Last month, S and I spent a weekend in Bruges. It was great. Really great. Bruges is probably too fun to spend more than a weekend there. One more beer and one more portion of mussels might have been too much. Nope, never mind. There’s no such thing as too many mussels. Anyway, here are seven things about our trip:
“How is this place real?” Walking around Plitivice Lakes National Park, I could not stop saying this. We hiked this UNESCO Natural World Heritage site for almost a full day and I felt like I was in a dream the whole time.
“Is he still on the boat?”
“He’s still on the boat!!”
As I looked out to the harbor, there was S in his bright orange shirt and bright green wayfarers, smiling and clutching the old boat’s railing as it returned to the dock…for the second time. While the captain loved our groups’ high spirits, the rest of the passengers, unfortunately, did not share the sentiment. I’m sure they were thrilled when we all got off at stop one of three, which is precisely the moment that S thought was a good time to use the loo. And then the boat took off. And then it came back. Our group in uproariously laughter, tipsy from our cruise during which we supplied some delicious Croatian boxed wine and several plastic two liter bottles of beer, took off into the town for another memorable evening on the Dalmatian coast.
This week, I had the honor of being featured on The Pin the Map Project by it’s author, Nikki, who has a passion for travel and travel writing. As she plans a future dream round-the-world trip with her husband, she continues to travel in the present and maintains a full time job in New York City. Cheers to Nikki! When my European sabbatical days come to an end, I hope to channel a little Nikki and continue to make travel a part of my life.
Anyone can love a perfect place. Loving Baltimore takes some resilience. – Laura Lippman
It’s not always easy to love Baltimore. It takes a while to warm up to you and it may disappoint you from time to time with its traffic and ongoing fight against crime and poverty, but if you stick it out, you’ll find it’s well worth the ups and downs. Every time I meet someone new, this is, without fail, part of the conversation: “Where are you from?” “Baltimore.” “So you grew up in The Wire?” “Ugh.” There’s a reason people associate Baltimore with violence. I won’t sugar coat it. It’s a major problem. But beyond the Barksdale Crew and Omar, Baltimore is so much more. It’s a place where families grow and stay forever. Where you walk down the street and see your eighth grade English teacher, your high school classmate, you’re cousin’s best friend who you met at party, your aunt’s friend who cuts your hair, and your childhood lacrosse coach. It’s a place so full of charm that you just can’t shake it. It’s where the endearment “honey” is shortened to “hon” but comes out with the “h” heavy with breath and the “o” twisted into some sort of infinity symbol. Maybe try YouTubing it – I’ve never quite mastered verbal descriptions of pronunciation. It’s a place where people who may originally come off as gruff, turn out to be the types who would do anything for you when you’re in a jam and they’ll serve you the best crab cake ever made.
The German language has a lot of really interesting words. For example, “brustwartze,” literally translated “breast wart,” is the German word for nipple. More on topic though, and one of my recent favorites, is the word “Fernweh.” The literal translation is “far sickness.” It’s a longing for far away places, an ache for travel and exploration. Of course, the German language also produced the ever popular “wanderlust,” a desire to wander, but something about Fernweh strikes a deeper chord in me. It’s like you HAVE to get out and see the world because there’s an aching in your soul, a sickness that can only be cured by far away places. It’s the feeling that amazing things are going on all around the world and you just have to get out there and see them and you just wont feel like yourself until you do.
In my case, my Fernweh is always coupled with “Heimweh,” or homesickness. When I travel, by the end of the trip, I’m ready to go back home (whether that’s Mainz or the US), get in a routine, eat at my favorite restaurants, cook in my kitchen, binge watch Game of Thrones and New Girl, and get back to the gym (or not). I’m ready to get back to my own familiar nook in the world. In a recent episode of Girls, Hannah was hesitant to move to the midwest for grad school for multiple reasons, but the one she voiced was that she’d need to find a new yogurt place and that’s really hard to do. Truth. There’s nothing like your hometown yogurt shop. Or that sports bar around the corner that has the best ever chicken fingers. I’m looking at you Maddy’s in Dupont Circle. And then, after I’m home for awhile, I start coming down with a fresh case of Fernweh and I’m ready to set out on another adventure. In my case, Fernweh and Heimweh are like two alternating viruses whose symbiosis produces a beautiful balance. And this, I think, is a very lucky way to live with equal parts adventure and comfort, craziness and stability.
When I first started researching Normandy for our trip, I came across Lonely Planet’s description of the area’s gastronomy: “Two ingredients sum up Norman cuisine: salted butter and soft cheese.” Umm, I’m sold. “You’ll often see dishes served à la norrmande in Normandy, which basically means they’ll be served with a sauce made with butter, cream or cheese (sometimes even a combination of all three).” Heaven! I was already excited to visit Normandy because of the area’s rich World War II history and it’s proximity to Mont Saint Michel, but mix in butter, cheese, and cream, and I was on cloud 9 before I even arrived! Is there anything better than butter? Maybe cheese. Is there anything better than cheese? Maybe butter. Worthy competitors, but when their powers combine….