I have mixed feelings about going home. Despite numerous friends and family telling me I’m not a quitter, I still sort of feel like one. My trip got a one-month haircut, and while I should be in a German-speaking country right now, I’m relegated to a tiny airplane seat whose audio connection cuts in and out like a WW2 radio broadcast, and whose proximity to the lavatory reminds me of my favorite email forward that was written on a Continental cocktail napkin. At the same time, I am strangely excited to get back. There are tons of people (and animals) that I cannot wait to see, and being the person who can never relax for too long, I am eager to get back to the drawing board (i.e. work).
So, after two months and one day on the road, here I am. I just counted, and after touchdown tonight, I will have transited 13 airports (SNA, DFW, CDG, Girona Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Paris Beauvais, Pisa, Lodz, Dublin, Munich, IAD, ORD, and back to SNA) on a few occasions more than once, and 25 train stations (Paris Montparnasse, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Granada, Sevilla, Madrid, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Bologna, San Pietro in Casale, Venice Mestre, Venice St. Lucia, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Lodz Fabryzna, Dublin Connolly, Lodz Kaliska, Kutno, Berlin Hbf, Munich Hbf, Innsbruck) over the course of my trip. I also mixed in a bus ride, and a “mitfahrgeliglenheit” (basically organized hitchhiking) along the way. Trains, planes, and automobiles much?
I need to take a minute and thank those of you who hosted or helped me along the way. Despite my best friends at home begging and pleading with me, I Couchsurfed for the majority of my trip. I have a feeling that most Americans aren’t familiar with this phenomenon, but I would encourage you to check it out. With 1.7 million users around the world, and my ringing endorsement, you’d be a fool to ever stay in a hostel again. For those Couchsurfers who hosted and went above and beyond for me in Toulouse, Barcelona, Sevilla, Bologna, Ljubljana, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Lodz, and Berlin, I honestly can’t thank you enough for your hospitality and encouragement. And for my friends who hosted me elsewhere, financially and emotionally, I couldn’t have done it without you. You all opened up your homes and let me come and go as I pleased, and it made this journey ten times more interesting. Not only was I able to travel through a culinary lens, but I was also able to live your lives with you, if only for a few days. I hung out with your pets, sometimes your kids, and your sharing spirit is truly unmatched.
We’re somewhere over the Atlantic right now south of Iceland, and something interesting just came onto the screen…the Virgin Islands. As it turns out, my suitcase won’t stay unpacked for long because I’m turning 30 in St. Thomas two weeks from today. I’ll have a look and see if I can conjure up a cooking class or something culinary related there, and if people are interested, I think I’ll keep Culinary Hopscotch going on a domestic level for the time being. Raise your hand if you want more blog posts…
Next Stop: St. Thomas