Wishing you all a happy New Year from the tip of a mountain top!
Wishing you all a happy New Year from the tip of a mountain top!
Well, I have finally made it back home safe and sound! I know I have been missing in action but A LOT has happened in the past week. My journey home was nothing short of a nightmare – or a horrible written 90’s film. My mom and I were among the thousands of people whose flight was cancelled at JFK in New York. It was a nightmare. Our flight out of London took off an hour later than scheduled due to the fuel pump pumping at a snails pace. From JKF we were scheduled a connecting flight immediately upon arrival. So in my head I thought it would be better to not sleep on this 8 hour flight so that I can reset my internal clock and knock out when I get home. Which was going to be around midnight Friday. When we arrived at JFK we had been told that we missed our flight, then told it was cancelled. We then like hundreds of other people had to stand in line for hours to even speak with someone. One couple I talked to waited 12 hours for their turn.
We were fortunate that we found someone that helped us without having to do that. But he did lie to us. He said he had gotten us on a flight leaving in the morning, and said that once we got to the gate we would be assigned a seat. All the hotels were sold out so we had to stay at the airport. Where I did not sleep cause I was worried about my things “disappearing”. So the morning comes around we go to the gate and find out we were not put on the flight but wait listed. With the 150 people who were supposed to be on the flight the night before. I was pissed! So we spent the day waiting and going back and forth between gates waiting to see if our names would be called. The worst part was the service! No one from the airline would speak with us. It took a lot of patients but we did make it home safe which is all that really matters. And the fact I will never fly with that airline again!
So I arrived home Sunday to an unbelievable surprise! While we were gone my dog Coco had puppies! On New Years Eve around midnight she delivered 3 little girl puppies. This was not planned at all! In November my mom had taken her over to a friends house, which she often did cause Coco and her dog play. Well Coco the little hussy that she is, snuck over to the neighbors house to visit her boyfriend and well now we have three new puppies! Expect tons of updates. After dealing with that bomb, it was time for me to already go back to school Monday morning bright and early. My apologies for falling short of my blogging duties but as you can imagine its been a crazy start to the new year. I am excited to see what else is to come!
Our lovely airport accommodations.The puppies! From left to right; the little one is Bean (She’s the runt), Nordi, and Gidget.This little nugget is Gidget. And yes, I know, I need a mani. But I’ve been a little busy.
I brought in the new year in Paris. Had you told me a year ago that’s where and what I would be doing I would’ve said “pshh… Really!? Sounds good to me!” But really it was an unbelievable experience. So the lovely gents in this picture are a couple from Spain who came and sat with my mom and I on this boat tour. Which went along the river (romantic I know)… took us along side all the lit up monuments, it was lovely. Anyways among the people I have met on this journey they will forever stand out. They spoke mostly Spanish but had some English references. Alex (the one on the left) was using an app he had downloaded to translate what we all were trying to talk about. (If you know me well you what I do know in Spanish). It has been fun going to different countries and having to figure out different ways to communicate with someone of another language. There are usually always lots of hand gestures thrown into the mix. Then there have been times where my mom has started to talk to a stranger, for instances this one man on the train, I’m in the middle observing – she is talking about one thing, and he is talking about something completely different. Eventually I jump in and explain what the other is trying to say. Its rather entertaining. Especially since my mother thinks everyone understands her. But back to Alex-he was asking if we were mother daughter, from where, you know the usual first questions. Then there was a beat and he looked over to his boyfriend, took a deep breathe, looked back at my mom and I with a Cheshire smile and said: “this is my boyfriend!”… It was almost as though he was publicly announcing his love and relationship for the first time without a care. And my mom and I looked at each other and mentally communicated “yeah we know😊”…looked back at him and noddingly smiled. Then he asked if we understood what he meant cause he repeated himself as though he had been forced to suppress those kinda of introductions. But their love really had already spoken for them. It was just a really cute moment and I’m really glad to have met them. #ILoveLove
It’s time to say goodbye to 2013, you’ve been very good to me! I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store. Tonight I will be ringing in 2014 in Paris. If you had told me a year ago that this is where I would be I would have never believed you. Goes to show all you can achieve in a years time. ❤ I wish you all a safe and hopefully memorable night, and I’ll be seeing you soon 2014…
I am leaving Florence with a new hat. I love hats because it is the easiest way to cover up the fact you just didn’t do your hair that day. Especially, if your traveling throw it on and go. I got this hat at the street market in Florence, I even got it for a deal- I’m a haggler. You have to, or else you will get taken advantage of. That is something I have learned while traveling, the second locals realize you are a tourist, especially an American, they hike up the price. So I say as little as possible just to throw them off, use what local language I can, then (BAM) shock ’em when I speak perfect English after I’ve gotten my deal 😉 I myself once worked in retail, had a quota and a threatening manager, so sure you’ll do what you have to in order to keep your job. Along with selling people things they probably don’t really need – case in point why I no longer work in retail. I bring that up because my mom was off looking at somethings on her own, and I was observing from a distance the gentleman trying to scam her. She was looking for authentic goods made in Florence, every time she would ask he would say “Oh, yes, sure!”. He practically had is hand in her purse paying himself. So I walked over to see the tag and they were in fact goods from China and Persia. That’s when we walked away, but they can be so pushy but as a touring customer always remember you have the right not to be hustled or cheated. But what do you think about the hat?
As I have said before one of the greatest parts about traveling is getting to meet new people. You may remember from my last trip (back in November) to Italy that I had made friends in Rome with two girls; Giada and Alice, who are originally from Florence. We have since continued to stay in touch and made plans for when they come to the states. With the holiday break both girls had come back home to Florence and I got to meet up with them again. Giada was gracious enough to invite me over to her home to celebrate the holidays with her and her friends the real Italian way. Which consists of; great company, a first course, wine, second course, wine, cigarette break, espresso, main course, wine, cigarette break, desert, desert-wine, another espresso and of course tons of conversation. Giada was such a great host, and her friends were very welcoming. Giada’s group of friends they have an annual holiday dinner together (Something I am planning on incorporating in my life when I get back home). This is an all day event, so apologies if I am not making much sense, I am tired and still in a bit of a food coma. So the day pretty much went like this; Giada woke around 7 to get a friend at the train station, came home cooked two turkeys, along with all the other dishes, we watched Miracle On 34th Street, listened to 80s music (which is quite popular here), ate, drank wine, talked… all over about 9 hours. This was the first time Giada had cooked turkey, apparently that is only an American thing. Luckily I’ve had plenty was able to help them carve it, cause they were a bit unsure how to serve it. It was funny once they set them down on the table they stared at the turkey, said something in Italian, looked at me, looked back at the turkey and looked back at me for a cue. It was great though getting to experience a holiday in a new way. The food was amazing! Unfortunately I am not able to share it with you but here are some pictures, sorry. I can’t wait until they come to visit in the states so I can return the favor.
I hope you all are having a Merry Christmas! This year I spent Christmas in Roma, we started the day off with a couple of cappuccinos and mass at the Vatican. It was such a great experience to attend mass by the Pope himself. I can cross that off my bucket-list (which I’m still writing). The plaza in front of the St. Peters Basilica was filled with hundreds of people from around the world all gathered to celebrate together, it was a lot of fun to look around and listen to all the different languages. But however you celebrate from my family to yours Happy Holidays ❤
Well the end of my time here in Prague has finally come. It seems as though I have been in the Twilight Zone, living in a dream. The past four months have flown by. In the past 100 days I have been to a grand total of 9 countries 15 cities! (I literally had to count and recount cause that seemed so crazy)… This has hands down been the most challenging experience I have ever been through. I have been blessed with so many great moments but equally some very trying moments. It wasn’t until my mom got here, and I was showing her around that I realized I really have accomplish somethings during my time here. I’ve learned how to; embrace change, solve problems on my own, accept that people are not always going to agree with what you have to say and you have to let it roll off your back, you are responsible for your own happiness, I cannot live away from the beach, not to judge a book by its cover, who the people are in my life I can rely on and most importantly family is forever.
When I first arrived to Prague I was excited and naturally wanted to talk to everyone I saw. The first few times I had been out in the city I was shocked at how stone cold people expressions were. For instance on the tram I would make eye contact with someone, naturally smile and not be acknowledged in return. However that is the culture here, I have come to learn that people are more reserved. It is not that they are rude, but from their perspective they are respecting your space.
As I mentioned before this experience has not only allowed me to make new friends but reflect on the relationships that I already had in my life. Before leaving for Prague I didn’t want to leave with expectations of who would write and who would drop off the face of the earth and I’m glad I did so because I have been more than pleasantly surprised and touched by the people who have made it a point to stay in contact. There have also been old friends that I have been able to reconnect with. Being so far away I have been able to take a step back and see certain relationships for what they are/were. That has been a big part of my growing process here. Relationships in general are a two way street it has been interesting to see who has and who hasn’t continued to maintain the “traffic” if you will. I admit in the recent year or two I have not been doing the proper maintenance that I should be. I am looking forward to changing that, taking the time to take a break from my constant go, go, go, and see my friends. I mentioned in another post that in Europe it is expected of you to sit for an hour or two at a cafe and just talk. I really have enjoyed that here, so I am going to make it a point to show the people who are important to me.
Prague you have been good to me. I am really going to miss my walks along the river, tram rides, popin champs, trying to speak Czech, hot wine, most of all the wonderful people I have gotten to know. I will forever remember this experience for it has helped me grow into a stronger person. Till we meet again…
As I mentioned yesterday the semester has finally come to its end, and today we had to check out of our apartments (wah). It was bitter sweet, I really enjoyed living on my own. I loved having my own space to cook and entertain in. I am really going to miss having my girl friends over for sleepovers. The majority of the students in my program left Prague today to return back to the states. As you know my mom and I are having a European holiday. So from my apartment I literally walked around the corner to the hotel we are staying at for the rest of the weekend. Which let me tell you was so convenient its a pain in the you know what lug heavy suitcases from point A to point B. If you know my mother you know she is an over-packer. Even that is an understatement. I told her before coming her “PACK LIGHT! Think of light, then pack lighter than that, then think lighter than what you imagined and pack half of that.” Did she listen…? Nope. It was comical to watch her though.
After we checked into the hotel, which is beautiful by the way. We were upgraded to a suit on the top floor with an amazing view of the river. I wanted to show her the place that have meant the most to me. To give her a real feel of Prague not just the touristy things. Although that’s what I have planned for tomorrow. Before anything we had to get coffee, we came across a shabby chic cafe, where we were able to sit and talk for about an hour. From there we visited Museum Kampa located near the Charles Bridge. Then for lunch I took her to my favorite soup place (mentioned in a previous post). It’s so funny to see her react to this new city. Back home we don’t have a great public transportation system, we drive ourselves everywhere. I’ve just become so used to taking trams and the metro, I forget she isn’t so I have to keep an eye on her cause there’s been times she’s almost gotten ran over. But it’s an adventure as we always say. From lunch I took her to Wenceslas Square (New Town Prague) where we explored. We made our way back to Old Town got more hot wine and did a little shopping at the Christmas market. Then window shopping down Prague’s Rodeo Drive. We ended the night at my favorite tea place (mentioned here). If you’re in Prague I recommended visiting it they have the best exotic loose tea from all over the world and great shisha. I have enjoyed going there and getting to know the owner Emily. Who is half Czech half French, she came over and talked with us for a bit. I really appreciated that cause it gave my mom the opportunity to talk and interact with a local. Something we may not have gotten to do had we been here on strictly vacay. Well, I’m getting sleepy so that’s pretty much all you need to know about today.
And by eagle I mean Ching Chong-aka my mom! She got here this afternoon after about traveling 22 hours. Her phone had died when she left the airport so there was no way of telling me she had arrived and was on her way. Naturally I began to worry watching the time get past the time I figured she should’ve already gotten to my apartment. So I get a gut feeling to head for downstairs and go outside to look for her. At my apartment there is a buzzer system however there are no names/numbers at the main door, therefore you can’t tell what apartment you’re calling. But I figured out I can pick up my phone and listen to see if anyone is at the door. I happen to pick it up and hear my moms frantic voice asking the a couple of students in my building; “Excuse me! Do you speak English? Do you know Ashley? Is she here?”. So I ran down the stairs to get her, apparently the cab driver brought her to my building and she couldn’t believe from the outside it was apartments. So they drove on until he convinced her it was the correct place. So there’s my mom who has never traveled outside the states just so lost and in shock from how different the Czech Republic was. It was quite comical. Anyways, today was the commencement ceremony for my school so we cleaned her up and went to the lunch. It was so funny to watch her take in this new world, I’ve just become so accustomed to. Around every corner it was “Oh, ah, oh my gosh… Ash!”. It was cute. We’ll be in Prague through the weekend so I’ll be able to take her around to my favorite spots, then were off to Italy for Christmas! I cannot wait Italy is my FAVORITE place to travel. I’m also looking forward to showing her around there too. It feels so surreal that my mom is here. Having a piece of my world in this place I have experienced completely on my own feels strange. But more importantly it feels so good to have that piece of home/familiarity here.