As I sit here on the eve of my 30th birthday, I’ve decided it’s finally time to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a whole year- give a very public thank you to my mom and stepdad for making last year’s birthday present happen.
What sort of birthday present warrants its own blog post thank you, you ask? Oh, only a trip to ITALY. Yup, my mom and I went to Italy last September and it was awesome.
We kept a journal of sorts each day we were there, but I don’t have it here with me to copy from. So, without the written refresher to jog my memory, here are the biggest things I remember from Italy, in no particular order:
Venice. We flew into Venice and only got to stay there for 2 days, but it was amazing. I loved the alley ways with all their twists and turns and how you were never quite sure you were going the right way. We got lost the second we got there, but soon realized that getting lost wasn’t a huge deal. You’d eventually get where you were trying to go. I loved the canals and the ornate bridges and the huge, open squares you’d stumble upon. I even loved the dead ends.
I thought the shops along the Rialto were charming, even though they pretty much all sold the same items. The first night we were there, I spotted a glass balloon that I became enamored with, but I decided not to buy it, figuring I could find the shop again if I changed my mind. Well, I did change my mind and we couldn’t find the shop again. We spent more than an hour walking from shop to shop, comparing prices and colors of the different balloons until I finally found what I was looking for.
Even though I knew I was going to stand out as a tourist, I wanted to try my best to not look like one; therefore, I did not bring a single pair of sneakers with me. Yes, I knew we would be walking a lot…but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I packed my most comfortable flats and loafers and bought arch supports and gel inserts to use as necessary. Then, my feet got swollen on the plane and every pair of shoes I had with me no longer fit. I ended up stealing my mom’s shoes quite often. I tried to buy a cute pair of loafers in Venice that were a half size too big so my swollen feet would have room…and those ended up giving me blisters. I went through a whole box of the #1 brand (or so the packaging told me) of European band-aids. Finally, in Florence, I caved. We happened to pass a Crocs store. We went in. I found a pair of canvas Crocs sneakers that look like Keds. They fit. They were deliciously comfortable. I bought them. Yes, I am ashamed. I bought Crocs. In ITALY. But I wore them every day for the rest of the trip and they were awesome. I’ve since made them my “commuter shoes” because they don’t look half bad with a skirt and pair of tights.
Pigeons. There were pigeons all over the place. I took pictures of them everywhere we went because I thought it was funny and it irritated my mom. I used to do the same thing whenever I was on vacation and would see ducks (wait, I still do) and my mom would always say “Bethany, we have ducks at home!” I’m a brat like that sometimes.
On our first night in Venice, my mom and I sat outside on the Grand Canal and shared a bottle of wine (or was it two? I can’t remember…) and just watched people walk past. Towards the end of the evening, a teenager set up a stool and began playing the accordion. How cool is that? He was really, good, too. I gave him some coins as we headed back to our hotel for the evening. All the lights reflecting in the dark canals were beautiful.
Pistachio gelato. The wine. The food in general. None of that needs an explanation.
One morning in Florence, I spotted a tiny lizard on the floor of our hotel room. I won’t tell you what ultimately happened to him, but watching my mom try to trap him under a glass and scoop him up with paper was pretty hysterical. I stood on my bed cringing the whole time, convinced he could jump that far and land on me. I’m a wimp.
The architecture, the art, the sculptures, the ruins in Rome, and especially the lion head doorknockers. I will have a doorknocker someday…
Since we stayed in touristy areas, we generally had no trouble communicating with Italians or finding our way around, but by the end of the trip I was getting frustrated with not understanding certain customs or the language. On our second to last night there I almost asked if we could go to Subway for dinner because all of the signs in their window were in English and I wanted to see if the Subway in Italy smelled like all the Subways in America. I remember, very distinctly, saying “I want to go somewhere where they speak American” out loud on the sidewalk. I was cranky and tired at that point, but I’m not proud of it, for many reasons.
We did a day tour of the Amalfi Coast and it was the most beautiful place I have ever been. The colorful houses, the sea, and the twisty/bendy,scream inducing roads with no shoulder- just cliffs and drops to the water- will always stick in my mind.
And, of course, our wine tour in Tuscany with our charismatic tour guide, Pierre.
This list really could go on and on and on. It was an amazing and unforgettable trip. Thank you, Cal, for helping with the funds and thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom, for taking me with you on the vacation of a lifetime. Oh, and also for planning it. I kind of just showed up for the ride…and what a ride it was 🙂
Side note: I have, of course, said thank you for this gift in person…I’ve just always wanted to write about it, too. Don’t think I was given a trip to Italy last year without saying thank you until now!
Song of the Day: Dominick the Donkey (Only my mom will understand that. And I’m still sad we didn’t see any Italian donkeys.)