Travelin' Hygiene - B.O. and Various Shades of Nasty

In Italy, I glistened with the sweat of hard working trolls and stick of a thousand honey bees. It was by far the hottest place I'd ever been - slightly hotter than New Orleans in mid-July. I'm not one for cold but I don't go well with heat. I've had a series of involuntary hormonal changes that just doesn't sit well with it. Let's just say I know what a hot flash is and Italy in Summer is a constant, radiating hot flash. The most annoying part is this never goes away. There is no such thing as a cool morning where the sun moves in creating the days heat. No! The heat is constant, through the night, rain and everything in-between. One day I showered a total of four times. There was just no other alternative. If there were conservation rules I would have easily broken them just to escape that heat and ultimately the stink. I would have even paid to shower.

Roman Holidaze

Having arrived in Rome at night we didn't see much. Our fountain trip and dinner was close to 10pm at night. The next day was our first full experience of Rome. No more running into places and stumbling into things. Now we were trekking the unknown parts of the city and planning our remaining days. She again was the leader on this journey and I simply followed. This time I had plans of my own. I was well equipped with Italian sayings saved on my phone, maps of places I wanted to go and images of the hidden treasures I needed to see. Inevitably, we separated and not in a good way but it was for the best. This way she got to keep aimlessly walking and I zeroed in on the places I'd dreamed of. 


When In Rome

When I think back to Rome I first recall the energy. There was mutual anxiety about the unknown. Neither one of us bothered to learn Italian. I relied on Google to teach me how to say "hello" and "excuse me". She thought her Spanish alone would suffice. For the first time we both had no phone service. The maps didn't work. We didn't have any guidance. There were no plans. We both had short, varied lists of must sees. We just hadn't talked about them since NYC. Surely those lists had changed. I tried to research things and talk about the Roma pass for us. I assumed that was enough. However, we never settled on the pass or anything Italy. Yet things were kosher. The frustrations had only subsided for the journey. Once we landed they returned ten fold. We now were on separate paths. The airport - insanity. The hotel - an hour away. We didn't even know who we were in Rome. Were we Americans? Were we EU travelers? Were we rebels that bypassed customs? 


The Things… Spain and All Its Parts

Is it being fair to Spain to say I didn't learn anything? At least I didn't learn anything relative to the country. I had already considered myself an honorary Spaniard. I mean this wasn't some fly by night fad like notion. No, as a very young child I loved to proclaim that I was a Spanish-Moorish empress. I loved to state it whenever my mother threatened to do my hair. My theory was that I lived a lavish and rather short life. I knew I had been beheaded at the throne. Therefore, things were cut short for me … no pun intended. I told both of my parents this lap style bend your neck and head down hair styling was not for me. I'd already been traumatized in a past life with that awful beheading. Of course, no one took me seriously but I probably scared them a little bit. So now I wonder have I navigated life avoiding polos and neck massages because of my child theories or a real connection to the monarchy. I guess that was one thing I did learn … Spain has a royal family. Oh the things we think we know but we don't and the things we are born with. 



In all this reminiscing I keep talking about food. Forgive me but food is a passion of mines. It hasn't always been a thing but travel revitalized it. I'm into other stuff too in fact a lot of various hobbies and things. As a Gemini I find myself dabbling in anything to keep from being bored. I even consider myself a "Jill of All Trades" and it gets hard to focus on one particular talent. Yet as I think back to Europe I can't help but recall the food. Its like all my memories are linked by foodie moments and amazing meals. Since last Summer I've realized when you peel away all my likes - food and cooking prevails. I've been exposed to so many cuisines and techniques abroad; I'm exploring something new almost daily. I've always been one of those kitchen supply store people who buy gadgets and funny colored salts. However, now my passion is driving me to evolve beyond that. I'm thinking about my experiences. I'm remembering my first introductions. So before I go onto things I learned from Spain and move onto my game changing time in Italy - allow me to get back to the basics. At the end of the day it all comes back to food.


The Things… Nantes

Having been in Nantes just under a month I've already said a lot. Despite all that happened my loyalty lies with Nantes. It always will. There I learned the most about life and people. Nantes is where I learned the most about myself. I'm sure some will believe this learning process came from disappointment. Maybe others will believe it came from some sort of French "enlightenment". I actually learned the most from just being there. From sitting on the trams and looking out the windows. From going into the bakery and watching what the children got. From walking around the grocery store looking for Splenda which doesn't exist. From sitting out on my hotel balcony listening to Kanye West's "I'm In It". Nantes was a period of isolation, self-realization … and awakening. 


The Things… Paris (All Three Times)

Paris the city of lights, romance and love. That is all I went into Paris knowing. Oh and that of "Inception" where the the Haussman buildings fold together in dreams. I had awareness of the Seine and The Eiffel Tower. I knew of macarons and croissants. Chanel and Hermes. That is all. And I am not alone in my sheer ignorance of Paris or France in general. I guess one is fueled by the image of the Paris skyline with the Eiffel Tower in the distance and then the artsy fartsy drawing of the cafes and can-can dancers. Then there is the storybook illustration of lone castles with secret gardens and the French provinces with cobblestoned streets and fields of lavender. Why is France so far from these pictures in my mind? I cannot explain how and why. All I can do is encourage a trip to see nothing is as it seems. For even I have three different experiences in Paris.

The Things… London

I had to miss London to get home when I wanted to. We had planned to leave Italy by way of France, stay in Nantes for a bit while collecting our things, get back to London through Belgium and spend a week in Londontown before flying out. She'd already bought her return flight tickets so she had to go back through London. I didn't. The reality is I found out that London was not the only port of call to Europe proper. I assumed as much coming over because of the accessibility and price. However, it is much easier to just fly to and from wherever you really want to be. I could have just gone straight to France versus ran for my life through London to take a long train through the English Channel to Paris. The UK is just the closest land after crossing the pond but far removed from the rest of Europe. This is why I chose two flights from Paris and Iceland to get back home. Either way, she'd already spent a week in London and was to show me around before we both traveled home. So I missed that and I think it was a broken promise anyways. So here is London for me in a nutshell. Please note this is London on a three hour mad dash to the Eurostar train via St Pancras station

An Introduction To The Things I Learned...

Someone recently told me that my blog had talked them out of Europe. Now this was just a mild comment not some debate over anything but it sort of stung. This person did elaborate and the reasoning was funny but I really had to reflect on the general conclusion. How could I have made someone think like this? I had hoped that people would be driven to go overseas. Did I sort of ruin what Europe has to offer? I guess in reading my chronicles of traveling hiccups, food quandaries and the ultimate demise of a friendship (that may have thrived stateside) - I wouldn't want to go either! The reality is even with the outcome of all of this … I still really want to go back to Europe! I still want to live in Europe! The priority remains even after the travel, the plethora of shitty expat advice and the reality that it could take up to ten years to move … legally. I guess I hadn't gotten to a point of surmising my trip and perhaps I never will. I mean that is not the point of this blog. As mentioned, I'm recalling what happened, giving you decent advice for your travel and hope to be a resource for travelers and expats alike. This is all just the beginning of an extensive journey to a permanent life change. I know that was my first trip abroad, to Europe and it wasn't the greatest expedition. However, it wasn't a bad introduction either. There is still a lot more of the world to see. I still need to hone my traveling skills and after that I could wind up virtually anywhere. For now, I owe you some explanation.


Adios Spain!

I can easily say leaving Spain was just as necessary as leaving France. Trust that I was eventually homesick for Malaga as I'd been for Nantes. However, in both places I'd been put through the ringer. I was always trying to find the hidden message in all that had gone on and ultimately some silver lining. Now moving onto Italy I assumed things would somehow make sense and come together. I clearly had bypassed the mysticism of France, loathed the culinary exploration of Spain and now I was headed to a religious experience in Italy. This was to change me and restore my faith in… humanity. This was also the last big journey - the end of a chapter in this temporary life I'd created for myself. In just eight days, I'd be done with Europe and back to life as it was. For her, she had planned some ancestry tour through the south of France and was now forced to go it alone. She would also spend week in Nantes to recoup and collect both our things. With her still having twenty three days of freedom she still harped on about me leaving her alone.