Balance has been restored at last to this wild ride. From partying until 6 AM in Spain, to rubbing elbows in Rome with star athletes, to bonding over wine in Florence, and cruising through the busy streets of Naples on the back of a motorcycle, this has been quite an eventful stretch of days that I have neglected reporting. I will do my best to sum it up in a few short words:
We made great friends at our small sleepless hostel in Barcelona. I will never forget our many halarious moments, classic experiences, and fascinating conversations with our ever morphing, international group. Barcelona comes with its unique set of challenges like street hasslers and gawking men, but in the end, I have a warm, fuzzy feeling for the party city.
Madrid was a refreshing break from the nonstop fiesta. We spent very little time there, but enough to see the entire city, enjoy some artwork, and experience some real Spanish tradition. I bid Becca adieu after less than two days here and made my way to the next wild ride of Rome.
The city itself blew me away even more than our outrageous hotel. Strolling through the busy city streets, we would suddenly stumble over enormous classic landmarks and old city buildings dating back thousands of years. For those of you that have been to Rome, I will spare the details of each site. The structures are so famous that I don't want to clog up the blog with imagery of well known monuments. I can't go without mentioning the Vatican, though. Extravagant, beautiful, marvelous, breathtaking... none of these words come close to doing it justice. Even the hallways of the Museum leading up to the Sistine Chapel were unbelievable. The main event was that times ten. And just when we thought we had seen it all and our necks were begging for mercy from being craned up all afternoon, we then entered St. Paul's Cathedral. Wow. That is all I can say.
By the time our trip was approaching the end, we were all ready to move on to something a little less action packed. Mom and Dad were off to the Amalfi Coast and I headed to Florence. It was more than a treat to see them and the love of family was a cozy reminder of what I will soon return to. Recovering from two weeks of comfort was a challenge, though, as I entered unfamiliar territory with no plan at all.
Rain, rain, cold, cold. Boo for bad weather. I barely saw any of this Tuscan city. When I first got in, the greeting I received at the hostel was cold and nobody seemed to have much interest in meeting new people. Quickly my mood sunk and that old familiar feeling of anxiety began to come over me. I decided to get out as soon as possible and find a friendly atmosphere to sip wine, eat good food, and be alone with my thoughts and my journal. I struggled to find an area not completely swarmed with tourists. At last I chose a mediocre place that rushed me through my meal in a pushy attempt to turnover my table; very unlike Europe, but completely appropriate for the day I was having. I felt defeated, and headed back to the unpleasant hostel to get a good night of sleep. Luckily, a nice fellow solo traveler from California was also pondering what to do on this leg of his trip and was staying in my room when I returned. We proceeded to chat it up for hours and spent the remainder of our brief stay here together.
The next day we attempted to tour the city and enjoy strolling through Florence, but the rain and wind kept us down. We gave up all attempts at last and indulged in cheap red wine to escape the wet weather. What could have been a wasted afternoon morphed into one of the most intriguing conversations I have had all of my days here. I cannot describe how inspired we both were after an entire day of uplifting exchange, but now I feel that much closer to figuring out what I am really supposed to be doing with my life. I would say, I am willing to sacrifice seeing one city along my journey if it means enjoying an afternoon of spiritual enlightenment...
Long post, but the moment was finally right to share. With 57 days behind me and only 20 to go, I have so much more swirling through my mind, but hopefully my action packed rendition of the journey so far is sufficiently entertaining and paints the picture well.