Friday, October 2, 2009

dear blog

i am sorry for abandoning you for so long. life has just been a little crazy for the last few weeks, but more of the ugh-why-do-i-have-to-deal-with-this-bs crazy rather then hey-i-should-blog-about-this! crazy. i did not intend to ignore you for so long but i'm ready to revisit you anew.

some exciting news;

*i love my apartment and living with kate and clayton

*my windowsill garden seems to be doing well. hopefully within a month i'll have lettuce, spinach, chives, and radishes ready to go. the carrots probably won't work but i'm holding out hope for them anyway

*i've been applying to non-profit jobs left and right and i'm getting a better idea of what i want to be doing (direct services combined with program management in a socially conscious organization). haven't heard back from anything yet but i'm staying positive

*i have an interview at lush on monday. certainly not something i want to do long-term but i think it'd be a fun place to work until i find something more permanent. and the discounts!

*i bought an unlimited monthly subway pass this week and so far it's proven to be the best $90 i've ever spent, if for no other reason then because i'm forced to go out every day or else wind up feeling guilty for not taking full advantage of the money i spent. i love exploring this city

*i think i want to start on my MSW in the next year or so?

life is good.

Friday, August 28, 2009

oh golly!

a real update is coming soon, i promise! in the meantime, enjoy some of the music i've been making with my sisters.

http://www.reverbnation.com/thevanwinkles

Thursday, August 6, 2009

musings

i am coming to realize that one of the ways in which my trip most profoundly affected me was with my relationship to food. working on organic farms, being intimately involved with the creation of the food i ate, seeing how these farmers had to struggle because they received so little governmental support, really changed the way i view eating. i have always been a fairly healthy eater--i was vegetarian for years (though i am decidedly not anymore and even after all of this consciousness-raising i've decided that ethical omnivorism makes more sense to me than vegetarianism) and i shy away from processed foods as much as possible. but what i am truly interested in now is creating my own food.

i find few things as satisfying as making something myself that i would have otherwise bought. it started out with crafts, specifically clothes, but i am beginning to expand on that. i'm making sun-dried tomatoes, sprouting mung beans, culturing kefir and yogurt. it may seem simple or silly but i take great pleasure in the feeling of connectedness it gives me with my food and the sense of accomplishment that comes with self-sufficiency.

and for the things i can't make myself i would now much rather buy them from a local farmer whose name i know than a big faceless company. or, if the farmer's market turns up dry, a small locally owned business. i think nice was the place where i first realized the joys of market shopping--the daily market in vieux-nice was huge and the array of vendors was astounding. there was literally a stall that sold only salt, at least 30 or 40 different kinds.



next to that was the olive oil man who could advise you on which oil to pair with the wine that you planned to serve with it. and because i worked at one of the farms i realized that these people NEED your business. it is their livelihood and oftentimes they are just barely scraping by. but they are doing something they believe in or carrying on the family livelihood and in the process are providing a necessary public service. because the difference between fennel that i had tried previously from supermarkets and that which i had in nice (picked that morning and driven no more than 10 miles) was astounding.

i was also shocked, throughout europe, to see how many people grow their own produce. as i trundled along the continent by train the vast majority of houses along the tracks had at least a small garden that was bursting with vegetables and fruit trees. even in suburbs just outside of cities i was amazed at how much produce people were able to fit into their backyards. to me gardening has always been something people do as a hobby, something that we did sometimes to give us a few tomatoes and zucchini, but not a viable source of food. i'm beginning to realize that i've been duped--i think that's a very american concept--"i'm going to use my acre of land to grow a lawn that i have to water every day and mow every other week and i'll buy all my produce from wal-mart." that's not to say europeans didn't have lawns--there was just usually at least a 10'x10' patch torn out to make way for edible plants. i am beyond excited that my new apartment in brooklyn has a rooftop terrace where i will be able to create a container garden.

this is not to say that i now only buy locally or eat things i make myself. though i would love to get to that point (a la barbara kingsolver) right now that is simply not feasible. but i'm trying to move in the direction of living a life that is more sustainable, more community-oriented, and far healthier in the long run.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

all good things must come to an end

after 162 days i am finally back in the states. our last night in munich was wonderful--jenn and i ate chinese food and gelato and stumbled across a phenomenal string quartet busking in front of a department store. it was absolutely spectacular and reminded me of just how much i adore good classical music.

yesterday i got into jfk with no hassles and was met by clayton, libby, ann, and arlene waiting for me at the gate. it's funny how quickly you fall back into routine--it truly feels like i never left. i am incredibly excited about our new apartment and can't wait to bring my stuff up from maryland so i can move in properly. i think dad is going to drive me and the girls down to annapolis on sunday and i'm planning on spending 2 weeks or so there before coming back to brooklyn permanently. i want time to see all of my friends and soak up plenty of mom-time.

even though this blog was originally intentioned to be about my travels i plan on keeping up with it as i adjust to my new life in nyc. updates may not be as frequent (and possibly not as interesting) but it's nice to have an outlet. and besides, i'm hoping on taking many more trips in the future so i need to have a place to write about them!

Monday, July 27, 2009

nearing the end

jenn and i just got to munich. it was supposed to be a 6 hour train ride but we missed the first train (by an inch! we went to the wrong station and we literally just missed it) so we had to wait around for 4 hours and then the train we caught was late so we missed our connection and had to wait 2 more hours. in total we were in transit for 14 hours. but now we are in munich so i am happy.

we only have one day in munich so i think we'll do a free walking tour to get oriented with the city and then explore on our own. jenn still hasn't tried any kind of german sausages so we need to remedy that. then on wednesday my flight is at 1030 am so i'll have to get a bright and early start. i can't believe i'll be back in new york in 48 hours. insane.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ich bin ein berliner

berlin is absolutely amazing. yesterday jenn and i went on a free walking tour which hit all of the major sites (the brandenburg gate, the berlin wall, checkpoint charlie, etc) and that provided a really great overview of the city.

today we went to sachsenhausen concentration camp outside of the city. it was a sobering experience. walking into the barracks i was hit by a wave of nausea and i couldn't stay inside for long. i didn't take any pictures either because it seemed cheap. the point was being there.

we decided to stay one extra day in berlin so we'll be going to prague on friday morning. we've booked the rest of our hostels now so we're all set for the rest of the trip, which is a little bit bittersweet. i still can't believe i'm going home so soon. but it's coming at a good time because homesickness has pretty much settled in and it's getting mildly unbearable. i'm still enjoying myself, of course, but i kind of can't wait to get home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

i'm famous!

remember how i said i was interviewed for an article on couchsurfing? you can find the link to it here at my host romy's blog. she kindly translated it from swiss-german into english.

also, my comment on architecture was totally silly. she asked me what i noticed about the area we were in and i couldn't really think of anything so it just sort of seemed like the right thing to say. evidently it wasn't but whatever, i'm ok with coming off like an ignorant american every once in awhile.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

only 11 more days

bruges was absolutely wonderful and i'm really glad i decided to make a stopover there. i think it beats bern as the cutest city i've been to so far. it reminded me a lot of old town alexandria where my grandmother lives so it felt nice and homey.

now i'm in amsterdam with jenn! we've been here for 2 days and tomorrow morning we're off to brussels, belgium for one night. i've enjoyed my time here but it's too much of a party town for me. or at least that's the only impression of it that i've gotten since i'm staying at a hostel that's known for attracting partiers. i'll be happy to get somewhere a little bit quieter. but we went to the anne frank house today which was really well done and totally worth the €8. it was rainy and gross out though so i spent most of the day napping. which i really needed, evidently.

i'm pretty sure that when i get home i'm going to sleep for 3 days solid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

zurich

i've been in zurich since sunday morning. i've been couchsurfing with a wonderful couple who have been incredibly hospitable and friendly and welcoming. last night they took me to an expats cooking class where we made turkish food and i got to spend the evening with 10 very interesting people (including one who was from maryland! small world).

i've decided that zurich is the best city for window shopping that i've been to thus far. the window displays are beautiful and while i can't afford to even buy a pair of socks from most of the stores it's fun to look. it was especially nice on sunday when i first got here because everything was closed and the streets were empty and it was incredibly serene and tranquil. since sunday i've walked all around zurich, ate absolutely the most delicious bratwurst i've ever had (and i'm not usually a sausage fan), and tried luxembuergli



SO GOOD! they're like tiny little meringues filled with delicious chewy cream. i tried chocolate, cappuccino, bacardi-coconut and vanilla. i might have to get some more at the train station before i leave tomorrow.

today i spent the day in bern. it was possibly the prettiest town i've been to. very medieval, it looked like it was plucked straight out of a fairytale. of course i forgot my camera but here's a stock photo of one of my favorite fountains



yes, that is an ogre eating babies. i love european fountains. and in switzerland you can drink from nearly all of them!

another thing i love about switzerland is that good food is just a part of the culture. the largest grocery store chain that i have found is called "coop" (though on the logo the "co" and the "op" are in different colors, so you figure it's probably kinda hippyish). they have an amazing selection of organic, fair-trade, and local items which really aren't that expensive. yesterday i made myself a picnic that consisted of gruyere on a baguette, mango lassi (which i have become obsessed with recently), an apple and a bar of hazlenut chocolate. all organic, fair-trade (where applicable) and all for 8 francs. in fact i've noticed the organic sections in supermarkets have been far larger than what i'm used to in slovenia, hungary, and slovakia as well. i've heard germany is the mecca for all things organic so i'm excited to check that out. i'm sure it'll be a bit of an adjustment to go back to the states where you really have to seek these products out and pay substantially more for them.

then when i got back a reporter from a local newspaper came over and interviewed me and my hosts for an article on couchsurfing. it's the second time i've been interviewed on this trip! i feel famous. afterward romy (one of my hosts) showed me how to make knopfli, a tradition swiss pasta, let me borrow "animal, vegetable, miracle" which i've been meaning to read since it came out, and gave me the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

tomorrow morning i'm off to bruges, belgium. i'll only be there for half a day before i meet up with jenn in amsterdam!!! i'm so excited.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ljubljanjualjbja

ljubljana=adorable. i wouldn't recommend staying for more than a day because it's teeny teeny tiny but it's really cute and has a very cool vibe. last night there just happened to be a couchsurfing meeting at a cafe (which was perfect since my host had to work for a few hours after i first arrived). i met some really cool people and went to this amazing military-complex-turned-art-complex-slash-bar-and-club-place which is hard to describe but absolutely crazy awesome.






today i walked around the city with 2 polish girls i met at the meeting last night and it was really nice. not too much to see but the city has a nice atmosphere which i like a lot. tomorrow i'm going to bled with some other couchsurfers i met, a small and supposedly gorgeous town about an hour away. there's a lake and a castle and nature--should be fun. then i hop on a night train bound for zurich!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

i <3 croatia

i spent another glorious day doing nothing but reading, swimming, and napping on the beach. absolutely wonderful. i probably shouldn't have let my thighs get so red since i'm going to be on trains for 8 hours tomorrow but i think it was worth it. all of this tanning time has meant that my legs no longer look like they belong to another person (it was getting really bad).

i think this is the first place aside from paris where i know i absolutely want to come back someday. i'd love to check out some of the other islands and head down to dubrovnik--if i ever get married i plan on honeymooning in croatia.

tomorrow i'm going to ljubljana, slovenia. i'll couchsurf there for 2 days and then take a night train to zurich, where i'll couchsurf for 3 more. i'm excited to stay with locals who can give me the inside scoop on what to do and where to go. and this time i actively chose who i wanted to stay with so i think it'll go much better than my previous cs experiences.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zlatni Rat beach

this is where i spent my day

the view when you first get into bol

my little slice of heaven


i was trying to figure out a way to accurately capture the color of the water when i realized my camera is waterproof! so i took way too many photos like this


so many shades of blue



yesterday i spent the day at the city beaches, which were perfectly nice but definitely not picture worthy. today i decided to make the long haul out to brac island--it cost about $20 to get out there and took nearly 2 hours--first a 45 minute ferry ride and then an hour on a bus--but it was absolutely worth it. i've booked 2 more nights at the hostel here in split because it's makes for a nice base for exploring and i really don't feel like checking into somewhere new. i'd like to go to the island of hvar but given the fact that the ferry takes 2 hours each way i think i'll probably just go to the beaches nearby. supposedly there's a pebble beach in a park that's a 20 minute bus ride from my hostel so i plan on spending tomorrow there.

also, pebble beaches are so much better than sand ones. just sayin'.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

fun fact; the croatian language is "hrvatski"

after a 6 1/2 train ride from budapest i arrived in zagreb, croatia last night. the funny thing about traveling is you tend to run into the same people. in vienna i went out with a group of guys from the hostel to a public music festival. 2 days later i ran into them at the train station in bratislava. and then yesterday i ended up sharing a cabin with one them on the train from budapest (he had split from the rest of the group and now he's headed to belgrade so i doubt i'll see any of them again). it gives this whole travel thing a sort of homey feel to it.

i decided to spend only one night in zagreb because i'm tired of city life and just wanted to get to the beach. it was another 6 hour train ride to get to split but now i am here and totally happy. i had planned on only spending one night here and then going to hvar, an island about two hours off the coast, for a few nights but i think i might stay in split and take day trips out to the islands. vis is only a 45 minute ferry ride and it's home to what is purported to be the most beautiful beach on the adriatic (weather permitting i'm going to check that out tomorrow). i really like this hostel and the idea of not having to lug my bag to a new place for 4 or 5 days is incredibly appealing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

i found my adapter!

remember what i said about bratislava and quirky statues?

cases in point;





conversely, hungarian statues from the communist era did not have nearly the same sense of humor.





however, these statues are now relegated to a park far outside the city limits.

off to croatia now!

Friday, July 3, 2009

every journey must end

i booked my ticket home! i'll be arriving at jfk around 4 pm on july 29th. i can't believe my adventure will be over in 26 days. i'm a little bit sad but it made the most sense financially/timewise. and i'm definitely getting to the point where i'm ready to go home.

the next 26 days are going to be awesome though, you can be sure of that.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

back in budapest!

i ended up spending just one night in bratislava--turned out that was plenty. the city was cute but there wasn't much to it. there were lots of quirky statues everywhere, which was fun. unfortunately i appear to have lost the adapter for my camera so no pictures until i can buy a new one.

now i'm back in budapest! i booked 2 nights but i decided to stay for a 3rd. 1) because it's only 6€ a night, 2) because i really didn't feel like getting on another train tomorrow, and 3) because there's still quite a lot i want to see. i did a free walking tour today and i definitely remembered some of the sites, but my memory also skewed certain realities. tomorrow i want to go to memento park, a statue park where they keep the city's relics of the soviet era.

then i'm going to zagreb, croatia on saturday. i'll only spend one night there before heading south and hopefully getting to one of the islands, hvar, by sunday. i'm getting tired of old buildings and museums so i want to recharge with a few days on the beach.



doesn't look so bad, eh?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

so far behind

oh no, i'm already 2 cities behind and i'm about to leave for a new one. rome was cool, too touristy for my taste but it was neat to see the colosseum and i went to a wonderful museum, galleria nazionale d'arte moderna. on saturday i took a night train to vienna and ended up here at 830 in the morning. unfortunately it rained all day and because it was sunday basically everything was closed. i walked around a bit but then mostly slept. yesterday i met a random austrian on the subway who showed me around all the sites. it was a lot more fun to walk around with someone who knew what all of the different buildings were and could explain them to me. he's also going to be in berlin at the same time as jenn and i so he said he would show us around there too (he lived there for over a year).

i'm not a huge fan of vienna. there's not too much to do and it's not particularly aesthetically pleasing. definitely not a city i would recommend.

now i'm going to bratislava, slovakia. i'll probably only stay a night or two and then i think i'll head to budapest. i haven't been there since i was 14!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

la dolce vita



florence is beautiful

public nudity!


italian food vending machines!

the chef who made my pizza was in love with me.

now off to rome!

Friday, June 19, 2009

it's all portuguese to me

oh golly, i've let this blog fall so far behind!

after morocco sean and i had a ridiculous day of travel to get back to spain. we took a taxi, a train, a ferry, another taxi, and another train to get to madrid. we had a hiccup in algeciras where we had to spend the night because the train to madrid was full but it was a nice little break. we splurged on a nice hotel room since we needed the sleep and it was completely worth the extra money.

we spent a few days in madrid and it was great. i liked madrid a lot more than barcelona--we went to a few museums, hung out at some parks, drank some sangria while we played some board games, and generally had a good time. on wednesday i had to say goodbye to sean, which was a serious bummer. it was so much fun having him here and i'm so grateful he ended up coming. morocco was definitely my favorite place i've ever been, in no small part thanks to his company.

on wednesday night i boarded a train to lisbon and i've been here since. i absolutely love lisbon--it's fairly small and easily navigable and the architecture is gorgeous and there are cafes everywhere and cheap food and it's just wonderful. today i went to a small town about half an hour away and got to lie on the a european beach for the first time. the atlantic is much prettier on this end.

tomorrow i'm taking an overnight train to france and hopefully going from there to florence, italy. i'm not sure if i'll be able to do it in one stretch (it's about 24 hours away) but i'm going to try.

Friday, June 12, 2009

morocco pt. 2



i've barely taken any photos since i've been here. i know i'm going to regret it but i also know that they could not begin to capture what it's like here. everything is ancient and beautiful and bustling and dirty and wonderful. i love morocco.

after marrakesh sean and i hopped on a train to casablanca. we were only in the city for one night which i'm grateful for because i didn't like it at all. it was big and dirty and had a strange vibe. plus the medina was tiny and mainly sold western goods so it was uninteresting on the whole. i was glad to get out of there.

from there we took a train to fes. unfortunately this train had no air conditioning (despite what the sign on the door said) and broke down for an hour in the desert. suffice it to say, it was hot and quite unpleasant. barely anyone on the train spoke english and those that did either wanted to sell us hash or provide us with a guide once we got to the city so i kept my ipod on for the most part.

we got into fes last night and so far i don't love it as much as marrakesh, but we haven't had too much of a chance to explore. yesterday we went out a bit but it was incredibly hot so we came back fairly early. then it started to pour so i was glad we didn't get caught in the storm. today most of the shops are closed since friday is the islamic holy day but we did do some wandering and went to an herbalist so i could buy supplies for a trip to the hammam (a public bath house). the proprietor was really nice and friendly and let us smell all kinds of herbs and spices and oils. in the end i just walked away with a few sachets of savon noir (traditional black soap made of olive oil) and an exfoliation mitt and headed to the hammam.

the hammam was quite an experience. for about 50 dirham (around $6) i was steamed up, soaped down, scrubbed within an inch of my life, and doused with buckets of cold water. i've never seen so much dead skin come off my body and have definitely never felt so clean. it was wonderful. now sean and i are waiting for the heat to die down a bit before we venture out into the medina again. tomorrow is our last full day in morocco before we spend all of sunday making our way to madrid.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morocco pt. 1

After 24 straight hours of travel Sean and I arrived in Marrakesh yesterday morning.

We left Barcelona on Friday evening on a night train bound for Granada. I found Barcelona underwhelming--interesting but lacking the vibrancy I hoped for. Granted I was only there for 2 days but I'd heard nothing but amazing things so I guess I had high hopes. I think it's a pretty big party town so the fact that I didn't go to any bars or clubs probably influenced my perception of the place.

The night train to Granada was grueling. 11 hours in a cramped seat with basically no leg room--suffice it to say I didn't really sleep at all. We arrived in Granada at 8 am bleary eyed and armed with nothing but an undetailed map and general directions to where we needed to go. Inevitably we got lost for awhile before stumbling to our hostel, but it wasn't too bad. Luckily they let us check into our room right away so we were able to shower and drop off our bags before venturing out into the city. Granada is gorgeous and I really enjoyed it there--we spent the day walking around the Islamic quarter and taking in the Alhambra, an ancient fortress/palace. The next day started our day of ridiculous travel.

We left Granada at 8 am to catch a local bus to the main bus station. From there we took a 3 hour bus to Algeciras, which is the main Spanish port for destinations to Morocco. After a slight bit of confusion we boarded a ferry bound for Tangier (note to self; don't believe hustlers outside the port who say that the ticket vendors inside are all closed. Luckily the mistake only cost an extra €5). What was supposed to take 80 minutes turned into a 3 hour ride, but we got into Morocco with virtually no problems. From the port in Tangier we took a taxi to the main train station and bought tickets for the overnight train to Marrakesh (this time we splurged and spent the extra €10 for a sleeper car. Best decision ever). Unfortunately there were no left-luggage facilities at the train station so we just had to hang out there for 4 hours before our train left, but we met some other travelers and had a fine time. At 9 pm we boarded our train and 11 hours later we were in Marrakesh! We decided to walk to our riad (a traditional Moroccan guest house) from the train station which ended up being incredibly long and confusing. We ended up paying 2 separate locals a few dirham to get us where we needed to go and eventually we found the riad.

I am in love with Marrakesh. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. Our riad is right inside the medina (the old part of the city) and is smack-dab in the middle of the action. Everywhere you look there are street vendors, political protestors, donkey carts, snake charmers, and motorbikes. It's overwhelming in the most wonderful way possible. Everything is busy and bustling and dirty and completely and utterly alive. You really have to see it to understand.

Today we have another full day in Marrakesh and then we're off to Casablanca tomorrow.

I am completely and utterly content.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

off to granada tomorrow night.

morocco on sunday.

!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

!

i'm in barcelona! with sean!

!!!

we're currently working out our itinerary. exclamation points cannot adequately express my current level of excitement.

Friday, May 29, 2009

chaaaanges!

i'm back in paris. of course on my last night at the farm a new wwoofer, olivia, arrives bearing a violin. i was so sad that she hadn't come sooner because i've been going through serious instrument withdrawal but she let me play it all night, which was very sweet. robina can also play a mean recorder so we had a nice little jam session. i even showed off my jigging skills which i hadn't done in years. why is it that the nights before i leave somewhere always seem to be the best?

charles was very sweet as he was saying goodbye--he kept saying how he couldn't thank me enough for all the work i'd done and i would always be welcome to come back to the farm and how i had an enormous heart. it was very touching. he did the french double kiss.

i already posted this video on facebook so most of my dear readers have probably already seen it, but it's so adorable that everyone should be able to watch it. in honor of ann and arlene's birthday;

video

happy birthday girls! i love you both so much. that is shanti, the family's 3 year old daughter. i didn't get to say goodbye to her since i left so early, which was really sad. the day before i left fenuoua wanted to sit on my lap during lunch. she'd never done that with anyone besides charles and perrine so i really felt like part of the family. it was nice.

immediately upon getting into paris i reserved my train to barcelona! i can officially makes train reservations and check into hostels entirely in french with no misunderstandings. i feel like tha's a pretty big accomplishment. i meet up with sean there on wednesday and i am ridiculously excited.

in the meantime i have 5 more days to explore paris. i wandered around some new parts today that were gorgeous but now i'm being lazy at the hostel since i got up at 5 am to catch the early train. i think i'll lay low for tonight and save up my energy for more exploring tomorrow. i have some essential shopping i need to get done so i think that will take up much of my day but we shall see.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

lovely lovely lovely

today fenoua (the family's youngest daughter) was baptized and i was invited along. i've never been to a baptism before and i was itching to get off the farm so i decided to go.

the morning started out with mass at the abbey in the village. the building was built in the 11th century and the service was overseen by benedictine monks and nuns. the singing was eerie and beautiful and the entire time i felt like i was in middle ages.

afterward we went to another very old church for the baptism itself. the ceremony was fairly short (which was appreciated after the previous one which seemed to drag on forever) and there was lots of singing so i enjoyed it.

then there was a big party at the farm. it would've been kind of awkward except that everyone was really nice and there were 2 girls around my age who were incredibly patient with my french and very very sweet, so i hung out with them for most of the day. i also talked to a man who's pretty much a professional traveler and who cycled around the world in 1 year and walked from cape town to jerusalem. i don't know if i've mentioned that charles was a sailor before he started the farm and he's traveled around the world numerous times. he founded an organization that took troubled teenagers on yearlong round-the-world adventures and has done all sorts of amazing things, like finding neolithic burial sites on uncharted islands. suffice it to say he has very interesting friends.

then robina (the other wwoofer who is in one of the photos i posted) and i found a recorder and tin whistle and played duets for hours.

all in all a perfect day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

enfin, les photos!


bunny love!

bunniesbunniesbunnies

ugliest bird EVER

one of the numerous permaculture gardens. this was a pasture when i first arrived.

i named this little dude "muskrat." he's my bff.

la serre. i spend much of my time in there.

chickens in the compost!

the view when you first arrive.

my hand, even after numerous washings.

straight out of the secret garden! that's the lovely robina, a fellow wwoofer.

ponies! trotinette, harmonie, and gallopin.

les chevaux, winik and toukou. they're fun to ride, except when they're being stubborn (which is almost always).

trotinette is a very rotund little pony.

this pig has eaten 8 chickens since winter. and that's not including all of the baby chicks he's snatched. who knew that pigs love poultry? surely not i.

the wood-fired oven.

the main permaculture garden.

it's rather pretty, no?

...and one more bunny photo, just because i can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

hooray!

sean is coming to travel with me on june 3rd! we're going to meet up in barcelona and do a spain/morocco/portugal trip for 2 weeks. i am beyond excited.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

i'm alive!

i can't believe i've been at this farm for 3 weeks already. in a certain way time flies here, in another it drags on forever. i've decided to leave on may 30th and go back to paris for 2 days before using my eurail pass to get to barcelona.

i'm getting antsy to start traveling again. i like working but getting through the next 13 days might be a bit difficult.

this is not helped by the fact that a new wwoofer, danielle, arrived last week who is absolutely ridiculously wonderful. she's from vermont and is interested in a lot of the same things i am--social justice, alternative medicine, sustainable living, yoga--so being able to work with her has made the workdays go by much faster. we've also gone horseback riding together a few times which is wonderful. i hadn't done that in nearly a decade but everything i used to know is starting to come back to me.

the downside is that she decided to leave sooner than expected. as in, tomorrow. she has myriad reasons for wanting to leave and i certainly don't blame her. but it makes me even antsier to leave so i'm not sure how the rest of my time here will go.

i could leave the farm earlier but (in other big news!) my friend jenn is going to travel with me from the middle to the end of july. thus i don't want to start using my eurail pass until the beginning of june so that it doesn't expire while she's here. i could go back to paris and hang out there for awhile but i got a little bored with it and now that it's peak season hostels have become much more expensive.

to be fair, life here isn't bad. i'm learning about medicinal plants which is fun and for dinner i take a basket out to the garden and have my pick of fresh organic produce. i just feel done here. i'm restless and slightly bored and ready to move on. but i'll try to make the most of the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

je suis ta petite marine

it took some time but i'm settling into this farm. at first i wasn't too happy because i wasn't sure how i felt about the family and it's a ton of work but now i feel like i have a better grasp of what i'm doing and i'm learning a lot so i think the month will fly by.

i think one reason i was unsure about the family at first is because people in the north of france aren't as immediately friendly as in the south. you have to prove yourself and earn their friendship, which is a good thing, i think, but at first i thought it meant they didn't like me. now i know what i'm doing and they know i'm a hard worker and i feel much more a part of thing. so it's good.

working on farms has reminded me of how important it is to be conscious of where your food comes from. support local farmers! i'm quite convinced that locally-grown organic produce sold directly from farmers is the absolute best deal ever. it's incredibly labor-intensive to grow and harvest and yet it's still generally very cheap. i'm determined to stop buying produce from grocery stores when i get back to the states. and i always feel so much better when i eat organic.

the only major downside to this farm is the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere so there's not really anything to do on my days off. so i've been slowly slogging my way through "l'├ętranger" by camus and practicing guitar. it's kind of nice, actually.

i've started to forget words in english. either that's a good sign which points to the fact that i'm becoming more comfortable with french or a bad sign that i just goes to show that i have a horrible memory which is only capable of holding so much information at one time. i'm hoping it's the former.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

french keyboards are confusing

i am in normandy at a farm that is somewhat surreal in its beauty. i am working too much but i'm learning everything i ever wanted to know (and more) about permaculture and sustainable agriculture. plus my french is coming along much more quickly because they actually sound like they're speaking french here, rather than italian like in nice. so i think it's a fair trade-off.

Friday, April 24, 2009

i <3 feminism

another cemetery today, though this one held more personal interest for me than yesterday's.


i think tonight i'm going to have a picnic on the seine with some people from the hostel. then it's off to a new farm in the morning.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

i like france

la cimitiere du pere lachaise is a wonderful place to while away a sunny afternoon.


the eiffel tower is pretty at night.


(sidenote; someone anonymously requested that i post more pictures with myself in them, hence the glamor shots.)

plans

i found another farm! it's in normandy so i'm sure the scenery and culture will be completely different from the cote d'azur, which i'm very excited about. it sounds like it'll be hard work (they work the land with horses!) but i think it'll be an interesting experience. plus they're really into living sustainably and alternative medicine and such things so i think i'll fit in perfectly.

paris is nice but i'm getting a little bit bored so i'm looking forward to getting settled into a farm again. i'm much happier when i'm working.

Monday, April 20, 2009

conundrum

i'm not sure what i want to do next.

i'm looking at an apartment tomorrow but i have a feeling it won't work out. which i will be fine with--i can't decide if i want to stay in paris for too long. ideally i want to work on another farm because i think it's the best way to improve my french but i don't know that i'll be able to find one soon enough.

maybe i'll just start using my eurail pass soon and go to amsterdam.

blergh.

highlights

yesterday entailed;
a walking tour of montmartre
the eiffel tower, the louvre, and the arc de triomph (all from afar, which was fine with me)
ice cream while sitting by the seine
thrift shopping and the best falafel EVER in marais, preferred home of "les bourgeois bohemes" (aka hipsters)

all with 2 very cool girls i met at the hostel.

someday i will post pictures.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

gay paris

i'm in paris. after a 6 hour train ride through beautiful french countryside i arrived yesterday around 5:30. my hostel is located right at the base of the sacre coeur basilica in montmartre, which is an absolutely adorable neighborhood. unfortunately it's raining today so i'm not entirely sure what i'll do, but hopefully it'll include some secondhand shopping.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

so much to say...

i found free wifi so now i can make a real update.

as i alluded to in my previous post, this farm is amazing. the family is so incredibly kind and generous and sweet and i love the fact that they really put me to work here. on any given day i could be planting tomatoes, harvesting fennel, preparing the fields for planting, or a million other tasks. there are 2 other workers at the moment, nick and christopher, and it's nice to have some company. they're fun boys.

they grow so many different things here it's rather amazing. they're best known for their tomatoes because they grow over 85 different varieties. unfortunately i came too early to get to try any of those but i have gotten to try fresh fennel, kumquats, green almonds, squash flowers, and countless other fruits and vegetables straight from the ground. it's wonderful.

yesterday we worked especially hard to plant 2 fields of tomatoes and courgettes before the rain came. pierre was so grateful that he took us out to a restaurant so we could sample les fruits de mer de nice (seafood). i was surprised by how delicious the escargots de la mer (sea snails) were, although i wasn't a huge fan of sea urchin.

unfortunately on every single one of my days off the weather has been horrible so i haven't really ventured out of nice, aside from aday in cannes. i wanted to go to monaco today but it's pouring so instead i think i'll go to la musee de matisse.

because i haven't had internet i haven't been able to clarify what i'm doing next. which means that hostels in marseille and aix-en-provence are booked so i've decided to go straight to paris. i've booked a hostel for 4 days and after that i'm not really sure what i'll do. am i ever sure of anything?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

finally an update

i think this was the first time in a very long time that ive gone a week without internet. its a good thing. however im currently paying by the minute so im going to keep this short.

i am ridiculously happy on this farm. the family is amazing and im being super productive which i love. im using muscles i forgot i had and loving every minute of it.

im a little sad im only here for 9 more days. i also have no idea where im going next so i should probably try to figure that out. i think i might start using my eurail pass a little sooner than id thought.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009