The Loneliness of Travel

Life in the outside world is weird.  It can be crowded, and it can be empty.

You meet a lot of people while traveling, and some make an impact on you. I have had the pleasure of knowing an awesome human by the name of Martin. I met him while doing my Workaway in Scotland. Since he arrived, he has been in so much panic about his future. He was ready to take off the day he got here so he can go back to Germany to figure his life out. Our hosts convinced him to stay, rather than drive 24+ hours to Munich. As the week had gone by, I learned he went to university to become a teacher and had amazing knowledge on philosophy and life in general. He’s wise beyond his young years and I adore him greatly. A week ago, he came in to my caravan to announce that he is going back to Germany as he was offered a few interviews to get him started on his journey toward becoming a teacher.

Although I was extremely saddened by his early departure, I noticed was not brought down and into the dumps. Although it had only been a week and a half of time spent with this man, and we have spent every breakfast, lunch and dinner together and worked very close together on the farm, I am not crippled by the sadness.

I suddenly realized that in the past I was co-dependent. I certainly was independent, but when I’ve become attached to people I enjoy, I typically become dependent on them for conversation, friendship, help, etc. I have been traveling and have met so many people here, there and everywhere. I am now so used to people coming and going out of my life for a day, a week or months at a time that I feel so happy when they (or myself) move on. Not everyone sticks around in your life forever, and I have to get used to that fact. People become a part of your life and become big or small influences. Some will stay, others leave. Not everyone needs to be in your life forever. People change and it’s okay to let the people and past go, to not only benefit them, but also yourself. This one instance has impacted the way I feel about my past regarding my friends and relationships and what and who is important to me.

It’s amazing what a little travel can do for your soul.

Bidet/Bidont-Butt/Vag Towels

Have you been to Europe? Because if you haven’t, you have to pay for almost every public toilet. There are also towel warmers (which I had no clue what those were until someone told me). My first bathroom experience in Italy was not all that impressive. I got off the bus and had 3 hours to kill. It was 31 degrees Celsius out, I had a large backpack on my back and a small laptop backpack on my chest. Luckily, I found a nice big park where I was able to lay down with my towel on the grass and read a book. Being as I just got off a 6 or so hour bus ride from Munich and lazily drinking water and snacking in the park, I had to get up to pee. So, I packed up my bags, threw my backpacks on and started to wander. Mind you, no one speaks English in this tiny town. I found some local men that worked in the park (at least I assumed they did as they were wearing bright yellow vests) and asked for the toilet. It took several times to pronounce the word toilet correctly for them to understand.

Side note, remember to call them toilets not restrooms or bathrooms while abroad from America. Otherwise people won’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Anywho, they point me in the right direction and off I go. I get there, and there’s a gent sitting there with a till. He’s on his phone, doesn’t say anything and completely ignores me.

“Excuse me, do I have to pay?” I say to him. He looks up, and tells me it 50 cents. At this point I have to go pretty bad and looking back at it now, I probably could have just walked right in and gone. So I take off my bags and find my wallet thinking I must have some Euros left over from my trip in Berlin. Success! Sort of, I found 30 cents. I asked the young guy if that’s okay. He hardly looks at his phone, grumbles and says “fine”. I run into the stall to find a toilet and another bowl which I was convinced was a urinal. Didn’t think much of it.

Later on, when I got to my living quarters, I noticed both bathrooms in the flat I was living in also had these urinals. I didn’t bother to ask why they were there or why they separate, I just figured it just was. This is how naïve I am to the world. Hahahaha! I didn’t know what these “urinals” were until I got to Venice and stayed with a friend and her roommates. They are bidets! And they are everywhere in Italy (and I’m sure quite a few other countries) and very unusual in the States. I have not yet used one and I’m pretty sure I missed my chance since I’m no longer in Italy. But I can imagine that it’s a great tool after a good poo, a crazy bloody period, and cleaning up just before a lucky night in with a date. I’m not really sure. With that being said, my friends roommate stated that there is a butt/vag towel to use with these bidets.

One side for the front and one side for the back, I assume now those were the small towels I saw hanging on the towel warmers just above said bidets. I honestly don’t know how you would keep track of which corner of the towel is for the front or for the back. The roommate insisted that it doesn’t matter because your “privates” would be clean and it’s just as clean as a hand towel….. That is up for debate I think.

After a week or so after this conversation, it dawned on me in horror that perhaps I had used those butt/vag towels to dry my hands while at the flat I was staying in. Shit…. Literally.

So please, when travelling, ask questions and make sure you know what towel you should be using when drying your hands after a trip to the toilet.

Bikini Island

American culture and the rest of the world. While abroad I’ve noticed a great deal of difference in image culture. Although there are plenty of advertisements with almost naked women, eating pizza or just advertising for a perfume, the women here are not obsessed with looking like that. At least in my opinion. In America, during the summer, lots of women want the perfect bikini body. With this new body positive movement coming up with models like Tess Holiday, they say everyone has a bikini body. AND IT’S TRUE!

Before I left for Europe I bought a super cute 1-piece swim suit that’s black and white striped. I thought I’d be the best-looking chick at the pool/beach. I also thought that I would be too embarrassed to wear a bikini. I’ve got a little belly and some stretch marks and just didn’t feel comfortable. However, going to the pool I quickly realized I was the ONLY person there in a one-piece swim suit. There were women there tiny and big, boney and plump from all walks of life all in 2-piece swim suits. For someone who sees people down on themselves too much (including me) to sport your body however you like, this is amazing.

As I witnessed this and as I traveled more, some other things came up with body image. Since travelling, I have had little time (or interest) to primp myself everyday with makeup and nice clothes. Every so often I will get around to looking nice, but often it is just trousers and a t-shirt. I hardly shave my legs and arm-pitties and I almost never put on make-up or do my hair. And you know what? It feels good. I’ll be honest, there are some women I have met, who take the time out of their day/week while travelling to take care of themselves by grooming and putting on loads of makeup. But that life is just not for me while traveling. If you can do that, more power to ya. But I’d rather take that time and use it for something more productive. I can go back to looking normal when I stop traveling.

In short, the one wonderful thing I learned out here in this great big scary world of ours is: selflove. I am here to impress myself, not other people. Love yourself.

Question the Indigestion

Real talk…

About a month ago I came to the conclusion that food is ultimately better in Europe. I’ve also had this conversation several times in the last week, with natives of Europe and people who have traveled abroad to Europe from U.S.A.

Why do you ask? I have never once in my time in Europe, gotten indigestion from the food here. Except the few times I went to McDonald’s (but it’s McDonald’s, so it’s expected). The only time I have had any kind of stomach ache, is from eating too many dumplings with my goulash or over eating food here in Italy. Italians take their food very seriously and consider it an insult if you don’t eat what is given, at least in my experience.

The meat in particular is different. The best burger I have ever eaten was in Berlin. The U.S. has so much shit in their food: sugar, sodium, chemicals, etc, etc. Everything is pumped full of them. This is the reason you won’t find some American foods anywhere else in the world. Because they are banned from all the shiiiiiiiiiiiiit they put in it.

Don’t get me wrong, I looove American food. Especially shitty American diner food. I love a good burger, fries and milkshake and a side of ranch (I miss ranch so much, I dream about it on the daily). I love hollandaise sauce and over processed potatoes. I love fried foods and sauces and all the bad things that make life worth living. But….

I will be sad when I leave this magical place. So if you ever travel to Europe, especially if you’re a meat eater, even if you’re not (I won’t tell anyone you cheated on your vegan/vegetarian diet thing)…. eat the goulash, eat that weird meat, eat that unknown foreign meal full of deliciousness. You deserve it, cuz you won’t find that same quality in America.

Venice is Sinking

I have been in Italy for 3 weeks. I finally made it to Venice to visit a friend last weekend. Only took an hour bus ride and a 20ish minute boat ride to get there along with 40 euros for transportation for 2 days. Before visiting I was told that Venice was stinky, no one speaks English, there are floods, earthquakes and…. volcanoes? Luckily my visit went well and there were no disasters and it wasn’t that stinky. I’ve been in smellier cities.

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been in. Because it is an island and no car could ever drive through it, it is incredibly quiet and clean. The funniest thing I do have to say is that although there are no cars, at night there are people on their boats that ride through the canals with music bumping. Kind of like something you would see in a city where people ride up and down on a long strip of road on a Saturday night, except less crowded.

Just before arriving to the city, I learned that Venice was built on wooden stakes that are driven through the ground. On top of the stakes, they built several platforms to hold up any kind of building they were to construct on top of them. Pretty amazing.

So I ended up staying at a friends place which used to be an old palace that is now divided into apartments and near an old convent. She and her roommates were convinced it was haunted, so we left out food offerings to these ghosts and went to bed. While I was NOT bothered in my “Harry Potter closet” by any spirits, the others were, as they decided to eat off the offering plate which then caused the doors and windows to open and close on their own.

Anywho, my stay in Venice was a success. We went and saw Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, had wine and sandwiches on the canal, shopped around, ate hand made pasta, had some delicious gelato, fed some birds, bathed in so much holy water in so many churches, saw a saints old foot, lit some candles and ended my last day going to the famous St Mark’s Basilica for a mass and a Eucharistic procession for Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. I am not religious at all, but it is an interesting experience to sit through long ceremonies spoken only in Italian, with incense being thrown around and large books and golden scepters. I ate some Christ and marched around with the procession and some nuns.

Ending note: EVERYTHING IN EUROPE IS GOLD! Especially if it holds religious value.

Fiesso d’Artico

My first full weekend in Italy and I spent it with the family I’m living with. They treated me and another au pair to a small restaurant outside of town that mainly consisted of seafood. We had plates upon plates of tapas style dishes. Fish croquettes, clams, squid, octopus, more fish, more clams and pasta of course as a main dish. Everything was beautifully presented and the restaurant was family owned, so the entire experience was amazing.

I’m living in a small town just outside of Venice called Fiesso d’Artico, only a few kilometers long and a 1 hour bus ride from the main city/island of Venice. On Sunday we took a family bike ride (along with the sons scout troop) to a park about an hour away. I was given an old rusty cruiser bike to ride on, where I was sure it would fall apart on the way there. Surprise! It didn’t! We rode through lush green fields, farmlands, onto old sandy trails, followed the canal, through a small town which was hosting a 5k run of some sort and into the woods to the park. When we got there, I was on the tip of being sun burnt. I was happy I bought a hat in Budapest (or was it Prague?) to protect me. Such a good $8 investment. The sun blared that day and it almost hurt to stop due to lack of wind.

When we got to the park, we watched the troop play a rugby like game and we all sat down for lunch. Once that was over, the kids played out in the woods and I laid on the ground and took a long nap. Traveling has definitely got me use to sleeping in whatever comfortable (or uncomfortable) spot that’s available. I woke up an hour or several hours later… not really sure, and it was time to go. By the time we left, the wind had picked up, the sun was still beaming, our legs were sore, and my ass hurt so bad from the bicycle seat. We got back, cleaned up and went to bed.

This has been a fantastic experience so far. It’s total immersion on top of it, no one speaks English here except for a select few. Some of it is easy to pick up if you understand Spanish.

Anywho, I have a few more weeks here and this weekend I’ll be heading to Venice proper. But for now, it’s late for me… so…… ciao!

The Pesty Buda

After finishing my TEFL certification, then traveling to Austria and Germany, I spent maybe I week back in Prague before heading to Budapest for a month. I have to say it was one of the best and weirdest experiences of my life.

Pro: Meeting people from all over the world, free breakfast, sight seeing, patio lunch/dinner seating, warm weather, thunder and lightening storms, everything within walking distance, castles, spas, ruin bars, Hungarian wine, rockabilly karaoke, a permanent food truck alley and a bit of a grimy city feel to the whole place.

Cons: Sharing a 6 bedroom dorm with stinky boys where the room smells like farts and sweat. Also, no good kebabs anywhere.

I spent about half my time sight seeing but the other half was spent laying around watching Netflix and chilling with other hostel employees or guests of the hostel. The hostel life sucks you in with being lazy and just hanging out. Which isn’t all bad, it just distracts from the time you could be doing touristy stuff. Then again, I was there for a month and had the time to spare.

I met a few people who offered to wine and dine me, which was amazing since I’m super broke. Had tasty tapas, hiked around, drank wine, went to fancy restaurants and danced. The time went by fast in Budapest and I miss it a bit.

On to the next adventure… Italy!