As we packed our bags and prepared to return back to our normal lives, my mind kept racing thinking of all of the other places I need to visit. On the ride to the airport I began flipping through my phone and I found an old list in my notes. I smiled as I scanned through and realized it was my bucket list. It was with a sigh of relief that I finally checked off “Go to Italy”. As we said our good-byes to the beauty that is Italy, we also said good-bye to one of my friends traveling with us. She was going to make a pitstop before the semester began and was on her way to Germany! How awesome is that?! I was simply heading back to work, but I was heading back inspired and eager to cross more things off of my list. This holiday weekend I returned from Canada. As close as it is and maybe unexciting to some, it was one of the most fulfilling moments because it was at that moment I crossed off yet another thing off of my list. While in Canada, we walked through this big mall-like building with a foodcourt and casino and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was standing in front of Ponte Vecchio… again?! This Italian restaurant brought me so much joy as I reminisced about my recent journey. Italy has sparked a lost flame in me and will always remain with me. This world is a mighty big place, and I can’t wait to travel and see it all.
Being a tourist has both it’s perks and downsides. Being a tourist with such a small group has mostly it’s perks. We can easily navigate through crowds, picking a restaurant for lunch or dinner becomes easier, and we are more united. Yesterday we went to the Accademia Gallery. We entered together, started walking through the space together, and it was so packed that before I knew it the familiar people around me were gone. It was no big deal, but as I walked through the rest of the gallery I would keep an eye out for a familiar face. I found myself taking a right turn and seeing a big open hallway with unfinished sculptures on each side. I began glancing to see what else and who else was around, and that’s when I saw the most familiar face of all. I immediately stopped walking and my jaw slowly aimed towards the ground. In this huge open space, with what appeared to be a glass dome overhead at the end of the hallway was, the David. THE David. The David that I’ve seen thousands of times in textbooks and videos. The David that I had no idea I’d be that mesmerized by. I don’t remember moving, but I found myself steps away from the immaculate sculpture and I couldn’t believe it. Pictures do not do justice! Seeing it on paper should almost be a crime. The experience that I had physically walking up to it and admiring it in person is EVERYTHING compared to simply seeing a photograph of it. Photos almost cheapen the immense quality that is seen in person.
For those that aren’t familiar, meet David. (Hope I didn’t cheapen it too much, but I just had to take a picture!)
Sitting with one of the professors I asked her, “How many countries have you visited?” She quickly chuckled and started making a verbal list. As they kept flowing we realized she was at 35, if not more, and all I could think of was, “GOALS”. The best part was when she told us how she was able to travel so much. When she was younger she wasn’t wealthy, her family didn’t have much money to splurge, but what she did have was work ethic, morals, and persistence. When she was younger and wanted to travel but couldn’t afford it, she reached out to an old family friend. She told the friend, who at the time was a wealthy older woman, her dilemma – she wanted to travel but couldn’t afford it. She promised the older woman she would pay her back as soon as possible. She told her she wouldn’t make any large purchases until she was paid, and the older woman took a chance on her.
She was able to travel to dozens of countries, meet dozens of people, all because she put her pride aside, took a chance, and reached out to an old friend. It was refreshing to hear her speak of how bold she was, and how much it paid off for her. I know people now who limit themselves. Many people who seem bitter that they do not get to experience as much as others do, but many of those people do not seek a helping hand.
“Ask and you shall receive” – do not set limits for yourself.
Remember, il cielo è il limite – the sky is the limit. If you wish to travel someday and can’t afford it, ask around, you’ll be surprised who can help, and how. Don’t let invisible ceilings stop you from reaching your own “GOALS”… (But, if you ever do, make sure it’s as gorgeous as this one! ;-))
taken at the Baptistry (Battistero di San Giovanni)
After 9 hours of flying, and sitting next to someone who only spoke Italian, I already knew it’ll be an experience for me like no other. I was more excited than scared or nervous. I always talked about traveling the world someday, but I never got the chance (or at least, I never took the chance). On day one I quickly realized how important it is to take chances. We went to the Piazza del Duomo and were in line to climb the Bell Tower. Immediately thoughts of claustrophobia and heights kicked in to some of the people with us, however, with a slight push we got everybody to agree to go up. How often do you get the chance to climb up? How often are you in Italy? How often will you experience the gorgeous views of Florence from the Bell Tower?!
Sure, the walk was a little tight at times. Sure, it was a workout and immediate reminder that you should use that gym membership that’s been collecting dust somewhere. Sure, you should plan on bringing a bottle of water with you. But, not many times will chances like these come across. You must take chances, go outside of your comfort zone, see new people, hear new languages, breathe heavily and do leg day going up a historical building. Sure, taking chances will be scary, but I’ll be lying if I said every step of the 414+ we took wasn’t worth seeing the beauty that is Florence.
The reward of taking chances.