Having been in grad school for the last three (million) years, life hasn't had much time or money for traveling. And somehow, I didn't need it to. Being absorbed in a project or goal can sometime be enough to keep you distracted from wanderlust. I had begun to feel like perhaps the travel bug had died within me. NOT SO!
As soon as I graduated I realized it was time to get out of dodge. My grad school fatigued self pushed through a 27 hour travel day to fly train and bus from Seattle to Villefranche de Rouergue in the south of France, to visit my partner, NT's extended family, where I saw, what I believe was a large, and incredibly realistic Disney movie set...
Met the world's sweetest grandparents,
and hung around small streets and farmer's markets as much as possible.
From there, we trained to the Paris suburbs, where NT's high school friends happily entertained us with a night of drunken revelry and cheese tasting* at the home of an old friend.
We made a quick stop in Paris, where I saw Montmartre for the first time, and met the world's cutest one-year-old.
And then we sped away to Eu, Normandy, where I met more family, learned the true meaning of the word "cliff," and found out just how many mussels and fries a person can eat in one sitting.
From France we took Easyjet to Bratislava, and then a short bus ride from my Aunt's home in Vienna. I was thrilled to show NT my favorite farmers market and eatery - the Naschmarkt,
my favorite flea market.....at the Naschmark,
and my favorite park... at Schonbrunn...(not the Naschmarkt).
I also got to spend eight lovely days with my Grandmother, who braved heat waves and stormy weather in fast determination to be with us and feed NT as many Wienerschnitzels as possible.
Here are my Aunt W, Grandma and NT, on WS #2, in Heinburg an der Donnau. While my partner didn't get to choose his menu, I got the venison goulash with dumpling and currents, which was the second most amazing meal of my life (after this one).
NT headed home after four days, and I stayed on in Vienna, eating apfelstrudel in café houses with my grandmother, noshing on ever present street food,
and taking in the pace of the city.
I also visited some more of my favorite haunts from the summer I spent there years ago, and saw the 2011 World Press Photo show, which never ceases to amaze me. (My favorite photo is #14.)
Refusing to head home so early, I popped in to the east coast, to see my family in beautiful western Massachusetts and in the city - the city of course being NYC. I didn't know it but that would also be my last visit with my wonderful Aunt E., my confidant and NYC lunch date since I've been old enough to get to the city alone.
When you close your eyes sometimes, and then open them, the world sometimes seems clearer and brighter. Seattle certainly seemed more beautiful when I returned.
* i.e. introduce the American girl to your smelliest cheeses, then watch intently as she tries them. Hilarity ensues.