Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Snapshots of Autumns Past and Autumn Present

I've already talked in here about how overly interested I am in autumn colors. Even though those are totally gone here now, I haven't quite gotten over wanting to look at them. The other day, while looking at old photos, I kept going back to the ones that featured beautiful fall scenes in various places I've been in the world, and I really wanted to share (mostly because my wanderlust is pretty epic right now and the only cure seems to be reminding myself of my awesome past travels). But since there are so many lovely autumn vistas from such different points in time, with about a million stories to go along with them, I started to feel overwhelmed about trying to write a blog post that could do them all justice! As I just don't have the ganas to do that at the moment, and since I'd also like to give an idea of how my life is going right now, I'm just going to let you all look at the pretty fall pictures while I give a written snapshot of my lately.

Bermeo, Basque Country (Spain)

Recently, I've been:

Reading: El Príncipe Caspian (Prince Caspian), of the Narnia series, en español. I read all these books when I was a kid and really loved them, so when I found a copy of one in Spanish at the local used bookstore, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to relive old times while also brushing up on my castellano (necessary now that I'm a Spanish teacher)! I don't get a lot of other opportunities to stretch my Spanish vocabulary these days, so I'm glad I'll always have books to help me out.

Somewhere in the Highlands (Scotland)

Listening to: I'm almost embarrassed to admit this...the Frozen soundtrack, en français. What, it's empowering to sing along to Liberée, delivrée as I drive to work, and at least I'm not forgetting all the French I once knew! Can't help being a #languagenerd4life (plus, you know, a regular nerd as well).

Denali National Park, Alaska (USA)

Worrying about: How to get good, cheap health insurance in the States. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but after living in Europe for 5 years I've become used to not paying an arm and a leg to maintain my health. This is one of the things that drives me craziest about America, that nobody seems to have figured this out here yet. Yes, Obamacare is trying to make things better, but even that is confusing and kind of a mess. Help?

Vigo, Galicia (Spain)

Trying to: Properly equip myself for the coming winter. I have to spend several hours outside every day now for work, and while we've had suerte with the weather so far, the forecast says it may snow sometime in the next week. On the one hand, YAY pretty snow, on the other, OH NO I don't have any good boots and wet frozen feet are the worst. Boo.

Stratford-Upon-Avon (England)

Watching: Jane the Virgin. The reintroduction of Netflix into my life has brought a sudden burst of knowledge about currently popular TV shows. While in Europe, I barely watched TV and never had any idea about what the good new shows were, but now that I'm back and consumerism has invaded my life, I've become addicted to shows like Jane the Virgin. I feel both silly that I'm so into a dramatic telenovela and at the same time completely invested in what crazy incidents next week's show will bring. At least one of the characters only speaks in Spanish, so I'm technically practicing?

Bayona, Galicia (Spain)

Eating: Kielbasa. I've been very into Polish things lately, after my second visit to the country this past summer. It was a nice way to connect with my roots, as I, like so many Illinoisians, have a certain amount of Polish ancestry. Since that is a common ethnicity in this area, there are a fair number of traditional Polish goods in the grocery stores here. So I've been stuffing my face to my heart's content with kielbasa (Polish sausage) and not thinking twice about it.

Porto (Portugal)

Craving: real bread, good coffee, tortilla española, crunchy müesli, and a million more things! There is just nowhere around here that can make a baguette that tastes anything like actual bread. American sliced bread is just so...sugary! I'd really love a crusty slice of fresh warm baguette with some beurre salé spread on top. Oh, that's another thing...good butter! We always want what we can't have, I know. Last year at this time I desperately wanted a piece of real deep-dish pizza. Now all I can think about is quality European food made with fresh ingredients. C'est la vie. 

Cañones do Sil, Galicia (Spain)

Missing: My friends over on the other side of the pond. I have good friends here too, of course, but a lot of Americans just don't identify with my stories about voyaging through Europe and speaking foreign languages, and I miss seeing the people that I shared good times with over there. I don't know when I'll be back on that continent again, unfortunately, but maybe I can convince some of them to come visit me over here?

Reykjavik (Iceland)

Wishing: I could figure out how to validate my Master's from abroad in the United States. I swear to god, if this process were any less organized or streamlined, I would think I was back in Spain! None of it makes any sense and every time I try to figure anything out I get super overwhelmed by the inconsistent and unclear information and have to stop before I start hyperventilating. Fun fun.

Saint-Malo, Bretagne (France)

Planning: Some fun personalized gifts for Christmas. Yes, already! Creating interesting gifts takes time, and I am nothing if not a perfectionist. I just hope I can get them all done before the big day. Only 38 days to go!

Munich, Bavaria (Germany)

Grateful: I have my family around to support me during this transition period. Without them, I'd be in serious trouble, so I can't thank them enough for helping me get on my feet while I adjust to being back in the States.

Munich, Bavaria (Germany)

Waiting for: The pretty snow to come and cover up all the ugly bare trees and dead grass. Yes, the snow will be cold and wet and a pain to clean off my car before work in the dark, but it will improve the outdoor aesthetic so much! Plus, then it'll be possible to go snowboarding and make snowmen and all those other wonderful winter activities!

Passau, Bavaria (Germany)

Excited about: A Thanksgiving trip to visit my sister in West Virginia. Of course, I've been there many times before, but I'm really excited to have a chance to do even the most miniscule amount of traveling. It will be so nice to break routine for a few days and see some new scenery, as well as spend time with family!

Salzburg (Austria)

Loving: Having access to a car again. Freedom! It's so wonderful to not have to beg your friends to take you places, or try to figure out cheap public transportation options to get anywhere, or walk dozens of kilometers with heavy groceries in hand.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria (Germany)

Wanting: A new camera. I'm thinking about finally taking the plunge and buying myself a nice DSLR camera sometime soon, once I save up enough money. I'm excited to play with all the fun settings and to finally be able to take the pictures I've been trying to force my point-and-shoot to take for years!

El Escorial, Madrid (Spain)

Hoping: I can squeeze some more travels in sometime between now and the end of May (when the school year finishes). I spend half my time nowadays drooling over other people's travel pictures, and I feel like if I don't get out somewhere new in the next few months, I'll burst!

Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

Feeling: Saddened by all the violence happening lately around the world. While it's hard to imagine terrorists attacking France, a country so near to my heart, it is also hard to know that there are other attacks every day around the world being ignored by the media. It's also scary to think that all this terrorism may only beget more violence and retaliations, more families torn apart, more blood thoughtlessly shed. I wish it were easier for us as humans to overcome our differences in race, religion, language, and nationality. I wish it were easier to forgive the mistakes of the past. But I fear that things may only get worse, and that makes me very sad.

How is your lately?


  1. Wow, are those actual purple mountains in Alaska? I have never actually seen “purple mountains majesty.”

    Just found your blog. I’d be interested in reading about your transition back into life in the U.S., as I am in the same stage! And travel stories from the past are still interesting.

  2. Hmm, I don't remember the mountains looking quite that purple in real life, but then again that was about 5 years ago, so I can't say for sure!

    Thanks for reading! Transitioning back is a bit weird, but it does make for good stories! I hope your transition back has been relatively smooth.