Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bulgaria: Dream House

I landed. I was jet lagged. I needed inspiration and some food!

First I encountered this...

Looking a little more closely....

I never pass up an opportunity to make a wish (even on an egg!)...especially when one can wish for health and happiness...wherever one is in the world.

With a little luck (and some help from Happy Cow), I found the Dream House right there in downtown Sofia. Behind the white plastic door...just like they said.

A place where "We Freely Speak Our Dreams."

I wanted one of everything on the menu, but I eventually decided on this:

Mint and lemon iced tea and Aubergine "Cous-co." So tasty!

Loved the menu - quote and all - "Eating is a necessity; eating intelligently - an art."

Art, dreams, wishes...thank you Bulgaria. Lovely to finally meet you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shake Well Before Enjoying

It has been awhile since I bought juice from concentrate. Juice-on-the-go.

While I love picking up an eclectic assortment of things while traveling (and mixing to create new looks and environments), I am not sure that I want that logic applied to my morning drink.

Fresh juice from each country - sold separately - definitely preferred!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Armenia: Today We Have Really Lived

He raised his glass and toasted us in turn. "Today we have really lived," he said.

I looked around the table, and he was right. The youngest was four. The oldest seventy-four. I realized as we clinked glasses that everyone there had made a contribution that day.

We had celebrated accomplishments.

We had given thanks.

We had shared amazing, homemade food. (Unexpected special vegan dishes made just for me - because they are like that with their generosity.)

We had remembered people who had come before us - 5,000 years before.

How did they move those stones? A castle long-since destroyed.

What and why did they write messages?

Did they really live too?

Shouldn't we say this every day?...and not only in a land far, far away...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raw Relativity

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein

I have been taking a break.  Suspending the rules.  Eating chocolate for breakfast and Greek salad for lunch.

I have learned what 120mph feels like, what a sunset looks like from the Adriatic,

how good a scarf can feel, how strange it is to walk in one direction while moving in another - and then realizing that maybe this happens often in life with no further reflection or acknowledgement.

I have learned that I like drinking tea with a tailor in Milan, that I enjoy music with and without words, that sleeping in can be ideal, that it is easier to pay tolls as a team, that sometimes a smile and letting someone into the elevator first is all it takes to make someone’s day. 

I have learned that lists are not always useful, that style and well roundedness come in many forms, that friendship is key, that growth is optional, that food from a bazaar might be the best food of all…and that a willingness to risk is often the first step of an unexpected adventure.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Armenia, Fire Jumping, and Vodka (in that order)

****See Update below****

I'm a little delayed in wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day.  The reason?  I have been recovering from some over-zealous-fire-jumping in the Armenian tradition.  You see, on the evening of February 13th, I participated in Trndez in the capital city of Yerevan.  I was told that this pre-Christian, pagan, ceremony was intended to rid evil spirits and bring more love into one's life.  Who couldn't use a little more love? 

What I failed to consider before taking the leap: 1) the fire was a very LARGE bonfire and 2) I was wearing high-heels.  (This is a cautionary tale for those who are considering trying this at home.)  Although I was told that the leap was "done with style and grace," the fall was substantial.  Thankfully I made it OVER the actual fire (i.e., did not set myself on fire), but landed on the concrete with multiple body parts.  The result?  Severe abrasions to both hands, both legs, one arm, and a sprained finger.  As one friend commented, "I expect this to bring extraordinary luck to you." Please let it be true!

While I do not have a photo of the actual event to share, I can share the aftermath.

Let's just say that I went to five pharmacies in order to find something to wrap my sprained finger in.  In store number 5, I met with pseudo-success through the combined efforts of 3 sales clerks and four customers.  By pseudo, I mean that I was able to get "something" to wrap my finger in - apparently the swelling did not give away what the problem was in the absence of language capability on my part.

Next I saw a local medical professional to ensure that my finger was in fact not broken.  The prescribed remedy?

Hint: It was not the walnuts, almonds, apples, or persimmons.  I was in so much pain that I followed the advice - wrapping my finger in vodka-soaked cotton and tied in a plastic bag over night.  It actually seemed to help.  Now, if only I could bend my knees!

The good news:  20 people tried their best to stitch me back together again in person. 
-7 pharmacists
-5 customers
-4 hotel workers
-3 friends
-1 medical professional

Another group wished me a speedy recovery through emails, Skype calls, and healing vibes from the Universe.  Sometimes that counts even more - especially when you are in a land far, far away.

I guess love and "extraordinary luck" are mine already.  Thanks to all. You know who you are.

Here is what happened when I re-entered the United States:

Stern-looking official:  What happened to your finger?
Me:  I was fire jumping.
Him:   Stern look.
Me:  In Armenia.
Him:  Stern look.
Me:  I fell.
Him:  Stern look.
Me:  It was part of a pre-Christian, pagan ceremony to bring love into one's life.
Him:  (LAUGHING!!!!) YOU COULD NOT MAKE THAT UP! (I mean, he REALLY LAUGHED...doubled over from LAUGHING actually.)

I laughed too.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Germany: Weather and Reminders

1 Blizzard ("Snowmageddon").

1 case of thick fog.

2 days worth of cancelled flights.

1 taxi shared with 3 other strangers (due to shortage of people willing to drive on the roads!).

Arriving home safely: Priceless.

The upside:

2 extra days in Germany to appreciate:

Good friends.

Good food.

Good health.

...and take time to consider more closely...

the reminders that are everywhere.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Azerbaijan: Three Cups of Tea in Baku

"Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson is a must read for anyone who wants to better understand peoples and cultures different from their own - or better yet - understand anyone really. It is a true story that touches on multiple themes - turning failure into success; how giving and receiving are often the same thing; and how sometimes the most important things in life can't be hurried...In other words, it is important to take time for tea. You never know where tea can lead you. There are health benefits to be sure, but the larger benefit is when strangers are turned into friends...and sometimes even Greg's book to hear his story.

I have had many cups of tea in Azerbaijan.

Tea to better understand.

Tea to better appreciate.

Tea to better see how the patterns that are woven - between us - affect us all.

I am thankful for those who drink tea with me and have taught me more than they know...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Year's Detox

I have read about the detoxing process and how one can suffer from symptoms like headaches, runny nose, etc.  Having never experienced this, I thought it did not apply to me. Wow, was I wrong!

I spent the entire past week thinking I possibly had major head trauma due to a significant bump I suffered recently.  (I know, I know, I should have gone to see a doctor, but I didn't.) Finally someone asked me what I had eaten when I was home for the holidays.  I had to admit - a two-week steady diet of cookies and chocolate (you may remember that chocolate is largely responsible for why I started this blog in the first place!).  So, I went from veggies, fruit, grains, and seeds - to cookies and chocolate - and then back to veggies, fruit, grains, and seeds (I know, I know).  So the question posed to me was, "Did you ever consider that you are suffering from caffeine and sugar withdrawal?" No, actually I did not.  (How could I feel so awful after only two weeks??) However, now, after consideration (and consultation with a medical doctor), I realize that that was as big of a reason for my pain as the bump on my head. 

Lesson learned going into 2010 - moderation might be a good idea!  Since I am committed to "living kinder," however, it also means being kind to myself and not beating myself up about my missteps over the holiday season.  So, moving forward...

An exciting discovery at the start of the New Year...I was given a membership to Costco - a wholesale warehouse that sells everything (e.g., books, furniture, food, office supplies, etc.) - only to find out that they sell many organic items in bulk!  These were today's purchases:

Okay, the pita chips and clementines were not organic, but I decided to throw them in anyway. I like this idea of buying in bulk, particularly when I can share with other people who are also striving to eat more healthy food in 2010.

Finally, going back to the issue of chocolate, I did find one way of satisfying my chocolate craving (as I transition back to more healthy eating.)  Let me introduce Dark Chocolate Organic Coconut Bliss "ice cream."

I purchased it at Whole Foods, despite some skepticism - namely because as much as I like chocolate, I do NOT like chocolate ice cream - at all.  Add to the fact that this is a soy-free, gluten free, vegan frozen dessert, I was trying to figure out what would be in it to like?  For the second time in this post, I will say "Wow, was I wrong!"  This was quite possibly the best "chocolate ice cream" that I have ever had.  It is that good.  Good thing it comes in pint size - to help with my "moderation" resolution!

Hope you all did a little better than me on the health front over the holidays and the New Year has started out right!  

Will be traveling again soon and will keep you posted...