More life advice from someone completely unqualified to give it

YOU GUYS. Sometimes I just sit at my computer and stare at a blank WordPress draft for a while and have no clue what to write about. So usually then I just go look for recipes I’ll probably never make or pictures of puppies (awwwwww).

I’ve realized over the last year or so that writing for me is like working out- sometimes it seems like it would just be so much easier to just not do it, but when I actually get my lazy ass in gear I feel fucking amazing. Running, for example, is not actually one of my favorite things to do. I’m not one of those people thats like “I just can’t wait until my next run!” Honestly, sometimes I feel like a baby rhino trying to keep up with the pack while trying not to clench my jaw, swallow bugs or trip over my own feet. I keep doing it though, because I know afterwards I’m going to feel great physically and mentally (unless I do actually trip and eat it) and every so often I have those days where I just settle into a running groove and want to keep going. I explained that to someone recently, and all I got back was: “If you don’t like running, why don’t you just not do it anymore?” I think he missed the point.

It got me thinking though- why do I so strongly believe it is beneficial for us to do things we find uncomfortable? Do I have some sort of self destructive streak that I camouflage by pretending its just existential badassery? The fact of the matter is I really believe that in order to grow, to move forward in life, we need to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. (yes I know I’m like a goddam broken record with the comfort zone stuff… can you just believe me already?)

So, again.. how do we make that happen?

1. Know your weak points and learn to be OK with showing them:  it can often be stressful for me to reach out to people in my life to let them know I need something from them. It is actually out of my comfort zone to call a friend and tell them I would like to see them- I have a terrible habit of assuming that people will call/text me when they want to see me, and that if they don’t, they must not want to. I also am a procrastinator. A really bad one.. like, I meant to write this post 2 weeks ago.

2.  Find pride in proving yourself wrongsometimes there will just be a bunch of weirdos at that Meetup event.. and sometimes there are a bunch of awesome, likeminded people that you can’t wait to hang out with again! But you’ll never be able to prove to yourself that they’re out there unless you actually attend the event!

3. Remember that the thing you’re scared of is probably less scary than the actual fear: It took me almost a month to finally get up the guts to go take a Crossfit class in Barcelona. I’ve taken Crossfit before, and like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but was worried I might not be able to keep up with the class in Spanish, or that I’d forgotten the lifts. Once I got there, I remembered exactly why I used to love it so much. The fear of not being good at it anymore was a bunch of bullshit.. although I’ll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow.

4. Even if you think you might not like someone, try it anyways, just once: In college, I dated this guy that used to bribe me to try foods I thought I didn’t like. For example, he would take me to sushi if I tried mustard. In the end, I tried a lot of new things and I ate a lot of sushi. WIN.

5. Give people a chance: I get it, everyone is ‘busy.’ While you may think you’re too occupied with other things to take a few minutes to chat with someone, do it anyways. The other day, a 19 year old Greek kid who just moved to Spain made my day, even though at first I was inclined to ignore him  and what seemed like a bunch of annoying questions in favor of my computer. I didn’t, and I ended up walking away from the interaction feeling great- I helped put a huge smile on his face,he gave me some lovely compliments that I never expected, and I learned a little about Greek culture.

Sometimes I don’t always take my own advice, and in reading what I just wrote here I am realizing that there are a few actions I can take in order to improve my overall experience. Moving somewhere new is hard, but it is also a great opportunity to examine what it is I really am looking to get out of my time here (is that an existential ‘here’? I don’t know.). I think we all deserve to live really awesome lives, and it makes me sad when I hear complaints with no plan for actions towards resolving the issue. I get it, life isn’t easy, but the only person that can start the wheels moving on making it better is yourself.

**MIC DROP**

I can't take credit for finding this gem. Amy Poehler is a genius. If you hate this post, I won't tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

Amy Poehler is a genius.I can’t take credit for finding this gem. If you hate this post, I won’t tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

 

the epic settle of 2014

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a pretty terrible planner. In fact, in the last 6 months, my departure from the states was the only thing that I actually planned ahead of time, and that was purely out of shame- after broadcasting my emigration from the states to everyone I know, I was going to look like a real idiot if I didn’t go through with it.

So naturally it is safe to assume that my recent move to Barcelona was a bit out of the blue as well. Here’s a little backstory- my first trip to Barcelona was back in 2011, a magical four-day stopover (on my way to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday in Mallorca) in which I spent days wandering the streets and nights feasting on tapas and vino. Then, I was lucky enough to stay with my friend Marta, a native Mallorquina who I met when the gods brought her to UC San Diego to study, surf and snowboard with us for a year.

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

A few weeks ago, in between mopping floors, making beds and cleaning bathrooms at my Workaway position in Portugal, I found myself glued to my computer, frantically scouring the webs for an apartment in Barcelona. After a couple of days of cleaning fumes and out of control hostel guests yelling until all hours of the morning, I think I subconsciously decided I had had enough of the impermanence of hostels for a while. In keeping with the theme of the last few months, the universe responded in the form of my good friend Marta. Being the badass that she is, she literally kicked out the two guys subletting her apartment for the summer so I could move in for the month of August. I know, I’m so not nice enough to deserve friends like that.

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta's apartment!

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta’s apartment!

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oh you know, just tagging along to ‘work’ with Marta

A month later, I have an apartment, a job (and a half), and actually have a couple of friends to call my own. I set an intention for every week I was here- the first week was to decide if I wanted to stay, the second, to find a job, 3rd, an apartment, and finally, last week, I intentionally set out to make some new friends.

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

So how’d that work out?  I just so happened to stumble into the home base of a company that runs gastronomic tours through Barcelona’s old city during my ‘work’ week. Somehow, I managed to charm them into giving me a tryout, and am now running 3 hour long tours in which I try super hard not to bore people to death. Mostly I succeed, and the promise of food every 30 minutes or so definitely helps.

Next, after visiting what seemed like 842 apartments, I found a cute little place with 2 other girls in the newer part of Barcelona, a district called “Eixample” (pronounced eye-shamp-lah). Again, with my winning smile and sometimes awkward Spanish, I managed to convince the girls to accept me as one of their own.. and THEYRE NEVER GETTING RID OF ME. Just kidding.. they might, eventually.

The friends part is slightly trickier, but definitely looking good- here’s a few tips on how you might force strangers to be your friend in a new city:

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new friends, old friends, and dead friends at the Fiestas de Gracia

1. Couchsurfing.org: Despite having recently gained infamy as ‘couchsexing.org’ (I may or may not have totally made that name up), Couchsurfing events actually seem to have great attendance with a mix of travelers, locals, expats and random unsuspecting people who are just trying to have a quiet drink in their local bar. So far I’ve been to 3 events, and although no new best friends on the horizon, its been an overall good experience.

2. Meetup.com: Good idea in theory, but the only time I’ve tried to attend an event, I couldn’t find the group and ended up making random friends with a completely unrelated group of people and stumbled back to my apartment at almost 4 am. I call that a successful evening, although the “meet-up’ portion may have ended up a bit misdirected.

3. Facebook: there are Facebook groups for everything these days. Want to run with fellow expats every week? Group for that. Do you enjoy painting your face and blowing bubbles in the park? They meet on Sunday mornings. Have a gerbil and want to teach it to fly a kite? There’s a group for that. Seriously though, Facebook is full of weirdos and there is a niche for all of them, even me.

Moral of the story- set an intention, don’t be a lazy-ass, and force yourself out of your comfort zone- in doing so, you may just find a whole new ‘comfy space’ to enjoy! Big changes are only scary if you are scared of them- you can only be disappointed if you have expectations to begin with!

 

 

 

San Sebastian, you win at food. and fun.

And I lose at blog post titles.

I'm not that great at selfies either #youcantwinemall

I’m not that great at selfies either #youcantwinemall

I can usually tell how much fun I’ve had in any location based on the number of photos I’ve taken- the less photos that I have to choose from when writing these posts, the more I enjoyed the location. This is definitely the case for San Sebastian. Over the course of 3 days, countless ‘pintxos’ and more glasses of wine than I care to remember, my collection of photos commemorating the eat and play-stravaganza is less than stellar. San Sebastian is the perfect destination for anyone that daydreams about getting fat, drunk and tan at the same time- days are spent lounging on the beach (albeit a bit more crowded than what I consider to be ideal, but when you’re that full of ham, who cares)

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streets of Casco Viejo (old town)

streets of Casco Viejo (old town)

In the last few years, San Sebastian has gained recognition as one of the world’s most highly regarded culinary destinations. After 3 days of stuffing my face there, there is no question as to why. The Basque Country, in general, is known for its ‘pintxos’, which are essentially 2-3 bite dishes, most of which are served atop a piece of bread. Example: thinly sliced cured ham drizzled with olive oil, served on a slice of toasted baguette, a skewer of 3 small shrimp, grilled and served over a piece of baguette, a mini hamburger served on the most adorable bun I’ve ever seen.

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‘blurry face’ is the next big thing in photography, didnt you know. Also note the anchovies on toast in the lower left corner.

Not only does this style of eating appeal to me because of my lack of attention span, almost non-existent patience level and pretty severe commitment issues, but also because I FREAKING LOVE MINIATURE THINGS. C’mon, why do you think mini cupcakes, miniature ponies and those tiny bottles of alcohol are so popular? They are just too damn cute.

So basically the way it works is, you walk walk up to the bar, pick out a pintxo (or 2 or 7) from an artfully arranged assortment spread along the counter. Instead of committing to an whole plate of food that you may tire of in a few bites, or to a restaurant who’s decor may not be up to par, you can literally go ‘pintxo-hopping’ (patent pending- thats a million dollar idea that everyone else already came up with first). Here’s an idea: first course, a glass of wine and a shared plate of 5-6 mussels. Second course, glass of wine and a couple of anchovies on toast. Third course, glass of wine and a mini slider (does the term slider already mean mini? these are even smaller) Fourth course… ok you get it. So by the end of the night, not only are you full, but you are also hammered. WIN.

this is what happens after a shit-ton of pintxos. you can't help it.. it just happens.

this is what happens after a shit-ton of pintxos. you can’t help it.. it just happens.

The most difficult part of the whole process is trying to figure out where to go- literally EVERY bar offers some type of pintxos, and for us newbies its pretty much impossible to pick one over the other. The couple of gems that we found and returned to multiple times over the course of a couple days were totally by accident- one, we stopped to ask a couple of women sitting on a bench for directions and ended up with a recommendation for “La Mejillonera,” and the other because we couldn’t pass up ‘one last pintxo’ of grilled baby squid with a balsamic reduction.. which ended up being the best kind of mouth explosion. (Unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place, but its on Fermin Cableton street in the Casco Viejo of San Sebastian).

DEFINITELY GO HERE

DEFINITELY GO HERE

they have beers this big for less than 3 euro

that beer was literally bigger than my head. we measured

Heading to Spain anytime soon? Definitely budget some time for at least a couple days in San Sebastian. However, first probably sell a kidney or two, because it is one of the most expensive places I’ve traveled so far. I went from paying 15 euro a night for a private bathroom and pretty much empty 6 bed dorm in the center of Madrid to paying 30 euro a night for a room that was reminiscent of that scene in Zoolander- “What is this, a center for ants!? The building needs to be at least 3 times bigger than this!” With 6 people and their backpacks in the room, it was almost impossible to move around, and the bunk beds were so low that I hit my head sitting up in the morning (considering I’m like half the height of a normal person, thats pretty ridiculous). Food, although 100% worth it, also definitely added up- though you could fill up on a couple of pintxos of tortilla (spanish omelette) for 5euro or less, a wine-fueled pintxo party in your mouth will probably set you back anywhere from 20-30 euro. That said.. I’m going back ASAP.. as soon as I can find a sponsor for my marathon eating challenge.

so many calamari, so little time

so many calamari, so little time

Relucatantly, after 3 days, it was time to admit defeat. Not only was I thoroughly sick of having to drink wine with every meal, I was also starting to dream about vegetables. When kale starts appearing in your dreams, its time to eat a salad. Also, Barcelona, the city I’ve been lusting after since our brief affair in 2011, was calling. As was the promise of concerts, music festivals, friends, and a room all to myself.

before the (literal) storm. isn't she pretty?

before the (literal) storm. isn’t she pretty?

In my desperation to get to Barcelona, I think I got a little TOO excited, as I had found what I thought was an unbelievable last minute train ticket deal- 50 euro from San Sebastian to Barcelona (other prices I saw were all at least 80+). Well, turns out it wasn’t a cheap last minute ticket… because it was actually for a train leaving the following week. And as soon as I figured that out, it started pouring rain. Though it looked like the gods were shitting on me, the skies parted and I magically found a ride share from San Sebastian all the way to Barcelona, and ended up in Barcelona at the same time the train would have gotten me there!

also considering i am currently living (In Barcelona) next to this big guy, no wonder I was excited

also considering i am currently living (In Barcelona) next to this big guy, no wonder I was excited

 

 

consider this “fievel goes west 2: the portugal hitchhiking days”

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Cape St. Vincent

*** if you don’t get the reference, here ya go: Fievel Goes West IMDB

After leaving the hostel we were working at in Faro, it seemed like our choice of where to rest our heads at night got weirder and weirder. First, we stayed with our buddy Cosmos in Lagos, in what was basically a flat with a bunch of mismatched bunk beds shoved into each room, and a shower that for some inexplicable reason was built for 2 (literally, it had two brand new shower heads… he said it was to save water?). Our next stop, Sagres- further west in the Portuguese Algarve- appeared to have little to no hostel presence, so we decided to wing it- worst case scenario we sleep on the beach cuddled together, using our backpacks for pillows.

Cosmos palace

Cosmos palace

 

After hopping out of the ride that picked us up for the last leg to sleepy, very confusingly urban-planned Sagres, we spent approximately 4 minutes wandering around like idiots before a wrinkly peanut of a woman (approx. age.. 109) cycled up to us with an offer we couldn’t refuse. Ten minutes and a lot of broken Portuguese later, we were set up in the cheapest hostel I’ve stayed in the whole time I’ve been in Europe. 25 euro for a double bedroom, private bathroom, TV and wifi… inside this woman’s house.

Sagres hostel/house

Sagres hostel/house

Don’t take this the wrong way- there are NO complaints to be had here. All in all, it was not only a case of ‘right place at the right time,’ but this lady’s sense of entrepreneurship should inspire us all.

We dropped our bags off, repacked a backpack with the essentials (wine, cans of tuna, more wine) and headed out to catch what is deemed “possibly the best sunset you’ll ever see” (<- seriously we saw that on a sign.. way to hedge your bets, tour operators).

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the stupid facial expression is due to the carton of wine in my hand

St. Vincent is located about 6km outside of the town of Sagres, and is the western most point of the European continent. As we drove in earlier that day, the clouds started to close in on us, so we didn’t really know what (if anything) to expect of the sunset spectacular that we hoped to see. By the time we made it out there (only one carton of wine deep by then!) we still had an hour or so to spare, and with the cloud cover thickening by the minute it was hard to tell if we would end up seeing anything at all.

Apparently in a game of rock-paper-scissors, sun beats cloud…. most of the time. The sunset was maybe not ‘the best’ I’ve ever seen, but it was definitely worth the trek out there.

my version of Fievel Goes West (a classic tale of manifest destiny and the mouse that wouldn't give up)

my version of Fievel Goes West (a classic tale of manifest destiny and the mouse that wouldn’t give up)

 

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I totally get why people used to think the world was flat

Because we were on a ‘lets see the sun do stuff’ roll, the next morning we snuck out of our little house at the crack of dawn to check out the sunrise- thanks to a noisy and hungry mosquito in our bedroom both of us were up at 4 am. In the same sun vs. clouds game (except backwards), the sun lost bitterly to the heavy cloud cover. Literally, the sun never rose… we just sat on the beach for about half an hour, giving each other quizzical looks as the world around us became a lighter and lighter shade of grey. After a while we just shrugged and headed off in search of a decent cup of coffee.

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in the meantime, I opened my own Portuguese restaurant

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and we knitted bike and tree cozies.

That morning marked the last day my Australian friend and I stuck our thumbs to the wind together- in Odeceixe, we hugged each other goodbye, and I made my way to Lisbon (ok guys.. seriously don’t worry.. I only hitched like 20 km on my own and got free baked goods out of it!) to spend my last night in Portugal at an ACTUAL hostel- complete with too few bathrooms, plenty of dudes with dreads and guitars, and a great group of people to chat with before I hopped on a plane back to SPAIN!!!!

 

sometimes traveling doesn’t cost an arm and a leg

Just a bit of dignity and some elbow grease.

Seriously though, gone are the days of overpriced hotel rooms and tours that make you sign over your first born child before you even leave your home country. I mean, all of those things still exist, and I know there are still subscribers to the world of “Europe on $200 a day,”  but I’ve found that the scrappier and cheaper it gets, the more fun I have.

nothing screams luxury like a blow up swimming pool

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wouldn’t you consider sleeping here over a hostel bunk bed?

This time, that meant delving into the world of hitchhiking and work trade-  yeah, I know, hitchhiking is dangerous, you never know who is going to pick you up, you might get kidnapped, stranded… I KNOW. However, I could also be robbed at gunpoint in the middle of San Francisco while minding my own business, or hit by a car while crossing the street in middle of nowhere, safe-as-hell Ojai… both of which have actually happened. (ok to be fair in the first instance the gun was fake, but still). The work trade portion of my adventures were actually probably more damaging to my health and safety than the hitchhiking was.. mostly due to a lack of sleep and lots of cleaning product fumes.

Anyways, you can all breathe easy (especially you, Grandma, I know your heart probably stopped for a second) because I made it to Spain and won’t be trying my luck in this country.. at least with hitchhiking and cleaning products. Everything else, I can’t make any promises.

 

Would I recommend using Workaway for someone who is looking to save a bit of money while still hanging out in a rad country? Hell yeah. Since my room and food was covered, the only money I spent was basically on watermelon and sangria ingredients. What would NOT recommend however, is going into the workaway experience without fully understanding the terms of your work trade. Lets just say I was not prepared for over night shifts or cleaning multiple bathrooms a day.

mad art skillz

mad art skillz

Hitchhiking, unlike Workaway, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to everyone looking to travel cheaply. If you don’t feel like standing on the side of the road for an undetermined period of time holding a sign or your thumb in the air, feel free to rule out this method of transportation. (or, you know, you’re in a country in which hitchhiking is illegal). For me (and my lovely Australian friend on whom we can pin this newfound addiction) it became a game- we would try to make eye contact with as many passing cars as possible, and for those that didn’t stop, try to figure out the weird hand signals that drivers would give us to indicate that they were not headed where we were trying to go (“Wait does that mean you’re staying here? you’re turning around? I don’t get it.”)

off we go

i swear im not high in this photo, i was just running on 3 hours of sleep.

I met a lot of interesting characters over the last couple of weeks- an older woman and her mother from Mozambique that drove us 20km out of their way while blasting 70’s tunes, a baker in the process of developing sweet potato, bean and nut based baked goods who raced me to 3 different bus stops before we found the right one, and the guy in the amazing VW van filled with baby wipes and toilet paper- to name just a few.

other favorite: THIS GUY.

other favorite: THIS GUY.

Though I’ll miss my new favorite game, word on the street is that hitchhiking in Spain isn’t quite as fun, so I’m planning on trying Bla Bla Car (a ride sharing weebsite) for my trip to Barcelona on Monday or Tuesday.

 

so far so good.. heres what I’ve picked up along the way

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Manhattan as seen from Brooklyn

I’m a big fan of learning stuff. For me, learning implies forward motion- collected energy coupled with information to help propel you into the future. And I’m not just talking about book-learnin’- the type of learning I’m interested in is all about experience, observation, and feedback. Well, in the last few weeks, my life has been an onslaught of ‘new’- and I don’t plan on stopping that anytime soon.

Here’s some tidbits from what I’ve picked up so far:

Lets start in Brooklyn.

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Like many big cities, New York has a fabulous array of galleries, museums and exhibitions to attend- I did check out the MoMA (tip: Friday afternoons- after 4:15- are FREE to the public. Yes, it is crowded as hell, totally worth it to save the $25 entrance fee)- but I found the best art on the streets.

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Bruce Lee, immortalized in Williamsburg

 

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Hypnotized by Biggie in Fort Green

I picked up some super helpful underground tips- not, like, how to find random password protected parties scented by Parliaments and old PBR, but literally underground. I’ve concluded that pretty much anything goes on the subway. Breakdancing? Hell yeah. Diaper changing? Yup, saw that one too.

Brooklyn also taught me a lot about how to be inconspicuous. If you really want to fit in, the key is iced coffee and awkwardly placed portrait tattoos. If I had a dollar for every kid in jorts with an iced latte and a thigh tattoo of some obscure musician’s face from the 60 I would have a lot of dollars (but not so many pounds! Damn you exchange rate.)

In Fort Greene, I learned that religion is just as subjective as you want it to be. Who needs church when you can go straight to the gods themselves?

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(*Bey and Jay are not MY gods, as I have not yet decided which member of pop culture royalty deserves my utmost devotion. Michelle, on the other hand, has spirituality on lock. Get it girl.)

I also learned a little about predicting the weather. Think San Francisco is difficult to dress for? Put every season into one day and you’ve got New York summer. Which is great if you love to cool off your sunburn with a rainstorm.

Moving on to Washington DC, where I learned that you can do ALL THE ACTIVITIES and still have time for naps in less than 36 hours. *(Thanks Jessie!)

I also found out where the preppiest people in the world live, and exactly what type of man I am not interested in. Since I never took the obligatory DC trip in elementary school, it took me 27 years to learn that he White House is, in fact, white. And quite the popular tourist destination. Luckily, the bars on the gate are spaced just right for a little arm to fit through to take this ‘no one at the White House but me’ photo.

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in real life, it is slightly larger than the tree in the foreground, I promise.

My last days in the US reminded me of the fun of exploring a new city, the comfort of seeing an old friend, and the excitement of not being altogether too sure of tomorrow. Though my confidence is often a little shaky, I honestly believe that wherever I go and whoever I meet, I’ll learn something. And as long as I have that, I’ll keep moving forward.

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can i just take a second to love on California?

view from Shelf Road in Ojai

view from Shelf Road in Ojai

You know when sometimes things just feel.. right? Ya know, like you’re in the right place at the right time and things just WORK? Thats kind of how I feel about this trip. It started off a little rocky- 6 am bedtime coupled with 11 am rental car pick up time was pretty much a recipe for me being a giant bitch all day Saturday. Luckily, I was by myself so the only person that suffered from my bad mood was me! After a miserable 6 hours driving down the 101, frantically scanning for In-N-Outs (only to give in and buy some beef jerky literally ONE exit before I spotted one), I cruised into Ojai and immediately breathed an orange-blossom scented sigh of relief. From then on- smooooooooooth sailing. Like, literally I’m going sailing today. And the heat wave is over- WIN.

(although unfortunately the heat is still on for the thousands of people affected by and fighting against the fires in North County.. fingers crossed for all of them!)

I may be biased, but California should really be one of the seven (or is it eight now?) Wonders of the World. I’ve lived here nearly my entire life and never get sick of the amazing coastline views and gorgeous mountains. I could do without some of the LA traffic and smog, but I guess you can’t really appreciate the beauty of paradise without checking out the toxic swamplands, right? Luckily LA traffic is now far behind me, and San Diego is just as gorgeous as ever.

Annalisa's killa whales (mural at the apartment pool)

Annalisa’s killa whales (mural at the apartment pool)

Saying goodbye see ya later still hasn’t really sunk in yet- California is my home and although I don’t really know if or when I’ll be back for good, it  will always be. Even after three years away from San Diego, I walk down to the beach near my old house and run into not one, but two old friends. My old yoga studio still seems to think I sell stretchy pants for a living, and I can still remember the back way to get from La Jolla to Pacific Beach. Ojai, where I grew up, is basically mini LA at this point- but running Shelf Road and wandering aimlessly through the farmers market with my dad will probably always be the same (why does he have to try ALL THE STRAWBERRIES?!) Apparently in some ways I don’t change much either- every San Diego visit I give my friends the same speech about how much I appreciate that they accept me with open arms like I had never left- seems like maybe I’m more predictable than I thought (but just as predictable as they know I am).

The point is though, certain parts of our lives can be constants- the people and places you love will probably always feel like home. So even if you leave, find comfort in knowing that if you give love, it will be returned.. and not to be cliche or whatever, but whoever said home is where the heart is had a really good point.

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the why.

 

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not to brag, but I ran up here- Twin Peaks, SF

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and i can only imagine the next few will pass by in a similar manner. a week left in SF, a week in Southern CA, and then two on the east coast before I begin what can only be defined as the next chapter in my somewhat short but continuously growing life-book. I’ve actually knocked off quite a few of my bucket list items, with more left to go as time ticks away. I have to note that the list that lives here on this site has morphed into something completely different in my head, and although I have only completed 4 or so on the original list, at least twelve items have been crossed off the somewhat more nebulous list I’ve managed to create in my own mind. Turns out, when you put your mind to it, there are probably about a billion stones left unturned in a city you feel like you already have a firm grasp on.

Full moon from Bernal Heights, complete with tree swings to play on

Full moon from Bernal Heights, complete with tree swings to play on

grace cathedral yoga!

grace cathedral yoga!

Oh, the point of all this? Yeah, I’ll get to it.

I’m really trying not to think of my life in California as a an hourglass- time ticking away until I blast east-wards, but its hard to do!  The truth is I actually DO only have X amount of days left and I the goal is to maximize the time left. Not that I’m second guessing myself (ok, maybe a tiny bit when one of those moments hit when I realize I’m REALLY enjoying yourself, but not enough to damage my plans), but I have been thinking a lot about the WHY behind this major life change.What are the external and internal influencers that have encouraged this decision, and ultimately, is this the best thing for me right now?

family vacay to Cyprus, circa 2008-ish?

family vacay to Cyprus, circa 2008-ish? yeah, I’m the TALL one!

So, then, WHY?

1. Family. At 93 and 88 respectively, my grandpa and grandma are a wealth of information, history and love that I don’t feel I have completely tapped into. Largely due to time zones, work/school commitments and the hefty price of plane travel (and unfortunate unavailability of the Floo network.. Harry Potter fans.. anyone? anyone?). I have definitely not spent enough time with family.. probably ever. I can’t wait to spend more time with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and brush up on my British humor and Jewish traditions (read: recipes and Manischevitz).

2. THE BUG. The travel bug is a mean one- unlike a mosquito bite, if you don’t scratch it, it sure as hell isn’t going away. I am going to scratch that motherfucker hard, long and good. (sorry grandma, I know you’re reading this right now!).

i mean, why WOULDNT I go in search of more of this?

i mean, why WOULDNT I go in search of more of this?

3. Languages. Although I only currently speak two, I can feel that numbers three and four can’t be too far off- Portuguese is most likely first up, then probably French or Italian.

4. Spain. The year I lived in Spain was definitely a highlight in the scrapbook that is my life, and not a week goes by when I don’t daydream about returning and throwing myself back into the language, culture and lifestyle. Living with my host family was an experience I can’t begin to explain- coming from such a non-traditional family background to living with a ‘normal’ nuclear family gave me a taste of what that life can be like, and I can’t wait to see them again!

5. Everywhere else. I close my eyes and see beaches, mountains, cobblestone streets, unreadable street signs and hostel bunk beds. The draw of these images in my brain is enough to keep me up at night, and although (of course) not a single plane, train or event ticket has been purchased, it WILL happen. All of it. All the time, and everywhere.

different oceans, higher cliffs, more hikes, please!

different oceans, higher cliffs, more hikes, please!

 

I say this honestly, earnestly and anxiously- keep up with me! Whether you want to plan a trip to Europe (to come visit, duh), just say hello, or let me know you hate/love/want to be featured on the blog- let me know!

I don’t know where I’ll end up, who I’ll end up with, why I’ll end up there or how long I’ll stay, but a few friends joining the adventure (either virtually or in person) will always be welcome! In the meantime, keep following me here- I’ll do my best to keep the blog updated with adventures, recommendations and random ramblings.

 

festival fever, and how to fight it.

 

by attending more festivals, duh!IMG_4980

After the epic weekend that was coachella, I am fiending for more. Apparently only one weekend of eargasms is not enough for this girl, so this week I started doing some research on festivals and outdoor concerts in Europe this summer. I was BLOWN AWAY by how many options there are.  Apart from the big players, ya know, your Glastonbury Festivals and Tomorrowlands, I’ve got at least 15 other choices over the months of June, July and August, and with the Amsterdam Dance Event in October, it looks like I’m set until its time to hibernate for winter. Here are my picks so far (based mainly on lineup and if I could decipher whatever language the festival website was in) .. help me narrow this down!

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Eurockeenes– July 4-6- Belfort, France Lineup highlights: Black Keys, Gramatik, Jungle, MO, M.I.A.

Optimus Alive– July 10-12- Lisbon, Portugal: Frontrunner so far. Lineup highlights: Black Keys, Ben Howard, Chromeo, Diplo, Nicolas Jaar, and more to come! HOLY SHITBALLS.

glitch mob, coachella weekend 1!

Glitch Mob, Coachella Weekend 1

Tomorrowland– July 18-20 and 25-27- Belgium. Lineup highlights: literally every electronic artist I like. (Sold out, but let me daydream a bit about it anyways.)

Positivus Festival– 18-20 July- Latvia. Lineup highlights: Ellie Goulding, Bastille, MO, Junip, Of Montreal

Dance Valley– 2 August- Netherlands. Lineup highlights: Showtek, Paul Oakenfold

Do Lab, Coachella Weekend 1

Do Lab, Coachella Weekend 1

Arenal Sound– July 29-August 3. Burriana, Spain. Lineup highlights: Knife Party, Matt and Kim, Die Antwoord

Mysteryland:  – August 23- Amsterdam. Another frontrunner! Lineup highlights: Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Nervo

Way Out West -August 7-9- Sweden. Royksopp and Robyn, Janelle Monae, Icona Pop, Mo, Darkside, Polica

Wish this lovely lady could join me- great festival partner!

Berlin Festival- Sept 5-7. Berlin. Woodkid, Moderat, Darkside, Chase and Status

Amsterdam Dance Event. – October 15-19. Amsterdam. No lineup yet as far as I can tell, but it sounds like the event is along the lines of SXSW- events held all over Amsterdam in clubs and venues, along with a conference.

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While I work on narrowing this list down a little, I’ll be enjoying my last few weeks in the states. Coming up- road trip to Southern CA and on the 20th of May I’m off to New York City for my little brother’s college graduation (it’s about damn time!) (kidding, I’m proud of the lil guy!)

 

of course, a Coachella ferris wheel shot

of course, a Coachella ferris wheel shot

Any other can’t-miss festivals that aren’t on this list? Any friends want to join in on the adventure? If you missed my last post, I’m working on knocking things off my San Francisco bucket list– any takers for some fun adventures in or out of the states this year?

 

 

 

Bucket List- this is getting real.

I finally bought my ticket to New York for my little brother’s graduation- one step closer to the final (ish) destination.. England! As of May 20 I will be leaving San Francisco, the place I have called home for the better part of the last 3 years, to continue exploring, creating, learning and growing.

There are about a billion things I know I’ll miss about San Francisco- this city is pretty magical. Although I’ve had some pretty epic adventures in this city, there are still a few I have yet to experience, and others I would love to relive before I head out. As of TODAY, I have just over 4 weeks left to enjoy California, so I figured the best way for me to make sure I get through the ‘list’ is to actually write it down.

*** if you are available to join me for any of these mini-adventures, I WANT TO KNOW****

 

MY SAN FRANCISCO BUCKET LIST

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1. go to the beach! Yes, friends, this has been an epic failure on my part. Three years in SF and I have yet to lay on the cold, windy sand-sprawl of either Ocean or Baker beach.

2. check out sunset from Twin Peaks.

3. go to yoga on a Tuesday at Grace Cathedral.

4. go wine tasting.

5. explore space in music at Audium.

6. chow down on food truck grub at Off the Grid in the Presidio on a Sunday afternoon

7. run across the Golden Gate bridge

8. trampoline jumpstravaganza at House of Air

9. go to a Giants game! (this one I’ve already done a couple times, but think I need a last one before I leave)

10. drinks at the Tonga Room

11. dinner at Nopa (done it before, need to go again!)

12. brunch at Plow (ditto!)

13. picnic in Dolores Park complete with friends, mimosas, charcuterie and music.

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I am literally crying as I write this- for those of you that know me well, you know that isn’t something that happens often! I will miss so much about San Francisco- the people, the hilly streets, the always-sunny Mission, the sketchy as hell Tenderloin, amazing food on every corner, the hipsters at Dolores park and dirty hippies in the Haight… among so many other things. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience San Francisco in so many different ways- here’s to many more years and many more cities- some may be just as exciting, but none will be the same..

 

As it has been said before: “San Francisco, you have my heart.”