Necci Del 1924, Pigneto, Roma (Mon, Aug. 10, 2015)

This is such a hipster place I love it. Plus, the waiters are really cute also? There’s plenty of artsy crowds here which I appreciate. I’m glad I decided to come here today. The neighborhood I was at a few hours before was also pretty nice—Colo di Rienzo. It’s more upscale compared to Pigneto with its graffitied walls and quiet alleys. This evening’s been very pleasant so far (thank God for the rain, the weather got immensely forgiving and I love it).

It’s intriguing to watch young Italians, smoking and drinking wine and being fab af. I can’t believe this is my last night in Europe. I’ll save this time for observations on the people/places that I’ve been on this trip so far.

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Amalfi Coast (Sorrento, Positano, Capri), Italia

Middle-aged tourists. You gotta be rich to stay here a prolonged amount of time and enjoy it. There isn’t really that much culture in downtown Sorrento. Massa Lubrense/Sant’Agata, which is pretty far up in Sorrento, is pretty nice though. It’s a lot smaller, more Italian with a pretty small community. I love walking the streets there at night, with the white laundry hanging from apartment balconies, people and kids staying up late almost every time I go out, gelato places that open late—I love it. Also, the desperate 18-year olds/middle-aged men that hang out at Gringos.

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Lille/Roubaix, France

A really pleasant small town. I probably couldn’t live there for long given my dislike for small towns, but having a friend there was nice. Highlights include the antique market and the old town. I must say though, if I have to live in a small town somewhere, I’d probably do so in France. The weather was pretty shitty when I was there, and after coming from fucking sunny Sorrento, my body was a wee bit shocked to say the least. But still, catching up with old friends was very gratifying. Especially when you’re in Lille and get to enjoy really fucking good cider from Belgium. That and the crepes and Yanka + her dad’s cooking. I’ve no reason to complain.

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Paris, France

Probably my favorite leg of my trip. I stayed here the longest, so that might have something to do with it. But in addition to that, I think my love for Paris has as much to do with the company I kept in addition to the things I got to do. Living with Archie was lovely. Again, catching up with old friends is immensely satisfying, especially friends you know you’ll want to keep in your life. I think reconnecting with these two people from my childhood/teenhood has helped me come to terms with what I’ve gone through the past few years, the things I’ve done, and the person I’ve become. Some of our experiences have kind of paralleled each other. It’s so relieving because I don’t encounter that a lot in Seattle, except for several other fellow whitewashed Indonesians who’s in the same boat as me. I think it’s also a nice way to close a chapter in my life. I’m out of college and supposedly an adult now?

I’ve written a bit about Paris already, but I might as well repeat myself right. I love that I get to go to a strip club in Paris’ red light district/have a picnic next to the Eiffel Tower with my middle school friend. Those were really wonderful parts. But also just seeing beautiful churches like the Notré-Dame and Sacre Coeur Basilica, drinking coffee in the early evening and talking about life, seeing the fucking Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory, walking around while tipsy around Pigalle looking for kebab, seeing Salvador Dali’s works, visiting Isadora Duncan’s grave, finding out that a piece that I made might potentially be performed in NYC?!?!? Also the wonderful museums and exhibits I visited like Monet’s Nymphéas, images à charge at Le Bal (probably my favorite exhibit, SO glad I went a few hours before leaving for Florence), Victor Hugo’s house, Memorial de Shoah, the Lanvin Exhibit at Palais Galliera (I didn’t think you could cry from seeing an exquisitely beautiful dress, but you could).

Also, the city works so well. Public transport is very reliable. I can’t help but love it.

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Firenze, Italia

One thing: Really fucking hot. However, I’m still glad I visited the slightly less-visited Oltrarno first. The thing is, Florence’s central area is also pretty small so that you can’t help but see tourists everywhere. But still, the small bits of local life that I got: the vintage store and jazz stores I visited in Oltrarno, the street food and food market in Mercato Centro—those were very comforting. The Biblioteca (local public library) was also another source of comfort. They’ve got really good caffe freddo and a really interesting view of the Duomo. It’s also very local, lots of Florentine students studying and chatting with friends. Another highlight: Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia. Now I know what the fuss is about, it’s pretty damn insane, but the Rape of Sabine is also pretty damn gorgeous. Also: Museo Gucci. It’s so interesting seeing the quintessential Italian aesthetic. And Gucci’s eveningwear dresses for Blake Lively and Evan Rachel Wood that were on display made me teary again. The Duomo was alright, not as moving as other churches I was at, I actually prefer Santo Spirito better. Bottom line: I’m glad I decided to take an extra day to explore both sides of the Arno. It made me cut Rome a little short, but it’s fine though, I can always come back here.

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Roma, Italia

The sheer amount of history I was able to witness and unearth by being here is really fabulous. The Colosseum is obviously very colossal, and there was a cultural history exhibit on Terra/Gaia which fits very well with the visit. I’m sad I didn’t get to go to any of the flea markets here (or in Paris), but I was able to discover some A+ vintage/thrift stores, which deserves an A+ on its own. Fontana di Trevi and Spagna was gross and tourist-filled, but not rewarding enough to make it worth it. At least Piazza Navona was worth it with their 15Euro menu and lively street performers.

Today was really wonderful though, quite a nice bookend to the whole trip. I went to Museo Vaticani and waited in line for what seemed like for-fucking-ever. But it was worth it to see the Raphael Rooms, and obviously the Sistine Chapel. Not enough can be said about it. I wanted to stay there and witness the ceiling and the Last Judgment for hours. It was that moving. And obviously St. Peter’s Basilica. Lemme tell ya, one thing I love most about traveling solo is that you can cut into any line you want and no one can say fucking anything. Can’t tell you the number of times I did that. Just walk with a purpose, look like you belong, and get what you want. Saved myself a good two hours waiting in line.

Anyway, the Basilica was something incredibly spiritually moving. Sad I couldn’t see the Pope irl, but saw the balcony where he would go out to greet his people from time to time though, so that’s close enough right?

And now here we are, chilling, listening to Italians catch up and chat about random things. It feels very bittersweet to understand that this trip is almost over, but it’s been such a fulfilling ride that I’m glad I was able to do it. The people I met along the way, the things I got to see and experience, the things I learned about people and the world around me? Europe is pretty damn fabulous. Ciao for now I guess? Or until the next time I travel :)

Gonna miss Europeans and their late dinnertime, but for now, it feels good to go back to America. Damn though, this is a simultaneously tiny and big world, and I’m just a fucking tiny speck of dust on it. This trip was one hell of a way to be reminded of that.

xx

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