...if only to remember...

Friday, February 18, 2011

When I'm not job applicating:

My how the time flies when one is trying to figure out one's life. Which, by the way, is impossible to do while trying to find employment, well, anywhere. Thankfully, my unemployment and homelessness started with the fall, and flowed rather naturally into the holiday season. As difficult as it is wondering what I'm supposed to do each day beyond the never ending searching for jobs and writing of cover letters, I'm still so very lucky as to have a very loving family, blood or not.

The catchup:

September flowed into October, and I was done with Philly. Working at the cafe was giving me heartburn, I still can't drink large amounts of water without trying to breath fire. /sigh, very sad. My aunt found time to drive up and grab my cat and I around the weekend of Oct. 9th. Miss Priss herself went to live with the grandparents. The new rule is when she's not my cat, she's their cat (or is it, when I'm not her human, they're her humans?). I'm beyond grateful that she's been able to live with so much love.

After dropping the kitty off, took a trip to the Apple Butter Festival, this festival takes place annually in West Virginia, which was much of an afternoon's drive to get to. The campground was odd to say the least, with a "lake" that was nothing more than a hole dug and filled with water (which was quickly making its escape), and walking trails made up of atv trails going on for miles. The festival itself was predictably filled with crafts and...you guessed it...apple butter. Good thing I have a great love for the jarred stuff myself, and yes, I did of course stock up a bit myself (the best part was the free samples: EVERYWHERE).

The drive to civilization found that I couldn't get through to the person I was supposed to be crashing with in NYC the next week, during my start of job interviews, but after a minor panic attack and some quick last minute fumbling to try and line up other options, everything worked out and soon I found myself in the big city going to my first interview. Which turned out to be shit. Oh well. Not really shit. Just kidding. Ultimately, what had described itself as a solid, full time position, was really a line up to possibly find a position through a recruitment firm. I signed up for their services, got the highest score in history on the Excel test, did a substandard typing test at 77wpm, which they were shocked to find out I wanted to redo, because I was dying of hunger and a migraine was kicking in at that point.

Following: a weekend in upstate CT helped prove that small towns are just as creepy as ever. Then ended up moving in with cousins in the CT valley. Stayed in the valley from mid-Oct till around Thanksgiving when holiday travel kicked in and I found myself dragged all over the east coast nearly every weekend. During this time was also a visit to Philly for Penn Homecoming and PEX Halloween, both lots of fun, but combined caused a weekend that left me in bed recovering for a week and started what would become the two month sore throat.

Thanksgiving in Maine, back to Philly for my birthday weekend, which J and A made absolutely amazing, making sure there was always something going on or at minimum that I was always with friends. I don't think I've ever had a better birthday proper. This whole celebrating for a week thing though, definitely becoming a quick tradition after 09's Lady Gaga and DJ party festing. It definitely meant a lot that everyone came out and helped me celebrate. :-) Also fell in love with the following things: Kraftwork's truffled spanish goat cheese, Capagiro's walnut liquor, and sewing with faux fur.

Next weekend was SantaCon. Crazy bizarre insane, those are the words that describe it best. The night before was Gratitude, which I hadn't planned on going to, but ended up in where I had a job interview lined up for Friday, so had to be in the city anyways. Interview got moved to the following week, when it ended up that I had two back to back practically, filling up the month for a total of 5 solid interviews. :-) SantaCon was fun, didn't drink as much as everyone else, after wearing myself out going to Gratitude the night before, the faux decomp party running a couple months late and not officially backed by BM proper, and crashing at BUS for the Rise party, I'm pretty sure I slept through that entire party...oops. Happens. Thankfully BUS is one of those places one can totally sleep through a party. Post SantaCon was a difficult few days, what with interviews, crashing in NYC, stress beyond belief, and an insane explosion which totally blew my mind for a couple weeks. Also, it snowed, bad timing. I persevered.

Got back to CT with enough time to grab my stuff and jump the train for VA, where I had planned to spend Christmas the 2nd a week early (and before Christmas the 1st against the usual holiday travel line-up). Packed in time with the kitty, time with the cousins, then found out Christmas in Maine was cancelled, so...only one Christmas this year. All the traditions got screwed up for 2010, but I still managed to make my holiday apple pie (holiday apple pie is made for every holiday where there is a sit down dinner).

A couple days before New Years found me on my way to Philly, ready to spend New Years Eve in NYC for also the now traditional NYE blow-out of insane partying. J, who should now be labeled Saint J. took me in indefinitely, and we party-bussed it to Winkle & Baltic's airline themed NYE party. EZ of course drove and dj-ed the trip. Hilarity of course ensued, and we all welcomed in the new year drinking champaign in the line to get into the party. Partied till around 4, then headed out for Disorient's NYE 12-hour after party.

Back to Philly for the renewed job search, a bit more Philly focus than before, and working on setting up the Enchanted Forest party to raise funds for the Grimy Goblin Grotto art collective (made up of four awesome friends of mine). Crafting parties, event meetings, and volunteering for doorshift of course meant staying in Philly. I made a white fur skirt and hand sewed black and white panels based around shaped coat hangers. I will admit, I was working on these things even twenty minutes into the party (which is why they aren't as laced as planned). Also, sewed up some faux fur pants for J that are easily describable as pelts. Due to some last minute tacking, they need a bit more work before they're playa ready, however, they are pretty kickass if i do say so myself. The party itself was fantastic, of course, those Grotto kids sure know what they're doing. Also got some good productive flirt time in and saw a friend I hadn't seen in almost exactly a year. Worked door, was glad to be doing that kind of thing again, hadn't even done a doorshift in my late pilam days.

A weekend off for some laziness (was that weekend really lazy? I can't remember, I feel like no weekend is lazy) and starting the packing of J's apartment, then off to NYC for the weekend for Idiotarad. Also, side note, the mushroomtown pizza, has 3 kinds of mushrooms, not 4, but the bartender will totally get your back. Helped represent Kostume Kult in Idiotarad as the Techno Vikings, brining my white fur skirt out for round two, but skipping the rest of the party ware, save a viking hat, in favor of super warm gear against the winter (and the winter storm that had happened only two days before). Crazy day, covered so much distance in crazy costumes, cold snow, running through streets pushing a grocery cart rather convincingly decked out as a viking ship. There were several real press people around and I definitely got a few side and back pics in random nyc online publications.

Rushed back to Philly Sunday to pack up the kitchen and make the move to Port Royale happen the next day. Two days of sleep and almost functioning. The following weekend was the Gold & Glitter party in NYC, which I heard was an awesome blast, but did not make it up. Instead stayed in Philly, hit up Ruckus Mansion for Z's going away party. The turn out was fantastic and making it for the pirate toast, you could just see the love. Probably one of the best things I've been too for a while, not counting the Enchanted Forest wrap up party also at Ruckus, which included the best nerf battle I've ever been in. Dining room tables totally make awesome forts.

Then came PEX's Heartburn V last weekend, which dragged down a few NYers. Hung out with D, did a mini tour of Philly's awesome bar fries (and amazing dips). Finally saw the Barnes Foundation exhibit in it's original location before they move sometime this spring. The Native American collection is closed for conservation, however, the Impressionist collection is up for the world to see. Barnes definitely had a ton of Renoir portraits. The Cezanne paintings and Descarte dancers were fantastic. As always, enjoyed the Metise and Monet, still don't like Manet, oh well, we like what we like. Picasso and Van Gogh were enjoyable as well. What I found most interesting however, was the layout of the collection, seemingly with no organization, bits and pieces could be found with the paintings from eras prior to Cezanne's works, but overall, the complete symmetry of the main gallery was insane, but intriguing. I have yet to fully pass judgement on it. Good hang out weekend overall. Heartburn was fantastically decorated, same space as halloween, allergy medicine a must. The best time I've had at a party for a while, got some dance on, some laze chill out time on, and of course needed food by the end, as always. Something about staying up all night causes the stomach to need more attention than usual.

A few days later finds me back down in VA, house sitting for the aunt and fam. 70 degree weather and a nice deck to chill out on has me writing to you from out of doors. More in next post, which should come up in the next few days, hopefully I'll better focus on applying for jobs and the experiences I've been facing lately.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Family, couch surfing, and still looking for a job (OH MY!)

Most of September has now escaped me in a flurry of busy. Thankfully, both my family and friends have been incredibly welcoming and opening their homes to my current "homelessness". The use of air quotations is because, while my apartment is no longer mine and I don't have a lease anywhere else, there are still places I can go that I consider home. I am hardly sleeping under a bridge.

Lets hit this one chronologically today, so that way I'm not skipping around while I'm playing with job search sites in the background and listening to a kick as dance playlist.

From the start:

At the end of August, my lease came to an end. In a flurry of liquor boxes, literally four nights of no sleep, over a hundred dollars in EXTRA charges from Uhaul, and a tearful parting with my kitty, I moved out of my apartment. Now I am pretty sure I have belongings spread to both ends of the east coast (that's me being dramatic, it's really just Maine to Virginia).

When Philadelphia officially fell through as an option, my aunt and family opened their homes and hearts to both me and my belongings. So, excepting lord knows how much teasing about how many pairs of shoes, suitcases/rubbermates full of clothes, and the 6+ 18gal rubbermates full of books that I have, we've been welcomed with open arms. However, my time in Virginia is visits. I think I've visited more in the last month than I did last year all together. That's kind of sad, because it's been so nice to be able to spend so much time with my family these days.

Visit 1: chill with Gram and Grandpa, drop off crystal and valuable/sentimental jewelry (not all, because obviously I'd find more when packing up the apartment).

Visit 2: last leg of packing up the apartment and getting out. Drove down with my friend Kevin and a packed Uhaul. Got him on a train back north and then passed out from total exhaustion. Chilled with the cousins the next morning then went to a biker bar for a charity lunch. Hmm. Lol. That's all the response I can give right now. Proved I have skillz and got the cousin off to school (she was totally gram of my awesomeness later, that made me feel really good). Repacked a most of my belongings. Liquor boxes are only acceptable forms of storage in Philly, where there are actual liquor stores to get free boxes from. Everywhere else, this is seen as weird. Then had to rush and grab some dinner before catching the train back to Philly.

Back in Philly: stayed at M's place. She was at Burning Man, along with a lot of people I know. I kept trying to send my spirit out there, but it didn't like being so far from me. (This can be taken seriously or as a joke, whichever makes you laugh more.) So I roomsat and helped her new housemates get settled in and figure out some hell of a subletter issue that was going down. Also helped with trash schedules and dishwashers, aren't I awesome.

So while everyone was watching the man burn, there was a party up in New York called Stranded. It was styled with an old early part of the 20th century oriental theme. Very interesting. Made me think a lot of Night Market, which I went to back in early May, also in New York. I think the idea worked in my head better this time because I'd been drinking in the car the whole way up and was definitely feeling the spirit of the night. Also, a floor covered in rose petals and then having a rose petal fight is pretty freaking awesome, but sadly they need to be cleaned up before they get gross and sticky. Lack of puddle was saddening. Concrete sucks as a surface for sitting.

Visit to VA #3: the next weekend I left M's and caught the 4:30 train heading south, getting into town in time for breakfast. Being ensconced in the welcoming arms of families and their homes is incredibly comforting. Staying at my aunt's house is like being part of that traditional family that I didn't really have growing up. While she's more like my big sister than a parent, my cousins are also like younger siblings, which they've accepted and the younger set out to teach me what it's like having a little sister. I've learned that my superior tickling skillz and learned anti-ticklishness are very useful at winning every time. :) Cooked dinner for the grandparents both times I stayed there and enjoyed knowing that I'm still pretty good at cooking my fav recipes from memory even though it's been a while. Went on a really awesome motorcycle ride with my uncle for his birthday. We went along part of Sky Line Drive over in the Shenandoah range. Aramark made Yingling the official beer (by not serving anything else). I liked that.

Of course there was some bad stuff. Family drama, other family drama, not-mine drama, and dropping my phone in the toilet at the restaurant we stopped at for breakfast when I got into town. My aunt takes pleasure in making me tell people why my phone died. Not even kidding. It started to survive then gave up and died. So now I have a crazy new LG cosmos and really suck at using the keyboard with any proficiency, and can't manage to get the front pad to recognize T9 as its default. The family drama stuff is mostly tied to me growing up and how that works for other people that it apparently doesn't really work for. Le sigh. I was glad to be able to be there as a shoulder and an ear for the not-mine drama and hope that it was appreciated by the parties involved, but there hasn't been a post-mortem yet, so that's up in the air.

Back to Philly (date, this past Sunday, sept 19th?):

Staying with my friend Justin, who's roommate is being really cool. I lucked out and work sent me home with a million sandwiches on Monday, so I was able to be like "oh hey, brought y'all foodz".

So all of the above was mostly family.

This is kind of couch surfing, but also life and friends, because mine are both pretty awesome (if not a wee bit stressful from circumstances):

On the whole, the idea of relying on others for a roof over my head bothers me. I've been incredibly independent over the last few years. While I have obviously needed help from my family, and never turned down money, because being a college student is hard on the pockets, I've never accepted the help without feeling incredibly guilty. Getting to college made me feel like I should be able to handle things on my own, which is kind of retarded thinking, I know, but really has been a strong part of who I've been as I've become the adult I supposedly am. However, as my aunt told me last week, it is about time I learn to accept a bit of help while I get myself on my own two feet.

In that vein, I have some amazing friends. It's been a huge change being around people in a living situation. I had a studio for two years, so way different. However, it's absolutely awesome. I'm definitely back to seriously considering trying to make sure to have a roommate situation once I finally get settled. I appreciate beyond belief the opening of homes from my friends, and am definitely trying to contribute positive things with my presence.

At the same time, there's also the concept of seeing when a welcome is worn, and is something I'm trying to be extremely conscious of. As with any relationship, communication is key! With this help, I am still welcome when I show up with food offerings over on Osage for some chill hangout time or to pick up something else I managed to forget (could really go for some of those vegetarian chick 'n nuggets, in that freezer on the other side of the city, or my rum).

Rule to remember: if you're going to forget a whole bag of European chocolate, hide cupcakes behind it so that when you call begging that no one eats the chocolate, you can point out the cupcakes as substitute.

Job search:

Oh hai, I gotta do that. Oops. Got a little caught up in all that spending time with the family that I kind of lost track of the whole thing that's currently going down: my eventual move to New York.

Random thoughts:

I really hope that life when I get to New York is as sweet as it is right now. There's all these things that bother me, but at the same time, any given night I can go hang out with people I love and have a kicking time. Actually, every given night I do go hangout with people I love. Except Monday, but I was bone tired Monday, and had to find yogurt (thanks World Soy, Co. for being the only company to make a 24oz container of soy yogurt found in Philly...Silk, you don't count, your yogurt is weird).

Family, in case you're reading: hanging out doesn't mean drinking. I know there are legit fears in that, and don't think for a second that I don't feel like tempting the genetic fates, especially since being native american makes things even more precarious.

Also, if I've seemed a little off lately, my dearest ones, I'm sorry. I've been trying to be a little bit more protective of myself and it's been detrimental to who I truly am. From here on out, I promise to just be me and live with that heart of mine on my sleeve open and giving. I am constantly the recipient of a limitless supply of love from my family and friends, and in return I have a never ending capacity to love others. I just need to remember this and make sure my theme song doesn't become Laura Veirs's "Pink Light" again. No matter how good a song it is.

Love y'all,

Oh, how the night drags on, oh,
But I think I see a pink light and the coming of dawn.
Oh, how the night drags on, oh,
But in the fading of the constellations, I am growing strong.
In the fading of the constellations, I am growing strong.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Midnight Monologue

I give up, Renee won't call night maintenance because she never calls night maintenance...except that one time my heat was off and it was January (then they removed my air-conditioner from the window and sealed them two days later and I learned what it felt like to be a roast in the oven)...I'm going to hope my freezer manages to hold and that the excess of ice and vodka will radiate cold to all my butter and European chocolate...not to mention all my frozen foods that were already chilling out up there...sadly, it was already too late for the cheese and I have a feeling the eggs followed, I was probably going to dump those in a couple days anyways, so that one loss won't be mourned...the rest however will...especially if my beers get skunked...that would suck...as I've now been up for 20 hours straight, I pretty much have no choice but to give in to the loss and get some sleep (especially since I've really only known about it for half an hour when I decided I wanted some juice)...*never mind: maintenance dude just came and said it's getting cold again...I'm moving this to my blog since I finally remembered my password

This was written in the facebook status box while I tried to convince myself into actually going to bed and accepting the loss of my cold foods. Renee is the emergency maintenance dispatcher...she calls and leaves messages with the on call guys...most of whom sleep through her calls or never get them (because she just doesn't make them, like the one time I was locked out and sat half an hour on the phone with her wondering where the lock out guy was because it was February and I was locked out...some random person let me in the front door, turns out my keys were in my door all day and no one bothered to walk into my apartment while I was gone...I'm not quite sure I'd ever be so goodhearted).

Oh, btw: the maintenance guy is wrong...the freezer is getting colder, the place where the air comes from in the fridge is just as unproductive as before...

now, I'll sleep...I wish my apartment was a giant fridge, then i could curl up nice and cozy in a sleeping bag and pass the fuck out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Job Searching, Life, and Why I Never Finished Blogging Europe

So...I'm doing this job search thing right now. It's a crazy world. I've graduated into a world where the economy is so completely done for, but every few months we start hearing about how banks are bouncing back and hopefully things are on the rebound. I almost bought a copy of the Economist this month to read their article on it, but then I realized...spending the money is a terrible idea, I also skipped out on a few other things due to my rational mind kicking in and saying a decidedly loud "NO." *sigh, boring, oh well.

Leaving College:

Learning the importance of budgeting is a difficult thing, post graduation. In college, no matter how "on your own" you think you are, there's still a safety net making things easier. My safety net officially ends August 31st, with the expiration of my student PennCard and the change over to an alumni card. It's a terrible thing, but I'm sad to see my status change. I lucked out in that I get to keep my student e-mail. Making the change to WindowsLive was a smart move, so I can get the alumni filter and have it send to a real, legit sas.upenn.edu e-mail address, which shall survive October by living happily on Microsoft and Hotmail's servers rather than the uni's more limited ones (limited because they serve a community that's probably 100k large, and keeping us "old-timers" on would probably put it into the millions).

With the bestowing of college degrees, something we all wish for eagerly, comes the loss of this card that has run my life for so long. A card to get into buildings, pay for food and books (and computer nic-nacs & ipods as well), access to the gym, and the care of a whole student health center that keeps you from having to look around and find just the right doctor. I'll be missing all this.

Life Right Now:

So far, I've graduated to working at a salad/sandwich/coffee shop. I learned to make espresso drinks (which I do often and frequently, with great pride at each compliment). Knowing that I can make the perfect espresso and have not yet disappointed the regular customers (some of whom I see up to 5 times a day) is a fact that I have embraced with no small amount of pride. However, the acquisition of the chance to play with knives all day (chopping salads) or try my hand at drink blending (mint green tea vanilla soy mocha) comes with the absence of a 9 to 5 full time salaried job. A fact which is stressful, and disappointing, and at the moment leaves me wondering where the hell I'm going to live next month.

I am obviously stress and worried, but for the first time in my life, I am completely terrified about what the future is going to bring. I started this summer full of excitement, completely convinced everything was going to work out perfectly. It hasn't. Perfect was never a good description of me anyways. I'd be bored to tears if it were. So instead of following the plan - go to europe, have a job by mid to late July, and apartment early to mid (or god-forbid, late) august - I have made new friends, and worked on creating real friendships with some that were merely out of association rather than actually knowing each other.

Everyone I know probably knows I'm a giant ball of stress...to be honest, I'm probably more stressed from talking about it with everyone, because that's a guaranteed opening. From now on, I pledge to say how each day went looking beyond the stress.

For instance: Today, I was kind of tired, but that was my own fault, I stayed up watching Saturday Night Live's collection of commercial parodies on Netflix (SO WORTH IT, search out Old Glory Insurance). Work was an odd balance, some problems that have been popping up through the summer were worked out and I got to enjoy the camaraderie that I've been building up with my co-workers and the ability to bounce around between all stations of the store without needing any guidance...a couple customers even noticed that I was a lot more comfortable at the register and that I wasn't asking for advice on drinks anymore and complimented me on that (yesterday my double espresso received an "I might be imagining it, but the coffee tastes better today") . When work at Gia ended, I ran over to Taglio, had a bite to eat, then helped Kevin close up. Aside from not always knowing where things are, I think I've gotten those tasks down pretty quick as well. Back to Gia to convince Curtis, the sugar-drink king, to mix me up something good (diabetic coma raspberry tea, sooo yummy). Home, dinner, enjoyable movie (Confessions of a Shopaholic), and wow, I finally figured out how to set up a shared file network between my netbook and my big laptop....the final test to see if this works is just about to start. I'll say yay or nay at the end of this post.

Why I Didn't Finish Posting Europe:

I was having too much fun. :)

After my last post, I enjoyed a day in Rome on my own (a bottle of wine and a plate of vodka penne seated outdoors at a nice little place with a good book and then a couple hours reading in my favorite little garden). Two days in Madrid, the first spent with JimJames from home and his friend Sean (grabbing N. to join us for drinks and tapas wandering dinner) was a fantastic time, and the second a day of shopping with and without N followed by drinks and tapas and a night in the airport before our v. early morning flight.

Then to Lisbon (Lisboa), my favorite city of the whole trip. I loved it for it's sense of community, the lower dredges mixed in with the nicer. It appealed to me in the way that Philly does I think. It is a city in and of itself. There are some spaces for tourists, but they're small in comparison to the city that is there to live and thrive. I could see myself living there. Someday I would like to spend a good deal of time based in Lisboa. We arrived during their month long Lisboa Fest, and only the day before Marches Populaires, which was this huge carnivale style parade that went all night through the main section of town and a huge drinking and sardine party taking place in the streets of the Alfalma neighborhood.

From Lisbon back to London for a couple more days of hanging out, exploring, and pub crawling. The hostel we stayed at wasn't so fantastic, but the 10 bed dorm supplied us a room full of people to hang out with...literally, all but maybe one person went on the pub crawl one night, and it made for a wonderful time.

Money got tight at the end, but everything about the trip was totally worth it. Someday I hope to do something similar, see some new places and some I've already seen...hopefully with a little more money in the pocket though. :)

Home Network:

Yay!! Now I have a far simpler way than dealing with external drives to move updated copies of my screenplay or work on coverletters from my netbook to my not-so-mobile laptop and back again. :)

I may not be a technological genius, but I can find my way around pretty well even when I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, if I do say so myself. (Obviously I'm very proud of some talents, and it is quite a bit easier to shed the layers of my personal modesty in informal text than I've found in any other media.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 8: Italy (Final Day)

Oh hey, Italian keyboards are a wee bit irritating. Have been having to use a local internet "shop" to get online since getting here. So here's continuing the events of my journey.

Day 3:

Free tour of Paris using the New Europe tour thing. Fantastic walk, visited a large number of major sites without going into any of them (saw the tour eiffel at a distance, found out the egyptian obalisk is also an active sundial with numbers on the ground and everything). 3 and a half hours of walking in Paris makes for a looong walk. :) Met Connie from St. Louis as well as Brittney from Canada, and Del of England on the tour.

Connie and Brittney were convinced by my excitement of the pub crawl to join me and Nenette for the Parisian drinks night. Not as good a deal as London, and apparently we were supposed to take metro to the last place, but no one told us till we were several drinks in, so staying in Montmartre was the better idea.

Day 4:

Wake up, check out of Andre-Gill, and ran into Connie on our way to the metro to drop our stuff at Gard du Lyon for the day. Connie joined us, and thus our drunken pact of going to the Louvre together was fulfilled.

Between the two of us, we managed to see everything we'd wanted to see in less than 2 hours. Pretty good for the Louvre, it's massive!!. Took 20 minutes to escape though.

Met N at D'Orsay. Saw some William Blake, Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Picasso. I definately was way too excited about the awesome show of L'Opera and the stage's fantastic mechanisms.

From D'Orsay, N and I took of running and managed to make it to both the Eiffel Tour and the Bastille in an hour before grabbing our stuff at Gard du Lyon and running to B? (forgot the name of the station). We had an over night train to Rome leaving at 6. On the overnight train, we shared a compartment with four members of a family from India traveling around Europe for a month. They had a rather hyper little 3 year old with them, so N and I took the top bunks once beds started being pulled down and stayed out of the way.

Day 5:

Woke up at 9:15 to being given back passports and tickets by the conductor, thought we had an hour to get ready for getting into Rome...LIES!! Really just had 20 minutes. But we made it, got into Rome with no idea of where we were staying, some how we'd both forgotten and they never e-mailed us confirmation. Found this internet terminal place, same one I'm using now. Rather convenient. From there, the hostel was just on the other side of the train station, which became the center of our little neighborhood v. quickly. The hostel was easy enough to find a couple blocks away (Hostel Beautiful, Beautiful Accomodations, and Hotel Beautiful were 3 names, if you know more, I'd love to know them).

I took a 2 hour walk around Rome and found my way to the Colosseum rather quickly, then the major shopping streat. All streets lead to Nationale, just so you know. Met back up with N. checked in, and took off to explore the Colosseum and the Forums. Very interesting, and totally doable as a late afternoon enjoyment (though a large number of the smaller more intricate paths get closed at 1.30 in the afternoon just incase your planning a late afternoon jaunt but want to use those paths).

Dinner at a small family style place recommended by the receptionist. V. tastey, but a bit costly and waaay too big portions. Met our dorm mate at the hostel, Dan from NJ and another guy, Alex from Buffalo, got some bottles of less than 3 euro wine at the grocery in the train and took them back to the hostel till they told us it was closed at midnight. Took our bottles to the street and spent some time consuming at the trevi, before searching for pizza and killing the last two bottles on the walk back to the hostel.

Day 6: (Sunday)

Breakfast at the hostel really wasn't even worth having, so after some internet time to get the rest of this trip all planned out, Dan joined N and I for some semi-planned wandering through Rome. Everywhere you go, there's a piazza or monument or ruin of some sort, so plenty of breaks.

There's this awesome thing in Rome called "nozzi", which are nozzels that are constantly spouting water, which comes down from the Alpes. So no matter where you go, there's always a place to stop and get a drink of water. Sadly this is not also the case for bathrooms. So a stop at Burger King led to ordering french fries and nuggets...with Hines curry sauce for dipping...all in all, totally worth the stop.

A nap and some reading time later, starting the sightseeing all over again with dinner in mind this time. The three of us headed out west of Piazza Republica (which became another central landmark) and found a piazza with a street off of it of restaurants with outdoor seating. They all had the exact same menues at varying prices. The ones with glass structures or covers were expensive, while the ones that were simply tables were nicely priced. So picking one of these, we stopped and enjoyed much better portion control than the night before. Also, I wanted tagletelli, but pretty much everything came with a meat sauce except one of the stuffed pasta, so I asked for tomato sauce and lucked out that the waiter was nice enough to mix things up for me. "Only for you." When the plates were served, my plate definitely came from the restaurant next door. Oops.

Headed back towards the hostel and stopped at this lovely little pastry shop (where I plan to stop after finishing this post) for absolutely fantastic dessert and some burned espresso. The hostel had closed the common room, so we got our 4th roommate, Harry, in on the movie we all wanted to see and put on "The Invention of Lying."

Day 7:

Up late, lazy morning, while trying to get stupid things finished. Didn't leave for the Vatican till 11, but took the very very long way and ended up there sometime around 3. On the way saw the Trevi Fountain again, Piazza Navoa (?), and so many other Piazza's I can't even start to tell them all.

Made it to St. Peter's and got turned away. While we'd both worn skirts, we had neglected to bring something to cover our shoulders. Had to go several streets away to find cheap pashmina scarves and go back. It was absolutely beautiful.

We didn't make it to the Sistine Chapel, as the Vatican museum cost 14 euro, and we had 20 minutes in which we might attempt as much as possible. Didn't seem cost smart.

Headed back to the hostel via Villa de Medici, which is apparently not something you can tour and is just the French Academy now...lame. Split up. I tried to take the metro, but just as I got there, it closed, so I had to walk back to the hostel with decidedly painful feet and a terribly slow pace.

N obviously beat me back. We chilled out and took a rest after meeting our new 4th dormmate, Tom from England. After a couple hours, Harry came back and enlisted us all into going to his favorite restaurant way back east over by the Piazza Navora (? still can't remember it's real name, will fix later). Bussing it this time, for sanity and non-painful feet, we got there pretty quick.

It was a fantastic restaurant, who's name I can't remember, because I'm decidedly bad at that part of traveling. Biggest menu options I'd seen the whole trip. Tom and I went big and ordered both pasta and salads. Sicilian salad had the best sun-dried tomato I've ever had on it, and the spegetti with muscles and clams were fantastic. Accedentally ordered waay too much wine, but it was mostly consumed....no wine ever went to waste in our travels. :)

Wandering from there ended up at a small bar for espressos and saw six or so more piazzas having crossed the river to the east/south parts of the city. Nice wanderings, and night busses do exist. Made it back and attempted to watch "Alice in Wonderland". Obviously I failed in the attempt and from what I've gathered, so did everyone else. Falling asleep tired is good.

Day 8:

N. woke up early this morning to catch her flight to Madrid. I'll follow here this evening. Due to some accidents of booking, this and our return are the only times we're not traveling together. So I'm about to be off to find pastries and chocolate, once James and I have figured out meeting up in Madrid for some friend hanging time.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3: Paris (Day 2 ici)

Day 1 (cont.): Went on the Royal Tour. Apparently there are free tours in every major European city provided by New Europe Tours. So we took the Royal Tour. Saw "Not one, not two, but three royal palaces" (to quote the tour guide Smith, who made exaggerated hand motions upon announcing three royal palaces). It rained the whole time. He told us when he picked us up at St. Christopher's Inn on the West Bank that it would rain through the whole tour. Except it wasn't a bad rain, just consistent. My shoes were soaked, they've only just now started to dry. Thank goodness for back up shoes.

After the tour, went back to the hostel, repacked suitcases and tried to get to the airport. Took the wrong train. Oops. Finally boarding the right train, we only barely made it to the airport. Security took my cellphone and took forever checking it. Apparently my turned of American phone instigates security concerns (good knowledge for future flights of which we still have a number). Ran for the gate. Literally. Took off my shoes and everything for a full on run to the gate. Made the flight no problem and had a short jump talking to an adorable French boy who giggled a lot.

The hostel was just off the Place du Republique, which looks like a beautiful little square. The hostel was just a little bit ugh, and one of my doormmates was a little bit of a bitch when I came back later to go to bed, but the lock has to be locked.

Had pizza and wine at a cute little place. "Minced meat" on a pizza is essentially a meat sauce (i.e. pasta meat sauce), good though. There was a nice man Oliver who sat at the table next to us (after a couple you girls who had a depressing conversation about marriage, which we picked up post their departure). Oliver was able to tell us how to get to Versailles, so that we could get there even if we didn't have wireless to look it up. Then we had a nice little chat about the benefits of a city such as Philadelphia vs. New York. Philadelphia was winning, btw.

Day 2: Bright and early, my roommates all started departing (between 5:30 and 7). I wasn't due to wake up till 7:30, lack of sleep *sigh, oh well. Grabbed a roll (more like a mini baguette), our bags and headed for Guard de Nord to leave our bags (also grabbed a chocolate croissant at a tiny little place just before the metro). Then on to St. Michelle to pick up the RER C to Versailles.

Versailles is huge, massive. Not the main palace, which is essentially only the royal family, that's decently grand of course. I always forget that the "wings" are also several large buildings to either side of the building, which housed the court. We didn't tour those. But the gardens were the killer. Seriously, they never ended. Pictures show the canal disappearing into the horizon. Can I have a backyard like that please? Grand Trianon is pink. No one told me this. It was adorably pink. And had an open walkway between the two sides of the building. The weather was absolutely perfect for the whole thing and they sold ham sandwiches (read: ham, butter, bread) and San Palagrino, which cost the same as a bottle of water. A nice lunch. Hit all of the estate except some of the massive gardens and the village (it was already a v. long day at that point and all we could handle was the v. long walk back to the chateau and the train station) Fell asleep on the train, because I do stuff like that. N. woke me up to tell me we missed our stop and would just get off at the next one. The next one was our stop. Lol. :)

Back to Paris (and Guard de Nord) to grab our bags and get over to Andre-Gill where we stayed last night and will stay tonight. It's an adorable budget place in Montmartre. Went to a bar on the corner to get internet. Was convinced into buying a mojito that was so filled with mint I really couldn't even be bothered to fight with it to enjoy the actually good taste of the drink itself. Internet at the bar is good though, I charged up, did research, freaked about funds, and headed back to the room for a mini-nap while N. got lost in the neighborhood just a bit. (Tons of cute little souvenir shops, will have to buy some pictures and a scarf, good prices, lots of market competition around here).

The neighborhood is still awake enough that we could go out for a "traditional" French meal at 10:30 or so (got back to the room close to 1, so possibly later, but people were still being seated at 1). A small bottle of wine, some escargot and a lovely little salad made for a good dinner.

Day 3: Good morning. It is now 8:14. I've been up for a while (time for a shower and getting dressed). Our window overlooks a lovely start of a road thats been cut off from road traffic. The building connects all around and the apartments across the way seem pretty nice. Stood at the window for ages last night and took a few minutes to enjoy the crisp air. The air definitely smells and feels different. It feels wet without being humid (I'm convinced there's a ton of water in the air, since my shoes just really wouldn't dry).

Back to the bar for a cafe au lait and some internet access. I now understand how they do the artful designs in the milk froth. Will grab breakfast at an adorable bakery, and maybe a bit of the complimentary breakfast to put in bags on our way back past the hotel.

Plans for the day: I'll be going on the free tour of Pairs, then running over to the Louvre to see the Mono Lisa (non-debatable). N. and I will meet up near the Eiffel Tower maybe, to do a bit of window shopping and wandering. I'll pick up our pub crawl tickets, because awesomely, besides free tours, this company offers pub crawls in all cities for a cheaper fee than buying drinks ourselves. Already got tickets for our return to London. Lol.

Places I'd like to hit:
- Notre Dam
- Champs d'Elysee
- Bike rental (get lost on a bike for a while)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 1: London

First Day abroad. 9:08 am London time. 4:08 Philly time. Fuck life.

But not really. Headache, but last night's celebratory "We're Here!" pint hit me just a bit (not food except plane food doesn't make for a good drinking base, *sigh). Other than that...IT'S MORNING!! My usual fake get ready for the day fake out is ftw, I'm definitely down that it is a morning.

Last night was pretty crazy, the train line we were supposed to take to get to the West Side, where our hostel is, was totally shut down. Damn Bank Holidays being awesome construction days. Lol. Transfers and whatnot, eventually we found where we were going.

The hostel (St. Christopher's Inn) has a pub. Wireless internet is better accessed at this pub. Obviously you know what we did as soon as we got our bags settled. PUB! :)

Got a couple pints of Tiger Lager then went and sat in an alley trying to get a connection...no connection. Moved inside and spent two hours trying to get on, but eventually I found a way and I'm down.

Now, here I am, day 1, 9:16 (4:16) am. Bar becomes breakfast place...bread and jam (and some damn good marmalade) makes a nice morning.


And this post is delayed due to conversations with strangers (Philip of Australia) and needing to get going for the walking tour of Royal London. Yay!