I'm going to begin this story by answering the question I get asked most frequently, even more so than "What is your name?" and that question is: Where have you been?
I spent four days in London, six in Barcelona, two in Granada, two in Sevilla, four in Lisbon, six working on a farm in Asturias, six in San Sebastian, four hours in Paris, two days in Munich, two in Salzburg, two in Vienna, two hours in Strasbourg, two days in Paris, two days in Nice, two days in Marseilles, one day in Nice, two days in Cinque Terre, two days in Venice, two days in Rome, and now I am hanging my hat, for a few days at least, in Naples.
It doesn't sound like so much, compared to so many people I meet, but I think I have been moving so quickly I can hardly catch my breath. I'm beginning to fall almost too easily into the vagabond lifestyle, living with the neck angled upward at the train departure sign, head cocked at the window watching the country go by. It is an absolute dream.
So how do I begin to describe what I've seen, who I've met, how I've felt, what I've smelled? How will I even begin to remember all of these things? Luckily, I keep a much more comprehensive paper journal than a blog (because internet is far and few between sometimes, and expensive.) But even so, how do I convince everyone that what I'm doing is having a profound effect on me?
A quick, unsatisfactory overview, for now.
Where did I leave off?
Asturias: shoveled donkey poo, nights were warm wind blowing and it smelled like alfalfa and cows, learned that I want to learn to sail a boat as a means to travel, and I love vegetables.
San Sebastian: had a love affair with pintxos, tested my youth with two 5 AM party nights, felt part of a family, lived like a queen.
Paris 4 hours: watched the sun rise over the Louvre, alone, in the Tulleries, had a good cry over my croissant out of profound happiness, scattered a bit of grandma and grandpa on the freshly cut grass. burned a hole in my feet walking to the Eiffel tower with my backpack on.
Munich: ate the best spicy sausage soup of my life and coupled it with a beer twice the size of my face. Did I mention Oktoberfest has rides? Met up with friends from Australia, made a new friend from Australia. Stayed in my first hotel room.
Salzburg: enchanted me with its icy alpine blue river and foot bridges, cobble stoned streets a schnitzel. Saw families eating giant ice cream sundaes for breakfast on Sunday and almost joined them. The daughter of my couchsurfing stay made me an embroidery floss bracelet. I was overwhelmed.
Vienna: big grey buildings underwhelmed me. Saw an opera standing up, and was musically pleased. Walked my hiney off.
Paris: Smells like excitement and calm and expectation. Sat by a small part of the river in the Crimee and watched pre-teens have their first kayak lesson. Met my Munich friend and drank a bottle of 1 euro wine by the Seine, followed by listening to Michael Jackson croon in the distance while watching the Eiffel Tower do a sparkling light show. Saw the most beautiful blue paint in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa was larger than I thought, but not as large as the giant stained glass windows in Notre Dame. It poured rain and we hid in the streets of Montmartre.
Nice: Went to the train station one morning with my Aussie and asked for the next good sounding train ticket. Nice was it. Got off the train to humid heat and nowhere to stay. Ended up in an ol French woman's pension for a lovely cheap price in slanted bunk beds and debatable hygenic standards. I spent one of my best days at the beach, going from swimming to sunning to climbing Nice hills for views, back to the water, back to the sun, then the sunset.
Marseilles: Slept on a floor mattress in the attic of an oddly cool hostel. It smelled like fish, in the best sense. Spent an hour watching yachts leave the old port into the sea from a large grassy hill with a palace on top.
Cinque Terre: was best done alone, and so it was. every step on my 10K hike reminded me that I was completely capable of anything I set my mind to. Met a friend from North Lake Tahoe and ate squid ink pasta over sunset.
Venice: is unreal. Smells like wood and gelato. Went to Murano and watched glass be made. Ate the good smelling Gelato. Made Austrian friends and drank homemade wine. Watched the sun set over the Grand Canal. took a water taxi, not a gondola.
Rome: my last days with my Aussie, so we ate a lot of pizza, watched the sun set over the Spanish steps, spent the day in the Vatican, and somehow even though the cold has certainly snapped, it was warm at night and walking through Travestere was fabulous. Ate saltimbocca, not as good as my father's,but still very good. It was hard to leave.
It seems like my trip has become about sunsets. I can't wait to find new places to see the sun do its daily duty.