Europe Anniversary!

March 26, 2015 marks a year since I toured Europe with my close friends. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. For me, life began when I realized there’s a whole world out there that needed to be discovered. My road to finally gaining the courage to travel across the Atlantic wasn’t an easy one. I always believed traveling around the world was a privilege reserved for the rich or famous-definitely, not for someone like me. In November 2013, I was like many recent graduates, feeling lost, confused and defeated. I was making very little progress at work and my daily routine was beginning to feel monotonous. All my friends around me were putting down payments on homes and cars and I could barely figure out what I would eat for lunch. My spirit was broken, as it seemed like everyone was progressing so seamlessly into adulthood and I felt so empty. I prayed for the day when I would find my passion and start living for me. One day, while at Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across a book in the travel section. The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe. I sat down on the floor and read the book cover to cover. My spine tingled as I read about the vineyards of Italy and the vibrant culture of Spain. I yearned to ride on the double-decker buses in London and dance the night away in Paris. It hit me; I didn’t want a house or a new car (well eventually I would), what I wanted at that very moment was to see the world.

The best part about traveling is figuring out where you want to go. Pulling out a map almost feels like the whole world is at your fingertips. It’s exciting to pinpoint which countries are within close proximity to each other and how to maximize your trip. My friends and I decided to go to London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Vatican City, Barcelona and Amsterdam. We were going to maximize our options some more while in Spain by taking a flight to Ibiza or a ferry to Morocco (which a lot of people don’t know is an option) but decided to figure it out once we got there. I found a multi-city flight that took us to three out of seven cities on our itinerary (NY to London, Barcelona to Amsterdam and Amsterdam back to NYC for $800) and we took trains in between the rest of the countries for as little as 13 Euros. Since I was traveling with three others, everything was split four ways, from our hotel rooms to our taxis. This reduced costs for the overall trip immensely.

London was such a treat. From Heathrow, we took the tube to Lambeth North, which dropped us off across the street from our hotel. We went on the London Eye, followed the audacious sounds of Big Ben until we were engulfed in his presence and antagonized the Changing Guards outside of St. James Palace. Speaking of palaces, Buckingham Palace was glorious. It’s adorned with gold and highly secure. The London club scene is so fun. What I liked about London was that it was a European version of New York City. I didn’t feel like I was in another country at all (except when crossing the street).

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After spending some time in London, we took a Eurostar train to Paris. Paris was a dream. I literally was awestruck by its beauty. It was everything I imagined and more. The city is bustling but it retains an air of class and grace. Our hotel was right across the street from the Louvre Museum which was our first stop, followed by dinner on the Champs Elysees, a walk to L’Arc D’Triomphe and a failed attempt at getting into the hottest club in the city, Club 79. Our adventures eventually lead us to have a picnic in the park by the Eiffel Towers where we devoured Nutella Crepes and Vin (Wine). On the Love Lock Bridge, I made a wish to find love again. Paris is truly magical.

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From Paris, we took an overnight train to Venice Italy. We drove through the mountains of Switzerland and made a quick stop in Milan. It was such fun being on a train for over 14-hours knowing that our final destination would be Italy. We played heads up on our iPhone and pigged out on junk food. When it was time for bed, we told ghost stories until we fell asleep. When we woke up, we were surrounded by the beautiful and vast waters of Venice. Venice was a fairytale. We immediately walked across the Grand Canal until we found our hotel. We made our way to lunch at a quaint restaurant where we had authentic Italian pasta and seafood. It was here that I tried Octopus for the first time. One of the best things you can do in Venice is to get lost. Whether you do it on purpose or by accident, it’s inevitable. Don’t freight, somehow you’re going to find your way back. Our perfect Gondola ride was ruined when my friend accidentally got Nutella on the Gondolier’s hat; he cursed us out in Italian and told us to get off his boat. You had to see it to believe it.

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Rome was a historical haven. Our hotel was in the midst of the Roman Forum. Rome was literally like stepping back into time, yet it’s a modern European metropolis. What I grew to love about European culture, especially Rome, was how embracive it is of its past while progressively advancing into its present and future. The merge is almost harmonious. Our first stop was Vatican City, which is considered a country. It’s located in the midst of Rome and is majestic. The art, the columns, the fountains were all remarkable. From Vatican City, we made a wish at Trevi Fountain, had authentic Roman Pizza, and explored the city until the middle of the night in search of Italian pastries. We met so many people along the way.

IMG_2823 IMG_2881 Baila Mi Cha-Cha, this tune was in my head when we landed in Barcelona. Monica (Sanaa Lathan) from Love and Basketball played ball in Spain and this song was the opening soundtrack to her new life abroad. I couldn’t shake the tune as we took walks along the beach, ate lunch on the boardwalk and partied until the wee hours of the morning in Barcelona clubs. One of the most memorable things about Barcelona was the food, from the paella to the tapas, it’s all so flavorful. Although we planned to take a day trip to Morocco or Ibiza, we became so engulfed in Barcelona’s culture that we decided against it.

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Amsterdam was one of my favorite European cities. From the cool trams to the canals and lofty buildings, it’s just one of a kind. The vibe was super relaxed and the Dutch are so friendly. Our first stop was Museumplein to witness the genius of Van Gogh’s artwork and the infamous Red Light District before dark; beautiful women in windows waiting to be sold for sex was heartbreaking but in The Netherlands, this act is totally legal. Next up, The Anne Frank Museum, which singlehandedly changed my life. At the risk of sounding cliché, I learned the true meaning of freedom while standing in that tiny attic that Anne and her family lived in for years to escape execution. We are so privileged, we have so many freedoms and liberties and we literally have the resources to make a difference and change the world; after leaving Anne’s attic, I knew my life would never be the same again.

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We covered all of these cities in a span of 13 days. We were constantly on the move, which was awesome. We were able to do everything on our itinerary and more with hopes of returning to each of the countries we visited one day in the near future.

My first trip to Europe changed my life and now travel has become my addiction.

The Day Before the Big Day

Saturday was supposed to be a relaxing day, as it was the day before the wedding. It was also the day that my friend Danielle arrived. I was so excited when she came. We got dressed and headed into town with the other bridesmaids.

After heading back to the hotel, we decided to meet up with the other wedding guests to visit the private beach and pool at Taino for a huge day-before-the-wedding-pow-wow. We stayed in the pool until the last water taxi was set to leave and played Man Hunt, Hide-and-Seek and a whole bunch of other pool games. We also had girls talk in the hot tub where we addressed, relationships, friendships and everything in between.

IMG_6505 IMG_6506IMG_6513When we got on our ”yacht” back to the hotel, the captain took us on a tour of the island where we danced to 90s classics, 112 “Only You” and TLC “Baby-Baby-Baby.” It was so much fun to be surrounded by great people. We got ready for dinner shortly after, in which I fell asleep at the table. I was so deprived of sleep. We then went to the bars and got back to the hotel around 3am. I was finally able to catch what was left of my beauty rest.

We Made It…Bahamas

I stayed up for about 23-hours without going to sleep on the day of departure. I had to go to work, then braid my hair, then pack and leave for the airport at 3am. My flight departed at 6:30am which meant I literally had no time to even nap.

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Absolutely Delirious-NO SLEEP

The flight attendant put me in a window seat with no windows. I was pissed, but luckily slept the whole way to Atlanta; it didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I met up with my friend Kirsha who would be staying in the room with me. She’s an airline employee so she was first classing it, honey. I sat in the emergency row during the flight to the Bahamas which was super annoying but spacious. Honestly, I was so drunk with sleep, I could care less. When we finally arrived in Freeport we headed straight to the Pelican Bay Hotel to unwind and explore.

Kydee WilliamsPort Lucaya was next door to the hotel so we explored the marketplace a little before taking a nap. Kirsha went straight to bed, but I decided to lay out by the pool and take in some sun before the beach party.

Kydee Williams BahamasThe Welcome Beach Party was the first event for wedding guests. Great music, great people and the food, oh my, I can’t emphasize the food enough, it was delicious. After crash dieting for a week, this was the first time I had actual food and I was just in heaven.

IMG_6254 IMG_6295 IMG_6288The beach party was eventually shut down by cops, so we made our way to the bars at Port Lucaya which comes alive at night time. As the night progressed we jumped into our hotel’s Jacuzzi and talked until the sun came out. The things that happened while in the hot tub were insane. Just when we started to talk about scary movies like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” a weird Eastern European man that we nicknamed, Ivan, appeared in the midst of the night and sat in front of the hot tub. He decided to smoke a cigarette as we watched him silently and he watched us silently. It was one of the most bizarre occurrences of my whole existence. Day One in the Bahamas was definitely one for the books.

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