Wednesday Write-Up: So the Days Float Through My Eyes

Well, here it’s Wednesday again, and we are leaving for another country tomorrow. The last 8 days felt slow, but went so fast. I am just starting to acclimate and love the amazing city of Budapest, Hungary.

It is interesting that none of us three had been affected by the time changes very much or culture changes either for that matter until we arrived here. We had very few issues in Lisbon, a bit more in Disneyland Paris, and many more here in Budapest it felt like. It felt like a daunting task to be here and now I am sad to leave as it feels as though I have just let the realness of the city in.

There were a couple of reasons that it was hard to get used to being here. The first was the jet lag. For some reason, all of a sudden, the time changes caught up with all of us and the hour difference in time from Lisbon, set us back a couple of days. All three of us struggled with exhaustion, crankiness and headaches the first three days we were here. It was really a bummer, we thought that our mutant powers made us invincible to jet lag.

Secondly, it was the language. Hungarian is…well…a really foreign language. There is no connection to any other words that I know unless they are words that we all have transferred from another culture, such as buffet or manicure. But it took me this whole week just to master saying köszönöm, which means thank you. Its a tough language to understand and speak, I wish I had had more time to practice.

Third, the food here was just okay. We did find some great restaurants, such as a bavarian place, a vegan place, and a buffet that were really good. But these were all not really hungarian places and I am not much of a soup person so I didn’t even venture to try the Hungarian Goulash (I know…shame on me). I will write more in my Friday post about the wonderful restaurants that we did find and love.

Fourth, and last, the prices here are much higher than we expected. Mind you we have been blinded by the wonderful cost of living in Portugal, so it is probably not as bad as say, Paris or London, but it was a bit more expensive for the things we love than we had planned. For example, in Lisbon I paid 20 Euros for an exciting new haircut and here I just had to pay 32 Euros for a trim. (I chopped off all my hair and now sport a pixie cut..who would have thought I could have pulled it off?! But I love it!). Also the food costs her are significantly more than I am used to, about 30-40 euros a meal. It really isn’t that bad, I know, but my stupid expectations get me every time.

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

Now, after I have said all these things, I want to tell you that I love Budapest, I love the architecture, the weather has actually been sunny for 4 out of 8 days we have been here, and the people are very helpful and friendly. I want to come back and experience some more. Until next time Budapest… viszontlátásra (good-bye)!

Wednesday Write-Up: Who Needs a Night Life?

This past week Chad, Zoë and I have been doing a little traveling to other parts of Portugal. We visited Porto, in the north, for a couple of days and just got back today from a trip to Lagos in the south. I plan on writing more about these two vastly different cities on Friday in my travel post, so subscribe so you can read all about it.

We got back to Lisbon today to a huge city wide party. Tonight is the Saint Anthony Festival, which starts in the early evening and continues all night. And it is going on in every neighborhood, currently the song “What a Feeling” is playing loud enough on the street below that we can hear it perfectly in our fifth floor apartment.  People are laughing, talking, singing along to the music. It sounds like a really fun night.

I have to say I am a little jealous. I am incredibly blessed that my amazing daughter is in bed and, pardon the cliche, is sleeping like a baby through all the noise. I will not jinx myself and say that I wish she would stay awake later…heck no, I would never wish that…I enjoy my evenings while she is asleep. Sometimes though I do miss being able to go out on the town after dark. Especially when it is right outside my front door.

I sit here and think how I wish I could go outside with everyone else, and then I realize how much more I have seen of the places we have been because I do not go out late at night. Not only that, but it also helps to be woken at 6:30 or 7 am everyday so i get the most time possible to partake in real life in the cities we have visited.  A special thanks to Zoë for being my little human alarm clock.

This journey is completely different from Chad and I’s pre-baby travels, and for the better I think. Zoë has made every part of this adventure acutely more special and fulfilling. I not only get to experience different and wonderful cultures, but I get to see how they enthrall and excite Zoë. It is a better feeling than I can even describe.

So I willingly give up my night life (despite being a tiny bit envious), because living on the road with my toddler, is the most exciting and worthwhile venture I could ever undertake. Being a mom is rad, that is all I can say.

I am off to bed early…Good night all!

Yin Yang of Travel

Last week I wrote about the reasons that I love to travel and this week I want to write about the things that I could live without on our journey.

I have always considered myself a “realist”, which some people call negative or pessimistic. I protest this misunderstanding heavily. Being a realist is having a positive attitude that something may/will go wrong with every big plan. Think of it, have you ever been on a trip, or even gone through a single day, where everything went exactly as you planned? Thats right…my point is proven. So my realist attitude makes me prepare for the (extremely) possible craziness that will ensue at any given moment. It also helps me to remember that when plans don’t go as expected it’s not the end of the world. I have learned not to let the bad diminish the good, but I feel its important to be honest and say not everything is amazing while traveling. So here are the things that I find are the most trouble while traveling.

Bugs

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(Photo by Chad)

Here in Santa Rosa, we are blessed to have very few bugs that make me jump onto chairs or feel like my skin is crawling off. The occasional ants in the kitchen, or (non-poisonous) spiders that grow to be about the size of quarter, and even the rare sighting of a potato bug (also called a Jerusalem cricket) I can handle. I feel like this little city of ours is an oasis from most of the many legged critters that inhabit and terrify the rest of the world. I used to believe I was one tough cookie because I never felt scared of bugs. My pride was quickly dashed as Chad and I traveled through Thailand and the rest of southeast Asia and Taiwan. The cockroaches (that fly…EEEEEK!!) and spiders as big as my hand were enough to make me realize that I was a wimp when it comes to bugs. I remember one night in Koh Panang, Thailand walking into our bungalow bathroom and seeing a HUGE (about 8 inches long huge) centipede crawling in from the shower drain. I screamed like a little girl and most likely woke the whole island from a sound sleep. I realized that I do not like bugs, but bugs like me, well mainly vicious and annoying mosquitoes like to eat me. I would wake up most mornings looking like I had been in the heavy-weight boxing ring with Muhammad Ali because the mosquitoes would bite my face (over and over) and I would swell up so attractively. I think this time on my travels I may just walk around with a huge mosquito net around myself…or wait… maybe a bee keepers suit! Let them try to get me through that..HA!

Traveling Clothes

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Me in Thailand  in 2006. Don’t you just love the camouflage pants?

(Photo by Chad)

It is very popular with the backpacking crowd to travel with as little clothing as possible. Most people try to keep it to a few outfits, a couple pairs of shoes, and all the electronic gadgets you can carry. I accomplished this standard of packing last time. When Chad and I left for Southeast asia in 2006, I had packed one pair of jeans, 2 capri pants, 2 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 4 t-shirts, one swimsuit, and one set of pj’s. I brought a pair of flip flops and a pair of converse all-stars. I figured that if I needed anything else, I could buy it along the way. Being my first time out of the country, I had absolutely no clue that they do not sell clothing for women that are 5’10” and larger than a size small (seriously their larges seemed like an american small) in Asia. And to even think about finding shoes my size…well, I wear size 11, their largest size is 8, maybe 8 ½. I got laughed out of many a shoe store for the next two years that we lived there. I was able to find a couple of basics at Costco once we lived in Taipei that were not very attractive, but at least were something new. I think I would physically throw up if I ever had to don one of those outfits again.

I will not be packing that way this time around. I have been buying skirts, dresses, leggings, jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, and sweaters that will roll up into tiny little balls. I like to look feminine and stylish and I mostly wear skirts and dresses anyways so I plan to take all my clothes with me on our travels. Yes, some things need to be tough and useful while traveling, but I refuse to give up my style this time around. As far as shoes go, those are the most important possessions I will be taking with me. I plan to somehow fit three pairs of boots, a pair of flats, a pair of flip-flops and my all-stars into my backpack. I will make it happen, even if I have to leave my hygiene products, besides nice shoes will cover up the smell of B.O. right?

Well, look at that, I have only two things I can really think of that make traveling a tiny bit less amazing! I feel like a total optimist right now! I am sure that I will think of some more things that can make our journey more realistic, but right now I am just going to bask in the glow of positivity.

What have you found hardest while traveling? Go ahead and leave a comment! And don’t worry, its not called negativity here, this is a realist zone.

 

Why the Need to Leave

I have been asked by many people why I feel the need to leave my safe, settled home in Santa Rosa California, why Chad and I feel the need to pick up stakes and get the heck out of dodge. I know I have answered this in part in previous posts, but there are other parts to this decision that I want to share with you today.

Beauty and Wonder

I love to see and experience different landscapes. Living in different climates can take some getting used to (mostly it just takes my naturally curly hair a while to get used to the changes in humidity—think finger in a light socket hair), but it is so awe-inspiring and humbling to see God’s diverse creation. I prefer to live in hotter climates, whether humid or dry, I want to live in tank tops, skirts, and flip-flops. There are also types of landscape that I prefer, mostly tropical, lush landscapes, but I try to look for the beauty in all places. Most of the people that live here in Sonoma County rave that this is the most desired landscape in the world. We have rolling hills (mostly covered in vineyards) and Mediterranean type weather. Maybe it is just that I was born and raised here for most of my life, but I do not like it as much. I have lived and traveled through some climates and landscapes, but I want to see and experience more.

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 Culture and Society 

I definitely had a hard time with culture shock last time Chad and I traveled. It was my first time outside of the United States and I was completely unprepared for the differences in each country. I grew to love and look forward to those differences as our time in Asia progressed (well most of the time). I never realized how blessed we are in America (all social and financial classes included) until I saw how others lived in the countries of Southeast Asia. I am now looking forward to not only immersing myself in different cultures and societies but also to immerse Zoë in them. I want her to see all walks of life and know where she is in regards to it, I want to teach her that despite what the world says, does, or shows, we are held to a higher standard in Christ. I don’t want to just tell her these things, I want to show her. Traveling is the best way to do this I believe.Image

Good Eats

I love food. When I ask about someone’s travels, one of the first things that I ask about is the food. I can’t help it, I always am thinking about my next meal, snack, or morsel to eat. The places that Chad and I have traveled so far (Southeast Asia and around the west coast of the good ole’ USA) have had some amazing food. Thai food is by far my favorite food in the whole world, but there are very few things that I have tried that I have regretted. I realized while traveling that I have very adventurous taste buds. Honestly the only things I shy away from are foods that smell like rotten meat (durian fruit anyone?) and foods that are covered in ultra-hot spicy peppers. I love to experience new foods and tastes and love that in most of the places that we are going to go to, eating out is cheaper than cooking at home (Hooray!).

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 There are many more little reasons that add to the desire to expand our horizons and see the world, but these are the most important to me. Next week I am going to write about what I do not like while traveling, it should be a funny one so subscribe and make sure you don’t miss you! Thanks for reading!

(Photos taken by Chad)