My journey started with an idea, a dream, a concept. Backpack around Europe making plans as I go. The hardest part of this was that it goes against all of my usual tendencies, as I’m an articulate planner, almost to a fault. Although I love going adventuring on a whim, I often specialize in over planning and over thinking. So when this was coming to fruition, my biggest fear was ‘where will I sleep tonight?’ Thankfully, I believe everything happens for a reason. Just as with the uncharted waters of the cannabis industry, I too decided to go into the unknown. But with great risk, comes great reward: my journey and adventure!
First day arriving in Zurich, to gloomy, rainy weather that reminded me of my home in Seattle, except missing the positive vibrations I usually feel there. So, of course I decided to hop on a train immediately and head for warmer weather- Italy, of course!
To not be bound by plans, but instead, guided by my heart and the idea that the universe can provide the journey you need. From what I have experienced, the universe usually takes care and puts you on a path you are meant to experience, meeting people along the way that are here to guide you.
“Your Journey Starts Here” is our company’s tagline, which perfectly integrates the truth about any journey- it has two places to start, the physical and the metaphorical.
The physical is simple to understand; its your home, the airport or perhaps our stores in Renton and Auburn.
The metaphorical is that any journey you take, starts from within.
It is through my solo journeys that I not only learn most about myself, but I am able to better connect with others. I urge others to explore the world, with friends or solo, because it is through solo explorations you often learn the most about yourself.
Traveling alone allows the ability to be more open to outside influences. You leave the door ajar (if you wish) for others to join you: for the moment, the hour, day or week. You will feel it, too. If someone has good vibes, they resonate with you and you feel optimal, happy, quite simply put, you feel good.
Same goes for bad vibes. Exactly why, when I arrived in Zurich, I instantly hopped on a train for Italy. I just wasn’t feeling the energy. And that is completely ok. I started this trip with the idea that vibrations would help guide my journey, and they did. First stop was Milan. I got off the train, found a hostel with good reviews online, and booked it. Then I started the mile walk towards it.
Once settled in at the hostel I went to explore the city a bit. Ate some of the best pizza I have had (Napoli, don’t kill me!) and saw incredible architecture that reminded me of St.Petersburg, Russia, my first hometown. The next day I explored more with a new friend made at the hostel, Kristina, and then I was on my way, a short but fun-filled 24 hours in Milan, was coming to a close, but my journey was just getting started! I had already seen so much. The train ride through mountains and countryside in Switzerland and onwards into Italy was very eye opening, so much different terrain just miles apart. This may be one of my favorite aspects of travel in Europe, the richness of culture, history and landscape in an area smaller than the United States is incredible. Not many places offer this kind of diversity.
The next stop was Venice, where I would connect with an old coworker for a couple of days of exploration of the canals. It was great to see this romantic city with a buddy and also an experienced Venetian, but, my take away was pretty sad and gloomy about this destination. Venice just felt like a romantic tourist trap- there isn’t much of a city and culture left, unfortunately. With daily visitors and tourists outnumbering those living here, it is easy to see why I didn’t feel much from it- there are so many tourists here! NEXT!
After this, I continued further into Italy, to one of the most authentic cities i know, Firenze! Florence for you, Americans! 🙂
Florence has a special place in my heart because of my last stay here and the connections I made with my hosts of an AirBnB, with a daughter my age, whom I bonded well with. We had stayed connected, even meeting up in San Francisco when she was visiting for an AirBnB conference. She is like my Italian sister, and her family made me feel warm and relaxed, as if Florence was my own home. Being here before definitely helped to not feel lost, and be more of a traveler rather than a tourist.
It was here in Florence that I finally tried some cannabis, or cannabis products, as hash is much easier to find and usually of better quality. This Moroccan Hash in flavors like Cherry Cookies, Lemon Haze and Kush was very energizing and had a rich, earthy flavor that hit smooth and mixed well in spliffs, which is mainly the way it is consumed in Europe.
Left to right: Ricardo, Paola, me and Serena Fanti. Lovely Florentian family I had a pleasure to be a part of! If you are interested in visiting this city, I recommend you stay here with them!
Next was Malta! A place many have heard very little about. Because I had stayed in a UNESCO World Heritage site before in Casco, Panama City, I had researched and dreamed of visiting Malta because of their rich history: being an island near Italy but having been colonized many times in their past by a variety of peoples.
Sliema, the town I stayed in was a great hub to meet others, see the city or even go to the beach, although most beaches in Malta are not the sandy kind but have cliffs and rocks you can jump and dive off, into clear, warm waters.
Valleta, the capital of Malta in the distance, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Peter’s Pool is one famous destination to enjoy swimming, diving and jumping. Getting to this place was an adventure in itself.
Golden Bay, another famous beach in Malta. My new friend and I were in search of one of the only nude beaches on the island, nearby, called Riviera Bay. This was our walk back, around sunset.
Exploring Mdina with my favorite, Ozzie, Bonnie, an adventurous young soul who left her home in Melbourne and moved for a few months to Malta, just to live and work. That takes courage, strength and trust- in your journey! She really inspired me to continue to search for the deeper meaning to life and never stop doing what fuels your heart- like travel, for myself.
Malta was another place that provided some of the best hash I tried during my travels. Although of unknown origins or strain, it was an indica dominant hybrid, as with every hit I felt a heavy rush into my legs and body, but my mind stayed active, providing a unique conversation between myself and new friends made at Hostel Jones in Sliema.
One of the best lessons learned on this trip is the difference between doing what you think you should do and what you truly want to. This has been something I have struggled for some time and believe it stems from my desire to fit in, not create conflict and do what society thinks I should. With my trip, of course I wanted to see as much of the world as I could- that is one of the most gratifying aspects of exploration for me: see new places and be inspired in new ways. Yet, there is also something very gratifying being in a place I know I love. So, even though there could be a couple more new cities I could have squeezed in, I decided for peace of mind and optimal happiness for myself, and that meant Italy!
Eat more pasta, drink more red wine, enjoy and relax in the lifestyle the Italians have perfected. Simple as that. Once the decision was made, I felt so at ease, no regrets or worries, and this is how I know it is the right choice for me.
Do you want to go somewhere new? Trust that the journey will provide the nourishment and protection you need to make it out alright, and with a better mindset than when you began. If it scares you, its probably worth trying. Better to know you have, than live wishing you had tried. Journey On!
~Written by Masha Brown, Social Media Specialist, The Evergreen Market