Hometown Tourist

This weekend, I packed up my whole life and moved out of my apartment in Arlington, Virginia. Everything I own is currently sitting in my parents’ living room, my childhood bedroom, and even in the back of my mother’s minivan. For the next two weeks, I’ll be hanging around in my hometown, preparing for more than 4 months abroad. I love staying with my parents. They’re always so happy to see me, but not as happy as my dog (who currently has an adorably hilarious new haircut). 

Stolen from my sister’s Facebook.

 

Anyway, last weekend, in anticipation of my imminent departure, I invited all my grad school friends out to my favorite beer bar in Washington, DC. (It’s called Bier Baron and it’s near DuPont Circle. If you like a low key place with an amazing beer list and ample seating, I cannot recommend this place enough. Julia loves it, too. It has the official Wild Wanderlings seal of approval.) We drank. We laughed. And one of my friends asked me, “Aren’t you sad to be leaving?”

The fact is, I have been so caught up in the details of my move and planning visits to friends and vacations to new places that I completely forgot to be sad about leaving. And, as is often the case, I never really realized what I had at my fingertips until it was time to leave. I have been living in DC for 2 years, and I haven’t really done any sightseeing. I lived in a lovely neighborhood, and I studied in a lovely neighborhood, and I never really took the time to appreciate it. I have seen a great deal of people come and go on Georgetown’s campus during my time there, snapping photos and looking generally excited to be there. So last week, I decided to walk around my neck of the woods with my camera and a traveler’s frame of mind.

Almost as if to apologize for the rest of July’s sultry, sticky summer heat, the weather in Georgetown on the day of my touristy meander was 71 degrees and breezy. Absolutely gorgeous. I began in Rosslyn, walking towards Georgetown across Key Bridge.

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The views from the bridge were absolutely lovely.

Love locks aren't just for bridges in Paris, it would seem.

Love locks aren’t just for bridges in Paris, it would seem.

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The Potomac & Washington Monument from Key Bridge.

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Once you reach M Street from the Bridge, you see a couple of monuments to Francis Scott Key, for whom the bridge is named.

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The original Star Spangled Banner, with 13 stars.

The original Star Spangled Banner, with 13 stars.

I decided to follow the walking path I took on the days when I walked to campus instead of taking the bus. It wasn’t a particularly long or eventful journey, but it gave me the opportunity to notice a few interesting or pretty things that I overlooked or took for granted before.

What is this? Why is it outside a liquor store?

What is this? Why is it outside a liquor store?

A view of Key Bridge from the "Exorcist Stairs".

A view of Key Bridge from the “Exorcist Stairs”.

Right next to Georgetown's main library.

Right next to Georgetown’s main library.

A serene little fountain on Georgetown's campus.

A serene little fountain on Georgetown’s campus.

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And of course, walking home around sunset afforded me some lovely views of the Potomac and Georgetown.

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Traveling and seeing new places is an amazing experience. I simply can’t get enough of breathing the air and seeing the skies of a new place. But we should all make sure not to get so caught up in our wanderlust that we miss the beauty in our own backyards.

Meet Julia

Ireland, 2014

Connemara, Ireland, 2014

Hi there, Internet! My name is Julia, and I am Wild Wanderling number two.

I’ve spent most of my life not flying on planes, and not just in the usual way that people tend not to live on Boeing 747s. Growing up, we went on plenty of family trips, but always to some drivable destination. We drove up and down the east coast, from Florida to Maine, New York to Georgia. Once even to the exotic land of Canada! Every few years we would plan a special vacation. We would talk about getting on a plane to visit family in Ireland or touring the Italian countryside. I would read guide books, listen to language tapes, and flip through photos of our latest destination. But when the time came, something always prevented us from buying our tickets, and our plans would disintegrate.

London, 2012 & 2011

London, 2012 & 2011

It wasn’t until three years ago, when I was 21, that I finally got on my first plane — a turbulent transatlantic flight to London. I stayed in London for five weeks with my university where I was studying graphic design and illustration. Once I arrived, I was so distracted by everything to do and see and visit that I forgot to be homesick. London was the most amazing place I had ever been; I never wanted to leave. Then, one long weekend, I took a trip over to Ireland with friends. I never thought I would be so upset to be returning to London, but boarding that little plane back from Dublin was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

Ireland, 2011

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, 2011

My five weeks in London quickly passed and I found myself back home. I missed London and Dublin. I missed how easy it was to travel to a different country for the weekend, to hop on a train or a plane and experience something completely different. I made myself a promise that I would move there as soon as I could.

Ireland 2014

Connemara & Glendalough, Ireland, 2014

Graduation came and went, and I found a nice job close to home. I was able to scrounge some time and money to take two weeklong trips back to England and Ireland, but my chances of moving abroad seemed more and more remote as one year turned into two. One day, when Victoria mentioned her idea to continue her education abroad, a lightbulb blinked on. And so, that’s how I find myself about to pack up whatever I can carry and ship myself off to Trinity College Dublin — where more adventures will hopefully start.

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Howth, Ireland. March 2014

Hello, everyone. I’m Victoria, and I’m one half of the Wild Wanderlings duo.

I grew up in a small town in a small state in the USA. My 8th grade graduating class had 23 people in it. My elementary school was situated next to a corn field, with an apple orchard just down the road.

In my youth, I read a lot of fantastic tales. As cliché as it may seem, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy had a huge impact on me. After reading them, I knew I wanted to see the world and have adventures.

I got my first taste of travel and adventure when I was 12 years old. Through a family friend, I met a delightful brother and sister from Santa Catarina in Brazil. I befriended them, and eventually, after they returned home, they invited me to come and visit. So I did. Just a couple months shy of 13, I boarded a plane all by myself. I flew from JFK in NYC to São Paulo, then from São Paulo to Florianopolis. My friends’ parents picked me up from the airport.

I’ll never forget that flight to São Paulo. I didn’t sleep a wink, and I saw city lights twinkling in the darkness thousands of feet below. I saw the sunrise, a sharp, deep red line breaking over the black ocean, fading to orange and pink.

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London, 2010 & Moscow, 2011

I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends in Brazil. And while I missed my family, when the time came to return home, I found that I wanted to stay. Though the connections I made there have faded over the last 12 years, the 6 weeks I spent in Brazil remain a fond and vivid memory. And they have inspired my love of travel in the years that followed. Since that first adventure in 2003, I have spent three months in Ireland and four months in Russian. I have visited England, Germany, Finland, and the Czech Republic. I have seen amazing things and met wonderful people. There is not a single place I have been that I would not gladly revisit.

Prague, 2011 & Newgrange, Ireland, 2014

Prague, 2011 & Newgrange, Ireland, 2014

Now, as the summer of 2014 draws to a close, I am preparing to leave Washington, DC (the city where I have spent the last two years as a grad student). The future holds a number of exciting things for me. In late August and early September, I will be visiting old friends in Ireland, getting my first taste of the Scottish Highlands, and experiencing the romance and beauty of Paris. Afterwards, I will be settling in for a three month stay in London, where I will be learning computer programming. And hopefully having a few adventures along the way.

Meet Victoria