When I was younger traveling was a luxury we couldn’t afford. The only trips we took were to visit my family in Puerto Rico every few years and driving down to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. Still, our infrequent trips ignited something inside of me.
It wasn’t until I studied abroad in 2013 and went to Greece I realized I was hit with the travel bug. My trip to Greece is something I still talk about excessively today. Once I landed back in the US I wanted to leave again but I was unfortunately making $9/hr at the time. It would take me two and a half years to save for my next trip, a ten day adventure split between London and Paris in 2017.
While I’m still not making enough money to travel everywhere I would like to–why is Australia so expensive!? I earn just enough to get away and experience the world once or twice a year now.
So here’s a list of some of my favorite memories from past trips as I get ready to embark on my next adventure this week.
1. Watching the Eiffel Tower Sparkle at Night
For some odd reason it didn’t occur to me it would be cold in Paris in January. Not just cold but freezing!
I wasn’t prepared for the wind chill when I got to Paris. I felt like a human icicle after walking just one block but no matter how cold it was I needed to see the Eiffel Tower at night.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower in the daylight was an experience in itself. I loved that almost everywhere you go you can see the Tower in the background almost like a very large Where’s Waldo?
Getting to watch the Iron Lady light up at night was a priceless moment. Even though it was extremely cold outside there were plenty of people waiting in anticipation for it to sparkle, just like me. I found myself holding my breath as I stared up at this majestic structure.
There’s something magical about Paris in general that I can’t quite put my finger on. If you asked me to see the Eiffel Tower again but this time in the rain or snow I’d say yes without any hesitation.
2. High Tea on a Double Decker Bus
There’s nothing I disliked about London. Getting to walk around the British Museum and see the Rosetta Stone? Nothing compares. Walking along and finding the spots where parts of Harry Potter were filmed? Exciting!
I loved the pink decor and fairy lights hanging in the back of the bus. For an hour it was nice to sit back and relax while enjoying some warm tea and listening to the energetic voice of our tour guide as we zipped through London.
I think as tourists we spend so much time wanting to see the sites sometimes we don’t actually see them, you know what I mean? You have this endless list in your head of things you want to do, monuments you want to see and food you have to try. Even though your vacation is supposed to be relaxing most of us don’t relax because we’re too busy trying to do everything in a short amount of time.
The bus tour helped me relax and enjoy my final look at London.
3. Jumping Off Mount Olympus
Fear and anxiety rule my life. I have always been an anxious person. With that in mind I decided to bite the bullet and go canyoning while I was in Greece.
Even though I’m afraid of heights, drowning, and I’m not a big fan of nature I decided it would be a great idea to jump off Mount Olympus. You can’t convince me to go camping but jump off a cliff? Sure! What do I have to lose except my life?
As we drove towards Mount Olympus I started to shake and everyone I was with noticed. I was having trouble forming complete sentences because I was so terrified. I kept asking myself, “What the hell were you thinking?” Apparently I wasn’t.
My momentary lapse of judgment had me shaking in my wet suit as we climbed the mountain. As we got to our first stop I knew if they weren’t going to push me off the cliff there was no way I was jumping.
I jumped only when not jumping wasn’t an option.
Of course my jump wasn’t that high but as I crashed into the water my fear dissolved and I felt a wave of calm and confidence wash over me.
I felt like the ultimate badass hiking through the trees, climbing the mountain and shooting down slippery slides for the day.
4. Seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
When I was growing up Harry Potter was my best friend. I read the first book in the third grade and was instantly hooked and terrified–Voldemort scared me!
I had the bed sheets, posters, legos and eventually the movies on DVD. Hell, I even wrote fanfiction that was based on HP.
I knew when Cursed Child came out I had to see the play. At the time I was making only nine dollars an hour but not seeing it in London wasn’t an option. It took me over two years to save enough money to not only pay for the tickets but the entire trip.
It was completely worth the wait. The anticipation was killing me as I waited on line to head into the Palace Theatre. Tears formed in the corner of my eyes as I walked into the theatre. I saw women thirty years older than me wearing House robes, waving their wands and shouting with glee as we all searched for our seats. I gripped my playbill as the opening act began.
The play completely exceeded my expectations. While I truly enjoy most of the films there was nothing like seeing my childhood come alive right in front of me.
5. Watching the Snow Fall in the Grand Canyon
Going to Vegas before you turn twenty-one sounds like the equivalent of torture. You can’t drink, you can’t go to the club and you’re not allowed to gamble. As someone who was twenty-years-old when she first went to Vegas I can tell you being sober in Vegas is fun!
Since I was twenty I had to find different outlets to have fun. I’ll never forget seeing the Jabowockeez, eating my weight in dessert at the Sugar Factory and being present. It’s funny because looking back my mom was surprised to learn of all of these different shows you could see in Vegas. She was used to getting a drink and getting lost in the casino.
The main reason she took me to Vegas was to see the Grand Canyon. We took a tour so we had to wake-up at six in the morning to scramble into a minivan with our guide and other strangers who were half-awake. The ride took five hours since we stopped along the way.
By the time we got there I was hungry, irritable and cold. It was January but you were still able to wear a light jacket on the strip.
At the Grand Canyon it was snowing.
None of us were expecting the snow and most of us weren’t dressed for it either. People were sliding in the ice and the snow as they tried to walk around and get a good look at the view. It started to snow so hard and the wind was too strong, you couldn’t peer over and get a good look because it was too foggy.
Most of our group hurried inside trying to warm up for the next hour. Just as we were getting ready to leave the snow stopped, the sun came out, and we walked outside, peering over the ledge to get a good look at the Grand Canyon.
The view was amazing. It was one of those rare moments in my life where words wouldn’t do it justice.
6. Eating My Weight in Milan
Even though I only spent a short time in Italy, the country completely captured my heart and added an inch to my waistline. Since I didn’t have too much time to see the sites my main focus was food. I needed to have pasta, eat pizza, taste gelato at every corner and eat McDonald’s.
I have no shame admitting I have a Mickey D’s obsession. I like to eat McDonald’s in every country I visit. I’ve always thought Puerto Rico has the best McDonald’s because they add mustard to their cheeseburgers and you can get delicious oatmeal there for breakfast.
I am clearly very classy.
Milan Mickey D’s was amazing. The french fries were thin and crispy and the hamburger meat was juicy and tasted like actual meat.
But it was the pizza that really did me in. I still dream of my margherita pizza sometimes. When I do, I wake-up with drool coming out of the side of my mouth.
Thin crust, perfect amount of sauce, nice and cheesy.
Can someone please figure out a way to cheaply postmates pizza from Italy? Asking for a friend.
7. Berry Picking in Maine
My family is mainly based in New York and Puerto Rico but some of my cousins live in Maine. An eight hour drive in the middle of the summer proved difficult and tiresome but I was eighteen and just got my license so I was more than ready for a road trip.
Since my Uncle lived far away from the city there wasn’t much to do besides walk around and admire the land. So the highlight of my trip was berry picking. It was something so simple but I enjoyed getting down and dirty picking fresh berry after berry, which they would later use to make preserves to get them through the winter.
I wasn’t the best at picking. I was better at taste testing the berries…you know…to make sure they weren’t stale or poisoned or something.
I swear I only ever have good intentions.
What are your favorite travel memories? Share them with me below.