For most, traveling around the globe is something as easy as jumping on their computer, picking a location and going. Some just wait for their parents to pick a new destination. People travel to amazing places with their families every year or multiple times a year. But for three young men, who's only travel experience was mandatory trips to visit countries of their parents origins in Latin America and in the United States. So traveling somewhere as foreign as Italy was a life changing experience.
A little back story. Two of us, my cousin and I, lived together and our friend lived a few blocks away. We were all born in the Bay Area of California. All of Latin decent, with plenty of life experience but still immature just because that's how we were. When the opportunity came up to book this trip it was exciting to say the least. This was the trip that ignited a wanderlust inside me that would never be put out.
During the months leading up to the trip, just the anticipation of going somewhere we had never been was thrilling. Learning new phrases in Italian and looking up places we were excited to visit were on the upfront of our minds. The idea of a trip and this new adventure made us anxiously await it more and more everyday. It was almost as exciting as the trip itself. We went to the gym almost everyday to work out to look somewhat fit. The preparation for our grand adventure was quickly becoming an integral part of our day and a source of joy.
Our first stop was Florence. The architecture was so different from anything we had ever set our eyes on. It made the world feel like such a magical place. We visited the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, The statue of David, or The Palazzo Vecchio. What I had until now only seen in books and videos looking, was now standing right before me. And the photos did not do them justice. What I didn't know at the time being a 22 year old in Europe for the first time, was my love for travel was being deepened with each day spent exploring these new places.
Enjoying moments at Verrazzano Winery and tasting grappa for the first time was something I actually throughly enjoyed. I didn't think I would but to see a castle and hear the history of the man who built those walls was amazing. We learned that Verrazzano, an explorer, was the same man who's name was used for the Verrazzano bridge. We took a high speed train to Venice and toured the city, which was beautiful! In my head I thought would be more canals but I was mistaken. We tasted delicious Italian beer, we tried passing a few Spanish words as Italian -- it worked. We stayed up late and getting up early to see locations we had on our list made this trip one of the most memorable times of my life.
Seeing historic locations like the Colosseum in Rome gave me chills. It was a architectural feat which was built in 70-80AD. One thing we couldn't get over was how different Italian food was from what the U.S. calls "Italian" food. Throughout this trip and the many more I would take, I realized that we over eat in America. Portion sizes are a lot smaller in Italy and tasted more wholesome. Fewer but better ingredients. I fell in love with the pace, seeing older ones enjoy coffee at their favorite trattoria and taking their time to move on. Observing that slowness and enjoyment of the moment taught me to slow down in my life and take in the scenery. It was a great experience to say the least.
Definitely made sure to try all the beers Italy had to offer!
I write this to share an experience that shaped my life. I recently was reminiscing on this voyage and wanted to get it written down. Most importantly though, it reminded me of how this trip changed the way I view traveling. I feel this trip is what made me a "traveler". We take our time here for granted, forgetting to carve space out to explore and to see the world we live in. We always think we have more time than we really do. The moments I shared with my cousin and friend in Italy planted a seed in me to always make time to travel and to truly enjoy the experience of life. It's been 11 years since we went on that trip but it feels like it was yesterday. I'm grateful to have been able to take this trip with my good friends. To my cousin Edwin, thank you for manning the camera and sharing this experience with me. And to my friend James, thank you for sharing a trip of a life time.
This is the only picture of us where we look seem normal (even though we are all making faces). My cousin Edwin is in the green shirt, I'm in the middle (David) doing God knows what and our friend James is in the black shirt. As you can tell we never knew which camera to look at.
What trips or moments changed your life?