What Nobody Tells You About Coming Home After Traveling

Everyone tells you about how amazing travel can be – how it captures your soul and changes who you are. Everyone tells you about how your life will be forever altered by travel, and that once you catch the travel bug….there’s no turning back.

But nobody tells you about the return home.

Nobody tells you that when you come home – everything around you is exactly the same. Your friends are the same people, working the same jobs, dating the same people, drinking at the same bars on a Friday night. Your parents are the same, cooking the same meals, in the house that hasn’t changed a bit. Everything looks, feels, and smells the same.

But you…..you have changed

You have seen and experienced magical places that you’ve always “liked” on Instagram. You have breathed in new air. You have sank your feet into foreign soil. You have been surrounded by different cultures, different languages, and different religions for weeks, maybe months, maybe years.

Sure, it’s exciting coming home. Seeing your family and friends and getting back to work, sharing all of your stories and getting hugs that could squeeze the life out of you.

But then everything goes back to normal. You’re back in your routine. Everyone is used to you being home – everyone is living their day-to-day normal life.

I just want to scream. Everything is moving around me – but I am frozen. The return home is always difficult for me because I can’t relate to “home” anymore.

You see – my home is foreign streets and airports. It’s waking up at 4 AM in Cambodia to catch the sunrise behind a temple. It’s renting a moped and getting lost on unfamiliar roads. It’s $4 hostels and waking up to geckos on my bed. It’s dancing on the street in the pouring rain because it’s the Thai New Year. It’s showering in flip-flops and wondering when the next time I’m going to do laundry is. It’s living out of my backpack and wearing the same outfit 3 days in a row.  It’s sleeping on night buses and boats so I don’t waste a day traveling to my next destination.

I come “home” and I am restless. I am anxious. I don’t feel the same – and nobody understands me. I am constantly thinking about the day I finally runaway. Constantly thinking about selling everything I own – packing my bag – and just leaving. For good.

I love my city, I love my state, I love my family, and I love my friends. But this small town isn’t where I belong – and frankly, there’s nothing actually holding me down here.

I dream of waking up in new cities, where nobody knows my name and the possibilities are endless. I dream about working odd jobs and connecting with kindred spirits as I make my way around the globe.

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Nobody tells you about the emptiness you feel inside after you return from traveling. That as soon as you land and give and receive your hugs – you’re wondering “what next?”.

My hometown will always hold a place in my heart. But I am sorry – because I can no longer call it home. Home is the unknown – and I will spend the rest of my life chasing it.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com


Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration almost daily – @waddupkim


• XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS 

What Nobody Tells You About Coming Home After Traveling

WHY SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT

passion

I figured one of my favorite quotes was a good starting point here. This quote has always stood out to me because not only is it absolutely true, but I witness people doing exactly this every single day of my life.

self-ful·fill·ment
ˈˌself fə(l)ˈfilmənt,ˈˌself(f)ə(l)ˈfilmənt/
noun
  1. the fulfillment of one’s hopes and ambitions. 

Can we talk about this for a second? Self-fulfillment. This shit is important. Being able to find your passion and being able to find your deepest desires and come to a realization with who you are and who you were meant to be….amazing. Figuring out what makes you happy and pursuing that shit? Yeah. That’s what life is all about.

 

They say that every human being has a purpose. Everyone has a reason on why they’re here. Some people are meant to go through the social norms of life, graduating and going to college, achieving degrees and building their dream house with a golden retriever named Buddy. Woof! Then there’s those crazy ass people that go after some crazy ass goals because they think societal norms aren’t for them…..yeah, that’s me.

 

I refuse to live a routine life and I refuse to ignore what sets my soul on fire. I refuse to do this even if people don’t agree or support me with this lifestyle….even if it’s my own family.

We have to remember that our lives are just that – our lives. This means nobody else has the right to tell you if you are living “right” or “wrong”. This means that nobody has the right to tell you how you should be living and nobody should be able to impact your happiness or ability to achieve your goals. Whether you are going to college to get your degrees, you’re pursuing your dream to be a rapper, or you’re living out of a van and touring the 50 states …..make it your choice, and nobody else’s. Don’t let ANYONE or ANYTHING get in the way of living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

As cheesy and corny as it is – we only get this one life, ya know? I don’t think people take that into consideration too often. On average, we live for around 78 years….if we’re lucky. But sometimes – that 78 years gets cut short. People die unexpectedly constantly…..and my goodness, we never ever can guess what tomorrow will bring.

So why not do what makes you the happiest fucking person alive?

Never forget that everything happens for a reason and everything will end up exactly how it’s supposed to be at some point in time. Never forget that this life is yours – and it can be lived however you’d like it to.

I refuse to be unhappy. I refuse to work a 9-5. I refuse to wake up everyday and think about how miserable I am with the life I am living. I refuse to wonder “what if”.

BECAUSE THAT IS NOT ME.

So yeah, my goals are quite vast and thought of how extensive my dreams are is absolutely terrifying…..but Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said it best….

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So, please, chase after your intimidating goals and prove to yourself and everyone else that you can do whatever the hell you set your mind to. Do what you feel you were meant to do. Don’t live a life full of regret and don’t live a life that you aren’t happy with. 78 years is a long time to be thinking “what if”. Live for yourself. And be fucking proud of it. 

SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT, DON’T LET THAT SLIDE.

LIVE WITH INTENTION. BE BOLD IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY. LIVE THE LIFE YOU WERE DESTINED FOR.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

Contact me if you’re interested in working with me in any way by e-mail as well.

XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.

WHY SELF-FULFILLMENT IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT

What’s in my backpack?!

I receive the “What do you pack?” “How do you prevent yourself from overpacking?” questions quite often, but it’s hard for me to answer because everyone is different and has their own preferences and necessities.

Depending on where I am going and the length of my trip, I carry all of my items in two bags. Yes, two. Read on…

Okay, so this is my very first backpack I bought years ago when I headed to Europe for the very first time. I bought it at MountainWarehouse for super cheap and I’ve used it for the last couple of years.
bagFor the most part – it works really well for what I paid for it. I didn’t expect myself to get addicted to travel I guess, so I just spent like $50 during a huge sale at Mountain Warehouse and called it good. It’s a 65L bag, it carries quite a bit. It opens from the top and also has a bottom storage area. There’s two large pockets on the side that I find useful and I like the pockets on the top portion (there’s one on the inside and the outside).

I’ve used this backpack for backpacking Europe for a few months, for traveling to Indonesia for about a month, for my trip around the US, etc…etc…..

I’ve also used it for longer hikes: A hike in the desert to Havasupai for a few days (didn’t like my bag for this hike), the Trolltunga hike in Norway in lots of snow for one day, etc etc.

I see people using their $200-$400 bags, and they’re nice, but I’m cheap and this one works fine for me. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it 😉

WHAT’S IN THE BAG, KIM?

Depending on what kind of trip you’re taking, what weather you’ll be dealing with, what you’re going to be doing, and how long you’ll be gone……is how you’re going to pack your backpack full of fun.

For my lower half:

  • ALWAYS a black pair of leggings. I usually travel in these because they’re comfortable and I get really cold on airplanes. Leggings are also just usable pretty much anywhere, so, yeah.
  • A pair of jeans. If I’m going somewhere tropical, none. If I’m going somewhere cooler, usually two pairs. But if I’m dealing with different temperatures, like when backpacking Europe, one pair will do.
  • Shorts. If it’s somewhere tropical, again, this is pretty much all I’ll bring. I’ll pack maybe 2 or 3 pairs.
  • A pair of athletic pants. These are important if you do any type of hiking, running, etc.
  • A pair of athletic shorts. Once again, used for my hiking/running. And if I’m just having a lazy night in maybe I’ll hang out in them.
  • Socks and hiking socks. I like to bring two pairs of ankle socks, and one pair of regular length socks. I also bring a pair of hiking socks. I wash these throughout my travels, so I don’t need many. ESPECIALLY if I’m going somewhere tropical, maybe I’ll only bring one pair of ankle socks and my hiking socks.
  • A pair of sandals. I always pack a pair of cheap flip-flops with me. Even if I’m going to Antarctica. Why? I use them in hostel showers. And if I go somewhere warm, I’ll bring a nicer pair of sandals, too. (And by nice, I mean a pair of Target sandals that were on clearance, probably).
  • A pair of casual shoes. (ex: Converse)
  • Hiking boots or shoes. Of course, if you don’t intend on hiking, these aren’t necessary.
  • Underwear (# depends on length of trip) Once again, I wash my items as I travel so I don’t overpack these, either.

Upper half: 

  • Tank tops. I like to bring one white tanktop and one black tanktop.
  • Bras. I take one tan bra, and one black bra. Simple.
  • Sports bra. Because I like to exercise, run, and hike during my travels.
  • A couple of shirts. I like to bring quarter sleeve shirts because I can wear them practically anywhere I go, but this also depends on the weather. If it’s tropical I’ll bring 5 or 6 tank tops and short sleeves. If it’s cooler, I’ll bring 5 longer sleeved shirts. Either way, usually around 5 shirts will do for my trips.
  • A dress. Nothing fancy. Something easily rollable. For the nights I go out, whether I’m going dancing or out to dinner with someone. A simple dress from Marshalls is all a girl needs, I’m tellin’ ya.
  • A sweatshirt. I like to bring one crew-neck or zip-up with me.
  • Jacket. I tend to always bring a light-weight jacket that is waterproof. I can use it outside and during my hikes.

Now, for my miscellaneous items, I pretty much buy anything travel sized.

I carry a small bag for toiletries including:

  • Travel size shampoo/conditioner
  • Travel size soap/body wash
  • Travel size face wash 
  • My medications 
  • Travel size first aid kit
  • Travel size tooth brush and paste
  • Travel size hair brush
  • And usually a small makeup bag

Other random items that come with me:

I always travel with: My GoPro camera, my Canon camera, my GoPro mounts, a bathing suit, my license, my SSC, my passport, emergency information sheet, and other necessary travel documents.

On the right side pocket of my backpack you will find: Ziplock bags, plastic bags, a small travel umbrella. Super weird: But I promise, they will come in handy and I will forever carry them with me. Ziplock bags come in handy for food items and work well if you hike. Plastic bags for dirty or wet clothes. Umbrella…..well…..rain.

On the left side pocket of my backpack you will find: I do a lot of hiking and sometimes camping overnight – so I will carry reusable plastic silverware, a whistle, a flashlight, matches, and a compass.

 

And if you need anything on your trip – just buy it there. Easy peasy. If there’s something you might forget…..you can probably buy it wherever you’re going. Don’t worry. 

 

My second bag is my beloved daypack.

I have a couple different daypacks that I bring with me throughout my travels. Basically, this is my carry-on bag with my folder (I usually have a travel folder with all my papers), my cameras, and other random things that don’t fit in my backpack or some items I’d like to have with me on the plane. When I get where I’m going to – I use this bag for my day trips and my hiking. So, I always make sure my daypacks have good holders on the side for my water bottle and/or a bag that allows me to use my Camelbak Hydration Pack. (Meaning there’s a little hole towards the top of the bag where I can run the water tube through).

OVERPACKING TIPS:

Get together what you think you’ll need and you can probably take away half of it. It’s hard to pack, really. But just think about how this backpack is going to be on your back for numerous hours some days – and truly decide on what is a NEED and what is a WANT. You don’t need to bring 5 dresses unless you plan on going out every night to a nice dinner. You don’t need to bring a bunch of shoes. Needs. Needs. Needs.

This was a more difficult blog to write out because EVERYONE and EVERY TRIP is different, but on average, this is a list that I tend to follow along with. A lot of people have been asking me what I pack – so hopefully this helped the slightest. Happy traveling!

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

Contact me if you’re interested in working with me in any way by e-mail as well.

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.
What’s in my backpack?!

SOLO TRAVELING. 

A two letter phrase that intimidates and scares off way too many people: “traveling alone”.

 Don’t let it scare you. Please. 

Traveling solo can seem a bit intimidating – but my oh my, it is life altering.

 Touring the Roman Colosseum solo.

You find yourself and learn about yourself. This sounds super cliche and sounds like it’s straight out of a horoscope reading….but I promise you it’s the real deal. When you’re traveling alone – you get to know, well….yourself. You find out more about what you like and don’t like – whether that be places, foods, or maybe even alcoholic beverages. It’s just a very peaceful, soulful, experience. When you’re alone in a city where nobody knows your name – you have the choice to be who you want to be. You truly get to know yourself. Find yourself. And grow.

It forces you out of your comfort zone. This is awesome. Because I think everyone needs this little push sometimes. Talking to strangers and introducing yourself to people can be a little nerve-wrecking. But when you’re traveling alone – you have to step up….introduce yourself, talk to people, ask questions, and meet new people. It’s fantastic. 

Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. No, no, no! Traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re alone the entire time. Depending on how you like to travel – you can meet people in so many different ways. Whether you’re couchsurfing and staying with incredible locals or you’re staying in a hostel and meeting fellow travelers your age – meeting people can be a breeze. And they want to meet you too. So go for it. Say hi. And then go out for a pub crawl, climb a mountain, watch a movie in a different language, or go paragliding together. You only need to be alone if you want to be. 

 I met a girl and she went paragliding with me in Switzerland.

You get to run on your own time. Yes. One of the best things about solo travel. You get to do whatever you want…..when you want. You don’t have to do anything you’re not interested in. Don’t get me wrong, traveling with groups and studying abroad will still be great for you. But when you’re traveling alone, it’s nice to be able to have endless free time. Don’t like museums? Cool. You don’t have to go to any. You want to hike that mountain? Do it. You don’t have to worry about any “majority rules” within a group or someone simply just saying “I don’t want to do that”. You’re on your own, kid. And it’s magical. 

You will gain confidence. Traveling alone isn’t easy. You’re going to run into problems. You’re going to get lost. You’re going to be put into situations where you don’t know what to do. When you’re going into a trip where you’re traveling alone – you’re going to be nervous. You’re going to want to cancel. Because what were you thinking?! Traveling alone?! But in the end….you will gain so much confidence within yourself. You will be a stronger person. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to conquer the world by yourself. Being able to order off of a menu in Italian, mastering the transportation systems in Spain, making friends with the cashier at a market in Germany – it’s all going to make you a more confident person.

 You encounter those “peak experiences” more often. A psychology term. According to Abraham Maslow, peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, and possibly the awareness of “ultimate truth” and the unity of all things.  And you have a greater chance to feel that when traveling alone. Whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop and staring out the window in New York, walking down the winding streets of Portugal, or sitting on top of a mountain in Norway….you have time to collect your thoughts. You have time to reflect. You suddenly will get these moments where, out of no where, you just feel like you are right where you need to be.

Traveling alone sounds and seems intimidating. Being alone is something we shouldn’t be scared of, though. Solo travel has changed my life – changed me as a person – and has helped me grow into a more careful, happier, independent individual. 

If you have any questions about solo traveling, please feel free to ask. If you’d like to see more travel photos, follow me on Instagram – @waddupkim !

  

Xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS

SOLO TRAVELING. 

“The Floating City” – Venezia, Italia. 

Everyone dreams of packing their bags, heading to Venice, Italy and hopping on a gondola. Am I right or am I right? 

Update: I’m right.

Well. I did just that. And yes….Venice is everything you could hope and dream of.

  
Venice is known as “The Floating City”, or “The City on Water”, and it really is just that. This city is literally filled with old, beautiful historic buildings and what seems like millions of canals and small waterways. 

It’s pretty much just how you envision it. Old homes, shops, and restaurants. Tiny bridges over tiny canals. And hundreds of men in black&white striped shirts giving gondola tours and singing old Italian music. Yep.

One thing to add: So. Many. Tourists. 

As you walk around, it’s kind of difficult to remember your sense of direction. There are SO many alleys, streets, canals, bridges, and although each one is different…..they somehow all seem the same?

It’s just so awe-inspiring when you’re sauntering down the streets of Venice and interacting with locals. Don’t go to Venice, go on a gondola, and leave. The people here are truly incredible and worth meeting. They’re filled with culture, beautiful language, amazing cuisine, and stories that will make you smile. 

    
    
   
 GONDOLA TOURS: But you really do have to ride on a gondola. When you’re roaming the streets, there’s different points where you can enter and exit a gondola tour. Warning: they are expensive. Especially if you’re alone. 

Gondolas hold 6 people total. You can go with as many people as you want as long as it’s 6 or under. For an average of 30 minutes (give or take with water traffic) (yes water traffic is a thing in Venice) – it is €80. And if you want to do a full hour it is €120. The prices do not change depending on how many people you have. I was traveling alone, and preferred to go on a gondola alone because I wanted it to be more relaxing. I didn’t want to go with a bunch of tourists taking photos every .682 seconds, ya know? So yes. I paid the full price by myself. 

The routes are great. You will be taken through many different canals and your driver will tell you fantastic stories about different buildings you pass. 

Fun fact: many buildings on the water have black lines drawn on them with dates next to it. These lines indicate how high the water was at that point in time. Venice has many high waters and gondolas are not to be ridden then.

And no matter what – you will pass under the famous bridge – Rialto Bridge. 

 My point of view on my own personal Gondola.  
Me and my guide became friends. 

 FOOD: You’re thinking “Italy. Pizza. Yes.” Which is super true. But in Venice, Italy…..lean towards the seafood. When in Venice, I had some of the most incredible seafood dishes I’ve ever had in my 20 years. My favorite restaurant was one that had decor inside of the building that made you feel as if you were still outside in Venice. My hosts and I split an amazing meal.  

   
And you’re in Italy. So don’t forget about Gelato.  

 

WHERE TO STAY: This is the tricky part. Venice has hotels and hostels around the canals that lure in tourists. But they are very, very expensive. And you don’t typically get your money’s worth unless you are paying HUNDREDS of Euros. €€€ There is a small amount of hostels, and they average €50 a night…..but not good hostels. My trick? Can you guess? Staying with hosts. Couchsurfing. This way, it is free, but you also get to stay with locals. They can tell you where to go, what to do, where to eat, and fill your minds with incredible stories about their past memories and history of the floating city itself. 

EXTRAS: I also took boats and went to MANY different islands off of Venice – but I will make those separate posts. If interested: Murano and Burano are the most popular and deserve that title! Check them out. 

So yeah. Venice might be somewhere you want to go. I mean…..if you’re into like suuuuuper beautiful cities filled with rich culture and history. I guess. 😉 

  

Thank you for reading my about a few of my experiences and tips of advice when taking on Venice, Italy. If you have any questions – please feel free to contact me.

Until next time!

  Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS
  

“The Floating City” – Venezia, Italia. 

Benvenuto a Milano // Welcome to Milan.

Traveling from Switzerland to Italy – I knew there would be a shift in atmosphere, weather, culture, and food. And you know what? I was so ready for it.

Ahhhh, Italy.

First stop: Milano. Also where I would be couchsurfing for the first time EVER! 

It was a long, deadly train ride to Italy. (Wasn’t actually that long….I was just hungover and running on less than two hours of sleep. Does that make me a bad person?) 

I got off the train and met up with my host in the Milano Centrale station, his name was Gian. We walked for miles to his cozy flat in the middle of Milan. I think that this walk would have been a lot more enjoyable if I wasn’t hungover, it wasn’t super hot outside, I wasn’t dehydrated, and I didn’t have a 65-liter backpack holding me down. We made it there and I was relieved. Mostly because the flats were so beautiful. There was going to be another couch surfer, and he was going to have to pick her up as well. So he told me I could nap on the (my) couch while he waited for her arrival. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep so fast.

A few hours later, I heard the sound of the door unlocking. My host and the other couch surfer from China, Lee, had arrived. And that meant…time to wake up and conquer the first day in Milan.

We walked again, the three of us, for what seemed like days. The buildings stood tall, each with an eye-catching architectural design. 

We made it to Parco Sempione, or “Simplon Park”. As you walk through this park, there are many different pop-up shops with gelato, t-shirts, post cards, key chains, and water for the hotter, it’s-hard-to-breathe kind of days. This park was established in 1888……I don’t think any of you were born back then. But it’s beauty is unreal. It is filled with people of all ages juggling soccer balls, groups of friends singing with a guitar, and many sunbathers.

Anyways. It is located smack-down in the historic city center of Milan. It lies adjacent to two of the most important landmarks within Milan, too.

Can you guess?

The Arco della Pace, or Arch of Peace, and the Sforza castle. 

Now, I didn’t snag any awe-inspiring, totally need to share, photos of the castle. And that might have been because when you walk through the castle, there are many stray cats and kittens taking over the area. And if you know me…..you know I was the one calling the cats, petting them, and trying to make friends with them. One of the cats. Cat whisperer. 

Whatever. I DID, however, get a picture of the Arco della Pace in all of its glory as I stood below. It doesn’t seem crazy huge…..but it is.

We continued to walk. And walk. And walk. Through the park. Through the gardens of the castle. Through the shopping center….it was a slower walk, through this, because a girl has to window shop, you know.

WHOA. Bold AND italicized that because at the end of the shopping street, I saw what I have been wanting to see with my own eyes for years.

Behold….the Milan Cathedral. 

Duomo di Milano.

  

I’ve always seen photos, but I never expected the location to be where it is. I never expected there to be SO many people surrounding it. And you know what? I never expected there to be so many birds, either. Those things swarm the Duomo di Milano like it is THEIR cathedral and nobody is supposed to be there. 

The inside of the cathedral is so beautiful.  (Go on a Sunday and you get in free!) I don’t think I could ever get tired of inspecting the architecture, design, color, and hidden beauties of this place. It is truly breathtaking. 

 
Then we walked some more.  

We went to Navigli, the most romantic and picture-worthy part of Milan in my eyes. It’s so beautiful. Filled with amazing shops, restaurants, bars….and on some days….some type of Flea Market along the water. You can kind of see that in the photo provided below.
  
During the night  – the streets and bars are FILLED. I went to a place called “MAYA” (?). It was a buffet and had the best cocktails I had in Italy. After meeting Gian’s friends there, stuffing my face with great Italian food, and drinking fruity cocktails….it was time for bed. 

The next day…I headed to EXPO MILANO!

Yes. The World Expo in Milan. Where I also didn’t take too many photos – rather just kind of lived in the moment and took each pavilion in.

But I did take a photo of the horribly long lines to enter the expo.

But Kim. Wait. Before you move on.

What exactly is the Milan Expo?  

To keep it short and sweet, the Milan Expo is a Universal Exposition. This year, it was held in….yes, you guessed it….Milan. Each year the expo is held…there is a theme. There are pavilions from each country that build up their own personal ideas to represent and support this theme. And I mean….the expo is HUGE. Each country’s pavilion is an entire building itself. It’s very, very, very intriguing. You can’t see the whole thing in just one day.

This years theme: “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life”.

   





Terrible photos I snagged of the expo. 

$$$: The tickets are reasonably priced. I paid €39 and spent an entire day here roaming the pavilions I wanted to see most. Stopping at one of the food carts and enjoying Dutch fries mid-tour. 😉

 
We stayed all evening and took a long, crowded, train ride back to the flat at night.
My last day in Milan I started off with walking around the city with Lee, the other couch-surfer. We found a pizza place in the perfect location. I mean…check out my view for lunch.

  Not to mention this was the best pizza eveeeerrrr.

It was a relaxing day. I spent it with my feet in the Fountain of Piazza Castello, wandering the main shopping streets, and spending money on clothes I shouldn’t have. AKA: successful last day. AmIRite?  

Ciao, Milano. Thank you for the many calories burnt from walking the city, and the many calories gained back eating your hard-to-resist pizza. 

See you again. 

Benvenuto a Milano // Welcome to Milan.