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Archive for October, 2009

Alright. So starting tomorrow, or Sunday, but definitely by Monday, I’m going to update daily, or every other day or every other third day. And that’s a promise! What? Ok, yes my fingers are crossed behind my back. But I am going to try.

I started printing pictures and organizing scraps of paper and journals so I can make some sort of scrapbook. Using my spacious bedroom floor as a work table, I’m destroying any sense of cleanliness while creating a work of beauty. Boom.

Just to give you a sense of how things happened, here’s the order of travel during my trip.
– Rome/Ostia
– Florence/Cinque Terre
– London, to meet up with tour
* Paris, France
* Lauterbrunen, Switzerland
* Nice, France and Monaco
* Pisa and Florence, Italy
* Rome, Italy
* Bologna and Venice, Italy
* Vienna, Austria
* Prague, Czech Republic
* Munich, Germany – Oktoberfest
* Heidelberg, Germany
* Amsterdam, Netherlands
– London, England
– Edinburgh, Scotland
– Dublin, Ireland
– Lagos, Portugal
– Albufeira, Portugal
– Seville, Spain
– Rome, Italy

Zoinks! Alright. That’s what’s up.

My dad recently wrote two great posts about cell phones and driving and school zones. Check em out, show your friends, tell him what you think.
http://carpentercarpenter.wordpress.com/
I’m currently working a little at their firm, so by reading and commenting and making him a big star I can hope/dream that your contribution and his resulting fame will trickle down to the little people copying and pasting file notes.

Happy birthday to my BROTHER IN LAW (!!) Ben.
Birthday boy practicing to blow out a LOT of candles. You can do it B.I.L !

Others: My latest jam from Phoenix and the drunkest guy ever.

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Well, I’m back.
Hooray.

I’ve been in Austin for a week staying with friends. It’s nice to be here, but I feel like a total bum. Without anything really to fill my days I spend a lot of time sleeping and doing pretty pointless things. Not really justified to complain about heaps of free time, but coming off what was basically a two month vacation it would be nice to have some purpose again. Specifically a purpose that led to my bank account returning to the black so I can start planning my next travels. So it’s back to Sugar Land tomorrow to find work and sort through thoughts and pictures from Europe.

I skipped whole countries and weeks in this blog and definitely have stories to fill plenty more entries. Even though I’m back in Texas, I’ll continue to update Jess in Europe, since part of my heart is still there and my mind wanders back often.

If you’re so inclined, keep checking back. I’ll do what I can to make us all wish we were in Europe and possibly provide more than a few laughs while doing so.

Being back in the states I’m pretty desperate for some new music. I feel like I listened to everything on my ipod 100x over while I was gone. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Just recently downloaded Owl City and La Roux. I have a list of others to obtain but need time and money. Also went to the Rodrigo y Gabriella show Tuesday night in Austin. If you’ve never heard of them I would definitely highly recommend becoming obsessed. Probably some of the most talented musicians out there right now. So in lieu of pictures, here are a few good songs.

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Back in the eternal city for the third time on my ephemeral European tour. Mixed feelings on being here once again. Happy to return to a city I love and feels familiar. Pleased that I’ve learned the half arrow under the metro sign is their icon and not an indicator of direction. Proud that both locals and tourists follow me as I fearlessly jaywalk, and newly suspicious of the relationship between the plethora of free water fountains and bathrooms for which you must pay. And although I’ve already seen most of the touristy things, I can’t fathom ever feeling that I have ‘done’ Rome completely.
On the flip side of all that, I know that I’m basically only here again to catch my flight back to Texas. And really, I’m not ready to return. My wardrobe is pretty much the only thing (thingnot person) that I miss to any legitimate degree, and I could put up with the same crappy clothes indefinitely if it meant more travels. I’m wondering what would happen if i missed my flight.. A guy at the hostel here offered me a job in Rome, so that’s tempting. And my plane is at 7:30am. In the morning. I’m very grateful that my dad took care of booking my flight, but wondering why that particular one. Anyone who has ever seen me at 730 can attest that it’s not pretty, and cognative function is limited. I did, however, manage to navigate the Madrid underground and airport between 6 and 8am after an overnight bus ride with a tag team of crying babies. And without speaking to anyone, as engaging in conversation is another morning handicap. (Sidenote, the Madrid airport is massive confusing. And the Dublin airport is massive massive. Doesn’t help that the cheap airlines fly out of the furthest terminals, but definitely something to know if you ever fly in or out of either.)
In all likelihood, I’ll be back in Texas Saturday evening. Hopefully greeted by news of a Texas victory over OU, a change of clothes and, of course, my family. Not sure I’ll update again before then, as I only get 30min free internet at this hostel. And with their snail-like connection it’s closer to 17. Internet has become an expense, like food and public transportation, that is far too extravagant for me. No worries though, that frees up my time for extensive walking tours. Which is good for combatting the weightgain resulting from free breakfasts of unlimited whitebread. It’s kinda hard not to see the cappucino cup half full on such a beautiful sunny day here in Italy.
In another spurt of optimism, I planned out my life for the next three years. I’m not sure I’ve ever looked that far into my future, but when I have it littered with amazing travel plans and working just enough to fund them, it’s quite pleasant. Also quite unrealistic, but I’ve enjoyed how unbelievable my reality has been for the past two months and I’m not ready to let that go.

A note on the pictures: A lot of these beautiful ones are from my friend Katie’s camera. I would never say my camera is bad after how resiliant it has been through my attempted homicides. But I cant wait to get home and fix them up. To it’s credit, it has survived three attempted drownings, multiple drops adn one 4ft dive onto a tile floor. Cheers to you CoolPix.

Leaving Portugal. Amazing weekend.

Leaving Portugal. Amazing weekend.

Sunset in Albufeira. Complete with Portugese men and guitars. Perfection.

Sunset in Albufeira. Complete with Portugese men and guitars. Perfection.


Met up with a friend from Sugar Land who is studying in Seville, along with her roomate, for the weekend.

Met up with a friend from Sugar Land who is studying in Seville, along with her roomate, for the weekend.


Stayed in the best hostel in Lagos, met the best people.

Stayed in the best hostel in Lagos, met the best people.


All the buildings were this beautiful white stucco.

All the buildings were this beautiful white stucco.


Albufeira beach.

Albufeira beach.


Albufeira sunset. Those are the cliffs we explored in the background.

Albufeira sunset. Those are the cliffs we explored in the background.


After Lagos we went to Albufeira. Climbed around these incredible cliffs that have been there for millions of years.

After Lagos we went to Albufeira. Climbed around these incredible cliffs that have been there for millions of years.


YMCA in the sunset. Yes, please.

YMCA in the sunset. Yes, please.


These amazing cliffs are all around the beaches. Perfect for cliff jumping, when the tide is high enough.

These amazing cliffs are all around the beaches. Perfect for cliff jumping, when the tide is high enough.


As for the furture

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Ola from beautiful Portugal. By all laws of Jessie life I should have never made it but I’ve been here five days an never want to leave. Leaving Dublin was more complicated than it should have been. To save a little money I took the 2euro city bus instead of the 6euro airport shuttle. But apparently those four euros make all the difference in haste. Since re city bus had none, I got to the airport thirty minutes before my flight and ended up sprinting through the airport with my enormous backpack strapped to my back acting the complete opposite of a jet pack. And it cost me 30euro to get it on the plane. Frugality fail.

Thank goodness the plane landed right on time because I had exactly 19 minutes to get on the last bus that would let me catch the last train to Lagos. Somehow it worked out and I had 30 minutes to kill as I waited for the train. This was really the most open for mishaps. I work best under pressure and with crammed schedules but give me an inch and I’ll take a train 50 kilometers the wrong way. 30mins.. Hm that’s enough time to explore.. Or check out the horns game in the next terminal.. Wait did our plane just leave us?

But Lagos was incredible. Met up with some friends from contiki and stayed in the best hostel I’ve seen. We had a momma who made us crepes each morning and a papa who took us on a walking tour to explore the beautiful city. Met up with a friend from sugar land on Friday and Saturday evening we took a bus to Albufeira, another amazing costal town. Tomorrow we will take the train to Seville then Wednesday I fly back to Rome.

Many stories to share but iPod typing requires more deft motor soils than I posess.I’ll try and upload some pics tomorrow too, thisplace is unbelievably gorgeous. Ok time to eat our legendary dinner: a salad of spinach, frozen veggies, some unidentifiable lunch meat, half a tomato, home made crutons, a piece of cheese and heaps of cornflakes. Yum!

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Traveling is not always easy.
Traveling alone is almost always even not easier.
Especially on a rainy day in a city you really want to explore but can’t decide what to do and end up wet and wandering cobblestone streets looking down at your purple toenails questioning your choices in nailpolish, footwear and life. Hypothetically.

I’m in Dublin. Ireland marks the 10th country of my trip, and the first country where I have spent considerable time wishing fairy tales were true. Specifically, a leprechaun to chase away the clouds, lead me to a pot of gold and plan the rest of my trip. And I wouldn’t complain if he brought Lucky Charms. And queso, but that might be outside his realm of power.

Making rational plans for my life is often a struggle. I can plan for other people, organize details of others’ schedules or lay out steps to solutions for them. But when it becomes personal, I get stuck. Stumped in the same way as when I have to tell left from right, estimate the number of people in a crowd or guess how many m&ms are in a mason jar. ‘What do you mean 3,640,939 isn’t a reasonable guess? Whatever. There are at least 70 people in this kitchen, someone else will probably get it anyway. Move the second comma to the left and make it a decimal point? If you say so, but 36,409 still seems off.’

Anyway. Up next is Portugal, possibly Spain, and back to Italy. Still trying to figure out where I’m going once I get to Faro. Some city by some transportation at some time. Or perhaps I will travel on the backs of Portuguese Man O’ Wars, much like Captain Jack Sparrow and his giant sea turtles. There are a few flaws in that plan, but honestly not many more than any of the other options I’ve been investigating.

I think consecutive days of cold, drizzly, overcast skies and an inexplicable red eye situation have slightly clouded my positive outlook, but it’s nothing a little sunshine and beach won’t quickly fix. Not sure I could live somewhere that the sun didn’t shine most months of the year. Or somewhere where winter is a season. Oh, Texas. How you spoiled me.

Ok. Time to suck it up, brave the weather and enjoy Dublin. In another odd patch of decision making, I’m going on a literary pub crawl tonight. Should be educational, interesting, and possibly inebriated. Just kidding, Mom. It’s very important to keep your wits about you when traveling, especially when it’s dark and cold!

Off to the grocery store to pick up some potato soup to enjoy at the hostel. Irish-ish and cost conscious. I ‘d like to think my ancestors would be proud. Also, I think I’d like to change my shoes.

We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
– Oscar Wilde

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a few snaps

Edinburgh castle. This city is incredible.

Edinburgh castle. This city is incredible.


Am I the only one who wants to modify these signs to say toilet?

Am I the only one who wants to modify these signs to say toilet?


Westminster Abbey. tip - sneak in the back church and save 12€.

Westminster Abbey. tip - sneak in the back church and save 12€.


London tourist.

London tourist.


Julie made incrediblely delicious enchiladas. YUM.

Julie made incrediblely delicious enchiladas. YUM.


More beautiful Hampton Court

More beautiful Hampton Court


Wise words from the King's table cloth. Sandra thought Brad would enjoy this one very much :)

Wise words from the King's table cloth. Sandra thought Brad would enjoy this one very much 🙂


Recognize.

Recognize.


Beautiful day at Hampton Court in London

Beautiful day at Hampton Court in London

oops. there’s more but time’s up.

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So I know I promised tales of Italian adventures, but apparently some people (Mom.. Dad.. Dad.. Mom..) are wondering what I’m actually doing right now. Rather than reminice in follies of weeks past, I’ll do a current update.

It’s Saturday (I know because I wrote it on my hand) and I’ve been here in Edinburgh, Scotland for almost exactly 24 hours. I arrived after enduring the most excruciating 10 hour bus ride from London. Freezing winds and a dramatic climate change met me at the station. I spent Sunday through Thursday night in London, first with the Guslers then with my sister’s old roomate Julie. The weather in London was incredibly nice. After I spent all Monday lazing around, on Tuesday Sandra took me to Hampton Court. Even though we passed up the oppertunity to don period appropriate dress robes, it was really cool to tour the palace and bask in the sun around the beautiful gardens. We had a great lunch at a nearby cafe, I can’t thank Sandra and her family enough for their amazing hospitality and generosity, then I headed into London to meet Julie.

Can I just say, thank God for the creators of the iphone Metro app. Thanks to this unbelievably usefull creation, I was able to navigate London wiht only one mishap (Instead of getting off when I took the wrong train all the way to the end of the line, I figured I would just stay on until it went back where I came from. But first it went to the tatoin, where all the metro empoyees gathered outside my window and laughed at the clueless toursit. However, that was because of a misread on my part, and I do not blame the app or hold any grudges against it.)

So I reached Julies with no problems and, to my extreme delight, learned she planned to have friends over for enchiladas that night. I could have filled a Mexican martini shaker with tears of happiness. Yall, I miss mexican food more than I could express with any witty analogy. Wednesday and Thursday were equally pleasant. Saw a lot of touristy things, did some writing, and had an incredible meal from a Londony market, complete with the best chocolatey muffinish cupcake I’ve ever tasted. Got the 930am bus to Edinburgh on Friday morning and spent the next ten hours playing sodoku, writting illegible postcards and contorting my body in attempts to find a sleepable position. There was a stag party in my hostel bar when I arrived. Europeans go all out with costumes at these events – at the Heinikin factory there was a groom to be in a full on bunny suit, and this future father was looking fly in a frilly dress. Although I was actually pretty keen to socialize, that was not quite my scene so I called it an early night.

Today I wandered around a bit, bought some medicine to rid myself of this chronic cold and went on a walking tour of the city. It was really cold, but cool to see and hear all about the town. I ducked out toward the end of the tour into the Elephant Cafe, which is where J.K Rowling got the inspiration to write Harry Potter – holy hogwarts. And somehow I lucked out and nabbed an empty table right by the window. Someone had recently vacated the prime real estate, leaving behind a tea mug which I pretended was mine to legitimize the free loading and table monopolization. The food looked amazing, but I had made peanut butter sandwhiches this morning to extend the free hostel breakfast into free lunch. I am the definition of poor backpacker. But if I ever secure gainful employment and return to Scotland, I will buy the most expensive sandwhich on the menu.

But first I’ll have to pay off my growing debt (Mom, Dad and Dave Ramsey please ignore the previous sentence). Which is to thank for my recently purchased tickets to Dublin then on to Portugal!! I’m so excited about both trips, and relieved to finally have them planned. After Portugal, maybe a few days in Spain then back to Italia. Exactly two weeks from today I return to the Great State. Time flies when you’re travelling around Europe with no responsibility and no sense of time!

If you have any travel tips/suggestions for Ireland, Portugal, Spain or Italy I’d love to hear them. Or if you have any ideas for employment, I’m still verrrry open to those (thanks sister shel for the recent brainstorming sesh). Or if you have a funny joke, trivial fact or completely unrelated comment, share away. I know I have a few things to learn about brevity, but hopefully at least a couple of people soldier through my rambings and reach this point (Mom.. Dad.. Dad.. Mom..).

Love from Scotland.

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