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June 06, 2018

Travel Journal: Mediterranean

What inspirations are you bringing back to Think Joule?

  • A renewed passion for art, color and flavor (not just talking about gelato here!)
  • Taking time to fully immerse yourself and experience what you are doing.
  • Whether it’s the architecture of a building, the flavor of a dish or the construction of a brand, the devil’s in the details. I loved the connection to personal touches and visible evidence of care and time spent.
  • A sense of wonder and excitement after seeing amazing sights with a group of fantastic people

The best part about planning this vacation has been…

Really the whole experience of it. I actually love organizing things, researching, making lists, ticking boxes...it's like a sneak preview to the main event. I try not to rigidly schedule vacations because I think that makes things into more of a task than an adventure, but in the weeks leading up to my departure I spent a little time focusing on a particular place I was going, jotting down sights to see and foods to try. I liked having something specific to look forward to and small things, like the hours of a museum or an image of the metro map, wound up being really helpful while abroad.

 

Mediterranean-01.jpgThe Colosseum (aka the Flavian Amphitheatre), Rome, Italy

Mediterranean-02.jpgDetails from the Roman Forum on Palatine Hill and Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy and Vatican City

Mediterranean-03.jpgAltar of the Fatherland (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II), Rome, Italy

Mediterranean-04.jpgTrevi Fountain, gelato, and Piazza della Minerva, Rome, Italy

 

The reason I chose this trip…

The variety! When the travel bug hit, I came across this tour and every place sounded interesting in different ways. I got to see big cities like Rome, Madrid and Monte Carlo; cultural destinations like Florence, Nice and Barcelona; and places off the beaten path like San Gimignano, Avignon and Cinque Terre.

 

Mediterranean-05.jpgView of Tuscan hills, San Gimignano, Italy

 

Finally arriving here, I am surprised to find…

Each place has its own personality. My trip took me across a wide span of the Mediterranean, starting in Rome and ending in Madrid. However, even within the same country, each place had its own particular feel. Florence had a completely different vibe from Rome which felt wholly different from San Gimignano. It’s easy to characterize a whole country by its most documented destinations, but just as Portland is distinctively different from New York or Los Angeles, so too do the different cities and towns of any country have their own unique appeal.

 

Mediterranean-06.jpgPonte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Mediterranean-07.jpgStatue of David in Loggia Dei Lanzi, Cathedral of Sante Maria sea Fiore, view of Florence from Pizzale Michelangelo, Florence, Italy

 

Something surprising about the local culture is…

The time taken to experience and appreciate everyday things. Meals were events with music, multiple courses, and people who wanted to talk about what they’d made and what you were eating. To-go coffee cups were nowhere to be seen, you sat and savored your espresso at whichever cafe you happened to stop at. Every museum, shop, and cathedral seemed to host someone just waiting to talk about this painting, that scarf, the patron saint who died in some fantastical way now painstakingly rendered on the ceiling. There’s something about being around that much passion and enthusiasm in others that inspires it in yourself.

 

Mediterranean-08.jpgView of Port Lympia from Castle Hill, Nice, France

Mediterranean-09.jpgRiomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

 

The top five highlights of the trip were…

  1. The art and the architecture, not only in museums and cathedrals but everywhere you looked.
  2. The food, oh my God, the food!
  3. Spending a day train hopping through the 5 towns of Cinque Terre—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
  4. The markets! Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Barcelona's Boqueria Market, Cours Saleya Market in Nice, and Mercato Centrale in Florence were the ones I was able to visit, but I wish I could have seen so many more.
  5. The people, not just the locals but the fantastic group of friends I made on the tour as well as our fearless leader, Margherita and driver, Alessandro.

 Mediterranean-10.jpgFlamenco dancing, Sagrada Família, and La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain

Mediterranean-11.jpgPoble Espanyol, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain

Mediterranean-12.jpgThe Royal Palace of Madrid, Mercado de San Miguel, and Royal Botanic Garden, Madrid, Spain

Mediterranean-13.jpgSelection of ceilings seen throughout the trip