I have never been a very good tourist. I often don’t know what important landmarks a city boasts. I rarely do any research before a trip. I don’t like tour busses. I hate lines. And I don’t like other tourists.
So when everyone told me that I absolutely had to visited the Vatican, I took their advice with a grain of salt. Wanting to make my own decision, I did some basic research. I read about long lines, hordes of visitors taking photos of priceless paintings and strictly controlled access to see the most famous pieces. But I was so intrigued by the complex history, the breathtaking art and the stunning architecture that, against my natural inclination, I decided to visit the Vatican. I should have known better.
I have wanted to visit Rome for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to the stories that my mum, a Fine Arts major, would tell me of her travels in the late 1970s. Vivid descriptions of her wonder as she experienced her textbooks come to life had my imagination running wild. Near the top of her list of highlights was the Colosseum. She remembered being overcome by emotions as she walked through the ruins. She told me that she could feel the gruesome history in the air around her. Continue reading
This time last year I was standing in the cold misty rain, surrounded by a thousand green revellers, drinking a pint of Guinness. I had just arrived in Ireland and was ringing in St. Patrick’s Day in the heart of Dublin. The chaos, the crowds, the drinks, the newness of it all. It was exactly what I had been craving and what I thought I wanted. So why was I feeling so sad? Continue reading
One warm, sunny morning last October, I walked through a crowded, busy market in the old town of Split. Located just steps away from the harbour I could smell the sea breeze and see the bobbing sailboat from where I stood. I wandered slowly around the packed stalls with their mountains of sweet, ripe, fly-covered fruits and vegetables. No intentions. No thought of where to go. No plan for what to buy. I just observed. Continue reading
Over the years, I have travelled with my parents, with boyfriends, with my sister, with my friends, with coworkers, with follow students and with strangers. I have travelled on ferries, busses, planes, trains and cars. I have travelled to budget hostels, 5-star resorts, gites, pensiones, rental apartments, downtown hotels and I’ve even slept under the stars. My first international trip was to Spain when I was 18 months old and since then I’ve taken more flights than I can count. But at age 27 I had never travelled to a non-English speaking country alone.
There I was all alone in a dim, draughty airport realizing that if I was lucky I would be spending the night on a plastic bench. Gone were my visions of Starbucks’ comfy couches and wifi, gone were my dreams of restaurants with hot food and glasses of wine, gone was my hope of checking my bags. So why was I at an empty Liverpool airport at 11pm when my flight to Naples didn’t leave until 6am the next day? Because I was trying to be a savvy budget traveller.
Sometimes the path less travelled is not the best path to take. While I, like many travellers, often try to experience a place like a local and stay away from the crowds, sometimes the path of least resistance might just be the best one. I personally discovered this when I found myself on a journey that consisted of a twenty minute slog to the bus station, a two hour bus ride into another country, an eight Euro cab ride to the docks, an hour long wait before a three hour ferry ride and then another two hour train ride. How did this happen? Not because I was trying to be adventurous or unconventional, but because I am a terrible planner.