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Lucca: A city of culinary delights & true Italian charm

The ancient church bells rang out 12 times. Ding dong, ding dong. It was only mid-day, but I was already halfway through my second round of gelato. The town was finally starting to wake up; bicycles in motion, children running down the street, old women hanging their laundry out to dry. It all came together to paint a landscape reminiscent of every Lucca postcard I had ever seen – a city of perfect chaos.

The red-top roofs set a warm tone, begging me to explore the narrow alleys and tiny, unpretentious trattorias on offer. The city walls wrapped themselves around me, sheltering me from the rest of the world. Inside felt like a haven; a throwback to an earlier time, when people still knew their neighbors and took nothing for granted.

Decades of rain, wind, and summer sun had left their mark on the buildings’ less-than-perfect facades, gracefully aging them. The cracks spread to connect each level, joining the storefronts with the apartments above.

I had intentionally left my guidebook in the hotel room, hoping to see Lucca through my own eyes. I wanted to get lost, eating and drinking my way down the cobblestone streets and speaking to the people who made the city’s heart beat.

I didn’t have to look far – those people were the street cleaners, the postmen, the waiters, the shop owners. The children, the parents, the teachers, the elderly. Everyone’s story had one underlying theme: Lucca was their home, Lucca was their pride. And it was easy to see why.

A glass of chianti, some hearty lasagna, and a few “Ciao bella’s” later, I found myself dreading the next morning, when I would have to bid farewell to that beautiful corner of the earth. But the night was still young, and the pistachio gelato across the street was calling my name.

5 absurd claims preventing people from pursuing their travel dreams

“It’s too far away”

False. No matter what, you’re just a plane ride away from home. Even if you go the absolute furthest away that you possibly can, you’re still about a 24 hour flight away. No one would think twice if you drove for eight hours to reach a vacation destination – so what’s the difference between that and an eight-hour plane ride to another country?

“I can’t afford it”

False. I’d be willing to bet you have disposable income, and you spend much of it on mindless things that you forget about minutes later. That latte at Starbucks doesn’t come cheap. Those impulse buys you threw into your shopping cart aren’t actually needed. And why are you eating out for the fourth night this week, when you have perfectly good food at home? All of that money could be saved for a plane ticket, or spent at amazing outdoor food markets in the travel destination of your choice (rather than on a mediocre burger at a hometown restaurant you’ve visited dozens of times).

“I’m not that brave”

False (and a little bit true). I’ll grant you the fact that if you’re saying this phrase, you aren’t all that brave. But you CAN be. You need to man up. What do you think is going to happen to you abroad? No matter where you’re from, dangers exist. It’s no worse when you travel abroad. Sure, you probably don’t want to travel to a war zone or a country with an unstable government, but the rest of the world is fine. Every day is already a gift, whether you’re living it in your hometown or elsewhere. Be thankful for that gift, and take advantage of it.

“I’m not lucky like you”

False. This one really gets on my nerves. I’m not lucky. I worked hard for everything I have. My adventure began when I moved from Georgia to New York with $200 in my pocket. I worked at a rat-infested hostel for free accommodation in the East Village while I searched for jobs. I skipped meals and ate from the $1 menu at McDonald’s to make my money last. That’s not luck, that’s perseverance. That’s drive, and ambition. I knew what I wanted, and I went for it. There was no silver spoon in my mouth, and no stream of money magically landing in my bank account from “rich parents.” It’s not about luck. Stop making excuses.

“It’s not a wise use of money”

False. You think living life to the fullest, experiencing different cultures, and widening your world view isn’t a wise use of money? I’m not saying that home ownership and college educations should be replaced with travel (I myself value both of those things), but I am saying that travel should be put above things like fancy new cars and expensive clothing. Prioritize. If you want to travel badly enough, you’ll make it happen.

Get inspired to travel the world

Hello, readers!

If you’ve found your way to this site, you’ve probably been infected with the travel bug – a common infliction. But if you’re like so many others, you might be making excuses as to why you can’t travel. Perhaps you don’t think you have enough money. Perhaps you don’t have anyone to travel with. Perhaps you’re nervous about heading to a culture that is vastly different from your own.

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This site is here to inspire you to realize you can travel the world without being a millionaire, or having an entourage of friends to share the experience with. I know, because I’ve done it.

Stick with me, and you’ll soon see that traveling is the richest of life experiences that deserves to be a priority in your life. Yes, it might mean passing on those expensive shoes, or that awesome gadget you’ve been eyeing. But things don’t last forever. Experiences and memories do.

Enjoy the site, and feel free to leave me any feedback.