Running, crying, and coming home
Things didn’t go exactly as planned the last few days of my trip. There were missed and almost missed flights, a jar of olives thrown away, and many, many tears shed.
Let’s rewind. Back in July I booked my travel for this trip using an app called EightyDays. I highly recommend them; their prices are insanely good, but their customer service is even better. When I received my travel confirmations they didn’t integrate into my calendar so I had to put them in manually. No big deal right? Well you try entering 10+ flights and trains in different time zones and see if you don’t mess up at least one thing. Well I messed up two things. I put my flight from Brussels to Porto on the wrong date, and I entered my flight from Porto to Paris at the wrong time. This made for a crazy last few days of the trip.
I was awakened Friday morning by my boarding pass buzzing on my phone at 4am for a flight that was in an hour and a half. With absolutely no way to get to the airport on time I got help from the Eighty Days team and got the flight from Brussels to Porto rebooked for the next day. I get to Porto and think that I have a quick afternoon to explore. Let’s remember that I have this flight incorrectly in my calendar as well. I go to sleep and wake up yet again to my boarding pass buzzing, but this time my flight is in one hour. I knew I couldn’t miss another flight so I quickly threw my things together and hailed an Uber to the airport. In broken Portuguese I told my driver I needed to get to the airport as fast as possible. In broken English he told me to tell him if I got scared of his driving. He was whipping around the curves of the highway at 174 km/hr and I was absolutely scared but damnit I wasn’t going to miss another flight. I get to the airport and run to my check in desk to drop my bag to find that it was closed. Panicked, I went through security with my checked bag (after begging everyone in line to let me pass them) containing full size toiletries, a bottle of ouzo, and a jar of homemade olives gifted to me from my host in Greece. I knew that the toiletries wouldn’t be allowed through so I immediately tossed those, but I wanted to try and get through with the gifts from Greece. The ouzo made it, but the olives did not. The security agent took them from me and and dropped them in the trash. As the jar hit the bottom of the can and smashed, hot tears began to fall down my face.
I started running for my gate with two bags totaling 50 pounds in tow. Of course both of my shoes came untied, I’m out of breath, and my face has turned bright red from the combination of exercise and sobbing. When I get to the gate the agent told me of had to pay to check my bag with cash and that it would be €40. I got out my wallet and only had €35. And the rain from my face kept pouring down. So much so that the agent had to ensure that I would indeed be okay to fly. She pointed me in the direction of an ATM and with a $40 service fee alongside the bag fee, I started walking towards my plane, audibly crying. Was I being a little dramatic? Mmmmmaybe....but you try traveling for as long as I did, getting so close to home and having this mishap occur. It was disheartening.
So I get to Paris, much earlier than I expected, not in a great mood. Only to find out that the shuttle to my hotel (the whole reason I booked it) was not running. So I get a cab, show the driver the address of my destination, and the driver begins cursing at me in French because I couldn’t speak French and tell him where I needed to go. So the faucet on my face turned back on. When I got to the hotel the concierge was just about as friendly as the cab driver. When I finally get into my hotel room I was obviously not in the best of moods.
I had two choices. Stay in all day wallowing in my misery or get out and try to enjoy my last day in Europe. I had an inner battle for at least an hour about this, but eventually decided to get the train into Paris and make the best of the situation. So I wandered back through Paris, and spent the evening in front of the Eiffel Tower. Definitely a good move on my part, I needed to get out of my funk.
I woke up the next morning excited and ready to get back to the USA. I went to the airport so early that they wouldn’t even let me check in when I got there. After the last few flights I needed to make sure that I was on that flight home. When I get to the gate I found out that the flight was two hours SHORTER than I thought it was going to be, so that was nice. And then we actually landed and hour earlier than expected. Yay!
Now I’m back in NYC and I’ve got to spend some time with lots of friends. I’ll be spending my Thanksgiving with my old roommate Jeremy, his girlfriend and my good friend Anna. I’m so happy to step back into my old traditions! Tomorrow I fly back to St Louis and then travel home to Modesto where I will be thankful I won’t have to pack or unpack a bag for at least a little while. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Food glorious Food!
In Rome I had pasta for 3 square meals a day, saw a lot of old shit, and got very very wet. What else do you need to know? Oh yes, I drank some wine too. Just kidding. Rome was amazing! I had a quick two and a half days to spend there but I enjoyed every minute of it. Even though it rained the majority of the time, and I got soaked! I thoroughly enjoyed walking and discovering this city. I thought it was another city that would just be a quick blip on my way home, but I learned a lot about ancient history while here. I also checked another country off the list and visited Vatican City. It was interesting and kind of crazy that the Catholic Church made it’s own country. Let’s just say, I appreciated the art and the history more than the religious part of this experience. Rome is on the list of places I would love to return to someday. The next stop was Brussels and it blew away my expectations. That might be because I didn’t actually have any expectations of it going in. I ate a good amount of chocolate, like 2 waffles a day, and so many frites! I learned an interesting story about how French Fries got their name and also how the Belgians are pissed at Americans about it. I’m happy to share that story to anyone who will listen in person. I had a delicious beef stew, and many Belgian beers, but I didn’t make time for any mussels. Who knew that Brussels was known for mussels? Ha. It’s true though, they are. I saw an exhibit on Dali and Magritte which was really great. I also met up with some other travelers to hang out. Brussels was great! Next stop, Porto!
The islands are absolutely incredible. They are almost exactly as I imagined them. I visited two Cycladic islands and stayed in Cycladic homes. What exactly is does that mean? When you watch Mamma Mia and you see the cast running through stone streets with narrow staircases and tiny blue windows scattered throughout, that is exactly the type of architecture I’m referring to. While exhausting at times (I averaged around 55 flights of stairs daily), it was magical. Pink and red bougainvillea growing at every turn with little street cats running at your feet. The two villages I stayed in date back to around 2500 B.C. How crazy is that? I need to come back to the islands in the summertime. Even though the average daily temperature was 65 degrees, this is wintertime and the off season. Everything near me was closed! I had to trek into villages slightly bigger than where I was staying to get food, or in the case of Kastro, to see other humans. It has been an eye opening experience, but a lovely one. I have to say that the hospitality of the Greek people as a whole has been amazing. They have gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome here, despite the language barrier. I stayed on the beach in Kastro and one day was walking to the next town (2 miles uphill) in search of food and WiFi. An older gentleman passed me on the road on his scooter, then stopped and offered me a ride to my destination. My legs were thankful! The next day I was sitting on a stone bench in a little plaza near a church, reading and waiting for my bus. A man came out of his home and gave me a cushion to sit on, and then after a while insisted that I come in for coffee and snacks. We couldn’t talk much because my Greek consists of greetings and his English was about the same, but thanks to Google translate we had a small conversation about our families. I am still in awe with how friendly everyone is here. Today I will return to Athens where I will spend three more days before I head to Rome. I’m going to eat as much Greek food as I can, soak up the culture, and maybe win a game of backgammon before I go.
It’s all Greek to me
Update- no tan and I haven’t run through the streets singing ABBA songs yet, but I have fallen in love! Greek culture is absolutely amazing. I’m learning to speak in Greek little by little thanks to the amazing hosts I have had on this trip. The olives and feta here have nothing on what you can get in the States. Ouzo is growing on me, but I may have to try it several more times to see if I really like it ;) I’ve learned to play backgammon and a few other games with a native Athenian, watched the sun set over the Acropolis, and taken many motorcycle rides around the city (yes Mom, I wore a helmet). The people are so friendly, and already I have made some lifelong friendships. Saturday I will head out to the islands by ferry to do some exploring. I’m looking forward to this continued adventure!
I have a dream...
I have a dream and many songs to sing. Tomorrow is the big day. The day I’ve been waiting for since the first time I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants back in 2005. And then again when I saw Mamma Mia in 2008. Greece! Maybe it’s silly that the reason I want to visit a place is because of a few movies. But hey, that’s a reason I visited Salzburg and I had a wonderful time there. Maybe it’s silly to want to visit a place because I saw Alexis Bledel fall in love on a beautiful Greek island with an even more beautiful Greek boy and I hope that will happen for me too. I want to run all over the island singing and dancing to ABBA songs. Maybe if I’m lucky some locals will pop their heads into the alley and sing back up vocals for me. Even if these reasons are silly this has been my dream for almost 15 years. And tomorrow I will be blessed to set foot in one of the oldest cities in the world. Regardless of if I fall in love, or if I get to traipse around singing ABBA songs, I’ll get to see the beginnings of civilization, experience centuries of culture, and enjoy the beauty that is Greece. I hope by the time I return home I will have found a love for olives, feta cheese, and ouzo (things I currently do not enjoy). I also hope that I return with a tan and a few stories to tell. Dreams are fun aren’t they?
Sand on my toes, fire in my heart
When it rains in a beach town you have to find things to do. I went for a run on the beach in the rain, jumped into the water to cool off, checked some museums out, let fish eat the dead skin off my feet, and watched the thunderstorm over the sea. But the biggest thing that I’ve done has been catching up on work tasks. To many of you that sounds pretty boring, soul sucking, draining. But for me, I really am coming into my own with my role at Snowman Films. I’m finding new ways to make the company for successful and streamlined. I’m proving my worth and providing my expertise to our clients and Noah. I’m working really hard to put new practices into place within the company and I’m building my own travel show under the Snowman Films umbrella. Noah and I had some time to chat this week and discuss the future of the company. I am happy to announce that upon my return to the States I will be taking on more responsibility within the company! This change will allow me to continue to work remotely, from wherever I decide. I’m so incredibly happy about this decision. It took a while for me to realize this, but producing for Snowman Films is the dream job I never knew I wanted. I work my own hours, I get to be creative, I get to be a leader, and I get to use my impeccable organization skills. Plus my team at SF is the easiest group of people to work with. Creative, down to earth humans who listen to my poop jokes, and don’t get too annoyed when I nag them about deadlines. A huge bag of gratitude goes to Noah for being the most understanding and flexible boss one could ask for. Love you dude! And as for the picture below, there was ONE DAY with sunshine and no rain. So here is my little booty on the beach.
The hills are alive
...with the sound of music. With songs they have sung since 1965. I took the Sound of Music bike tour today and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Is it touristy? Absolutely. If you are as in love with this film as I am or even if you’ve only seen it a few times it’s absolutely worth the time and money. We rode our bicycles through Salzburg and up into the foothills to see the abbey, the house(s) where they filmed the movie, and through many other sites in the film. Everyone sang along to the songs and enjoyed taking photos in front of the famous sites. We learned about the real Von Trapp family and lots of behind the scenes information about the film. For instance, the people of Austria could care less about this movie. Also while edelweiss is national flower of Austria, the song was written for the movie and is not actually the national anthem. I’ve got plenty of fun trivia about the movie to share when I return. Sound of Music watch party!
I decided to do an overnight trip to Salzburg to see my friend Anna Barbara from my Pilobolus days and I’m so glad I did. It was so lovely to spend time and catch up with her. And to meet Simon, her incredibly hospitable boyfriend. He is also pretty funny- he had me convinced that he was part of the Von Trapp family for all of 2 minutes. Anna Barbara and I went to a dance improv jam, which I haven’t done in years. It was really wonderful to move around and play again. Thank you lovely humans for a great visit!
Salzburg is such a beautiful city and so rich with history and culture. Mozart was born here and Silent Night was also composed here. I only scratched the surface of the things to do in Salzburg but hope to return someday. If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it!
I’m not sure why Barcelona has it’s name, but it does not do it justice. Names like Bello, Hermoso, or Precioso would be much more fitting. Everything about this city is beautiful. The architecture, the people, and even the subways are clean and cared for. Back to the people. Wow. They are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. And so friendly too! The beach I sat on during the snow storm in Denver was gorgeous (sorry guys, not sorry). The food is amazing and I ate so much of it! Then there was the trip outside of the city to a town on a mountain called Montserrat. You can hike, drive, take a funicular, or ride up in a cable car. The cable car ride was amazing! The view was incredible. From the town, there is a 1.5 hour hike up to Saint Jeroni which is 1236 meters high, or roughly 4000 feet. It was long, but the view was so.....beautiful! And the best part of everything in Barcelona was that I got to share all of it with my beautiful best friend Christina! If you need recommendations on where to drink mezcal in Barca, let us know. So I definitely overused the term “beautiful” in this blog post, but it is really because this region of Spain has so much beauty to share.
Falling in Love
Wow Paris, you did not disappoint! What a beautiful city full of people, life, love, and culture. I didn’t have a ton of time to spend here, but what time I did have I used wisely. On the train ride from Bordeaux I was thinking to myself that I wished I knew someone in Paris to have dinner with. I was feeling a little lonely, but wanted to spend a night out and have a good meal. After I arrived at my hostel I went out to find a snack and explore. I heard a girl speaking American English, spoke to her, and ended up spending the entire day with her. It’s crazy how a small thought that I had manifested itself. The next day I spent the day exploring on my own. I got my lunch, and very much like a tourist ate it in the park by the Eiffel Tower. But it made me so happy, and I am a tourist, so who cares?
After Paris I opted out of Amsterdam and went up to a small town in the north of the Netherlands called Den Helder. I slept in a tiny little pipowagen with no heat that smelled like horses and didn’t have WiFi, and I loved every minute of it. I rode one of said smelly horses on the beach, I spent time alone, and it was amazing. One of the other pipowagen guests and I chatted at breakfast, and he ended up going with me to the Navy Museum where we toured a submarine and some other boats.
So why did I title this post “Falling in Love”? Because I am falling in love with solo travel. I get to do things on my terms, if I want to, when I want to. I’m taking the time to do more of the things that I love like people watching and writing. I get to spend more time focusing on my work with Snowman Films. I’m eating a ton of great food and meeting some really nice people. Sure it can be a little lonely at times, but it’s been great for getting some mental clarity. So yes, I’m falling in love with myself and I couldn’t be happier about it.
London was much better than I expected it to be. People were nice, it was really easy to get around, plenty of cool things to see and do. I’m actually surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I figured that it would be just another city, but I really had fun. Maybe that means I’ll enjoy Paris more that I originally thought as well. I guess we will see! I was really nervous about traveling solo and I still have my reservations. I have to say though, having my friend Melina for the first day of the first city really gave me the confidence I needed to continue on. It’s crazy how having the first day to spend with a friend can really make a difference. I’m confident that my choice to go ride horses on the beach of Den Helder instead of going to Amsterdam is the right one. Will I regret that decision, maybe. But at least I’ll go into it confidently. Another thing that I did not expect to have such a big impact on my travels is the fact that I’m taking footage for Snowman Films along the way. Getting out there and exploring merely to explore has been wonderful. I’m appreciating some of the little things that I see simply because I’m taking time to view them through a camera lens. I like to take pictures and document what I’m doing but sparingly. This opportunity to host a travel show and gather my own footage seemed like a great way to turn this into a work trip, but honestly I think it has been a great way to get me explore more. I’m in Bordeaux and I’ve spent most of my time here drinking wine, working, wandering and it has been wonderful. I forgot how much I love the small towns in France. These old villages have so much history along with them. It’s fun just to walk along the streets and admire the architecture. I spent much of my time in Bordeaux speaking with a wine shop owner, Anthony. He taught me how to taste wines properly and about the many different types of grapes in the Bordeaux region. We talked about farming grapes as well as farming corn. We compared stories on what it’s like running a bar and a business. I really enjoyed my time at Tchin Tchin Wine Bar with Anthony. If you have the chance to visit, please do! You won’t regret it. On to Paris!
Taylor is a travel enthusiast and recently left her job in Denver to travel throughout Europe.