FamBamTravels: A summer summary

The idea for this summer’s travels began last fall.  I’m not exactly sure what the tipping point was… or why exactly we decided to go.  Except that we couldn’t find a good reason not to.  When I called Troy saying I had the idea to take a sibling trip he said, “I’m in.”  I said, “But you don’t even know when or where!”  He said he didn’t care.

I don’t know if Briana or Karston really cared either but since Karston has been twice, it was easy to persuade them that they needed to share the experience together.

And Vanessa, she was busy busy busy with finishing nursing school.  But she agreed that graduation called for an adventure.  And Italy has always been on her list, so I bribed her with it.

And that’s how I got my younger siblings to travel with me for 3 weeks this summer.  The boys couldn’t take that long off work, so the last week was a ‘sister trip.’  Three weeks is kind of a long time to be away from ‘real life’ but we loved it.

 

We spent the remainder of the calendar days between the idea and the trip doing research and trying to drag the rest of our family members onto the idea.  There was interest, but not plausibility.  So it ended up being us five.  So Karston made the hashtag #5goeuro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary: 1. We started in Czech Republic (Prague)

2. then to Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt, and Salzburg)

    

3. a stop in Germany for the Neuschwanstein Castle on the way to

4. Switzerland (Zurich, Lauterbrunnen, and other small towns)

    

5. next, Italy- where the boys left us and the ‘sister trip’ began (Venice, Cinque Terres, Rome, and Florence)

     

6. and finally Spain (Granada and Barcelona).

   

My take-aways from this trip:

1. You don’t have to plan everything.  But you really should book your tickets to major things, like limited access castles.

2. Europe has too many tourists.  There is still space for unexpected adventures.  Just, be kind to yourself and don’t go in the summer with everyone else.

 

3. Europe is not kidding with those stairs.  It definitely pays to work out before you go!

  

4. If you run out of hairspray, braid your hair.

 

Not this, that.

 

 

4. Eat the food. Cake in Vienna. Gelato in Italy. Hot dogs when you’re too poor.  Foods are memories too.

  

5. Look up. Look around. Soak in the details that make the place. Like rooftops and doors.

 

6. Do travel to a bunch of countries in one trip.  But do the walking tours. Or the bike tours. Or the adventures. The history you learn will all start to weave together for each place and give you a fuller picture of what Europe was like back when it all began.

7. And do travel with your family.  They usually share your kind of comedy, know when to give you space, and chip in to make the details go smoothly.

 

A Chile Fall

Last week I went to Chile for Spring break.  It was a sister/cousin girl trip to visit my cousin Carissa while she still lives there.  Not to mention it helped me knock off 2 times from my 30 x 30 list (cross the equator and travel with my sisters).  All in all, the week was a smashing success.  I wasn’t so sure when we started this dream how it would turn out.  And I felt a lot of the responsibility being the oldest, the only fluent Spanish speaker, and the planner of the trip.  But where I fail, Christ abounds.  And somehow all the details worked together to remind me again, what an incredible gift it is to travel.

Now, chances are, you know every little about Chile.  You may know it’s in South America.  Win!  But what I don’t think you know is that if there is anything you want to experience while traveling- you can experience it in Chile.  Don’t worry- you will soon see what I mean.

Great Things about Chile:

  1. Alex and Carissa.  They live there.  They hosted us.  And Alex let Carissa traipse around the country with us for a few days, while being 5 months pregnant.  They are fantastic, brave, loving people.  And I’m so lucky to call them family. 
  2. The spectrum of views.  Chile actually has a law against restraining people from enjoying its natural beauty.  Which means we got to hike through someone’s hill side to chase a sunset and stop along the side of the road to capture a river.  And no one stopped us, even when we had to climb barbed wire fences! 
    Now, this law is not without its merit.  Chile is a beautiful country.  Chile is 2,653 miles long.  That’s roughly 800 miles longer than the US is wide.  With the ocean to the West and the Andes Mountains to the East, the length of the country faces a variety of climate shifts as it crosses each longitudinal marker.  In planning the trip it was my goal to see the spectrum of Chile’s infamous geography.  So, we started in the South and moved our way North.  Here’s a summary in panoramas.
    {Coyhaique, Chile, in the Patagonia region}

    {Hilltop view in the capital, Santiago}

    {Hillside view in Valparaiso, a coastal city made up of 45 hills}

    {The colorful Valparaiso streets} 
    {Another Valparaiso view.  We loved our day trip here!}
    {Salt flats in the desert of San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world.}
  3. The culture.  It’s an interesting combination of ‘cold-climate’ culture and Spanish culture.  It includes kissing your friends on the cheek and squeezing by strangers on the train.  The Spanish is a delicious flavor of sloppy pronunciation and unique vocabulary that was just close enough to Honduran Spanish to keep me mostly in the loop.  And the country, as far as I can tell, is safe to travel.  As a leader of a group of girls, I was concerned about safety.  I was intentional about not being out after dark unless I felt safe in the neighborhood, which turned out to be almost everywhere we went.  Which was a good thing because the sun set at 7 there.
  4. The varietous weather.  As Chile is on the other side of the world (hemisphere wise) it is currently fall in Chile.  However, the farther North you go, the warmer it gets.  Makes it awfully tricky to pack when you anticipate snow capped mountains and desert flats in the same one week span.  To give a picture:
    {Guess the weather today: but ask a local.}

    {What about here?}
  5. The food.  To be fair, it’s not ALL the best in the world.  But they do literally have the best ice cream (it’s rated in the top 25 in the world).  And, I really enjoyed that shrimp empanada I had!  {See, even Carissa approved!}
  6. The dogs.  In Chile, stray dogs abound.  But unlike anywhere I’ve been in the world thus far, stray dogs are cared for.  Fed.  Petted.  Enjoyed.  And they followed you everywhere. 

So, that’s what I loved about Chile.  Now it’s time for some trip highlights.

  1. {Drinking tea in the Andes after a steep hike to chase the sunset on our first night.}
  2. {Our last night of blitz, golf, and parting conversation.}
  3. {Gasping at views as we drove.}
  4. {The sunrise through our floor to ceiling apartment wall of windows to wake us.}
  5. {Crossing the equator. Here we are  when the flight map showed we were there.}
     
  6. {Traveling with these all-stars.  They didn’t get mad when I accidentally booked a tour for the wrong day and daily told me how much they liked my planning.  Travel isn’t just what you see, it’s who you see it with.  And these gems, they made that 13 hour flight worth it!}

Things I would do differently next time:

  1. Stay longer.  Short trips mean you miss things, like experiences or sleep, or both.  I think we crammed a lot of things into our week in Chile, so I have no regrets about what we missed out on, as I don’t think we would have had time for anything else.  But what we didn’t get much of was sleep.  You can tell sometimes in these pictures by the looks on our faces and our post taxi nap hair.

What I would do next time:

  1. All of it.  Again and again. I mean, what’s not to love?
                             

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can.  Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”

“The purpose of this glorious life is not simply to endure it, but to sour, stumble and flourish as you learn to fall in love with existence.  We were born to live my dear, not be merely exist.” – Becca Lee

The Great Winter Escape

In the fashion of every good single young woman, I travel when I get weeks off from work.  If you don’t, you really aren’t doing it right. My opinion, of course.

This year for midwinter break I took a straight up vacation.  None of that typical adventure/culture stuff I pick.  (Don’t worry, that will come for me during my Spring break.)

Midwinter break could NOT have arrived at a better time, when it was freezing in New York and NOT in my final destination, which was Florida.

My flight was at 9 am from Newark, which meant I had to leave my house at 5:45 am.  Pathetic. Wish I wasn’t too stingy to call a cab sometimes.

That said.  I caught all the trains at just the right time to still have time to pick up bagels at Penn Station, although I did not have time to get them with cream cheese. Oh. And did I mention, it was 5* that morning.  Sigh. So. Many layers to wear.

Newark was surprisingly full I thought.  Also, of note, the convayor belt for the luggage wasn’t working.  I left my bag in this pile and took this picture to document it’s last sighting.  It’s the blue one in front.

This was the security line before the security line.  They were so busy I was put on the prechecked security line and didn’t even have to take off my shoes.  Handy.  But a wee bit inconsistent.

Following this I did some airport hustling as my plane was boarding by the time I got through the lines… and then waited an hour and a half to take off because our plane was awaiting luggage that couldn’t be found due to the luggage mess inside.  You guessed it, we departed without it and mine was of the lucky 1/3 to arrive the following day via a personal delivery guy.  Hooray for staying with friends!  The only thing I ended up buying was contact solution.

When I landed I was greeted with happy hugs and Florida orange juice and spent the evening at the state fair.  Some of our group thought it was odd to have a fair day in February.  It made perfect sense to me though, I had obviously tele-ported to summer.

Me and Malachi.  My favorite one year old!

The first 3 days of my vacation I practiced being a stay at home mom with my friends from high school.  He works from home and she cares for her 14 month old while expecting baby number 2 (which has since been born- eeee! 🙂 ).  So.  Our days fell into a pleasant routine of a late breakfast and playing in the living room between naps, during which mommy and I petted the dog and sat out on the covered porch.  P.S.  Gideon is my favorite dog.  But this is what happens when I try to take selfies with him.  You’d think he’d be more cooperative, I only spent hours petting him.

A dog and his ball.

An evening walk with the fam bam. My how we have changed since 8th grade! 🙂

This pleasantness lasted until Wednesday, at which point my parents and their friends arrived from Indiana and picked me up on their way from the airport my grandpa’s house in Sarasota.  We spent Thursday at the beach before picking up my sisters at the airport that night.  Obvious win.

Friday we went to Orlando to hang out in Disney Springs and see Cirque du Soleil.  Which was so fun to watch with my sisters!

Dad and Dan, with toys from their ‘era.’

Our Orlando group, sisters, parents, and aunt and uncle (aka family friends).

Saturday we went shopping, ate food, and played put-put.  I thought for sure I was winning for a while there.. not so.

Sunday – Briana’s boyfriend was picked up from the airport to join in on the fun. Here’s my dad and my grandpa playing shuffle board before we walked the beach.  Florida does not disappoint.

They are so funny… errr… goofy.

That time at the beach when my feet looked 100 years old.

We were very serious about documenting the sunset… errr.. ourselves.

These kids.  Acting like our whole walk was about getting cute pictures of them from every angle. Obviously, we fell for it.

Monday morning was perfect.  Beach side breakfast and one last beachy walk before heading home.  It was hard for me to leave knowing my family would still be in Florida for the week, enjoying the sunshine.  To make it worse, I left knowing this one would be getting engaged on the beach that week without me there to watch.  Sometimes being a grown up and going to work means you miss out on the best moments. Sigh.

And then I came home.  Uneventfully, with all my luggage, a kiss of sunshine on my skin, and pleasant sense of accomplishment of having filled my midwinter break to its max.

 :

Apricity

 

I’ll just say it now.  Winter is my LEAST favorite season. I don’t even have to shovel sidewalks or scrape my car and I still feel this way.  Mostly because it’s too cold and the snow gets too sloshy and I hate the constant reapplication of tights.  Layers really aren’t my thing.

That said. There have been many bright moments in this blight that is ‘winter.’

  1. This winter in New York has actually been mild.  Perhaps my favorite.  I didn’t even wear a coat to the airport on Christmas Eve!  And we got our first snow yesterday.  The very first real snow.  It ended up being 26 inches or something. Which was just enough to keep me trapped in my house in PJs for 2 days.  Actually not a bad way to handle snow I think.  Also.  Horray for 2 less months of snow than I’m accustomed to.
  2. Life has a way of filling up with good things.  Like random selfies with this favorite of mine.
  3. I finally got to visit the NY transit museum. It’s in an old train station- how cool is that??
  4. My kiddos told funny stories, drew funny pictures, and actually listened for the first week after break.  So fantastic.  Now, here’s a picture of a car: 
  5. And then my life took an unplanned detour- with a spontaneous trip to Indiana to catch a ride to Iowa to attend my great grandfather’s funeral. I got a seat to myself.Was greeted by RVs in the airport.  (So… unique.) Went old school waiting on trains.Caught up with cousins and planned exciting trips.  (Obviously- I’m the most excited of us all.) And then it was Iowa.  I haven’t been in 5 years.  Since this one got married. That also means it’s been 5 years since I’ve been all together with this clan.  (The last time I saw some of these people, they were kids!)And then there was the part where I had to say goodbye to my last great grandparent.  My grandpa actually asked me to speak at the funeral because “you’re a writer.”  Well, I’m glad HE thinks so but I wasn’t so sure.  I mean.  How could I be the one to speak for everyone there?!?  So I decided not to speak for them and instead, speak for me.  And in that process, I realized that I am really going to miss this older man we called grandpa.  I have so many sweet and savored memories surrounding my memories of him.  Mostly of trips to Iowa as children.  Not to mention the resounding impact he made in the person I am just from simply living his life humbly and raising his daughter, who raised her daughter, who raised me.  Now here’s a picture of said great grandpa, on a bike.  Too cool. 

And that has been my winter thus far.

Apricity: (n) The warmth of the sun in winter.

Circular Thinking

I haven’t been writing and that bothers me.  Because I’m loosing my writing voice.  And because I read an article the other day that said that we mostly think the same thoughts over and over every day.  And I realize that it’s true and I wonder why my thoughts don’t make many progressions and I realize that perhaps my thoughts aren’t all that productive.  Hence, I should write? Who knows.  But I can at least try.  To reach out to the world with little keyboard taps of communication and try to connect to someone else instead spinning the web of circular thoughts I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking these days.

That said.  I don’t know what to write about except the thoughts I’ve been spinning.  So I’ll try my best to arrange these repeats of mine into some cohesive line.

This month was my birthday month.  But you already knew that.  Turning 27 has been interesting.  It looks very different than 22, but I liked it.  On my birthday my coworkers bought me lunch and sang to me.  After 7 sessions of kids, back to back, it didn’t really feel like my birthday.  And I took a nap in the afternoon, which isn’t something I usually do on my birthday.  But I went out for Habachi for dinner.   Which also isn’t something I normally do, but it did make me feel more like it was my birthday.  Our chef wasn’t award winning or anything.  But we were entertained by the experience. 

November has also been unseasonably warm and beautiful.  Which I love. So much. Especially when my living room window has sunset views like this one!

Aside from my own personal holiday, November was riddled with celebratory days off from school,  Thanksgiving being my favorite of the options.

This year I did some new things for Thanksgiving.

  1. I went to central park and looked at all the parade balloons after they were blown up.  Instead of the parade floating by us, we floated by it.  The lines were unexpected but it was still mostly enjoyed in beautiful weather with my fun friends.

 

2. My WHOLE family came to visit.  This has only happened once before, for my graduation, and we didn’t spend any time in the city together.  But this year, we did.  A Thanksgiving feast, black Friday shopping at midnight (surprisingly manageable crowds), the Statue of Liberty, and Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.  For now, we are all grown ups and we almost always get along.  Oh the fun we can have together!  Like my mom said, “If only we could freeze this time.”

{Shopping}

{Heading out for a day in the city.}

{I think we look terribly alike in this picture.}

{Look what I found!}

So really, these aren’t the thoughts I’ve been thinking over and over again.  But rather the highlights between them.  But in my attempt to avoid the spinning vortexes of subway schedules and therapy prompts, it couldn’t be helped.

That said, I would like to add that I am, in fact, 1/3 of the way through my second year of teaching!  Can you believe it?!? And, while my littles aren’t all that funny, they are terribly endearing and at times it’s thrilling to help them learn.  Currently one of my favorites is a little kindergardener with the beginnings of a mustache.  Oh he is so cute.  And he’s learning not to repeat everything I say.  That said, sometimes our conversations go like this:

Me: Do you have to go to the bathroom?

Him: bathroom?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Me: Is it an emergency?

Him: emergency?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Me: Can you hold it?

Him: hold it?

Me: yes or no?

Him: (pause… thoughtful face) yes.

Turns out it’s not just my thoughts spinning in circles these days. 🙂

Posh & Poor

Sometimes it hits me.  I live in this New York place.  Where you can see the splatter of the whole world’s diversity in one trip to central park.  Where you can buy cup cakes from ATMs.  And people write songs about our lives.

But really, I’m only hit with the excitement of New York City when I’m in Manhattan.  Which was basically 2 times in the last 6 weeks.  Instead I live this Brooklyn life.  Where ‘gentrification’ makes its way into weekly conversations.  And my kids write funny answers on their worksheets.  And the males in my neighborhood have become obsessed with ‘wheelies.’  Bicycles.  Motorbikes. You name it- if they can tip it, it will be tipped!

Also, according to my emails ‘wordpress has missed me’.  Which means I haven’t really been blogging too much.  Which means lots of regular things have been going on in my life. And, I mean, how many of you blog about regular things?

WHell.  Apparently I do.  Because you are about to see a lot of regular things.  Because it’s May and it’s spring and that makes me happy enough to dump all my phone pictures onto the internet in hopes that maybe someone will smile along with my life.

Category 1: My parents came to visit.  They were here for one day after a trip to PA.  I offered to meet them there.  But my dad forgot how much he hated New York for a hot second and decided to drive to meet me instead.  Don’t worry, he remembered by the time he arrived why he only visits once a year. But, we got bagels and found a farmers’ market and even got a whole train car to ourselves once.  That did make him smile.

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{Indirect Window Selfie with my Dad}

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Category 2:

More recently, I made an intentional trip to Central Park because it’s spring (my favorite time of year) and I wanted to see things that were blooming and people that we crazy.  And eat my favorite Waffles and Dinges.  SO much winning that day!

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{Columbus Circle- Looking Out from the mall}IMG_20150425_185259153_HDR

{Has it really been a whole year since I had a gyro??  Just another reason to miss college and food carts.}

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Bonus Feature:

So.  There’s this place called “Serendipity III.”  It’s totally this cafe in Manhattan that was in some movie and therefore has these ridiculously long waits and lots of tourists to eat from its overpriced menu.  However, due to its ‘frozen hot chocolate’ (made from 14 gourmet cocoas) it’s on, like, every ‘what to eat in New York’ list.  Even mine.  So. I finally went this week.  With a friend.  We were going to go running but it called for rain.  So we went for dessert instead. (Her and I, we share the same heart.) Needless to say. It had this great “Alice in Wonderland” feel and the hot chocolate was loved by all.

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Category 3:

Work it!  I mean. Work.

So yeah. This month is coming up on one year since graduation.  And it’s amazing to me that I am, in fact, surviving my first year ‘therapisting’ (since I’m not a teacher- I’m a speech therapist, I’m not quite sure what to call this, but, you get the picture….)  Ahnyways.  I was just talking with someone this weekend about my job and I was struck with the incredible miracle that THIS is my ‘first year experience.’ So yeah, I work at 2 different schools.  And some days I run out of patience and skills.  But I was hired the week before school started.  And my schools are both incredible.  Supportive.  Helpful.  Safe places to grow.  Plus, some of my kids are pretty funny too.

{I had to laugh at this answer.}

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{We made flowers for spring.}

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{Some 5th graders think they are sooo funny.}

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Also.  My current favorite funny kid story.

Setting: 2nd grade boy and I are walking together to my office and we pass another adult with a student.

boy (to me): Did you see that tall girl??  She is MY type!

me: You mean the grown up?

boy: yeah!

me:  Buddy.  You can’t date a grown up until you are a grown up.

boy: ooohhh

Which brings us to the end of my incredibly long post about my incredibly regular life.

Here’s something just for fun.

Haha, read it!

Happy May, friends!

A Thanksgiving as Planned

Although it feels like centuries gone by, I did go home for Thanksgiving last week.

I had my time quite scheduled weeks in advanced and it went much as planned.

As planned, I flew home Wednesday after work.  Ate a proper Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, then to the sisterhood black Friday shopping (which has become a tradition of ours), Thanksgiving brunch on Friday with my mom’s family (no turkey included), a surprise 50th party (more like a gathering…), a Saturday full of more brunches and Friendsgiving, Sunday to church, another Thanksgiving feast with my dad’s side of the family (which this time included deviled eggs), a mario cart party- party, which finally lead to my final Indiana brunch with my friend of 20 years driving me to the airport to catch a bus to another airport to fly home so I could end the longest run on sentence since learning about the concept of punctuation.

All in all- my Thanksgiving weekend in Indiana= 3 Thanksgiving meals + 3 brunches + 2 birthday parties + 1 late night shopping trip.  And I really didn’t even get any pictures.  See?…

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The iceman.  De-icing our plane.

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Me and my sister.  Waiting for our 4th Thanksgiving meal of the year.

Now.  To start my journey, I did forget my phone in my apartment and discovered it while waiting for my flight.  This was not planned.  Fortunately (something I almost never say) my flight was delayed.  So after some creative communication experiments, which included 2 attempted payphone calls (turns out payphones are best for ease dropping as the person answering cannot hear you speak), asking a stranger to use their phone (and getting turned down b/c it was a long distance call.?? How is that a thing?!?), and eventually paying for internet, I was able to contact my blessed roomie and she brought my phone to me.

And well.  That was my Thanksgiving. It feels like forever ago.  Probably because it’s a world away.

And.  I’ll be honest.  Transitioning to adulthood out of college has not been a can of peaches.  And definitely has not gone as planned.  But, for one weekend, life did.  And, appropriately enough, I was thankful for that.