I’m in Barcelona now! I can hardly believe this is my last stop. What’s even crazier is I have been in Europe for over a month now!
Initially, when I thought about writing this I was hesitant. Then I said, “Vail you accomplished something huge and there is nothing wrong with being excited to share that!” Hey, and isn’t that what this entire website is for?
There have been so many times during this adventure that I just wanted to give up. I cried sometimes and felt lonely as well. I missed out on things I wanted to do because I was tired or too nervous to go. I forgive myself for that because I am only capable of so much. I think I overestimated how much stamina I’d have. Especially considering the only solo travel experience I had prior to this, was a couple of days in New York- a place I had already been to in my own country. Though I will never regret being this ambitious because it was all so worth it.
As you may have already read, I married myself in a beautiful ceremony in March. So unintentionally this was my self-love honeymoon. When I say I love myself now, it is true. I can’t wrap my head around how much I’ve grown. Only two years ago I didn’t love myself one bit, in fact, I hated myself.
But for every low I’ve encountered on this trip, there were much more highs. These are five of the most cherished moments of my self-honeymoon in chronological order.
1. I think it was my last evening in London, I was walking along The River Thames by myself. The lights all along the river were so beautiful and I had the biggest smile on my face. Then, all of a sudden, I saw this giant archway covered in lights. There was a sign that said, “Underbelly” which I recognized from a receptionist (who also happens to be an acrobat!) at my hostel who recommended I check it out. I had forgotten about her suggestion so it was a neat coincidence to stumble upon it.
When I wandered in, I saw a bunch of restaurants and booths and a circus and an auditorium. I felt drawn to the ticket counter. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the audience of a one-woman drag queen show. Hello Gingzilla: Queen of the Monsters!
2. In Brussels, as you know, I met a group of people some from the UK and some from the US. Somehow we just all clicked and decided to eat pasta together. Our meal somehow turned into a nearly five-hour conversation. Which was followed by a trip to a nearby park and a self-love photo shoot! Even if I never see any of them again, I feel so lucky to have met them and shared that night with them
3. Also with a group of people, in Vienna, I had such a lovely two days. My new, awesome friend Matteo and I went to the modern art museum while the others went off to the war museum. Additionally, that evening we all went out and had a nice meal together. Which also happened to be one of maybe six or seven hot meals on this trip. It was such a treat.
4. Immediately after leaving the train station in Verona. I saw this hill and I decided I had to get to the top. So I weaved my way through some beautiful paths and reached it. Once I got up there I sat down and meditated for a while. When I opened my eyes I felt this overwhelming feeling of love and beauty. At that moment it finally hit me, and it hit me pretty hard that, “wow I’m in Italy and that is incredible.”
Many times on this trip when I’ve told people my age, they were astounded. Many people said things like, “you’re only 19 and you’re backpacking alone? That’s amazing!” This was, of course, flattering but I didn’t really think much of it after all this is my dream we’re talking about, I had to do this!
On that hill in Verona, I fully accepted that compliment. I realized you know what, what I’m doing is amazing.
5. Of course, one of my fondest memories was in Genova. The second day at the beach, I spent a couple of hours in the sea. Just bobbing along by myself in awe. I kept thinking, “Gosh, if I would have made that train to Barcelona, this would have never happened!”
You know, the night before I left I cried until I fell asleep. I felt overwhelmed and scared. It actually became real that I was doing this alone. I had thoughts of canceling the whole thing. But some force inside of me reminded me of all I had overcome to make this dream come true. So I stayed true to my heart. Because I am Vail Varone.
But now I am ready to go home. I am ready to get some much-needed, quality sleep. I’m excited to enjoy the rest of my summer relaxing and being with my friends. I’m excited to go back to work and see all my dogs.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Lemonade Mouth since their songs have been the soundtrack of my journey.
“Gotta turn the world into your dance floor. Determinate, de-determinate!”
Here comes a breakthrough,