Senior Jaime Nolan and her travel companion/best friend pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. This summer they backpacked across Europe visiting major cities as well as small towns.
After four flight delays, a plane switch and mishap in Amsterdam, I was off on an adventure with my childhood best friend. Like most backpackers, we left with little plan and no sense of direction. We spent our days getting lost in glorious cities from the coast of Barcelona to the ruins of Rome, and seeing all there is in between.
When we were attempting to establish a plan for our adventure, we didn’t want to just see the major cities. We wanted to get a real sense of the culture that surrounded us. We wanted to find the hidden treasures of places not many people have heard of. Manarola, Italy was the treasure I was looking for.
Manarola is a small town a part of the Cinque Terre region– five fishing towns on the rocky coast of the Mediterranean. I cannot pinpoint the exact reason why I fell in love with this town so much. Maybe it was the crystal clear water, or the simplicity of their lives that drew me in. Either way, it was my favorite part of my trip.
The train ride to Manarola was pretty dark. Literally. There were many tunnels, so you have no idea what your surroundings look like. When you arrive, it’s a shock. Once off the train, we were surrounded by a place that is completely opposite of the western world. Cars are replaced by boats and McDonald’s is replaced by local eateries. If I wasn’t staring at the incredible view, I was cliff jumping into the ocean. I could have stayed there the rest of my life.
I am so grateful I was able to go there in particular because that could be the last time I ever can. According to The Guardian, they received too many tourists last year, and the Italian government is now implementing a strict law that limits the amount of tourists allowed in the region.
This was my second trip to Europe, and it was just as incredible as last time, if not more. To the people who say they never want to travel, you’re crazy. Traveling opens your mind to everything around you by learning new cultures. Pictures don’t do justice to these places. So go pack a bag and embark on an adventure you’ll never forget with your best friend.