Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

I'm just a girl who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

This is my attempt to keep my friends and family updated, to keep track of my experiences, and to serve as an inspirational resource for all those travel addicts like me out there.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's happening

Visa has arrived. Flight has been booked. I have been putting my energy into getting myself to Korea and everything is finally happening. 

It still doesn't feel real. It won't feel real until I'm on that 14 hour plane ride across the Pacific Ocean. I know that's the case because a year ago when I shipped off to Europe with minimal plans and money - I didn't realize what I was doing until I was doing it.

Being on international flights gives you A LOT of time. Time to contemplate, ask yourself questions, prepare for the changes that are to come. There will undoubtedly be changes. 

Not only am I uprooting my life and replanting in a foreign country, with a new language and new people and a new home - I am starting my career. I have been exchanging emails with coworkers for a while, and they have done nothing but made me more excited about what's to come. 

I leave Friday morning and will be teaching by Monday. I have to settle into Korea while saving up some of my sanity to teach a classroom full of kids in addition to the surreal feeling of what my new life will be like.

BRING IT ON. 

I'm going to have a rough weekend. Saying goodbye to all the amazing people in my life here in Vegas, and hello to the new ones. The transition, it's going to be hard. But it's going to be so worth it. 

My dreams are coming true, so many of them. I tell myself every day how lucky and thankful I am to have these opportunities :) 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hallelujah Hallstatt



Instead of heading back to Munich with Lillie after our day trip to Salzburg I decided to jump in a car with some friends who were embarking on a road trip through Austria. They had no place to stay that night and wanted to find somewhere in Salzburg. This was proving to be a lot more difficult than expected. While waiting near the river for our fresh waffles to be cooked to perfection a cute local girl started chatting with us, informing us of the Opera in town, her explanation as to why we were having trouble finding a room. Well crap.We watched the sunset and then made our way to the car.


We found a room in some random town and started driving. On our way there we passed a huge congregation of people eating and drinking, listening to music and having a grand old time. Of course we had to stop and check it out for ourselves. Still have no idea what they were celebrating, but we ate and drank and celebrated along with them until it was time to get back on the road.





We spent the afternoon out on a quaint little boat having good conversation and enjoying the fact that we were lucky enough to be here. The landscape was breathtaking. One of the most surreal places I've seen. The main street was lined with little touristy shops and restaurants. I wish I could have had more than an afternoon here, it would have been ideal to explore the surrounding area and get a better feel for the place, but time is time and I had a train to catch to get back to all of my things I left at the train station in Munich.






















We did stumble upon the cemetery there. Let me tell you, the view was insane and the graveyard absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Next to parks, cemeteries are one of my absolute favorite things to visit while at a new place. They have so much character, history, and beauty - as morbid as it sounds.




Drunk in Spain - Barcelona

La Boqueria (aka Heaven on Earth) - Barcelona, Spain
Like the rest of my time in Spain I don't remember much and am lacking in photographic evidence of most of what happened, but I do remember that Barcelona was absolutely amazing. We stayed at a hostel right off of La Ramblas which gave me quick access to La Boqueria, a market filled with treats and meats and other amazing things. I could walk around this place for hours, and actually came back later in the summer because I loved it so much here. La Ramblas is a street lined with touristy eating spots and stalls selling all and any souvenir you could imagine, but it is in central Barcelona and close to a lot of great things. The Gothic Quarter starts here and really exemplifies Barcelona's past even though it is mixed in with new, developing parts of the city. The nightlife here is my favorite part, there is something about wandering the dark, narrow alley ways that had me hooked. 

Treats on Treats on Treats
Bar hopping in the Gothic Quarter - Barcelona, Spain
A great place to go if you are looking to have a really gnarly hangover is Chupitos. Now this place, this place is wild. There are hundreds of shots plastered across the wall, and you don't know what any of them are. You. Just. Order. The red ones involve fire and they are all 2 Euro, except for about 5 of them. And those ones are SERIOUS. The Monica Lewinsky shot can be found here - be warned, it's vulgar. My personal favorite is the Boy Scout shot. They give you a marshmallow on a stick and light your shot on fire. You roast the mallow over it before taking she shot. The only downfall to this place is they use their own "branded" alcohol - it's all really cheap and every shot is mixed with loads of sugar. If anyone has ever partied here and NOT woke up the next morning feeling like they were hit by a bus, it would be a miracle. 




You also shouldn't leave Barcelona without visiting La Champaneria. You have to go early, because they close by 10pm-ish (if I remember correctly). This is VERY uncharacteristic of Spain, but that's their thing. It's a great pregamming spot. It will undoubtedly be packed, you will have no room to stand or sit or breath but delicious Cava (Catalonian champagne) and even more delicious tapas. Manchego quickly became my favorite cheese. Writing this blog has me drooling. 
La Champagneria - Barcelona, Spain


My time in Barcelona wouldn't be complete without visiting a park. Not just any park, but the most amazing park ever in the world. I wonder how many parks that I have been to I have considered "the most amazing". Probably every one I've been to, because dammit I LOVE PARKS. Park Guell was designed bu Gadui, which is pretty self explanatory and I don't even need to go into details about how beautiful it was. It, however, isn't your typical park. It's situated on a hill, and a lot of the walking is up. 



We spent some time at the beach, which was so incredibly beautiful and had such good vibes. We were desperate for flotation devices and spent the afternoon in the water with drinks, enjoying each others company. We didn't do too many "touristy" sightseeing things, which was fine. I'm not big on that anyways. We did walk past The Sacred Family cathedral. I'm also not big on lines. The view from outside was unreal. One day I will go back, maybe when it's finished :)




The trip ended in chaos. One member of the party lost his green card. And by lost I mean that a hooker stole his wallet. Him and another guy had to go back to Madrid to visit the consulate to ensure that he would be able to get back to America with no problems. The last night in Barcelona I decided to stay in because we had an early flight the next morning. The majority of what was left of the rest of the group went to a stock market bar, where the prices of drinks fluctuate based on what people are drinking the most of. They were supposed to have an early night. PSSSH. Please. I woke up at 6am and most of them weren't back, and the ones who were back had brought new friends with them ;) Our flight was at 8:45 and by the time we left the hostel one of them hadn't even returned. We had no idea where he was. We left without him. WE LEFT WITHOUT HIM. When we finally arrived at the airport around 8:15, they wouldn't let us through because no one had checked in online for the flight. Before we could get to Mallorca we were stationary in the airport for many, many hours. I tried messaging our fallen solider, Conner, but the attempts were unsuccessful. 

 



Drunk in Spain - Running of the Bulls



After Madrid we were off to Pamplona. Thanks to the 40 Liters of beer I drank previously, I was the only drunk one of the group while boarding the trains. I got lucky with a first class ticket somehow but wasn't able to enjoy it because I passed out almost immediately. Once we arrived late that night we trekked our way to the hotel, which was quite a distance from the station. The boys who were running (from the bulls) still needed to go downtown to get their morning attire (white shirt, white shorts, red bandanna and sash) so I, along with the rest of the girls decided to accompany them. I had just jumped out of the shower and had my pajamas on but I was convinced it was going to be a quick trip so I wasn't bothered. 

We jumped on the bus and as soon as we hopped off it was apparent that we weren't going anywhere any time soon. It was past midnight at this point, and there were thousands of happy Spaniards drinking sangria and listening to music and having a damn good time. No way were we going to pass this up. We found our outfits for the next day (after first getting the largest cup of sangria I could find) and spent the next few hours walking in and out of bars,drinking as possible and making as many friends as possible. Everyone was drunk and happy and DRUNK. 

Some of the boys took the last bus back to the hotel to get sleep before they had to be CHASED BY BULLS. Who knew that a few members of the group were actually responsible. A few others, including myself, decided to go on a mission to find where the bulls were being housed before the run in the morning. We found them, and let me tell you - they were HUGE. The guy watching the pen explained that there were 6 calm bulls, and then 6 very scary and angry bulls. They all looked frightening to me. While planning my trip I had full intentions of participating completely in the run. I was going to be there, why not? But after consulting a few people and realizing I was more likely to get trampled by people than bulls considering how small I am, and the fact I was drunk - I decided against it. Being there was more than enough for me. 

View from the balcony - Pamplona, Spain

It gets a little foggy after this. All I know is I was still hammered drunk at 7am when we headed back to the hotel to chance quickly before we had to be at our balcony for the run. I am so lucky to have been able to watch the event from above, in a lovely Spanish woman's living room. There was food, which I wasn't interested in, and coffee - which I was very much interested in. After the bulls rushed passed (The whole thing lasted not much longer than a minute) the TV was turned on and we all crowded around to watch what was happening in the arena, which wasn't good. 

There was a blockade of runners clogging up the entrance to the stadium. The bulls ran right into this wall of people, and the miraculous thing is - they were not being violent. The sweet lady who owned the home was freaking out, exclaiming (in Spanish), that something like this has never happened. I am so thankful that my friends were not involved in this mess. It was one of the scariest things not knowing if they had been injured or not. 


We quickly gathered our things and went to the meeting place where we nervously anticipated their arrival. It felt so good seeing them walk up to us mostly unscathed. We made our way back to the hotel to get some well deserved rest, and then woke up and did it all again. My memory of most of this event is minimal with even less picture evidence. I remember having the damn time of my life though, and being in awe while watching the firework display later that evening. Despite my lack of photograph proof this is by far one of the craziest things I have ever experienced in my life. I would do it again. Over and over and over. 


I'm a big idiot and didn't think it would be necessary to book my train for the way out of Pamplona. We were all headed to Barcelona that Sunday morning, and I couldn't get a train there until Tuesday. The lovely man at the ticket counter also wouldn't help me get to another train station in which I could make a connection. All I got out of him was, "Zaragoza". So, I hopped on the next train there with no idea when I would be able to meet up with my friends again.

But that's okay, because I made plenty of (drunk) new friends on the train. Two were from Chile and were in the same situation as me. They were angels and agreed to help me once we got to the train station. They ended up being not as much of a help as I would have imagined - because somehow I purchased a bus ticket to Barcelona instead of getting on a train, which added about 3 hours to my travel time. BUT, the bus ride wasn't that bad and I was honestly just happy to be getting there. 



The majority of my new friends spoke literally no English. My new Chilean friends translated what they could but despite speaking the same language (technically), there were still communication barriers. Despite that, we still had a blast on the train and I am Facebook friends with most of them. Facebook - global connections at their finest!

Eric put together a video of their experience Running with the BULLS. Wild.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEBRWQIR3oQ

Drunk in Spain - Madrid

A bunch of hooligans in Parque del Retiro - Madrid, Spain

The picture above was taken shortly after having beer taped to my hands. Spain was one big fantastic mess. It definitely stands out from the rest of my trip, mainly because I was with a group of friends who's travel style includes massive amounts of alcohol. 

I'm not gonna bother trying to piece together my trip bit my bit. 

A group of 8 people spent almost 2 days in airports and on planes trying to get to Spain. Me and Zach however ended up at Hostel 007 in Madrid on time and made the absolute most of it - wandering the streets, buying drinks in bars only when I had to use the bathroom. Employees usually throw a fit when you try and use their bathroom without purchasing any goods. We weren't bothered, and my bladder was extremely weak.  It set a good precedent for the adventure that was to come. I vaguely remember running into prostitutes, trying to work up the courage to talk to one, and instead settling for one of my all time favorite things to do - people watching. 

Very drunk man laying under a statue in Madrid, Spain
Gazpacho!
As you can imagine, international airport drama can make you go a little loopy. When the crew finally arrived a day later than they expected, they had already come up with drinking games and activities abound. Insane tasks would be written down and numbered - numbers would be drawn to conclude which task you had to do. Shotgunning beers with locals, getting a kiss from a member of the same sex, and my lovely task - Edward 40 hands. Thankfully this game didn't last through the rest of our trip, one of us was bound to get into trouble. 



The last day we were in Madrid we spent the day at Retiro Park, definitely the highlight of my time here. Typical. Not much makes me happier than a big, juicy park. This one has art exhibits, a man playing an instrument (don't remember which) who refused a free beer and got mad when we didn't give him enough money, and a lake with a massive line of people waiting to paddle around on one of their many boats. 












Drunk in Spain - Mallorca



The last stop. We were down 3 members of our group, one of which was completely lost. Once we landed and got to our place we were able to see a post of his on Facebook explaining that we ditched him and he THOUGHT we were going to Ibiza, so he bought a ticket there. I immediately commented telling him NOT to go there, but if it was too late everyone would be there in a few days and to hang tight. Dramaaaaa.



We were low on money at this point due to the expense of missing our flight, so a quite night on the beach with a grocery store bought dinner of sandwiches sounded like heaven. Somehow, somewhere, someone had service that night - low and behold our dear Conner had mad it to Mallorca. We tried to let him know where we were and where we were staying. An hour or so later he came walking up to us on the beach. MAN, were we happy to see him. Turns out he got really, really drunk and cuddled with a prostitute all night. Really, he just cuddled.

Hookah lounge - Palma Mallorca, Spain


The next day we wanted to visit Cuevas del Drach - The Dragon Cave. Eric, the planner of these Spanish Escapades, was talking this up big. Apparently there was a massive lake down in this cave, and you could ride a boat through it. All 7 of us drove there in a car meant for 5 people. You know what that meant? Each trip we made, one of us had to ride in the trunk. I shit you not. I don't remember when exactly I had to bite the bullet in the small confines of the boot of a car, but it was as unpleasant as it sounds. Silly kids.

Anyways, we get to this cave and there are no boat rides. Oh well, it was still pretty cool. There were amazing formations and we got to watch a few productions. Okay, it wasn't that cool - only because afterwards while eating at the snack bar afterwards did I realize while looking at we were at Cuevas Hohlen, not Cuevas del Drach.




Now, at this point I was running really low on cash. Okay, the entire time I was in Europe I was REALLY low on cash. I just couldn't afford going to another cave and forking over more money. So me and a few others got dropped off at the beach - which is free - while the others made their way to the cave that we were supposed to go to. Which was wonderful! It was absolutely beautiful and clean and we swam and laid out and I almost left my camera at Burger King, but I realized it before anyone had the chance to swoop it. LUCKY. So damn lucky.


That night we didn't go out, but instead I bought a bottle of wine and walked to the beach where we got drunk and made friends and that's all I really remember. I had a damn good time though and was running on very few hours of sleep the next morning when I had to be dropped off at the airport to continue my travels without those crazy hooligans who I had such a BLAST with in Spain. It was by far the drunkest and most dramatic time during my entire 6 months in Europe - but I made some serious memories (and lack thereof).

LUCKILY, the amazing Eric put together this video proof of our Spanish Escapades. Man, oh man.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Camp Lee


I can't explain how good for the soul it is to not have cell service - to be cut off from the world for a few days. It helps bring you back to yourself, your purpose in life, and what's important.

What's even better for my soul is being in the mountains. As long as I'm entwined with nature, it doesn't matter what I'm doing - I'm happy.

I've been working for a catering company while in limbo between graduating and finding a real job. I've been working speratically with them for 5 years and the family who owns the company are some of the greatest people I know, which makes the job even better. Not to mention we work events that usually feature live music and GREAT people watching. Have you ever interacted with mass amounts of people who LOVE monster trucks. Those are fun people haha.




Anyways I've been up at Mount Charleston working a camp, feeding loads of rambunctious children. We have a full kitchen and a bunk area attached to it and I am in heaven. Not to mention the camp is HAUNTED. Which for some reason just excited the crap outta me, until I woke up in the middle of the night with sleep paralysis hearing voices. I'm almost certain I started sitting up by means other than my own, because I couldn't for the life of me get my brain and body to work together. 

It's about 40 degrees cooler up here than it is down in the Vegas valley. Thank The Universe. I am not ready for the Vegas heat, but I am however ready for monsoon season in Korea :) 

We have a lot of downtime in-between cooking meals, which usually involves napping or sitting outside with the boys and watching the kids do their thing outside. The first morning we were sitting outside our dining hall and my boss points out a herd of wild horses. I was off that porch quicker than you could imagine. Running through woods, jumping over things. I was worried about scaring then away but it became apparent that these horses were quite used to being around people. The kids were on a tree-rope course, screaming and making plenty of noise. About 50 meters away is a small pond, and the horses (and two ponies) walked right up to the water to drink. They were so calm, checking the kids out. I sat and watched them as long as I could, and then followed them a little ways back. Wildlife makes me so happy, I definitely don't get enough of it.



After we serve our last meal, the boys make a fire and get themselves a "baba". Vodka for Mikey and beer for John and I. Puts us right to sleep, only after a few hours of man conversation and watching the wood burn. I couldn't even begin to explain some of the conversations we had - but lesbian midget sex was a recurring theme. And currently I am being told a story of a opossum crawling out of a dead cow, from his rear end. Men are lovely, aren't they?



There aren't a lot of great things about leaving the mountains, especially when I'm driving back down to Las Vegas. One thing that I love is watching the scenery change from massive pines to fields of Joshua trees.