funny shit frrrr….sunday.

I really really really wanted to say Friday again.. but it would have been a boldfaced lie. I think at this point there is nowhere in the world where it is actually Friday right now. And if there’s one thing I refuse to be.. its a liar. Anyways, enough about me. Scroll down. Laugh. Leave me a comment about how funny I am (or not). Happy Sunday!

IMG_5824This gem was found on the door of the women’s bathroom at the second hostel I stayed at in Lisbon, Portugal. It wasn’t until the second morning of my stay when my grumpy morning squinty eye face finally realized what was welcoming me to my first pee of the day.. In case I wasn’t sure what lady bits I needed in order to use the facilities, here was a lovely illustration to clear things up.

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I DONT GET IT. That is a lot of misdirected anger. I can’t imagine a situation in which unicorns would do something to deserve such a public call out.  Or maybe Unicorns is a person? Unicorns the person needs to stop giving unicorns the mythical beast such a bad name.

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Seems like a waste of the rest of the week, but I guess if you are going to announce it like this your Sundays are probably pretty busy. Is this like a ‘filling up the gas tank’ for the week to come, so to speak? (OMG SO MANY PUNS NOT INTENDED)

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I know there has been some dispute over Obama’s heritage, but I was not aware that he was also a supporter of British colonization in Africa, not to mention a restaurateur. WHAT ELSE ARE YOU HIDING FROM US OBAMA, IF THAT IS EVEN YOUR REAL NAME?
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If anyone knows a young strapping doctor named Robert Tessler, will you please let him know that his doppelgänger has a budding music career as well as a vested interest in dressing like Luke Wilson from “The Royal Tenenbaums”?

Many of you may know I have a strong affinity for all that is humorous in life, and I hope to keep these posts coming more (rather than less) regularly. As a totally unqualified medical professional, my prescription for your life is a dose of hilarity as often as possible. If you come across any photos you would like me to try and caption, send them my way! Tag me on Instagram @gbennett or email to bitesizepiece@gmail.com 

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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!

 

 

 

i got 99 problems and beaches are like 12 of them

Just when I thought I felt kind of ‘meh’ about portugal, I headed to the Algarve. For the first few days I was in Faro (the capital of the Algarve, I think its because of the airport), the ‘meh-ness’ continued to grow- with Faro pretty much what you see is what you get.. a city. Faro is touted as a great hub for exploring the surrounding areas- within the city there really isn’twhole lot in terms of nightlife, cultural events, scenery, or beach.. but if you are really into malls you could probably pass a couple lovely afternoons at the giant shopping center conveniently located right across the street from the prison (urban planning fail or win?).

Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only one that needed to see the ‘real’ Algarve. Teased with promises of sea caves and word class beaches, my fellow work-trade-er set up a tour for us with a friend of the hostel, and after a rough night in which I learned a valuable lesson about how vodka probably doesn’t belong in sangria, we packed into one of those ridiculously tiny European cars and headed to paradise.

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First we headed to Benegil- one of those places you drive up to and groan a bit inside due to the hordes of tourists and ridiculously overpriced restaurants- but then you arrive at your destination and you’re like.. oh nope, I totally get why everyone wants to come here. No hard feelings, fellow tourists, I also enjoy crystal clear water, soft sand, and amazing photo-ops. Turns out I’m not all that different from the guy wearing Tevas with socks and zip-off pants.

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if you look really closely you might be able to see boobs. I mean, its Europe.

This was when my hangover started to cower in fear.. nothing stops that day after feeling like jumping into super cold water. The main attraction here, apart from the amazing beach, is the sea caves (in the photo above they would be sort of down and to the left). After a few irresistible photo ops we ditched our cameras and clothes at the car and swam out to the cave.

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from above the cave

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I like to think I’m not that person.. but I TOTALLY am that person.

Although the trusty iPhone wasn’t hardy enough to brave the swim (at this point my phone case is literally about to disintegrate.. I don’t know if I can handle the trauma of choosing a new one), our friend/guide/chauffeur brought along a GoPro, so you can thank him for the following photos.

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I’m the one on the right that looks both naked and dead. I promise I am not either of those things.

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yup, still dead.

This was one of those experiences where you literally feel like the world has stopped- after passing out on the little beach inside the cave for an indeterminate period of time, the swim back to the main beach was almost an out of body experience. The cold, clear water seemed more buoyant than normal as I leaned back, sun on my face and forgot about the rest of the world. I probably would have stayed like that for a lot longer, but unfortunately I am only human and humans need lunch.

Still in our bathing suits (cause fuck clothes), we headed to Praia da Marinha for a picnic and more photo ops. This beach is considered to be one of the top 10 beaches in Europe, and in the top 100 in the world. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a beach connoisseur, but lets just say if this were a bottle of wine I probably couldn’t afford it.

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just before I slammed my head into the rock. see ya later brain cells.

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BAHAHAHA I have a rat tail. gross.

A few days later, we were fiending so hard for some more epic coastline that we headed west, signs out, thumbs in the air, and ended up in Lagos. Deemed the party capital of the Algarve, I came for the drunk Australians and beer bongs (<- that is a blatant lie, I would do no such thing). Though the allure of guys with sunburns and super short shorts wore off really quickly, I can’t say the same for the coastline. Also, Lagos is home to my new favorite person Cosmos … that guy just makes everything better.


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Tearfully,  left Cosmos (and his killer tattoos) for the western-most point of Europe.. Sagres!

Optimus Alive- also known as that one time I went to a music festival by myself.

So, remember a few months ago when I was still riding the Coachella high and spent hours researching music festivals all over Europe?* As luck would have it, I managed to actually make it to one! After a week in Galicia with my host family**, I took advantage of the fact that Portugal was literally across the bridge and headed down to Porto (heard of port wine? Thats where the name comes from) to see if the Portguese accent is really as hard to understand as I heard it was. Fact: It is.

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Porto

Anyway, the original ‘plan’ was to head to Porto, drink some wine, take some selfies and take in the gorgeous architecture for an indefinite period of time. That indefinite period ended up being a grand total of a day and a half, once I realized that A) Optimus Alive was in Lisbon this weekend B) tickets were only 53 euros each and C) the lineup was incredible. Surprisingly, no one else I’ve met seems to think that impulsively buying concert tickets is a good habit, so on Saturday I headed to the show by myself but pretty damn excited.

no big deal, just an epic statue in front of an epic building.

no big deal, just an epic statue in front of an epic building.

In a lot of ways, I knew what to expect- weird outfits, people with flags and stuff on sticks so their friends can find them, people digging through your bag, and long bathroom lines. In a pleasant turn of events, drinks were actually CHEAP (2.5 euro for a Strongbow), lines to get in flew by, the venue was easily accessible via public transportation, and they even gave you a handy hat to shield your face from the hot afternoon sun. I was a little confused about the timing of the whole thing, and would probably time my arrival for a couple hours later next time- doors to the event didn’t open until 5 pm (I couldn’t keep it in my pants, so I showed up at like 4:45), and the last show of the night ended a little past 4 am. I guess that’s Europe for ya.

don't worry, there were still crowds, i just did my best to stay out of them

don’t worry, there were still crowds, i just did my best to stay out of them

The biggest and absolute best surprise of the whole day was the fact that I was able to make it to the very FRONT of the stage for 5 out of the 6 artists I came to the show to see. Which in my book is pretty much unheard of unless you plan on camping out at the stage for an hour beforehand and don’t mind dealing with a lot of elbow throwing, pushing, and dirty looks.

i did still have to deal with a few "quacks"… get it?

i did still have to deal with a few “quacks”… get it?

If the opportunity knocks at your door anytime soon, please, I beg of you, go see these bands:

SOHN- British singer/songwriter/music producer. I like to think it sounds like updated electronic R&B, whereas other’s might describe it as ‘not-shitty’ James Blake-ish. Either way, his voice and the music he makes are both amazing.

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CHERUB- Nashville based electro-disco-funk duo. Unfortunately they dealt with some sound issues at the beginning, but managed to kill it- I pretty much lost it when they played a cover of Calvin Harris’s “Summer.” Oh and they are super nice (at least the half of the band I met)- one of the guys in the band came down to the crowd to watch Jungle- super friendly dude, which makes me like their music that much more, although I was a little disappointed when he wouldn’t agree to fire their current manager in order to hire me.

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JUNGLE- This was probably the biggest surprise of the whole day. Six white British guys were definitely not what I expected- Jungle is another group that is riding (or driving?) the disco-funk revival train, complete with the perfect amount of electronic influence. Also a giant plus that one of the singers knows how to rock a mean man-ponytail and leather jacket.

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PHANTOGRAM- I knew that Phantogram was going to be awesome, and they definitely lived up to the expectation. After the first couple of songs I stopped trying to figure out where one ended and the next one began- the rock/electro fusion was just too easy to dance to, and the singer might be my new fashion idol (if I didn’t dress like a dirty hobo most of the time).

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CHET FAKER- The only show of the night I wasn’t able to snake my way into the front for. I has planned to meet up with some new concert friends (new as in met them just before Cherub, so by then we had pretty much exchanged Social Security numbers***). Again, so surprised with how good he was live- similar to SOHN, he has an awesome voice and puts together some really interesting beats.

NICOLAS JAAR- I actually camped out for a bit to be able to watch this set from the front-ish, and then sneakily maneuvered my short self right in against the barrier. I knew that this set was going to be an experience, but I wasn’t sure what kind. Jaar managed to mind-fuck the whole tent with crazy jungle noises, voice changing microphone, and ten minute long songs that wound you up then knocked you over with intense, heart pounding beats. After 12 hours on my feet I think I would have keeled over if it wasn’t for the massive bass. My only complain is to the jackass that threw a plastic cup at his head during the encore- not sure why you would stay til after 4 am to watch him play if the plan is to ruin the end of the set. Good going, moron.

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Once the music shut down at 4:30 am, my one track mind switched from “I could listen to music forever!” to “I need to be horizontal with my eyes closed 15 minutes ago.”  The way home wasn’t quite as smooth as the way there- I may or may not have broken one of the ticket machines at the train station (it erupted in sirens after refusing to take my 10 euro note), and had to take a cab back to my hostel since it was too early for the local metro to start running for the day. Would I do it again though? Oh hell yes. And you’re all invited to join me.

*Also why has no one called me out on the use of ‘holy shitballs’ in a blog post?

**from my year abroad in Spain (2002-2003)

***reality check, I can’t even remember their names. So, if  you are 3 dudes from New York reading this, and you inducted a wolf cub into your wolf pack on Saturday and then promptly lost her, IM RIGHT HERE.

 

 

My (tentative and highly subject to change) future

Officially count this in the books as my first emigrated post. I am now a resident of the UK, with the bank account to prove it. Never mind that the bank account is currently completely empty, just the fact that I have it is a point of pride.

After leaving New York shrouded in clouds and heavy rain (apparently summer in NY is just like summer in the UK.. sometimes there’s a chance of rain all the time), Cole (the brother) and I made our way slowly across the Atlantic to the place of heritage- jolly old Liverpool. Now, Liverpool often gets a bad rap- it’s an industrial port city that up until recently (last 10 years or so) didn’t offer much by way of culture. In the last few years, however, things have really turned around. Great museums (all free!), beautiful parks, and a completely refurbished downtown area have turned Liverpool into a highly regarded tourist destination, although in a duel of wits, charm and overall good looks, London would (of course) win hands down. In a rap battle, London would still own it, especially on style and delivery, but to be fair no one would have any idea what Liverpool was saying in the first place.

So far it’s been a combination of solid family time (dotted with a few screaming matches here and there, but really thats just the way families are meant to communicate, right?), exploring, and reconnecting with old friends. Although I am having a great time, I did have a moment or two over the last week of  “what the hell am I doing?,” but I think that is to be expected, considering I have no idea of the next time I’ll see a lot of the places and people that have become precious to me over the last 27 years. However, I’m pretty damn excited to strengthen some bonds I already have on this side of the world as well as create a whole bunch of new ones!

So what’s on the agenda for the next few months?

I am generally pretty averse to doing a lot of planning, as I strongly believe that you never know whats around the next corner. Case in point- Buying a 1 month long round trip ticket to/from Colombia last December. Honestly, did I really think a month was going to be enough for me to get in all of the things I wanted to do, not to mention a ton of stuff I had no idea was even possible? 

That said, here’s whats on the horizon so far:

(The rest of) JUNE:

-Heading back to Liverpool to help my cousin Lindsey (Kosher Roast) and her friend Amy with what I have dubbed ‘an orthodox bachelor party.’ Which from what I understand is basically a luncheon. Either way, its been a while since I’ve worked a catered event, and I’m pretty excited to make some money, see how the event plays out, and eat some delicious food.

Africa Oye! music festival in Liverpool- I’m learning that, like San Francisco, a lot of events during the summer are weather dependent. If its sunny, it’ll be a fantastic weekend. If not, I should probably buy myself a pair of wellies and a good umbrella. Maybe a poncho?

good look for me huh?

good look for me huh? 

-Another week- ish (potentially) in London. Hopefully, I’ll get some more good weather (its been mid 70s every day so far!).

 

JULY:

-As of right now, I am planning on spending all of July in Spain. First off, landing in Madrid to spend some time with Patricia, my host sister from the year I lived in Spain in 2002-2003. Its been almost 12 years since I’ve seen her and her family, and I am so excited to catch up with them! Patricia is finishing up a law degree in Madrid, and the plan is to head out to see the whole family by car in early July. They still live in O Rosal, the teeny town I spent my sophomore year of high school in! I imagine I will hang out with them until maybe mid July, then thats where it starts to get interesting. I might head to Barcelona for a Workaway position in a cafe doing some waitressing/kitchen work, or I might rent a car and explore some more of Spain, I could go to Benicassim festival near Barcelona, or who knows, maybe from Galicia I’ll head to Portugal and see what happens from there. Any recommendations?!?!

AUGUST:

-This is where it starts to get even more nebulous. I’ll lay out what I am considering so far. (Obviously subject to drastic or minor change.)

  • spend a week in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival 
  • stay in Spain and work in Barcelona
  • Find a place to stay in London for a month or two and find some sort of income source
  • Rent a car in the UK and drive up to Wales to visit some family friends, continue exploring UK by car.

Past that, I’ve got about a million ideas and zero desire to commit to anything. The idea of England in winter doesn’t sound that appealing, so chasing summer might become my fall/winter agenda.

I’ll leave you with this:

 

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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blame it on genetics

I am so not trendy enough for New York. Especially now that everything I own fits into a suitcase, a carry on rollie bag, a travel backpack and a regular backpack. I mean, unless you consider dressing exactly like my little brother trendy, in which case I’m killing it. Apparently even though we live thousands of miles apart, genetics really plays a part in how well you can cuff a pair of jeans and sport a pair of sneakers.

 

thats it thats all my friends

thats it thats all my friends

Genetics are a funny thing- the idiosyncrasies we are often blind to in ourselves we see as faults in our siblings and parents.  Traits that seem adorable as a child lose their luster as we get older, and habits we learn from our parents benefit us in the long run, even if they seem like hindrances during our childhood.

I wonder sometimes, if I had been raised by an entirely different family what biological traits would still show up in my personality? Obviously, I would still be borderline child-size with terrible eye sight, but who would I be as a person? Would I still let my mind wander off and forget to pay attention the world around me? Would my daydreams be filled with white picket fences and kids instead of unknown oceans and desert adventures? Who knows, maybe with a different upbringing I would have ended up as a middle school teacher in the midwest, faithfully attending church every weekend with my seven kids.

My dad asked me yesterday if I thought that I got the travel bug from him. The funny thing is, when I was younger, all I wanted was to have a normal family that went on normal vacations and a summer that consisted of soccer and camping instead of flying 18 hours to dress in traditional temple gear to attend a wedding in Bali. The year I spent in Spain in high school was kicked off with me begging a family friend to pick me up from the airport in LA so I didn’t have to go.

(if you’re reading this and going, “WTF IS WRONG WITH THIS SPOILED BRAT” I really don’t hold it against you but honestly, as a kid you really just want to fit in. With the version of nature and nurture that I had, no such luck).

buncha weirdos at a graduation. how sweet is that tie-dye t shirt??

buncha weirdos at a graduation. how sweet is that tie-dye t shirt??

Now, at 27, all of the resistance is hilarious to me. The most exciting thing I can think of is the fact that I honestly can tell you what country I’ll be in a few months from now, or which method of transportation I might be using to reach my next destination. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up settling down in the city of my heritage.. good old Liverpool.

Is the travel bug something that was a non-negotiable genetic dictation from the start or is it something I developed somewhere on a sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok? My parents didn’t grow up traipsing all over the world, and my grandparents, although fairly well travelled, definitely didn’t have the adventurous spirit that I see in my dad and myself. Maybe its not an adventurous spirit at all- its that my dad and I are  both stubborn as hell, and the more something seems difficult, unknown or a little scary, the more pigheadedly we charge in that direction.

Ultimately, the people we share genes with will always be some of the ones we both admire the most and judge the most harshly . Recognizing myself in my family  is both a source of stress and comfort- and a driving force that keeps me moving towards the person I want to become. So, Dad, even with all of the trouble I give you, thanks for the travel bug, my curious mind, and my annoying habit of saying “what?” even though we all know I heard you the first time.

******Any NYC spots I can’t miss? I’ll be here til June 3!*****

 

 

 

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?