So let's see, I have an itch for traveling. I love to see the world and what it has to offer. At age 18, I've managed to see the world in a wide array of cultures. From Ireland to Scotland, from Germany to Austria, from the Czech Republic to Slovakia, each place has shaped me into something different. A new experience in each but filled with various food, music, knick knacks, land marks, and my personal favorite, PEOPLE. Each city I traveled through landed me with something that I couldn't possibly find to exist in the United States. I think sometimes as Americans, we forget what the rest of the world is like because everything in our country is somewhat new. Our culture is young and indefinitely influenced. We don't really take the time to indulge ourselves as to what could be or what we may be missing. AND THAT'S A PROBLEM. The globe is so vast of rich opportunities so as I sit here typing this, my next question is Where to next?
I remember entering the Irish corner grocery store but the scenery was vague. It seemed so bizarre how similar it deemed to look like a gas station convenience story but people were going through the incredibly tight isles unfazed. I was with a girl named Emily who today, I can't even recall that last time we had spoke. Anyways, we bought some apples. It was mid-afternoon so we decided that a nice snack would do until our later lunch. Euros are a very straight to the point currency and I love how Europe has no issue with providing the exact price. Hey America, maybe we should do the same? But I just recall walking out of the store and a woman approaching us, begging for money. She was very well dressed, a brand new stroller with an adorable baby on the inside. She confessed that she had no money to feed her family and Emily and I looked dumbfounded. We immediately offered the apples to only find them angrily swatted away and smushed onto the ground. I was so very young when this occurred but it was one of my most vivid memories. Dublin was the first big European city I had visited and it still puzzles me how significant that one moment in time was. I really wanted to eat one of those apples...
Vienna, Austria could be equivalent to the NYC of Eastern Europe. Just WOAH. It was as if you took a million old buildings and then plastered giant television screens all over them. Luxurious brands lined the streets with a very stylish populous. Everything was shiny and GOLD. They might as well pave the streets with gold there because it's truly beautiful. I remember the fountains throughout the city and the constant feeling of freedom coming from the wide streets. Vienna, I love you.
He was a very old man with incredibly wrinkly skin. He had already drank 7 beers on his flight over to Holland which was only an hour or so. He chuckled at my movie selections rolling his eyes at how "American" I was. He occasionally drifted off and snored for around 5 minutes. He bumped me and burped with his yellowish grin. The flight seemed to be never ending as I waited to make our landing. And then he turned to me and said, " Oh you Americans coming to Holland for 4/20?" and, "You going to come to smoke pot?" I smiled and politely responded, " No." 4/20 and I was landing in the marijuana capital of the world. How coincidental...ugh.
I remember standing in the Czech Square taking a boat load of pictures. It was incredibly easy to have the tourist look but I somehow managed to attract far too much attention. A few gypsies had begun to follow me and I was constantly being bombarded as the American to come to one of their stands. Note to self : Don't wear brands that are traditionally American in Europe. Don't wear tennis shoes. Oh... and the giant camera on your neck SCREAMS tourist. Anyway the best part were the French tourists. They were dying to take pictures with us. They were goofy and so entertaining. French is a beautiful language tinged with such a thick suaveness to it. They mimicked the group of kids I was in while we unknowingly laughed at their mocking personas. But they were so very nice saying they enjoyed our company. The French youth made my time in the square so much more worthwhile.
My one day as a " fake celebrity" could be a highlight. I was flying out of New York waiting to board. I was overwhelmed with excitement ready to travel home as I wore all of the newest clothes I had bought in the city. I splurged too much buying clothes far out of my typical price range but I didn't care because I was a 17 year old living the life. I was flying alone leaving this major international airport which meant I had to go through special check-ins because I was alone and underage. They separated me from the main group. I had an escort and I didn't have to do any adult check points. At one point, I remember them bringing me to the front of the line in-front of the other 200 passengers. It just so happened that my teacher who had to sign off on my flight was with me, my escort, the guy carrying all the luggage, and a random security guard all were walking behind me to reach the desk somehow at the same exact time. It was hilarious as I watched the reactions of the other passengers. They stared puzzled trying to place if they knew who I was. Some Asian passengers took pictures of me. I remember me never taking off my sunglasses because I was too embarrassed to acknowledge what the other passengers thought was going on. It looked as though I had a posse surrounding me. I remember a group of ladies whispering, "Who is that? Is he a celebrity?" I can tell you first hand, flying by yourself underage is truly a celebrity experience. Oh.... and just so you know everyone, I'm just a kid from Ohio.
I challenge each an every one of you to ask that question...Where to next? Because you never know what awaits you. Maybe you'll kiss under the stars in Rome or you'll put a lock on a bridge in Paris. Maybe you'll dance the streets in Singapore or surf in Sydney. Find that place in the world where you can make a memory. Because a memory is the most priceless gift you can get from all of the places you visit. "Oh the places you'll go..."
PS. I love Europe.
PSS. I really love this picture.