A Chocolate Lover’s Paradise

Milka, Tolberone, Lindt, Caffarel, Nutella.  Not to mention the chocolate climbing walls, laptops, alcohols, shot glasses.  Every sense was bombarded as my roommates and I made my way through the winding streets crowded with other chocolate lovers.  Not even the constant pushing could impede my happiness as I made my way from one stand to the next, sampling everything available at Europe’s largest chocolate festival located in Perguia, Italy.

“I want some drinking chocolate!” Tierney called over the din created by a multitude of languages.

“What about those chocolate posts that look like kebabs?” I pointed at the interesting structure that combine white, milk, and dark chocolate, carefully shaved off into different tasty treats.

“Oh, I need a chocolate covered banana,” Juliette chimed in.

We wandered through the endless twisting Italian avenues, continuously accosted by new variations of chocolate.  How were we ever going to decide?  I had never seen so many forms of chocolate, especially not in one place.

No one could decide where to go next, what item to buy.

At each stand we asked in broken Italian for a description of the sumptuous chocolates available.  Neither their broken English nor the Italian words we understood seemed to be able to do it justice.  We stopped trying to make informed decisions and gave into our baser instincts.  I spent all my money, buying whatever caught my eye and anything that mixed chocolate with coconut.

My bags filled with truffles, brownies, and plain old chocolate bars, I needed one more piece of chocolate to eat on my way out.  We passed the same stands, each still as appealing as when we first arrived.  Every table provided descriptions of their special chocolate, in Italian and English, all equally alluring.

Eating our delicious Nutella Quesadillas!

And then I saw it: Nutella quesadillas.  Mexican food combined with chocolate; how can a Texan girl resist?  My decision made I rushed toward the stand.  My friends followed, equally intrigued.  We watched intently from our spot at the back of the line as the chocolatiers poured warmed Nutella over flat round bread, a little thicker than your average tortilla.  Folded over once, they plopped the concoction onto a grill, flipping it back and forth until it had an attractive dark gold complexion.    Finally reaching the front of a long line, I pulled out the last of my Euros and with an obviously American accent, I ordered.

“Un Nutella quesadilla, por favor!”

Travel is…

Ok, so I finally figured out exactly how to write this for my purposes.  I want to tell you about the year I spent abroad in Australia and Italy (as well as next semester when I’ll be in London) without just saying “I did this and it was cool”.  So I have decided to model it kind of after “Love is”.  Because travel is love to me.  But there will be more than just the one sentence.  Haha!  So today I will start with what travel actually is!  And what it means to me of course.

Riding in a cab in Capri
The Coolest Cab Ride I've Ever had in Capri

Travel is “to go from one place to another, as by car, train, plane or ship; take a trip” according to dictionary.com.  I think they left out  a few modes of transportation, but maybe that’s just me.

Even when I was a kid, I loved the actual act of traveling.  It didn’t matter were we were going.  My family and I always took trips, once or twice a year.  I remember the anticipation the night before, not being able to sleep even though I had to get up early.  Then my parents would wake me well before the sun rose, and barely opening my eyes I would climb into the back of our sea foam green van.  Where I would sleep for hours in a nest of blankets.  Wish it was that easy now!

My dad always told me I loved these trips because I didn’t have to drive.  But I found him to be wrong.  Since sophomore year of college, each semester that I actually attend my school in America, I drive halfway across the country from Dallas to Philly.  Usually by myself.  And I love it even more.  I can stop to pee as much as I want.  I can eat whatever I want.  Listen to whatever I want.  And nothing gives you the feeling of freedom and accomplishment that finally arriving at your destination brings.

But driving is not necessarily my preferred method of traveling.  I really enjoy anything that takes me to a new place. Or even an old place I haven’t been in a while.

I love travel by plane, boat, train, kayak, camel, walking, paragliding, swimming, horseback, or hiking!  And I’m sure there are many I have yet to try.  But I’ll save those for another post.

This is just the beginning of finding out what travel is.

I love travel

To me, traveling is everything.  Anything besides travel is secondary. But it’s those secondary events that make traveling so worthwhile.

Although I live in the best place on earth, Texas, traveling manages to remain my favorite activity.  As much as I love Texas, I love pretty much every new place I visit as well.  I mean, you always need a home base.

So what do I love about traveling?

I love the actual act of traveling. Whether it’s in on a bike between vineyards, a car between cities, on a plane between continents, or floating on a boat from Italy to Greece with EuroAdventures.  It’s the feeling of moving towards a new adventure.  The feel of just moving between where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Then, there are the new experiences when you finally get to the destination.

The best experience: the food.  I eagerly await the food in every new country.  I feel the same anticipation whether it’s food from Australia, where most travelers’ don’t give the cuisine a second thought or in Italy, a country many people go to only for the indescribable flavors.  And every time I come back to Texas I am immediately ready to get back the best of the best, Tex-Mex.

So what experience could be as good as food?  Well, parties rank pretty high on my list.  Everyone, everywhere loves to party.  Visiting the  most popular parties in the entire world is my favorite way to pass the time.  After sitting down to a desirable dinner, of course.  Who can resist a quick trip to Oktoberfest or partying on a beach in celebration of Australia day?

As much as I love the food and the parties, they are nothing without considering the relationships I form. Relationships tend to be the most critical element of my travels. I’ve met my best friends, my worst roommates, some people I’ll never see again but can’t forget.  These people give me the best stories and make each moment worth every trial it took to get there.

This is what gets me, these are the reasons I travel.  These are the reasons I live.

And it doesn’t hurt that it gives me something to write about!