In the lead up to the trip, I was determined to take the opportunity to learn more about my heritage on my mother’s side and learn more about what life was like in Calabria.
Places to Go
The hardest part was probably the nerves and loneliness that inevitably comes with long-term, solo travel.
Rushing through the cobblestone streets, between rows upon rows of whitewashed wooden buildings, I thought I could easily spot the massive art pieces but somehow I managed to miss them all.
Taking a quick walk along the banks of the East River, we made our way back through Williamsburg, pausing to peer in the window of the Peter Luger Steakhouse, like a pair of modern Charlie Buckets.
Simply order a cup of coffee in any cafe or restaurant in the main square of Portofino and take your place alongside politicians, film stars, professional sport players, European royalty — you name it.
Coming back to Terrace after eight months in Vancouver is a vaguely disconcerting experience, but it’s made easier by this group of people that help me trace the connection between who I am in my hometown and who I am in the city.
When I was a kid and we would visit Nana Chestney, it always meant the Natural History Museum — the greatest in the worst — and a whole hell of a lot of British candy. Being above the legal drinking age, this trip meant pints and a whole hell of a lot of British candy (I would kill and die for Colin the Caterpillar).
I had zero expectations of the country when I first landed in it — perhaps this turned out for the best as I was pleasantly surprised and immediately taken to the beauty of the place.
When I visited Madagascar, I fell in love with its warm people, beautiful landscapes and unique culture.
It’s the perfect mix of old and new, of historical and modern, that no other city seems capable of pulling off.
Watching the wedding was a reflection of racing through Chennai; everywhere my attention landed, there was a vibrancy that pulled me into the present. In a red silk sari and white dhoti, heavy flower garlands weighting their necks, the bride and groom offered sacrifices of food and flowers into the holy fire.
Beijing revealed itself slowly: rising through the smog, the red sun of dawn creeping up through the haze and seeming to play hide and seek between the buildings, rose-tinted light rising higher and higher into the sky as we approached.
I was determined to see a little bit of everything: the sunshiney towns jam-packed with historical significance, the freezing tops of the Peruvian Andes, the sweaty riversides of the Amazon rainforest, the bone-dry beaches of the North.
Shonan coast is a favorite coastal stretch among locals for its powdery sand, laid-back surf vibe and small eateries that line this section of the route. At its best, dusk at the coast can be the most glorious part of the day, with a light and tranquility that’s so hard to capture at any other time.
Montrealers laugh and chat on patios and in cafés, and throngs of students share bottles of cheap wine in Parc Jeanne-Mance — a quiet luxury that any self-respecting Vancouverite envies.
Driving through the winding village roads, past white-washed houses and pubs with gilt-edged windows and the rolling hills covered in a patchwork quilt of rye and barley fields, it feels like an illustration from a child’s story book. There is beauty in Northern Ireland’s apparent simplicity.
Iceland is a land of contrasts: behemoth glaciers sliding slowly past actively smoking volcanoes. The tranquility of the aurora borealis was interrupted by the roar of the deadly waves crashing against the black cliffs of the southern coast.
Instead of Portland trying hard to live up to expectations, I found a city trying exactly hard enough to be itself.
I said yes to Colombia. Unprepared, under-informed, and completely unsure of what I was getting myself into.