|Kimberly and me ready for adventure! EuroTrip 2005!|
|Palace in Brussels, Belgium|
Claire (18)- "I am not going to ask you because you are going to say no and I am going to do it anyways."
Dad-"You haven't even asked me so you don't know what I am going to say."
Claire- "Can I travel around Europe next summer?"
This is how the first conversations about a bubbling dream began. Dad was in a huff and I wasn't going to be told no. I spent the next two months looking for someone who would join me on this adventure because I knew I wasn't ready to do it alone but I was ready to do it.
After many "maybes" and several "no's" I had dinner with my friend Kimberly. She and I had remained friends since the first day of 6th grade even though our friend groups were very different.
|Amalfi coast line in Italy|
"Do you want to go with me to Europe?"
|The Louvre in Paris, France|
|Pointe Vecchio in Florence, Italy at sunset|
|Our huge Italian glasses on Florence (before big glasses were cool)|
This trip was more than just a chance to travel around Europe (which was the whole world to me at the time). This was a grand attempt at stretching our small town wings. We were kicking the dust off our boots and flying to a world we knew nothing about. It was something we were doing on our own, without our parents help. This was my first taste of true freedom and I was ravenous for it.
The journey we decided on after ample research went like this:
|The Colosseum in Rome, Italy|
Train overnight to Switzerland. Train to Venice. Train to Florence. Train to Naples. Bus to Pompeii and Amalfi. Train overnight to Sicily to stay in Marsala. Train to Rome. Train to Pisa. Train back to Switzerland for a week in Lugano of hiking. Train to Belgium and fly home from Brussels.
|Lugano, Switzerland lower Alpine hike|
|Eiffel Tower in Paris, France|
|Kim with Mona Lisa, Louvre in Paris|
|Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy|
Kim and I tried to prepared as much as we humanly could using books and Internet to guide us into this journey. We were going to be safe. We would not be the two American girls who disappeared and were never heard from again. We were going to show ourselves (and our parents) that we were capable of something awesome.
|The Colosseum in Rome, Italy|
|Potsdam, Germany miles of Palaces|
Then arriving in Paris, we did not know how to get from our hostel from the train station so we hopped a cab. It seemed like every single car in Paris ended up at our first intersection. Then all the lights turned and every car plowed to the middle of the 4-way (our cab included). We were screaming and holding on for dear life as our driver just laughed. Then we paid a fortune ($49 Euros!) for that ride which killed two days of our budgeted money. Next came the map! I've already sited this farce in Eiffel Tower. Finally, our friend Stephen taught us to use the subway and soon this traveling business started to make sense.
|Visiting my Italian sister in Marsala, Sicily|
|Gelato...anywhere in Italy.|
|San Marco Square in Venice, Italy|
|Traveling on a Ferry to Amalfi, with Capri behind us.|
He recalled that he didn't want me to do it because he thought that I would blow through my college money, get lost, only see my boyfriend, etc. He was so pleased to know how much Kim and I experienced and saw. He was proud that I raised all the money and paid for it myself. He was marveled by my responsibility and independence. I like to think that he believed I conquered something important. In my book, I had.
|Dancing in Marsala, Sicily "Dance around the world of Kim!"|
My parents allowed me a great gift that year. They let me grow up and grow out of my bubble. For that, I will always be grateful.