Europe

 London:  Tower Bridge

London:  Tower Bridge

My dream vacation has come to an end and I sit here, back in the real world, facing reality again.  Was it that simple to forget what routine felt like?  Waking up every day, dressing, going to work from 9-5, and then heading home. 

For 19 days, Garrett and I had a whirlwind of a life as we went from location to location.  Every day I was seeing something new.  Something more beautiful than the day before.  My heart was beating.  My energy was high.  My imagination was running. Traveling is exhausting and terrifying and challenging.  It is everything that you could want in a day to push you to your next goal.  And I could no longer imagine a life where I sat still for a full day.

 Venice

Venice

 Rome:  Trevi Fountain

Rome:  Trevi Fountain

 Paris:  Eiffel Tower

Paris:  Eiffel Tower

Before I left for Europe, many people gave me their own ideas and thoughts of each place I was going. People hyped me up for some locations while downplaying others.  Europe was everything I could have hoped for and more, but it wasn't what I expected from everything I heard.  For example, Paris was what I was most excited for.  I planned 5 days in this amazing town so I would really have a chance to soak in the romanticized city.  My best friend, all the way to Ernest Hemingway, painted this extraordinary place of perfection, with anything you could ever want in Paris.  I felt it was a city where my heart belonged, where my artistic side would thrive, and my romance would hit all new highs.  But when I got there, I was sorely disappointed.  Everything was so far from what I had read and heard and ever imagined that Paris would be.  There were parts that were beyond amazing, such as climbing every step of the Eiffel Tower and looking over Paris from the Arc De Triumph.  But for the most part, it didn't inspire my artistic side, it didn't make me look at Garrett with new eyes, it didn't make me feel anything I expected.  It was dirty and smelly.  The beauty just wasn't there.  I realized that my expectations were far too high.  Paris was a let down, though I still loved what I saw, it just wasn't what I expected. 

 Paris from Arc De Triumph

Paris from Arc De Triumph

 Saine-Chapelle

Saine-Chapelle

 View from the Eiffel Tower over Paris

View from the Eiffel Tower over Paris

 Inside the Eiffel Tower

Inside the Eiffel Tower

Then, there were places like London.  The one place I expected to like the least, I fell head over heels for. I have always loved London without realizing it.  It has everything I have ever loved that I never pieced together.  At first, I was surprised by the lack of "culture shock" I received from being there.  London felt like America.  Walking around did not give me a sense that I was in another country. Then, we came across Big Ben and I felt it.  Most childhood dreams I ever had centered around Big Ben and London, where I flew around never growing up.   I felt at home, like I had once lived there in a past life.  Everything felt familiar and comfortable as we continued on our day.  

While at the Buckingham Palace, we had an incredible moment, the kind where all the stars aligned. We saw the Queen no more than 10 feet away from us.  She was being driven out of her Palace to Westminster Abbey.  She was escorted by a force of Police on their motorcycles.  As she came out, she turned to us and gave the royal wave with her beautiful smile.  My heart dropped as we waved back.  It was one of the moments where you see it happening, but it's hard to believe it's actually happening.  I mean, there I was, waving to the Queen who was no more than 10 feet away from me.  It's unreal, but thats what I loved about London.  

Shakespeare is another HUGE inspiration to me.  Seeing the Globe Theater was another inspiring moment. There was no shakespearean plays during our short stay in London, but I saw what I needed to see to remember how one man changed a world with just his words. 

 London:  Big Ben

London:  Big Ben

 Buckingham Palace:  The Queen of England

Buckingham Palace:  The Queen of England

 Shakespeare Globe

Shakespeare Globe

 Kensington Garden:  Peter Pan Statue

Kensington Garden:  Peter Pan Statue

Italy was another surprising breath of fresh of air.  It is one of those countries that I had never given much thought.  I spent every day over there in awe over the magnificent history laid out on every street corner. There isn't a single moment that you're not looking at ancient ruins or pieces of history that have affected our whole world.  It's an incredible feeling to walk through the Vatican City.  To see what people are capable of.  To see the the Coliseum, and again see what people are capable of in a whole new light. Rome was the first time I was made to feel as small as I do now.  To see history before your eyes that is literally ancient.  It all became so real for me.  What people went through, what life was like.  It gave me shudders to realize the immensity of the world and what has happened to get us to where we are today.  There is a certain type of peace that came over me, knowing that there are places in the world like this that can link us to our history. 

 Rome: Pantheon

Rome: Pantheon

 Rome: Coliseum 

Rome: Coliseum 

 Vatican:  St. Peter's Church

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church

 Vatican:  St. Peter's Church:  Inside

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church:  Inside

Garrett and I took a Coachella (night train) from Rome to Venice.  We arrived around 5:30 AM with no maps, internet, or address to where we were going.  This turned out to be one of my favorite memories from the trip.  Garrett suggested that we look for the main bridge to watch the sunrise from.  So we began walking blissfully through the beautiful small/tight streets of venice.  It was the first time I had ever seen anything like this town.  It was so early in the morning that not a single soul was out for hours.  It was like a ghost town.  A beautiful ghost town.  There was no way of knowing which way you were going without a map in your hand.  We never actually ended up finding the bridge that morning, but the walk was incredible.  It was such a peaceful moment, I'm not even sure I can describe it in any way that would do the moment justice.  I loved Venice for everything it was and everything it wasn't.  The city itself was majestic, as I have never seen a city such as that.  They way the streets felt as you walked through them.  The way the gondolas floated past you with happy people lounging in love.  I couldn't take my eyes off of the beauty this city exudes.   Then 10AM roles around, and all of a sudden you are shoulder to shoulder with every tourist in the city.  Moving became difficult.  And the city turns from this beautiful city on water, to a tourist trap.  All the shops open and people start asking you to buy buy buy.  The peace and beauty just disappear like that.  Not all of it though, Garrett and I stumbled across many things that just took our breath away, such as the sunsets and finding random things around each corner.  

 Venice Sunset

Venice Sunset

 Venice

Venice

 Venice Sunset

Venice Sunset

I sit here thinking, "What's next?"  How do I find my next adventure?  What's around the corner for me? I've had a taste and the travel bug has bit.  I'm getting antsy every day as I wake up to routine.  I find that I am struggling with transitioning back into my 'normal' life.  Perhaps this is a side effect that everyone gets when they return from travel and it goes away after some time.  Or perhaps this will be what pushes me into my next huge goal in life.  Whatever happens, I'm thrilled I had this experience. Without it, my eyes wouldn't be open.  

It's back to real life I go.  But!  Adventure awaits not too far around the corner.  I can feel it. 

 Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust