August 21, 2019

A Letter to my Darling Sister

Baby Sis - you did it! Although you will always be my baby sister, you are far from little anymore. Smart, beautiful, kind, and adventurous only scratches the surface of everything you are. The world is lucky to have you and a better place because you are in it - I mean that with my entire heart. You are going to go out into the world and do amazing things. I am sure of it. 

But first, the trip of a lifetime

I can say that with certainty because just shy of three years ago, I was you! A newly graduated young women about to take on the world for the first time. I had big expectations for the next thirty days, but the month I spent in Europe blew them away in the best most beautiful ways. My heat beams with excitement for you because you have so many literally life changing moments ahead of you in the next month. You don't know it yet, but I promise you will quickly realize how amazing the world is, the people in it, the places you've heard of and have yet to discover, and the person you will be when the month is up. I said it when I returned & believe it to this day - those thirty days changed me in the best possible way - it will be the same for you. 

Travel is going to teach you more about yourself and the world in a way that is so much different than what you have learned in the past six years of school. Soak it all in, let what you see and discover question what you've been taught, how you've lived, and what you believe. Your eyes will be open to a whole new world, quite literally. 

You are going to learn so much about yourself. We already know you are brave because you chose to embark on this month long journey, but there is so much more you are about to learn about yourself. It will be deeply personal, but I can tell you your independence and the value of that independence will be at the forefront. 

I am so looking forward to following along throughout the next month and for all the stories that are sure to come when you arrive home in thirty days. But until then, know I love you, I am thinking of you, and I miss you already! 

Until then, I wanted to leave you with something special. So here it is - 30 tips for 30 days in Europe! I hope you enjoy! 

1. Talk to strangers. Some of my most memorable and fond memories of being in Europe were the unplanned, beautiful conversations I had with strangers - many travelers like myself. It was in those moments I learned how beautiful human connection is and how much we have to learn from people we don't even know. 

2. Be open to everything. Soak everything you can in. And say yes to it all. You will not regret it, I promise. 

3. Take ALL the photos. Because #memories. 

4. Eat ALL the food. The croissants, the cheese, the wine, omg the chocolate (you will never be able to eat American chocolate ever again). Have all the sangria in Spain, all the pasta in Italy (let's be honest, Italy will ruin food for you in general - nothing ever tastes quite as good), all the gelato, and all the crêpes in Paris.  

You will not get fat, I promise. You are 23, your metabolism is amazing, and you might not ever have the opportunity to eat whatever you want for a month in Europe, so just do it. 

But also, if you need to eat a salad one night so you feel half human again, I get it & do that too. 

5. If you have the opportunity to go skinny dipping at night with the strangers who quickly became the best of friends - do it. Because you're young, and you can, and you many never get the opportunity again. Also refer to #2. 

6. Italians are very generous with their alcohol - particularly limoncello and prosecco. Accept graciously but don't feel like you have to drink it all. You will feel much better the next day while touring the Colosseum, I promise... 

7. Spain is a party. Go to a Spanish nightclub one night and stay out till 6 am like a local. It will be like nothing you've ever seen before, and yes you will be tired but it will be worth it. 

8. On the flip side.. if you need to stay in one night and catch up on sleep, do that too. And sleep on the bus! Thirty days is a long time, pace yourself. 

9. JOURNAL JOURNAL JOURNAL. If there is only one thing I would recommend, I think it would be this. I am so happy that I kept up with this and journaled about every place I went. That journal is by far one of my most prized possessions. You will reach for it often in the years that follow when in need of a laugh, a smile, or a reminder of how beautiful the world is. 

10. When in Paris, hold onto your metro ticket. Just do it. It will save you the headache of arguing with the Parisian transit authorities and ending up with a ticket... 

11. While in Paris, get a bottle of champagne bring it to the Eiffel Tower at night to watch it twinkle. Sounds cliché, but it is magical. Do it. The Eiffel Tower twinkles on the hour for five minutes - catch it as many times as you can. It is breathtaking. 

12. Go to dinner by yourself one night. I'm sure you will make friends and people will love you but if you can escape to have a meal with yourself one night, do it. It will give you a moment of peace, introspection/reflection, and a lesson on the importance of your independence. 

Also there is power in being able to eat by yourself. Just wait and see, it's a beautiful thing.

13. If you have the chance to watch the sunrise somewhere, do it. 

14. Attend a mass somewhere if you can. You will be absolutely blown away by the churches & cathedrals in Europe. If you have the chance to sit in on a mass, please do, but if not stopping for a moment and just saying a prayer is really special too. 

15. Coffee is not the same in Europe as in the States, however the cappuccinos blow away ours & will become your best friend. Enjoy! 

16. Eat outside as often as possible!! Europe really knows how to embrace dining al fresco 

17. While we are talking about eating out ... you will be in culture shock when a normal dinner out takes hours and seems like terrible service. However, really the Europeans have it right - they realize the importance of not rushing through a meal, of really enjoying the atmosphere, the company, the conversation, and of course the food. Embrace it. It is something you will miss when you are back home and being rushed through a meal. 

18. Be selective with what you buy as souvenirs. Don't fall for the typical tourist tchotchkes - they will likely get thrown out eventually anyways. Instead look for unique things that you can incorporate into your life back home. Art, books, perfume are always a good place to start. The pieces of art I bought on my journey will forever follow me wherever I go and always serve as a reminder of a beautiful trip. 

19. A Coffee Shop in Amsterdam is not actually a coffee shop.. don't be fooled. 

20. The air in Switzerland is some of the freshest, purest air I have ever breathed. Soak it all in. 

21. Be safe & be smart! I have to say this because I am your big sister. Although I never once felt unsafe in the month I was away, you still need to be aware, vigilant, and smart while traveling. 

22. Don't put your bag down on the back of a chair, or anywhere for that matter. It will be gone. 

23. While in Florence make the trek up to Piazza Michelangelo - it will provided you with some of the most incredible views of the city. You will be in awe.

24. Go into the Sagrada Familia while in Barcelona! I didn't my first time there, but did a couple years later when I returned to Barcelona and it is incredible. It is absolutely worth paying for and waiting in line for.

25. Enjoy being disconnected to your phone for thirty days! It's a breath of fresh air to be unplugged and not constantly plugged in. 

26. Don't forget to practice gratitude while out there traveling the world. You'll be reminded daily of how lucky you are to have the opportunity and the means to see the word, don't take it for granted for a second. 

27. As amazing as the world is, you will more than likely miss some of the comforts of home. Don't feel guilty, but instead realize how lucky you are to have those little luxuries at home. There are many things that we take for granted on a day to day basis. 

28. In reference to #27 above ... water and bathrooms are not always free .. make sure you have change on you at all times for both! 

29. Have an absolute blast!!

30. "We travel to get lost and to find ourselves" 

xo. G

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing!!! So proud of both of my girls! Your independence, strength and zest for life is wonderful to see. Enjoy the 30 days Kelly, G enjoy France and Italy!!! XO