Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moving onward

Woke up, frantic.  I could make my new place a dungeon for sure.  You know, the blinds could be adjusted to be suitable for sleeping all day.  That could be my next project.  Blackening my shades to make it more suitable for sleeping.
I went to work.  Easy shift.  Talked to a rep and arranged to have dinner after my walk thru with my former land lord.  I clocked out, left and headed to old place.  I wanted to re-mop the kitchen floor.  While I was "cleaning", my landlord called, hoping, to postpone our appointment.  I wanted no part of that.  I wanted to get it over as quickly as possible.  I mean, I had worked all day, cleaned the old rental and the last thing I wanted was to hang out in the heat and wait for her to show up.
My old land lord arrives and thanks me for cleaning place.  Granted, I did a decent job.  Definitely looked better than when I moved in.  I noted that I avoided the blinds since they were unstable as she noted when I moved in.  Verbatim--don't open them.  I tried to open them and they fell from an unstable base.
Regardless, we complete the walk thru and she thanks me, again, for cleaning the place.  She mentions that the new tenants would be moving in tomorrow.  In my mind, I am like--wtf?...you aren't steam cleaning the carpet?  Or, cleaning/changing the blinds?  I am surprised.
I call my dining companion and mention that I am finished with the domestic things.  I leave and head to my new home.  I try to call the local electric company to turn off my service.  I figure why am I paying for my landlord to have her guy do repairs?
I call and am placed on hold. I give up and head to supper.  We arrive at this local byob place.  Brightly lit, byob and foodie friendly.  We order pierogies with beet salad, beets and potato salad.  The wine rep orders a meat inspired dish with tomato basil salad, broccoli & green beans.    I ordered flounder with shrimp, tomato basil salad, peas, cole slaw and rosti (similar to hash browns).    My friend brought a white from burgundy.  Delightful.
Yes, I loved the meal.  Conversation was interesting.  My friend lives out loud and is passionate about wine.  I love that. 
Yes, tonight was lovely.  Food delicious, wine lovely and conversation genuine.  I returned home and finally got thru to APS.  45 minutes on hold...yay!
Now, I am relaxed, happy and enjoying wine.  Life is grand!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday, the way I choose to spend it...

Day off.  Super productive.  Woke up, went to old place to vacuum, clean bathroom, kitchen and bed room before taking Vegas to the airport.  I knew that I needed to organize my new place, clean the old place, turn off the electricity, buy a yoga pass (30% off sale, today only) and maybe get a massage.  Ambitious, sure, but doable.  I needed to accomplish organization/cleaning today.
The yoga pass, well, that was cherry. I mean, yoga is not cheap.  I had purchased a package earlier this year and knew that my pass was about to expire.  I was hoping to make it til September on 9 classes. 
I took Jonny to the airport and headed towards a dollar tree.  I needed to get a mop to clean the old place.  I found laundry detergent, hand wash, bleach, a mop, light bulbs and a few other necessities (gatorade).  I packed a bag to head to yoga and after yoga clothes.  I love my yoga class but need a shower before doing anything else after the class.  Seriously.  I am unable to do anything til I shower.  I sweat entirely too much.  Shower must happen.
Yoga class was inspiring.   I missed it and due to the sale, I purchased another yogi towel.  Awesome.  Now, I don't have to wash my towel daily.  I can alternate it.
After yoga, I had a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine.  I wanted to check in with this local business and see what they wanted to do about the car that side swiped Veronica last Friday.  Yes, I was out to dinner with friends.  Instead of self parking I had the valet park it.  I had a few beer while eating pizza and b.s.ing with friends.  The guy drove my car up.  My friend asked me when I had eff'd up my car.  Shocked.  I got in the driver seat and considered my options.  I had no idea when my car had been hit.  I knew it did not look that way prior to me arriving at the restaurant. I drove around the block and returned to said restaurant.  I asked the valet what happened to my car. 
I know that this kid knew my car had been hit when he dropped it off.  That is what is suspect about the whole thing.  Kid barely looked at me when he handed me my vehicle.  Odd behavior, for sure.
Then, the manager of the valet said we are not liable and you should call the police.  Awesome suggestion.  Yes, super intelligent after I have drank a few beers with pizza.
So, I returned today to see if I could talk to a manager.  I understand the whole valet thing.  However, this parking lot has both self park and valet which leads to issues like mine.  Actually, i think whomever hit me also hit another car on this departure out of the parking lot.  Awesome.
No manager available.  Figures.  I noshed on some cheese, proscuitto and a glass of wine.  Paid the tab and headed to my prearranged massage. 
I liked this therapist.  I thought I did.  Today, I arrived ten minutes before the appointment.  I was excited. The first time I received a massage from this girl, it was stellar. 
Today, she asked me what I was looking for and I told her I was in the middle of a move and really wanted to relax.
She told me she had looked at my client file and knew that I didn't like trigger release therapy.  She continued with....last time you were here, I would have done it to you and so maybe you don't know what trigger release is.
WTF?  Great way to start a massage.  I was super annoyed.  I do know what trigger release is.  I know that I don't prefer it.  I loathe it actually.  I understand the importance of it, post massage, but during it, I do not enjoy it.  I could be dead and someone could be poking me with their fingers for ten minutes and that is what trigger release does for me.
The massage was awful.  I couldn't get the therapist's comment out of my head.  Then, I couldn't stop thinking about work.  55 minutes later (exactly), I tipped the girl and headed out.  The front desk girl asked me how it was.
I told her fine.   It was an okay massage.  Not good.  Definitely, not great.
The girl understood that I was hoping to stay more besides fine.  I told her what happened and she thanked me.  Apparently, this therapist has made inappropriate comments in the past. 
I went to my old house and cleaned under the stove and attempted to mop the place.  Cheap mop.  Didn't function outside of two floor strokes.  Tomorrow morning, I see myself purchasing a differnet mop.  I had a prearranged meeting with land lord for walk thru tomorrow.  Ready to hand over keys...
Yes, productive day.  Ready to continue onward in my life.   
I did manage to organize a little of the new rental too.  I can see the light. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday activities in Italy

Monday morning, we woke up and went running.  Initially, the idea was to meet Francesca at 6:30 and go running at the beach.  Honestly, I was a little afraid.  6:30 would come early and I had not been running in weeks. 
Still, I wanted to go and was committed to doing it.  I woke up and heard no movement in the house.  I decided to continue to sleep and wait for Agnese to wake me up.  At 8 o'clock, I made my way downstairs and met up with Agnese.  The run date had been delayed.  Thankfully.  I drank some water and waited for Francesca to pick us up. 
The run was spectacular.  We ran at a park and it was a beautiful day.  I remembered why I enjoyed the activity and why I wanted it in my life.  I admitted how unhappy I was to run in Phoenix.  It is too hot and I despise it.  I have a hard time, mentally, running when it is 105+ degrees in the desert. 
We ran for 45 minutes and then returned to Agnese's house.  I needed to exchange money and she had something she needed to do by herself.  I had a map to the bank and was about to head out when her mom returned and explained that her son was going to pick me up and take me to the bank. 
We met Agnese for prosecco, followed by lunch with her parents and then headed out to find a soccer jersey.  Drove to a few towns to search for the spain jersey to no avail.  We looked at three stores before finally finding the shirt. 
Dinner was with her family that night.  We celebrated her aunt's birthday and again, the conversation flowed.  Her aunt spoke a little English and I met Agnese's boyfriend that evening too.  We ate bruschetta with tomatoes.  Following the bruschetta, we sampled a calamari salad with tomates, capers and potatoes.  The main course was fish.  I loved the calamari salad.  The fish had too many bones in it which was challenging to enjoy.  Still, it was delicious and we concluded the meal with cake. 
We retired to their family room to talk more.  Her grandmother was still in a talkative mood.  She was talking to her grandson while he attempted to watch tv.  It was hilarious.  I loved her grandma butshe likes to talk, a lot.  When she feels ignored, she threatens to leave or go to bed.  I enjoyed my time with her for sure.
That night, I realized that I had one final day in Italy and I was sad.  I regretted not extending my trip. I could have arranged to be gone for two weeks instead of 9 days.  That way, I could have visited Croatia, more of Italy or who knows where else?  Instead, I played it safe.  I didn't want my boss to get annoyed with how often I travel.  I try to be out of town once a month.
I know that I had grandiose plans of what I would do in Europe.  Visit Budapest, Rome or Milan.  My trip was delightful and not at all what I expected. It was better because I spent time with Agnese and her family.  That was an amazing experience.  Seeing/being part of their livelihood and culture.  I would not have been able to do it, in that way, had I insisted on going to Rome.  I did go to Paris, Geneva and spent a day in Venice.  Ridden with tourists for sure.  I will comment on day trip to Venice later.  Must organize my house now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

wine tasting & pizza

I felt foolish.  Sleeping in til eleven thirty.  I had woken up, a few times, earlier in the morning but heard nothing.  Her dad turned a light off at one point and the fan flipped off.  I only mention it becuase the following day he said he was surprised that I slept with the fan on my face.  I do live in Arizona and the fan is currently pointing towards my face...both of them. 
Instead of showering, I threw on a top and hurried downstairs to meet them.  I was led to believe that we would be wine tasting.  I figured that it would be a short venture and I could shower in a couple of hours.  Little did I know that I would be enjoying a leisurely lunch and a prosecco tasting. 
Debora met us and we dined as a family.  Bruschetta, mozzarella, quiche, some veggies and wine.  Ample prosecco and red wine.  The meal concluded with an after dinner drink and I skipped the dessert portion.  Dessert was offered but I declined.  I wasn't interested (can you believe it?)
A short while later, we drove around the area.  Grapes, grapes, grapes and beautiful landscaping.  I would have taken more photos but my battery was on the fritz.  This, after, a few weeks of purchasing the latest camera.  Makes me a little annoyed with canon as the previous model had a lens error that led to its demise.  For the time being, I will make due with a battery that had little life in it.
I digress.  We stopped at a tasting room and toasted life with prosecco.  The entire day was full of conversation.  I wish I knew Italian--I do.  I understood parts of the conversations based on hand gestures, passion and words, but, I had no way of including myself with speech.  I did, however, with english or random spanish.  Still, it is not the same. 
Lovely day and in continued.  Debora, Agnese and I chose to keep drinking.  We ended up at the restaurant we had dined at the previous night.  I believed we would have one, maybe two beverages.  That was naive.  We had multiple beers and then considered the food factor.  I switched from beer to wine as it was filling me up too much.  We talked politics, travel, school, personal history, love, etc.  Eventually, Francesca met up with us, too.  Soft spoken, kind and knew english.  She spoke a little of it but understood what I had to contribute to the conversation.
Debora knew of a pizzeria that was worthy.  Magnificent pizza.  We walked up to the establishment and it was full of patrons either finishing up or waiting for a table.  It had this raw vibe of local people.  I am not explaining that well.  It was a place frequented by local people.  I kept referring to farmers as people of the earth.  Meaning--earthy, hard working. Again, not doing this justice.  With more time I could describe the feel of the place and the people that frequented it.
Anyways, we were seated.  Debora ordered this appetizer and then we sampled pizza.  I think this was the pizza.  I think, my favorite meal, of the trip.  Perfection.
The restaurant was too bright inside and sparsely decorated.  The focus was on the food.  My first glass of wine was pure crap.  Agnese kept telling me that people do not drink red wine in the summer.  My reply was that I didn't care.  I prefer red wine, always.  In this case, though, I returned to prosecco as beer was no longer an option either.  Too filling.
Finally, we stopped eating, drinking and Francesca gave us a ride home.  There was a promise of meeting in the a.m. for a 6 mile run.  Thankfully, I had drank a bunch of water throughout that day to ensure a healthy pace. 
Debora tried to convince us to have an after dinner drink.  We declined and the next day, I was extremely grateful for that decision.  Waking up at 6:30 to run at the beach would have been unpleasant is all I am saying.
Sunday showed me another typical Italian meal, conversation and ample drink.  I did manage to imbibe a few cups of coffee, too.  Lovely, lovely day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Meeting the family

Codroipo, Italy.  Lovely town.  We arrived and immediately I was welcomed into the family.  Her mom and Dad greeted me, graciously with a kiss on both cheeks.  Her 88 yr-old grandma was charming and extremely talkative.  Her brother arrived and one of her cousins with her baby.  This kis was one month old but looks 3 months old due to how long he is.  He was cute and they kept saying--all he does is eat.  Isn't that what most babies do? 
Anyways, we sat down to lunch and her dad poured me prosecco.  From this moment on, the prosecoo freely flowed.  The lunch began with bruschetta and tomatoes with basil and olive oil.  Next, there was mozzarella and burrata with more tomatoes.  Followed by proscuitto and melon.  All the while we talked in a mix of italian, spanish and english.  Her grandmother refused to speak english but she did know spanish.  In that way, we were able to communicate, somewhat, with each other.  She had eyes that always sparkled and a beautiful smile.  She loves to talk.
The lunch continued with homemade pasta with pesto.  After finishing the lunch, coffee was passed around with a digestivo and dessert.  Of course I couldn't refuse more dessert. 
Her family would not let me help with the clean up either.  That was odd and I felt terrible.  I was raised to be the first one up when you are a guest in someone's home. 
After lunch, I could have taken a nap and I probably needed it.  I am realizing, today, that I am still experiencing jet lag days after returning to the States.  I think I had it in Italy, too, just chose to ignore it so that I could enjoy more of their livelihood. 
We went shopping and enjoyed a glass of wine in a nearby town.  Her brother joined us and it was lovely.  Watching people enjoy life, wine or a spritzer (since it's hot and easier to drink than red wine) and listening to conversations.  I loved every minute of it. 
I did take a nap afterwards.  I needed it.  Our night in Turin was restless.  We needed to wake up early and my sleep was affected because of it.  I wanted to make sure that I had ample time to shower and that it wouldn't delay our departure.
That night, we had plans to meet up with Agnese's friend, Debora.  She speaks english, had traveled, and met Lindsay, too.  I figured why not?  We met at a restaurant that seemed hoigty toity.  I was dressed casually, like Agnese, and Debora looked smashing.  Ready for a wedding reception. 
The first restaurant had incredible wine, too.  I could have stayed there just for that aspect.  However, we had dinner reservations at another spot. 
We were seated outside.  After some discussion on what we would eat, I chose pasta and they chose steak and a pork chop.  I was handed a plate of proscuitto.  No joke.
We toasted with prosecco and moved on to a refosco.  Delightful.  The entire evening was fantastic.  Lots of conversation, food and wine.  I had my first monanegro (digestivo) and took in another experience in Italy.  When we went to pay, Debora had treated us already.  Insanity.  I was shocked and then insisted that we should meet again.  I was shocked by so much generosity.  It was nice, too.
I slept like a baby that night.  Looking back, I think it was related to jet lag.  Finally, at eleven thirty, her mom came up to tell me we would be heading out soon. 

Meal in Turin

Pizza.  I love it.  Even in a roadside store.  In Italy, it's delicious!  We stopped, briefly, to use the facilities and eat a slice of pizza.  We shared the slice as Turin would provide more opportunity for excellent italian fare.
Manuelle's girlfriend lives in Turin.  She's from his home town, shares his love of Italy but unfortunately, not of learning other languages.  Our meal was interesting to say the least.
We all agreed to sample the wine inspired meal.  We had no idea what that would entail.  Manuelle asked the server to suggest a dry white wine.  They brought it to the table and it was my least favorite wine.  Moscato.  Yuck.  Not dry.
Nevertheless, I dealt with it.  The first course was salmon carpaccio over pesto and topped with a potato cake.  Exquisite.  We all agreed that was the best course of the three. 
Next, we ate a dorado fish with mirepoix.  Decent but uninspired. 
The third course was the most interesting.  Scallops over an eggplant sauce with peaches and mozzarella.  I enjoyed it while it was a little too different for the others.  The scallops were fantastic!
No meal is complete without coffee, gelato and desert.  Thankfully, we walked around after the meal to settle some of the food.  Turin is a lovely town.  Many people were out that night enjoying gelato or just the ability to walk around and enjoy an evening.  For about an hour we perused the town and sights. 
Agnese and I bid adieu to Manuelle and his girlfriend.  Later, I realized that she never once gave me her name.  She didn't speak english and she had little interest in communicating with me since I did not speak italian.  Or, perhaps, she was excited to see her boyfriend and wanted us to hurry up and leave.  I don't know.  It's really insignificant at this point.
I did enjoy my time with Manuelle.  He was passionate about life, food and I loved listening to him and Agnese speak Italian.  Plus, he made me eat tiramisu which I loved in spite of the fact that I was super full on pizza.
Of course having more time to explore the city would have been welcome.  However, we were on a mission to make it to Codroipo by lunch time to dine with the family.  I think the drive from Turin to Codroipo was 5 hours if I remember correctly.  Onward and upward....

Stopover in Paris

My train left promptly at 8:45.  A gentleman sat down next to me and started a conversation with me.  He was Tunisian but lived in Philadelphia.  He still had a touch of an accent.  Initially, I just listened and didn't really think about what he was saying too much.  He owned a restaurant in the city and it was byob. 
He was interested in light conversation--where was I staying in Paris, was this my first visit, did I know how to get around, did i speak french, how long would i be staying, etc.  I didn't reveal too much.  I wasn't extremely paranoid, just cautious.  I mean, I wasn't meeting anyone in Paris, I didn't have accomodations arranged (yet) and I couldn't read if his intentions were dishonest or not.  I thought about the conversation and realized that he was harmless.  He didn't push to meet up with me or anything like that.  He just wanted to talk while on the train.
We parted ways when we arrived.  My first thought was map, bathroom and then head out to the city.  A map was an easy fix.  Bathroom required euros.  I had forgotten that aspect of the french part of the trip.  I approached a cambio in the train station and handed the guy $200.  He gave me 141 euros.  Ouch.  Not a good exchange rate.
I found a bathroom and headed out into the city.  I figured if I walked along the Seine River, I would be fine.  Find Notre Dame, the Lourve and Eiffel Tower. 
I did.  Notre Dame was my first encounter.  I thought of my dad and how ironic my first stop was the church.  I snapped a few photos and continued on my route. 
I stopped at a cafe for lunch and a glass of wine.  Sort of a requirement while in Paris.  It began to rain and then I questioned my decision to not bring along Agnese's umbrella.  I just didn't want to make space for it in my bag.  I had a book, change of clothes, toiletries and a journal.  It was kind of uncomfortable and heavy.
Regardless, I enjoyed the wine and then left for the Eiffel Tower.  When I was 17, I visited Paris for the first time.  I was in awe of the Lourve, Eiffel Tower, and other sites of this lovely city.  This time, though, it was an odd vibe.  Rainy, overcast and just unsettling, I suppose.  Looking back, it seemed like a waste of time/money.  I spent the night in a clean hotel and waited for my return train to Geneva.  I did enjoy the wine and cheese of my evening meal.  Brie, bleu, triple cream and french fries were delicious.  The rain prohibited me from exploring more of the city.  Or, perhaps, I was just a little disinterested. 
The following morning was leisurely.  I slept in and woke to realize that the Bold & the Beautiful was broadcast in french.  Sorta funny.
I checked out of the hotel and began my walk back to the train station.  It was misting out and I had a limited amount of time to get to the station.  I got a little turned around and arrived eleven minutes before the train was supposed to depart.  I grabbed a coffee & a croissant and inquired to where platform 19 was since I couldn't see it.  This woman instructs me to head down the platform on the left and that i would see it. 
I did as she said and didn't see anyone else boarding or any indication that it was the 19th platform.  I stopped a security guy and asked him.  Of course, he didn't speak english.  I was starting to freak out that I was going to miss my train.  He motioned for me to follow him and he led me up a staircase, out of the main hall and to another area full of trains. 
I found mine and entered the 15th section.  My seat was occupied by someone.  WTF?  I tell the person that he is in my seat and he moves.  I settle in and relax, finally.  I would have been screwed had I missed the train.  I had a 4:30 meet up with Agnese and then we would be heading to Turin, Italy.  I couldn't risk taking another train out of Paris.
Thankfully, I made the train, had coffee and was fine.  My train mates were kind.  A swedish woman extremely talkative and wanting to talk about politics and a couple from China.  They, too, were heading to Italy in a few days after a brief stop in Geneva.  The man spoke English while his wife understood it but didn't speak. 
I am glad that I went to Paris, if only, for the wine factor.  Next visit, though, I would skip the city and go to Bordeaux and other surrounding areas.  I would also learn a few phrases in french to be respectful. 
I returned to Geneva, inhaled a tomato panini, downed a glass of wine and jumped on a tram to meet up with Agnese.  We were going to beginning the Italian adventure in four hours.  I was excited and ready to eat more pizza.

Day Two of Geneva

I was exhausted the first night in Geneva.  I tried to stay awake/interested in the conversation, but I was failing.  I wanted sleep.  After the best pizza in Geneva however.  Agnese asked me, several times, if I wanted to go to her house and go to bed.  She offered to do the pizza the following night but I was insistent that I was okay.
We arrived at the pizzeria and were informed that it would be a thirty minute wait.  I put on a brave face and waited.  We stood outside and b.s.'d with her friend, Manuelle.  He spoke english, too, and so it was a pleasant conversation. 
Eventually, we were seated and they suggested we start with bruschetta.  Delicious.  I thought we would share a pizza.  It's a lot of food, right, and sharing would be fine.  Both of them looked at me like I was nuts.  They said, no, get your own.
Agnese chose a margarita with buffalo mozzerella.  Manuelle added eggplant and proscuitto to the margarita and I had a salsiccia pizza.  The server brings me my pizza pie and I think--wow, there is no way that I will eat more than a slice or two.  Little did I know that I would attempt to eat the entire thing.  Thin crust, amazing flavor and delish.  I tried a slice of the eggplant combo and enjoyed that, too.  Afterwards, I was dreaming of sleep and they say, we are getting tiramisu.  I thought they were crazy but when it arrived I had little difficulty in sampling it.  I haven't eaten tiramisu in years.  This tiramisu was incredible and I couldn't stop at one bite only. 
I should have taken a photo of the food I ate that night.  Too bad my camera had already started showing signs that the battery was fading.  Anyways, after dinner, we dropped her friend off and I slept in the car.  I met her roommates, briefly, I think.  I really don't remember.  I was in a zombie like trance at that point in the evening.  Exhausted and barely able to keep my eyes open.  The next morning, I woke up at 9, to ask what time it was.  With Agnese's response, I slept til 1ish.  13 hours of blissful, needed sleep.
I showered, read the remainder of my book and grabbed Agnese's bike to head into Geneva.  I knew there was a boulangerie on the way and had my sights set on a chocolate croissant and coffee.  I locked her bike and ordered a croissant noting the lack of coffee.  I paid the proprietor and walked to the nearest coffee shop which was actually a bar.  I sit belly up to the bar and order a coffee.  I listened to french and minded my own business.  The coffee was tiny and so I order another shot of espresso.  When I ask for the check I hand the bartender my money and he's like, no, this isn't correct.  I didn't have euros at that point, only swiss francs.  He pawns me off to this woman that speaks limited english and I try to explain to her my dilemma.  I had american money or swiss francs.  I noticed a bank across the street and offered to change some dinero there.  I walked into the bank and the teller says, we do not make change here.
Dismayed, I offer my debit card to the bartender.  She looks at me and says, do not worry about it.  It's just a coffee.  I offer to return later and she insisted that I was fine.
Grateful for her understanding and kindness.  The coffee was lovely as well.
I ride into Geneva and reflect on how wonderful my life has been.  I am fortunate for the ability to travel and meet interesting and kind people.  I felt liberated to just be in that moment. 
I locked Agnese's bike and found the nearest cambio counter.  I made change and headed out to explore more of Geneva.  I rode near the Jet D'Eau and took in the mix of people.  Lots of tourists, locals and others enjoying the beautiful swiss day. 
Agnese met me at 6:30.  We walked to a tapas inspired eatery and sat outside.  Packed restaurant.  We tried cheese, croquettes, pipitos and some bruschetta.  The pipitos were my favorite.  After dinner, we walked up to an outdoor free concert to meet Manuelle and some of their co-workers.  Apparently, in Geneva during the summer, there are several opportunities to enjoy an outdoor concert for free.  The place was packed with people.  The music reminded me of a moroccan harem.  Not for me or my friends, really, but still it was interesting to do and enjoyable.  We considered one more pint before heading back to the border.  The next morning would be early and the last bus to her village left at 12:30ish. 
We took the tram to the bus stop and realized that we missed the bus.  At this point, we could walk the last 5 km of the venture.  I was fine with that.  I walk everywhere.  Agnese, however, insisted that I ride on the back of her bike for part of it.  I hadn't done that maneuver since I was a teenager. It was scary, fun and really exhilerating going down the hills and hoping to not crash or create the crash.  She seemed confident that we would be fine and honestly, we were.  It was just me and my paranoia of crashing and adding more damage to my face.
I was rested for the most part and I loved the sunshine of Geneva.  Clean, clean city and kind people.   Most everyone spoke English which was helpful.  The following day I would be entering Paris and I knew the language barrier would be defined immediately....

Friday, July 20, 2012


Last week, I flew to Geneva, Switzerland.  Talk about lovely city.  Super clean and beautiful. 
I left Phoenix at 5:30 a.m. and arrived in Charlotte around noon.  I love that airport.   Rocking chairs.  Need I say more?  I purchased a book and wandered around the airport.  I do not love the dining options in that airport.  I got over it by enjoying the rocking chairs and mints available in the restrooms.
I ate my final bit of mexican fare, quesadilla, and enjoyed a few pints of local beer before beginning my European venture.  Sounds lame, I know.  My need for mexican food that is.  From experience, I jknow it can be challenging to find mexican food outside of the country.  I remember being in New Zealand and frustrated that I couldn't find a decent burrito with salsa.
Anyways, I sat in the airport and reflected on life.  It had been too long since my last trip and I was excited.  Maybe not the best timing but I was doing it and excited to explore Europe.  The beer and quesadilla was delicious by the way.
My next stop was Frankfurt.  During that flight, I watched the Descendents and slept.  I had an entire row to myself and took advantage.  The only downside to this flight was the child that kept calling for his dad at random times the entire flight.  Annoying.  However, it was a kid and so I had some compassion for this child.
I arrived in Frankfurt and stopped for a coffee.  $6.  Insane.  Incredulous.  I was shocked at the price of the medium sized coffee.  Yet, it was delightful and I needed some caffeine to begin the next day.  I arrived in Geneva and opted to stay up instead of taking a nap.   I thought this was the way to handle the jet lag.  I was okay for probably three and a half hours. 
Then, I crashed.  I wanted to sleep but had hours to wait before my prearranged meet up spot with Agnese.  She had to work a bit on Tuesday and I was, solo, to explore Geneva until 6:30 pm.  I tried to read, walk around and drink coffee.  I enjoyed a few glasses of bordeaux in a few wine bars and jounaled even.  I was fighting the urge to sleep.  I sustained til our meet up, a glass of wine and a bus ride to meet Agnese's friend for dinner.  When we arrived at the Italian pizzeria, we were told it would be a half hour wait.  At this point, I didn't know if I could make it.  The food rejuvenated me.  We shared bruschetta and each ordered a pizza.  I thought we could share one, maybe two.  They were insistent that we order our own pizza and enjoy it.  I opted for a sausage and tomato, thin crust,  and incredible.  I ate til I couldn't eat anymore.
Or, so I thought.  Then, they ordered tiramisu.  I wanted to resist it.  But, I was on vacation and it was so tempting to just try one bite.  Wow, delish!  I did not regret eating the tiramisu either.
We dropped her friend off and I slept on the way to her house.  I think I met her roommates. I cannot remember.  I was in a zombie like state at that point.
The next morning, I woke up, briefly to ask what time it was.  9--I think.  Instead of getting up for coffee, I slept until 1ish.  Total sleep, 13 hours.  I needed it and felt awesome afterwards. 
First day of the trip was spent in and out of airports.  A few glasses of beer and two glasses of wine on the plane.  I would of drank more wine on the plane had it been free.  I was super bummed to find that the airline charges for adult beverages on international flights. 
$6 cup of coffee woke up to the reality of traveling.  I was shocked at the price but wanted to sate my need for coffee.  I did walk around Geneva and enjoy a few glasses of wine.  The best part of the wine service in Geneva was that they gave me food with the glass of wine.  Cheese, salami, vegetables and bread, depending on the place.  I loved it.
I had a lot of time to reflect on life.  I think that is what traveling does for me.  Gives me time to reprioritize and consider what is important to me.  From this trip, I learned that I want to learn another language and travel more (of course).  In order to achieve that, I must work. 
As such, it is time to get up and go to work.  Cheers and ciao~

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Europe Vacay

Europe, how I have missed you.
While waiting in Charlotte, I considered my previous visits to Paris as a teenager.  In 2003, Brian and I chose to see if we were compatible by spending a week in Amsterdam and Frankfurt.  That could have been a colossal fail.  Thankfully, we managed to enjoy the trip and not kill one another while touring through a few countries.
Still, it's been 9 years since my last visit.  Ridiculous.  I arrived in Frankfurt, collected a passport stamp and waited to board my last connecting flight to Geneva.  My friend picked me up, promptly, outside of baggage claim.  I surprised her, actually.  She thought it would take me awhile to get through customs.  Little did she know how I travel.  I have a carry on bag and a larger purse for a day trip of sorts.  I enjoy being able to get in and out of customs with ease.
Not going to lie...I am tired.  However, if i sleep, I think i will have many issues later.  Must be able to sleep tonight and not experience insomnia.  My friend is going to work and I am going to enjoy the overcast day.  Ciao!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicago...sort of.....

I lost my posting about Chicago...public transport, 10k, Petite Petit.  WTF?  I tried to add a photo and was unable to find the correct photo album.  Then, I went to return to the posting and found a blank slate.  Maybe it wasn't that interesting.  Yet, I thought it was.
I mentioned how brilliant of a city Chicago is.  I know I am not the only one that thinks this.  It is a pleasureable city.  User friendly, foodie, wine, beer bars and extremely accessible via public transport.  We took the El everywhere and it was great.  Cheap and effective.  Who wouldn't enjoy Chicago?
I had photos to illustrate how lovely it is....food, wine and of course, land scape shots.  I have no idea what happened or why I am experiencing difficulty with posting.
Just know this....I had a divine time with Sara Jo.  My third visit.  Her first.  I think she fell in love with it, though.  It's easy to...in the summer.  I think the winters would be harsh and unbearable to me.  I love the sun to doom and gloom.  Plus, it's cold.  Bone chilling cold that I am not used to.  I think I prefer visiting to living.  Maybe a friend of mine will relocate there and soon.
We took the el, walked or rode in cabs to explore the city.  Lovely.  We dined at Charlie Trotter's, a cuban/latin inspired cafe, eno, purple pig and le colony.  I would have loved to have more time to check out other eateries.  I felt fortunate to have dined at Trotter's--such an iconic place for fine dining/cuisine.  Moreover, I was with someone that appreciated the experience as much as I did.  I really enjoyed that.
I must figure out what happened to the previous post.  My thoughts were more focused.  I think the heat is effecting me.  More later...

Running woes

Beautiful night.  I think it is 96.  I don't know.  It feels lovely.  Overcast, windy and absolutely what I needed.  I love the sun but day after day after day of 100+ heat is challenging.  I shouldn't complain.  I chose this.  I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to return to Phoenix.  I remember, vividly, what the summers are like.  Brutal.  Long.  Intense.
Yet, people are prepared for it here.  Misters.  A/C (everywhere) and a few other amenities that help people manage the summers here.  I cannot imagine how awful it is in the southeast with the current heat wave.  Wow, it would be challenging.  Yes, it is hot here, but it's bearable.
Tomorrow, they predict rain.  I welcome it.  I cannot wait for it to be overcast, cloudy and ideal for a mid morning run. 
When I was in Chicago two weeks ago, I remembered how much I enjoyed running.  It's an ease that allows a tranquility, a time to think and physical exertion.  I love running.  In Phoenix, it's challenging for me.  I prefer to run when it is not 100+ heat.  I don't like it and mostly, it is, mental.  I know it.  I do not perform well under hot conditions.  I despise it.  My current running partner could run when it is 120--I am not joking.  Me, I am ready to wilt and die.  I try to explain to him my need to run later in the evenings or earlier in the mornings to avoid the intense, overwhelming heat.  He just doesn't understand.
Tonight would be the perfect time to go for a run.  Instead, my running partner is hanging up in Cave Creek and I am enjoying a pleasant evening to myself.  Windows open, enjoying a slight breeze and drinking a glass of wine (of course).  Run can wait til tomorrow, I think....