How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels, Solo Travel in Europe: Why You Don't Need a Man to Take You Out

It was when we were hiking from one town to the next in Cinque Terre, huffing and puffing and keeping our eyes peeled on the step ahead, that I stopped to take in the view. Cinque Terre, just as everyone had promised, was stunning. But, I was not expecting it to be the most beautiful place I’d been until then.

My husband and I had met our family in the Italian vacation spot–a dream within a dream–and as they had just climbed the Alps a few days before, they, unlike us, were having no trouble with the sharp inclines. Because a few of the regular routes between the five towns were closed, we had opted to go ahead with the more difficult hike anyway, and I desperately wanted to take a break.

I was not expecting it to be the most beautiful place I’d been until then.

“Wait,” I called out. “Let’s take in the view. We’re going to want to remember this when we’re home next week, when we’re back to reality.”

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels
Biking in Florence

I had no idea how right my words would be.

My husband, Ben, and I had come from Israel, where there had been four kidnappings and murders of Jewish and Arab teenagers earlier that week. It had been a tense, sad time, but we were suddenly far away from it all.

That whole week in Italy was beautiful–but it took me a few days to come to terms with the fact that I had traveled to one of the most visited countries, where tourists traipse joyfully from museum to restaurant. I am not used to traveling to places that are swarmed with tourists, that are so easy to enjoy with the treasures not hidden, but in full view for all.

I had traveled to one of the most visited countries, where tourists traipse joyfully from museum to restaurant.

Italy, as so many know, is a paradise for art-lovers, foodies, wine drinkers, and really, anyone who knows how to take a deep breath and embrace the beauty and deliciousness that life has to offer.

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels
This was the richest and most delicious plate of ravioli I have ever tasted.

In Cinque Terre, I may have destroyed my feet, but the cheese ravioli doused in oil and jug of white wine made up for it. The next morning, we sat with my family, watching the light waves of the Mediterranean over a breakfast of croissants, nutella, jam, yogurt and cappuccino, and we all talked and laughed together before Ben and I headed to Florence.

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels
Ben and I enjoy a relaxing breakfast alongside the Mediterranean.

But sometime in between seeing the magnificent David and the sunset over the Arno, eating yet another cup of gelato, and biking around the Tuscan town of Lucca, the tensions back home started to become more fierce. When we had WiFi, we read about the rockets that were being shot all over Israel, as well as the airstrikes hitting Gaza.

We went out to dinner and thought maybe we’d forego the wine. “No, we’ll be home soon enough,” I said, and ordered a half liter of red.

Ben, a journalist, felt antsy that we were away during such a critical time. We had friends being called to reserve duty, and others running to bomb shelters. He asked his editor if he should write something from Italy, but his editor told him to enjoy his vacation.

In Florence, where age-old churches and designer stores can be found right next to each other and adorable trattorias line the large cobblestone streets, we found ourselves becoming somber.

We went out to dinner and thought maybe we’d forego the wine. “No, we’ll be home soon enough,” I said, and ordered a half liter of red.

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels
Pure happiness at a cafe in Cinque Terre.

In no time, we were back in Israel, and the following day I experienced my first rocket siren and rush to a shelter. Though we believe we will be safe, we are still jumpy. Our nights are sleepless, as we wake up to check the news and our rocket alert app.

When I became sick during my senior year in college, I told myself that I would never worry about anything silly ever again. Of course, I did not keep that promise to myself. But I did make a resolution to appreciate the good times. Soak it in, I tell myself. Because you never know what the next day will bring.

Travel can be so intensely beautiful. Italy was doubly so. Now, in my exhausted state, I picture my family seated around the table in Cinque Terre, dangling our blistered feet while cradling glasses of wine in our hands. We were sun burnt and exhausted but we felt so very alive.

I know that this hard time will pass.  But for now, our time in Italy is the moment I will hold onto.

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels
My sister-in-law, Alyssa and I pause between towns in Cinque Terre.

 

 

How I Learned to Enjoy Every Moment of My Travels

About Rachel Sales

Rachel SalesRachel Sales is a co-founder of Pink Pangea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Loading...