About the Photo Above: Canals of Venice, Italy
Visiting Venice for the first time was surreal seeing an entire city build on the water. Not only was it interesting from a engineering and architectural point of view, there was a certain romantic ambiance to the place (which is obviously why Italy, and Venice in particular is thought of the home of Romance). Venice did not disappoint in this respect.
Why do I Love Travel? (the short answer)
I’ve been asked this more than once; the short answer is I travel to open my own mind, question my assumptions, and learn. I’m absolutely passionate about learning and growing and feel travel is the best way to do this. I am fascinated by other languages, and although I don’t consider myself good at languages, I very much enjoy learning a bit here and there. I love to savor different textures, smells, sights, tastes, and conversations. So, that’s the short answer… the longer answer revolves around eating food. Keep reading and I’ll explain more about my food analogy, but first I should address some comments by others who have questioned my motives to travel.
Vacations and Travel for Escape
Some of my friends have theories, believing I travel because I’m trying to “escape” something. I suspect for many, the primary reason for a “vacation” is exactly that… to get away, and escape some horrific life which they live and take a break for a few days, or a couple weeks, from the “daily grind” that is work and all the obligations of belonging to a society obsessed with filling their hours with 60 hour work-weeks followed by mind-numbing television or drinking. For them, vacation is a form of escapism.
While in Italy this year I visited the wonderful and charming city of Florence and indulged my stomach in meal after meal of delightful and savory Italian dishes. This got me to thinking about why I travel. Certainly I enjoy eating awesome ethnic foods, and eating them directly in their native home country is divine, but there is a deeper analogy here. Pick any food which you like, but don’t necessarily love. Maybe it is a ham sandwich. You like ham sandwiches (or whatever you choose for this example), but don’t love them. Now picture eating that a ham sandwich for three meals a day, 21 meals a week and 90 meals a month. To me, that experience of “sameness” is exactly what it’s like to not travel and be rooted in one place. There is a sameness to living in one place with very little variety. For many, this sameness is awesome and to those, I say “awesome, go for it!” For me, I enjoy eating a wide variety of food and really enjoy trying new foods with exotic tastes. I love the surprise and adventure of it. Travel is exactly like that for me; it is savoring and tasting different cultures. Each week is a different experience, a different culture, a different language, different set of smells, different visual landscape, and different ways of thinking. I find it emotionally, sensually, intellectually and spiritually refreshing.
My Favorite Food in Italy
Nope, it’s not pizza. In fact, of the several pizzas I tried, I was not really fond of any of the true Italian pizza (I prefer thicker crust and all of the pizzas here were paper-thin). I tried lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, fettuccini, but the winner was gnocchi. Not tried it? I hadn’t either. Gnocchi are various thick, soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour,egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or similar ingredients, with or without flavorings of herbs, vegetables, or sweet things like cocoa or prunes. They were amazing. I found a place less than a block from my hotel where I could get take-away pastas for 4€ (about $4). Not bad for amazing Italian food!
See Where I’ve Been
I spent about a week and a half in Italy visiting the following cities: Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan (see a map of my Europe travels).
Costs in Italy
- Hostel: $20-40/night (I paid $15-25/night for shared dorms)
- Food: typically $8-12 meal for lunch or dinner (I paid $4 for take-away)
- Transportation: about $1.60 per ride