Müchen and Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day, and I know I’m supposed to be thinking about how grateful I am for my mother. I’m thinking about that, but also in a broader way. I’m thinking also about how grateful I am for all of the people who have helped shape who I am. I’m on the train to Amsterdam at the moment to meet up with my dad, and travel the last legs of my trip. I’m through the part where I visit my friends, and now it’s family time. What I’m struck by, though, is how incredibly generous and open my friends and those around them are. I hadn’t seen several of these friends in 4 years, and it was so good to see them, and amazing to realize how little things change. I am thoroughly convinced that there is something to traveling and staying with friends; and as I say, I’m really just blown away by the power of sharing, even just for a few days, the quotidian things–food, space, conversation. Being in a generation who’s become accustomed to technology, it’s refreshing to realize I can still do this in person thing. And that technology has even enhanced that interaction and those relationships, I think. I really do feel like I live in such an unbelievably interesting time, so full of challenges and possibilities. And for that, I am so grateful. To the people and things that have, over time, impacted me, and uncovered who I am. And for all those to come.

The House of Terror

Just got done visiting the House of Terror in Budapest, the first real touristy, structured thing I’ve done so far on this trip. The past few days have felt very quotidian–I’ve been hanging out with my friend from high school, Cayley, and he’s been having to work on her thesis, so I’ve had some down time by myself, which I’m never good at doing anything very useful with. Budapest is interesting…beautiful city and from what I know, interesting to learn the history. The most striking thing, though, of going through the House of Terror, is how these things that happened in the 50s and 40s are still being perpetuated by Americans to our own enemies, which is extremely disturbing. And I don’t feel like I have a lot of control over it, even though it is my country, which is so frustrating. It does sort of inspire me to try to do more, because it is such a shameful part of a lot of countries’ histories, and now, we’re committing atrocities on human rights that in our future, I feel sure we will look back on with equal shame.

In terms of visiting, hardly anyone here speaks English, and neither Cayley nor I speak Hungarian, so that’s interesting. We are able to get by, but certainly we can’t really go places “real” residents go to. Which makes the experience a little different. But I’ve also gotten to sit in on some of the lectures at her university and we’ve discussed a lot of politics/empowerment stuff, which has been super interesting (since that’s like 90% of what she’s been thinking about over the past 2 years). The weather here has been pretty incredible–perfect spring warmth, which is totally welcome.

Tomorrow, I travel again to Munich. Cannot WAIT to see my 3 friends, none of whom I’ve seen in the past 4 years. That’ll be awesome :-).

Magical, Mystical Graz

Apparently, I’ve only been posting photos of food, so everyone thinks all I’m doing is eating. Which isn’t terribly far from the truth…

The whole Viennese gang drove to a Buschenschank in Styria, where they can only sell things that they make on site. Nikki’s mom, step dad and brother met up with us, and we had a feast of amazing food (highlights included meat, cheese, radish, bread, pâté, salad, massive black beans, and a dessert of fried dough with cinnamon & sugar and whipped cream with raspberry sauce).

Then we went and hung out at Nikki’s parents’ place and just chatted and chilled out. We then went and dropped our stuff off at the place Cayley found us to crash for the night. We took a little tour around Graz and I absolutely fell in love with the funky window shops, cobble stone streets and futuristic design of the city. I really rarely feel so madly in love with a new place. It’s very artsy and lively, with a large student population. Pretty awesome.

This morning we returned to Nikki’s parents’ place and had a really awesome breakfast (again, meat, cheese, bread and fruits), and Cayley & I did some silly yoga photography in the garden. And now we’re on our way back to Vienna, then bussing back to Budapest. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the awesome people I get to hang out with, and looking forward to hanging out in Budapest!

I Needed This

Sorry it’s been a bit of a break since I’ve written. Been having too much in-the-moment fun!!

I really do need trips like this. To remind myself that I don’t need much at all to be happy. That stuff is really not very important, or at least only a very little bit of it is. I feel so alive and human. It is so refreshing and beautiful to realize I have some incredibly generous friends who are willing to open up their homes to me, and share a few days of life. It’s a reminder of the amazing things in life. Awesome.

I’m currently in the car with my friend Cayley and her friend Nikki & HER friend, going to Graz, Nikki’s home town. Since I last left you, I celebrated Vappu (Labor Day) in the park in Helsinki with Nicole & her friends, which meant drinking champagne and eating lots of food, including doughnuts and potato salad. Then I headed to Budapest to meet up with Cayley and we got pizza and discussed world issues with radler (best drink ever!! Beer with lemonade/sprite/grapefruit juice, etc). Then we got on a bus and came to Vienna, where we wandered around and stayed with a friend of hers last night. And now we’re headed to Graz because that’s where Nikki’s from, and going to a vineyard that Cayley says is beautiful and definitely worth seeing.

And that’s about it! I’m enjoying the warmth and beauty here, and Budapest was interesting and cheap! At least compared to Finland and Sweden. Even Vienna was relatively inexpensive.

Vineyards of Austria, here I come!

The Lovely Stockholm Adventure

Sweden is awesome. Once again, I’m amazed by the beauty of the place and the pleasant simplicity. I have been particularly struck by the awesome designs. The sofa bed at Hans & Anna’s place is SO COOL! It is a normal looking sofa, and then just does this magical seeming transformation. So sweet.

So yesterday, we did do breakfast, then got some key ingredients for a 5-hour chili, and then Anna went for her 26km run (she’s training for a marathon).

Hans & I got to spend some time exploring Stockholm and discussed US politics (what else??!) and basically how crazy the US political game is, and how insane it is that certain things are issues in the US, when in Sweden, they are decided. We stopped for some fika (snack), so I got to have one of these:


The old town part of Stockholm is so pretty, but seems very touristy. Not that I’m not a tourist…but still. Then we met back up with Anna after her run and made some ahmazing chili. I cooked, you guys!!
5 hour chili in Stockholm

Quite amazing. And the recipe requires that you drink while cooking, so we were quite tipsy once we’d finished, which meant Hans stayed behind and Anna & I went out to a Stockholm bar so I could see Stockholm night life. It was pretty typical…nothing very remarkable, but nice.

Today, we got up, I made some awesome pancakes:

Berry Pancakes

After breakfast, I learned the Swedish song for birthdays, and we called Ali since it’s her birthday to wake her up to some Swedish singing. We took a wonderful nap, and then we went for a 6 mile run/walk (we ran the first almost 2 miles, then walked around the palace, government buildings, etc, then ran a bit more, maybe 1.5 miles). Some photos:

Swedish palace guards
a horse!
Lover's Locks in Stockholm

Now I am so exhausted. But in a good runned out sort of a way. Tonight we’re planning on staying in and getting a movie, then tomorrow, I head to Helsinki!

Made it to Sweden!

So I arrived in Stockholm exactly 19 hours after leaving my apartment, and the lovely Hans and Anna met me at the bus station (cab–>plane–>bus terminal transfer–>plane–>bus to Stockholm City Center). That was a looooong trip.

When we got in, we collected some alcohol from Hans’ work (because, duh!), and then made our way to their apartment to drop off my stuff (got to ride the Stockholm subway, which is quite nice!). I got a refreshing and much-needed shower, some champagne, and then we headed to dinner at a place the translates, roughly, to the meat bar. It was amazing. After an appetizer of a meat plate (meats, baby pickled onions, bread, yuuuuummmms), I got a pulled beef sandwich. Oh my gee so delicious. And chocolate cake to top it off. The place reminded me so much of Williamsburg…except with Swedes. Apparently Wburg is popular or something….but pretty crazy to find that in Stockholm. Even if I’m not terribly surprised.

Today, we’re headed to breakfast, then to maybe a little walk around Stockholm and a run!! One of my goals on this trip is to run at each place I visit. So starting out strong! Tomorrow we’ll be doing either a boat or a bus tour and get to see a bit more. I feel pretty remarkably not tired (I’m always tired in the morning, but apart from that…), so hopefully I got this jet lag thing right this time. Hans and Anna’s sofa bed is super comfy and really creative!! Leave it to the Swedes…

Gotta run for food. Chat soon!

The First Failure of EuroTrip 2013

I managed to have my first fail already, and I’m still on the ground.

A couple days ago, I noticed my computer wasn’t charging. So I made the effort to call Apple, go to a Genius Bar appointment (which was just inconvenient because I was too busy), and get a new chord. So of course I left it at home, and brought only my computer!

Hopefully, this will be less of a problem than I think. I know several of my friends have macs, though I don’t know what kind. And maybe I should just get a second chord??

Anyway. On the plane, ready to go, and I’ll let you know when I land!

The Upcoming Wild Ride

About to leave for Europe. Just want to do a quick hello. Here’s the plan:

Stockholm 4/26/13
Helsinki 4/29/13
Budapest 5/2/13
Munich 5/9/13
Amsterdam 5/12/13
London 5/14/13
Boston 5/17/13
New York 5/22/13

Cannot wait to see all my lovely friends, and get some time away from normal life (though I already feel like that’s happened a bit, thanks to new job).

But look for more frequent posts here! I’ll be aiming to update daily or every other day.

EuroTrip Prep

I am overjoyed to be going to Europe in only a few short weeks, though I really really cannot believe it’s almost here. I’ve been planning my 3 week trip to Europe for a while now, and am finally putting finishing touches on the plan. I’m not sure how much more adventure I need after Dominican Republic in January and March, but I’ll be getting more, so I guess I’d better be prepared! I’ll be sure to keep you updated–I’m sure tales will be epic!!