Dr. Seuss may have said, “Oh, the places you will go!”, but he never mentioned the people you’d meet along the way.
Today is my one-month anniversary with full-time travel, and specifically with Europe. It’s been a whirlwind month and I’m still trying to catch my breath (and catch up on posts, because I have some stories to tell!), but in the meantime, I’ve been sharing snippets on my personal Facebook page about the people I’ve encountered on my travels, and people seem so interested in hearing more about these characters.
I say characters because honestly, some of this stuff you just couldn’t make up. I never dreamed that staying in hostels every now and again, and generally just traveling solo, would open up my world to a whole host of people who’ve provided such amazing entertainment, thought-provoking conversations, and a million smiles (and some cringe-worthy moments, too).
I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with all of you.
Umbrellas shielding us from the pellets of rain, our group of eight, including the mayor of the town we visited earlier in the day, his wife, our historical guide, and five bloggers, made our way on slippery cobblestones across the tiny town center and through a short brick tunnel and down some stairs.
“A la destra,” the mayor directed, ushering us all to the right through an open gate into someone’s yard. The cobblestone walkway was decorated on either side with terra cotta planters overflowing with overgrown plants of every size, shape, and variety. I wondered what we were doing here, not knowing the magic that was in store for me as I closed my umbrella and placed it by the doorway before entering.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding which state is the originator of the whoopie pie, but when you read the following story, I think you’ll totally agree that its origin is in Pennsylvania.
I have a new love, and her name is Pittsburgh. She is bright-eyed, well-kempt, artistic, and friendly. Granted, my sister says that she was just putting on a good show for me for the four days I knew her, but I am still smitten.
For the longest time, Philadelphia has been my number one Pennsylvanian love (to be fair though, this was my first visit to Pittsburgh). I still adore Philadelphia, but Pittsburgh just has that something extra special–that spark that Philadelphia no longer has for me. Add to that the fact that it’s smaller, cleaner, safer, and generally just prettier, and I am sold.
“How we doing, Austin? You like our city, or are you bored and ready to get back to Austin and your garage bands and such?”
That quote pretty much sums up the entirety of my trip to New York City. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, which doesn’t provide enough time to see much of anything in a city the size of New York, yet somehow I managed to see a ton.
So, what exactly is a kolache? Technically, it’s a type of pastry with a fruity filling. But in Texas, we also like to fill them with sausages, cheese, jalapeños, and more.
Originally from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, kolaches are a delicious treat that it seems most people (at least in Texas) have for breakfast.
There are some moments while traveling when I find that I’m almost embarrassed to be an American. I am grateful for the many things that my birthright has given me, don’t get me wrong–I have a passport that allows me to go most anywhere in the world without hassle, and I was lucky enough to be born in a country where I’ve been afforded great opportunity for success both as a person, and as a woman. No–it’s not those things I’m embarrassed about. It’s the feeding into stereotypes; our politics; and the events that take place in my country (and ultimately the reaction to those events) that I find so embarrassing, and oftentimes, so hard to defend.
It’s always been my belief that when you travel abroad, you should behave as an ambassador for your country, but when you don’t agree with most of what’s going on in your nation, it can be very difficult.
Despite the fact that Philadelphia is, in fact, two hours east of where I grew up in Pennsylvania, it’s always felt like home to me. And it’s where I often tell people that I’m from (because honestly, it’s easier than “do you know where Harrisburg is? Yeah, I’m from 45 minutes south of there.”).
I always look forward to going back for a visit, seeing my friends, being in familiar territory, and eating all the delicious foods. When my friend and I were planning the route for the road trip from Austin back to Pennsylvania, she was eager to see all of these Northeastern cities she’d never visited. And unfortunately, due to a time constraint, we knew we’d only have time to see Philadelphia for a short while before making our way to New York City.
I’m really excited to let all of you in on what I’ll be up to for the next few weeks!
After a short, but beautiful, two weeks in Scotland exploring Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the highlands, I’m off to a few new destinations!
Up first: Italy!
My first stop in Italy will be Genoa, where I’ll be meeting up with friend and fellow BlogHouse Toronto graduate, Cindy of PointsandTravel! We’re fortunate enough to be staying in the gorgeous suite with city views at the BW City Hotel.
What this post really should be titled is “getting a great thigh workout in Edinburgh.” But, I digress.
I haven’t been on this journey for all that long, but to stay it’s been hard is an understatement. I’ve never traveled alone extensively and so planning a several-month solo trip was ambitious, to put it lightly.
The first day I arrived, I was so exhausted that I literally just went to my hotel in Glasgow and crashed. I didn’t eat anything at all that day, didn’t walk anywhere, didn’t do anything. I crawled into bed, turned on some crappy TV, and zonked out. I woke up a few times and felt a bit panicky, all alone in a foreign city in a foreign country, wondering if I could do this day in and day out for months. (To be honest, I still can’t answer that.)