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Showing posts from April, 2010

The Depression after the Vacation - Reflections And Reverse Culture Shock

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I felt I needed one last post to sum up our travels after receiving an irate email last night about how I left the story off at:

Destiny dictates I can't NOT get on that aircraft back to Raleigh, society doesn't let me suddenly stay. No I would be boarding flight 173 tomorrow, not because I want to, but because I had absolutely no other choice. It wouldn't be a conscience decision. It would be whatever forces are driving my life, pushing that one foot in front of the other while tears roll down my cheeks and in my mind I'm screaming "I don't want to go."
Apparently the reader threatened never to read my stuff again on account of, as she states, "I've never read a blog that made me as sad as yours tonight." I assume that's a compliment, but it's also clearly a reflection of something I think many people are hesitant to talk about after returning home from abroad: depression.

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reali…

Ripped from this World : "I Don't Want to Go" She screamed and cried in pain at Cardiff Castle

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Tick tock, tick tock. As the clock counted down, and the window onto this world began to close, we awoke in Cardiff ready for the last day of our lives abroad to walk among the fields of daffodils, eat Welsh cakes and Clark's Pies. For as far as I was concerned, this was my last day on planet earth. We were now less than 24 hours till we boarded an aircraft to the States, and I prayed and hoped for a miracle, anything to happen that would say this is reality and everything else was just a dream. A sign like a volcano going off in Iceland and grounding air traffic or something! But that's not very likely is it? No it was apparent that reality was setting back in; but, for one last day I would ignore it to the best of my ability.

We packed the bags, checked out of the hotel and took off towards central Cardiff. Our first stop? Cardiff Market, a Victorian era farmers' market that has existed since the 1700s right off of St. Mary's Street. I had actually written about the C…

Clark's Pies - A rite of passage in Cardiff Wales

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One of the best foods in the world comes from a tiny little kitchen inside of Clark's Pies, also known colloquially just as "Clarksies", or "Clarkies" in Cardiff Wales. It's famed, and regarded almost as a national treasure by locals. Tom Jones is said to pilot his his private jet in weekly to maintain his heritage by buying a dozen of their meat pies. Since they opened for business in the 1920's they've made one thing, just pies. Meat pies that have been baked by hand with century old Welsh recipes. Each a taste of Welsh history. A object of desire mentioned in poems, plays, and history books for over five-hundred years. It's a food that transcends time, and would be just as home five centuries ago as it is today. It's timeless.

A typical tourist may not have ever heard of Clark's, yet locals seem to almost base their sense of direction upon the aroma of the meat and onion emanating from the little Canton bakery where they're made fr…

Chasing her past, she stumbles into the future in Cardiff Wales

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I know from listening to Hillary Duff that there's two things you need in life. Somewhere you belong, and someone to love. I've got the love, and I have never felt there's anywhere on earth that I belong more than Cardiff. Perhaps it's because I'm part Welsh? Perhaps it's because the city hall is inscribed with a declaration of the Welsh's love of music and arts? Maybe it's the vibrancy of a city on the verge of destruction, revitalizing itself? I'm not sure exactly why or what it is that makes me love this place so very much, but I do. Every time we go we make friends. It seems almost unlikely that in a city the size of Cardiff you can go out to dinner make friends with the waiter then run into him the next day in the market and he remembers you. We know now about his family, his brother, and his ambitions. I've been to Cardiff before, and I've explained what Hiraeth is. I now have similar love for Brussels, but Cardiff will always have a …

Losing my mind in Bristol. I need a Doctor... Who?

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We awoke in London and headed to Paddington station to go visit our friends in Bristol. Bristol is right across a channel called the Bristol Channel from Cardiff and home to one of my favorite television shows called 'Skins'. If you've not seen the show, then clearly you haven't seen high-brow drama! They're even doing a remake here in the States but it will never live up to the antics of several juvenile British students in their years leading up to university while living in Bristol.

When we arrived at Paddington we had plenty of time to spare. We happenstanced upon Cafe Sloe. A leather sofa cafe with free toilets. Yes no thirty pence charge for us! Outstanding coffee and full English breakfast overlooking the rustic main terminal, what more could you want?. There's even a departure board so we knew when to go find our train. It was a wonderful slow paced morning that left us relaxed and ready for our train ride.
Eventually it was time to go. We were becoming …

Faster than a speeding Eurostar Train out of Paris: The Island of Britannia

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Cue my personal theme song because today we were going "home". Home away from from home in London, across the English Channel aboard a high speed Eurostar, racing along the French countryside at just under 200 MPH. We awoke with church bells ringing on Easter Sunday from our balcony aloft over-looking the square below just outside of Gare Du Nord. Morning in Paris, tonight we will dine in London, this can't be for real, can it?

This was perhaps our first day to slow things down a bit. Our train wasn't out till about three o'clock, so we could afford to sleep in a bit. I don't think we actually did, but it was nice not having to set an alarm for the first time. When we finally got dressed and done up we checked out and still had plenty of time to spare. This was our moment, our time to shine, our last chance to be French. So what do two girls in Paris do? They go shopping!

What's more is we were awesome. Shannon hit a French bakery for some pastries, ordered…

Belgium to Paris by train, blood, tears and reluctance.

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It was the best of times, but the worst was coming... we were leaving Brussels today. We were leaving Sarah for something unknown, Paris, a place that I was warned was touristy, and that I'd later dub 'The Vegas of Europe'. I mean, we were excited but Brussels had been life altering. We were practically ready to marry Sarah. I offered to be a live in maid, cooking and cleaning for her and her roommate. In the end, we reluctantly left Sarah at Gare du Midi in Brussels aboard a high speed Thalys train with me sobbing like this was the last day of my life.

The day started off simple enough. I woke up several hours before everyone and walked out to Sarah's balcony, now "my" balcony, and just stood in the crisp, cool Brussels morning air. The plaza came alive as the minutes passed. It was pure joy just to watch the locals cross the street, the tram stop because of a tow truck, or the old ladies bewildered and lost on their way to buy morning flowers and a baguette.…