I love having amazing girl friends. I really do. A solid girl friendship has no equivalent. Not even another, just as solid, amazing girl friendship. In my experience each one is a unique mesh that has been developed over time, stress, happiness, sadness, joy, margaritas, and wine.
Last month I spent fourteen consecutive days with one of my favorite friends. Those days included ten hour plane rides, hours and hours on a bus, walking about seventy miles (at least), lots and lots of prosecco, sketchy hotel accommodations, a flood, not a lot of sleep, and fifty other people... and you want to know what? I had a blast!
We were on a Contiki tour called "Simply Italy". What is Contiki you ask? Well, I had to ask because I had never heard of it before. Contiki is a travel/tour company that has a ton of destinations, various trip lengths, and several travel "styles" available to clientele between the ages of 18 and 35 (felt really close to that cut off age). So, I took an organized bus tour all over Italy on a bus full of people younger than me. Did I know what to expect? Nope. Was I nervous? Yep. Am I glad I did it? Yes! Would I do it again? Prooooobably. Am I glad I did it with my travel partner Ashley? Oh my god yes!
Our trip covered pretty much every major tourist hot spot (starting and ending in Rome) that you can think of within the span of twelve days. It was completely exhausting but honestly, I don't think there is another way that I could have seen so much in such a short time, with minimal stress involved. On this trip I discovered that twelve days is the maximum amount of time that I can be away from my family without becoming a teary mess (I actually made it a little more than half way through the trip before I began to force my busmates to look at photos of the kids). So, twelve days of being away from my family with most travel anxiety removed, plus tons of scheduled activities and free time to "rome" around on our own ended up being pretty perfect for me.
One of the reasons I am so glad that I got to experience this trip with Ashely is because we both don't mind being tourists. I don't care if I don't seem like a local, I don't care if I walk around following the map on my phone, and I don't care if people see me taking a cliche photo! I'm not a local, I usually don't know where the hell I'm going even in my own home town, and I'm definitely ok with flexin for the 'gram. Ashley is the same more or less, and she screams obscene questions after 2 bottles of prosecco... and well, that is just fun.
Would a romantic gondola ride through Venice have been wonderful? I am sure it would have been, but laughing while my safety obsessed friend grabbed on for dear life at every little wobble of the boat, then watching the same friend stand on chairs and drop it like it's hot in the rain while riding a commuter boat, many wines later, was certainly an experience I wouldn't have had with her at home... and I don't know that one experience is better than the other. I don't know why it seems that we are supposed to limit all our best experiences to our significant others, and only if you aren't in a serious relationship you make due with making these big memories with friends.
My friends are significant to me. I value their friendships as much as I value my romantic relationship, differently but still very much so. I have some friends that have been with me
through every part of my life since toddlerhood. That is significant. I have some friends that have stuck it out with me when I pushed everyone away. That is significant. I have some newer friends that have helped me grow, growing our friendships at the same time. That is significant. These are all real relationships that are just as worthy of amazing memories as as my relationship with my boyfriend (whom I hope to return to Italy with for a much more relaxing style trip).
When I sat down and started writing this (about two weeks ago) I didn't know if I was writing a review for Contiki, a summary of the places I went and the food I ate, or a celebration of friendship and fun. I still don't really know what this leans towards, but I will leave you with this: grab a girl friend, get in the car or on a bus or boat or whatever, have some fucking fun, and see some cool shit because you are both worth it.
Siamo venuti, abbiamo visto e l’abbiamo fatto strano.