Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jess in Germany: Guest Post #2

Jess is in Germany. Sigh. Whilst I have grown to love and respect her, I cannot help but to admit my rampant and flagrant jealousy over her trip, because I am mature. Hi, I write over at Each Of The Two ,and today I wanted to share one of my loves; travel.

I am madly and desperately in love with going to new places, seeing new things and immersing my self as much as I can in the culture and not the touristy novelties, even if that means eating tripe soup (cow stomach, yeeeeeeaaaaah.) Ever since I was little girl I dreamed of seeing the world. The WHOLE world. I would make up stories of how I was an archaeologist in Egypt, a photographer in China, a merchants daughter in Italy, a journalist in Brazil, you name it I dreamed it, I lived an incredibly active imaginary travel life. Imaginary, thats just what it was. See my parents never had loads of money, oh we weren't poor and I have no memories of doing without, but we definitely didn't have the money to go on vacations, our family vacations where limited to just that, FAMILY. Our two travels a year where to my Oma's at Thanksgiving and my Grandmother's in the summer, and maybe a trip to a nearby theme park for a day of roller coasters, but thats it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter, but I always dreamed of more. I think my Dad could sense that, because the summer before I, the oldest, went to college my family went on our first real trip, my Dad saved for what must have been years to take his family of five to London to visit family friends and then to Ireland for a week to show us all the places my parents had gone on their honeymoon 20 years before! My first time over seas! It was beyond mind blowing, I can attest that not only did it change my life permanently but changed my out look on who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live and enjoy life. To this day, London is still my favorite city and I have been back four times, even for a short stint of living.

Not only did that trip give me the realization that my childhood dreams of traveling the world were possible, but gave me the confidence that I would achieve it. It also gave me a eye opening to seeing and experiencing places and cultures within my own country, something that had never interested me prior, and honestly still holds less appeal than abroad but obviously remains far more available time wise and money wise.

As soon as I hit grad school I found a way to convince the school to give me a scholarship to study non-traditional performance spaces and used that time and money for a month-long stay in Italy. The paper? Bullshit. The experience? One that cannot ever be duplicated. And I have never regretted deceiving anyone for that opportunity.

Everyone makes goals of "things I want to do before I die" If you thought of it right now I'm sure you could have a list over a hundred before the hour is out, but it would prove far harder to narrow it down to a top 10 or even a top 5. By the time I was sixteen I knew what my top 5 were and to this day they haven't changed. One of which was "before I die I want to know what the inside of the Sistine Chapel smells like." Not looks like, I can see it in books, and the internet, but SMELLS like, I had to be there, I had to walk the same tiles as Michelangelo, I had to crick my neck at the same angle, I had to know the texture of the dust in the air, the flavor of the humidity, the subtle and dying fragrance of the fresco dye and plaster lingering almost ghostlike in my nostrils.At the age of twenty three I walked with trepidation into that Chapel and was overcome with emotion. Overcome with what how lucky I was to be there at such a young age and the sheer glory and majesty that history had afforded for such a location to still be in existence. I am not ashamed to admit the tears of joy rolling silently down my face.I have no pictures of this, none are allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but it doesn't matter, if you want to see it, go online or buy a book, if you want to FEEL it ... well that's a whole other story. I don't need pictures, I still have the feeling.

Every year I make sure to go somewhere. Even if its just in my "backyard". I am not rich, In fact I am in debt from school, but I travel light, I travel smart. I never stay in nice places because I am not there to sleep (I mostly stay in Hostels), I am there to experience, I never eat in touristy areas, they are more expensive and less accurate to local cuisine and I make sure to research all my options a head of time, and not just museums or whatnot. I research maps and public transportation, I find out if a tour is worth paying for (most aren't, though the Vatican is and so is Chesky Krumlov), I look at what I can get with a student ID and update my international one, I try to find every trick in the book to make my time and money count.

Better than any gift I can hold is the gift of memories and experiences.


  1. your experience in the sistine chapel makes me want to go. and soon. i love that overwhelming feeling you get when seeing something (especially art) that takes your breath away. there's nothing like it. perhaps i should add that to my love list...

  2. SO WITH YOU ON THIS. nothing replaces the experience of traveling... absolutely nothing. i book trips no matter how much i can't afford it; they're too essential.

  3. I am a completely non-religious person. I got kicked out of the Vatican library because my dress was 1/2" too short and you could see a smidge of my knees. But when I walked into the Sistine Chapel, it was awe inspiring. There is something almost magical about the place that is incredibly difficult to describe in words. I totally get what you're saying. Totally.

  4. I adored the vatican, even though i am not catholic. Your post totally brings me back!

  5. Hmmm...tripe soup...sounds like Mexico? My ex (Mexican) used to eat...well they call it menudo... EVERY WEEKEND. UGH. Said it was the best cure for a hangover. Um, is that because people want to VOMIT after eating it????

  6. I've travelled quite a bit in my (soon)30 years and love every moment of it. From the excitement that keeps me up the day before I leave, the bustling airports, even being crammed into coach and then of course- the place I'm visiting.
    I've done a lot of both cheapy travelling and the more high end type (mostly in Asia since 4+ star hotel for under 50 bucks ... niiiiiicccee)
    There are only two tours I've been on that were worth it. Once to Karthage in Tunesia (Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam!)and the other, wasn't really a tour per se. but included many interesting tours- was a cruise up the river Kwai in Thailand on a collonial type cruise with only 10 cabins. It was awesome- and worth the 250$ it cost for the 4 day trip.
    Italy and the Sistine chapel, definitely on my list of places to see before I die.