Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Updating the List

"We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment." - Hilaire Belloc

I had great intentions of posting my travel experiences as soon as I returned stateside but everything seemed to get in the way: job, life and sleep. So it'll be slow going but eventually I'll hit on everything I did in PARIS!

But first, let's update the list:
  1. Visit the world's only pub inside a tree (South Africa)
  2. Giolitti - one of the oldest, family owned gelaterias in Rome (Italy)
  3. 'Fly' through the rainforest (Costa Rica)
  4. Stay in the Ice Hotel (Norway)
  5. Stay on a working Dude Ranch (USA)
  6. Go on an African Safari (Kenya)
  7. Visit the Outback (Australia)
  8. Hike the Cinque Terre (Italy)
  9. Go dogsledding (Sweden)
  10. Ice skate in Rockefeller Center (USA)
  11. Walk the Great Wall (China)
  12. Eat Sushi (Japan)
  13. Deliver postcards from the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
  14. Ski the Swiss Alps (Switzerland)
  15. Christmas at the Biltmore (USA)
  16. Camp at the Darvaza Gas Crater (Turkmenistan)
  17. Visit the other Georgia (Georgia)
  18. Drink wine in Bordeaux (France)
  19. Dive off the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  20. Watch the Changing of the Guards (England)
  21. See the Running of the Bulls (Spain)
  22. Sail the Strait of Gilbraltar (Spain/Morocco)
  23. Ride a Camel (Egypt)
  24. Ride the Orient Express (Eastern Europe)
  25. Celebrate Oktoberfest (Germany)
  26. Celebrate Carnival (Brazil)
  27. See elephants paint (Thailand)
  28. Tour the sewers (France)
  29. Learn Spanish (Spain)
  30. Walk Abbey Road (England)
  31. Hike Brooks Range (USA)
  32. Celebrate Easter in St. Peter's (Italy)
  33. Ride the Mowcow to St. Petersburg wide gauge railroad (Russia)
  34. See the Gigantic Carved Heads of Easter Island (Polyunesia)
  35. Play blackjack in Monte Carlo (Monaco)
  36. Float down the Amazon (South America)
  37. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin (Ireland)
  38. Trek through Karakoram (Western Europe/Eastern Asia)
  39. Snowmobile (Finland)
  40. Sit on the lawn at Wimbledon (England)
  41. Walk the fabled Bund in Shanghai (China)
  42. Cooking Classes in Paris (France)
  43. Shop the market at Ougadougou (Burkina Faso)
  44. Watch the sun set over Machu Picchu (Peru)
  45. Take surfing lessons (Australia)
  46. Take the chunnel from London to Paris (England)
  47. East street food in Bangkok (Thailand)
  48. Ride the train down the Malaysian pennisula from Bangleole to Kuala Lumpur (Asia)
  49. Journey along the Silk Road (China)
  50. See the Acropolis of Athens in the moonlight (Greece)
  51. Tour the ruins of the "rose-red city" (Jordan)
  52. Ride the Chihuahua-Pacifico Railroad (Mexico)
  53. Swim with the dolphins (New Zealand)
  54. Spend Bastille Day in Paris (France)
  55. See Stonehenge (England)
  56. Attend a Venice Biennale Art Exhibit (Italy)
  57. Fish for wild trout (Scotland)
  58. Shop the yearly sale at Harrod's department sale (England)
  59. Sail into the harbor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  60. Stand at the Wailing Wall (Jerusalem)
  61. Visit Peace City in Hiroshima (Japan)
  62. Visit the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (Russia)
  63. See the Royal Jewels (England)
  64. Walk Milford Track (New Zealand)
  65. See the Sydney Opera House (Australia)
  66. Taste vintage port (Portugal)
  67. See Angel Falls (Venezuala)
  68. Snorkel Bora Bora (Polynesia)
  69. Walk the Hall of Mirrors (Paris)
  70. Climb the Harbor Bridge (Australia)
  71. Tour the Kremlin (Russia)
  72. See the Viking ruins & runes (Greenland)
  73. Watch the sunset from Capitoline Hill (Italy)
  74. Visit the Valley of the Kings (Egypt)
  75. Ride through the Panama Cannal (Panama)
  76. See the remains of the Berlin Wall (Germany)
  77. See the Rosetta Stone (England)
  78. Stan among the Tulips (Holland)
  79. See the fountains of Vill d'Este (Italy)
  80. Ride the double-decker buses around London (England)
  81. Hike the Grand Canyon (USA)
  82. Visit Lake Baikal (Russia)
  83. Visit the Turtle Sanctuary (Seychelle-Africa)
  84. See the David (Italy)
  85. Tour Jane Austen's country (England)
  86. See the Flamingos at the Lake Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)
  87. Float the Sepik River (Papua New Guinea)
  88. See the Hieroglyphic Stairway in Copan (Honduras)
  89. See foot on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (Vietnam)
  90. Drive on the Autobahn (Germany)
  91. See the Danube (Czech Republic)
  92. See the great Sphinx (Egypt)
  93. Visit the Blue Mosque (Turkey)
  94. See the Paelolithic art in the Caves of Altamira (Spain)
  95. Eat Limburger cheese in Limburg (Belgium)
  96. Stand on the grounds of the first Olympics (Greece)
  97. Tour the Baja (Mexico)
  98. Take a class at Oxrford (England)
  99. Stand at the beaches of Normandy (France)
  100. Drink a Manhattan in Manhattan (USA)
  101. Swim with the whale sharks on Isla Holbox (Mexico)
  102. Experience Vaughan Town (Spain)

*Completed items in Italics*

So I added 2 more items while simultaneously checking 2 off the list. I've got a feeling that's the way it'll go for awhile since there is so much I want to do in this world and I keep discovering more places to go, see, and experience. Such is life!

After being in Paris, submersed in the language and feeling so lost, I'm wanting to add a language immersion program so I'm researching those and I'll add that to the list eventually.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up our enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." - Samuel Ullman

My 31st birthday was spent in the Big Apple. I arrived mid-morning by plane, took the subway to Midtown to my friend's large office building and then spent the afternoon wondering around with my camera. My first moments in a large city now that I'm a country mouse again are overwhelming... my senses are on overload, there are so many sounds, sights, and actions coming at me from so many directions I'm overwhelmed with it all.
The endless possibilities, the freedoms of expression, the crazy combinations of skin/hair/eye colors with everyone looking different and the same all at once. Contrasted with my black and white small town full of familiar faces, the anonymity of the city is both comforting and challenging to me.
It's so easy to image the possibilities of life in NYC because they play out before you on the streets where so many have walked before. Searching for purpose, living their dreams, hoping to achieve and be a part of something greater than a solitary life. It inspires and intimidates me as the contrast is too much with my everyday life and little town.
My day was nice as I had time to wander, wonder and get lost while receiving texts and messages of birthday wishes... feeling loved all day is a great. Hopefully, I'll find a way to capture and recall those feelings when needed after a terrible, rotten, no good, awful day. I started out on 2nd Avenue, wondered up 42th Street to Bryant Park, walked through the Public Library, took 5th to Central Park - pausing with tourists and churches along the way. And enjoyed the hustle bustle of the city. I took pictures of things and places rather than my desired choice of people - some of them are ok and I've played around with some editing to enhance or create the desired look. I didn't take a huge amount of images on this trip which limits my options and results - I just was so much more into being in the moment rather than preserving it. I need to work on finding a way to accomplish both.
Turning 31 isn't a major milestone so I think I'm just having some hangover emotions from 30, questions and frustrations and challenges which seem ever present. Achievements, Education, Goals, Relationships and/or the lack thereof were ever present on my mind through out my trip and return. I've told several people close in my life I feel like I've lost my enthusiasm for life - never one to mourn the past, I've always looked forward to next best thing. Yet now, I feel there is no such thing for me. I have no direction, passion or drive for something to motivate me forward, to propel me into a confident and fulfilling life, and I hate it. I'm jealous of those with drive and passion, envious of those with light steps and happy hearts, and hiding my feelings behind a very thin veil of anger.
This is a very different post than I imagined writing while taking these pictures and I know I'll regret allowing those emotions to overwhelm my first trip to Europe. But it is where I am in my life and those emotions/struggles/frustrations don't take a vacation, unfortunately. While I definitely had those moments of "I am in PARIS!" with a silly grin on my face, I spent a lot of time wondering about my future, contemplating my choices and options for the future. And I still have no answers.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Along The Way

"I love short trips to New York; to me it is the finest three-day town on earth" - James Cameron

While I've mainly been focusing on my trip to PARIS! (yes, I'm still doing that), I have forgotten to mention my brief 24 hour stay in NYC along the way. My travel companion is my childhood BFF Jennie, who I've traveled enough with to know she won't kill me for being my crazy and ridiculous self along this adventure. And who will probably not speak to me for 6 months after having to spend 8 days straight with me but won't stop loving me so all will be ok. (Seriously, thought, it's going to be interesting because we haven't spent this much time together since middle school. Crazy, huh?).

I leave early, early, early Friday morning (gotta love the mile reward trip options on Delta) and get to NYC about 10:30am... according to Hopstop.com, it's going to take me a little over an hour to get to her office: taking the airtrain from JFK, then the E train, then hauling my suitcase up from the subway, then walking to her office building to drop my bags so I can go play tourist in The City while she works. It's not too far from Grand Central Station and Radio City Music Hall and just a little further from Central Park so who knows where I will end up. The last time I was in NYC for a bachelorette party, I arrived early on Friday before the festivities and just had fun walking around, feeling the urban vibe and people watching. I'm sure that's what I'll do this time too.

I love NYC - I don't know if I could live there but I've always said I'd try. In fact, for the first 13 years of my life, Jennie and I were moving there together after college graduation. She did and I moved out west. What can I say, I get distracted easily (ooh, mountains...). The last time she was down here, we talked about me moving to NYC. Which I could easily do... it's still on the life t0-do list.

It's the energy of the city, the pace, the constant motion - somethings always going on - that motivates me, encourages me to seek and do rather than sit and watch. Something I struggle with here since there always seems to be nothing going on in my sleepy, southern town. So I drink it up when I'm there. Should be great to walk around the city, with my camera and check it all out... never know what I might come back with. Last year it was this great image from the Macy's flower show.
Jennie lives in Brooklyn so I know I'm in for some great pizza Friday night... and checking out her new neighborhood since she just moved. What else, I don't know. We shall see.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

300th Post

"Babies are my inspiration and my joy. In them, I see innocence and the precious possibilities of each life unfolding." - Anne Geddes

Side note: WOW... can you believe it's my 300th post? I haven't been keeping track and as I hit the button for a 'new post', I saw that I had published 299 posts. Hence, my next one would be number 300. Amazing since this isn't my main focus or job. I definitely go through stages with time, interest and having something to say. Right now, I'm fired up about my trip to PARIS! so I'm babbling about that and the sites I want to see and the food and wine I can't wait to try.

But today's post is different. Today, I finally watched the movie "Precious" (based on the book "Push") and made famous by the combined talent and efforts of Monique, Oprah, Tyler Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Lee Daniels, Paula Patton and introducing Gabourey Sidbie. The book had touched me but since I don't see that lifestyle everyday and haven't visited many places where those standards, behaviors, and actions are commonplace, I had a hard time picturing happening as I read the book. But watching the movie made it real. If I had seen it in the theater, the scenes and the sounds would have been overwhelming. Such raw pain and power in the intimate scenes, the emotions and the daily abuse of the characters.

I live such a privileged life. My troubles are petty and superficial compared to others in this world... And I, just like so many others, deserve a swift kick in the ass when I start to feel sorry for myself. The world is my oyster in all ways that matter: family, future, career, et al. I guess I could complain about my love life but I'm a firm believer in the theory we all have the love life we want. So whatever's lacking there is my responsibility. Sometimes I need a reminder of how fortunate I am... and this movie reminded me.

It also reminded me that this is the reality of others... when I judge the choices and lifestyles of others. I started with so many advantages, with so many safety nets and was shown only one direction to go. At first, I didn't realize others didn't have the home life I did, now I know but it's still so foreign to me, I can't imagine living with those circumstances, obstacles, and challenges in my life. I struggle with too many options and being able to do whatever I want... Others struggle with making any options for themselves. I need to remember, to give back more, and to be more thankful for my life.

Precious was a reminder - Go see it and remind yourself of what's good in your life. Of all that you should be thankful for in your life. It will remind you...