Chapter 1: A Reunion 

English schools are weird.

We broke up for ‘the year’ halfway through the actual year on the 4th of July. It was strange for me going to all the assemblies, drinks, dinners and chapels hearing everyone say ‘see you next year’ when myself the rationalist/Aussie thinking ‘don’t you mean September? That’s still 2015 people’. But anyway, after the sad farewells to some fantastic staff members, year 8s and other leaving pupils were over, my excitement for summer was rising.

As I sat in Stansted Airport, I tried to comprehend what was ahead of me. I was about to see my parents for the first time in 6 months, a reunion my heart had been longing for ever since I walked through the departure gates at Sydney airport. Also, I had 2 complete months of holidays where I could travel, explore and discover Europe to my heart’s (and bank account’s) content. It was an exciting, blood-pumping, scary and thrilling concept.. Who knows what the next 2 months will bring? Hopefully lots of new adventures, stories, great views, new friends, acquired knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live in. 
So I arrived at Milan Airport and I had basically jumped out of my seat and was towards arrivals before the seatbelt light flashed on. There was no stopping me now.

 I wondered if it would be different, if they would be different, because I knew I was different. I’ve grown up a lot in the last 6 months, I’m more independent, adventurous, determined and more of a dreamer. 

It was such a happy feeling as we had one of those Love Actually – type moments in the airport, hugging and depositing H2O left, right and centre. It was time for the three best friends to go on tour.

Finding our place in Milan was the first task, I became a very valuable passenger having a phone with unlimited data and google maps. Ah to feel loved.

That night we caught the train to see the Big Milan Expo which is a 6 month expo/festival event presenting examples of sustainable living and food practices from countries all over the world. It’s my type of festival and I loved wandering around from country to country, chocolate tasting to chocolate tasting, soaking in the 38 degree heat and parental company which I have been neglected of for 6 months. 

We went to bed that night feeling grateful to be back together again, in Italy, and with 15 more days of exploring to be had together. 
The next day we all piled into the very tiny car, it was almost comic watching 193cm Dad try to squeeze in. But I tell you what we were grateful for the compact size as we made our way through the skinny and blinded streets around Lake Como. Well, Dad took care of that, I just looked out of the window in admiration and recollection of how beautiful Italy really is (and to think I’d forgotten!). A walk around Como and funicular ride to admire the view over a coconut smoothie and pizza introduced us to the charm of Lake Como. It has a mesmerising mixture of colourful, flower-adorned houses, dazzling water, as well as grand houses and churches plotted somewhat randomly up the steep hills. As we walked and drove along deeper into the towns, we discovered the true Italian essence of the place, I was so glad that this wasn’t a town run for tourists. Small cobbled streets with farms on impossibly steep hills, people who didn’t speak english, schools and ‘beaches’ with swarms of youthful Italians. Our hotel was perched up the hill overlooking the lake in all its glory, a perfect spot. Watching all the lunatic bike riders push up the hill in 38 degree heat made me tired enough so I was ready for a few days of relaxation.
We strolled our way down the hill which had a gradient we would soon realise was unreasonably steep, and fell into the water at the make-do beach (which was really a lake). It was paradise, swimming around with my 2 best pals looking out into the hills of heaven. I think we were the only ones who were still wearing their thongs and ballet flats (mum) in the water to protect us from the rocks – spot the tourists! 
Our ascent was made more enjoyable with the ever-present views following us, the cowbells ringing in the air and the hidden treasures of the Italian countryside – abandoned houses, overgrown bridges and colourful flowers everywhere. 

Dinner was our reward up the top, looking over the lake, drinking wine and continuing to catch up on all our missed times.

The next 2 days were spent as we liked. Lazy mornings, buffet breakfasts, long walks, shorter but steeper runs, multiple cups of coffee, reading, boat trips to the other side of the lake, scenic dinners with live music, foot massages from mumsy (she offered to touch those dreadful things?!), meeting locals and foreigners alike and overdosing on magnums and cold showers to escape the pressing heat.
It came to the time to depart for our next adventure in Switzerland, and it was sad saying goodbye to Italy not knowing when I will next return! Each trip to Italy this year (there were 3 hehe) brought something new and exciting. Italy never fails to fascinate me with pieces of seemingly unrecognised beauty. Whether its a picturesque view, a cute cobbled street, an organic farm, an Italian mannerism or the flower pots which adorn every colourful house in the villages. I love it. 

But I can’t be exclusive to my love of travelling, there are 11 more countries to discover these holidays so it was sadness mixed with anticipation of the continuing adventures with the two people I’ve missed most. 

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