We spent our first nights aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Sea. Our first stop was Nice, France.
My family and I took a tour bus around the area to take in the sights. We were crammed in the back of the bus, so our view was obscured, and the top of the bus was crowded with tourist, so my brother and I couldn’t get a comfortable seat. My brother began sweating as I started dozing off. My brother and I decided that we had had enough and it was time to get off, so we split up from our family and took off on the next stop to navigate wherever our experience would take us. While excited, we didn’t venture too far. I was able to pull some low-speed data onto my phone, so I was able to see that we were close to two museums, apparently of some famous French artist. My brother and I decided away from it. We walked up and down the streets, looking for the entrance to a different museum that was not as close as we had thought. We decided that we would get back close to the pier.
We arrived back at the location the bus had originally picked us up from and walked through the streets and alleys to shops littered along the pier. I ordered a latte from a French woman using French I learned from college. I said, “Je voudrais un café au lait avec lait de soy,” but she said she didn’t have soy. I told her regular coffee with milk would be fine. I know that I practice veganism, but it won’t kill me to have a coffee with milk once in France just so I can say I ordered a café au lait from a French woman using French. My brother ordered some type of thick waffle smeared with nutella that tasted rich with the consistency of a brownie. It was delicious.
We walked further into the alleys. We stopped to buy Galicier. I ordered a vegan mandarin sorbet and my brother chose the nutella-flavored ice cream. I walked over to a novelty shop nearby and bought a post card with “Nice” written across the front and a painted photo of the pier. I decided from then I would collect post cards. I got the idea from my auntie who collects magnets for her fridge for every place she’s been. Post cards are easy to carry, and almost every place has them, even if I remain in the same state.
We walked back to the pier, and further down towards the beach. My brother and I stumbled upon a topless beach, where families played as beautiful women sunbathed with their tops beside their beach towels and their breasts to the sun. Not having ever been to a topless beach before, I whispered to my brother, “this beach is a topless beach.” He didn’t believe me. After walking about half a mile down the beach, I checked my watch to see it the time tick to 3‘o clock. We turned around and walked back onto the boat. A short day in France, but without much money, we found it easier to rest for the next day.
Italy proved very eventful. Upon arriving to Livorno, my brother and I ordered gelato from the closest shop. My brother ordered hazelnut and I ordered a vegan dark chocolate single scoop on a cone. I don’t get to enjoy chocolate much because it’s often mixed with milk, so I made sure to enjoy every bit of sweet, rich cream that melted on my tongue.
My family made arrangements to split a taxi with a Korean-New Zealand couple to Firenze and Pisa, Italy from Livorno for €350. While expensive, it would have taken a lot longer to take a bus to the same locations. Considering my auntie’s walking handicap, this was a decent deal for eight people. The taxi made our lives easier, and it also gave us a private tour guide for that location of Italy.
Our taxi driver, Carlo, was very nice. He taught us to say “ciao,” “buongiorno,” and “gracie,” and told us different facts about the locations we passed by. It is good to have a tour guide on such a short trip like a cruise because there is only so much time that one could spend at a location before having to return to the boat. Having a private tour guide like Carlo to show us around and talk about the locations while traveling from one location to another is a luxury that I appreciated very much. I am very fortunate to have a family like I do, to be able to afford luxuries like that.
We arrived in Firenze and ordered pizza at the nearest location. While, again, I am normally vegan, I decided that while in Italy I would enjoy real Italian pizza. After eating and uploading a few videos to my Instagram story, my family decided to go into some church or cathedral many tourist were going into, while I decided walk around the shopping area to see what everything offered.
I walked up and down the streets while recording on my YI 4K, shooting in 1080p ultra at 30fps. I walked and walked and walked, looking at the different stores and not going into any. I walked up on an old woman struggling to carry groceries into her home. I walked pass her while she tried to unlock and open her door and carry her groceries. The door swung shut on her. I stopped.
“Let me help you,” I said. I held reached my hand over and placed it on the door while she used her key again. I held the door open as she walked into her house. She turned around and said, “Gracie.” It was my most authentic Italian experience.
I met back with my family about an hour before needing to rendezvous near the location the taxi dropped us off. I walked into an Armini store with my auntie to kill some time. A pair of sunglasses caught my eye, and then another, and another. I bought myself a pair of grey Emporio Armani sunglasses at €160, or about $190. I lost my previous pair of sunglasses in Cabo three years ago. I just have to remember to take care of these.
After Firenze, the taxi took us to Pisa, where we spent an hour taking photos and acting like tourist. With only an hour allowance in Pisa, I only really had time to take photos of everyone in the family and grab a post card with “Pisa” written on it to add to my collection. It was nice to grab a photo for the instagram, but I definitely want to come back to spend more time here. Maybe that can happen when I have more money to shop with.
As I traveled around that small area of Europe, my desire to find work outside of the United States grew.
I want to find work outside the US, teaching English or writing. I also want to learn lots of languages and learn to communicate with nearly anyone in the world. My goals have changed again, but that comes with more experience and greater enlightenment. I want to experience the world for everything it has to offer, and I believe that can be achieve through communication.