I'm so sad that my trip is over. I miss the lovely, kind, stylish, friendly people we met. I wish I had just one more perfect cappuccino before coming home and one more lick of gelato.  I wish I could smell that early morning bakery scent of Rome, or hear the gurgling fountains again. I want one more breath of fresh Italian ocean air and another sherbet colored sunset. I spent so much time getting excited about Italy, then it came and I relished every moment, and now I'm sorting through photos and trying desperately to remember everything. I'm going to break the trip down into manageable parts and do a few posts so I can share the fun with you. Deal?

Tiramisu Gelato, YUM

And here's where we'll begin.

Notes from my travels:
  1. I kept a journal on my trip. It was kind of dorky, but I'm so glad I did! I can refer to it for details and feelings and little nuggets of a trip that went by so quickly, but was so enjoyable.
  2. I also tried to take a picture of the name of the church/museum/town wherever we were so I knew what came next in the slew of 1,500+ (!!) pictures I took. Since then, it's helped me remember and do some extra research on places I loved.
  3. Planning
    • Where should you go? What should you do? Luckily, one of my friends is an intense planner. She knew where to go, what to do, what was worth a splurge and what to skip. She planned our trip really well. The only thing I wish I knew in advance was which spot we were going to on each day so I could have been dorkier and done more research and been uber prepared, as a nerd is wont to do, ya know? But, the laissez fair attitude was nice, it helped us feel relaxed on a jam-packed trip, and allowed for some weather/ customized outings. I read a TON about the regions before going and had some cheat sheets for food to try, what to buy and bring home in the regions, and I had my guide book to fill in the back story of different towns we checked out.
    • What is up with the 3 hours pre-flight check in? Add that to the 8 hour flying time and you've lost an entire day. Luckily, one of my friends was in first class so I skipped the line with her, but yikes. Make sure to plan well. 
  4. Packing
    • I love seeing how different people pack for their trips. I want to model my next packing experience after this. I brought 2 skirts that I didn't wear because I haven't been in a skirt-y mood lately. I also brought a pair of flats I didn't wear (my sandals were fine for dinner. And I could have done with 1 fewer pair of jeans. And I over packed underwear.
  5. One of my friends sent herself postcards from each town we went to--isn't that such a nice idea? I sent a million, and I made sure I had everyone's address in my contacts before I left. I know they've started to arrive since a couple people have let me know they received one. We did get a little tricked on the postage--in Italy, only buy stamps at Tobacco shops or else your post card may or may not get there.
  6. Embracing E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G
    • I tried foods I don't normally eat, I spoke French to one of our hosts who was an Italian/French speaker and was so proud of myself! We asked people for help at the deli counter and at the gas station and they were kind and helpful and made more of an impression on me than the olive oil or scenery every could. Once, we were on a train for three hours that was PACKED with 12 year olds blaring the Beibs. At first I was like, headphones in, yikes. Then, my friend had her computer out and started showing the kids videos she was editing and they were enthralled and giggling, so sweet and lovely. They tried speaking English and it just reminded me, this is what we're here for. To expand our view of the world, to jump into a new culture with both arms wide open. 
    • Other fun examples that make me smile:
      • Embrace the experts: Once we over-ordered (#notsurprising), our waitress said, "girls. No." and helped us get the right amount (which was still too much, hahaha). 
      • Embrace the locals: Ivano, our tour guide in Rome, bought us cappuccino and gave us centuries old gossip with a giggle--he had so much fun showing us around that we couldn't help but have an amazing experience--when he paused on one of the teensy streets and made us listen to the sound of espresso cups clinking in the wash and the fountains burbling and people greeting each other it was a moment I thought about throughout the trip--take a moment to really notice those things around you.
      • Embrace being a tourist: We took pictures of other tourists and had them take pictures of us so all three could be in the shot. On my (tight) flight home I made friends with the Italian woman (with a little English) sitting next to me reading her bible as we went through turbulence--and we ended up in Customs next to each other! We had a laugh. 
      • Get Dirty: I wasn't sure whether or not to eat my shrimp with my hands (it wasn't peeled or de-veined) or not, so started with a fork and knife... the waiter (who spoke no English) and the hostess ran over with wet ones and motioned with their hands. Thank god! Otherwise I would have been there all night and massacred my shrimp!
Is there anything better than kindness in a foreign country?

(Maybe food, but that will come later)

Time to book your trip. Italy is so full of life, color, culture, blooming flowers, bright colors, friendly people, and amazing history. You're going to love it.


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