31 July 2012

I Promise.

It hit me, really hit me, when I was sitting along the Seine. I had had a perfectly pleasant day which included going to see the new Batman film (co-starring my future husband, JGL), french pastries and pizza (the best foods ever), and a stroll through my favorite area (Montmartre) of my favorite city (Paris). So, there I was, sitting next to the Seine with my two traveling companions and a bottle of wine in view of the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the night sky. That, of all times, is when it hit. The realization that I was exhausted and all I wanted was to hop on a plane back to the States, curl up in my own bed, have a good long cry and sleep. Sleep for a very long time.

Traveling can be exciting. It can be epic. It can be eye-opening and life-changing. But what they don't always tell you is that traveling can be exhausting. Really exhausting.

Every fews days packing up and moving to a new city. New people, new foods, new languages. Every few days searching for a new hitchhiking spot, a new way to get out of the city we just had researched getting to a few days before. Sticking out your thumb, knowing that you could be doing that for the next 30 seconds or the next 3 hours. The same conversations with each lift, the same worries (will I get dropped off in the right place? Will I be able to communicate with them even just the essentials?): the same routine but always different.

After doing that for ten weeks straight, I suppose it's no wonder exhaustion might set it. But no matter how reasonable it is, it's still not enjoyable. And not only because of how it makes me feel but because of how it makes me act. I'm grumpy and short with my co-travelers. I'm less warm, engaging and appreciative with CS-hosts and hitchhiking lifts. I laugh less and sigh more.

The truth is, sometimes I feel like I've entered some sort of survival mode. I'm preoccupied with figuring out how to get to the next place (or if we will get to the next place), what I'll eat that day (will it be something healthy, filling, within my budget, and palatable? Sometimes all and sometimes none of those things), where I'll sleep that night or in the coming nights if we don't have a CS host, and if we do, worrying over if we'll click and if conversation will flow naturally or if it'll just exhaust me. And, with this, I find myself just treading water, keeping my head above the waves.

Goodness, I sound awful, I know. So, don't get me wrong, I beg you. It's not that I haven't seen or done wonderful things, met amazing people, had experiences that I'll never forget. But when you enter this mode of survival, all you can focus on is what it takes to survive. Even as I write this, I'm wondering how I'm going to make it to my next destination which I spent 6+ hours yesterday trying to get to in the finicky Dutch weather and ended up barely traveling an hour and a half. On my own, at that, since I split up with my fellow travelers to spend an extra day with a close friend in Utrecht.

But here it is, while I've been trying to survive, I've forgotten to live. I'm so focused on basic existence I've forgotten how full of joy life can be if we let it. I've stopped feeling humbled and overwhelmingly thankful when someone stops at the side of the road to offer me a ride. I've stopped appreciating how amazing something like couchsurfing can be--the opportunity to spend significant time with, get to know, and learn from such a broad spectrum of people full of an endless range of ideas, experiences, and beliefs. I've stopped being in awe of the cities I'm seeing: the architecture, the culture, the history. I've let these experiences, which should be treasured, become commonplace and ordinary because of repetition and worrisome thoughts. In keeping my head above water I've forgotten how much I've always loved to swim.

Does this mean that I'll wake up tomorrow and be SO EXCITED about trying to make it to my next destination? That I will rejoice when I have to repeat the same conversations again and again? That I will begin to love being uncertain about where I might sleep that night? No. No, probably not. But I do want to sigh a little less and laugh a little more. I want to skip with joy when someone pulls over for me at the side of the road like I did the first time I hitchhiked. I want to awe when I see a beautiful building hundreds of years older than anything I'd see back home. I want to laugh at the unexpected instead of worrying about it, because sometimes unplanned situations can be just as hilarious as they are worrisome. Most of all, I want to appreciate and revel in the fact that I even have the chance to do what I'm doing when most people only spend their lives dreaming about it. I want to remember and rejoice in how blessed I am to swim, even in turbulent waters, when some people never even get to see the ocean.

28 July 2012

Week Five


Germany and Switzerland

The list of things that I've come to genuinely appreciate while hitchhiking through Europe is fairly predictable, such as access to free and functioning toilets, the guarantee of a warm and dry place to sleep, a good cup of coffee (ironically harder to find in Europe than you might think), etc. One thing you might not expect to make this list, however, but one thing that is most certainly on there, is my tutu.  

Let's face it, a tutu is definitely a non-essential when backpacking through Europe. Which is exactly why it has become such an essential for me. It's a completely frivolous item at a point when frivolous items are rare.  Every time I wear it, I feel delightfully fancy even if I haven't showered since who knows when and have been eating mostly apples and bread. But really, when something is made of that much tulle, how could it not be wonderful? Hm, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising that it makes my list.

24 July 2012

Week Four

Austria and Germany


The black skirt/dress (skiress?) is definitely my favorite clothing item that I brought with me. Mostly, this is because I can wear it a plethora of ways: in the first photo, it's a dress; in the second photo, it's a shirt (with pockets, at that!), and in the last photo, it's a skirt. On top of it's wonderful versatility, it's also super comfortable (and therefore has become my staple hitchhiking outfit) and it doesn't wrinkle. I fear that I make my other clothing feel inadequate with the amount I wear this skirt. But maybe if they got their act together, I'd wear them a little more too.

14 July 2012

Week Three

Czech Republic and Austria


I hope you all are noticing the awesome tan lines my sandals are giving me. And by awesome I mean slightly unfortunate but mostly hilarious.  

Being that I just drew your attention to my feet, you probably also noticed my footwear-less ensemble in the last photo. After spending the morning climbing a mountain in Austria, all I wanted in that moment was to eat breakfast for dinner and drink cocktails the size of my head all while wearing a comfortable, footwearless outfit. Really, was that so much to ask for? No, no, it wasn't. Which is exactly why that's what I spent my evening doing.

12 July 2012

Apple Chai Bread

Gotta be honest, I wasn't planning on posting any recipes while traveling. But I found myself at my friends' house in Germany that just so happens to be stocked with many of the things that are necessary, and the very things I've been lacking, to bake (sugar, vanilla, bread pans, an oven? Kinda difficult to bake without those things. I mean, I'm good, but I'm not that good). In spite of my previous intentions to be recipe post-less this summer, all the proper baking products, and chai tea and apples to use up, I couldn't not create this recipe. And I couldn't not share it with you (I'm too kind, I know).

The paths have been crossed

Apple Chai Bread
Makes one loaf of bread
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium apple
2 chai tea bags
1 Tbsp cinnamon sugar

The crumbs have gone away and the way is lost

Steep your two chai tea bags in 1/2 cup of water.

Melancholy phantoms eye our skin

Core and chop the apple coarsely. I prefer not to peel them, but if you feel otherwise feel free to do as you wish. I'm not the boss of you and your apples (though, sometimes I probably like to think I am). You should end up with a heaping cup of apples.

Poison apples falling with the wind

Combine the apples, oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. I read in a different recipe for apple bread that this helps release the juice from the apples creating a moister (more moist?) bread. My bread did turn out deliciously moist, but there's no telling if it's because of this step or not. You could be daring and try to do it otherwise but if your bread turns out dry then don't say you weren't warned.

Hear the sigh of the trees: those who enter here never leave

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add in your apple mixture and chai tea.

And the rangers stream out of their cabins

Transfer batter to a 8x4 loaf pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until you insert a knife and it comes out clean.

They are the hunters we are the rabbits

Maybe we don't want to be found

Guten Appetit!

08 July 2012

Week Two


Czech Republic

Ok, ok, I confess! Iworeapairofmyfriend'sshortswhichclearlyarenotincludedinmy20items.

Whew, glad I have that off my chest. Now, I know you might be thinking, "it's week two and she's already cheated at her own game! How can I ever learn to trust her again?" My apologies might seem weak, but I do have a legitimate explanation that I hope will suffice. You see, it just so happened that on that day every other article of clothing severely needed to be washed. This is also why I wore the same shirt (which is technically a skirt) 3 days in a row in Czech Republic; it was the only things that wasn't wrinkled/stretched/dirtied beyond wearability.

Do I have your forgiveness? I promise to try better next time. Cross my heart.

06 July 2012

Vegan Taco "Meat"


This vegan taco meat/spicy meat sauce was a serendipitous experimentation that either my roommate or I make just about every week. This tastes great on tacos, nachos, spaghetti, rice...pretty much anything you might want to top with spicy meat sauce. My roommate adds beans to make a chili-esque concoction. 


1 package of soy crumbles
1 jar of salsa
1/2 jar of pasta sauce
1 bottle of beer
1 package of taco seasoning
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder to taste


After cooking the soy crumbles, you will want to add the salsa, pasta sauce, and about half a bottle of whatever kind of beer you have laying around. Let simmer while chopping the green pepper and onion. 


Add the chopped onion and green pepper as well as the taco mix. If the mixture is getting too thick add more beer. Let simmer for a little while -- I'd say about 20 minutes. Mix often and add spices if you feel it necessary.


Voila! Delicious meal accomplished. To fully appreciate this meal I would suggest pairing nachos with Rum Runners, the season finale of LOST, and 2 beautiful roomies.