- each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, with the fresh yes of an adventurer -

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blank Walls

I want to write about New York.

I want to write about leaving New York. About everything I'm thinking, everything I'm feeling, everything I'm looking forward to and everything I'm leaving behind. But the words won't come.

So instead, I'm sitting here staring at the blank walls of what used to be the most fabulous New York bedroom ever. With high ceilings and huge windows and beautiful hard wood floors. But now the walls are bare, the shelves, closets and drawers are all empty. And all my things that once decorated this pretty room are now packed into boxes on a truck to Texas.

I'm restless. I can't sleep. I can't write. I can't do anything. But stare at my bare walls. And wonder what's next. For them. For me.

I want to write about New York.
And I will. Once I can get past the blank walls.

Monday, June 27, 2011

27 on June 27th

Today is my Golden Birthday.

I don't really know what this means exactly. But according to Wikipedia (my trusted source for all useful unnecessary information) --
A person's Golden or Grand Birthday, also referred to as their "Lucky Birthday", "Champagne Birthday" or "Star Birthday", occurs when they turn the age of their birth day.
So if this is a milestone noteworthy enough for Wikipedia to mention, I do believe it is something worth celebrating.

And celebrate I shall. Probably with champagne. Because while I like the sound of Gold on my Golden Birthday, I also really like the sound of champagne. Perhaps I can combine the two and celebrate my Golden Champagne Birthday. Yes. That I like.

Cheers to 27 on the 27th!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reflections on Five Years

Dear New York,

It's been 5 years since I arrived here from Texas. Fresh off the highs of college graduation and ambition. Almost 22 years old, so excited for a new urban life, bright-eyed, determined and just slightly terrified. It didn't take me long to get used to your hot summer days, public transportation, crowds, horribly inconsistent weekend subway schedules and surprisingly comforting street noises.

I've spent 5 crisp New York falls watching Texas football games at bars cheering alongside too many other burnt-orange-clad Longhorns to count. I've managed to get through 5 of the coldest winters of my life without significant depression, with several snowy adventures and ice skating under the stars. Spent 5 holiday seasons mesmerized by the magic that floats through the streets at Christmastime. Then watched these 5 seemingly unending winters finally fade to springtime, bringing warm sunshine, brightly colored flowers and a renewed spirit to the city.

I've explored every borough. Fell in love with the charm of the West Village. Spent the night in Rock Center in hopes of scoring tickets to SNL. Watched summer movies in Central Park. Seen more Broadway shows than I can count. I even served Jury Duty. I've visited Philly, the Hudson River Valley, Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore, Long Island beaches, the Hamptons, Cape Cod and Washington DC.

I'm so very in love with you, with my life here. With all my amazing friends that truly make this place my home.

After 5 years of our relationship, it is very difficult for me to break this news to you New York. And it's with a very heavy heart that I tell you I am leaving. I know, you probably didn't see it coming. I was surprised too. But you knew the time would come when the South would call me back. And it's time.

So I guess, all this to say...After 5 years of New York City life, I'm going back to Texas.

I still love you New York. But my heart has always been in Texas. You can bet I'll be back to visit often. After all, you're not going anywhere.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh Santorini. Sigh.

Santorini, Greece.

Supposedly one of the most romantic islands in the world. Good thing I was visiting with my bestie...and not my boyfriend.

The story of how we got to Santorini from Mykonos is quite eventful. We were supposed to leave on a ferry at 2:30pm. However, there were some technical issues - that no one bothered to explain to a crowd of at least 100 people - and the boat didn't actually leave until 9:30pm. I guess there are worse places to be stranded though.

We made friends with a lovely Aussie couple, killed time eating salted caramel ice creams, and Angie might have napped. Good thing she carries around that dodgy blankie with her.

The view coming into the Santorini Caldera is supposed to be quite lovely. We of course wouldn't know since it was about midnight and pitch black when our ferry finally arrived at the bottom of a very steep cliff. Sad.

We spent the first night in Perissa. Explored a bit the next morning. And then went on to our next stop - Astarte Suites - overlooking the caldera. All I can say is, wow.

The pictures don't even do it justice! This place...this place was absolutely stunning.

We went on an adventure to visit Red Beach. However, this beach was noooot so condusive to beachy lounging. It was more like the surface of Mars. Or the sun. Whichever analogy you prefer. It was very pretty though.

Note to future Santorini travelers -- Rent a car. Or one of those scary ATVs.

We had our hotel drop us off at the beach, but then we couldn't quite figure out how to get back. We considered walking (over those hills?! nope), hitchiking (legal here?), a bus half-way to our hotel (and walk the rest of the way? with no directions?). We ultimately settled on begging a restaurant to call us a taxi.

They were very concerned about us. So they gave us free wine as we waited. Hah!

We also began referring to our sunset and wine dinners as quite "ro-tic." That is, romantic...but because it was just us 2 girls, we had to take the "man" out of it. Awesome? Yes, we think so too.

Breakfast on our terrace before heading to our next hotel included a "surprise" nutella pastry and a smiley. Yes, a meal on the terrace AND chocolate for breakfast. Like.

And then we were off to Fira, the main city in Santorini, for the last few days of my visit. Much more touristy than Mykonos. And there were donkeys. We'll get to that story later though.

Our hotel in Fira could not have been any more charming. I loved the courtyard. And those red doors.

Each room is a little "house." And we had a pretty fantastic balcony. On the edge of the cliff overlooking the caldera.

The Santorini donkeys wear bells, so you can hear them coming. Angie was trying to focus on writing, but I kept running to the balcony when I heard the bells. "Donkeysssss!"

And then there was the Santorini sunset.

Which was so incredibly gorgeous from our balcony. Where we were treated with Santorini wine and cheese while we watched the sun go down. Angie promptly put some classical tunes on her iPhone - a lil mood music - and we enjoyed our last "ro-tic" evening in style.

The lighting was so incredible, we just couldn't resist a lil Santorini sunset photo shoot. We have well over 30 pics from these few hours, but I'll only leave you with 2 of my faves.

Oh, and the sunset of course. Love.

We rode the cable car - or funicular - down the cliff to the port for more adventures. I'm fascinated by these cliff houses. Who built these? Who lived there? How do they have electricity? Is it like a cave inside? Mind-boggling.

"Funicular? That's not a real thing. You're making it up."

Angie looked at me with the below face. Like I was the crazy one. SHE was the one using made up words, not me. What's wrong with "cable car"? That's nice and simple and self-explanatory. Funicular? Ridicular!

The view of Fira from the active volcano in the middle of the Santorini crescent. We didn't quiiiiite make it to the top. A 30 minute uphill hike? Nahh, this is plenty high enough for me.

After the volcano, our boat took us to the hot springs. We forgot our towels. Oops. And I somehow convinced Angie that we didn't come all the way out here to look at the hot springs, we must swim in the ocean! She was skeptical, that water looked coooold.

Good intuition. It was very cold. And real salty. But now we can say we swam in the Aegean Sea!

To round out our Santorini adventure, we decided a donkey ride back up the cliff to Fira was probably necessary. I mean, how bad could it be? Santorini is known for this! We had to!

Our donkey driver was the angriest Greek man we'd met in our travels. He yelled to the donkeys, he yelled at us, he yelled at passing donkeys coming down the cliff. Angry!

"Shhhhh" "Not donkeys, burros. Burros!" "No photo! Photo after!" "Shhhhhh"

I'm sorry sir, but I did not climb up on this donkey to not have photos of the experience. So yell all you want. I will continue to take these pictures.

The entire 20 minute experience was terrifying. Did you know donkeys are competitive? Bet you didn't. My donkey and Angie's donkey were vying for the leader spot. I would get ahead, Angie's would speed up and cut mine off. Then she would be in front, and mine was not having that at all.

"No running donkey! Slow! Stay away from the cliff walls! Wait! I can't control youuuuu! Are we done yet? Why would anyone do this?!"

Terrifying. Terrifying I tell you. As soon as our feet were safely back on the ground, there was a stampede of burros! Angry donkey driver + competitive donkeys + 20 minutes up a cliff = terrifying.

And then...it was time for me to go. Noooooooo.

Goodbye friend / world traveler / crazy adventurer. I shall leave you now to your alone time. No more pretending to listen to me when I talk (bc I'm always talking). Back to your quiet and solitude and independence. I know you think you won't miss me, but I know you willllll.

Do I have to?? Can't I just stay?? Ok. Fine. I'll go. But I'm not happy about it.

So long Santorini. P.S. I think I might love you.

Well...except for carrying my ridiculously heavy suitcase up massive hills. I did not love that part. That part was rough.

Real life awaits.

But not quite yet. Just one more small stop before heading home.

I had a very long layover in London. And I studied abroad in London in 2005. I haven't been back since then. So even though I was worn out, and it was hot, and my shoulder bag was heavy, I spent the majority of my London layover strolling around the city I fell in love with 6 years ago.

Funny how quickly the city all came back to me. I was suddenly completely familiar and comfortable. So many memories. So much fun. I remembered why I loved it here. And how after living here, I decided city life was definitely for me.

London was the best ending to one incredible adventure.

Greece was everything I thought it would be and so much more. It was endless laughter, sunkissed skin, a salty breeze, new friends, feta cheese, killer sunsets, a blue and white paradise.

I loved it there. Every minute of it. Especially the "ro-tic" ones.

Miss you Angie! Thanks for letting me come to play with you for a little while! See you state-side. Soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mykonos Mykonos Mykonos!

I went to Greece! On a Greek island adventure!
(in case you missed that update...which is highly unlikely since i tweeted every part of the trip like it was my job. sorry. but not really sorry.) :)

First stop: Mykonos!

After crazy long (and semi-lonely) layovers in London and Athens - where my electric converter miiiiight have almost started a fire, ooops - I arrived in Mykonos! A lil sleepy, a lil worn out from all the traveling and a whole lot excited!

My first glimpse of the Greek Islands. Via the window of a very small plane with propellers. Eeeek!

I met Angie our hotel, at the top of a hill overlooking Mykonos Town. We didn't stop talking for at least 4 hours straight. I almost forgot how exhausted I was!

Please note Angie's wish list of necessary items from the states that she was so excited to receive:

-- Contact solution
-- A1 Steak Sauce (what?!? apparently it had purpose...)
-- Dress donations from our friends
-- Nail polish + Nail polish remover
-- Any accessories
-- Treats of my choice (Twizzlers and Pretzel M&Ms, duh!)

Random assortment of requests? Yes. Guess that's what happens when you take off around the world for a year. It's all about the little things really.

Mykonos Highlights --
  • ANGIE! She'd been on the island for a few weeks before I got there. She had already made lots of new friends, discovered favorite restaurants, favorite bars, favorite cafes with wifi. And she knew her way around...sorta.
  • It's blue and white and so beeeautiful
  • The food! Never have I ever eaten so much feta in my life. And it was delicious. Feta, pork gyros, tzatziki sauce, salmon risotto, salted caramel ice cream...ohmygosh everything was so good!
  • Dancing all night at the "disco." So many characters in Mykonos. This is what makes for an amazing vacation of course.
  • Katerina's! The restaurant in Little Venice area of the town with an amazing view of the windmills and the sunset. Where the waiter and Angie were friends, the bartender and Angie were friends and the owner and Angie were friends. They are good people.

Dinner at Katerina's
"ohmygosh, what did you bring for me to wear?!? new dresses! i feel so pretty!"
Never say I'm not a good friend, Ang.

Disco. Mykonos style. Looks like trouble? Probably.

Ummm, so...NOT really the fish & chips we had in mind...

Table of Grecian people next to us, in response to the look of shock on our faces and complete silence upon receiving our food --
"what's the problem? good white fish. just pick it up and eat it...not with a fork, with your hands. it's very good!"

Oh no. We are not putting those fish in our mouths. No no no.

Spending the afternoon hanging out on our balcony. Laughing, lounging and enjoying the view.

Morning ferry to the island of Delos to visit the ancient Grecian ruins.

Greek people are awfully friendly. Like this new friend from the cafe. Who was quite impressed with our macbooks and iPhones.

New Greek Friend: "Do you have the facebook? Can I see?!"
LJ: "Umm...if you get that cigarette ash on my macbook I'm going to be mad. Put it out!"
New Greek Friend: Immediately puts out the cigarette.

I am good. (read: bossy?)

The view from our room at Bill & Coo Hotel. Sigh.

This pool SPARKLES! Quite literally sparkles. I must have one of these for my own.

A pretty perfect beachy day at Paradise Beach. Pretty perfect.

One of soooo many blue and white Mykonos streets. Quite lovely in photos, no?

Little Venice

Angie was really sad to say goodbye to Mykonos.

Large shades. It's very bright in Greece.

Dinner #2 at Katerina's. And our last night in Mykonos. Cheers!

Mykonos sunset. Perfect view from our balcony seats.

Zoran! Our favorite Serbian. Who kept our wine glasses full and introduced us to lots of new friends.


Told you the boys at Katerina's loved Angie! Every time we walked into a bar or restaurant we were greeted with "Angelena!!" Hilarious and kind of fantastic.

Saying goodbye to Mykonos.

Next up?

Santorini Bound!!