This past weekend I was able to get away to the mountains with my parents. Camping and hiking has always been a great release for me and I practically learned to walk on the trails. Even for just a couple days, it felt great to clear my head and get some relaxing in! Here’s a collection of photos from the weekend.
I’m not really sure what a traditional birthday celebration is when it comes to turning 21, other than just somehow including alcohol. But I knew for me I had my eyes set on going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Orlando, Florida. For my nineteenth birthday I had asked for a birthday cake inspired by Harry’s in the first movie (think lots of pink frosting and misspelled green lettering) and so this seemed like a natural upgrade.
So for my week off from my summer program (and there’s a belated blog post I need to work on) and flew down to Florida to meet my parents. In between visiting grandparents, we slid in a trip over to Universal and began the day. Biggest tip I can give – if you go on your birthday make sure to tell them. Not only do you get a pretty sweet pin (the guy did have me write it myself since he figured I had better handwriting), but while we were walking around every single employee wish me happy birthday when they passed me. It also resulted in me getting selected in the wand selection demonstration at Ollivander’s! After all, the wand does choose the wizard.
In case you’re wondering, I now am a proud owner of a vine wand with phoenix feather core.
A collection of the panorama views I saw last weekend while camping in Ponderosa State Park, on one of our hikes in the back country.
It’s now been three full days since we returned from our two-week long trip to Italy. And while at the time I was excited to come home, now that I’m here I’ve fallen into my usual post-Europe depression.
I’ve been lucky enough to go to Europe a handful of times the past two years (and it will continue into a month-long trip in January), and I’ve loved every trip. The hard part is coming home and readjusting to everyday life again.
I took a grand total of 2600 photos in the two weeks, a number that has yet to surprise anyone that knows me at all. And it’s the process of going through them that has made me the most down. I get bogged down with “wow remember how beautiful these flowers were?” and “that was the best pasta dish of the whole trip” and “I had forgotten how surreal the Tuscany area was.” Soon I find myself just going through the photos rather than actually weeding through them. Soon it all just seems like a wonderful dream.
I kept a journal the entire trip (I’m actually still an entry or two behind so I’m still wrapping it up) in order to help myself remember the details. The different couples we met and ate with. The strangers that we connected with and separated, never learning their name but knowing their story. It’s filled with plane ticket stubs and museum passes, business cards and brochures. A recounting of the wine tasting we went to and stories about our Italian driver who plays in a cover band for Green Day. The little things that didn’t make the camera but will always remain an essential element to our Italian fairytale.
When you spend two weeks without a car, relying on only trains and buses, it’s rough to come back to the grid system of suburbia. Sitting in traffic in a car weighs you down even more than it used to. Walking everywhere, restaurants, museums, grocery stores, etc., seems so easy and active and then you find yourself sitting at home debating that fifteen minute drive to Target to pick up two things. Having simple meals (I’m ruined for American Italian food now) and stopping for a gelato to eat on the square seemed like the perfect relationship with food, and combined with the walking led to a personal five pound weight loss. Going from feeling content there to feeling stuffed here seems like chaos as my stomach mourns for fresh pasta and bread.
It was truly a different world over there. I’m so honored that my parents included me on their 25th anniversary trip because it was truly the trip of a lifetime. From hiking the Italian coast line in Cinque Terra to watching the sunset over the river in Florence, it was one of the best Europe trips I’ve been on. But now I’ve come home to work and prepping for my junior year of college and I find myself dreaming of escaping back to Italy. And I know that in time the feelings will fade and talking about it will be with excitement and not longing. But for now Italy will be on my mind as I continue the narrowing down process of the photos I took, and get ready to share them with family and friends.
Ciao Italia, until next time.