“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Cesare Pavese
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Jack Kerouac
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain
“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” Moorish Proverb
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” Freya Stark
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” William Least Heat Moon
"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable." Clifton Fadiman
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” Mark Jenkins
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” Bill Bryson
Here I am, back on solid ground and just starting to feel reacquainted with my New York life. There is a lot that has been said about traveling, much of it probably more eloquent than any words I can put together at 11 on a Monday night. Those quotes and the few pictures (of many!) express a lot of the emotions I feel when thinking about the trip I took.
But how can I describe in words that feeling of sitting outside in a cafe in Amsterdam? The heat of the sun shining on my face, the sounds of the nearby canal, the taste of the cappuccino I'm drinking....haven't I experienced almost all of this before? But somehow it is not the same elsewhere. Somehow it's more magical, more special.
I kept a journal while we were going from place to place and I can tell you that there were two themes to all my entries.
One, the people. Traveling makes you vulnerable and no matter how prepared you are, you will still find yourself in need of help at some point (or many points!) during your trip. Allowing yourself to be open to the beautiful kindness of strangers (even if you can barely understand one another) has got to be hands down the the most important, and rewarding, skill to cultivate. The vibrant cast of characters we met along the way is what I will cherish most about the experience. From the older Romanian man who hung out in my and Heather's train cabin having a very one-sided but lovely conversation in Romanian with us, to the Peace Corps volunteer who let us shower at her apartment because we didn't have a shower at our room in the orphanage, to the fun French, German, Spanish, British people we had dinner with at various guest houses and hostels, to the children and nurses at the orphanage who touched my heart, and the countless kind hearted souls who gave us directions in all different languages, the trip would have been half as wonderful if it weren't for the generosity of so many human beings!
Two, FOOD! Though Heather and I had a rough few days food-wise while at the orphanage (we had no kitchen and had to eat in odd Romanian restaurants), overall I've never eaten better in my life. The trip reignited my love for mamaliga--the Romanian staple of corn mush (kind of like polenta), German pretzels (and bread, and beer, and chocolate), and English tea. Heather and I got to sample real, home cooked Romanian food when we stayed at a guesthouse in the mountains. We even got to see the farm where lots of the food was produced (and perhaps a cousin to one of the animals we were eating, but I won't go into details!). In a few of the hostels, Heather and I got to cook together and enjoy all the comforts of a home kitchen.
So there it is--no matter where you go, the two most important things in life truly are people and food.
One last thing I wanted to note, I've been quite busy lately getting back into the swing of things ( I'd really like to get back into posting on a regular basis) so I missed the opportunity to say........happy first anniversary to the blog! I can't believe it's been a year. I've really enjoyed this project of mine, regardless of who continues to follow loyally, I love reflecting back on the fun things I've done and I think it's special to document so that I have it for the future. And, just in time for the 1 year mark, last week our CSA delivery from the week prior was still hanging around, starting to wilt away in the fridge. Thinking back to about a year ago, I remembered making a yummy "everything but the kitchen sink" type of soup. I decided to make it again and then saw that indeed, it was almost a year to the day that I made this soup!
Thanks for taking this blog journey with me, I love having you along for the ride.