History of my Travels
For most of my life, I was born in Ohio and lived there for the first 13 years of my life. It wasn't until 2009 when my family moved to Germany. Prior to that, this was the first time that I have been out of the country, but I have been out of the state before to mostly go on vacations. I remember not feeling comfortable living in Germany at first, but after awhile, I got used to living in a forgein country. It wasn't for long before my family starting going to group tours, where we hop on a tour bus and went to various areas in both Germany and in Europe. I rememeber loving going to these tours, even if this means waking up at 5-7am and having to go on base on time, so the bus doesn't leave you behind (and lose at least $250 for the tickets).
Since I moved back to the States in 2022, I long to go back to traveling as there are places I haven't been to. But due to the economy and that my passport has expired (and it'll cost $85 to renew it), it'll be a long time until I have the opportunity to travel again. But for now, I can talk about the places I have been and the places I wish that want to go in the future.
The Places I Have Been To
In early 2009, my recently widowed mom told me and my niece that she sign a job contract to work for the US Miltary in Germany as a civilian contractor and that we're going to move in June. This was big news since this will only be the second time that I moved (the first one was into my childhood home when I was 2 years old), but it'll be the first time I'll actually be out of the country. I rememeber my mom taking me and my niece to the post office that was near the airport to have our photo taken for our passports. For me at the time, this was my opportunity to get away from the kids at my old school as I didn't fit in due to being autistic (I remembered a fat black chick and a fat white redneck bullied me at that school because of both my disability and that I was awkward to be around with) and since I'll be going to a school on a miltary base in Germany, this means the kids will be more "nicer".
But I stupidly didn't look up what life was in Germany and by the time we moved, I think I suffered from a few meltdowns over everything being different than living back at home! I didn't like that the time looked different (it's military time), that not everyone speak English (but if they did, some tend to speak in broken English) and that everything is closed on SUNDAYS (yes everything, this include grocery stores)!!!! Thankfully after a month, I got over it real quick (or as I found, years later in my Intro to Speech class in university: culture shock) and managed to fit in. Then when it was time for school to start, I got on a bus that takes the miltary and civilian contractor kids to the school on base, I sat in the back with the middle and high schoolers (I was an 8th grader) and I heard swearing, just like any other teens would say in America! It looked like things were mostly the same after all....
When we first moved to Germany, we stayed in a hotel for a month until my mom managed to find a house to rent that is 30 mintues away base. I took various photos from my digital camera at the time. It's not that much to be honest. Most of the pictures were blurry and some of the pictures I took was from McDonalds and Burger King! So, I end up using only the better photos that I saved on my computer.
One of the first places we visited in Germany is to a renaissance fair in Stazvey, Germany in May 2010. It's like what you see in TV and movies about the fairs, there were actual people dressing from the medieval era, play folk songs, shop in medieval markets, have jousting touraments, eating cooked meat by hand, etc. There was also a castle, Castle Stazvey, that was placed in the center of the fair. I rememeber enjoying it and eating Flammkuchen, which is a German type of pizza that is made with thin dough and is covered with white cheese, thinly sliced onions and lardons. I didn't take any photos there and if I did, it got lost to time. I know my mom did, but I wondered if I should steal a few photos (the ones without our faces on it) from her Facebook album and put it on this page.
The next place we visited was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in July 2010. My memory is a little rusty on this one, but I know that this is the place where Germany's highest mountian, Zugspitze is located. A few days later, we went to a town of Schwangau, where one of its most famous area, Neuschwanstein Castle is located. We actually went inside of the castle and heard the story of how it's former owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria spend his entire fotune in building the place, but died in a mysterious circumstances in 1886 before it was completed! We later went to a traditional restruant in a different town where we probably have schnitzel with french fries. I also didn't take photos or if I did, they were lost to time. So, I took some of the better photos that my mom took during our trip there. And prior to getting there, we saw some mountains in the background, so there photos of that too.
In March 2011, we went to the town of Eltville for an easter market (or as I called it on my Facebook album: "Easter Town"). What I rememeber is that we inside one of the churches were as I mention before, it's an easter market that took place on that weekend. It was full of homemade things that were made of glass and wood such as toys, easter eggs, picture frame and more. I think mom bought a wooden musical box from there and we still have it to this day. I have photos from inside, but some were blurry and was using a Samsung smartphone to take pictures, so the quality wasn't that good. The town is also home of Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press, which allowed more people to read. I rememeber that what the tour guide said on the bus before we arrived at the church.
Then later that day, we went on a cruise boat on the Rhein River (and yes, I know I wrote it wrong, but that's how it's spelled in German) and spend the next few hours sight seeing. We saw many castles, old half-timbered buildings and various wine vines. I rememeber it being cold and windy that day, so we wore a jacket to keep warm. Then on our last stop before we head home, we landed at the Niederwald mountment in Rüdesheim am Rhein, that was made in the 1871 to commemorate the founding of the German Empire.
Then later that month, my family headed to a city of Trier. I remembering it starting out poor as my mom accidently left her wallet, that has Euro at home! So we spend half of the day without acutally money, until I think mom found an ATM and withdraw money that allow us to buy food and some souvenirs. Beside that, my family and the tour group saw the Electoral Palace, which combines the Basilica of Constantine, a Roman palace basilica that currently used by the Evangelical Church and the palace that has three different archiectural styles: Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo. We even went inside of the Basilica of Constantine!
Later that day, we went to the Porta Migra, which is a large Roman city gate since the city was found in 16 BC, during the era where the Roman Empire was still there. I rememeber going inside on the city gate and getting to see pst of the city from the upper floor of the gate. I also remember Trier was cloudly, cold and windy, so the tour had a glommy atmosphere.
One month later, my family headed to two places: Wartburg Castle and Eisenbach. For Wartburg Castle, it was the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German. It was also an inspiration for Ludwig II when he decided to build Newschwanstein Castle. I rememeber going inside of the castle and seeing some of the artifacts. We even walked around the courtyard.
Later that day, we headed to the town of Eisenach. It was the town where famous German composer, Johann Bach was born. I rememeber touring his home, the Bach House. Inside, it has original exhibits and a Bach music autograph. Then that afternoon, there was a Easter parade, where various groups marched around the town. I think it was an easter parade. I don't know. It's been years since I went there. I know that I barely took photos of it, so I stole some of my mom's photos off of Facebook, once again (she won't mind since she doesn't use the account as much as she used to).
On Memorial Day weekend 2011, my family headed to Berlin with a tour group to look around the German captial. This one I can rememeber well as we went to the various places in the city. Such as the Brandenburg Gate (and there was Greenpeace at the gate, protesting about being anti Nuclear and covered the gate with huge sign), Charlottenbug Palace, Pergamon Museum, the Holocaust Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie, a popular border crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. I recall getting a stamp on my passport, showing that I did cross the Checkpoint, which I think was cool. Other places we saw was the Berliner Dom, Victory Column and the Riechstag Building.
However, one thing came out of this trip was that during downtime, my family went to a sushi resturant, near the hotel. Prior to that, I never had sushi before. And when the food arrive, I noticed a green sauce nearby and decided to taste it with my finger. WORST. MISTAKE. EVER!!!! It turns out it was wasabi and it was HOT! So hot, I quickly took a sip of my Coke to get the spiceness off of my tounge! While I still like sushi, my mom will always, teased me about doing that to this day!
Around June 2011, my family went to Holiday Park, an amusement park in Haßloch. My memory of this trip was a little hazy other than that we went there by mom's car, which means we didn't went on a tour guide this time around. I know that we got on a few rides, one that I rememeber was a water-based boat ride where it was a mediveal themed. And one of the carvings was a topless woman! Remember, this is Western Europe, where nudity is more accepted than in the States, so the Germans are not bothered by this. I don't have any photos of our trip, so sorry for those who want to see them! But I do have the map of it, which is somewhere in my room, that I can post later on once I can find it...
In July 2011, my family went on a river cruise for 4th of July as I rememeber they did fireworks at nighttime. I rememeber this well as it's where my 9th grade English teacher was there with her friends! I don't rememeber if they got on a boat with us, but it was crazy for something like that to happen. I rememeber looking at the various towns and villages as the cruise went down the Rhein. Then when it got dark, fireworks came out, which is funny since Germany doesn't celeberate the American holiday. I think there was some festival from another town going on or something. I didn't take any photos on the trip, but I do remember that my mom had someone take a family photo of us on the cruise. I won't show that here because of privacy reasons. But there were two photos from the event that I can find from my mom's page
Afterwords, we didn't do anymore travels for awhile. Mom wanted to save money in order to pay the bills and such. Plus there was school that me and niece had to deal with. But that changed in October 2011 when my mom and some of our family friends took us to Europa-Park in Rust. For those who don't know what Europa-Park is, it's excatually what it is, it's a European themed amusement park. And it's mascot is a mouse (but this one is different for the mouse that we all know)! We went when they have a month long Halloween event, where there were spooky stuff everywhere and staff members were wearing costumes. Some of the themed areas we went to at Europa-Park was Holland, France, Scandinavia, Germany, Greece, Russia, Italy and England. I didn't take photos there, but my mom did and I still have the map from when we went there, that I can post here later.
Then a few weeks later, my older cousin, who was living in France at the time as foreign exchange student, came to stay with us for a bit and one of the things we did was go to Rheinstein Castle. We took a tour of both the interior and the exterior of the castle. We even climbed near the top of the castle based on the shaky photos I took that day (sorry about that)!
Later on, we went to the town of Trechtingshausen we went some musuem and walked around the town for sightseeing. There were Christmas decorations everywhere even thought it's November (Germany doesn't have Thanksgiving like we Americans do). Despite that, it looked beautiful even thought it was cloudly and cold.
Then in Febuary 2012, my AP World History class took a field trip to Ronneburg Castle, which was fitting since we were covering the Middle Ages in class and this was a perfect opportunity to explore history itself! Based on the shaky photos I took on that day, it showed artifacts from the era, which include knight armor, swords and one of the medieval torture device, the pillory, which stood outside of the castle! I took a few photos of that.
I know that a few months later, my family went back to Satzvey for the renaissance fair and this time me and my niece actually wore dresses from the era! Beside what I mention in the last sentence, I think this was the only places we went to in Germany up until I graduated from high school in 2014. But then, a month after my graduation, my family and our family friends headed to Legoland Deutschland in Günzburg. I remember staying two nights in a castle at Legoland Holiday Village, which was across from the theme park. As for the park itself, we went to a couple of areas such as Lego City, Miniland (where there's a 1:20 scake recreations of various European cities and landscapes), Knights Kingdom, Little Asia and Pirate Land. And unlike the last 2 theme parks we went to in Germany, I actually took pictures and will post them here, along with the map that I kept!
After Legoland, I moved back to the States to start university, along with my family also moved back to the States as well and we stayed there for 5 years. It wasn't until in 2019, my mom signed a contract to work for a different branch of the US Military on a different base in Germany. Wanting to get away from the drama from her work (long story) and what bullshit that the Trump Administration is doing to our country, she took the chance, bought some furniture and left the house under my older sister's care as she landed in Germany to find a place to rent. Once I graudated with my Bachlor's Degree, a few months later, I was allowed to live my mom under special orders as I'm disabled and is planning to live with her for the rest of my life.
Now unlike from 10 years ago, I was older with more knowledge and expereince. Even if I did live in Germany for 5 years, I actually did my research on what life is like in Germany and even relearned how to speak the langauge (which I give up after awhile, but knew some words and phases to get around)! It was because of this, I didn't have any meltdowns this time around and was glad to be in Germany! While yeah, the country has their own set of problems (the rise of the far-right due to the country allowing million of Syrians to immigrate in 2015, the housing crisis and dealing with the fallout of Brexit), at least it was 10 times better than being back at home!
For the 2 1/2 years we lived in Germany, I took my photos of the small city that we used to live. Like most places in Germany, the city have the mixuare of modern and half-timbered buildings. Another thing about the city that it have tons of vineyards as it's one of the many winemaking areas in Germany. Too bad my mom couldn't drink as much of it because she's diabatic and our rented basement has a wine storage room.
As for some of the places that me and my mom went to Dortmund, where the Pokemon Go Fest for Euporeans and Africans player took place. We went to Westfalenpark, where we went to all the areas that some of the Pokemon were hiding. And there was a contest that my mom got into (which I didn't want her to go because of embrassment), but she managed to won a free t-shirt out of it! Meanwhile, I had to pay 30 Euros for mine t-shirt....
Unlike from before, there were a few places I went by myself such as Mainz and Frankfurt. I got there by using a train that was located, south of the city we were living at the time. I remember mainly walking around the 2 cities, taking photos and eating at a local McDonalds (I know, I know I'm a filthy casual American who rather eat food from home than locally. I do, it's just where me and my mom lived, there was no fast food restaurants, only local restaurants, which we went to some and actaully tasted good). For Frankfurt, I only went there twice by train: in Nov. 2019 and on my birthday in 2021. On both of my trips in Frankfurt, I walked in the downtown area where unlike most European cities, Frankfurt have skyscrapers to the point its' nicknamed Mainhattan, combing local river Main and "Manhattan".
On Mainz on the otherhand, I went there muliple times, including one in December where there was a Christmas Market in the main plaza. I rememeber taking all the photos and looking at the wooden theme to the market. I know Mainz is also home of the famous Carnval parade and was deabting on going, but it was in Feburay 2020 when mom told me to stop getting on the bus and the train as an virus from China, was making its way to Europe...
Sadly, Covid came and ruined everything as we didn't went out as much as we used to. Because unlike in the (cough) States (cough), Germany took Covid, very seriously (it also helped that the Chancellor at the time, was a former scientist). Closed everything expect for the grocery stores and the pharmacies and forced everyone to wear masks too, which was GREAT! The US Military, who tend to follow whatever their host nation do, did the exact same thing to the military and the cillivans. So as the results, me and my mom stayed home and the only time I went out was to take out the trash and walk to the local grocery store, that was a 3 mintue walk from our rented townhouse.
In March 2022, me and mom had to move back to the States when her contract ended early than usual and there was drama on getting her a spot at her old job (it was so bad that she had to contract our House of Rep in Congress to get things sorted out!) While I'm sad that we didn't do any touring this time around thanks to Covid and that mom had to pay the bills back at home, it was nice to go back to Germany with better respect than before. I hope that one day, we can go back.
On of the first tours that my family did was a trip Disneyland Paris in August 2009. I know, I know, lame. That's because my niece was 7 years old at the time and my mom saved some money for us to go before we started school. Also, my aunt was staying with us at the time, so she went too. So, we got up and headed to the base at around 6am and took the bus to France, where we spend 12 hours there. My memory of going there is limit, so based on the photos I took is that we head to Main Street and saw the parade, rode on the Pirates of the Caribben ride, went to the Sleeping Beauty Castle and saw La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, which is stained glass taperies that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty.
One thing I do rememeber is that my mom complained that Disneyland Paris is smaller than Magic Kingdom, which we went to 4 years earlier in Bay Lake, Florida. Then that one day after we got back home, my mom kicked my aunt out and took her to the airport for catching her smoking CRACK when she was driving to base with her one day, so mom had to kick her out of her car and hope to God that my aunt didn't wondered somewhere. It was because of that, we didn't see her again for 4 years until she came back with her second husband, whom she married the year before (long story).
Four years later, my family headed back to France, but this time, we headed to Paris, the captial of the country for a 3 day, New Year's trip with our close family friends. We went to various places such as the Musée du Louvre, where the Mona Lisa and all the famous paintings were located. We also saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles Palace and the Norte-Dame Cathedral, which later caught in a fire that destoryed part of the roof. One thing that standed out was we were in a resturant on New Year's Eve and after we ranged the new year, a couple on out tour bus, actaully got engaged! My family friend joked that they better stay together after this.
Overall, France was a nice place to visit. I hope that I can come back their one day.
Okay, I technically didn't went to Spain. I went to the Canary Islands, which is owned by Spain whenever me and my niece was on Spring Break. We went to the Gran Canaria Island, (the third largest islands in the Canary Island) 4 times during the time we lived in Germany. I remembered having to get up early in the morning where mom hired a taxi driver to drive us to the airport, check in out luggage, go though security and walked to our gate to catch our flight. After spending a few hours on a German airplane (and listening to the airplane radio by wearing the airplane headphone that they gave out for free, which I still have to this day), we arrived at the Gran Canaria Airport, get our luggage, get on the shuttle bus and head to our hotel down in Las Palmas.
On most of our time there, we either stayed at our hotel (which has a pool, food bar, spa and gift shop) or walked down to the beach where me and niece would swim in the sea and lay down on our beach towels, catching the rays. We sometimes eat at a beach bar near one of the beaches that my family went to. I managed to take some good photos of our time on the beach or at the pool. After my family moved back to the States in 2014, we haven't been to the beach since! I missed the beach and wish that we can go back to one in the future.
In December 2011, my family and my older cousin, headed to a port with some military and contracter families in Genoa, Italy and got on a curise ship, the Costa Serena. Fun fact, I actually saw the Costa Concordia on dock before we left. You know, the one that later hit a rock formation and tip, which caused 33 people to die! And it was a few weeks after we got back from the trip! I even rememeber taking a photo of it when I was there, but it lost to time.
Back to the story, this was the first time that I acutally got on a cruise ship. But going on it in December was different if you got the curise either in June or July. It was cold outside, so the outdoor pool was closed for the season. But we have dining area, where on some days, we have to dress up. I remember one time we left our formal wear at home and the dining hall had formal dining night. I was so embarrassed by it, so the next time we landed on shore, my family went to an Italian store and bought dresses to keep that from happening! There was also buffet restaurant, clubs, fitness center, shops, spa, theatres and a teen lounge that I sometime went to. I think I took a few photos of us on the curise, but I'm posting on ones without our faces on it for privacy reasons.
On the first few trips in Italy, we went to Palermo, where a couple of people in our group from the cruise went to the catacomb. Yes, the catacombs, an underground cemetery that has tunnels and rooms, where back in the old day, they used to put dead bodies underneath the various cities. So, people has a spooky feeling when touring the catacombs. But what make this one stand it that some of the bodies are better preserved than others. One of those bodies was Rosalia Lombaro, a 1 1/2 year old who died of pneumonia in 1920. Thanks to how she was handled after her death, she ended up as one of the best preserved bodies in the catacombs and was nicknamed of Sleeping Beauty of the Capuchin Catacombs. I didn't take any photos of the bodies or the Sleeping Beauty as it was forbidden by the catacombs, but I did bought a post card of the toddler, which I hung to my wall to this day.
The next place in Italy we visited was Verona. The one thing I remember about that trip was that we saw the House of Juliet, where we saw the balcony that was inspired from William Sharaspear's Romeo and Juliet. You know, that book that most of us had to read in high school. The city was even the setting of the book too! Beside that, we also saw Ponte Pieta as we were walking down to the House of Juliet.
Another place we went to in Italy was Naples. This one I had to look up on the Internet on what places did the curise (or sister curise in this case) went to. The one place I remember seeing was a ruins of a castle. I think I took pictures of it, but I think I didn't, I don't know. Beside the ruins, the memory of my visit is a little rusty.
One of the last place we went to before we got off the cruise for good, was to Rome. I remembered going to see the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and St. Peter's Baldachin. On the bus ride to the main city, I saw the Altare della Patria. We also went to Vatican City, the papal enclave of Rome, to see Stain Peter's Basilica. I took photos, but they were mostly shaky and a few were taken from inside of the bus. My apologizes for the low quality picture.
Then two months later, my family and my cousin headed to Venice for President Day's weekend. I recalled getting on the tour bus early in the morning, which then drove to Italy for a few hours before we hoped on a boat to Venice, as it banned cars due to the layout of the city since it's on archipelago in a shallow lagoon, which makes it dangerous to drive a car. It's one of the biggest European city to be car-free! The main reason we because it took place during the Carnival of Venice, where people wore costumes and masks to celebrate Carnival. I remember my family and my cousin bought Colombina Mask, which is a half mask that coves the wearer's eyes, nose and upper cheeks. The mask is decorated with gold, silver, feathers and its' help up by a ribbon. I still have mines, hanging on my wall, even thought the mask is starting break due to moving so many times.
As for the city, we went to see various places such as St. Mark's Basilica and St Mark’s Square. Then my family got on gondola, where one Italian man entertianed us with songs while the other rowed across the Grand Canal! While on the gondola, we saw the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Campanile. I took a few photos when we were on the gondola, but that's about it for thst trip.
Two months before I moved back to the States in 2014 to start university, I actually went to Pisa for my senior trip. Originally, I didn't wanted to go because none of my friends were going because they had relatives who were visiting them from the States to attend our graduation. But mom made me go because she paid at least $500 for me to go and tells me that I will enjoy it. I did enjoy it...even mom reminds of me doing this each time she talks about our time in Europe. So the day after graduation, me, a few kids from my graduating class (which include two of my friends who did went on the trip) and a few others kids from our rival school showed up on a military base to get on the bus and went on a few hours drive from Germany to Italy.
Once we arrived in Pisa, we checked in the hotel and spend the next week, going around the city. One of the places that I remember going is Leaning Tower of Pisa, where I saw many tourist doing the famous leaning photos that they think look chessy, but in reality, everyone has done this once. Thankfully, I didn't do that and I just took the picture of the Tower as it is. We also saw the Pisa Cathedral, which is next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Pisa Baptistery.
Beside Pisa, we went to other places such as Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. One of the things we saw in the city is the Florence Cathedral. Anyone who played Assassin's Creed II knows what I'm talking about. The Cathedral is known to be the largest churches and have the largest brick dome ever constructed. I remembered the group going to the tower, where I remember writing in my Notes app, that it took 414 steps to get to the top of the tower (I was out of breath due to the climbing on the stairs). But it was worth it as I got a good view of the brick dome and most of the city, which means good photo shoots!
There were a few more places that we went to, such as Vernazza, where the buildings are painted in bright colors and is near the ocean. I remember it where has huge boulders on a beach. It was the same place where we went on a hike and I was out of breath by the time we were done! Then there was this one time we went on a boat to an island or sort and went there for a day. On the last day of the trip, we went to the beach that is near the hotel and had a bonfire with the adults, congraduating the students on finishing high school!
I feel like out of all the places in Europe, I missed visiting Italy. And fun fact, my paterntal grandmother and her family were orginally from Italy, so I can get file to become an Italian citizen! But they had a weird law where you can only allow to get citizenship from the male side before 1948 and my grandmother immigrated to the United States in the 1910s, so I have to find data from her father (my great-grandfather) in order to show proof. It'll be nice to have backup for me to go in case America falls in the next few years or so (I hope that won't happened, but based on how things are in the past decade, I might have to consider the thought....), but it's too time comsuming to do so and I have to talk to my mom about this before hand.
On the first place we went to one the cruise was to Valletta, Malta. I remember that the traffic was terrible as cars kept speeding by us and not stopping to the point mom joked that stop lights were a "suggestion"! I remember one of the places we went to that day was Saint John's Co-Cathedral. I recalled going inside of the church and went around the place before heading somewhere else. Beside that, my memory of visiting the country is very slim and that I didn't take any photos or it was deleted off my Samsung phone later on.
The next place we went to one the cruise was to Greece. The tour group got on the bus and headed to Athens, the Greek Captial. I remember taking pictures of the various buildings that the tour bus drive by such as Academy of Athens and the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, which was in bad condiction when the bus drove by. Once we got off, the group went to see the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens and the Acropolis, where we climbed to the temple and got a good view of the city. I only took a few photos from our trip, most of bad. So I'm sorry for the inconvence.
In December 2012, my family and a family friend headed to the Netherlands to explore an cave...and do some Chirstmas shopping there? Trust me on this one as I somewhat remember this as we went on the trip the day after the Sandy Hook shooting, which caused me to get off of Facebook for the first time (and it won't be the only time). So, this was a good distraction for me. As for the trip, we headed to a town of...Diepengaerde, Netherlands? I don't know if it's the town actual name, It's based off the huge sign that I took a picture of.
The group then walked to a cave where not only we looked at some the historical drawings, but there was also a Christmas market. Like there was homemade products that the locals were selling that were mostly Christmas themed. Don't remember if my family or family friend bought anything from the market, but there was two sarcophagus that were there for some reason. We headed back to Germany to go to a Lindt chocolate factory in Aachen.
On a bitter sweet note, my family's last trip before I headed back to the states for university, we were suppost to go Amsterdam with a tour group. But they cancelled it a few weeks before we're supposed to go because not enough tickets were sold. That disappointing as we could've gone to the tulip fields or visit the Rijksmuseum...
Prior to late December 2012, the only expose to the United Kingdom was by TV and movies. For New Year's Eve, mom got us tickets for a tour guide where we both traveled and stayed in London for 3 days. We had to get up real early to get on base so we can get on the bus. We were on the bus for maybe a few hours until we reached a port in France, where we got on a ferry that takes us to mainland England. On the ferry, there were stores, an eating area and a deck that we got up there. I remember it being cold and windy on that day, so we stayed inside until the ferry arrived. Afterword, we got on the bus again and drove for 2 hours until we reached London. I don't remember anything else that day beside checking in the hotel for the day.
But I do know some of the places we went to such as the Tower of London, where it used to be a royal residence. It was also where the Royal Menagerie, a place they used to keep exotic animals. Another thing about the Tower of London is that it's where they used to hold prisoners. But despite its resputation as a palce of torture and death, only 7 people were executed within the Towers. I took a few photos of the area and a video too! But, I won't post the video as it might take up stroage space here, thought.
The next place we went to is Buckingham Palace. Well, only outside of the palace as the royals were home (they have a flag that is raised whenever they're here). Instead, we saw the Victoria Memorial, which was across from Buckingham Palace. Prior to arriving at the Memorial, we walked by a gate that takes up to the other royal houses and saw one of the guard on duty!
But, we did go to Windsor Castle, where we went inside of the castle. My memory is a little rusty on the trip, but I remembering seeing a couple of rooms in the castle. Such as the Grand Reception Room, which was one of the rooms that was destoryed in a fire in 1992, the Waterloo Chamber, the Queen's Drawing Room and the Crimson Drawing Room, whihc was secerly damaged by the fire in 1992. But I do remember they have Christmas decorations up because it was in December when they have had it up. I don't think I took any photos in their because I think they were forbidden.
Other places in London that we saw and took photos of were the Tower of Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster (where UK parliament takes place) and the Royal Albert Hall. Then right before we headed back to the dock to get on the ferry back to France, the tour group headed to a small town that I forgot the name of it. I know that there were old buildings and structures from the Medieval era. I don't think I took any photos of it, but my mom did. So, I might take some photos that she took from Facebook.
In October 2013, my family headed to Czechia. Out of all the trips that we took, this was one of the worst trip we took! Why? That's because my niece was getting into in "deep" trouble in school, which I can't tell you what it was because of privacy (and that it's none of our business). I know that that made mom angry and even thought about cancelling the trip because my niece doesn't "deserve" it! Because of it, this was a tense trip, which that (and a few other events) led to my breaking point a few months later... But that's not the time to talk about that, instead let's talk about the fact I we went to the captial of Prauge for 2 days and I took plenty of pictures of it!
Some of the places that my family and the tour group went to was St. Vitus Catherdral, a Gothic Catholic church and is the largest church in the country. I remember going inside of the church and took picture of one of the stain glass windows. Next to the church, we went to Prague Castle, which is the largest ancient castle in the world! Another place we went was the Charles Bridge, a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vitaca river in Prague. Lastly, we went to the Old Town Hall, that is home of the Astronomical Clock, which was first install in 1410, and is one of the oldest clock in the world that still works!
Then on our last day in Czechia, we headed to a spa city of Karlovy Vary. The city is known for numerous hot springs and is the most visited spa town in Czechia. I remembering loving the city due to much of the buildings we saw was build in a Victorian style. Because of that, I took many photos. I also remember walking to a bar, that was near Telpa river and took a few photos there. Other than that, my memory of the trip was hazy from wanting to forget back the issues that my family was having.
Fun fact, me and my mom was supposted to go back to Prauge in 2022 (as a "do-over") with her co-worker and her son. But the new Covid wave and that me and my mom got our vaccine shot, a few days before we're supposed to leave for the trip, we couldn't go. So instead, the co-worker and her son headed to Prauge by themselves. And this time, they went to the catacombs there, humpf!
My family and some family friends headed to a smaller aiport in Germany, got on the infamous Ryanair (the Irish version of Spirit Airlines) and headed to Ireland for 3 days as part of Veterans Day weekend. Thankfully unlike what happened in Czechia, my mom was in a better mood in this trip and our family friends being there, helped. We headed to Killarney, a town in southwestern Ireland. I remember going around the town and visited various areas, such as walking down High Street and visiting the stores. We also walked down on Killarney National Park, where we saw cows on the meadows and took pictures of neo-Gothic St. Mary's Cathedral.
One event I remember is that we went to a pub and drank beer. I had some too since in Ireland, you can legally drink at 18 (which I was). But dumb me dranked it too fast because I thought it was soda and your supposed to drink it slowly! As the result, I had a headache and was a bit dizzy walking back to the house that we were staying in. My mom even said that my daddy was rolling his grave, knowing that I didn't drink beer right!
It later became the last trip my family went in Europe before I graduated in 2014. My mom even thought about retiring and buying a piece of land in Ireland. It would be nice to live there and not in the States, where I have to worry my rights get taken away and such!
Does being born and raised in Ohio count as a place I visited? Well sure, I have been to Columbus, the captial of the state, multiple times as I have family living there. I went the the Columbus zoo, a few times when I was younger, went to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on a field trip when I was in the 2nd grade. I've been to the Ohio State Fair, where they have the butter sculptures. I remember going to see the Columbus Clippers, a Minor Baseball League with my daddy, at the Cooper Stadium before it got shut down in 2008 and later tore it down!
As for my hometown, I rememeber in the 2nd grade my class took a tour around the town and saw some of the old buildings. Such as a log house, which was one of the oldest structure in town and the graveyard that was near it! We also went to the townhall, which was also an art gallery and heritage museum, that shows historical artifacts from the early 19th century. Then there was one church that was near the town hall, where the local Girl Scouts meet.
When I was in the 5th grade in 2007, me, my mom and my niece headed to Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. I don't rememeber why we went there, but I think it was for an award cermony for my mom's job. I know that we stayed in a hotel for a day or so and it was where I stupidly left a box of me and my niece's Gameboy Advance SP and game cartages outside of our room and someone actually STOLE IT! Mom was so mad at me for doing that and she had to buy replacements from Ebay for all our trouble... As for the amusement park, I have little memory beside it was back then when Nickelodeon characters were still there. And there was a picture of my niece riding on the kiddie roller coster that is currently hanging the living room.
In 2014, I attened an university in northwestern Ohio for 3 years before transferring to a different school in Texas. And the town looks so beautiful during autumn. The downtown area had buildings that were built from the 18th century. One of them used to be a bank before it got shut down and convert it into a corporate office. Me and my architecture classmates back in fall 2016 actually went a tour in the former bank to see how they convert the building without destorying what it used to be. The town also has a farmer market that my different class of mine went to the market back in fall 2015 for different project for the class.
During fall 2016, the AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) went to a day trip to Cleveland. This was around the time the city was trying to clean up it's "dirty" past and make it look more modern, which I think it was working when we were there. We also went at the time the Cleveland Indians (Note: this was before the team changed their name to the Guardians in 2021) was in the World Series, which was the first time they make that far since 1997! I say that it's because we drove by the Progressive Field, where they had a banner saying that. One of the places we went to was at a former bank that was getting converted into an apartment complex.
Beside that, the group saw various places in the city such as the Arcade, (the first indoor shopping center in America), the Cleveland Public Square, the Terminal Tower and the Cleveland Browns Stadium, where we parked our cars at the parking lot as it was cheap (and it helped that one of the senior members of the AIAS, who organized the trip, lived in the city). Then I remember going to one of the hipster resturant during our downtown for lunch, which really show that the city was going under gentrification, which basically cleaned up bad parts of the city to attract white, rich people and kicked out the working class POC (people of color) due to high rent.
The last place in Ohio I visited to was the Glass Museum in Toledo. It was another AIAS trip that was voluntary. It was basically a museum where it showed glass being use for architecture structure and for interior design. It also showed historical artifacts that were made of glass, such as plates, paintings, decorative eggs, vaces and art pieces. Overall, it was a low key event that went well expect for at the end where one of the undergrad students, had to get out of the car that me and a few others were in and PUKED as she was suffering for car motion! I felt bad for her and hope that she recovered.
Since then, I transfered to another university in Texas, where the campus is 10 mintues away from home. Because of that, I don't have to live on campus and I actually saved over $7,000 per year by not living in the dorms! While I sometimes miss my home state, at the same time, I don't as it's slowly going right on the political standing and my mom don't get along with most of our family members who lived there due to personal reasons. So, why bother going back there anyways...
Pennsylvania was one of the first places I went to in November 2001 when my family went to spend Thanksgiving with my daddy's family. I think we went to a suburb outside of Philadelphia, where daddy's family grew up. What I rememeber there is that I had Thanksgiving with daddy's 3 older sisters, their spouses and their sons at one of their houses. I also remember going to a pierwalk with my parents during our stay there was the picture of me and him is staring at me on my desktop. Other than that, it was the only time I ever saw my aunts and uncles. Even to this day, I haven't heard from them and wondered if I even will at this point.
In June 2003, me and my mom headed to the airport to visited my relatives, who were stationed in Hawaii (my uncle was in the Army at the time). This stands out because this was the first time I ever got on an airplane! For the next month, we stayed on one of the five islands, Honolulu and spend time with our relatives. My memory of my time there is very slim beside I started a new save file on my cousin's copy of Pokemon Emerald, went to an ice cream parlor, visited a miltary base and going to a luau, a traditional Hawaiian party that has entertainment.
But halfway on our stay, we got on a plane and headed to Hawaiʻi Island, an another Hawaiian island where we went to Punaluʻu Beach where it's known to have black sand that is made basalt and created by lava from one of the two volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. I think we later went to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is see the Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Later on, we visited a trail at one of the state parks and went on a tour at a peanut candy factory or someting. I remember me and my mom took many photos from our visit, so I might scan some of them here.
I wish I can go back to the state, but due to the fact that the American governement overthrowed the Hawaiian government back in the 1890s, which still haunts the Hawaiians to this day, I don't feel comfortable going to the back there as an American, knowing that my government took their land away from its people for financial gains.
When I was in the 1st grade, my family used to head to Ocean City, New Jersey for a week on the first week of September. I remember staying at a vacation townhouse that daddy's friend had and allowed use to stay. Near the townhouse was the Ocean City beach, where we spend some of our time at. They also have a boardwalk that my family would visit and I remember getting this taffy candy that one store was selling. There used to be photos of our time there, but mom sold them when she got rid of the storage when we were moving back to Texas and she can't afford the cost. And that we stopped going there after the 3rd grade because I had a meltdown on missing photo day and we haven't gone back since then.
In July 2005, me, my mom, my 3 year old niece and one of mom's co-worker got a rented van and drove down to Orlando, Florida for an award ceremony for their work. I remember going to three places: SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios Florida and Magic Kingdom. Once again, my memory is fuzzy on visting the three themed parks, especially SeaWorld Orlando. But I did remember that after heading back to the hotel from SeaWorld, we had to go back because my mom's co-worker lost her cell phone there and was very tearful about. I think it was in the lost and found. I do remember going to Universal Studios Florida, where we ride on Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, when it was used in Production Central. I know it's where the award ceremony took place for my mom's job.
But I do have some memories of going to Magic Kingdom. We went there on our fifth day and spend the entire day there. I remember going to Fantasyland, riding a few rides such as Mad Tea Party and It's a Small World. We went Princess Fairtale Hall, where I got autographs from Disney Princesses. I remember went went to Mickey's Toontown, back when it used to be there and going inside of Mickey's Country House. Then it was where my 3 year old niece keeps crying because she was cranky and tried from walking around all day. My mom joked that she wasn't the most happiest person in park, as it's known to be the most happiest land in the world.
I was supposed to go back to Florida in 2020 to see my older cousin graduate from medical school, but Covid happened, so we were forced to saty home and watched it on Zoom (remember that?). And I don't feel safe going back to the state anyways as it turned HARD RIGHT in the political standing to the point I fear for my older cousin's safety as she's a black woman, who decided to stay and become a neuosurgeon at the hospital there. If I want to go to Universal Studios and Disneyland, I'll go to California instead as I'll feel safer there.
Back when I was in Girls Scouts in 2007, my troop held a fundrasing by selling Girl Scouts cookies, where they'll use the funds to go to see Chicago during summer break. I remember a few months before going, I have to go see a doctor in order to medically cleared to go. It was that visit is when I failed the eye exam and had to wear glasses! Oops. Anyways, it was a fun event.
Some of the places we went to the Chicago History Museum, where we looked at the history of the city. The Willis Tower (once called the Sears Tower), which was once the world's tallest building. We went to the Skydeck observation deck, where we looked at the view of the city from above. Then the last place I remember going was the Navy Pier, one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwest.
I think I took photos on a disposable camera that I used to have. I still have undevolped film rolls in my closet from that camera. I might one day go to Walmart to have them devloped and see if it's the photos from the Chicago trip or not.
Another Girl Scouts trip I remember going to was to a ski resort in Kentucky in Febuary 2009. Prior to the trip, I never went skiing before and mom had to scare me by saying that the last time she went skiing, she broke her knee on the slopes and haven't recovered since! Thankfully, I didn't get hurt as the only place I went on the ski was the bunny hill due to having bad eye–hand coordination because of my autism. One thing I remember about the ski resort that it had a luau party as their were drawings of flowers on the windows of the main hall. Unlike the Chicago trip, I took pictures on my digital camera, which I still have to this day. But I only took a few and they are in bad quality, so I maybe not post them here.
In the summer of 2008, my mom send me and my niece to stay with our aunt (the same aunt who was smoking crack in mom's car, one year later), south of Dallas for the second half of summer vacation. I remember not liking it because as I barely knew and that she was a terrible cook! So terrible that she rarely cook and relay on takeout. And that there was barely anything to eat there! Because of that, I actaully lost weight. Then after a month, she forced me to go to a day camp program for being too lazy around the house. There, I rememeber the people at the day camp forced us to pray before eating, which offended me as I was nonreligious and this took place in a public school too! As result, I hated staying there and plus, we rarely went anywhere too, beside a trip to like, Walmart or something! Thankfully, this was the only time my mom did this as one year later, we actaully moved out of the country.
6 years later, my family moved to southern Texas as part of a contract that my mom signed for her job. The only time I would visit Texas, was during break and when I switched schools to a univeristy that is near my house, I permanently became a Texas resident. As for traveling, we don't do as much as we used to when we were in Europe because my older sister and her kids now live with us, so money tend to be tight. The closest thing we get to travel is San Antonio, a major city that is not far from where we live. We went to the San Antonio Zoo for a Pokemon Go event and Brackenridge Park on that same day.
I know that San Antonio is home of the Alamo fortress and the Riverwalk. I actually went on the Riverwalk back in September 2023 when I was at San Japan, a local anime convention. The Riverwalk was actaully pretty and somewhat crowded since it was on Labor Day weekend when I went, but I didn't take too much photos, though. 7 years early, my family and some family friends went to Six Flags Fiseta Texas during summer break. It was okay thought, the food over priced and was crowded due to it was on a weekend. I should think about going to see the Alamo itself and the Tower of the Americas before my mom retires in a few years.
As for other places we have been in Texas, we went to Fort Hood to see family friend, who onced lived in Germany with us and that's...it. Well, my mom went to lakeside cabin somewhere in Texas with them and even visit them at their new home in Rockport, which is near the Gulf of Mexico. So yeah, we haven't been traveling anywhere thanks to the economy and being too busy with life.
To be honest, I hate living in Texas. Due to it being 100 degrees for at least 4 months a year (2023 was one of the worst summers that we ever had), the state is very right in the political standing to the point that I don't feel safe living there since I'm a black, bisexual, autistic woman, living with her widowed mom and have no job. But some of the few good things about living there is the food and the culture, which is nice if you think about. Other than that, I hope that my mom actually can move to a more liberal state, where it won't be as hot in the summer compared to Texas.
In summer of 2012, my family returned to the States for the first time in 3 years. I remember spending part of our time in our home state of Ohio, seeing family and some family friends. As for the other part of our trip, we headed to Belize with a family friend of ours for 2 weeks. Prior to that, I've been been to Central America before (but mom did as it's where she was at in 2008 while me and my niece suffered at our aunt's in Texas...) and was excited to be near the beach. We went to a rented house that mom found from a guy from Ohio who owns the house. It was across the beach and into the Altantic Ocean!
While on our trip in Belize, we went to two areas: a forest where we went on a small raft and to one of the Mayan ruins. I remember climbing up on the ruins. It had so many stairs that by the time we got on the top, I was tired! But I got a good view of the mountian and the green fields of Belize. Oh funny thing about the two events that we went BACK TO BACK! Do you want to know why?
That's because a few days later, we left the rented house and stayed at an actual hotel on the mainland. I was confused on why mom and her friends would do that. Then I found out why, not only the guy who rented out the house, was a bit of a creep to her. But also, it was because Hurricane Ernesto was about to hit the area! Don't worry, it wasn't that bad! It was just a Category 2 hurricane, so it was just heavy rain and some fallen palm trees. But it did cause the commandment back in Germany to actually call them to see if we're okay. They said yes as they were standing on a porch in a villa of a rich family (who one of them was an enviormental attonrey who likes to smoke weed) we met on a boat trip watching the wave crashed and drinking some wine.
The Places I Think I Have Been To
Here are the places that I think I have been to, but they don't count for reasons. Mainly being at the airport as it means your only there to get on your next flight to your destination. Same thing for rest stops as well.
The Airports and Rest Stops in United States
I think I have been to Gerogia a few times. One was in a rest stop back in 2005 for our trip to Orlando, Flordia. Then between 2015-17 at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where I would board another plane to Texas during breaks from university. I was back at the airport in 2021 when me and my mom were heading back to the States for the first time in 2 years and had to go through customs. We went back to that airport one year later when we moved back from Germany.
When I was younger, my family used to drive in the state in order to get to our beach townhouse in Ocean City, New Jersey. In 2009, my family landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in order to board to our plane to Washington DC, so we can catch our plane to Germany. In 2019, me and my mom landed at Newark Liberty International Airport in order to board to our plane to Germany. On one of those flight, I managed to take a picture of the Statue of Liberty from an bird's eye view. I don't know if I have the photo or not.
The only time I would be in Michigan was at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in order to get on a plane to either Atlanta, Gerogia or Louisville, Kentucky in order to catch the connecting flight to Texas.
My family went to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport a few times in order to get on our plane to Germany. I remember when we were there for the first time back in 2009, a local Girls Scout troops were handing out Girl Scouts cookies for the miltary people who were there. My family managed to get some of boxes, which I feel gulity because we we're cillivans. And I remember it was the lemon flavor cookies, which I don't like. So it stayed in the kitchen storage for a few years when we we're living in Germany. I went back to the airport in 2012 and 2021 to get our plane back to Germany.
Like with Georgia, the only time we visited the state was for a rest stop on our trip to Orlando, Flordia. And I think we went to a store to buy activities books to keep me and my niece busy.
Like with New York, the only time we visited the state was for a rest stop on our trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. I remember the first time we drove by the state, I saw the nameplate saying that the next turn is the state and 7 year old me giggle because I thought of, "Oh there's a state named after my mom!" Oh, how silly little autistic me was...
Okay this one is weird. That's because when my mom was pregnant with me, she went to Los Angeles for a work conferenece. She told that while she was there, she remember having to drive on the dreaded Interstate 5, which was one of the most dangerous highways in America.
Places I Want to Visit
- New York
- Washington State
- The Bahamas
- Costa Rica
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand