To Be Or Not To Be: Espania Edition

I’ve done my research on the UK. I’ve dreamt about Italy since I was 16. I’ve wanted to go to Romania since I learned about Dracula. And Paris was where I dreamt about falling in love.

Spain?

Yeah, you and I both knew nothing about Spain…

So, with this weird mindset and with the chill setting in around London, I decided to head south. I landed on Barcelona for two reasons:

  1. It was a new country for me to explore and I didn’t want to revisit one I had been to (yet)
  2. Sun, warmth, blue skies…

The flight was free…holler at them points on that credit card (Thank You, Chase and Capital One). I snagged a great deal on a hotel (ON THE WATER). Then there was the “everyone at work telling me how cheap drinks were” so, naturally, I found myself airborne towards Barcelona!

I didn’t do much research before leaving (whoopsies) and instead reached out to friends. (to the one that reads this, your list was incredible and informative and made it easy for moi so THANK YOU. I’ll return the favor anytime!) On my hit list:

  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Park Guell
  • Flamenco Show
  • Walk La Rambla
  • Picasso Museum

That was it, going into it anyways. Who cares about that, let’s dive in head first to the experience!

I caught a flight after my training session on Friday. My flight was delayed for fuel purposes so I chugged a lovely London pint full of cider. Yes, I immediately wanted to keep drinking so I board and ask for a Sangria. Fun Fact: They only serve sangria on flights to Spain and it’s only 3 euros for a medium bottle)

I then proceeded to play tipsy sudoku the rest of the flight. (nerd alert)

I land in Barcelona, later than expected, and took a cab into the city where I was staying at Duquesa De Cardona. I can’t say enough great things about the check-in process or the hotel itself. Being tipsy, I am hungry and already want another drink so I drop my bag and head back out quickly as it’s 12:30 at night. Bad news, everything is closing except for this great establishment called Margarita Blue. Their menu is just photos of drinks (for us dumb non-speaking Spainish folk) and I beg for food so they scrounge up chips and guac and I drank my margarita, paid the cheapest bill ever, and crash.

Day 1

Wake up to blue skies and warm weather. Wander over to a recommended brunch spot, Brunch and Cake, By the Sea. Unfortunately, I was hungry and the line was long, which means it’s great, so I ditch the plan and head to this tapas place on the water I had just passed. The waiter brings a pitcher of sangria and my weight in tapas. My gosh this sun is amazing. I actually have to wear sunglasses again. Should have packed sunscreen. Screw it. Ah, the salt water. I am honestly, at this moment, the happiest woman I know.

Thankfully, I wore walking shoes as all I did after being full of tapas was walk La Rambla. La Rambla is the stretch of road with a wide median for pedestrian traffic. There are artists and vendors and food and unique stands (and pick pocketers). It’s, simply put, alive and flourishing with curiosity. As I am walking, I look to my right and I see something interesting so I cross over and walk down this side street. It opens up into this big square that is closed to traffic and performers are busking and music drifts through the air. There’s a fountain in the middle and a ton of pigeons. Fun Fact: I got pooped on by birds a lot growing up and am now terrified of pigeons…yeah yeah, make fun of me if you will. I find a great outdoor spot to sit with, surprise, more sangria and enjoy the views. I move on, circle back to La Rambla and on the other side of the street there’s what looks like big columns. I find myself curious and walking towards them. It’s the largest market I’ve been to. So much food. The meat looks to die for. The food smells amazing. This market is like if the Cleveland market and the Original LA farmers market got married, had a baby, and the product was this amazing variety in Barcelona. I am full though so I walk around and head back out. I wanted to see some Gaudi architecture. That man was a unique genius.

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If not now, when?

I promised a post about food in Amsterdam but several great things have kept me busy.

The first thing is this: I tried cycling for the first time in February. I decided then that I wanted to be an instructor. I set my mind to it and after an audition and several training sessions…I AM AN INSTRUCTOR. The name tour de mads came from that passion and I have made it my reality.

The second great thing is: I have this amazing friend whom I love and adore. I met him when I was 16 and he was 15. He lost his mom, a die-hard cubbies fan, a few years ago. I wasn’t around for him then but I feel like he is part of me now. Funny how that works…? So, for him and his mother and all those people who never saw it as a reality, I was rooting for the Cubbies and what do you know, they win! Tears of joy all around.

The third thing is the most vital and important: I voted in my first election. #HillYesIDid

So, now comes the most difficult thing to say…

In 2009, the same year I graduated high school and started at LSU, I lied. Now, let me explain myself before you just see, “I lied” and make your own assumptions. Let me take you back….

There once was a boy. He was a friend of my ex-boyfriend. I really liked him. Maybe I could take him to prom? Surely that would be fun! (Mom, cover your eyes…) My girlfriends were all going into the bigger city near us to see a movie and they invited me. I was excited to go. The boy who I wanted to ask to prom also asked me to meet him and I really wanted to take him and date him so I went to meet him instead. I never told my mom of the change of plans.

It was a cold night. I was excited to see said boy and couldn’t wait to ask him if he liked me, too. (young love, amiright?) Surely, he invited me to hang out because he felt the same… It was end of January (maybe February) but it was before rehearsals began for the ballet company spring production. I haven’t thought about this night in a long long time so pardon me for not being the most eloquent.

What I am trying to say is that he liked my body. He didn’t like me. He took and took and took and restrained me and covered my mouth and told me it was okay, to just feel him. He was almost done. I didn’t cry. I quietly got up and drove away. I called someone I knew and I loved (in a familial kind of way). I called him because I knew he wouldn’t ask too many questions or judge me or blame me. I called him because I couldn’t just go home and lay in bed.

This was the night I was sexually assaulted. And until now, only the man I called in 2009 knew.

I was ashamed. I blamed myself.

This wasn’t the last time.

In 2012 my boss cornered me, he said we had to talk about my shifts. I was walking in front of him towards his office, he was following closely behind and before I knew it…his face was on my neck, biting my ears, holding my wrists.

This time, I knew. I knew to knee him in his groin. I quit, told him to pay me for the rest of the days scheduled and if he didn’t then I would tell his WIFE. Did I forget to mention my boss was a married man? That’s weird…

Over the years I have made my own mistakes. I have learned. I blamed myself for so long…Do I have whore stamped on my ass? Are my boobs showing too much? Are my pants too tight? Am I wearing too much makeup? Did I flirt with him? I thought I was just being cordial. 

It took me a long, dark, hard road to find myself again.

I am saying all of this because I know the type of man Trump is. I know because he indirectly influenced the men who sexually assaulted me. I am deeply saddened seeing a man who does, indeed, have sexual assault cases against him become president. We just empowered the man who touched someone’s daughter without consent. I don’t hate much but I hate thinking “he got away with it.” I let both men off the hook in my life because I was a coward. I am no longer that cowardly woman and I want to see women ready to fight by my side for a better tomorrow. The election is over but our fight is just beginning.

There are many of us who are scared. If you conquered your personal fears, think of the things we can accomplish together. Always remember,

We are not alone. Let’s give love to each other.

If you have a story to share, let me know. I am here. I am ready. I am listening. I am waiting. I will be patient. And in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this world and marvel at what the world and mother nature has given me.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

#MadAdventure

Amsterdam…part 1: Judgement

Remember in my last post how I mentioned I broke up with Self-Doubt and met this really fun new man? Well, we had a jolly good time in Amsterdam and I am ready to bare all. Let the judgements begin…. NOW!

amsterdam-canal

So, Amsterdam. The city known for it’s wonderful canals, beautiful history, and colorful tulips. Oh, did I forget to mention it’s known for the Red Light District and “Sex” Workers?

We will get to that in a moment. Don’t worry. I guess I should start this post by saying, in complete honesty, that I’ve never been to a strip club. I was in a movie and my character was a stripper (MOM- I KEPT MY CLOTHES ON). I’ve always been a bit curious about strip clubs or sex clubs or whatever you call them. I should also preface that this was my own experience. It is mine that I am sharing with you all. Please refrain from judging my experience or myself based on my experience. If you have questions, ask!

Okay, now that that’s over… Amsterdam! My lovely new friend, Dream, took me to Amsterdam and he made sure customs was easy and train tickets into the city went smoothly and catching the tram to the canals went well until…

  • Momma raised me right, be patient, wait in line
  • I was waiting to get off the tram at my stop
  • NORMALLY people let you off before they pile in, amiright?
  • WELL, a really large man that moved like a damn tortoise and was as wide as my car slowly ambled onto the tram
  • YES, I did speak up and said “EXCUSE ME SIR BUT I NEED OFF THIS TRAM-THIS IS MY STOP!”
  • Did he move? NO
  • Did the doors close? YES…I missed my stop.

Dream, being a forever optimist, reassured me and we got off on the next stop and walked with our bags through the brick-laid streets and over canals and found our AirBnB! Now, this is important.fall-tree-in-amsterdam I’ve never stayed in an airbnb so I didn’t know what to expect and I should just let you know that my cherry popping was the best cherry popping there was. I mean, a bottle of white wine, a bottle of red wine, some Amsterdam cheese and bread, Heineken in the fridge, water, soda, and a bowl of chocolate adorned the table and next to that was an English guide to Amsterdam! Talk about deluxe treatment. I’ve never felt so special.

Who cares about that though, right? Let’s get down to it. I landed at dinner time on Friday. Dream took me out to a fabulous dinner near our bnb and we proceeded to take limoncello shots. Do I like limoncello shots? Absolutely not. I, however, knew I was catching a cold and hoped it would knock me out. I also forgot they had alcohol and it’s stronger than most american whiskeys…oopsies? Needless to say, I slept SO well! I woke up ready to take on the world or rather a really large dutch pancake, the bloenmenmarket, and the anne frank house.

The pancake was a religious experience. It was topped with ribbons of nutella and sweet strawberries alongside bananas. dutch-pancakeTo drink, I paired it with German coffee (at this restaurant it meant americano with kahlua and whipped topping). From this religious experience we wondered to Van Gogh Museum and decided we would book tickets online for the next day (since it was a two hour wait JUST TO GET TICKETS). On to Anne Frank.

The Anne Frank house is something I was curious about. I read online that tickets for general public open at 3:30pm, I was there at 2:45pm and STILL waited about an hour and a half but there was hot cocoa and hot tea and I made some lovely new friends who are much too young and have probably never been hungover because they take their studies at ND seriously…

We finally get tickets and wonder inside. Now, this experience was my favorite experience. How frequently are you walking through someones home where they lived and worked and hid for two years?! A few things I learned:

  • The Anne Frank House was in fact the work place of Anne’s father. They didn’t live there until they were forced to go into hiding.
  • Only four office workers in the building knew there were people living in the back annex and for this reason, they really couldn’t move around much while employees were there during working hours.
  • The Frank family was one of TWO families living here, in a space that is smaller than my first apartment…
  • The windows were darkened because of the spices/gel jam stuff they used to store in the annex–it was sensitive to the light. This is the reason no neighbors were ever suspicious.
  • Once found, (some rat sold them out) the men were shipped to Auschwitz. The women were sent to a different concentration camp.
  • There was one window that was up a very steep ladder that led to the “attic” space. The window was as big as my hands side by side.
  • In this environment, the brightest mind flourished, developed, grew, and most importantly-wrote.
  • The father was the only survivor and we have him to thank for creating this space, this diary, and sharing his story with us all.

I was moved. The home sits vacant mostly. The father wanted to keep it this way as a symbol. It’s truly remarkable, this real story, that took place within my grandparents lifetime. It’s devastating to think that something of this proportion could ever happen again but as long as violence keeps winning, the possibility remains. Let’s keep fighting it with love, yeah?

Speaking of love,  Dream took me on this totally romantic canal cruise. This local guy named William gave me his cheese cubes and fed me wine. boat-driverHe grew up in Amsterdam and knew the canals backwards and forwards…literally. We were in a boat and it went every direction. We should fast forward to AFTER the cruise.

“We should go out.” 

“Okay, let’s do red light district…!”

Now, it is important to note that coffeeshops do not, I REPEAT, do not sell coffee. They, instead sell “soft” drugs. You heard it from me, here, guys. It’s true. So, to partake in the whole “local” experience, I went to a coffeeshop on the canal in the heart of the red light district. I then proceeded, or rather Dream (that optimistic asshole) proceeded to buy a joint. I don’t know if I should be writing this anymore…Is there a law about this kind of thing? I reallllllly hope not.

red-lgihts

Dear Police Officer, 

     I was in Amsterdam when this occurred. I once tried pot in college but they were in the form of a cookie and my boyfriend at the time forgot to inform me that they were pot cookies. I JUST SAW A PLATE OF COOKIES made by a chef and I am a fat kid with a good metabolism! So, what I am saying is that when you come after me, know you would have done the same thing IN AMSTERDAM which is a country where this is so legal they call them coffee shops. It will be out of my system before you come after me…YOU CANT PROVE ANYTHING!

Sincerely, Mads

So, I sat by the canal and smoked my first joint. That’s a lie. What’s it called when someone else smokes it and then they exhale into your mouth and you inhale from them and…whoa, that’s all really sexual. MOM AND DAD, I AM SORRY. I LOVE YOU. PLEASE DON’T DISOWN ME!  But this does explain why I’ve been sick for a week…So, I did whatever that’s called above and I start feeling pretty good. I then proceed to go into a bar/club where I am wearing Sorels and jeans and a sweater and my small backpack was on my front because pit-pocketers…I guess what I am trying to say is that I was the biggest nerd at this club. This club that played 90’s and 00’s Nelly and Drake and such.

I then see a massive sign outside and across the canal from me that is bright red and lit up and…Well, when you’ve never been to a strip club, it’s pretty enticing to do so IN AMSTERDAM. So Dream and I walked in and partook in this weird thing of paying some money and sitting in this private room and then the curtain raises…

Have you ever seen a woman just laying there spanking herself? No? Yeah, well I am ashamed to say that I have… I then burst into laugher because I start thinking “Does that actually work? All these years that I’ve been trying to turn men on and feel sexy and it’s as easy as just laying there and spanking myself? You’ve got to be joking. My mother didn’t prepare me enough…HOLY CRAP look at THAT CELLULITE! Whoa. She should not be rolling around. Wow. She makes HOW much a night? I work so much harder on my body and workout a lot…screw that. I want cookies…“. So, Dream and I leave but I do ask Dream, “does that work?” Dream shakes his head and says, “The only thing that turned me on was your giggle the entire time.” I protest because surely I didn’t giggle the entire time but perhaps that’s the reason she didn’t perform as well and maybe looked annoyed… Oh well!

sad-limoncellodown-the-hatch-limoncello

I sleep deeply that night. I wake up ready for round 2 on Sunday morning…stay tuned (or don’t since I offended most of you).

Cheers!!

#MadAdventure

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Hiatus

Hiatus (noun) – a pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity.

So you all know that I used to work in film and television. Or, most of you know I worked in film and television. A hiatus for us meant FINALLY we were rewarded with a week where we could do free lance work or make happy hour or even have a tv marathon and get caught up in all things you’ve missed when you were working 85+ hour weeks… Yeah. You read that correctly, I binge watch TV on my off week. Stranger Things? Done. Gilmore Girls (the second time around)? Done. Finally watched Breaking Bad…Got into the Good Wife for a minute and discovered Orphan Black. So my point is that I looked forward to Hiatus Week because it meant just “doing me” and not needing to get out of PJ’s if I didn’t feel like it.

HOWEVER,

my hiatus from my blog was in part all to blame on laziness and doubt. I work, I explore, I travel, I cook dinner every night, I make plans, I work out, I clean, and I even occasionally bathe… Somewhere in all my exploring, I couldn’t just sit and write. I did try. I always had too much to say that wasn’t relevant at all to the purpose of this thing or I’d write an entire post (5 different times) and I would re-read the thing and decide it wasn’t what I wanted to put out in the world. So, here I am.

Being terribly honest, I had somewhat of a quarter life crisis which doesn’t make sense. I am living a dream life. Alas, the crisis had to do with work more than anything else. What do I want to give back and give away to people? Do I enjoy what I am doing? Am I spending too much time stressing about work and not enough time enjoying this moment in my life?

You can relate, surely? Self-doubt is an evil thing.

Well, I am here to say that everyone has doubts. Even if what appears on social media is perfect, there are flaws. And mine, lately, has been this silly hiatus bug of self doubt.

So, Self-Doubt and I finally broke up. It was a fun run, the honeymoon phase was romantic but my gosh, I just couldn’t handle how needy he was or his pesky and moronic comments all the time. It’s okay, I wallowed and had my rebound phase. Ate the chocolate cake and drank a lot of wine and came out the other side of this break up pretty okay. I even met someone else. I met this guy named Reassurance who introduced me to his friend Dream and I fell madly in love with him. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about him in my next post, just know, he is absolutely perfect and his friends are amazing!

PS- jet lag sucks, still.

PPS- Dream introduced me to Amsterdam… wait until you hear THAT story, it’s a riot!

xx

#MadAdventure

Falling and Running

 

I have lived in California for two+ years. That means I have been surrounded by a constant flow of sunshine and season-less changes. Yes, it is depressing. For a girl who loves holidays and seasons, California sucks.

This weekend there was my first thunderstorm since moving to London. It cooled the air with it. It’s been a nice mid 70 degree weather and now its a nice low 60 degree weather and that rain pushed the indian summer out! So, it finally feels like fall and the local Starbucks is serving up pumpkin spice everything. Leaves have been falling from the trees and I actually feel normal donning the boots I bought for this winter. The cool air has been a blessing as well because most places in London don’t have central air, or air, period. So, it’s cool enough to sleep under the blankets and make hot cocoa, I know, I’m pushing my luck but I HAVE MISSED FALL!

harvest-fest-sign

So, guess what I found this weekend? Yep, you nailed it, I found a Harvest Festival. It was in Regent’s park and it was small and quaint and…okay, there were maybe 10-15 people there total but I did buy local made apple and cinnamon jam! They also made fresh pizza from the vegetables grown in the garden! Fresh rocket and courgette with tomatoes and mozzarella! I’ve never tasted anything so fresh in my life. They actually harvest it all right there so you know it’s going to be good.

 

I also found a scarecrow! So, it’s safe to say the next few posts will be about all the fall festivals I find because it’s absolutely perfect! I also partook in a competition of guessing the weight of a pumpkin. It’s harder than it sounds because they measure weight in kilos and not pounds but my time at the gym has proven beneficial in this task…I’m still waiting for the phone call that says I won, not that I know what the winner gets…whoops!

So, it didn’t live up to the expectation I had in mind but the Columbia Road Flower Market DID in fact live up to all my high expectations.

This entire road is shut down and it’s vendor after vendor of flowers and the street is full of antique stores. This is what I imagine Heaven looks like but a bit less crowded and a bit less shouting. flower-market-with-sinflowersI ducked in for cover because it was a bit overwhelming. I did pick the BEST place to duck in because sitting there, hidden in a jewelry case, was the most beautiful vintage necklace I laid my eyes on. I have a wedding to attend at the end of this month and this necklace would be…parfait!!! It’s only 30 quid? Yeah, give it to me. It’s mine. The timing was perfect for me to grab it, dash back out into the hectic street and down the block, out of the mayhem to a local place for a pink drink. Really though. I pointed to a bottle and I said, “I’ll have that pink one please.” I got quite a strange look but I didn’t care, I had beautiful jewelry and the aroma of flowers drifting and swirling around me.

It was a rude awakening to step back into the tube to head back to the west side. I mean the tube, while filled with miscellaneous musicians, just feels… well it feels like there’s a man hiding around the corner and his name is Cold and he’s waiting to attach himself to flower-marketsomeone who gives him just enough attention and poof, that person automatically catches a cold and then they get on the tube and have a sneezing fit next to you…I want to be surrounded by flowers again, please. Oh my gosh, get me out of here. EW! Did they really not cover their mouth? Ugh. Barf. Just don’t breathe. Hold your breathe, that works, right? Oh thank the travel gods, this is my stop. Open open open! Oh, finally. I think I escaped without that rude Cold tailing me, thank goodness! That was a close call though.

Now for the long week ahead and to pack a bag! Any guesses where I’m going next?

Cheers!

#MadAdventure

PS-What’s your favorite fall festival? Know of one in London? Let me know! I’ll go and explore it for all of us!

vintage-necklace

HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THIS?! You don’t have to tell me. I already know.

 

Wander-Lust

W A N D E R L U S T

noun. Uncontrollable desire, with whatever means necessary, to explore and enjoy the      W O R L D.

It’s quite funny, don’t you think? The memories or things, however BIG or small, that we hold on to and cherish. In my life, someone recently said something to me that has made me smile every day. And if that someone is reading this, don’t let it go to your head too much. It was small but it was something I immediately recognized as true. 

“You need someone who has as much w a n d e r l u s t as you do.”

Yeah, I didn’t get it right away either. I almost felt offended, I scoffed and thought, “Yeah, you really know what I need…”I went to bed that night though and that word –                      w a n d e r l u s t, was in my head.

It’s particularly rude of me to say I go stir crazy in one spot since I am traveling abroad. Here’s the kicker though- I live here. I work and I write and I go grocery shopping. I have a kitchen I cook in and I have a realtor’s office and a banking account. So, while I am living abroad, I itch to go somewhere new about once a week. When I was living in Los Angeles, I had to get out of that city at least once every other week because I just…couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be in one spot for too long a period of time.

So, wanderlust. Why did this make me smile? I’ve walked around London. I’ve seen every part of town and every borough. Wanderlusting lead me to discovering new things in London and wanderlusting is what has me so excited to plan my next trip to some city I’ll go off and discover and uncover and fall in love with.

Here’s the meat of the situation though, I love going places by myself. I don’t need anyone by my side. I actually enjoy going at my own pace, eating at midnight if I feel like it, staying up until the early hours of the morning just to say I did, and eating dessert any time I please. Drinking at any time because there’s absolutely no one to judge you for wanting a drink at 9am because sometimes, let’s face it, we all need a drink at 9am. Which also reminds me, I haven’t seen any Bailey’s since I’ve moved here. I may have noticed because I do actually have a drink at 9am most days of the week but who doesn’t love a splash of Bailey’s in their coffee?! No, I am not an alcoholic. I just really enjoy a “night cap” in the morning. Yeah, yeah, judge me some more. You only live once, might as well enjoy every second.

I realize that now is the time where I’d talk about some experience I had but that’s just it! This is my experience. My experience is that I am so in love with wanderlust’ing that sometimes I don’t even care who is next to me. Is that bad? I think you’re supposed to love your companion and make a ton of memories, and I do. I also just love having moments that you don’t have to explain to anyone. You can laugh or cry just because you feel like it and you don’t have to justify it to anyone! It’s brilliant.

I’m not a hermit, don’t worry. I’ve made a few friends and there’s a group of girls that do brunch once a month that I happened to meet and they all share this same…passion that I have. Travel. So one thing leads to another and I am planning a retreat to Ibiza, Spain. Yeah, I never thought I’d say those words ever in my life in the same sentence – retreat and Ibiza. When you have a lot of friends who love working out, these things tend to happen. Wouldn’t you believe they all love drinking at 9am, too!


I am planning a few more trips but I haven’t been to any of them so leave comments and let me know if you have been and any recommendations and let me know if I should ass more to my list!

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Brussels
  4. Stockholm
  5. San Sebastien, Spain
  6. Barcelona
  7. Marseille
  8. Bucharest
  9. Prague
  10. Cologne
  11. Berlin
  12. Munich
  13. Budapest
  14. and finally ALL of Italy (or whatever I can manage)

 

Cheers!

#MadAdventure

Futball, Carnival and Nolito- OH MY!

Carnival, the time of year when babies are in king cakes, throws adorn the necks of the plain, and parades are a plenty. Well, that’s what I am used to. That is, after all, carnival in New Orleans. I’m not in New Orleans, though, so carnival means something a little different here in Notting Hill.

Notting Hill Carnival has a different influence than that of New Orleans, Louisiana. As I understand from asking people at work, Notting Hill used to be a poorer yet eclectic area. It was an area influenced by caribbean culture and african descent. girl carnivalThis carnival established its roots in 1964 and celebrated the caribbean culture that was established in the area. The tradition, in a large part, came from Trinidad, where they celebrated the abolition and trade of slavery. This freedom, obviously, led to celebration that we now recognize in Notting Hill as Carnival!! 

Ok…Thank the information lords that the explanation is over with, yeah!?

SO, My experience?

  1. Carnival is dirtier than Mardi Gras (I know, tough to imagine)…
  2. Thieves are running rampant.
  3. Knife attacks are at 99.9% odds
  4. The parades have no throws
  5. DRINKS ARE SO CHEAP! No really! I got a 500mL of Strongbow Cider for £2! That’s like the price of three shitty bud lights in the the states FOR ONE REALLY BIG CIDER!!!!!!!
  6. Hold your bladder. The port-a-potties are…unimaginably more disgusting than the states. No, really! They are short and stocky and made of cheap thin wood and if there’s a man that really has to go then know that the door doesn’t shut behind them so you just see a lot of men pissing…no, I am being honest.
  7. The parade (when and if it comes by) only plays loud music and each float comes approximately ONE HOUR APART (I don’t GET IT! THIS IS NOT OKAY)
  8. There are live music stages, they are dope-tastic.man and band
  9. There are pop-up street musicians and bands…they are better than the stages.
  10. It rained and there are color wars (wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined…)

With all that being said you’d figure I would have had a lousy time but did I?

HELL NO!

See above number 5. Number 5 recalls drinks being cheap. They are (which always makes for a good time). See above number 9. Music, or rather rhythm, gets these hips-a-moving and lets go of all my inhibitions. The caribbean dance is free and beautiful and uninhibited. You feel the drums and express them through jumps and stomps and beautiful shapes that your body didn’t know it could make. So, all in all, while different, it was perfect.

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So what’s with futball and Nolito?

Fun fact: American football  (GEAUX TIGERS) definitely tickles my fancy more but these soccer, I mean “futball” players are just…hot. I mean to compare American football to futball players would be unfair. Why? Again, these guys are long, lean, sweaty, no pad-wearing fiends and they are all (for lack of a better term) panty droppers. Even the ugliest of the soccer players here beat the hell out of the American football players. So, maybe I am a newfound “futball” addict but who doesn’t love watching sweaty men run around? Too far?

Didn’t think so.

So Nolito? Tanned skin, like a perfect roux. His butt…toned and beautiful. All I imagine is him whispering sweet nothings in my ear in some foreign language (yes, I am THAT easy).

It was a tough decision to actually commit to cheering for Nolito. I mean, I had to pull up the roster. I had to look at their photos. NOLITOI had to weed out the less attractive ones. I then had to choose between my final three: John Stones, Raheem Sterling, or Nolito. Which one was the hottest? It was a toss up. There’s baby-face Sterling who is just so cute with those cheeks of his but he is only 19. I didn’t want to feel like a cougar for a year so he was eliminated. Stones is overrated.

Nolito is so manly he only has one name. I mean, say it out loud. It’s sexy.

And that folks, is how you pick an undefeated team. Which, as a matter of fact, Manchester City is.

strong nolito

(Geaux Tigers, still.)

Cheers!

#MadAdventure

Paris In Three Parts: Part Three

…Live. Live well. Love. Love passionately. Pray. Pray often.

Part Three: Pray Often

I’ve been hungover by champagne on special occasions (i.e- every red carpet event I’ve attended). I’ve been hungover by cheap liquor (i.e- my college years and a recent trip in Texas). I’ve been hungover by beer once (i.e- I didn’t make the dance audition and my then boyfriend took me to a pool and gave me bud light lime-as if that was a good idea…). Nothing prepared me for a wine hangover. 

I say I got out of bed and rinsed the previous night away but what I mean to say is this:

I woke up, aunt flow and all, with my head still spinning. I went to the bathroom and crashed back in bed and slept another two hours. I woke up and blamed this sick feeling on aunt flow because why not? I sat in the shower because standing really really sucks right now. I get ready for the day sitting down. I finally muster clothes and shoes and stand up to only run to the bathroom. I find myself on my knees praying to the porcelain God. There goes my aunt flow alibi, she always was a bad liar. So there it is, I’m experiencing my first hangover to wine and it is brutal.

I head to a cafe and there is a light mist in the air that feels absolutely wonderful on my skin. I realize I am not hungry and order tea. I find myself on my knees for the second time today and vomit again in the cafe (don’t worry, I made it to the ladies). I actually start feeling like a normal person after this bout.

I head to Jardin du Luxembourg. It is quaint and beautiful and the more I get lost, the more I feel found. My brain decides to wake up and exclaims, too loudly, “This place is great! I can’t believe you didn’t get me sooner!” As if, Brain! There was no pretending you’d wake up and join us but now that you are here, let’s focus. Just like that, I am human again and craving  a croissant. I leave the gardens and grab a croissant which satisfies me for about an hour or two. In that hour or two, I found myself on my knees for the third and last time that day.

15 minutes post croissant: I make my way to the Notre Dame wondering where the Hunchback actually lives. I filled the square in front of this mighty church with dancers and gypsies from my imagination and not the gypsies that were there in front of me. I imagined it not surrounded by these other, less adequate, buildings. It was magnificent. At that moment, I didn’t understand needing to go inside but when you come all this way and see a line moving quickly, you stay.

20 minutes P.C: Wait, there’s a whole bag check here? Just to go inside? You think this place still has a service? I think I am a skeptic…

25 minutes P.C: So, I am here. I am crossing the threshold…

The next hour and a half post croissant: 

When I say I haven’t prayed in my adult life, it means I partake in grace, I haven’t actually prayed. I wasn’t brought up in a very religious family-we know truth wins (that was a long lesson to learn for myself) and we know good versus evil and we practice being decent human beings. I went to church Christmas Eve after I would get off work from the hospital and I felt good about being there because I had someone to think about. I would think about all of my patients and I would hope they would be okay. I never really prayed, though. This is important to know about me before I delve into what occurred in my life over the next hour and a half.

I looked up. 

I saw this magnificent place, looking up. You could smell the incense before you knew where it was coming from. I strayed away from the crowd. I saw this cross embellished in gold. A beautiful and quite colorful window mosaic just beyond the cross. There was a small sign that essentially read “serious people allowed in this space only” (or at least that is how my brain processed it). Without realizing what I was doing, I entered that serious place.

I looked back at my best friend and said, “I don’t think I know how to pray…”

“There really isn’t a right or wrong way but I am here with you.”

So, I purchased a tea candle. For the first time in my adult life, I prayed. I didn’t exactly know where to start but it went like this…

“God? I think you are compelling me to talk to you right now. I bought this candle here because this is all I can do. My home is drowning. lights and mosaicMy people are scared and homeless. The place I love is essentially destroyed. Why? Why did this happen? Why are so many people suffering? Why am I here, safe, and everyone else is able to lend a hand? Are you hearing this, God? These people need you. I need you to just help. Help me. Help them. Oh, please . Please. Do you hear me begging? Please. God, please please please….”

I lit the candle. I put it under that magnificent cross. I got up, continued walking.

It wasn’t until after I left that quiet area that I realized I was sobbing. I started crying from the moment I looked up. I kept crying as I walked around this magnificent place. I sat down in a pew, right in the middle, and there let out a silent prayer. The second prayer in my adult life. This one went something like,

“Thank you. God.  Thank you. You guided me here and I feel it. Thank you. No thanks for the emotional response. You could have been a bit better about that but you are probably busy so I guess it’s fine. You touched my soul, though. S0, God, Thank you.”

adiring notre dame

I got up from that pew. I quietly wiped my tears. As quickly as I labeled myself a skeptic, I was labeling myself with a heart full and ready to pray some more.

This moment for me was, in a way, completely life altering. I actually discussed it with my ma. I told her, in hindsight, I felt foolish for crying but I couldn’t stop it. She reassured me that sometimes, you have these moments, these really beautiful moments when all these souls touch your heart and the result is personal and wonderful. She understood me and made me feel normal about my reaction and for that, I thank her.

tea lights

The rest of the day went by. I had an ice cream cone on the river front at this small festival. I ate two sandwiches and grabbed macaroons to-go, for the train. I sat in silence and people watched in the train station. I slept deeply on the train for the first hour. I awoke to the sunset over the French countryside. It was a beautiful sunset that reflected exactly how full my heart felt.

I arrived back in London without any problems. I oddly felt like all my problems were wiped away.

I slept deeply that night. Renewed.

Sante!

#MadAdventure

PS-please share any moments you’ve experienced! Now that I feel it, I want to know more! I’m new to it and would love guidance or comments or just some support.

light and me ND

Paris in Three Parts: Part Two

…Live. Live well. Love. Love passionately. Pray. Pray often.

Paris Part Two: Love Passionately

I left off after the Arc De Triomphe, yes? Let’s skip ahead to bucket list item                  “make love in Paris”….

Again, growing up, the term making love meant something different to me. I was a weird kid, ask my ma. But since some of you don’t know her, I’ll tell you myself. Sex, in my very child-like view of the world, was simple. It was two bodies rubbing against each other. To make love, in my very romantic yet child-like view of the world, was more tender; passion without the need to rub. It was a tender affection, warm. In my adult life I will define it once more for myself. I will define it like this:  The sensation you have that is similar to an orgasm; the tide rushing back to crash the shore; the delight of a summer dew early in the mornings on flowers; the pleasure of being wrapped up in a warm cosy blanket when there is a chill tickling your skin; the overwhelming sensation of being so happy and so full of life that you are spilling over-like a full glass of water being run to the finish line by an olympian and not wanting to spill a drop and when drops are spilled, the cup is still full at the finish. 

Maybe my definition is weird and different but you read it, didn’t you? It’s a romantic notion to have, I agree. I somehow believe that making love isn’t at all about sex and I say this after making love in Paris. 

I spent the afternoon living quite well…I mean by 3pm I’ve had two desserts and by 5pm I’ve had roughly three glasses of wine. wine and ringsNot a bad start to an evening. There was one moment when I didn’t feel my best and the moment went something like…

“Uh…Ou est le toilettes?”

The waiter laughs and shakes his head, try down the street (in great english compared to my French…)

“Merci.”

I walk down the street and no toilets . I try to just enjoy being by le tour de eiffel without wetting myself. I happen in a street festival- surely the have portable toilets?

“Non. Uh toilettes pour les travailleurs ..?”

“Oh, oui.  ou est l’un pour moi, s’il vous plait?” (again my bad french is scoffed at)

“Je ne sais pas!”

Moral of the story, always always always squeeze it out when there is a toilet close by. I didn’t pee myself but I did take off running through the park like a mad woman and I was singing and holding myself… (people like me are why the French hate Americans.)

So, dessert and wine and a broken cork on a wine bottle later…I am back at the hotel. Would I like my room upgraded? YES! Free of charge? YES! So, now the room looks out onto the streets with a small balcony. I get a glass of wine and get down to my skivvies. I rinse off and throw on thigh high stockings and vintage lingerie without a bra…TMI? I opened the floor to ceiling windows that lead to the balcony and turn to start curling my hair for the evening. It wasn’t until the bloke I was with said, in a very cool voice, “You have an audience…” that I felt like a true Parisian. This is the moment I started making love. I’d include a photo but this was too personal and it wasn’t because of my lack of attire.

I kept on with my hair, only to stop for a sip of wine. I felt naked without some dark rouge lips so I added them before even adding a bra. I felt a bit more dressed. I felt a bit more…passionate. I left the windows open and felt invigorated. Here was this woman, her name – Paris, and I was letting Her see me. I was giving Her all of my intimate moments and I wasn’t even trying to cover up. She continued peering through my windows and I felt at ease in this city. I felt normal. I finished my hair and She approved with a twinkle in her eye. Much to her dismay, I added the dress, the fascinator, and the shoes. “Don’t forget the vintage jewelry, my beauty,” Paris whispered. Ah, yes. I added the vintage pearls and I was off and ready for my night with Her. wine on boatShe took me to dinner and let me taste the best parts of Her-decadent, rich, creamy. She showed me Her river and let me set sail on Her Seine. She showed me the monuments that erected from Her and told me Her passions. She kept me warm with glass after glass of wine. She swooned me with music and night city lights. She let the ship dock after two hours of intimacy and She took me to the Eiffel Tower. As I stepped off the boat, She made the tower sparkle. My breath escaped me and I was in awe. She peered down at me, satisfied with my amazement. She sat me down on a park bench and we shared glasses of wine. “I love you,” I said. She wrapped me up in Her warmth and took me down Her back alleys. She showed me Her most private areas and I kissed every part. We wandered together, giggling like school girls, falling madly in love with one another. I wanted Her. She knew it. I couldn’t possibly hide the way I felt now, with two bottles of wine in my system-I was drunk. She sighed, knowing our night was coming to an end. She walked me back to the hotel around 3am. She told me to sleep, assured me She would be there in the morning. So, I fell deeply asleep with the comfort of knowing she would be there with me. In my deepest dream I heard Her respond, “I love you, too.”    

eiffel sparkle

Just like that, I was madly in love. I woke the next morning with a hangover and a surprise visit from Aunt Flow… Not the best start to my morning but at least I still had last night.

With my bucket list items pulling at my legs and poking me, I got up, showered and packed my bags. I was off on yet another adventure today…

I wonder if it could get any better in Paris Part Three: Pray Often. 

(Hint- It does!)

Sante!

#MadAdventure

eiffel view from boat

My view from dinner on the Seine

wine at din

Happy when French wine is in hand.

.

 

Paris in Three Parts: Part One

…Live. Live well. Love. Love passionately. Pray. Pray often.

Paris Part One: Live Well

I need to go back a moment, already. Since I was little and knew Paris existed, I wanted to be there, in it. Perhaps it was my love for Audrey, maybe it was my quirky fashion sense,  it could have been for love, and maybe it was my newfound love for becoming a wine connoisseur. Whatever it was, I craved to be there. It isn’t surprising that my first trip out of England was straight there. Friday was a flurry of emotions as I packed, hat box and all, to head to the Eurostar. Chunnel sounds so much more eloquent than eurostar…

Ok, it wasn’t that easy. I didn’t own a hat box so I went to purchase one for 5 pounds at this little department store here known as M&S. On my walk there I had a lovely little lady bug land on me and felt okay about this world. I get back in time to grab my bags and head out the door for the train. I learned well from my last trek to arrive early. So, I did. And I sat right on one side of security and had a glass of wine to start my journey off right. wine at st pancrasSimilarly to airplanes, the chunnel requires security checks and passport checks and a lovely little security wand check (no, that wasn’t meant to be perverted but now that you mention it…). Due to all of this, I miss my scheduled train. Note for future: arrive 30 minutes ahead of time to go through all that BS…

Technically I would have made the original train but they close the doors 10 minutes after it boards so I was rescheduled on a train that was 30 minutes later and it was fine. I think this must happen all the time, yeah?

So, the chunnel is easy. As a younger girl I expected to see the ocean and see what’s under water because you grow up thinking “train under water” and well…fish! I was sadly disappointed to know that you’re really just staring at a cement wall. Disney needs to take full advantage of this train and make it fun and put little nemo’s and dory’s and bruce’s in the window.

I, finally, arrive in Paris at Gare du Nord station. The man hailing the cab tried to hustle me. He also then just tried to take my wallet out of my hands (DO NOT SCREW WITH ME AND MY BEAUTIFUL WALLET AND MY BRAND NEW BANK CARD, MISTER!)                    On to the hotel.

Check in went well at The Signature hotel in Saint Germain. I believe it’s located in the 6th arrondissement near Rue de Princess…yeah, you know what happens but I’ll tell you in case you haven’t gotten to know me by now. I drop bags and then head out at 11pm to Rue de Princess and to my pleasure, fun quirky bars are sitting there awaiting my arrival. You better believe I drank and had a late night. When in Paris, yes?

Now, let me tell you my bucket list items in Paris…

  • Go to Angelina’s and have hot chocolate and macaroons (it is Audrey’s favorite)
  • Have more macaroons at Laduree
  • Do something illegal (I’ll explain)
  • Bike tour to Giverny
  • See and marvel Versailles
  • Relive my Davinci Code nerd dreams at le Louvre
  • Buy L’Interdit from Givenchy in Paris (It’s a perfume)
  • Make love in Paris
  • See the Hunchback at Notre Dame
  • Drink wine
  • Sit at a cafe and people watch and drink coffee and wine
  • speak as much French as possible
  • See a show at Moulin Rouge
  • Drink more wine
  • Eat everywhere
  • Sacre-couer
  • Go up to see the city at night via the Eiffel
  • Walk along the Seine
  • See and have a roof top drink at Hotel Raphael
  • …..The list goes on and on

Did I do everything? No. Did I do a lot? Oui!

I went to Angelina’s for a macaroon (yes, “a” means three) and a double espresso. angelinasI then walked up Rue de Bac to the Seine. I walked down the stairs to the river and sat down. I drank my espresso and ate my macaroons and lived well. I then, despite the locks being taken down, headed to walk across Pont des Arts. The lamp posts across the bridge still had a few locks here and there but it is now illegal to put a lock on the bridge and this is one I didn’t get to do: do something illegal. I will one day put a lock on that bridge in the dark cover of the night, even if it means crawling and climbing under it to not get caught.

macaroon on seineNow, for my geek dreams. Le Louvre! I didn’t know how I felt about going in. One museum is kinda the same and I am not an art historian therefore, you see one, you see them all. I know! I get that the Mona Lisa is there and Venus and the list goes on…I just don’t understand. I walked right up to the Mona Lisa. I stared. I studied. It was no more magnificent than the other paintings I had just waked by. It oddly seemed like more of a photo op. People flock to this one painting to take their photo in front of it to say “pics or it didn’t happen but here is the pic so it happened”. Now, I did take a photo. I felt so disrespectful but I worked on Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping by the Lonely Island. They covered a song called the Mona Lisa and it was in my head so of course I take a photo that makes me look constipated and of course I sent it to one of the directors and of course I had a laugh. Living well! mona lisa

It did occur to me as I was walking through the Louvre that I was gawking at these things from hundreds upon hundreds of years ago. mary magdalaneWhat will we leave behind for people to gawk at hundreds upon hundreds of years from now? Please comment! I am actually curious. What has been so magnificent in our time that we will leave it behind for others and have it become one of the greats that has a spot in the Met or the Louvre?

So, now I have to find the tombstone. You know, the one Tom Hanks kneels over and the one you CAN’T ACTUALLY STAND OR KNEEL OVER!? Yep. It didn’t happen. Maybe late at night but this is when I realized… Hollywood sucks.

I walked down avenue des champs-elysees. I stopped for a coffee, nothing more.

tiff and co at champs elsyee

Tiffany & Co. on Ave des champs elysees

I also stopped for another photo op of the Arc de Triomphe. C’est belle!

arc de triomphe

So far…C’est parfait. Paris est un reve! 

I wonder if it could get better in Paris Part Two: Love Passionately. 

Sante!

#MadAdventure