Summers of Change

Many things come to mind when thinking of summer: sunshine, ice-cream, vacation, lounging on the beach, late nights, cool drinks… But for me, and many other TCKs, summer was also synonymous with change. Sometimes we would watch best friends move away and other times we were the ones leaving. Either way it meant change, adapting to yet another new situation and having to figure it out all over again. When we were moving there were obviously greater challenges and those summers were truly a period of transition.

The summers when we were moving we rarely went directly to the new country. Once school would finish in June, we would pack up the house, ship everything off with the moving company and we would head off to spend the summer with family. At least that way we could enjoy our vacation as much as possible before having to confront the inevitable challenges awaiting us. It was, in my humble adult TCK opinion, a very smart move to allow us this transition period, this pause, in between countries. It softened the blow of leaving our home and gave us strength to deal with arriving in a foreign place. Spending the summers with cousins and grandparents, being surrounded by loved ones and familiarity eased the pain of loss and of sorrowful goodbyes. It reminded us that some things remain constant and steady, even when everything around us seemed to be a whirlwind of change. It also reinforced our belief that time and distance do not alter true friendship and love.

Summers are meant to be a time of joy, fun, laughter and carefree days. We were lucky to enjoy those moments, but for TCKs moving to a new country the summer was much less carefree and relaxed. While others were still enjoying their last lazy days of summer lounging in the sun or chatting with friends, we were unpacking boxes in an unfamiliar house, trying to find our way in foreign roads and dreading the first day at a new school. It wasn’t always easy, and we were grateful for the summers when we weren’t moving, but it was all part of the experience. And despite all the tough moments, I would do it again, without a doubt.

Those summers of change provided valuable lessons that will last me a lifetime and they taught me how resilient I really am. A restful summer is always welcome, but show me the next opportunity for change, and my TCK itchy feet are ready for the next adventure!

I hope you all have a great summer, wherever you may be, and good luck to any of you going through a summer of a change.

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Moving forward, but always remembering the past…

Washington D.C. – Wanderings and Wonderings

In my years as a TCK I have been to several capital cities around the world, but until very recently I had never been to the capital city of my passport country: Washington, D.C. I had wanted to visit D.C. for a long time and now living on the East coast, I knew my chance would come. It finally did, and it was well worth the wait. Being in D.C. was incredible and wonderful for so many reasons. The vibrancy of the city was invigorating and I fell in love. Oh, I fell in love with many different places and sights for all sorts of reasons. I quickly realized that D.C. managed to touch upon many different facets of me: the TCK side of me, my connection to France, my love of history… But what truly caught me off-guard was the connection I felt to the American side of me. I was excited to visit this city, to walk its streets and see the history it holds, but I didn’t expect to feel so strongly or to be moved so deeply. I was surprised by the strength of the emotions I felt, and by what I learned about myself. It was an unexpectedly beautiful lesson.

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Hearing various languages, seeing flags of many nations and simply being in a more multi-cultural environment tickled my TCK senses. That both delighted and comforted me. D.C. also appealed to my love of France with the French influence in the architecture and city structure. The wide avenues lined with trees, the green spaces scattered throughout the city, the height and architecture of the buildings, and even how the buildings and monuments are lit up at night… All that reminded me of France and more specifically Paris, which will always hold a small piece of my heart.

And then there was the historical aspect of D.C. As a history major I was spoiled in Europe, but much less so in Connecticut, so D.C. was a treat for this history-loving girl. There are many historical sights to see in D.C., but the one on the top of my list was the Declaration of Independence. I was waiting for that visit like a little kid waits for Christmas morning! And it did not disappoint. It was truly amazing to see. The dimly lit, domed room really adds to the whole atmosphere and aura, making for a beautiful viewing area. I would love a chance to calmly look at the documents with less people around, but it was still incredible to see. I always find myself awestruck when I get to see important historic documents like that. I don’t actually have the words to explain what I feel when I look at those beautifully crafted, fading words on such delicate scrolls of paper. It’s a less obvious and visible mark of history than a long-standing cathedral or ruins of ancient civilizations, but to me it’s so much more powerful.

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Sadly, history also has many dark moments, but D.C. makes sure to remember those who have fallen fighting for their country. All of the war memorials are beautifully crafted, but the two I found the most poignant were the Vietnam and Korean War memorials. The Vietnam memorial is very powerful in its simplicity – just those slabs of black marble with names etched in. Name after name after name…The sheer quantity is overwhelming. The waste of so many lives really hits home and grips at your heart when you see that. I felt that the Korean War memorial made that feeling even stronger. The names on the Vietnam memorial reminds you of how many died, the Korean memorial reminds you yet again of how young so many of them were. The youthful faces of the statues and those etched in the black marble serve as a seemingly empty reminder of the futility and devastation of war.

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Those memorials really struck a chord in my head and in my heart. They made me question humanity and why we always seem to find new ways to wreak havoc and pain. The sight of all those names, the etched faces of those young boys lost to the folly of war, the beliefs they fought for…I always wonder: how many more names and faces need to be etched on walls before we come to our senses? I felt more sadness and anger than I expected, but I also wondered if I could believe in something (a cause, a country…) so strongly that I would go to war to defend it. I couldn’t place if that was just my character or the TCK side-effect of having called many places home, but not really being from any of them. Even if I don’t figure out the answer, it still serves as food for thought…

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While the memorials left me with lingering thoughts and questions, Arlington Cemetery gave me a feeling of profound serenity. It’s overwhelming and awe-inspiring how vast the cemetery is and just how many graves there are, but it’s such a peaceful place. I was moved by the quiet beauty of those rolling, green hills, dotted with white tombstones. Being there in the spring only accentuated how lovely a final resting place it is. Trees were in full bloom, covered in young leaves of spring green and all shades of pink; daffodils dotted the green hills; blue jays and robins flitted from tree to tree. It was breathtakingly beautiful and so peaceful. I could have stayed there for hours – writing, reading, photographing or just simply being.

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It reminded me of the American cemetery in Normandy, France, but on a much bigger (and hilly) scale. Instead of views of the wide beaches and the Atlantic Ocean, there were views of D.C. and airplanes flying overhead. Both of these cemeteries moved me deeply and they both left beautiful images in my mind. I felt so serene and at peace in each of them. If time had allowed, I would have stayed much longer, but alas, that shall be for next time…

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My time in D.C. fed my mind and my heart. It allowed me to get in touch with all the different parts of me and to do so many things I love. Perhaps most importantly, being in D.C. reminded me of what it means to be a third culture kid, how we’re formed by the life we’ve led and that every part of me is important. As a TCK you’re an amalgam of cultures, traditions and nations, which is sometimes confusing, but always amazing. Sometimes we’ll identify more with one side of us, at times we even reject certain parts, but we know we can’t deny their existence or their importance. Every place you’ve lived in, every language you’ve spoken, every passport you’ve held plays a role in making you who you are. We may have thought that growing up as a third culture kid was tough, but that’s actually the easy part. The real difficulty lies in being an adult third culture kid and navigating the non-TCK environment. It lies in figuring out your identity when you’re no longer surrounded by others like you.

And I’m learning to do that little by little, day by day.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

As an adult third culture kid living in a decidedly non-TCK environment, I realize more than ever how much our lifestyle sets us apart. There are fundamental differences in the way we experience and see the world, compared to non-TCKs/expats. Some things can’t be learned on theory alone and all the words in the world would not be able to truly explain them. There are many things I could write about that we experience so differently, but the one I wanted to write about today is the ever present flow of goodbyes in the life of a TCK or expat.

How do you explain the expat/TCK cycle of moving every so often? Of having to watch friends leave and saying goodbye, not knowing if you’ll ever see them again? Of being the one leaving, knowing you’re going someplace completely foreign and leaving behind everything familiar – your house, friends, school, city?…

How do you explain thinking “this time I won’t make friends, so it will be easier when we leave”, but knowing that won’t happen as soon as you meet a kindred soul? How do you explain that as difficult as it is to say goodbye, you’d rather go through that than experience everything alone?

How do you explain the contradictory notion that the goodbyes get simultaneously tougher and easier as the years go by? As you get older, you manage the goodbyes better, yet by the same token, the older you are, the deeper the feelings, so the goodbyes tug even more at your heart.

We must seem crazy to non-TCKs/expats when we try to explain it. It must seem awful to them, to those people who have lived all or most of their lives in the same place, rarely having to say goodbye, almost never having to pack up their life and start again somewhere new. There are many hardships with such a life and on bad days you notice them even more. But on the good days you know how lucky you are and how much you have gained through all your experiences.

As a TCK, you learn very quickly the importance of communication and connecting with people. Often TCKs and expats make deeper connections much faster than first culture kids, because we know how precious each second is, before we’re whisked away to another country. We also understand each other on a deeper level, even if we never lived in the same countries or speak the same languages. We experienced the same emotions, felt the same fears, and shared the same joys. We know the deep sorrow of heartbreaking goodbyes and the powerful happiness of making new friends. We know all too well what it’s like to be the new kid, lost and alone, hoping someone stretches out a helping hand without us having to ask. We know that the smallest gesture of kindness can lead to the strongest of friendship. We also know that even if people change, grow apart or lose contact over the years, the friendships were true and deep while they lasted.

That is why even after going through so many goodbyes, we’re still ready to let others in and to open ourselves to them. We know that no matter how hard the goodbyes might be, everything in between them is so worth it. I think TCKs learn how true that is at a very young age, without ever being told.

Perhaps what I find the most difficult to explain is the one thing I know with the most certainty: that even with those heartbreaking moments, with so many tears shed over goodbyes, with having to figure it all out time and time again, I’d still do it all over again.

“Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.           Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Downhill Adventures: Past

When I was a kid, we went skiing as often as we could and we were all taught to ski as soon as possible. For a long time I wasn’t really a big fan of skiing. I felt awkward and stiff on my skis, I hated going to lessons (I liked it better when dad taught us), and my fingers and toes were always cold. Besides, where we often skied those first years there was more ice than snow, and I had some bad experiences. Even to this day whenever I hit a patch of ice I feel irrational panic and fear. I’m always afraid I’ll lose control and end up tumbling down the rest of the slope.

Over the years, my relationship with skiing changed and I found moments of pleasure. There were several things that played a role in that. First of all, we actually skied on real slopes of snow, not hills of ice – it’s amazing the difference proper powdery snow can make. Secondly, we moved to Europe – skiing in the Alps takes the experience to a whole new level. It’s breathtaking in a way too amazing to put in words. Third, and extremely important, the way skis were made changed. Skis used to be long and skinny, and were meant to be your height or taller. That’s a lot of ski to try controlling and maneuvering. When they modified them over time, they were curved, rounded – and meant to be shorter than you – and so much easier to maneuver. They were made to carve the snow, to make those turns in the snow. Ok, it doesn’t mean I was suddenly amazing or in love with skiing, but it certainly helped improve my opinion and experience of skiing.

But then something happened. I experienced a joy and a freedom I had never felt before when skiing. This changed my outlook on skiing forever. I tried snow blades. For those who don’t know what they are, they are simply shorter skis. As in, half the size of regular skis. And to me, they were pure bliss. My dad let my try his, and after one slope I was hooked. There was no going back. Less length to be hassled with, no poles (I hate ski poles – no idea why, I just do); pure freedom on the slopes like I had never felt before. I had so much more control and I was tearing down those slopes. I was confident, something I rarely was when skiing. More importantly and surprisingly, I was blissfully and completely happy.

Here’s the ironic part. We normally went skiing every year for a week, during the ski break in France. I used the snow blades for 1 or 2 years, and then my university schedule didn’t match up with my brother’s school vacation, and I haven’t been skiing in probably 6-7 years. I had finally found the joy in skiing and I hardly got to bask in it. I used to be the least excited about going skiing, and I didn’t really miss it in-between trips, but these past years I’ve definitely had moments when I missed that feeling of pure freedom as you fly down the slopes.

Although that now leads me to finish this post, it also allows me to introduce my next post, where I’ll share my most recent downhill adventure: first time skiing with my husband. Sure, I didn’t have my snow blades and it wasn’t the Alps, but it was a beautiful, fun and invigorating day. We definitely made a lot of wonderful memories – but more on that next time…

2013 is definitely off to a good start.

New Year, New Adventures

Before I start my ramblings for 2013, I want to wish everyone a very happy new year! I know I’m a little late, but better late than never, as they say! I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday season, a beautiful christmas and a fantastic start to 2013.

I have been quite absent from my blog these past months, due in part to being busy with other things, but mostly due to lack of inspiration. There are moments like that – sometimes I have writing overflowing out of me, other times the inspiration well dries up a little. It can be frustrating because I miss writing when I’m not doing so much of it, but it feels so good when I finally get into it again. So hopefully 2013 will wake me up a little! I am definitely planning on feeding my creativity in this new year (not just figuratively: one of my goals is to try at least one new recipe a month) and I hope to do more writing! I definitely wrote more in 2012 than 2011, so if I can keep up that trend in 2013 I would be very happy!

Another way I intend to play around with my creativity and hopefully learn a lot in the process is with photography. After months of looking at cameras, reading reviews, asking suggestions and advice from many bloggers, a very generous (and loving) Santa delivered my first ever DSLR (a nikon d5100). To say that I am excited would be an understatement. I am like a kid with an awesome new toy. To all the bloggers who gave me such detailed and great advice: thank you! Your suggestions and thoughts were so helpful throughout this process. To my much loved Santa: thank you, thank you, thank you. It was a beautiful surprise.

And now, the fun part…pictures, pictures, pictures! I have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to every minute of it! Oh, and any thoughts, suggestions, comments, advice – they’re always welcome. 🙂

I’m hoping that 2013 will be a year filled with adventures of all sorts. On the creative side, I want to learn as much as I can about photography and how to really use my dslr properly. I want to write more – and I need to admit that as much as inspiration plays a role, so does having some kind of discipline to sit down and write. I’ll definitely be trying to stick with the one new recipe a month (I’ve already done 2 this month!); maybe I’ll write about some of them here. I also hope 2013 will be a year of exploring more, seeing new places and having travel adventures. Whether those places are near or far, just a little day trip or a longer getaway, I always love them. One of my favorite things is to go someplace completely new with my husband and explore together. Sharing that sense of adventure and discovering an unknown place together is an amazing experience. We’ve already driven to 2 new states this year, and enjoyed beautiful snow-covered landscapes and amazing views. It was a wonderful day for so many reasons and I look forward to many more like it.

Here’s to 2013: may this new year be filled with love, laughter, and many new adventures.

Mystery Memories: Part 2

Beautiful and bright exotic flowers, vividly colorful against the gray skies.

The most delicious mangoes I’ve ever tasted. I think they were the first mangoes I ever ate, and I have yet to find mangoes as wonderful as those.

The most rain I’ve ever seen fall continuously. It just kept falling for days and days and days and…yes, more days after that. I guess that happens though, when you live somewhere tropical with a rainy season.

When I first moved there, someone told me there were two seasons: hot, and hotter. It’s true. But what they left out is that there is also humid, and more humid. So humid. All. The. Time. (I don’t like humidity, in case that wasn’t clear.)

Probably the country where we felt the most like outsiders, because our physical appearance was so different. There was no question we were foreigners there:  we felt it and we looked it.

I was surprised to find that Spanish words were part of the language here, but once I learned the history of this country it made more sense. Still, it was definitely a big surprise when we found that we understood certain words, even though the language was so foreign to us!

This country has some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches I’ve ever seen. White sand, transparent turquoise water, palm trees swaying in the wind…Perfect paradise islands, with hidden lagoons of immeasurable beauty. I was awed by the serenity in the lagoons and the clarity of the gorgeous water. It was quite some time ago and I was young, but the beauty stayed with me and the memories are so clear in my mind, as if it were yesterday.

I know there may not be many clues, and they might not provide much direction, but can you guess which country this is (or maybe the continent/region it’s in)?

Reflection and Transition: Becoming an Adult Third Culture Kid

It has been just over two years that we’ve been living in New England. Some days it feels like it’s been much longer than that, and other days it’s hard to believe it’s been already two years. This move was a big change in so many ways and really played a huge part in my transition from third culture kid to a third culture adult (or more commonly an “adult third culture kid – ATCK). I was an adult before, in all ‘official’ senses of the term, but I still had the comfort of the family home, I could return to a TCK environment regularly and was still in a familiar place. Coming here was when I truly entered the adult world, in so many ways. And although I find it odd to consider myself an adult and to realize I’m 27, well on my way to 28, I know I am an adult and a capable one. I still don’t really feel like one, but I seem to be doing a good job pretending…so far.

This move didn’t just make me transition into really being an adult, but it also made me acutely aware of how I was officially an adult TCK. I realized just how much impact my TCK life had on me when I was no longer in a TCK environment. I had already noticed it when I went to university, but I could (and did) return often to my high-school and I was still at home too. I was also in a city and country that has many foreigners, so even if they weren’t TCKs, we weren’t completely the odd ones left out. Moving over here was a whole different story. We’re in a relatively small, very American town and foreigners are very rare. This has a much wider reach than university and it’s been a big challenge in the transition. That’s when you really feel how different you are and just how much perception is impacted by the life you lead growing up.

The years here have made me reflect upon my life growing up as a TCK. I’ve become much more aware of how grateful I am for that life and how much I love it, despite the challenges it presented, then and now. I’ve also realized just how different it makes us and how much it changes the way we see the world. I’ve also learned how easy it is to be misunderstood by non-TCKs and to modify my conversation accordingly. It’s definitely been an eye-opening and challenging experience so far, but I know it only makes me better at adapting and tackling whatever comes my way.

Two years later and I’ve figured it out a little. More than last year and the year before, but less than the years to come. I know I’ll never have it fully figured out, but as they say – it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.

Here’s to the journey and to figuring it out a little more each step of the way.

Mountain Beauty: San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino in Alpe is a mountain town in the Apennines, in Tuscany, Italy. It is beautiful and serene with amazing views everywhere you look. The fresh mountain air is soothing and invigorating; I could have stayed much longer than we did, just breathing it all in and enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. I also happened to eat the best (homemade, of course) ravioli ever in the most charming restaurant/inn. If anyone plans to venture out in that direction, let me know and I’ll give you the information – you won’t regret it. You’ll fall in love with both the delectable meal and the breathtaking views. As with the gelato, however, I have no photos of the ravioli. Yes, I was too busy eating and enjoying. But I have many photos of the views, mountains and forest walks…I’ll let them convince you.

This is definitely one of my favorites – I think it almost looks like a painting!

Scents and Sensibility

The smell of lavender. The smell of freshly fallen pine needles. The crisp smell of a cold winter’s day. The smell of mountain air. The smell of the sea. The smell of certain foods and spices. The smell of a fine wine.

I could go on mentioning other smells that are special to me and trigger memories that I love. Memories of places, of people, of foods that make me happy and are part of who I am.

Lavender will always make me think of Provence, in the south of France. Breathtakingly vibrant fields of purple; a dash of brilliant color amidst the green and gold. The smell of summer, of sunshine and of happy, lazy days surrounded by loved ones. Lavender also reminds me of the suburbs we lived in just outside of Paris – across the road from us were a few rows of lavender, the sweet smell floating in the air and attracting the bees. Their blooming signaled the arrival of summer days, as we walked past them on the way home from the train after classes or from the boulangerie with a warm baguette in hand. Lavender reminds me of our beautiful wedding day – summer in Provence and dried lavender was thrown on us instead of confetti or rice. Oh, it was everywhere and I was still finding it in my hair the next morning, but it looked and smelled beautiful. It smelled of summer, of Provence and of love.

Provence, France. Words cannot convey the love I have for this region.
Photo credit: my family (provided by my brother).

The smell of pine needles brings back many memories, but I’ve noticed that different varieties of pine trees each correspond to its own set of memories. I only realized this recently and I find it fascinating how one seemingly simple sense is actually infinitely complex. The smell of pine trees here in New England reminds me of being a little girl in Wisconsin. We had several huge pine trees in our yard and my sister and I spent hours playing in the shade of those majestic trees, inventing stories and making pine needle crowns. When I moved back to the U.S. with my husband two years ago, memories I hadn’t thought of in years suddenly flooded back when I smelled the pine trees, especially in the cool autumn air.

Pine tree in the crisp autumn air of New England.

Pine trees near the Mediterranean, however, have a different smell and another set of memories. The first time I was near the Mediterranean (well, the first time I can remember – being born in Cyprus doesn’t count!), was when we finally visited Lebanon as a family. The smells from Lebanon are deeply engrained in my senses, even though it has been 10 years since the last time I was there. Certain areas of Provence have a smell that conjures up images of Lebanon in my mind. And most recently, it was in Italy that I smelled those pine trees. The smell of them in the mountains is what most closely resembles their scent in Lebanon. In the middle of the hot, humid summer, the mountains provide respite from the heat and a haven of forests for walks and games. The cooler mountain air mixed with pine trees is both invigorating and relaxing, energizing yet soothing. I find that the silence of the forests in the mountains is so peaceful, so restful after all the noises in our everyday lives. And the smell of the pine needles completes the feeling of perfect serenity, bringing back many happy memories.

Pine tree in Tuscany, Italy on a warm summer’s day; they remind me so much of Lebanon.

The smell of a crisp winter’s day or of a snow covered mountain makes me think of snowy winters as a kid and sparkling ski slopes under a dazzling blue sky. It makes me think of hours of playing in the snow with my cousins, of building snowmen and throwing snowballs. It reminds me of family ski trips and finally finding real pleasure in skiing when I tried snow blades, after years of mixed feelings about skiing. I can almost hear the swish of the skis on the slopes and see the sparkling snow when I smell a cold winter’s day. It reminds me of happily eating a snickers bar on the ski lift, deliciously frozen after hours in our pockets. I can recall the glorious, exhilarating yet peaceful sensation when the skis carve the snow just right, when it’s a perfect fluffy powder that sprays up, glistening like diamonds in the sun. You can block out everyone around you and just enjoy the gliding motion, the smell of the pine trees, the crisp mountain air, and the musical rhythm in your head. I haven’t been skiing in many years and I was surprised to find how much I miss it. The cold New England winters awoke a longing I didn’t even know I had. I long to see the wide open views from the mountain tops; the clear blue sky defining the peaks lined with pine trees and the snow glittering like millions of diamonds. I long to once again feel the swish of my skis and to eat a frozen snickers bar while hanging in the air. I long for the invigorating rush of the cold air on my cheeks while I glide downhill and the golden warmth of the sun when I pause along the way. But most of all, I long for that fleeting moment of pure, blissful freedom.

The French Alps – a hard view to beat.
Photo courtesy of Rawi Fayad

Although the mountain and sea are infinitely different from each other, they both give me that feeling of freedom. They both invigorate me and renew me. The sea has a special hold over me. So many memories are linked to the sea that it is difficult to go through them all, but they are among my happiest. The smell of the sea soothes me in a way no other smell can. The sound of the waves crashing, the sand under your feet, the horizon that goes on forever… The smell of the sea means summer days, family, cousins, grandiose sandcastles, picnics on the sand; it means reading a good book under the warm sun with the ebb and flow of the waves as music. I am not a Pisces without reason – I’ve always felt a pull towards water: rivers, lakes, waterfalls, oceans and seas… They all have such beauty, but the sea has the strongest pull of all, and I will return to it, always. Being in the water in what I love most about the sea. It soothes and cleanses me; it gives me renewed energy and a serenity I cannot explain. The smell of the sea calms me and reaches the deepest core of my being.

The eternally enchanting Mediterranean Sea.

I won’t delve into detail on the smells of food, spices and wine, because there is much to say but it’s hard to explain. I’m sure we all have certain smells that remind us of something. The smell of a certain dish that conjures up an image of grandma’s kitchen, or baking cakes with mom as a kid, or popcorn nights with dad… Spices that remind us of an exotic vacation or of home, snuggled in on a cold winter’s night. Each smell and each thought stirred more memories in me. Memories that are sometimes hidden so deep that only my nose seems to remember them.

The sense of smell is such a powerful one and can stir such deep memories, yet we often overlook it. It’s one of the first senses to develop and one of the last to go… Imagine how many memories it can hold for each of us?

Piazza dei Miracoli

I recently had the wonderful joy of travelling to Italy with my husband, where we enjoyed the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, the lovely language, the delicious gelato (very, very delicious!), and the amazing culture. Of course my camera was with me as much as possible, although I unfortunately did not remember to take any pictures of the gelato…I was too busy enjoying it to even think of taking a picture!

There will probably be a few photography posts about Italy, as I took a lot of pictures and everything is so beautiful that I want to share it! This post is my first of probably several about Pisa; I’ll share some photos of the Piazza dei Miracoli, where stands the famed tower of Pisa. Still leaning. But the tower is not the only historic and impressive landmark in this piazza; it is but part of the beauty. Standing beside the tower is the imposing cathedral, the baptistry (with beautiful acoustics), and the Camposanto (by far my favorite of all the monuments!). I promise that future posts will have close ups of certain sections, paintings, statues and architecture because the detail and craftsmanship is awe-inspiring.

Today’s post will just be a few general views of the square, but  I hope you enjoy it and the ones to come!

One of my favorite shots of the day – I feel as though the tower was trying to peek around the cathedral as if to say “hello, I’m here!”.
The official name of the square is Piazza del Duomo; but it is commonly called the Piazza dei Miracoli.

The clouds gave the perfect backdrop for the monuments, and also gave some shade from the sweltering heat!
I absolutely loved these lamp-posts, and the walls of the museum. What’s beautiful in Europe is that you don’t need major monuments to see history…It just surrounds you.
Street-side view from the top of the tower!
Mountain-side view; that beautiful ocre building is the information center and souvenir shop. The buildings are painted in such vibrant and warm colors; they’re absolutely lovely.
View of the baptistry and the cathedral from the tower; the long structure to the right of the cathedral is the Camposanto.