of a group tour, or a cruise. A single, solitary, one-way ticket to Amsterdam.

The moment I confirmed the purchase, my stomach fell straight to my toes. What was I doing? Who did I think I was, planning a solo trip thousands of miles away from home? I wasn't that brave!

Here's a secret, though: I AM that brave.

We all are.

Life, I have come to learn, is often choosing to do the thing that scares you. It's not easy, and there are a million reasons NOT to do it, but what's the worst that could happen?

Given, of course, that the thing that scares YOU is not, like, committing murder or jumping off a high-rise. DON'T do those things. They're scary for a reason.

But buying a ticket to Europe? Applying for a job you really want? Asking that cute dude out that you see every day at the coffee shop (probably not for coffee, though)? Yes. Do those things.
Moments after buying my ticket.

Because the worst that could happen is that you fail. You get lost in the streets of Florence. You don't get the job. The cute dude says no. You're still okay.

This applies to writing, as well. A book idea that scares you might turn out to be the best thing you've ever written. Joining a writing group could earn you some new friends (and writer friends are the best) and maybe some solid advice. And self-publishing the book babies you've put your heart and soul into for years...

Okay. That last one is super scary, no matter how much optimism I sprinkle over it.

But, just like that ticket to Amsterdam, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do the thing that scares me. Because what's a life spent sitting on the sidelines while others chase their dreams?

What scares YOU (writing-wise or not)?

Out of the Slump

It's been two months since my last post. I'm a bad, bad blogger.

Life has been hectic, as usual, and I was in a writing slump for a long time. Now, I'm back to my story and my life has settled down.

I met with an academic advisor last week and found out that I have everything I need for my General Associate's Degree. Not only that, but the following day I was informed that I only need eleven classes for my Bachelor's in Professional Communications.

Eleven classes. That's, like, three semesters. About a year or so and I'll be finished with school. How awesome is that?

An added bonus was that the classes I was signed up for this semester were extras -- I didn't need them for my degrees. So, I was able to withdraw from them and now I have a semester off. The timing couldn't be better, as I have wanted to do nothing but write for the last month or so.

The slump I mentioned earlier had gone on for months. I was halfway through Chapter 6 and I'd stalled. I went on my dream vacation (I'm writing a couple posts about how magical THAT was. Look for them soon) and couldn't write a word when I came back. From the end of September to mid-January, I was a writer who didn't write. And I was miserable.

Then, suddenly, I had a breakthrough. I don't know exactly what caused it, but one day I finished Chapter 6 and I didn't stop. I haven't stopped. I'm now about halfway done with Chapter 16, and I'm feeling good about things. So, yeah. This unexpected semester off from school is a blessing. Maybe I'll actually finish this draft by Spring.

That about wraps up the last couple months of my life. How have yours been? Productive? Are you staying warm in this horrible winter?

If not, here's a teaser picture from my vacation. Nothing like a little Italian sunshine to warm you right up!


Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Wanderlust Wednesday - Venice

Okay, it’s technically Thursday, but I didn’t want to miss this week’s Wanderlust post. I’ve been thinking about which destination to write about all week and just now came to a decision. Venice.

Venice, Italy.



Italy will probably take up a large chunk of this series. I’ve always had this dream of backpacking my way through Italy, one glorious stop at a time. And while I probably wouldn’t actually start in Venice, all the watery pictures seemed fitting, since it hasn’t stopped raining here for two days.

Also known as “City of Water,” “City of Bridges,” and “City of Masks,” among many other names, Venice is located in northern Italy. Its maze of canals spans across 117 small islands on the Venetian Lagoon, along the Adriatic Sea. The canals serve the same function as roads and most every mode of transportation is on the water. Gondolas are mainly used for tourists these days, but are also used for weddings, funerals or other big events. Otherwise, Venetians travel by waterbuses.



Often called the most beautiful city built by mankind, Venice is home to some of the most breathtaking views to be found in all of Europe -- probably the world. It’s also been described as one of Europe’s most romantic cities. Can’t you just imagine it? Cuddled up to the one you love in the back of a gondola as you’re steered through a maze of gorgeous architecture, history all around you. The ghosts of other couples just as madly in love as you are welcoming you. How many proposals do you think this city has seen? Weddings? Honeymoons? It just screams romance, don’t you think?



Venice is also a great place for museum-hopping. There are countless museums filled with gorgeous, history-drenched pieces of art just waiting for you to admire. Even the bridges themselves are artwork. The Bridge of Sighs, pictured below, connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace. It earned its name from the idea that the prisoners would take in their last view of Venice before being taken to their cells and sigh. I’m sure the sight would make me sigh, too.



How’s this for a great piece of writing history? Did you know that Venice was home to one of Italy’s earliest printing presses? And it was responsible for printing half of Italy’s published books? Pretty cool, huh?



Okay, sorry about being late this week. Next week, I'll try to be more prompt! I hope you guys enjoyed this little Italian detour and enjoy your Thursdays!