Has it really been almost two months?
Yep, it definitely has.
Ok but for real though, I have a pretty good excuse.
First off, I graduated high school in June, which was kind of a big deal. But not the kind of big deal where you sob and get nostalgic about elementary school and crayons and the days when you sang songs to learn the times tables (didn’t everyone do that?). I’ll admit, I did get a little teary at some points, because I can be kind of an emotional person, but that’s only because it started to hit me that a huge chapter in my life was ending. The entire first chapter, to be precise. More like the first installment. Now I’m onto Part 2 and I’ve never been here before. It’s like in long movies when Part 1 ends and after intermission it picks up in a whole new scene.
I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed my years of public schooling. Everyone always says how horrible middle school and high school are (we just accept the fact that elementary school is basically the best, most of the time) and yes, middle school did suck at times (but that’s just because it was middle school; I mean, c’mon) but I actually had a really great high school experience. I have amazing friends who are silly and weird as heck sometimes but I love them. They are what have kept me sane through the stress of classes and standardized tests and social awkwardness. Them and Community Channel’s YouTube videos.
It’s weird thinking back to all the memories with the people I’ve spent the majority of my childhood with and realizing that these people will no longer really be a part of my life. With some people, this will not be difficult for me. (There are always those people). But others I will dearly miss. However, I am so beyond excited to meet a whole new crop of fantastic individuals and enjoy the freedom of college.
I realize that I’m going to have to alter the name of this blog, since I am no longer a highschooler. Hmmm.
Anyway, the second half of my excuse is that I have been in Europe for the past three weeks. Go ahead and be jealous. It was pretty amazing.
I went with my parents and my two best girl friends, and we had literally (literally) been planning this trip for at least two years. My dad was the brains behind all the logistical stuff, so we kind of just listened to him and followed him everywhere because he knew everything. Except that he got us lost a few times, wherin I would go in front and pretend like I was any better at directions. But my dad is still pretty much the best dad ever for traipsing around Europe with three 18-year old girls. Who could legally drink alcohol there. Not saying that anything happened, but we did taste wine frequently.
We spent our first week in Rome, and oh goodness, I have never been to a city quite like that one. It’s chaotic, noisy, dirty, and stressful. It’s also charming, exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and relaxing. If that makes any sense. I honestly really enjoyed it though. It was such a cool experience, going to all those ancient ruins and great cathedrals and museums; but also walking around different neighborhoods, experiencing the city. Romans are truly wonderful, friendly people. Except when they’re driving any scooter or vehicle.
We then spent four nights in Florence, city of the red roofs. It was a nice break from the big city, because we stayed in the smaller, more quaint historic section (obviously). I definitely felt like I was around a lot of tourists a lot of the time, but I still really enjoyed this city. Just going to see the Michelangelo sculptures is worth it.
Then we spent three nights in Venice. Venice is so touristy, but I mean, how can it not be? That was the downside; I didn’t feel like I was interacting with any locals ever. But I’m still really glad we went. It’s just something I needed to see. There is no other place like it in the world. The canals were so cool, although St. Mark’s Square is overrated, in my opinion. I’ve seen cooler squares. But I did enjoy Venice. We rode all around the island and down the Grand Canal on a vaporetti one evening. I think I really enjoy boats; it’s so much fun being out on the water!
I had a great time in Italy. Italians definitely have a character of their own, and a cuisine; we ate some pretty yummy food, but the best part was the gelato. We ate gelato literally every day (we justified it by walking a ton). There were so many delicious flavors, I can’t name one favorite, but I will attempt to list several:
-vanilla (it’s just a classic)
-all the other chocolates
-strawberry (of course)
And our last week we stayed in Paris. The first time I stepped out onto the street, I knew immediately that I loved that city. I’m sure that sounds weird, but I can’t even describe it; the whole atmosphere of the city was just everything that I had imagined it to be. I loved the architecture, and I don’t even exactly know why, but something about it just made me so happy. Maybe it was because it was so uniform and orderly (but not in a boring, dull way) and I’m kind of a perfectionist/very orderly person. But it was more than that; the style of the buildings, the leafy trees lining both broad boulevards and narrow cobblestone streets, the Seine River running through the city, the unique sights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc.), the charming neighborhoods . . . everything combined made it absolute heaven for me. And eating crepes like every day helped a little as well; we ate at different, equally amazing creperies three days in a row, and each time I kept thinking, it couldn’t possibly get any better, and it did! But the most delicious crepe I had was a dessert one: apples with salted butter caramel. Literally the most delicious thing I have ever tasted ever.
Our last day in Paris was actually a national holiday in France: Bastille Day (as Americans call it), or Fete National (as everyone else calls it). In the evening we watched from the area around the Louvre as the Eiffel Tower sparkled (and that was some serious sparkling) and fireworks went off. It was strange hearing people humming the French national anthem, because I’m so used to the Stars Spangled Banner. I enjoyed it though.
Oh, our first night in Paris we actually got to go up to the very top! We popped down there just to check it out and we only stood in line for like 45 minutes (it was like 8:30 pm). At the very top, we watched the sun set over Paris (crowded in with a bunch of other tourists). But that was a very special experience for sure.
And one night we went to a ballet at La Opera Garnier, the oldest and grandest opera house in Paris. But we almost didn’t make it, because we had assumed the show started at 8, while it actually started at 7:30. We realized this at 7:20. Luckily we were only a 10 minute walk, but we booked it down the street and sprinted inside and up the stairs, in our nice outfits and everything (I got all sweaty and gross). We arrived just as the orchestra was beginning the play, so we didn’t miss anything. And fortunately our seats were in the very back, so we didn’t disturb anyone (I hope).
You know how people are always saying how snobby Parisians are? Well, I don’t know what they’ve changed over there, but every single Parisian we encountered was extremely considerate, welcoming, and helpful. One man even started a conversation with my dad in French on the bus; my dad said like five words in French (with an excellent accent), and the man started rattling on until my dad finally had to admit that he didn’t actually speak French!
We stayed in apartments (vacation rentals) in all of the places, so we would eat lunch out, and then eat dinner in. Which meant that we had to make trips to the grocery store. In Italy, this was a supermercado, which was like a mini Safeway. It had a bread and cheese counter, and then the other stuff. In Paris, we went to Monoprix, which was the most astounding store I’ve ever been in; picture a cross between Macy’s (clothing, makeup counters and all), a drugstore (Walgreens, RiteAid) and Safeway. This store literally had everything. Including a very expansive fromagerie (cheese section), which I was very interested in. It was difficult making out what things were, seeing as we didn’t speak the native language, but we figured it out. It was certainly an adventure though.
I kept a journal throughout the whole trip. At first I was like, oh I’ll only write down the essentials, because I hadn’t written in a journal in years, and it felt kind of silly. But I soon realized that just writing down the essentials was not physically or mentally possible for me. I became bent on writing down every detail every day, and I actually filled up the entire journal (it’s a pretty small one and I write big, but still). I had started just a few pages in, and now I only have a few blank pages left. I guess it’s the writer in me.
Wow, this might just be the longest post I’ve ever written. No, it does not make up for my absence. But I hope it comes somewhat close.