The Simplicity of Home

I love where I live. That’s no secret. The beach is where I spend a lot of my time, waiting for the sun to set. I spend hours and hours sitting on the seashore. Sometimes reading. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing. I figured while I traveled I would get my fix of beaches elsewhere. The coasts of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece were all beautiful in their own ways. I enjoyed being there and appreciated their beauties. But it isn’t the same.

The beauty of being home is knowing where to go to escape the crowds. But here I am a tourist. In some places my time has been limited. I haven’t been able to truly appreciate my solitude along the shore. Nowhere has managed to give me the same feeling I get when I am back home, sitting on my blanket, watching the waves crash, with no one around me as day turns to night. Sun setting, moon rising.

I miss and love the powder, white sand. The small crabs that pop out of their holes, watching me intently. The birds that fly by and stare at the sea the same way I do. Living in Florida for the last three years has changed me. I never imagined such a positive impact. To have such a relationship with nature. I love the shore more than anything. And no matter where I am, or how beautiful it is, nowhere gives me the same feeling I get when I am back home. Because that is where I became who I am. That’s what I miss the most. The calm feeling, the simplicity of home. 

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Old Habits Die Hard // Expectations Ruin Reality 

I went from a tired mind of school and work and school and work to hostels, bars, and sight seeing. Something different everyday but somehow almost the same. I was definitely more social when I first started my trip as opposed to now. I would go on pub crawl after pub crawl. I would try to involve myself as often as I could, as if I weren’t comfortable being alone, but I always was. With a slower pace, I am more alone, and I enjoy it. I don’t feel obligated to do anything or see anything or socialize, because let’s be real, I’m just not the most social person in the world most of the time. Even back home, I hang out with maybe 3 people outside of work and school. I’ll go out every so often but I don’t party until 3 or 4am. I relate closer to a grandma than I do a person my own age. When I first started traveling, I was excited and social, but no matter what, old habits die hard, and I am forever an introvert living in a very social world. I don’t socialize out of obligation at this point on my trip, and I don’t do anything because I feel like I “have to” or would be missing out if I didn’t. A lot of people come to these big cities to party. I came to enjoy myself in food and culture, without necessarily getting hammered every night of the week.
And I’m enjoying myself. I might even be enjoying myself more now than I did when I started my trip. I’ve gotten into a nice groove all by myself. I enjoy planning my days according to myself, my budget, and my energy. I’m comfortable going into a bar by myself and sitting there with a beer and perhaps a journal to jot down some thoughts in. Limited amounts of social energy is a real thing and I find it more than necessary to recharge frequently. If I don’t, I get physically and emotionally tired. Reserved and inattentive. And I’m comfortable doing everything alone. Even sight seeing. I don’t need someone with me and if I want to socialize, then I will. 

Last night I went to a cool, underground bar in Prague. I had asked my walking tour guide for a good place to drink a beer that isn’t loaded with tourists and he recommended it. He said it wasn’t necessarily full of tourists, but not necessarily locals either – a lot of people from all over the place who moved to Prague and work there, or travelers. So I went. When you walk in, there’s a black metal gate door restricting you from walking right downstairs. You get a “chip” bracelet that you put money on and then you order beer or any other drink based off of how much money is on your chip, and if you run out, you just run upstairs and reload it. 
I put 100CZK on my chip, figuring I wouldn’t be there for more than 2 beers (most beers are 35-50CZK) and the guy buzzed me through the gate. I walked through and was met with darkness and stairs. “Downstairs?” I stupidly asked, because there were literally only one set of stairs. He joked and said “no, upstairs” and I made my way down. At the bottom of the first set of stairs was a big Irish wolfhound, laying there, uninterested in me passing by. At the bottom of the second set of stairs were a few old swings, to the right a brightly lit room with foosball tables, and to the left was darkness with some LED lights. I walked down the hall and found a “tea” bar and looked confused. An old man was sitting next to it and I said, “beer?” And he smiled and pointed down the hall. I got my beer and found a seat in the main area; it was early so it was pretty empty. There were two people sitting on stage, one playing guitar, and then a few other people just sitting and chatting. I sat there, sipping my beer, writing. As I finished my first beer and went up for my second, more people were slowly starting to pour in. One of the girls close to me was definitely an American, so when the other two people she was sitting with left, I asked her where she was from. 
We ended up talking for a while, and then more people came over to talk to us, and I ended up reloading my chip for more beer. On the other side of the bar was live music and I didn’t even notice it until the few people I was with all decided to wander around. Oddly enough I ended up meeting more Americans than anything else, but it still wasn’t that touristy. The Czechs talked to each other, and the English speakers talked to each other. Before I knew it, it was midnight, and I think I ended up walking home around 1. The bar was very close to my hostel, so before I headed inside, I grabbed some chips and took a seat outside. A homeless man decided to lay down right next to me before security took him away. 
For a city that I didn’t plan on going out in, on a night that I didn’t plan on staying out, and for desiring my alone time, I had the best time. I think the best things happen when you don’t want them to, or expect them to. 
Everything happens when you least expect it. Expectations always ruin living. 

The Simple Moments 

I have always lived a simple life. And the moments I enjoy the most while traveling are the most simple, living the way the locals live. Sipping on a flat white in Dublin, while eating a mile high lemon meringue tart and writing. Walking in the rain in Killarney National Park and finding myself in the greenest of woods. Eating a monstrous fish n chips in Dingle with a girl I had just met on the bus, overwhelmed at the portion of food in front of me. Sitting in a square full of students, cheap sangria in hand, feeling no different than the people I was surrounded by. Scarfing down a warm pastei de bellum after tearing packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon with my teeth in the middle of the street. Sitting in a bar where the students go in Sevilla, eating cheap appetizers of ham, cheese, and calamari, drinking endless supplies of cold, cheap buckets of beer. Sitting in the street at 4am drunk, talking and laughing with fellow hostel mates. Sipping wine and writing while waiting for my truffle risotto in Rome. Being determined to finish every ounce of cheese on my first cheese plate of France, taking my time while sitting next to the port in Marseille. Standing at the top of Notre Dame after a miserable walk up hill in Marseille to witness a magnificent view, wind blowing, of the entire city and sea. Falling asleep on an outdoor sofa on a vineyard in Brignoles, listening to nothing but the chirping of birds and cicadas under the shade of a tree. Sitting next to the dolphins and watching them swim by in the aquarium in Genoa. Sipping wine and watching the sun melt into the mountains in Kos. Wandering the isles of Naschmarkt in Vienna, tasting the foods that the vendors urge me to try, spending 8euro on nuts without a single regret because they were that damn good. Sitting in the streets of Brno with the cheapest craft beer I’ve ever came into contact with, jumping over language barriers with locals. Sipping even cheaper beer in a bar no tourist would have ever found on a random side street. Nothing but a small sign on the door to even let you know there was a bar there. And now, sitting in a local cafe with Barbora, me writing, her painting, sipping coffee and eating bread with different spreads.

These are the moments I will remember most. The most simple. The ones that require no thought. My entire life is nothing but an accumulation of simple moments of food, drink, nature, and laughter. And the simple moments will always be what I remember most because they are what I miss the most at home. Drinking shock top and eating nachos and wings where I work. Playing board games at my sister’s with my niece and nephew, making inappropriate jokes and watching them get emotional from winning or losing. Sitting for hours and hours on the beach while the sun sets, reading and smoking, and making my mom mad from all of the sand I drag back into the house. Simplicity is all I need in this life. And the simple moments are what I always remember. 

Experiencing True Luxury While Traveling

Luxury is not 5-star hotels and all inclusive resorts. Luxury is taking your time. Luxury is not rushing, or having to cram an entire city into a day. There’s no way to see it all, or to appreciate what you’re seeing when you’re always in a rush. Instead, all you think about is where you have to go, and what you have to see next, rather than just being in the moment of where you are. I think my small bouts of home sickness are less of a desire to be home and more of a desire to simply stay put. Real luxury and relaxation is being able to unpack my things for a few nights and not be on the move again in just a night or two. When you’re always on the move, hopping from city to city at such a fast pace, you almost miss out on more just because it’s nearly impossible to keep your energy up long enough to see all that there is to see. And without that energy, it becomes harder to appreciate when every move you make is trying to make sure you’re not missing out on anything. 
I have learned to take my time. I am finally at a slower pace, with only 26 days left in my trip, and only 7 cities left. I am on my fourth day here in Vienna, while the first was spent mainly settling in and napping. I have become familiar with the city. I have spent my time browsing Naschmarkt each day, walking back and forth from the city centre, making meals at my hostel, and simply just taking my time.
Luxury is not setting an alarm nor feeling obligated to be a tourist for 12 hours of the day. Luxury is not exhausting yourself to feel fulfilled. Luxury is sitting in a booth of red velvet in the oldest cafe in Vienna, drinking coffee, eating a plum strudel, and writing. As long as you buy at least a drink in any coffee shop in Vienna, you can sit and stay for as long as you want. This cafe, Cafe Frauenhuber, is the oldest in Vienna. Mozart and Beethoven both once performed here. I feel as though I am a guest in someone’s home, as there is no music playing, and very few people for what you would think would be a very touristic location. 
Luxury is not five star hotels. Luxury is not even a resort with luxury in the name. Luxury is taking your time. This is what I have learned. I have no regrets regarding the way that I planned my trip. I have seen and enjoyed 11 countries and 31 cities in the two months that have flown by. I had to do what I did in order to see what I wanted to see in the amount of time I had. Now I know where I will want to come back to. I still have so much to see but I will be moving at a slower pace. I get a few nights in Brno, Czech, before I move onto Prague for 4 nights, and then I am in Denmark for over a week. There is no summer long enough that would ever allow me to explore all that I want to explore, but so much of the beauty of travel is staying in a place long enough to really know where you are. I know I will be back… but not nearly soon enough. 

Love, Compassion, Contentment 

July 4 Poem
I came for the sea and the sunsets
And here I found peace and 
Paradise 
An appreciation for all that I have in this life 
And this world 
I am thankful for my mind 
And how its set is perfectly changing 
Like the sun’s 

July 6 
I have never lived in the face of luxury on my way terms 
Or at my own cost
It’s always been a gift 
Or an invite
There is nothing more powerful than doing things for yourself
By yourself 

July 6

Nine to five
Nine to five
Move beyond the nine to five
The worker’s life 
When was the last time you did something for yourself
By yourself
Can you even be alone?
Are you in control?
What is it all for… if not for yourself?

July 6 
Never let a man define your worth
Never let a man define your happiness
Be your own person and love your own life 
Create it to suit your own peace
Love exists 
The most amount of love you should have for anyone 
Is yourself
From there, compassion will flow like a flooded river
Love, compassion, contentment 

July 6
Get out of your head
Pay attention 

An Overly Emotional Woman Leaving Greece

The dangers of being a woman. I for one, am controlled by my hormones every month – I’m not currently on birth control, meaning nothing is really regulated, and my PMS and emotions are in full force sometimes. It’s a powerful thing, to be controlled by a cycle… the things that wouldn’t typically bother me push me to limits I’m not comfortable with. The things that I can easily brush off and remind myself not to worry about are things that I start to worry about. But only for a few days until the storm passes. I have to remind myself it’s just that time. But it isn’t easy. Feeling the need to cry all the time. I know I’m stronger than that. I know I’m stronger than how my mind makes me believe. Especially when you’re crying for no reason at all, it’s hard to make it stop when you don’t even know how to comfort yourself. 
Anyway. Now that that’s off my mind…. 
Greece was heaven. The sunsets were the most astounding, stunning sunsets I’ve come to witness. So clear. Not blinding. The full sun in all of its glory melting into the mountains. Blink and you might miss it. She disappears before you can catch her. We are the same in that sense. 
Taking the time out of the day to watch the sunset is the most romantic way to interact with the Earth. It is so stunning it hurts and it’s the one thing I miss most about being back home besides the beach. If I’m being honest, no where I have been has beaches even remotely comparable to back home. Between the sea, the sand, and the sun at home… I am spoiled by nature and I am even more in love with back home than I was before I left. And seriously, I spent almost every free evening at the beach watching the sunset. But Greece won in that sense. The beach was a little too rocky for my liking, but that’s just because I’m accustomed to soft white powder from home. 
I stayed at two resorts for two nights each. The first was of lesser “quality” says online and now says me. I’m not picky, but the AC in my room did not work, making it difficult to sleep because opening the doors resulted in being eaten alive by mosquitos. The staff at Aeolos, my first resort, was spectacular. They were all so kind and helpful to me with my little blue all-inclusive bracelet. I was taken to my bungalow by a woman who barely spoke English and waiting for me was a bottle of wine and fruit in a gift basket, along with a beautiful view of the sea from my door. Many of the employees were surprised at the fact that I was completely alone. The first night at dinner, no one said anything, because it was their first sight of me being alone. The next day, a man at lunch asked if I were alone. I said I was, and he asked where I came from. “Ah, the US! So far from home. Why are you here?” I explained I have been traveling and that this was a short, cheap flight from Bologna. 
There was always a good amount of food and a good amount of beach chairs, even though it was too windy to really sit outside and enjoy the beach my full day there. You could see another Greek island and Turkey right from where I was. I’m upset that I didn’t make it out to Turkey, but I spent a long afternoon in Kos Town instead. I walked around, I bought a dress, and I took my time seeing all that I could see. I have a problem with my impatience and rushing so I’m really trying to learn how to take things slowly. 
They had little events going on for kids and water aerobics, tennis, and ping pong for adults. At night, they had other small events happenings that I didn’t really participate in, but I definitely took advantage of the endless supply of wine, beer, and local spirits. By the time the night was over, I was sufficiently drunk and went straight to bed.
 I unfortunately barely slept because of the lack of air conditioning. It was too hot, so I woke up before the sun and relaxed in the main part of the hotel while I waited for breakfast. I was checked out and ready to go before 11am and took a bus into town, and then caught a taxi from there and to my next resort. Suddenly, a hangover hit – and I honestly thought I was going to throw up in the cab. It was bad. I got to my hotel, checked in, and I was two hours early technically so my room was not ready but I was given my bracelet, and was told that I could relax by the pool, get drinks, or go to lunch. So I wandered around for a bit before heading upstairs to eat. The dining room was…. insane and had an outside eating area as well. There was a wall of bread. A wall. Of. Bread. And more food than you could ever fathom. The dessert section alone was almost as big as the entire buffet of my previous resort. 
I went back for check-in and was brought to my room with a welcome drink. The man who brought me had to walk me out of the building and into a separate part of the hotel for those prime sea views. I had a double bed all to myself, rather than two twins pushed together like in the last resort. And the air conditioning worked!!!!!! So I napped, took advantage of the gym, had dinner and then went up to the roof top bar. IT wasn’t apart of the all inclusive so I just got a beer and got a prime spot for the sunset. The sun set over the mountains and I watched it melt. Like I said. The sunsets here were pretty incomparable to anywhere else I’ve ever been. After sunset, I went back to my room for a little while. When I came back to the main hotel, there were traditional Greek dancers by the bar and I took a seat to watch and drink. I asked for the all inclusive menu and it had everything you would ever want in the world – the good liquors, the fancy mixed drinks, everything – I was in heaven. I ordered a pina colada and then started chatting with the bartender. I got a mojito, and he gave me another before I was even finished with my first. Then shots for me and the other all inclusives I was sitting near. And then he made me a rainbow drink that was even too sweeet for me to totally enjoy – and I was already pretty drunk. I went upstairs for the “late night snack” option which was basically just dinner leftovers, ate to soak up the alcohol, and went to bed. 
The next day I hung out by the pool, had a few drinks, ate more than I want to admit, and then I had a massage that I never wanted to end. I don’t know if it’s just Europe, but she touched me basically everywhere. She even rubbed my belly. And she couldn’t have been much older than me! 
After that, I went to dinner, went up to the roof to bar, had a glass of wine for another spectacular sunset before going to the bar for the evening. It was more of the same… lots of drinks, just no greek dancing. 
This morning I checked out at 1140 and was basically expecting the woman at reception to cut off my bracelet and say see ya later, peasant! But instead, she asked me what time my flight was, and I told her it wasn’t until 9 pm. I asked her if I was able to have lunch still while I waited, and she said, “Well you would have to -” and then I held up my wrist with my all inclusive bracelet and she said, “Oh, you are all inclusive. Go to the pool, go to the bar, eat some lunch, have dinner too, then we will get you a cab to the airport.” It made me feel a lot better knowing that I could relax all day and not have to worry too much about getting around. It sucks having to pay for so much transportation but the next month I intend to live easily and cheaply. 
The next month I am traveling at a slower pace and I am really looking forward to it. A few nights in Rome, then I fly out to Vienna – from Vienna, I am taking a bus to Brno, then Prague. From Prague, I fly to Denmark!!! To finally see one of my best friends who has been living and studying in Denmark/Sweden for years. I haven’t seen her since the end of 2013 so I am really looking forward to spending a relaxed week with her. We will travel to Amsterdam together by plane, then I will fly to Paris for five nights before flying to London. From London, I will go home. I can’t believe my trip is already 2/3 over. It has flown by so far. But I have to say.. I am really looking forward to going home. I didn’t think I would actually miss it as much as I do. I appreciate my life so much more than I ever have. I think for that reason alone, this trip is beyond worth it. 

Money On My Mind

I have always been a money conscious person. I will even admit that I am pretty cheap. When I am home, I don’t really spend on much. I first started working when I was 14 and have almost always saved everything I made and once I had a car, I didn’t really know what I was saving for until the reality of this trip came into play. But even as a kid, I was always conscious of money, or at least my parents’. 
I started out with a basic goal for 2 months in Europe. Once I actually started planning, that 2 months turned into 3 with almost the exact same budget. Since then, I’ve pumped an extra bit into my travel funds, plus a little extra because I decided to finally do something for myself. 
While I actually enjoy staying in hostels and changing location constantly, Greece was a place that I really wanted to spend time in to enjoy rather than budget. Growing up, family vacations were not filled with luxury and beach towns. Honestly, I remember them being miserably stressful and not exactly enjoyable because most of the time, it would be a family of 5 in a car for too many hours to be sane. 
So for the next four days, I don’t want my finances to matter. I want to forget my budget conscious attitude and give myself what I actually want with no regard for the cost. Obviously, I’m not going to buy a $500 meal or a Maserati while I’m enjoying myself, but realistically, I have enough money for this trip, and for once I just don’t want to worry about it. I know it’s not going to be easy. Being budget conscious is basically burned into my mind, but thankfully my stay is already paid for, so the pain of withdrawals from my bank account has already occurred. 
4 nights, 2 resorts, all inclusive, beach view accommodation with a room to myself. Hell, I might even go to the spa. This is what I’m here for. I am going to enjoy myself if it kills me. This is not a place to budget. When else am I going to get an opportunity like this?