Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Month: November, 2016

Warszawa

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Last stop on my self-proclaimed personal heritage tour. Poland was the only place I’m “from” (Italy, Ireland, England, and Poland) that I had yet to visit. Part of my Nana’s family came to the U.S. from the Warsaw area, so this was a very special, deliberate short trip.

We stayed just outside of the Old Town, and I absolutely loved our little Mariensztat square home for the weekend. It was near everything we wanted to see, but without being too in the thick of it. In the morning, we ran south to the beautiful Łazienki Park – a ghost land in the frosty morning, an old palace empty but dominant across the lake. I wish I had my camera with me then. I didn’t even bring my phone on the run. Some things must live on only in my head. 

Later, it was the Old Town. We had tried to walk around the night before, but the fog was so thick we couldn’t see anything. This time, though, it was incredible. Vibrant and colorful. Detailed. Of course, the sad part is that all of it was destroyed during WWII; this new place is exactly that – new. Rebuilt after the war to preserve a sense of the past. 

Like a real Polish girl, I ate more pierogis than I counted. Add that to another uncountable number of pastires I consumed. The almond caramel croissant thing was sooooo good (I have no idea what it was called). 

It was such a nice little trip. I knew it was a part of me.

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Brugge

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Belgium, magical fantasy land of chocolate, waffles, and beer. When I asked what to expect before we departed on our four-hour journey across the Chunnel, I was told, “Disney World.” I would say that’s accurate. The candy-colored carved houses, the charm – there are even horse drawn carriages! What I didn’t know before we went: apparently Bruges (or Brugge, as it’s spelled locally) was the “New York City” of the medieval era, meaning that it was THE place to be for commerce, art, and idea sharing. The more you know.

We stayed for two nights in the cutest AirBnb and filled our days with eating and drinking everything. The hot chocolate = the best I’ve ever had. At one point, we even drove out to the countryside to this monastery that brews the “best beer in the world.” It was a great little weekend getaway, made even better by the fact that I know it’s so, so easy to literally drive back whenever we want in the future. 

Cliffs of Moher

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Twelve hours in… Ireland! Yes! Just twelve, and every second of it was incredible. Here’s how it all went down:

We took the 6:30 am train from Cambridge Station to the airport, took off at 9:00 am, and touched down in Shannon at 10:20 am. An hour later, we had rented a car and were on the road, north-west-bound for the cliffs. The roads were SO narrow and windy; I expected highways, but this route had so much more. Grassy fields, old ruins, small villages, cows, breathtaking beach views. We stopped at a cafe nearby for lunch, and by 1:00, we were at the Cliffs of Moher, dangling our feet over the edge of the world and pinching ourselves to make sure it was all real. We had no plan from that point onward. We walked through the fields, ate an early dinner in a seaside Irish pub. The Irish coffee was amazzzzzing. The people were so nice. On the way home, we took one wrong turn and ended up on even narrower roads through even grassier fields. We had to stop at one point so a man could load his cows in the back of his truck (the road was too narrow to pass). We took the long way back, so we could drive by a castle. And then, at 8:00 pm, we were at the airport. At 10:00 pm, we were in the sky. Home by midnight.

I love these spontaneous adventures so much. Some people say to me, “Well, I would need more than twelve hours in Ireland.” Of course, you need more than twelve hours in Ireland. I could spend weeks or months or a lifetime there. And I will go back someday soon. But given the choice of twelve hours in Ireland or zero hours in Ireland, I will always choose the twelve.

Living in Europe has many perks; these types of trips, they are my favorite. 

 

 

Botanic Garden

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Travelling far away is exciting, but sometimes it’s worth remembering that one need not go far to explore. I found this little botanic garden a mere twenty-minute walk from my house in Cambridge and decided to spend an afternoon wandering through it in the last hour before it closed for the evening. It was the first time in months that I remember feeling cold, wishing I had wore socks and a thicker jacket as the sun set. That, combined with the leaves, made me truly, finally feel that it were fall.

One hour in the garden, and the world changed. 

Les Calanques de Cassis

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My second trip to Les Calanques this year, and I’m still wondering if any of it is even real. There are no words or pictures to do any of it justice. Neither words nor picture can capture the vividness of the color, the sweet sharpness of the smell, the weightlessness of floating in the October Mediterranean. There’s a sensation here of being lost. Lost, free to find your own path down the cliffs and into the sea. 

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