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What Lies Within

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One Safe Place

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this song, but a friend recently included these lines in a letter to me:

How many roads we’ve travelled
How many dreams we’ve chased
Across sand and sky and gravel
Searching for one safe place

— Marc Cohn

Why Go

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Every day the good folks at BootsnAll give us a photo or phrase that feeds our love of travel. This quote posted yesterday struck me as especially beautiful:

As you think, you travel, and as you love, you attract. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.

James Lane Allen

Finding Home

Monday, September 4th, 2006

I’d spent all this time and energy over the years searching for a home — and home for me, I was realizing, was simply being close to my own ability to love.

-Christy Walker in Ash Wednesday

Point of View

Friday, July 21st, 2006

The perspective, to say the least, changes only with the journey.

~ James Baldwin

Getting in the Civic with my parents and brother when they picked me up at the airport was a surreal moment. The car felt oddly familiar, yet foreign. It wasn’t exactly deja vu, but some sort of bizarre sensation, to be around this thing that I was formerly acquainted with.

For five months, almost everything I saw, touched or tasted was new. Now, suddenly, I am back among the familiar — the car, the house, my stuff. It’s strange and comfortable, all at the same time. I don’t feel this way with people, it is only with the material possessions and things I own that surround me now. Maybe it is the jetlag, but the littlest things I see can make me giggle, grin or stare in wonder — I forgot about those sneakers, and this book, and that extra deodorant I left behind during the frenzied pre-trip packing. And it is all here waiting for me.

Living out of a bag for five months has surely changed my perspective on stuff, and now that I am surrounded by my belongings again, I’m not quite sure what to do with most of them.


The flights home were fine, although the plane ride and all this air conditioning has gifted me with a tiny cold…I’m not used to all this processed air, especially after the last month of ultra hot hostels in Spain and Italy. I think my body has just let go for a bit too. It has breathed a huge sigh and told me to check back in a few weeks, while it recovers from the constant movement of the journey.

I’ve moved slow the past three days…sorting through mail and photos, searching for summer clothes in the attic and assembling toiletries in the bathroom. I ran some errands today, and almost said “Grazie” to the man who held the door for me at the bank.

It is wonderful to be around my family again, and to be able to easily chat with friends on the phone. The best part of my trip was all the amazing people I met…and the best part of being home is all the fantastic people I already know that I can see and talk to again.

Tonight mom and I will eat leftover Chinese and watch some travel shows (ha!) on TV. Tomorrow I’m treating my feet to a well deserved pedicure followed by a visit with two of my closest pals. I’ve still got three days of notes on Rome to write in my journal, plus lots of photos to develop and maps/scraps/brochures to organize. Oh yeah, and all that ‘find a job and place to live stuff’ to sort out too…all in good time.

From Rome to Home!

Monday, July 17th, 2006

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalks again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.

– Jack Kerouac

My backback is only slightly battered, but my feet are in need of some major TLC. The end of this part of the journey is near, but I’ve worked my legs to the bitter end here, conquering Rome the best I can in the past three days. I’ve seen much more than I thought I would, and it has been wonderful — I can’t think of a better city in which to end this journey and said Ciao to Europe – for now 🙂

I just checked my flights online and status seems okay. Tomorrow will be a long day…Rome to London, then to New Jersey, USA! I won’t really have time to explore London at all, but that is already on the list for the next visit (along with Scotland, right mom?)

For now, I will savour my last hours in Italy, my home for the past 17 days (plus a few more weeks earlier in the trip). This second visit to Italy has been just as incredible as the first. I spent time with my Italian cousin Ivonne in Asti, then visited Lucca and Pisa before heading to Florence for a few days. After that, it was a week in Tuscany with my American cousins, aunts and uncles, and my brother and sister-in-law too…it was so wonderful to see them all. We visited Siena, San Giminano, Pienza and Montalcino. And we all watched Italy’s World Cup win while secluded at our Tuscan villa! I said goodbye to all the fam on Saturday, and have spent the past three days solo for one last time on the trip…exploring Rome alone and just taking it all in — the chaos, madness and craziness that makes this city absolutely awesome. I walked EVERYWHERE and melted as I did it, but it has been a fabulous finale to an amazing five month dream come true…but I still think I am dreaming. Am I???

I’m looking forward to speaking with and seeing so many of you — VERY soon!! Safe travels and happy summer, wherever you are! See you soon Mom and Dad (and Dan too! miss you all!)

Wonder Wow

Monday, May 15th, 2006

For the first time in a long while, certainly for the first time on this trip, I felt a palpable sense of wonder to find myself here, on these streets, in this body, at this time. I was in Europe now. It was an oddly profound notion.

~ From Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Bill Bryson

This is not the first time I have felt wonder on this trip, but it is certainly magnified for me right now, in this magical point at the tip of the sea. I’m in love with this tiny nugget of land, this perfect little peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic, waving softly to neighboring Italy.

I’ve seen two stellar sunsets, full of periwinkle and pink. I’ve walked along pebbly, rocky and sandy beaches, and hiked up fantastic sleepy hills under deep blue skies. I can’t really believe that I’m here. Today felt like an out-of-body experience at times, full of highs and lows. I shed some tears in the colorfully frescoed Church of St. George, and then a few more while high above the sea at a unique sculpture garden. These were tears of joy, wonder and sadness all mixed into one, just your average emotional jumble. And then my camera broke. But I was all out of tears, so I laughed.

Tomorrow is day nine-zero, and later this week, the three-month mark. Wow. Wow. Wow. That’s a long time to be roaming around Europe. Yet sometimes it still just does not seem real. Life happening all around me seems real, but me standing in the midst of it still feels like a dream on days like this. It really is a dream come true.

Cesky Krumlov and Climbing to Klet

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.

~ Louis L’Amour

We went on a 4-mile hike through the low hills surrounding Cesky Krumlov today and trekked to the top of Klet Mountain, about 1,000 meters above sea level. We packed a light lunch and our journals and had hoped to hang out up there for a few hours this afternoon, but the weather had other plans. We started about 10 am under overcast skies, the drips began about halfway up the steep climb, and by the time we reached the top a strong steady rain was falling. We ate our cheese sandwiches and granola bars under the shelter of a summer restaurant/lodge, took a few photos and began the return trip — a fast, soggy decent. Despite the rain, I still loved every minute of the invigorating hike, the serene landscape and the silence. It was delightful to hear only the soft bubble of mountain streams, the pitter patter of falling rain and the crunch of earth beneath our feet — a wonderfully peaceful hike, a great workout for our legs, and of course, by the time we got back to town around 2:30 pm, the sun was shining and we were all dry 🙂



I am enjoying Cesky Krumlov much more than I thought I would. This place is a tourist magnet, so I was hesitant to come, but we have hit it a week before the official tourist season kicks off and are able to enjoy quiet cozy cafes and nearly deserted streets in the evening. A few tour buses come through during the day, but we really have the place to ourselves, which is just how I like it. This place must be mobbed in summer and I would not come then, it is much too small to handle throngs of tourists. That said, this charming village has got a hold on me…and so I’m staying for a few days longer. CJ leaves for Vienna tomorrow but I will stay here for at least two more days. I’ve got lots of reading and writing to catch up on, some travel articles and hostel reviews to work on, and of course, more travel planning! The internet is cheap here and the cafes are empty, and our hostel, Krumlov House, is rustic and magical in a very comforting way. Completely different than our last hostel, the new urban-chic Czech Inn in Prague, but just as charming in its own special way…so I will linger. As the half-way point of my European adventure approaches, I really feel the need to slow things down more often, and this place is perfect for now.

Lost in the Alfama

Saturday, February 18th, 2006

The traveller has seen much of the world and of life, and has never felt comfortable in the role of a tourist who goes somewhere, take a look at it, thinks he understands it, takes photos of it and returns to his own country boasting that he knows the Alfama. This traveller must be honest. He went to the Alfama, but he does not know what it is. All the same, he walks and walks, and when he finally comes out at Largo de Chafariz de Dentro — after being lost more than once as he knew he would be — he wants to immerse himself once more in its dark alleys, the twisting dead-end streets, the slippery steps, until he feels he has at least learnt the first few words of the immense dialogue going on between houses, inhabitants, personal histories, laughter and the inevitable tears.

~ from Journey to Portugal, Jose Saramago

I spent Friday morning on a walking tour of the Alfama. I wrote a bit about it here at the Eurail Blog, another place where I´ll be writing a few times a week. It is now the wee hours of Saturday morning here, and I just got back from another fantastic night with new friends from Germany, France and Portugal. I will write more about them and our Friday night adventures sometime over the weekend, but I´m off to bed now. TGIF and happy weekend to all, I know it is a long one for some in the States, so enjoy!

So Finally, Here is Lisbon

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

The traveller regains the street and feels lost. Where should he go now? What is he to visit? What shall he leave aside, either on purpose or because of the impossibility of seeing and commenting on everything? And anyway, what does it mean to see everything? It would be just as valid to stroll through the gardens and to go and look at the ships on the river as to visit the Jeronomite monastery. Or to do none of this, but simply sit on the bench or on the grass, enjoying the splendid bright sunshine. It’s said that a ship at anchor is not sailing. That is true, but it is preparing to set sail. So the traveller fills his lungs with fresh air, like someone hoisting sail to catch the sea breeze, and sets course for the monastery.

~ from Journey to Portugal by Jose Saramago

I made it to Lisbon, although there is no splendid sunshine today — it is a rainy day which is just fine, since I am so, so tired. I hardly slept on the plane, I sat between two Portuguese men who were returning to Lisbon after a conference in Las Vegas for their company, Staples! It was funny to talk to them about brand marketing, sticky notes and such. (Dad, they coplimented the Uni pen you gave me as top of the line!) Anyway, they were very nice, taught me lots about the city, culture, and some language lessons too. The woman at the tourist booth, my taxi driver, and the staff at the hostel have all been just as hospitable. I am staying in the Chiado neighborhood…being back in Europe, instantly I´m reminded how young America is. Everything is so much older here, and so very beautiful…even in the rain.

Well, I’m off to call mom and dad then head to sleep for a few hours. I may go exploring in the early evening to get some dinner and visit a bookstore, there are several in the neighborhood.