Back to the Dominican Republic

Hey y’all. I’m headed back to the Dominican Republic (DR, as it is affectionately known), and I am super excited. Hoping for a chance to chill out and recharge a little, which would be awesome. I’m definitely in a place where I want to really process all the crazy changes that I’ve had in my life in the past 6 months, and also think about the future and how I want to proceed. Exciting, but I’m looking forward to having a chance to sort of pause and take a step back. No whirlwind, just chill. I may even bring a written journal…wouldn’t THAT be novel!

Anyway, I am certainly looking forward to taking some beautiful photos (hopefully) and sharing those, but otherwise, probably won’t be sharing too much on here. Mostly just conversing with folks in Spanish and flexing that muscle, and maaaaybe swimming with some dolphins?? One of my bigger goals this trip because I didn’t do that last time (dumb!).

Until next time!

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.

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!

Helsinki Holiday

I made it to Helsinki and was greeted at the airport by my friend, Nicole, who I know through improv classes in NYC. We chatted (me, grilling poor Nicole about Finland’s history, culture and politics), walked around central Helsinki, and ate some delicious pizza. I got to call my dad and wish him a happy birthday and sing the Swedish birthday song (yay!) to him, and then I sleeeept. And now I am going for a run to explore the islands here in Helsinki of Kulosaari and Mustikkamaa (yeah…I have pretty little idea how to pronounce those). Then I’ll be heading into the city to meet Nicole after work and go to the labor day festivities–tomorrow is Vappu, which is the Finnish/Swedish holiday to celebrate laborers. Apparently this is what we’re seeing:

So that should be fun. And then tomorrow, we picnic and celebrate. So I will be pretty immersed I think in Finnish culture/celebration, which will probably be overwhelming and fascinating.

I am struck, being here and thinking about past travels, by how many things are similar everywhere else except the US. There’s obvious things, like using different measurement systems (kilometers/kilograms instead of miles and pounds), but also less obvious things, like yogurt/milk combinations that I found also ubiquitous in Mexico (though I didn’t see that in DR; I didn’t even see much of dairy products particularly). Additionally, even credit cards here have PINs, which was the thorn in the side of a help desk lady yesterday at the counter of the bus I took to the airport in Stockholm. “Why doesn’t the US have PINs,” she exasperatedly asked. Uh, I don’t know, lady. Let me just go ask my banker friends who make those decisions….oh, not friends with them? Whoops. Forgot. Anyway, I’m off for run #2 in country #2, which should be about 5km (3.1 miles for all you Americans).

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 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!!