Most of my travel this semester in Italy has been spent visiting friends rather than exploring new places. I’ve taken a few trips this semester, but instead of discovering new lands, I’ve focused on seeking out my faraway friends in their new homes. I haven’t stayed in one hostel or eaten any bad touristy meals. From Dublin to Florence to my most recent trip to the French Riviera, I’ve been spending my limited time in Europe this year balancing my desire to travel with the fact that I simply miss my friends!
During the first few days of June, I had the pleasure of being able to visit some friends I made in Istanbul last year who now live in Nice, France. I’ve been to Nice before, but every place is different when you’re with locals. We ate lots, drank lovely wine, and got to visit a cute hilltop town in the Provence countryside.
I get spoiled when I visit friends. While traveling around to new places is invigorating, staying in hostels and getting lost and falling into tourist traps gets tiring. Visiting friends means that you not only get to hang out with people you rarely see and really like, you get an automatic local guide to the city.
My friends in Nice, Maite and Çağdaş, were with me during my time in Istanbul, so seeing them was like reliving a small part of Istanbul. When you spend time in places with people, whether a week or a few months or a few years, they will forever be a part of that place for you. Seeking out faraway friends thus becomes a game in seeking out memories of those places. It’s a special kind of friendship and probably my favorite part about life abroad. People and places become intertwined, not one is the same without the other, but you can still enjoy both and get a taste for a time that once was when the place and the friends were joined. So instead of sharing a Taksim hamburger at 2am, we get gelato in front of a church in Nice and enjoy our small world.
I have many faraway friends whom I unfortunately can't see all the time, but at least I know that for the rest of my life, I’ll have friends to hunt for all around the world during my travels and this is a beautiful thing.