Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can't fight the runnin' blues

There are some times you just want to run away.

I reached my breaking point when for the first time I saw on the way home from work a sight I found incredible. Tiny bits of crystalized water vapor were freezing in the air right before my eyes. All of Krakow was glittering.

And I couldn't feel my face.

When it comes to being inspired to travel, deus ex machina will drop in without fail, usually in the form of a friend who knows of a cheap flight. So less than 24 hours after I heard about the deal on Wizz Air, my favorite Hungarian airline, I had booked myself on a trip to Rome with four of my closest friends.

Now my preconceptions of Italy were chiefly based on two things: stereotypes I had heard from coeds who went on party abroad there, and the menu of the Olive Garden. I was happy to discover that Rome in the real world was lovely, relaxed and (forgive the maudlin description) renewing of my soul. Not only that, Rome was....different.

The locals broke the mold - an Italian family sitting next to us at dinner may have made lots of gestures, but they were actually laughing at how loud we were. Out of the five of us, only two were Americans, so that's saying something. The nightlife was as vibrant as the city - after chatting up various bartenders and taxi drivers, somehow we found ourselves in a Caribbean bar in the middle of Roma, a Cuban rap group on stage, the best mojitos this side of the pond in hand. And the best Italian food I ate when I was there? Creamy, melt in your mouth lasagna from a trattoria owned by Indians.

How do you hit the refresh button on your life? You don't have to go to Italy, although I highly recommend it. (In fact, I highly encourage everyone reading this to move there so I can come visit.)

Maybe all it takes are a good pair of Italian leather boots and having an adventure with friends who give you the freedom to be yourself.