07 October 2012

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall"

Let's hope this is true, because I feel as if my life has taken a serious pit stop.

From being abroad for so long, I keep looking for more.  There is so much out there in this world, I just want to experience everything!  Studying abroad was undoubtedly the greatest thing that I have ever experienced, but I am 100% blaming it for my newly stressful confusion about my future.  After working for two years, I now have two paid jobs in the field I was so sure that I wanted to be involved in, and suddenly I'm not sure if that makes me happy anymore.  So many other things have crossed my mind that I'm not just unsure what I want to do, or even what I'll be able to get success in for that matter.

I think if I could have any job right now, I'd want to be a travel writer.  Isn't that kind of what I'm doing now?  Well with an addition of reviewing hostels, hotels, airlines, train passes, etc.  Which I may add, I am incredibly good at finding the best ones.  I honestly believe that I could give people my age great advice and tips when it comes to where to travel or how to do it.  And getting them to enjoy the things that I once did is such a rewarding career.  Just getting into that business is kind of a mystery to me..

Or even just working for a study abroad or travel agency?  I had the greatest time of my life studying abroad and traveling the world, and literally believe that everyone needs to have an adventure like my own.  I would love to touch on my own experiences to help others strive towards theirs.  But there's where a grad school degree comes in - not sure how successful I can be in that business coming out of college with a BA in communications..

Or what about artist and venue booking?  Helping get one of my favorite Liverpool Merseybeat bands have the ability to come to America for the renown Abbey Road on the River - as little as it sounds - was such a fulfilling experience.  If that made me so happy to have a part in, wouldn't having a career in doing that make me feel more accomplished than ever?

A friend that we met while we were in Liverpool was completing her grad degree at Liverpool Hope University in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society, which sounds absolutely incredible to me.  Being able to get a degree in something that you love so much - amazing, if you ask me.  It has nothing to do with anything that I have worked towards or even thought about before that, but it just happens to cross my mind every other day now.  I'm only 21 - I'm still so young and wanting to experience everything, so why not? What was that annoying phrase everyone kept screaming .. yolo or something...?

And then there's that other non-stopping desire to just work in the Cavern Club for the rest of my life.  Yes, that will never not be something I would do for the rest of my life and be completely content.

There seems to be a recurring theme in these thoughts that happens to deal with traveling, Liverpool, or Europe in general.  It will be nice to look back on this when I actually do have a career, and see if it is something in these ideas or completely different.

Working and being involved in theatre is great and something I have been driving towards for some time now, but I just can't help but think I might be happier doing something else. Which is the worst thought in the world when you graduate from college in eight months, starting the search to find a job.  Enter stress.

Yes yes I know 'work a little bit and you'll get there' .. 'give it a few years of work and saving etc. and you will be able to grab a nice job or a nice vacation around.'  A couple of years?  I'm young now!  Am I going to be able to have this kind of luxury once I get tied down to a multiple year, salary job? And if I do get a serious 'big kid' job, how do I know what field I want to go into? What field will even let me in to that area of business?

I think way too much.

What I've realized is that I am still 21.  I have an entire life ahead of me, and I'm entering the greatest years of my life.  I need to do what I want and experience what I can while I'm here.  When I think of what I want to do in life, it's to be happy, and there's no way of accomplishing this rather than working for it.  And I'm damn good at persistence when I'm determined, so you better believe I'm going to try my hardest to get where I want.

Ok .. done with that.
Quick update on life!

I've officially secured the job as the House Manager for the theatre that I've been working at .. and getting paid!  It's pretty great, and not a serving job, which makes me very happy.  The next show starts tomorrow, which I'd be completely excited about, but I have a mid-term the next day and I really just need to study.  Which leads me to the question, why am I blogging right now?

I just went to the Midpoint Music Festival here in Cincinnati for a couple of days last weekend with some friends which was so much fun! I got to see and talk to a couple of bands that I have never heard of, but have fallen in love with.  Holly came up to visit during the day and we went down to the festival one afternoon.  There was a 'box truck carnival' which was different organizations setting up their activities/shows inside of a box truck.  It was very neat.  Holly and I went into all of them and loved it.  It definitely showed me how nice downtown Cincinnati can be ... and that sometimes it can be a pretty cool place..

And the box truck carnival (Framester box truck)

We sat down and listened to some of the music that day to, which was great.  The last band we heard, Swear and Shake, was so much fun, and currently something that I can't stop listening to.  I think I'll end this very mixed emotioned post on a good note with some of their songs ... hopefully by the next post I'll have my thoughts together a bit more!



12 July 2012

Life Goes On

... does it?

It's a strange feeling, when you know that time where you feel so perfect and so happy with everything, is all about to change.  My last week in London was filled with a mix of trying to absorb every little thing about this place I've called home for so long and fight those uncomfortable thoughts that soon I would be back to reality.

And you can be sure that it did happen.  Reality struck and before I knew it I was in the West Palm Beach Airport, two suitcases full of too many clothes, shoes, and keepsakes, looking out for my parents.  It's hard to believe how quick five months can really go by, but when they say time flies in a blink of the eye, they aren't lying to you.

My ten hours of flying went by surprisingly fast, but I give credit to the hours and hours of plane, cab, bus, subway, and train rides Heather and I experienced throughout Europe.  Before I knew it, I had three hours to home.  I feel like a professional traveler now.

Once I finished a lovely week basking in the sweet Florida sun at my parents, I had to make the hike back to Cincinnati.  The next week was filled with unpacking - unpacking my storage unit, unpacking my suitcases, unpacking my room, unpacking my life.  Fortunately, I didn't mind, as it was just time to uncover those things I forgot I left behind, and the new things, and memories I've brought back from London.  My room is now filled with hundreds of pictures, a few paintings, a few posters, and all the things I kept and collected along the way.  It's not hard to feel happy in here when if I need to remember those things I love, I just need to look around.

Memories..
and more

Beyond that, I'm trying to make life here in Cincinnati as great as it was for me there.  Now, that consists of getting a job and preparing to start school again, but for right now it's summer and for right now I'll enjoy this little extra free time I have.

Once I got back into town and after I made a little pit stop to Louisville to see old friends, I started back up at the theatre (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati) I interned at the past summer.  I was the house manager for the run of Next to Normal, which was such a great experience for me.  It was the first show that I have been somewhat involved with and I absolutely loved it.  Beyond the show, everything about that theatre is amazing.  They people, the building, everything.  It has helped me so much and I could never fully explain how grateful I am that they took me in.  But back to the show, it was incredible.  The set, the actors, the music - unreal.  Possibly the best show I have seen.  And to have been apart of it in some way is amazing.

The show ended almost two weeks ago, and I already miss it!  But since then, I've been on the hunt for a new job, and relaxing a bit.  It's been nice, but I'm ready to get some business in my life again.

So I took a little hiatus from Cinque Terre to now from blogging.  There's quite a bit that went on after that, but I'll give you the cliff note version with just a couple of pictures.

After Cinque Terre, Heather and I took the train down to Rome, to which we walked the entire city and ate some delicious food (pizza and spaghetti for me please!).  We headed to Florence after that for a night, where I met up with Robert again.  He was studying there, so it was nice to see him where I lived and where he lived.  Florence was incredible.  I am so upset that we only spend one night there, but it was a spontaneous decision to even go, and I am so glad that we did.  It is this absolutely gorgeous, little town, that feels huge at the same time.  I love it.  From there, we ventured down to our ending town, Naples.  There isn't much to say about Naples - I was surprisingly real disappointed.  It had a feel of Miami, but everyone is Italian.  Heather and I walked around where we could, ate plenty of gelato, and then got in a good nights rest before our plane home the next morning.
Rome

The Sistene Chapel. SO cool.
Where the Pope lives. I'm really not kidding.

And Florence. . .

The Duomo

From the top. Beautiful.

We got back to London safe and sound, and extremely exhausted.  We had one day/night to rest until we had to get right back up for our trip to Scotland with our study abroad program.  Neither of us were very excited to go, at all - we were just way too tired.  But the great thing about that was we were so wrong, because Scotland was one of my favorite trips that we had taken.  

We started in Edinburgh, saw the castle and city, and then were taken out to Lochness, where we took a cruise on the lake (or I should say 'the loch') where we were told many many stories about the Lochness Monster, Nessie, who our tour guide has seen over ten times.  It all seems very crazy, but with the facts and tools that they have there, I have to say that I do believe that it's true.  He explained to us the technology that they had to trace bodies in the water and how large these things are.  He also told us that there are at least four in that loch alone!  CRAZY.  Sadly, we didn't see Nessie, or any of her friends.  Maybe next time. 

 After this, we spent the rest of the night in the hostel bar, trying their organic beer that they claim 'will not give you a hangover.'  It was pretty good, and there were plenty of types, so whether the hangover myth was true or not, we drank them anyways!  

After lochness, we were taken all throughout the Isles of Sky. Now I thought Ireland was going to be green and gorgeous, but Scotland kicked it out of the water.  I have never seen such amazing views as I did in Scotland.  That country is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.  

We ended the day at The Lake of Eternal Youth.  In order to keep your beauty for time to come, you have to stick your face in the water ... It's 40 degrees outside, and you want me to do what?  That old saying 'beauty is pain' made it's way into our brains, and you can bet we all stuck our faces deep down in that lake. 
 Okay, it actually wasn't that bad at all - refreshing, actually.  
And when I'm 60 still looking like this, I'll have that time in Scotland to thank!  

We made our stop in cute little area where our hostel was.  We found dinner, hit the hostel bar, and hung out with everyone from our program and the locals for the rest of the night.  The next day was back to London, where we made the decision not to get out of bed for the next day.

Edinburgh Castle
Loch Ness
Truth
How perfect is this picture? Yes, I took it.
The oldest mountains in the world to the left, and the newest to the right. Amazing.
I could sit up there forever
This was supposed to be a back tuck on top of the mountains. This is what I got.
DID IT WORK??

Friends and fun

Back to London meant four more weeks until we had to return to America.  This was filled with walking, exploring, and relaxing, for two weeks, then our last trip to Liverpool.  If you've read my blog, you've seen Liverpool pop up more times than it maybe should have, but I can't regret any trip.  

This was the fourth time I had been back, and I would have gone back a million more times if I could.  It's safe to say that Liverpool is my absolute, all time favorite place I have visited or traveled to, ever.  The people, the atmosphere, the music, everything about that place is just unexplainable.  I have never been there where I did not have the most amazing time of my life.

We got there on Friday, hoping to live that weekend like our first, and in more weird ways than one we did.  We wanted to recreate our first trip, so we started off our night in The Grapes, laughing with the old crowd and listening to awful, yet great karaoke.  

We went next door to Lennon Bar, where we met a Stag Party (bachelor party) all dressed in 80's attire, packed with wigs.  Oh, and the two bachelors were dressed as cheerleaders.  I don't understand the ways or why they do things here, but I don't complain at all.  We danced around and took hundreds of pictures with them and then left for the Cavern. The Rockits were playing, so naturally we danced and sang the rest of the night away with them.  

The next day we woke up, grabbed some lunch, and headed back to the Cavern for The Shakers, our favorite group.  We watched them and Jay Murray play until the evening, then grabbed some dinner, then went for a drink at The White Star, and back to The Cavern.  We danced around with the crowd to The Amazing Kappa, with his crazy guitar movies, and on our walk back to our hostel, maybe to keep the tradition of our first trip, but probably because we couldn't bare to leave, we decided to stay an extra night.  

The next night was filled with more of The Shakers.  We didn't leave that night (or Saturday night, actually) until we were the last ones in The Cavern.  and I know you can say 'it's just a bar' or 'it's just Liverpool,' but it really is something so much more to me.  I can't even explain it, but from the first night I spent there, I fell so in love with it.  I am not kidding you when I say it is in consideration, if it ever becomes possible, that I may move there someday.

Stag Party!

The Rockits
The Shakers!
The AMAZING Kappa
Kappa, who is going on tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd next summer.... no big deal
Yup. We're on the stage.

After we got home, there were two weeks left in London.  In that time, we visited the studios for Harry Potter, which was very cool.  I hadn't seen any of the movies, and even so, I was still pretty amazed with the sets, designs, props, and makings of the movies.  

The next three days Heather and I watched all 8 movies, and now I see what all the fuss is about.  They are AMAZING.  Anyways, on to the two weeks -  I spent way too much money seeing West End shows (none of which I regret), shopped around a little too much, and spent every minute we could around the town.  It was a very relaxing two weeks, but it went by way too fast, and now we are at where I started this blog.

A little bit of HP ..

The absolute coolest part

So I went into a little more detail about some of those trips than I planned, but I can't help it.  I could talk about those times for hours.  In the five months I spent living in London, traveling Europe, and experiencing the world, I can honestly 100% confidently say I would not have changed a single thing.  There were no issues, no homesickness, nothing.  It was the best decision I have ever made. I had nothing short of the greatest time of my life.

And with that is a big thanks to my parents, not only for funding me in this whole trip, but for continuing to encourage (almost force) me to study abroad.  I have seen and experienced more than I ever thought I would, and I truly feel that I am changed for the better.  And to my home girl Heather.  I would not have had this crazy and thrilling ride without you.  I miss you way too much for only being home for a little over a month, but I plan on getting down to you soon ... with a case of Strongbow at my side.

Thanks to a small compliment from a friendly stranger, I think I'm going to try and continue this blog while I can.  I don't mind writing, and even if no body reads it, it's really great to be able to look back on these posts, along with everything else.  But if you are reading it, then thanks to you for keeping up with me.

24 April 2012

Yes. I've been to Paradise.

Think of a postcard or a desktop background of a beach or some type of paradise – I was just there.  I’m not even kidding you when I say that.  The Cinque Terre in Italy is one of, if not the most beautiful place in the entire world.  It is on the west coast of Italy, and composed of five little villages that are connected by trains and hiking paths.  We stayed in the first city – Monterosso – in a four star hotel that is on the edge of a cliff looking out to the ocean.  So beautiful.

We got there on Thursday night at around 9PM, so it was already dark by the time we got there.  But included in our room was free transportation to and from the train station, so that was pretty nice.  We got to the hotel and although it was pitch black, we could still hear the ocean and were SO happy and excited to see it!  We got some food at the hotel then headed up to our room so we could wake up and get out around the town.

When we woke up and headed out, the view was absolutely incredible.  I knew it was going to be pretty but I really did not know it was going to be this amazing.  You are literally staring out into the ocean with cliffs jetting out .. which you are on one of those cliffs too.  We walked down into Monterosso and looked around the place for a bit.  We thought it was going to rain later, so we wanted to start hiking early.  We got on a train to the last city, Riomaggiore, where we were going to start.  Riomaggiore was so cute! We walked around for a bit then got on the trail which was full of love locks and amazing views.  We walked through the gorgeous path that was paved out, to Manarola, the next village.  This was one of my favorite villages.  We walked around and went into the shops, then got some deeeeelicious gelato!  It was so so so so good .. and cheap!  The gelato here is less than 2 euros, which is so amazing but pretty dangerous seeing how much we love it.  After eating, we went up on a little trail where you can see the entire village of Manarola from a cliff.  Absolutely. Gorgeous.  I can’t even say enough words to describe this place; it is beautiful.
Our hotel up in the mountain!
Monterosso!
Riomaggiore!
Manarola!
All hail Italy

 We found out the trails to the next two cities, Corniglia and Vernazza, were closed, so we had to take a train.  There wasn’t much in Corniglia, so we skipped it and went to Vernazza.  This is the village that most pictures are shown if you google “Cinque Terre.”  It was so pretty and so amazing to be there, but there was a flood throughout this place in October 2011, and Vernazza (along with Monterosso) was hit the worst.  There was some construction going on on the beach, and some of the buildings looked so run down and beat from the flood.  It was so sad to see, but for only 5-6 months passing, they are doing pretty great.  Everything was open for the most part and the place was buzzing with tourists.  We got some pizza at a cute restaurant where we ate outside right by the ocean.  For my first pizza in Italy, it was amazing!

After the pizza, we had to get some more gelato, and it was even better this time.  We were able to hike from this village to the next one, which was the last one and the one we were staying at, Monterosso.

Pizza .. by the ocean .. in Italy .. no big deal?
Vernazza!

Saying we weren’t prepared for this hike is a complete understatement.  For one thing, I didn’t have any shoes, so I was hiking in flats.  But we just did not think about hiking and packing things that we needed .. but did alright with what we had.  

The hike took about two hours to complete, and it was along the cliffs with way too many stairs to climb.  Once we got through climbing the stairs, they just made us walk down a hundred more just to reclimb a million again.  It was crazy.  But the views throughout this hike were incredible, so it was completely worth it.  Not to mention when we were a little over halfway done with the hike, we were greeted by an old Italian man who sells lemonade along the trail.  We bought some and took a little break (we took a lot of ‘little breaks’).  

After this, we thought we were almost done, but we still had about 30 more minutes.  The path took us straight to our hotel though so it was pretty nice.  And with how unreal this place is, I would recommend anyone and everyone do those hikes – you won’t see the entire place if you don’t.  It is SO worth it.



After we got home, we went up to the room to rest for a little but but headed out for some dinner.  Of course I ate pizza again, and Heather got some ravioli.  So. Good.  Before we headed up we decided why not, and got some gelato for dessert.  It’s too good in Italy – how can you control yourself and not stuff your faces with Italian food and gelato?  It’s impossible.

Today we woke up and walked around Monterosso for some souvenirs and things.  I got this amazing paining/thing that hangs on your wall that was made by a local who owns a little shop.  I HAD to get it.  While we were buying it, he showed us a little video he made of the floods, so we were able to see what where we were walking around looked like at the time.  It was heartbreaking to watch but made me so happy to see how fast they were able to reconstruct their town together.  There is still a lot of work to do, but they are doing really great for such a short time passing.

Now we are currently sitting in a train station in La Spezia, about to head down to Rome.  Ready to do some shopping, eating, and touring!  The train is four hours and I’m pretty tired so I’m excited to sleep a bit too.  After Rome, we head to Naples, then it’s back to London before Scotland with ISA.  I can’t believe we’ve already been to three places on this trip we’ve planned since February.  It’s going by SO fast.  And when I get back to London after this, I have three more weeks left.  What?  Where did the past four months go?  I really don’t get it and am having a really hard time coming to terms with it … soooo I think I’m just going to stay.