Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes one, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. -Miriam Beard
I still remember my first time in Nice, France. An impressionable, carefree 20 year-old backpacker, the world was my oyster and every town I explored changed me permanently. My best friend Melissa and I had played hooky from our study abroad classes in Tours, France for a long weekend of coastline gallivanting with no map and no itinerary. Equipped with some bottles of wine, backpacks and tons of energy, we blindly hopped the Eurorail trains until we found ourselves on the beach in Nice.
We rented roller-blades, forgetting that we were clumsy swimmers, not adept to be skating in the busy streets of Centre Ville, especially since we didn’t know how to stop without falling into nearby bushes. Without lodging, we spent the day skating (and falling), with an occasional dip into the sea until we found a reasonable hostel.
The beauty of travel when young is that you have no expectations, only great, surprising discoveries. For me and Melissa, we learned that even though it is great to allow the wind to blow you around in travel, it does help to have a map. Stupidly, neither she nor I realized how close we were to Italy (a place we were desperate to visit) until we were back in Tours, in school on Tuesday morning where their was a map hanging in the classroom, a 7-hour train ride away. We also had the pleasure of embarrassing ourselves in Monte Carlo as we spotted the Prince, forcing us to realize that Monaco was not actually part of France, but a separate principality and country.
It has taken be eight years to get an opportunity to go back to Nice, and subsequently the opportunity to travel through Italy next week. Travel, just like life, doesn’t always need a map, but it sure does help sometimes. Live your life the way I travel now: equipped with a map and an adaptable itinerary, because if you don’t know where you’re going, you will never know what you might miss out on. Don’t miss out on your Italy the way I did.