countin' the days

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Road Trippin (¡claro!)

Just finished up the first of many road trips to come, and my very first holidays abroad. And they were awesome.

After a few days in Barcelona, we jumped up to Lloret de Mar to stay with one of Joe´s friends from Davis who, along with her lovely family, showed us incredible hospitality and all the best of the Costa Brava. I also paid my second visit to the Teatro Museo Dalí, which was much better and way trippier without hordes of summer tourists around.

We picked up el coche in Barcelona on Christmas Eve, and headed straight for the hills. We followed a series of sketchy maps, and the Guía del Camping we picked up, and spent our Christmas Eve camping under the very starry sky. (this was also, evidently, the first time I realized how damn cold Spain gets in the winter!! ¿Donde esta mi calor español?)

Christmas Day we spent in San Sebastian, a cozy (and again, freezing) Basque town in the North. We might not have known it was Christmas, were it not for a massive sweet baby Jesus display overtaking a town park, complete with rock concert lights, very very odd holiday music, and locals singing and dancing along. Naturally, all the Spaniards were out drinking and celebrating after praising the Lord in church, until it was time for siesta and everyone disappeared. But, the biggest reminder that it is indeed Christmastime in Spain, are all the incredibly frightening burglar Santas that everyone hangs off of their balconies. These little gnomes have been freaking us out for the last 8 days.

We finished off the trip with a a drive through La Rioja, Spain´s wine country. Since you couldn´t do tastings at local wineries, instead we decided to drink some wine along the way, and then drink wine all night long in the awesome rooftop hostel room we scored. It was a great trip. Now we´re checking out Madrid, and onto the next adventure...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh España

Barcelona!!! I´m back in Spain for the first time in almost 3 years (gasp), and I feel right back at home. Everything here is wonderfully familiar and I find myself wondering why I ever left. Equally as fun as getting back into the swing of Spanish culture is remembering all the awesome little things I had totally forgotten about: old ladies calling each other "hombre," cafe con leche y pan con tomate, dreadlock mullets, shirts in English that make no sense, gelado, the after-siesta cruise around town, and so much more. The only bit of sadness is that I no longer have a place down south to call home... but maybe someday I will again. And, for now, I have a really sweet 3-bedroom apartment right here in the middle of Barcelona that I am calling home, and aside from being a complete icebox, it´s pretty fabuloso. Oh, Spain.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ready Set Go

I am almost out the door and my head is spinning faster than I can keep up with. I'll be on a plane to Spain in less than 2 days, I've crossed pretty much everything off The List, and I've finished up all my lingering commitments in New York. Nothing left to do now but completely freak out for the next 46 hours and race around like a madman in an erratic last-minute frenzy of celebration, elation, and panic. This is really happening, and it's happening, like, now.

I've been thinking a lot about Thailand lately and trying to picture myself there again, peacefully sitting on a beach contemplating the sunset and where on the map I'll be next. All my travel thus far has inspired me to take this trip, but it was really being in Thailand at the beginning of this year that made me realize THIS was going to be the next big thing I did. It won't be long now 'til I am back on a beach on another side of the globe throwing mental darts at the map and watching hour-long sunsets rage across the sky. It's all so surreal, fabulous, and unbelievable all at the same time...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Travel Advice to My Future Self

In all of my journeys, I keep various lists in the back of my journals... best/worsts, the soundtrack, books, favorite phrases... In preparing for this crazy journey, I've been trying to listen to my own advice. This is a mix of my travel advice to myself taken from my Europe and Thailand journals:

Lessons I've Learned:
- Bring a knife & a corkscrew.
- Clean clothes are overrated.
- Don't wait to take a photo you want; take it in the moment.
- Always try the typical regional cuisine, even if you think you don't have the money to.
- Do not plan more than a few days ahead; plans always change & they will.
- Take travel advice from friends & guidebooks with a large grain of salt; most places were much cooler than I'd heard.
- For the most part, avoid other americans.
- Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.
- Get lost on purpose.
- Pack the minimum & you've still got too much shit.
- Impulse buys make some of the best souvenirs.
- The world is constantly getting smaller.
- Everything always works out.
- When in doubt, trust your instincts. OR listen to a trusted Phish jam.
- Free stuff is usually the best stuff.
- Take the train whenever possible, or at the least avoid flying.

* Everything is possible.
* You'll always have you; and you fuckin rock.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Itinerary... So Far...

Here's what we've got:
December 18 2006 :: NY/JFK ---> Barcelona, Spain
January 16 2007 :: Lisbon, Portugal ---> Nairobi, Kenya
February 15 2007 :: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania ---> JoBurg, South Africa
March 29 2007 :: JoBurg ---> Bangkok, Thailand

Monday, October 30, 2006

"How Are You Gonna Pull This Off?"

As of right now, 12:01 am on 10/30/06, I've got exactly seven weeks until I board a plane headed for the next big -- monumentally big -- chapter of my life: an open-ended voyage composed of one-way flights in mostly eastwardly directions through 4 different continents, with no return flight scheduled or planned. Seven weeks until I leave it all behind to chase a dream I've had since the first time I left this continent: to travel around the world without a timeframe, without restriction, without much direction, and with the ultimate goal of settling myself into life in a new country.

So how am I gonna pull it off? I've been getting this question a lot. People really want to know how it can be possible for me to throw my life into a backpack and wander around the world for an indefinite length of time. The answer is simple, really: I just AM. I'm gonna bring all the money I have, and the least amount of stuff I can manage to survive with, and I'm just gonna go. Because it's my dream, and it can come true. Because it's the right time and maybe the only time. Because there's nothing better than traveling!!!