Europe backpacking trip
I had first read about the infamous Borgia family when I studied European history for my Linguistics degree, and then again in Jeanne Kalogridis’ novel The Borgia Bride. Everything I had read about them — a family so steeped in corruption and treachery that they make Empire: Lebanon look like a Disney cartoon — sparked my interest in Naples, and made me put it on my list of places to visit when I planned my backpacking trip in the summer of 2005.
This is my favorite view of Mount Vesuvius, from across the Bay of Naples. I had planned to get a good view of it from the Castel Sant’Elmo, but on my way up to the fortress I happened to catch this view of it and it already took my breath away. Who would have thought that something so imposing could bring as much solace as it could destruction?
It speaks of the life I live now. For the last three months I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster that has taken me to heights I had long forgotten existed, and after a sharp peak, sends me plummeting back down in an almost 90-degree drop that I didn’t know I would still have to be subjected to. I bounce back and forth between the rare moments when I get to feel happier than I’ve been in a very long time, and the radio silence afterwards that leaves me wondering where I stand, and whether any of it will be worth it in the end.
Charing Cross Road, London
I was never a big fan of London, having experienced it mostly in miserable weather all the times I was there previously. But when my mother wanted to go into the city during our 10-hour layover on the way back from Boston, it was a startlingly sunny and warm day.
As we walked along Oxford and New Bond Streets, through Piccadilly Circus, across Pall Mall and on to Trafalgar Square and then Buckingham Palace, I suddenly found myself looking at the city with different eyes. It was as if I had never seen London before, never realized what a beautiful city it was, even if it did spend most of the year shrouded in overcast skies.
My recent trip to the USA made me realize that the stage of life or frame of mind one is in influences the way one sees a certain place. The were so many things I saw now that I seem to have missed, say, 10 years ago, and sometimes it felt as though I was there for the first time in my life.
It doesn’t just apply to places. Being away this time around has made me see even people with different eyes, both during and after my trip. I’m not sure if it was because of the circumstances my life is currently in, or because I’m older and less tolerant of many things, but it’s definitely a welcome view.