Stories Behind the Photos
Hoh Rainforest, WA – United States
For some reason, I’ve always been attracted to the American northwest. I love mountains, forests, even rain and fog. There’s just something mystical and ethereal about places like this, which is why Olympic National Park has been on my bucket list for a while.
I’ve been wanting to visit Seattle for a long time too (about 2 hours from Olympic), so when I was trying to think of where to go for a quick getaway for a holiday weekend, the decision was easy. I’ve traveled to over 30 countries and hundreds of cities, but this trip to Washington is one of my favorites yet.
Oren (the boyfriend) and I rented an adorable cabin deep in the forest, completely secluded from the outside world. We spent a couple days checking out the sights in Seattle and I’d have to say, the city has enchanted me enough to consider seriously moving there. Seriously, it might happen.
Once we made our way to visit Olympic National Park, I was in heaven. The park is huge, so do your research first to make sure you get to see what you want to see. Oren and I decided to check out Hoh Rainforest, which is one of the very few temperate rain forests in the world.
As you can see from my photo above, Hoh Rainforest is a dream straight out of a fairy tale. The stillness, combined with the subtle sounds of the forest, elicited one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had. The hike is so absolutely stunning that you don’t even notice the time pass.
If you’re a nature/forest lover, this is probably the first place I’d recommend for your next trip. For more, see How Escaping Reality Can Help You Appreciate It More.
Tower of London – London, England.
The Tower of London was another must-see for me. This 900 year old castle and fortress holds The Crown Jewels of the British Monarchy and has housed and/or imprisoned some of Britain’s most famous and infamous historical figures. Also used as a royal residence, an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, a public records office, and home of the Royal Mint, this site has proven to be pretty versatile. You can’t visit London and not make a stop here!
The first time I was in London, it was near Christmas and we ice skated in a rink set up directly outside the castle walls. Not a bad first impression of the place. The second time, I took a more extensive tour of the castle and was able to explore it. It’s an incredible place to see in person – so much life lived in its 900+ years of existence.
Some famous prisoners of the Tower are Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh, Elizabeth I, and two of King Henry III wives, Anne Bolyn and Catherine Howard. Many consider it to be one of the most haunted places in London as well, due to its history of torture, executions, and mystery. Despite some of the darker aspects of its reputation, The Tower of London will always hold a prominent role in British history.
Bologna was home for a year of my life. It has a population of 1 million people and founded the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, in 1088. Truly a medieval city, Bologna is famous for its lengthy porticos, towers, and well-preserved city center (some of the buildings date back to the 12th Century).
I attended the University of Bologna through a study exchange program at my University. It was kind of a crazy experience as most of my classes were in Italian, the exams were oral, and since there were over 100,000 students attending the school, most were expected not to physically come to class since there weren’t enough seats anyway. This is why I was able to travel so much during that year: read/study for school on planes, trains and buses, then take the oral final exam at the end of the quarter.
One of the best things about Bologna? The porticos that line the majority of the main streets. They’re not only great for keeping you dry when it’s raining, but most are a reflection of Italian art and creativity. You can find paintings, tiled murals, and even arrows still stuck from battles hundreds of years ago in these porticos. Walking through Bologna is like taking a stroll in the past – it’s the small, pretty and intricate details you don’t really see much in architecture anymore these days.