So yesterday I did what one does during a snow day and I fell asleep on my couch after eating two bowls of Lucky Charms. Well, I’ll be honest with you, they were Marshmallow Mateys, the store brand featuring a kangaroo with sunglasses (I thought it was a pirate cereal for the longest time but now I get it). During that nap I had a vision. OK we’ll call it a dream. I dreamt that I wrote a blog post about my upcoming travels. I promise I usually have way better dreams than this. Now most bloggers would probably relish the extra time away from work to do some writing or whatever it is other bloggers do. Not this one. I don’t care how many words need to be looked up in the dictionary (a lot) or how many hashtags need to be hashtagged… snow days are for leftover Super Bowl pizza, reruns of Criminal Minds, and my trademark cat-sanctioned couch naps. That being said, the post I wrote in my dream was a real gem, but can I remember a word of it? Of course not! However, I’ll chalk it up to divine intervention and see what I can do for you.
One of the New Year’s Resolutions I make every year, as everyone should, is to go somewhere I have never been before. I’ll be getting drunk in many familiar places this year but three of these destinations are virgin territory.
Now, most travelers would probably do at least minimal research into the unexplored places he/she is visiting. Not this traveler. I prefer to take the route of the squirrel I saw in my front yard yesterday and just dive headfirst into the snow drift. He didn’t cautiously walk down the trunk and feel if the snow was actually solid ground. He didn’t turn around and crawl back up the tree fearful of what would happen if he tried to jump down. He threw all caution to the blustery wind and leaped off the trunk from three feet up, arms spread, tail flapping, completely disappearing in the waist-deep snow. My waist, not his. After a few seconds he popped back up, shook himself off, and dove right back in, absolutely loving it!
That is pretty much how I approach traveling. Maybe I like to be surprised? Maybe my ADD prohibits the retention of anything I’ve learned about a place before I go? Maybe I like to stay expectation-free?
I think my routine works just fine and I like it that way but for a couple of my virgin trips this year I am taking some initiative and giving it a learn before I get there.
MARCH // ASSISI, ITALY
“Assisi is one of Italy’s best kept secrets because of its relatively small size and rich historical past. You have to check out all the St. Francis stuff you can! Especially, the church Francis built with his hands after hearing God tell him, “Rebuild my church.”
The above quote is from a friend of mine who loves Assisi and knows a ton about it and its history. But it’s safe to say that she’s probably the most intelligent person I know who knows basically a lot about everything which is perfect since she is on my Geeks Who Drink trivia team (reigning champs btw).
Assisi is a city I wanted to visit while living in Italy three years ago but for one reason or another never did. I don’t know anything about this place. I don’t even know where it is. Actually, I’m going to look that up now.
There you go. This place looks absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to get there! This is what I know about Assisi: St. Francis. That’s it. I’m actually currently reading a biography of St. Francis so I can learn and immediately forget everything there is to know about him before I get there. (Full disclosure: I’m also trying to increase my “Jesus-knowledge” so I’ll be ready to kick all the asses when I make it on Jeopardy! It’s my weakest category, followed by Broadway Musicals and Shakespeare. One thing at a time but I’m coming for you, nerds!) So far I know that St. Francis is kind of an awesome dude who just absolutely loves being poor. He refers to this as his “marriage to Lady Poverty” which gets really confusing at times because marriage is just not his jam (extra virgin territory?). The book hasn’t gotten to the part about his umm… unique haircut yet though… SO NO SPOILERS!
I’ve also just read about how he preached to the birds and how all the animals love him. This is probably why people keep telling me there is a statue of him in Assisi that all the birds flock to. Come on, y’all don’t think it’s just covered with birdseed? Put there by the same guy who cleans off all the dookie, thereby brilliantly creating his own job security? Perhaps I’m skeptical because his biography states that after he says all the Jesus-things to the birds, they spread their wings, bow their heads to him, then all fly off in the shape of a cross. This seems a little far-fetched even for someone who has seen miracles with her own two eyes, e.g. making it all the way through my wedding day without once having to pee, surviving an entire day as a cheerleader for a professional baseball team without even a smidgeon of the exhaustive dance background they thought I had, and last Sunday’s New England Patriots Super Bowl win, am I right?
Don’t get me wrong, I love animals too and I will swear to you that my cats are saying human words to me when I talk to them, but I’ll just have to examine the situation for myself when I get there. Expect a full report.
APRIL // POMPEII, ITALY
“Oh my gosh! I don’t know, I feel like I need to look back at my pics. It was so long ago now! Hahaha! I just remember getting a creepy feeling knowing that all the people died and it was unreal that they were able to preserve a lot of the city! LOL”
The above quote is from another friend of mine who knows I appreciate a good ‘LOL’ after some horribly tragic information.
I have this picture in my head of Pompeii and it’s of a very dusty, dirty place. A ghost town of sorts. And what looks like a clay mold of a human body laying on the ground. I’ve seen this picture in my head my entire life whenever Pompeii is mentioned and I think it stems from a video I was once forced to watch in elementary school. Kind of a frightening thing to show a child, no? That just me? Turns out these pictures are a totally accurate summary of the horror of the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted, burying all of Pompeii’s 2,000 residents under twenty feet of volcanic ash, LOL. However that’s all I know. Oh and penises. Penises everywhere! Apparently Pompeii is a very erotic destination, making it a debatable candidate for a post on “virgin territory”. I’ve decided not to delve any deeper on this topic because I want to get the full, albeit slightly scary, effect in person. If this excites you in ways you can’t explain or you just want to see what a GIANT penis coming out of a wall looks like, click here after your grandmother leaves the room to go get more yarn.
I’m also very psyched to see Mt. Vesuvius, which I just learned is the only active volcano on mainland Europe and still poses a threat to the surrounding areas. How exciting! That reminds me, my ‘Virgin Territory: 2014’ was to another place with active volcanoes that erupted shortly before my visit, hmmm. If my mom was here she would make the “doo-doo-doo-doo-doooo” sound from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We’ll see if it happens again.
UPDATE: Check out my photo essay on Pompeii HERE. Grazie!
JUNE // BARCELONA, SPAIN
“Sweeeeeeeeet! You will not regret Barcelona. I’m gonna see if I can find this book about the city that I got when I was there on Amazon and order it for you!”
The above quote is by a very good friend of mine who is the Christina to my Vicky and we’ve been talking about going to Barcelona together for years. She went last year for like a day and has been raving about it ever since. That and “there’s a church there that looks like it’s dripping!” I should also mention that after I told her I was going to quote her I got this response:
“Within 20 minutes of being in Barcelona I was in love with the city. It’s like eye candy. Every façade was painted or decorated in some unusual way, there were mosaics in the side walks, I saw dragons coming off one building, elegant hanging lamp posts, elaborate water fountains, and flowers everywhere. All this within 20 minutes. I was in love before I even saw any of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces!”
Barcelona is a place I’ve wanted to go ever since seeing the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona a few years ago and I’m excited to visit a Spanish speaking country for a change. It’s been about four years since I’ve gotten to butcher any Spanish, not counting the entire time I lived in Italy and spoke Spanish because I didn’t know any Italian. No worries, I got by, the Italians are a very understanding and accommodating people. And since you can’t see me right now I’ll go ahead and tell you I have pursed lips and one eyebrow raised. Since deciding to go to Barcelona and looking at photos like the one above, I’ve also learned that, thanks to a guy named Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona is a lot like Candy Land. Or Dr. Seuss-ville? Who-ville? Whatever, it looks awesome and I can’t wait to eat some green eggs & ham with Lord Licorice and Gramma Nutt in her peanut brittle house. Oh, you said eye-candy… I get it now.
UPDATE: Read about my adventures in Barcelona HERE. ¡Gracias!
So to sum up, I’m super excited about all the new places I will be going this year as well as all the others I already love, know all the juicy details about, and can’t wait to see again! Like that really great friend you don’t get to see often enough because they are a whole plane ride away through which you have to connect through Atlanta. But then they call you about their “work problem” that interestingly enough involves a dog with an erection that just won’t quit, you nearly drown in your own laughter-induced tears, and you remind yourself to get back there as soon as possible… hopefully on a direct flight.
WHAT NEW PLACES DID YOU VISIT IN 2015? LET ME KNOW BELOW!
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