My happy place

Everybody has a happy place.

When I’m having a bad day — or a stressful day, or a weird day — I think back to visiting Lake Garda, Italy, in 2007. Fresh from college and vacationing with my family, our excursion abroad was awesome in so many ways. Over two weeks, we traveled to London and all around Italy, making stops in Venice, Rome, Tuscany and Florence.

But it was here — Lake Garda — that has stayed with me more than anywhere, that has inspired blog posts and recollections and daydreams. Our hotel there was at the top of a cliff and the view above was what I saw standing on our balcony. We were there just one night and it was chilly and cold, but nothing could have dampened the way my spirit soared looking at that view. I remember trying to read on a tiny chair just outside our hotel room, but I was too distracted by the mountains and sunset. I just stared — maybe for hours. I looked and watched and waited.

I’ve been to some amazing places. I’ve fallen in love with England, with California, with my own hometown — but Lake Garda? Well, Lake Garda is in a league of its own. It was a total surprise on a trip full of surprises. A beautiful place that challenged my preconceived ideas of what I would experience abroad.

I have to get back there someday. Preferably when it’s warmer.

Where is your happy place?

Where In The World Weds.: Lake Garda, Italy

It’s Where In The World Wednesday! As part of that great European vacation I took with my family in 2007, I found myself in one of the most beautiful and strangely unexpected places ever: Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian lakes and positioned between Milan and Venice. Popular among Swiss travelers, Lake Garda is cold — and windy! — but breathtakingly beautiful. My dad famously referred to it as “something out of ‘Lord Of The Rings'” — it just had that majestic, sweeping feel to it.

While visiting Lake Garda on our Italian tour, we took a boat out on the lake . . . and I felt 99 percent sure I was going to tip over the side with the wind gusts a few times. Thankfully I survived to write this blog post — and share these photos with you. Sit back, relax, draw a jacket tighter around you and take a trip to an Italian lake with me!