Here is my final video. A compilation of all the wonderful memories I have that were caught on video. Its a little long, and I apologize, but so was my journey. This is for all of my family and friends that I have not yet had the time to talk to and tell you about my travels, and to all of my friends I left behind. Without those I met along the way, this trip would have been filled with feelings of homesickness, but you all became my family, and a family I will never forget. Ciao, cheers, salute, enjoy ❤
Were down to single digits in the countdown to Canada ladies and gentlemen! In fact, I can count the sleeps on one hand. I am so adjusted to everything European, it is going to be so difficult to adjust to home again. Please be patient with me upon my arrival. I will most likely wake at a normal time, but when it comes to lunch, I will probably not eat it until 2 o’clock. Lunch will possibly be followed by a half hour siesta (think I should put that on my resume?), and I won’t start preparing dinner until at least 7 or 7:30. I am going to want some form of bread every day and probably won’t have butter in my fridge (sorry Wendy). Some words in my English vocabulary have been permanently replaced by words in other languages, particularly Italian (duh). I’m not attempting to be one of those kids who go away for a few weeks and return thinking they have the world in their hands now, it’s just become habit because frankly, some words just sound so much better in a different language. If you are with me when I start using these strange words, feel free to ask for clarification. Everyone could use a few Italian words in their vocabulary. In fact, if you learn a few random words in Italian, you can really impress people, and when someone asks you, “say something beautiful to me in Italian” (because you’ve obviously told them your cool friend Jody went to Italy and taught you some language) you can reply confidently, “per che il cattivo cavolo salta arcobaleni” ….. Literal translation: “because the bad cabbage jumps over rainbows”. Seems legit, they’ll never know…
Since I wrote last time, oh what an interesting week I have had. After getting to Madrid I checked into my hostel, which was basically set up like a hospital with five cots right next to each other, no where to lock up any of your belongings, and a really weird “vibe”. To keep unpleasant details to a minimum, I will sum up my experience there by saying that I slept with my important items in my underwear, avoided all contact with the guy in the next bed for fear of being the product of “Taken 3” without Liam Neeson to save me, and didn’t shower for three days to avoid contracting any possible diseases I didn’t already have from the bed itself. Hostel aside, I was actually able to meet up with two girls who I met through work in Italy and went boating, toured some museum (shows my enthusiasm there), and attended a Flamenco dance. That part, that part was nice. I was so glad to see them once more and very happy to be a part of their holidays as well.
After the two girls left, I RAN out of my hostel, but really Had no where to go. Thankfully I had met some guys from France when I was in Barcelona, and they happened to be in Madrid and told me there was room at their hostel. I ran there and told the reception I would take absolutely anything they had. Turns out this was the Madrid hostel from the group “World Famous Hostels” and it was awesome! I was so relieved when I got there. When I got into my room I met some awesome Canadians, well no, the first thing I did was shower, then I met some awesome Canadians. We walked around Madrid, met up with my French friends, and had a night filled with tons of funny memories including a limbo competition, the ceiling giving out and the disco ball falling right on my head, and exchanging some epic dance moves. But everyone has their own travel schedule, and they left several days before I was suppose to catch my flight to Greece. I was suppose to meet up with another travel friend, but unfortunately that fell through. I was very sad that I would be alone for the next five days, as I was not really fond of Madrid. However, everything happens for a reason, and after much dilemma I decided I hadn’t really done anything spontaneous on this trip yet. So, I booked a flight, slept at the airport, and hopped on the next plane to follow the Canadians to the Canary Islands near Morocco. You only live once, right? (Refusing to abbreviate that. Choosing to hold onto my dignity here a little)
The islands were amazing! I stayed at a little hostel right off the beach, went boogie boarding and also tested my balance and skills, or lack there of, at surfing! Who would have thought I would go surfing on this trip. It was so much fun and the water was so warm, but so, so dang salty. Finally, after about 40 hours of not sleeping, I crashed. After the Canadians left, I went with other new friends to a surf competition (sadly I was not a participant, as I could barely move I was so sore), and then again went boogie boarding. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. I hardly took any pictures because we just went and went and went. Man have the last few days been, for lack of a better word, cool.
As excited as I am to be on my way to Greece, and still very sore, I am starting to get excited about coming home too. I have started a mental list of the little things I am looking forward to: body lotion, homemade muffins, not sleeping in bunk beds, not having to fly again for a while, salad, having a different pair of shoes, having more than 3 shirts, being able to hug someone for more than five seconds without it being weird, going to the gym, not having to think in 24hour time, not being scared to pick up my own vegetables at the grocery store for fear of being scowled at when I ‘do it wrong’, and, as much as I have become accustomed to coffee here, I am still excited to have a good ol Tim’s!
It’s impossible to make a list of things I am looking forward to without also thinking about the things I am NOT looking forward to: my feet having to be clean all the time… this just doesn’t happen here; wearing make up again and doing my hair, I thoroughly enjoy not having to care about what I look like; the chance that there is going to be a snow storm when I arrive, having to live in reality again, driving in traffic, poorly made wine, poorly made croissants, poorly made cheese, basically anything made poorly or not as fresh as here.
Well, after panicing about missing my flight to Greece, I made it. And yes, this was written over two days. After getting to the Athens airport late, I finally made it through security (after having my “liquids” taken away at security because I was stupid and in my panic forgot to put them in my other bag). By this time I had changed time zones so many times I had no clue what time it was, but I boarded a tiny plane, at what they told me was 5:45am, with probably 50 other people. I was pretty sure the plane was made from paper mâché, but was so tired that I got on anyways. The flight was AMAZING. A solid 25 minutes of low flying (my favourite) over the Greek islands, landing in Mykonos just as the sun was rising over the ocean. The airport was basically a small gymnasium, but I didn’t mind, I was just so excited to be in my final destination.
Let me tell you about Greece, because everyone should go. First of all, the pictures are accurate; white houses, blue shutters, friendly people, crystal clear ocean, and cats everywhere. Hola! Apparently Mykonos is the party island, but to be honest, I’m so exhausted that all I want is to be on my own relaxing, eating great food, and taking some great pictures. I literally don’t want to do anything and I’m okay with that. I walked all day and saw all the famous sights, good thing because it’s storming today. I finished off my day with the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen in my life, followed by a dinner of typical chicken pita with tzaziki and baklava for dessert while laying in bed watching Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, which, let’s be honest, is the reason I wanted to come to Greece in the first place. As my room continues to shake from the thunder today, I am pretty sure I will be doing nothing before boarding my ferry tomorrow to Santorini. Oh! And to answer my earlier question…. Yes, it is still called a Greek salad (or typical salad) here. Speaking of which, I’m going to get one for supper.
Shout out to home: Happy Belated Birthday to the thing I am MOST excited about seeing when I get home. Wish I could have been there to celebrate with you Tyler, see you in four sleeps my love.
Soon to be no more,
Your Italian Armstrong
Exactly two weeks to go in this adventure of a lifetime and I am now completely alone. Alone, however not lonely. I can’t wait to make some decisions completely on my own and just get up and go every morning.
The last two weeks have been some of the best memories I have ever made with my family. We did things and saw things together that I never would have ever imagined we would get the chance to do together. It was so much fun to be able to play tour guide and take them all around Florence, and then join in with them to be tourists in Rome and Barcelona.
Having them with me in Italy made me realize how much I have learned since being here. They made all the classic “you’re clearly not from here” mistakes. As we walked into the cafe for breakfast Wendy says to me, “the lady working here is French” when I asked how she knew that she replied, “well she said bonjour when we came in, so I replied bonjour”… No, no she said buongiorno, which is Italian for good morning… She’s definitely Italian. Translating for them was one of my favourite things. I really got to show off my less than outstanding language skills. We had some terrible luck throughout the trip, but what else is new with the Armstrong family. Riding the train two and a half hours to Naples only to find out that our next train to Pompeii wouldn’t be running because of flooding underground. So, we went to Naples for lunch, turned around and went back to Rome.
I am not sure if I have ever laughed so hard as I did in Rome getting ready for our plane ride to Barcelona. Oh Ryanair, as long as you continue to sell scratch and win tickets during the flight, I will never consider you a real airline. After reading the “luggage requirements” the night before our flight, we came to realize that there was no way we were within the size and weight restrictions. For those of you who don’t know my family, we are literally the cheapest people ever and go to great lengths to save money anywhere we can, because we would rather spend it on fun things than extra luggage costs. That being said, we attempted The funniest thing we have ever collectively come up with. Can’t fit your clothes in your bag? Why no wear them all? And so collectively on a 26 degree day, we wore: 6 sweaters, 3 jackets, 3 bathing suits, 2 pairs of leggings, 3 pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, 2 tank tops, 2 shirts, 2 scarves, socks, underwear, headbands, sunglasses, 2 pairs of runnings shoes, and a pair of winter boots. After a 15 minute metro ride, an hour bus ride, and being sent to the wrong terminal twice, we finally arrived in security where we had to take everything off, and put it back on again. Oh, and mom got a pat down. Finally, after our flight was delayed and we were forced to sweat for an extra hour, we were on the plane and soon arrived in Barcelona where we immediately stripped.
Barcelona was amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and our Starbucks. Thank you Spain! We laid on the beach where the two of them found out quickly that their skin was still in winter mode and not ready for the sun yet. However, despite the crisp skin and blistered feet, we walked and walked and saw so many beautiful things and enjoyed amazing food. We then saw all those sights again from above as we took a gondola across the port. It was amazing.
I was so sad to see them go, but I am so glad they came. I will never forget the last thing Mom said before they left, “thank you, this was MY trip of a lifetime.” This meant more to me than I think she will ever know. I hope they have both caught the same travel bug that I have. 🙂
Since I have been on my own I have decided to stop making a list of things I want to do, and start crossing things off instead. I have gone for a midnight swim in the ocean, been rollerblading from one side of the beach to the other, eaten more coconut than is probably healthy, went for a run down a street lined with palm trees, and watched the sun set over Barceloneta. What a wonderful last day I had there. I am on the bus on my way to Madrid. What will I do there you ask? I literally have no idea, but I am sure I’ll find something to do!
Although not in Italy anymore,
Still your Italian Armstrong