What’s the Craic?!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

“In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.”
~Sir John Pentland Mahaffy

“”Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter.
Lullabies, dreams and love ever after.
Poems and songs with pipes and drums.
A thousand welcomes when anyone comes… “”
That’s the Irish for you!”
~Irish Sayings

Galway has been on my mind ever since I lived in Newfoundland, Canada.
As you may or may not know, Newfoundland has many Irish descendants… just walk down George Street in St. John’s, Newfoundland and you’ll hear the lively sounds of Irish folk music wafting down the streets.
It is the most Irish place outside of Ireland.
I adored Newfoundland… misty, foggy mornings.. brisk, cold air.. an accent that I could never quite fully understand.. the rocky, rugged coastline.. the jellybean houses in St. John’s..
I could go into more detail, but I am not here to weave tales of my days in Newfoundland..
But to share my experience in Ireland..
I started in Dublin. I was quite excited to be back in a country where English was the first language! I could talk to everyone! It certainly helped that the Irish accent is very pleasant on the ears. 🙂
I arrived late at night and had to walk through Temple Bar to get to my hostel. It was a Sunday night, but even then, in the middle of February, at one in the morning, there were crowds of jolly drunkards, their arms slung around each other, holding up their beer and singing. The colourful pubs had ivy growing on them and big whiskey barrels outside for smokers to lay their drinks on. It was obviously more tourist-oriented, but I didn’t mind. Irish music.. loud, fast, invigorating filtered through the streets. It was a pleasant thing to walk through. I couldn’t help but smile, the drunken happiness all around me was contagious.
I didn’t go out that night.. I slept. I had big plans the next day
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I was very pleased to wake up to cool, fresh air and the songs of seagulls playing outside my window! Ohhh how I missed the the ocean… for a minute I was transformed back to waking up on the Oregon coast as a child.. the same cool air, cloudy morning, seagulls,…
But I didn’t linger too long… I had to go to the Jameson Factory. The top of my list of things to do. I am quite a big fan of whiskey, but definitely wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur. I knew there was a difference between Scotch, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey and American Whiskey, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. If you are unsure, the Jameson tour was definitely the place to learn.  It was a well put on show of sorts. In the first room, we were told a quick history of whiskey in Ireland and other interesting facts. The second room, we stood in front of a whiskey barrel that was laid out for us to touch the different hops and feel/touch the differences between roasted and soaked. We also smelled the difference in the smells of the distilling processes and the smell and look/colour of the maturing process of the barrels the whiskey soaked in as well as the colour as it sat aging for years. There were animations on the wall that coincided with what our tour guide was talking about… very informing.. involving all the senses.. very hands on.. And the last room we were taught how to swirl and smell and taste the different whiskeys like a whiskey taster would (yes that’s an actual job) and experience the difference between Scotch (NOT my favourite), American Whiskey (pretty good, kinda sweet) and then the Irish Whiskey.

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And we got a free simple mixed drink.
All in all I was very impressed.
I was with some friends and as we were downing our free drink and gazing in wonder at the beautiful room around us (the whole of everything about the Jameson experience was exquisite) , we concluded that we were so dazzled by the Jameson tour that we decided we might as well do the Guinness tour too (even though none of us were fans of its famous dark, chocolatey-coffee taste).
So we walked all the way across the city to the Guinness storehouse. The Guinness experience was self-guided. There were many floors and you got to wander around and read and listen and see and hear… one taste test room where you got to taste one shot of their signature drink.. but the highlight for me was the very top, the end of the tour. the 360 view of all of Dublin and a free drink!! AND I never knew that they didn’t JUST make dark beer! I happily asked for the Guinness Golden Ale and Mmmmmm! We were lucky and the sun was shining…despite the clouds off in the distance, there was quite good visibility.

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We went to an Irish pub that night to have a pint or two and listen to some music and chat it up. Blah, blah, blah…
The next day was the free tour where I learned a bunch of interesting things about the history of Ireland and in particular Dublin.
Like that Ireland has the same climate as Seattle… that Seattle is the number one coffee drinking city and apparently Dublin is number one tea drinking city. (NOT the number one drinking country… Ireland comes in behind Austria, Czech Republic and Germany)  Also, the actor who plays Joffrey from Game of Thrones is currently working on his PHD at Trinity College there… Courtney Love also attended Trinity College… Ireland is the only place in the world where windmills turn counter-clockwise….  there is Gaelic Football and hurling in Ireland, two very intense sports in my opinion…
But
Then
I went to Galway.

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I was very excited for Galway.
I had asked friends and fellow travelers of where I should go in Ireland for my last three nights and Galway came highly recommended. Buskers on the street playing at all hours… laid back.. bohemian seaside vibe.. a row of jelly bean houses like in St. John’s..
Sure!
They said that is where the craic is at…. A frequent word heard over in Ireland… pronounced “crack”, so I couldn’t really start saying it where I live or people would give me quite the funny look. You can here, “How’s the craic?” or “Where’s the craic at tonight?” … But if you are asked, “What’s the craic?” that means “How’s it going?” From the people I have talked to… craic is like fun.. a good time..   The craic was mighty… 🙂
A few more curious things I heard…
Oh, and snogging!!! To snog = to kiss
Langered = drunk
Racked / Knackered = tired (I LOVE the word knackered now and try to use it any chance I get)
Bang on = Correct/ right on
Culchie = person from a rural area

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So the first night, I was a tad hesitant to go out… Second guessing my decision.. my hostel was full of young 20-somehtings pounding down beers and playing pool and generally acting way too cool.
The hostel offered that if you met at the desk at 7:30, they would take you to a restaurant followed by real Irish dancing…
Ok.
So I did.
And ohhh man I am so glad that I went!!
The dinner was good, but the fun got started once we got to the pub. We walked across this bridge that had the fastest gushing river I had ever seen in my life! It was intense!
The Irish dancing was lovely and wonderful and oh so fun! I got to join in on quite a few songs and was hopping and swinging about with the 70 year old men and women that had been doing it for years… granted I was certainly not in sync with them and often one of the men had to grab me and swing me back to where I was supposed to be. It was the best!! The band was just three little old Irish men. At the beginning of each song, the man in the middle would stomp his foot three times to get the beat going so loud the whole pub fell silent and turned to see.
I don’t know how those people did it all night! I was exhausted after just a couple songs! Yet I didn’t want it to end! We ended the night with a Silent Disco.. which was a foreign concept to me… but WOW!
Everyone has headphones… no one can hear anyone else’s music.. there are three stations to switch to,… you take off your headphones and can hear three different songs being belted out but no music (cuz its all in the headphones!!) … Made for a silly night 🙂
The next morning I noticed the fog creeping outside my window… I LOVE how it shrouds the earth in a hazy cloud!

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So I headed off in search of whatever I could see… and wow… My breathe was taken away at every turn! Crossing the river to one side, crossing back over, walking out of the touristic area…  After the misty morning passed over, out came the brilliant sunshine and blue sky!! The closer to Galway Bay I got, the more intense the smell of the sea became. There was a lovely little walkway that went along the coast. On one side, sand littered with tiny shells, scattered pebbles and, unfortunately, lots of trash,  stretched out to the water with piles of dark green seaweed and barnacle covered rock in the distance. On the other side of the pathway was the soft field of green grass.

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I went out onto the beach.. despite the gusts of wind, the salty smell of drying seaweed surrounded me.. tiny little dirty sea creatures.. the Bay water.. shells abandoned by their former residents..

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The sky was blue. The sun was shining…. I walked out on this strip of walkway to an island that was gated off. It was late afternoon and the sun was slowly settling back down to the earth. As it made its descent down, low-hanging dark clouds began to emerge.. I stopped to wonder at the contrast between the sun rays beaming down to the water and the dark clouds beyond when I heard a strange noise. It sounded almost like the bubbling of a river. I looked around and saw no moving water…. but it did look as though the rocks just below the walkway were moving… I looked closer and sure enough, almost a hundred crabs were scuttling about.. over the rocks.. on the sand,, their claws poised in the air.. some crawling over each other.. it was both frightening and fascinating.. I have a bit of a fear of crabs.. but wow.. it looked as though the ground below me was moving!
Couchsurfing is definitely my favourite way to travel, though it isn’t possible for every trip.
I lucked out during this trip and was able to find one that I connected with on a wonderful level! We talked about this and that, silly things and smart things, food and drinks, cheese and cows, Game of Thrones and adventures… the Irish accent is quite lovely to hear! I love beautiful strangers. I love picking their brain. I love learning how they came to be who they are today. I love learning about what makes them smile and what makes them hesitate. I wanna know what type of muffin you would be and who your spirit animal is. I wanna know if you were a drink what would you be and what do you do that makes you lose track of time…. And human connection. My stay there was definitely my favourite thing about my trip 🙂  People never cease to amaze me.
Every person I met in Galway was very happy to be there… whether they were visiting, had lived there a long time, just moved… it was a small town, but a quaint town with its own kind of charm.. bustling with University students during the school year and festivals and tourists in the summer.. beautiful landscapes.. the Aran islands..
They say Galway is the graveyard of ambition.. people end up falling for its charms and never leaving.. I can totally see that..
I do oh so hope to come back and do a road trip to see the landscapes and eat the fresh cheese and stay with the locals… or even camp… Have a craic

 

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California Dreaming

February 2, 2017
Budapest, Hungary

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So…. here I am… back in Europe… Working at another hostel.. In beautiful Budapest…
48 hours ago I was slashing around in the Pacific Ocean on the shores of Ocean Beach in California. Going from 24 degrees, sun, sand, salty ocean breeze, tacos, friends and the most gorgeous sunsets in the world to 0 degrees, flooded streets, rain, slush, cold breezes and strangers (3 of whom I went out with last night and now they are no longer strangers but dear friends).
Anyway, I wanted to share some of my photos from California. I swear someday I will move there… to San Diego… Carlsbad… Oceanside.. anywhere on the coast of SoCal.
My first stop was Los Angeles where I had the pleasure and honor of attending the NAMM show. I ran around Anaheim taking pictures of Disneyland and dreaming of heading in to ride all the rides and relive my childhood memories.
That is, until I received my name badge and saw the giant NAMM show sign and the ginormous stage set up…. my excitement to step inside flew through the roof!!
There were SOOoooo many people wandering around on a mission. They knew where they were going and what they needed to do.. meanwhile I aimlessly wandered around taking in al the signs, oohing and ahhing over all of the guitars and testing them out, ‘slappin da bass man’ (I hope you guys love that movie too…), collecting free things, and people watching… So many people that looked like rock stars!! And then.. I saw lines…
Lines? At a convention? The light went off in my head… I remembered people saying that there were signings and meetings with different rock legends at different booths.
PERFECT!
So I added that to my list of things to do. I got in lines and waited and chatted with the people next to me. I never knew who was waiting for me at the end and I refused to ask. Honestly, I did not recognize any of them.. but when I showed friends the pictures their eyes bugged out with wow.

Anyway, it was a joyful three days.. and we even got to sleep in the beautiful and fancy Mariott where all the stars slept!!! (I’m sure of it) except we fell asleep early both nights..
We then got to visit Santa Monica and Venice beach and the Griffith Observatory on a terribly rainy day… the sun broke out a few times, but I honestly had to wear a jacket! In LA!! And I kept getting frustrated because my camera sucked and he had this superbly beautiful camera that made everything look phenomenal… and even made me look pretty ok too!!

Sadly, he left  :((( and it will be so long until I see him or anything Romanian again.. so after crying a bit in the car, I was swept away in an Uber to go to my friend in north east LA area. I worked with him back in Alabama and he offered to host me for a night.. we went to Korean food and were quickly back to our old banter and silliness… The next day I got a grand tour of Little Tokyo and China Town before my train south to Oceanside to my friend from Mammoth Mountain.
Oceanside is one of the most beautiful towns that I have ever seen in my life.. beautiful palm trees… the ocean… fresh kombucha… breweries.. blue sky.. tasty tacos.. long pier… fresh fish… surfers everywhere… stunning sunshine.. I spent the next two days with him and his family (he has a pretty groovy southern california family.. the dad surfs and his two sisters are into rock climbing and raki and doing all kinds of artsy things) We caught up on all the things and drank real DELICIOUS IPA’s and biked around town in this little blue bike that reminded me of the one from ET.. just cruising around in the Southern California sunshine with my feet wet and sandy from dancing in the ocean.
THEN
Back to my hostel.
ITH Adventure Hostel.
My life for some of the best 4.5 months of my life. It changed so much! The staff room was now another chill area… they no longer cook fresh breakfast and dinner… it changed so much… yet felt the same… all the people that worked there were not there anymore, except for 2.
In fact, Alex, one of my favorites, was the one that hosted the tour to Tijuana!! Him and his gf work at the other hostel that is managed by the owners and him and his lady would come over to visit us at the ITH Adventure Hostel often and she even dressed up as me for Halloween in 2015 with pink hair and screaming “BEST DAY EVEEEEERRRRR!!”
Tijuana… mannn… Totally the best day ever… We took the trolley… walked across the border (It didn’t look a whole lot different… maybe a bit more barbed wire… and before there were dudes in with guns on the Mexico side, but not on Saturday) and ate some of the best street tacos I have ever had in my life.
We went to get margaritas and I kept trying to psych everyone up and bring them to my level of excitement.. My favorite thing was sometimes the waiters/bartenders at the Mexican bars that we go to… they would pick 3 or 4 of us in a big group and do this big shenanigan where they blew their whistles over and over and made a huge deal and sat one of us down in a chair, tilting the head back and pouring tequila straight into the mouth.. this particular place we went to this night did that AND then gave you a short amount of time to catch your breath before pouring beer in as well and then they took you to the dance floor, flung you over their shoulder and spun you around…. THAT was what kicked off the night,.. after that we ALL got up on the dance floor and continued to go to a few different bars and danced the night away… one of them had a beautiful Cadillac in the back that we sat in and drank in… I was in awe… moreso of the swings they had to lounge on while sipping my margarita than the Cadillac.. but anyway, everyone made it across the border into to the USA…  my friend with long blond surfer hair and me (with pink hair) both got pulled to the back room at the border to be detained and asked a series of questions. They brought out the drug dogs. I was a little tipsy and of course my first reaction upon seeing a dog was to pet it… They were not amused. Needless to say they found nothing on either of us, but made us sit there 10 more minutes before we finally got released.. and just barely made the last trolley home.
I love that hostel. So much. Nothing can compare to the ITH Adventure Hostel. No other hostel that I have visited has ever been that much fun, that beautiful, offering all the activities as well as breakfast and dinner. And it will always be my 2nd home, even though times change and the vibe of the workers change, I still made friends with a couple of them and told them stories of the good old days when the dream team was working.

And now I spend the next month and a half counting down the days until I can go home to Bucharest again.. to my home.. my job.. and some of my favorite humans ever..

Hearts are wild creatures


“Why do you look so sad? Because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.” ~Pierrot la fou

Tuesday August 16, 2016
Day 89
Laufen, Switzerland

What a roller coaster of a couple days…
Hearts are wild creatures, thats why our ribs are cages.
I am having difficulty finding places to stay.. it seems the well has dried up.. Of all those couchsurfing requests I sent out, only a handful of them replied and only to decline, saying they were busy or out of town or already hosting..
So I shot up north to visit some old friends from the hostel… I was hesitant.. too many feelings would be involved.. and I was already anxious and sad that no one was responding to my couchsurfing…
As I said, constantly torn between “if its meant to be, it’ll be” and “if you want it, go and get it”
I just feel deflated.
I got to Laufen. My friend, Felix, who I knew from my hostel days in San Diego picked me up, and we caught up quickly on all the things that happened since.. I had spent 2 months with him and three months with his best friend, Max, when they came down to San Diego. I had been toying with the idea of seeing his best friend… I knew it wouldn’t be the same.. he had a gf..we barely exchanged but a few brief (on his side) texts since he left.. but his friend was keen on me coming down and I was keen on seeing the little place that they lived that I had heard so much about.
His apartment was beautiful, modern, super clean, chic, white, simple, elegant, spacious… very European.. no clutter.. fancy things..
His roommates were very nice.. very sweet..
Felix decided to take me to the river.
Perfect.
I recalled them telling me stories of their lazy summers jumping in the river..
We pulled up at a house.. I was suddenly aware of my heartbeat.. thumbing a little too loud inside my chest…
I remembered this house..  had showed me this on Google images one night back in San Diego when we were laying around, fighting sleep, passing time telling each other stories… I asked him to show me his world.. and he wove beautiful stories of times in this house.. the surrounding area.. the place where they practiced their band.. their school.. everything.. I knew it all already..
I asked him what we were doing, and Felix hopped out of the car, saying we were going to get Max and bring him to the lake.
Shit. Ok.
I wasn’t prepared. I looked like shit. My heart wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. I sent a silent prayer to whoever and anyone that maybe he wasn’t home.
We walked up the steps to the big house he showed me that day long ago…  they looked the same as the pictures.. some being taken over by the grass surrounding… and the garden.. the terrace where he said they would jam on summer evenings..
I was getting nervous. Anxious. Scared. How was I supposed to feel? I have no idea. We had shared so much and got so close and then nothing.He left. Barely heard from him again. And here I was, ascending the curved staircase he had talked about so much when he dreamed out loud of going home… I knew that to the right was their smoking room.. to the left was his room..
“Come on Penny! I hear his voice!” I heard Felix impatiently called to me from the top of the stairs… I realized I was taking these steps extremely slow..
As I finally reached the top of the stairs, I saw him, the world around me disappeared. The floor below me rushed away. My heart dropped. The air in my lungs dissapeared. All the feelings… the times we shared.. the nights.. the days.. the laughter.. the tears.. the swims int the ocean.. the car rides.. Our trip to Joshua tree.. Sunsets at sunset cliffs… The pizza place they loved so much in San Diego.. Our trip to Grand Canyon when it snowed… Burger land.. Halloween…how he taught me guitar.. taught me to skateboard.. taught me many things that cannot be fathomed into words.. our whole 3.5 months of slowly getting closer and then suddenly its like we fell off a beautiful cliff into a deep, pure connection.. hit me like a ton of bricks. His smile was the same. His hair flopped around the same way. Tall and strong as ever.
I hugged him and quickly pulled away.
My heart was bursting with happy and confusion and devastation.
His voice. His laugh. Everything. Perfect.
So we picked up Max and his roomate and continued on. 
I remember many, many days traveling with them in California. Felix driving my car, because I hate driving. Max and I curled up in the backseat.. him playing with my hair while I rested my head on his lap.. he was a good cuddler.. he liked to be touched.. I needed that.. The one time I was in front was when me, Felix, Max, Aubrey and I went to Joshua tree at the end of their first 2 weeks in California, both of us sneaking glances at each other in the overhead mirror between the front seats. By the time we were driving home. I was in the backseat with him and pretty much never left. 
This time, Felix was driving but I was sitting passenger and Max and his friend were in back. I was glad Max was right behind me. It caused an explosion in my heart when I saw him.
We got to the spot, walked out and through all the bushes.. I, as usual, got distracted by the spider webs and the blackberries and the stinging nettle and the different spots on the river that looked absolutely stunning..
We found a rope swing. We drank some beers. Felix and I played in the water, Max and his friend stayed on the riverbank.
We barely exchanged a few words. I wanted to say so much. I could put nothing into a comprehensible sentence. It hurt to look at him.
I felt like a blender had gone off in my heart and soul.
We went for Ice cream after at Felix’s girlfriends workplace. It was delicious. Some of the most delicious ice cream I had ever tasted. I relished every bite.
The three boys began talking in Swiss German.
I have become used to this in my travels, being the only one that doesn’t speak another language. Its difficult not to feel left out or rejected after awhile.
Before too long, I could see them look at me off and on in their conversations. The tone was tense. Max was shaking his head no.
Shit.
I pushed away the remains of my ice cream. Suddenly it tasted rotten.
I knew Felix had band practice that night and I was 100% sure he was asking if he could pass me on to Max while he was gone. And of course, Max said no.
It has been a trend these days.
I found it difficult. All these rejections on couchsurfing. Plans to go this way and that falling through. I thought I had it covered. I sent out about 30 different messages to all areas of Europe.. This lost feeling was a familiar, though upsetting one. The feeling of being unwanted. Literally, unwanted.
I was breaking. I excused myself from the table to go to the restroom to collect myself and give myself a pep talk of sorts.
I returned, Max gave me one of his perfect smiles. I could manage a half smile before I had to turn away.
We dropped him off. My heart sunk even further when he mentioned quite clearly, “My girl is coming over to lay with me”
I had gone numb by this time.. I simply smiled and gave him a quick hug and hopped back in the car..
Felix dropped me off at his place and although my mind and heart were far away for the most part, his roommate did an excellent job of keeping me distracted and served me some delicious drinks and showed me some Swiss German music… He was absolutely the sweetest thing and just what I needed right then.
Felix and his gf came and joined us in our drinking and laughing. They were perfect to me. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
The next day, Felix and his gf and I met with another friend and we floated down the river.. It was like a lazy river at the water parks but in real life! Floating down with just an inflatable, waterroof bag and the charming city on either side..
And then the gypsy camp where we had a much needed beer and I got to explore the intricacies of the street art and random structures and intriguing art.
Then Felix had another band practice. This band was with Max. Max had told me all about these bad practices. Described the old industrial building outside of the city. How their room was up on the 4th floor and how they were in 2 different rooms before they got the big one on the end. I felt like I knew it already.
I got to sit up on the loft thing that was created above the door so I had a perfect view of all 5 of them jamming out. I had dreamed of this moment. To be able to see them play live. I remember our talks late at night. The promises he made of if I ever came to his town. Of course, things changed. 9 months is a long time.
It was surreal.
They played Ghostbusters and Santana and other the songs I had heard about. I couldn’t stop smiling. To keep myself busy so I wasn’t just staring, I brought some paint and started painting scenes of oceans and the moon and rainbows on my legs. I didn’t want to catch his eye in case he looked up here. But I was happy. I LOVE live music and I pretended that it was a concert just for me 🙂
After, on our way home, I was defeated. Tired, sleepy, my heart and soul were drained. I wanted to sleep and then get on to my next destination.
Sweet, sweet Felix. He did so good the two days to make me feel welcome. I am sure he was not aware of all that was going on inside of me, but I am sure he caught on that I was quieter than the Penny he knew back in San Diego. I love that kid with all my heart and soul and owe him so much for all he did 🙂 I did truly have a wonderful time on the river and drinking and chatting with his roommates and the gypsy camp and
The hardest part is over.
I wish I would have gotten to talk to Max. Just him and I. Even for just a little bit. There are things I wanted to say. Feelings I wanted to convey. Things I wanted to thank him for.
But, it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t have the time or courage to try to sit with just him and me.  But its over. I saw him. And it certainly didn’t go as I wanted it to, but it happened.
Never before have I felt so ugly. So fat. So gross. So blah. My mind was fucking with me. Or was it? Was I really that gross? All of their friends know me. I am sure. They have heard stories of how Max flew back to San Deigo after being in Hawaii. That ugly  voice took over, grasping my all of my thoughts and turning them icy, “I bet they think, “THIS is who he spent his time in San Deigo with? What the fuck? Some crazy, ugly, fat American girl?”
Oh the shitty things my mind tried to make me believe. Scrutinizing myself at every turn, only to be disappointed and disheartened.
Now it is today. the day I leave.. STILL no place to sleep. Tonight. Tomorrow.
I booked a BlahBlah car to Lugano.. a beautiful city on a lake near some mountains.. Still no response on couchsurfing. The hotels are too expensive. The hostels are booked.
So it looks like I might be spending tonight sleeping down by the beauty of the lake with a heavy heart and hopes and dreams that the upcoming days will bring peace and happy…

It’s crazy how, with this trip, eyes things go well, everything goes well, the universe conspires to create perfection. And when things start down downhill, everything goes, rolling and picking up prickly bits on the way. News from friends back home too. Nothing’s quite working out anywhere. 
I think I will allow myself a real breakdown tonight, alone, under the stars, so far away from anyone and anything I know, in a most gorgeous part of the world.. Life is beautiful, but it is also difficult. I am wary, yet excited of what adventures await..
From Lugano,  I will figure out how to get to Venice… or Florence.. or Sicily…?
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
~Jack Kerouac

Shooting stars on top of castles 

 



Learn to make the most of life
Lose no happy day 

For time will never give you back 
Chances swept away 
Leave no tender word unsaid 
Love while love still lasts 
For a mill will never grind 
With water that has passed 

Friday August 12, 2016
Day 85
Coopet, Switzerland.

It is the end.
The end of camp.
And finally I got to hang with my crew for real. After leaving every weekend to go on far off adventures and evenings chasing sunsets. I finally got to play with the people I’ve been living with for the past 6.5 weeks.
And it was amazing.
We ate malakoff. Deep fried cheese sticks. They were not for me. I am not a fan of fried foods. I instead ate heaps of salad and my share of white wine.
I wrote cards for everyone. Little notes. Heartwarming quotes. Because everyone helped me in different ways. I wanted to thank them individually.
And I felt close to them. I was full of love. Might have something to do with the wine, but I was overflowing with fuzzy feelings. As one should at the end of a summer camp experience. I have been through this before at so many summer camps. You meet as strangers. You work and live, sometimes 24/7, with these people. You get to know them. Sometimes you meet a whole different side of them that the rest of the world. Because summer camp is a special place. And it’s a beautiful thing.

And I got pink hair dye.

And my hair is now pink.

And my heart is full.

And my favorite part was late last night. After we got home. Midnight. Laying in the grass in the playground. The three of us. 2 of my favorite friends. Our heads together. Catching the Sternschnuppen. Talking about spirit animals. Spirit sandwiches. Life out there on other planets. And in one perfect moment, we all three saw one at the same time. The biggest one. Streaking across the sky.
I will miss camp. Playing with the 4-6 year olds before and after camp. Getting hugs everywhere I go. Getting painted on by children. Seeing the excitement in their eyes as they swirled the paint around.
Art is about process. Not product. It always hurt my heart when I heard people ask children, “What are you making?” Or “That’s not how a cat is supposed to look.”
Sometimes it’s fun to just start with a paper and paint and see what the paintbrush creates… And I wanted to create that environment in my room. Semi structured freedom. Explore. See what you can make. And what wonderful things those kids created ❤️
And now I leave.
Off to a new adventure. To where? Who knows.

A few of my favorite things..

I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted. 
~Jack Kerouac 

Monday August 8, 2016
Day 81
Coppet, Switzerland

Where do I want to go?
I lay in bed after work dreaming happily of all the wonderful this world has to offer.
Do I want to search for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland? Or catch their national animal-the unicorn somewhere in the misty forests of the Highlands?
Do I want to explore castles and sunsets and drink a good beer in Bavaria Germany? Explore the places that inspired the Brothers Grimm’s to write such haunting tales? All the castles in Germany that come straight from fairy tales? Run my fingers over the Berlin wall and feel all the history that it holds.. if those walls could speak..
Do I want to swim in the most gorgeous waterfalls I’ve ever seen that look like fairy pools at Piltvice Lakes in Croatia? Taste the fresh fish caught fresh off the Dalmatian coast?
Do I want to indulge my taste buds sip wine and eat pesto by the ocean in Italy? Visit the vineyards that make the most delicious wine?
Do I want to scour the rocky, cliff rimmed coast of Ireland looking for leprechauns in the mist? Drink some Irish whiskey with some good ol boys as they fill my ears with their beautiful accent? Sample some Guinness at the Storehouse? Learn to truly dance a jig to some lively Irish music at an authentic Irish pub?
Do I want to go on the hunt for Dracula and his friends in Transylvania and hear the mysterious superstitions of howling wolves and bloodthirsty vampires and meet the original gypsies?
Do I want to go to KrakĂłw. The “proper place to experience Poland” and spend my days sipping Wodka and exploring old town’s secrets and sampling home-cooked Polish cuisine at a bar mleezny (milk bar)?
Or maybe I should compare the Swiss alps to the Italian alps… Or French alps.. Hike up and up and up until I’m up in the clouds, my heart and head dizzy with excitement?
Morocco sounds nice. Warm. Sandy. Exotic. Different. Colorful.
Or should I go back to France and buy a baguette and cheese and a bottle of wine and find an ancient castle to fall asleep in.. But you can’t see the stars in a castle… Maybe I’ll sleep in the courtyard…
Where in Europe can I get lost in nature for a few days? Who will be my new tour guide through the wild?
Also, I hear Prague is nice…
Amsterdam…
Experience the brilliant colors of the  northern lights up in Finland or Norway…
And most of all, I wish to trek through the jungles of Southeast Asia.. Taste the sun ripened fruit hanging low and heavy with sweet juicy delight. Swim in crystal clear waters. Play in the sand…

Where’s the most beautiful ocean?

Where can I find fairy tale forests?

Can you take me through a lush green jungle/forest with a raging waterfall with droplets of rainbows drifting off?
Let’s build a rope swing over a crystal blue lake and take turns screaming as we let go and throw our bodies into the icy cold water and rise to the surface gasping for air, laughing and quickly clambering out to do it once more.
There’s so much I want to do.
I have nothing but time.
I want to make memories.
I am a dreamer. A dreamer I will be til the day I die.

Someone once dedicated the song “Free Bird” by Lynard skynard to me. Another was sure “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty was written about me. Yet another listened to “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney and asked why I didn’t tell them I had asking written about me. And then there was the friend that turned to me and said that whenever he heard “I was born a unicorn” by the Unicorns he always smiled cuz I was such a unicorn in this world of horses (lol).

Whoever I end up with.. I hope he will accept my wanderlust… Just as my close friends understand… My need for adventure…My need to chase the new… To challenge the unknown… To believe in magic… To make flower crowns when we see wildflowers and eat berries on the side of the trail and look for faces in the gnarls of the trees as we walk by… To accept that I love to take off my shoes in the mud or leaf littered forest and feel the earth below me.
Understand that if I see waterfalls or rivers or lakes or oceans or even mud puddles my first instinct is to jump in and it’s difficult for me to hold back…
That I can dance in a club or festival and party til dawn just as I can get lost in the rhythm of the drums at a drum circle. I can go to a pub and cheer on the local football team or have a good laugh in the corner with friends new and old, but also adore more intimate gatherings with bonfires or hammocks or couches or music. But most nights I enjoy drinks with friends and watching the sunset color the the world around me and the sky open up to glittering stars. Connecting with other beautiful souls.
And there are many nights for simply sleeping. And others for shutting out the world with a good book… Or an intriguing travel story or historical fiction (or guilty pleasure) on Netflix..

That I recharge my soul through the moon. The sun. The stars. The woods. The trees. The mountains. The waters. The mud. The rain. The wind. The snow.

Someday I’ll find someone that understands. Not someone to tame me. Not settle me. Not trap me. But someone that will have the patience… allow me to slowly switch my priorities to finally having a physical home to get over the fear of a “normal life” doesn’t mean “boring” or “settling.” A family. And I will know. And he will know. And we will know. That although we might find a home, an address, our adventures will have just begun.

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep rolling under the stars. 
~Jack Kerouac 

Loo with a View and Caves with Waterfalls…

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” 
~John Muir

Sunday July 10, 2016
Day 49
Interlaken, Switzerland

Wow… One of my favorite places.. I had to come back twice.. Couchsurf with 2 different people in order to get the most of it.. Two very different experiences.. I just can’t get enough… of couchsurfing.. of Switzerland.. the air is so fresh here.. so delicious.. I’m addicted to this crisp, clean air.. the vast stretches of nature.. everything.. I have always hated being inside.. I would much prefer to walk in the sunshine in barefoot, feeling the earth beneath my feet than soulless rubber shoes on cement, read in the shade under a tree or in a hammock rather than a comfy chair, climb a tree or a rock or a cliff for a better view than take an elevator, jump in a lake rather than a shower…
The first weekend, my friend came to pick me up at the train station and drove me back to his place with his girlfriend… They lived right on the lake.. Lake Brienz.. In a little village outside of Interlaken..
The color of the water is BONKERS!! The color was this beautiful emerald, creamy green blue color.. SooOooo cold!! Coming straight from the glaciers above.. The lake was surrounded by huge mountains all around.. We proceeded to build a fire and threw some food in to cook it and poured glass after glass of wine and the language barrier made it more fun to interact.. try to understand each other.. learn new words.. it was amazing..
The next day, we drove around both of the lakes, (Interlaken – Latin: Inter=between, lake=lakes.. Interlaken, between lakes, the main city was between two lakes..).. Driving through vast stretches of hillside farmlands, old Swiss people slaving away on the sloped pastures in the hot sun.. Little Swiss German villages with swiss chalets and all the German words.. As we passed them, I tried to read them aloud, failing epically at my German accent.. We found an amazing little place to swim.. a little cove.. I loved swimming around in that beautiful water.. cloudy and blue green..
That night we had another bonfire, they invited a few more people over, most of which didn’t speak English.. so I was intrigued and we proceeded to talk to them.. breaking the barriers.. connecting on that beautiful level where no language wasn’t that much of an issue..
The next day we went up the mountain.. hiked through a cave (I ADORE CAVES!!!!!) with the water gushing off to the side.. the spray from the water slowly soaking our clothes as we walked up.. it was clear how the incredible pressure of the water carved the tunnel deep in the heart of the mountain.. up and up through the dark, dank, beautiful tunnel we went.. and right up back up into the sunshine.. pastures.. green grassy stretch of mountainside with mossy covered stones cropping up here and there.. and the most gorgeous waterfall.. with a rainbow stretching out in the mist in front of it.. What better way to cool off than to jump in? And so we did 🙂 (Granted, it wasn’t THAT grand or tall of a waterfall, but wow.. I ADORE all waterfalls!!!!)


The 2nd weekend at Interlaken was DEFINATELY more of an adventure! We hiked from his village, through Interlaken.. took  jump in the lake.. explored an abandoned, run down old castle.. hiked up the side of the mountain to Harder Kulm.. took in the view over a beer and then continued up and over the ridge.. up and up and up we went… it never seemed to end.. roots and dirt created the perfect staircases to climb up.. the trees would part occasionally to reveal Lake Brienz, the north face of Eiger, and Jungfrou… at one point the trail narrowed, and there was a steep decline on either side.. One side sloped down to the green, grassy countryside and rolling hills that stretched out into misty clouds while the other side descended down the rocky cliff to a village below, followed by the lake that was overshadowed by the Alps beyond.. I had to stop a few times to soak it all up…

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We made it to the hut.. it was built right under a cliff, the back wall of the hut was the rocky cliffside.. I was so glad to get there, my legs burning with the 3.5 hours of hiking up and along the ridge, along with the hours going up the mountain and through the village…
We shared some beers and watched the sunset and played cards and ended up going to sleep early so that we could watch the sun rise over the north face of the Eiger.
Magnificent.
Wow.
Once in a lifetime…
And the bathroom!! Or the toilet rather… had the most awesome view… a Loo with a View..
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Switzerland stole my Heart.

Fondue for two with a view 

“As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen.” 
Winnie the Pooh

Sunday August 7, 2016
Day 80
Luzern, Switzerland

What an amazing weekend.
Every weekend seems to get better and better.
Though this one left me with a heavy heart and I couldn’t help but feel truly sad on the train home.

It’d been a long time since I felt such intense feelings… Let someone into my world… … Let them captivate my heart…

He took me to this cabin way up on a mountain side with a view of the alps. It was supposed to take 2 hours.. It took us nearly 4… There were step ups as high as my waist… There were sheep with sheep bells… Cows with cow bells… Muddy, wet, sticky bits of the pathway… Lush green pasture bits with wildflowers… Bits with a thick, soft carpet of downed leaves in the middle of a forest full of mossy trees… It lasted forever.. But I loved it… I felt myself getting stronger.. I was in the woods not the city… I felt alive skipping about in nature and dipping my feet in the waterfalls we happened across…

Once we finally arrived, our legs burning with the intensity of the uphill climb, I teetered on the edge of wanting to curl up and take a long nap right there in the grass and frolicking around, exploring and taking in the views from all around the cabin.

We ended up talking and drinking wine while I scoured the hillside for the tiny, yet scrumptious, wild strawberries that littered the area, digging my fingers in the bushes, in the soil, careful not to disturb the stinging nettle.

Fondue. For two. With a view. omg wow.

Combining melty cheese. Fresh bread. Wine. And he threw in a couple pears to dip in the fondue as well.. I thought it peculiar, but the mix of the cold and sweet pear mixed with the warm, savory cheese… Mmmm

Outside, We sat on a little ridge just behind the cabin and there we spent the rest of the evening. Watching the sky change colors. The dark, clouded sky part to reveal a breathtaking view of the twinkling stars above.

And we talked. Ohhh how we talked. About this and that. Deep things. Silly things. Travel stories. Hopes and wishes. Childhoods. The planets. The stars. German vs Swiss German. All the things.
He tried to teach me shooting star in German. I need to remember that word. Sternschnuppe. My word for us. We saw a few that night.

The breeze picked up to a brisk wind and we went inside the cabin. No electricity. My favorite. It was dark and cold. He built a fire and we huddled around it, talking more and more and sharing songs.. Falling deeper and deeper in warmth, not just from the fire but from this kind soul in front of me.

I will be forever grateful for him for providing me with all the feelings and emotions these past two weekends brought on.  I thank him forever. It brought me hope… That someone is still willing to spend the time to get to know me and act in such a way to make me feel wanted…Interesting.. Safe… If only for a couple days…

It’s been a long Europe trip and I’ve been having difficulty finding people I connect with. So being around him set my soul on fire.

And with a sad heart I leave Luzern behind. Him behind.

I told him, only half joking, that I would love to come back next Monday for a couple days while he worked…. Cook, clean, have a set place to plan my Cambodia trip… Then I’d head off Wednesday to Germany? Italy? Croatia?

Could he do that for me? Would he even want such a silly thing? But at the same time I am tempted to keep it just these 2 perfect weekends. Wrapped up in this perfect little concise package.

But I am pretty addicted to his stories, his kindness, his adventurous spirit, his rebelios streak, his bit of a British accent, his German, his knowledge deep and vast on so many subjects.. not just his actions.. Because anyone could do the things he did… it was the fact that it was him that did all those things…

Too much to think about… Too many feelings… Especially since this is my last week of work in Coppet, Switzerland (the 12th) and still have no plans until the 26 and vague idea to run away to Cambodia shortly thereafter…
I love my job and don’t want to leave.. I like having a home base Monday-friday and then the ability to run off for a weekend with a small backpack instead of my big load… maybe I will shed some of my gear before I leave here…

Where to next? Should I book a flight and run away? Germany? Italy? Croatia? Ireland? Or should I hold off and hope for a couple more days of this crazy feeling of safety and happy I found with him?
But for now, I sleep.. and off to work tomorrow.. and let the days wear on and the dreams chug on and we shall see where the stars take me 🙂

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
~David Bowie

Cow Bells and Untamed Wild Flower Fields and Alpine Hiking

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Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.
~David McCullough

Sunday July 31, 2016
Day 72
Luzern, Switzerland

Wow. This place.
How can every weekend continue to get better and better?
It’s wild.
This weekend definitely was magical as well.
Swiss Germany. Swiss Germans. Every one of them gets better and better! 🙂
The train station in Lucerne is gorgeously massive. Huge, tall, bustling. Lots of people clumped together giving last minute hugs and farewell wishes. Others running towards each other, ready to feel the comforting hug of a loved one after being away. And the colors of the sunset filtered through the massive windows, casting a beautiful pink, purple and orange blanket of color over everyone.
As soon as I stepped outside, my heart leapt in excitement. This was most definitely a “city”, compared to the villages I have been in and out of for the past month and a half. People were everywhere. The sunset was pouring its beautiful colored sky all over the river just on the other side of the road and the clouds were playing hide and seek with the buildings and trees.
Every once in awhile in life, you meet someone that you feel instantly at ease with…. My friend I met that night was one of these. We had been talking off and on when I first sent him a couchsurfing request over a month ago because I was sooooo excited to go to this beautiful city I had heard about. He was actually in MY neck of the woods when he replied first, the PNW, my heart home.. and I knew adventures were going to be had with this guy.
We passed the night sharing beers and exchanging stories and swapping our favorite on his balcony under the stars.
The next day he took me on a grand adventure, first weaving through the roads in his car. Through valleys with the most lusciously green soft grass, along the sides of mountains reaching high up into the clouds-some with soft snow capped tops and some with rocky, craggy peaks, among villages littered with quaint little Swiss German chalets, and around the most beautiful lakes in ever shade of blue and aquamarine, sparking in the sunlight, my heart bursting with happy, the sights around me taking my breath away at every turn.
We arrived and walked past some forests that had soft moss-covered stone and tall, thin trees… We ended up taking this crazy old tiny cable car suspended on a long, thin cable. I watched as it made its slow descent down from the lower ridge and adrenaline and excitement rushed through me as the tiny green capsule swing gently from side to side, so very high above everything. I loved it.
At the top… once again, lush green pastures carpeted the mountainside, the occasional rock bursting through the green, with pockets of wild, untamed flowers dotting the overgrown fields, and the sound of cowbells filled the air, reminding me of a classroom of kindergartners trying to keep in time with their little bells..
We hiked up and up and up, through little forests and valleys as we weaved our way up and up the view opened up more and more.. the beginning of the Swiss Alps. stretched far and wide, row after row of towering mountains,
Dude.

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It was bonkers. Straight from a movie.. I could picture Heidi teaching Clara to walk and cartwheeling amongst her cows… Maria, her arms outstretched to the sky singing, “The Hiiiiiills Are Alive With The Sound of Muuuuusic”.. peaceful… serene.. I scampered up over rocks and along the path in my favorite flip flops that were on the verge of disintegrating underneath my feet, the bottoms had become so thin by this point in the trip.. there was already a hole in the heel of one of them so I could occasionally feel the rocks stick through and tickle my foot.
At one point we climbed a dodgy ladder up through a cave and zig zagged along a narrow cliffside, making me feel quite like a mountain goat.
In fact we saw one!!! A regal, king-like creature sitting up high above us, flipping his tail, licking his lips, watching us. A Steinbock. My friend told me it was a rarity to see such a sight. We took it all in, relished in mother nature’s gift to us, this giant beast so far away just straight chilling, watching us carefully with his giant horns curled up over his head.
At the top, the VERY top, there was a 360 degree view of even more lakes and valleys and mountains and ohhh mannnnnnn,… I cannot even describe the feeling.. of reaching the top.. of looking around.. my legs were burning with the strenuous uphill scramble.. the sun was kissing my skin while the soft breeze made the heat irrelevant.. We sat in the grass and shared simple bread and cheese.. savoring the moment, the meal, the view, the rest..
On our way down, we stopped at a little barn-turned restaurant that sold fresh cheese and milk and milkshakes while the cows that produced such delicacies lounged about all around us, the song of cowbells rang clear, only drowned out by the occasional moooooooo. :))
We took a different cable car back down and hitchhiker back to where the car waited for us. (MY FIRST HITCHHIKING EVER!!)
WHAT AN ADVENTURE! And the day was far from over, I was content. Serene. Happy. Exhausted, yes, but didn’t want to take a nap for fear of missing the sunshine and wasting time in dreaming in slumber.…
for it seemed real life surpassed my best dreams lately..
We went to the lake… a well deserved and ohh so soothing dip in the cold, clear, clean aquamarine waters…
We watched a father help his son lumber past us into the lake, both weighed down in snorkeling gear. There was a gathering of family and friends to the left, talking, drinking, eating, jumping in the lake.. couples laying together on one colorful beach towel, locked in each others embrace letting the sun dry their bodies wet from the lake. Friends sharing a bag of chips and laughing over their own little secrets… Perfekt.
But no, we were not done :))
We went up to the top of a DIFFERENT mountain.. up a train.. and then up a giant gondola where we climbed to the top of it, open air so the rain that was starting up wet our hair and cheeks and shoulders and wind whipped our words away, tho I had little to say because my mind was too busy processing the view as the gondola took us up and up and up,, It was perfekt.
We got out, walked past the super expensive, fancy revolving restaurant that offered a panorama view of the landscapes and mountains beyond and we continued our hike, up and up we climbed.. higher and higher to the top of this 2nd mountain.. this time we were farther away from the Alps, but the view.. unreal.. 3/4 of the view were the Alps, jagged and snow covered and cast in pastels in the distance.. the rest of the view was flat land, over the lake, past Luzern and if it weren’t so cloudy I swear you could’ve seen Germany… the clouds put on such a show for us.. you could see the sun beams shining through in one direction, the rain streaming from the clouds far off in the distance the other direction.. Never before had I seen such a sight.. never before had I felt so small.. I felt truly on top of the world.
I cannot, for the life of me, use any words to come any where near close to how it felt to experience all of it. ALL of it. The hiking. The sketchy cable cars teetering so very high over everything. The beer we drank amongst cow dung and cow bells. Two mountaintops with very different but equally gorgeous views, 360 degrees all around of nothing but dazzling sights.. even watching the paraglider run and jump off the mountain made my heart beat like no other, wanting so badly to jump off with them..
I almost don’t even want to post this because it sounds so simple and plain when I read back what I wrote.. To you its just words. To me.. it is my life.. it is real.. it was the feelings.. my heart will never be the same.
and having the best of company helped too. 🙂 It is rare to find such a perfect match for adventuring… He went along with my crazy ways and silly questions and humored my utter amazement and speechlessness at everything.. He knew just where to take me to make my heart full of happy and my eyes dazzle with delight… His stories of his travels to Cambodia and Thailand and days in the area made my head spin with excitement and fill up potential future travel plans… The connection with him was like with no other… A kindred spirit… A fellow adventurous soul…. There are moments when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them too. It feels like you are seeing a stranger you’ve known all your life.
All of us, after all, every bit of us, every atom is all of our bodies, once came from a star that exploded far far away. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? To think that we are all made of beautiful stardust.. maybe starry bits of me came from the same starry bits of you…
But for real, my favorite person I’ve met on my travels by far 🙂

“Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other”
~Paulo Coelho

Haloumi = MmmmMmmmMmmm

 

 

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.

Wednesday May 25, 2016
Day 4
London

My first stop was London. I was surrounded by accents. My favorite accents. I loved it.
The way they say “water” and “brilliant” and they say “Cheers!” all day long. Quite jolly people. I love listening to them talk. Music to my ears. I saw a bus that said, “Las Vegas: Where your accent is an aphrodisiac”. I giggled and silently agreed.    I liked the outskirts of the city more than the middle. The middle had the throngs of people.. masses of people going to and from work in a frenzied hurry. Business suits and fancy dresses all surging toward me. It felt odd to be going against the stream in my huge backpack and “normal” clothes. I felt like I was going nowhere. I felt like a rock in a fast moving river. People bumped me. People avoided eye contact. Perfect clothes. Top Shops and Versace and fancy, light up stores all around.
I much preferred Camden and Shoreditch.
Camden was more alternative. Hippy. Funky. Curious.
There were tattoo parlors, funky shops, pubs…
There were man buns, tattoos, dreadlocks, colored hair…
I went into one tourist shop and the owner cornered me, trying quite aggressively to get me to buy something. I politely refused. He persisted. I, again, refused. Finally, he led me to the back of his store. There was this dark hallway lit with backlights. He told me that I should follow him down the hallway to his special collection that he just KNEW that I would like. He wrapped me in a hug, a little too close, a little to long. That bit of icy panic crystalized in deep in my tummy and crept to my throat. I needed to get away. I pushed away from him and his suffocating smell of canned green beans and curry and hurried out of the shop, my head down, averting the gaze of everyone, not wanting anyone to know the embarassment I felt.
The situation rattled me.
I rushed quickly past the throngs of tourists, trying to get rid of that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I finally slowed once I got to the bridge and saw the arch proclaiming “CAMDEN LOCKS”  and colored tents beyond.
I wandered through the gate, the beat of my heart slowing to normal as I took in my surroundings. There was table after table of paintings, jewelry, precious stones, homemade clothes, wooden carvings… all the beautiful things. I felt at ease. It was a feast for the eyes.. all the wonderful things.
Then I happened upon the food area…
Ohhhhh wow!
People were thrusting samples at me left and right.
There were booths with any kind of food from every country that you could imagine.
The smells were intense, mouthwatering and all around me. Wafting through the food court. My stomach answered the smells, lurching in hunger.
I wandered, tasting small bits of burritos, gyros, curry, scrambled eggs, goat cheese, pizza, croissant sandwiches, nachos, stir fries, gelato…
And a booth in the corner caught my eye. It was wooden, like a tiki shack. It had big leaves weaving up and down and over the top. It looked tropical. I was intrigued. I walked closer and behind the counter of the booth was the most gorgeous man… long, tousled dark hair, Jared Leto eyes, arms slathered in colorful tattoos… and then the smell hit me.. ohhh wow.
“Pulcina! Would you like to try out my country’s specialty?”
He talked to me. I jumped. Then I remembered that I was just another customer to him.
I graciously accepted. Having no idea what he was handing me, but stuffing it in my face in case he talked to me again.
My mouth danced in happiness.
IT WAS CHEESE! CHEESE OF THE MOST AMAZING SORT!!
“Ohhh WoW!! Dude!! I think thats the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!!” I realized what I said and quickly continued, “What is that?? I want all of it. Where are you from? What is your country’s specialitY? Why are you in London?”
I was wrapped up in crazed anxiety, trying to not act too weird, too crazy, but in trying to do so, I ended up sounding even moreso.
He smiled a perfect smile and answered that he was from Sicily. He was giving me Haloumi cheese, which wasn’t exactly his nation’s speciality, but one of his favorite things in the world.
I immediately blurted out, “ME TOO!!”
I have no idea what I ordered or what he said but I gave him the money and watched him work his wizardry behind the desk, on the grill, putting on the haloumi…. I was entranced. My stomach churning with hunger and delight.
He gave me my to go box of whatever he concocted and I thanked him profusely.
I weaved through the crowds and reached the canal and sat down at an relatively empty part of the canal where the branches of the overhanging trees leaned over the path down to dip their leaves into the slowly running waters below to sprinkle their flower petals like confetti and let them flow downstream.
It. Was. Amazing.
Everything came together.