i know a secret place...
There is a place I know by the seaside. One of the most wonderful places I have ever been. It’s known by few but loved so deeply. In this place there are hidden caves, green mountains, crystal blue water, communal dinners, hiking, cliff jumping, boat rides with Papi. New friends who turn into family, lots of laughter, so much gelato, volleyball on the beach, sunbathing, days where time means nothing, an excessive amount of kittens, and absolute happiness. This place is magic. This place is where fate takes you by some miracle so that you can remember what its like to enjoy each given moment. This place is where you learn to welcome every person into your life as if they were your own family. This place is where your Italian Papi cooks you dinner every night and showers you with all his love. This place is a place that will hold a bit of your heart forever. This place is Praia A Mare and this place is home.
While we were in Rhodes, Greece, we met a woman who told us that we should travel down to Calabria. Though I had never heard of Calabria, Italy, I decided it was a good idea to pay it a visit! We stayed at one of the best places I have ever been, OnDaRoad Hostel. This hostel is more like a temporary home filled with smiling faces, new born kittens, home cooked dinners, and so much love. We were welcomed by our host Martina and her father Papi. Papi became like our Italian grandfather over our four nights in Praia A Mare even though he didn’t speak English. He taught us the true meaning of the word “tutto” by making sure we left nothing on our plates or in the pasta bowl even if we insisted we were full. Above all though, he taught us how we should be happy and enjoy the lives we are given.
Our time passed by with new adventures each day we woke up. Since Praia A Mare is surrounded by both the mountains and the sea, there is so much to do! One day we went white water rafting down the Lao River which turned out to be a great adventure. The car ride alone through the mountains to get to the river was an adventure within itself. Once we got down into the river, we had the most breathtaking scenery to look at. Rafting through the Lao was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. It was pure unspoiled beauty.
Another day was spent going out on a boat tour with Papi. Since Papi is from Praia A Mare, he knew all the amazing spots to take us to. He took us into small caves and showed us the beautiful blue grotto. We visited a natural bridge that you can cliff jump off but the waves were too big to jump that day (my parents would probably be glad to hear this news). Papi’s boat tour was so much fun but really any time spent with Papi is the best time ever.
Another noteworthy adventure was when Martina dropped me and another guest off on the top of a mountain a few miles away because I was curious to see the view from the top. It was an enjoyable exploration that ended with good conversations, beautiful views, and of course some hitch hiking.
I can’t forget to mention that Praia A Mare itself is such a great town. The locals are so friendly, the town is beautiful, and it is overall a great place to be. Praia is also surrounded by old and beautiful villages all throughout the nearby mountains and seaside.
To me, Praia A Mare is magic and the time I spent there I wouldn’t trade for anything. As we were on our way to the train station this morning, we heard a car honking its horn at us and of course it was Papi telling us to get inside the car. I can’t think of any better way to finish our time here than Papi dropping us off at the station saying “buonavita”. Or in other words, have a wonderful life.