Everyone Should Visit Rome At Least Once In His Or Her Life

Everyone Should Visit Rome At Least Once In His Or Her Life

The atmosphere of the city truly makes you feel like you're in the middle of a movie set.

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I am writing this article while sitting on a bus heading from Rome to the airport to catch my flight to Paris and it has given me some time to reflect on my last few days here. After spending quite a bit of time here, I definitely think that If you get the opportunity to travel to Rome, you should do so, you will not regret it. You may be asking yourself, why is Rome so special and fantastic? Isn't it just home to the Colosseum, the Vatican, and some good Italian restaurants? The answer is no, Rome is so much more than that, it's fabulous cuisine, jaw-dropping architecture, fantastic attractions, and it truly makes you feel as if you've been transported back in time and are in the middle of history.

While in Rome, my family and I had the opportunity to visit both the famous Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum. Both of these incredible attractions made us feel as if we were really there, in Ancient Rome and in the presence of Michelangelo as he painted the ceiling of the chapel. In addition, the jaw-droppingly gorgeous architecture added to the beauty of the city. From the Trevi fountain to the capital building to the statues in the Vatican, every structure made me look up in absolute awe. Truthfully, it is well worth going to Rome just to see the beautiful architecture.

Furthermore, the atmosphere of the city truly makes you feel like you're in the middle of a movie set. Everything is so picturesque that you feel like it isn't even real like it's a facade. One day my family and I stopped to have a snack at this small restaurant that was situated on a quiet street and we all kept remarking at how it was so beautiful (and how the food was so good) and especially how it felt like we were on the set of a movie, with how picturesque and quiet it was. Simply put, the sights of Rome are breathtakingly beautiful! Everywhere you look you find more "hidden gems" that add more and more beauty to an already incredible city.

In addition to talking about all of the beautiful architecture, great attractions, and amazing atmosphere, how can one go to Rome and not talk about the food! The food in Rome in indescribably good. The pizza, while very different from what you typically find in a pizza place in the United States, is extremely fresh and delicious. The pasta was absolutely amazing and much thicker than what you would find in America. The vegetables were extremely fresh, especially the tomatoes which were very red and actually much sweeter than I anticipated.

Overall, from its architecture to its atmosphere to its attractions to its food, going to Rome was an incredible experience. And it was definitely an experience that I will never forget! I will definitely be back for another experience of a lifetime! Now it's on to Paris and then London. Ciao, for now, Rome, and Grazie (that's thank you in Italian) for everything.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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4 Ways To Be Present While Traveling

The intangible, yet most important, part of traveling.

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In the summer of 2017 I left the country for the first time. I spent two weeks on the island of Java in the country of Indonesia, and I fell in love with the new-ness of culture, people, language, and food in a way that I didn't previously believe was possible. I have fallen in love with every place I've visited so far, and each country and city has taught me something different. Each one has taught me to love a new location, to be okay with a new bed (if there is one), and to eat what's given to you (no matter how strange).

Don't get me wrong, I love where I live here in Missouri, I love being in a comfortable home, and I'm a picky eater, but the adrenaline rush of being in complete oblivion of a place unknown to me is so addicting. Since my trip to Indonesia I have also traveled to England, France, and Jordan. All are beautiful in their own way, and I don't have a favorite (please don't ask me to pick). My tips about immersion will all be based on my first trip – to Indonesia. These five tips on how to truly be present in a place you're traveling to are not about things you can buy, or tours you pay for, or even the luxury of places you stay, but instead are focused on the intangible things such as friendships, language, and change of the heart.

1. Stay a while.

No one is asking you to stay forever, but spend enough time in one place that you are able to make a friend. It could be the barista at the coffee shop you go to, or someone at the park, but at least a week is enough time to make this happen. One week will allow you to see the way the local people live, as well as give you time to see all that there is to see in your travel destination.
I stayed for two weeks in Indonesia, and volunteered at an English Center where I made friends that I will have for a lifetime. I was able to go on gelato dates with my new friends, and still have time to see a volcano, go on a float trip, and conquer my fear of heights (kind of) by jumping off of a 35-40 foot cliff into water. Anything is possible to explore if you stay long enough.

2. Find the little things.

This is when knowing local people comes in handy. Your new local friends will suggest the best places to eat, tour, take pictures of, and where the best local coffee shops are. Don't fall into the trap of your own imagination or the trap your own taste buds, step outside of yourself and live like a local.
On the island of Java there is bound to be great coffee (I mean…there has to be, right?) and some of the best coffee I found was actually in my hotel. None of the "chain" coffees came close to the taste of the tiny espresso-sized mugs of coffee I got at the hotel's breakfast.

3. It's not about you.

You're soaking in a new experience, not being your own experience. So many times I see travelers and friends leave the country expecting to change the world with their presence, but they're not letting their presence be changed by the world. When you travel to your next location, look for ways you can be educated about the place you're in, listen to your new friends and strangers, and find every excuse to spend the most time outside of your hotel room.

4. Rest.

You aren't going to remember your trip if your mind isn't rested enough to store more memories. Long flights and travel wear people out very quickly, and your excursions aren't going to be as exciting if you're not awake to remember them. However, if you need to adjust to a large time difference, don't go to bed until 8 pm the first day that you're there. That will allow your body to readjust to the time zone quicker so you'll be more rested for the days ahead.

Wherever you're going, I hope you learn the most you can and that you immerse yourself into a beautiful culture. Even if you don't understand it at first, allow yourself to be open to differences. Stop comparing your destination to "what's back home" and just let yourself be! Travel is meant to be an addition to your cultural portfolio, not a comparison. I hope these tips help you to have a better understanding of how to venture into a new culture. Have a great trip!

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