Wednesday, June 04, 2008


This hand-painted porcelain tile hangs right beside my door, so I see it a lot. For me, this is one of a number of things around my house that remind me of my trip to Europe two summers ago. Lately, I've been getting the travel itch in a big way, but I'm not in a position to do anything about it this year (thank you, dumb car, who, by the way, is getting me back for my little 'you won't beat me!' showdown post by deciding to need new brakes like, last week). All I can do is look through my pictures, re-read my old blog posts, and wish I could go back...

That was a glorious, glorious summer. July was full of mountaintops, beaches, sunsets, and starlight - every weekend through most of June and all of July I was hiking and swimming and enjoying long chats with friends late into the evening. It certainly didn't hurt that one friend who was with me every time was someone I was absolutely crazy about. It was the fun, thrilling, crazy-making beginnings of what seemed like - or at least what I so strongly hoped - would become something amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better July...

... And then I went to Europe! I spent all of August exploring, discovering, meeting new people, and absolutely loving the freedom of travelling where I wanted, doing things on my own, figuring out new cities, taking in the culture, the scenery, the history, the cuisine... It's definitely been one of the bigger highlights of my life so far.

But of all the places I went, it was the Cinque Terre that captured me the most. I fell in love with Vernazza, one of the five tiny, colourful towns that tumbled down the steep hillsides. The terraced vineyards rising high above the towns. The azure blue mediterranean waves crashing onto the breakwater, the tiny fishing boats bobbing in the harbour, the tall yellow clock tower chiming out the hour over the village from dawn to dusk every day... it was spectacular. The food, the wine, the views, the colours, the smells - rosemary, thyme, salty air, hot dusty ground. The towns were each tiny, the locals were friendly (like the little old man selling Limoncello under a lemon tree who gave me a kiss on the cheek when he saw the Canadian flag on my backpack!), and it was pretty much the most romantic place I've ever been (um, NOT cause of the little old man!).

Each time I look at that little reminder of Italian heaven on my wall, I drift back to the three days I spent there. I can hear the animated conversations of tourist and local like, the chime of the clock tower and the din of the restaurants on the piazza, the waves pounding the breakwater. I so long to go back and sit on my patio high above the sea and drift off - no cares, no sense of time, no nothing. Just soaking in existence and beauty.

One day I will go back. Till then, each time I look at the view of Vernazza beside my door, I try to remember to let existence and beauty soak in where I am, too. To not let life get so crazy or get so overwhelming that I forget to enjoy it... Cause life is good here, too!

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