Friday, November 21, 2014

Squid Poo

I have eaten so much while in Barcelona. I mean the food is to die for...from different kinds of tapas and pinchos; to some of the freshest sea food I have ever had. But the one thing I was missing was Paella, and I wasn't getting the WOW factor from the places I visited. I researched where I could find the best Paella, stiffeld through various sites; till I came across Trip-4-Real, a site that allows you to be a local, do  what the locals do, eat what the locals eat. As the aspiring chef I dream of one day becoming, I thought what better way to immerse myself in the culture then to learn how to make paella from scratch, as well as eat amongst  a local family that can teach me the traditional way of making this delish dish.So I signed up for the market tour & paella class.

Good food, great wine.
The day started at the Mercat de Ninot were we gathered all the ingredients for the days feast. I loved this covered market, because unlike the Boqueria, known for hoards of tourist, Ninot was small and homey. With products just as good as the Boqueria, just less hustle and bustle. Basically where the locals shop. From there we took a short walk where Christina and Guillermo welcomed me and about 7 others into their home. The cutest little flat with a nice sized terrace that was gorgeous. They grew their own herbs and veggies and had ample space where we can all sit comfortably.  We wasted no time before we got the bottles of wine cracking and the food cooking. We first started with a nice spread of hams, sausage, different cheeses, marinated olives, garlic and tradition tomato bread. Tomato bread a traditional Catalan snack  is  served almost everywhere. A baguette is split open, then a specific tomato (forgot the name) is cut in half and rubbed all over so that the bread soaks up the juices, then olive oil gets drizzled over and finally a touch of salt; and BAM tomato bread.(It's amazing)

Through out  we drank wine and engaged in delightful conversation about Christina and Guillermo where they were from and how they met. They were such a cute couple and worked so well together. They truly inspired me. They both had previous professions and said "hey, were not fully happy with our careers. Lets dedicate our time to cooking together and teaching others how to cook our favorite dishes" (loosely based that is, don't quote me..lol). I mean if they don't sound just perfect, I don't know what does.
Cristina, Me, Guillermo.
As you can see we killed that Paella.
The class it's self was very hands on. We made a three course meal that included: gazpacho, brandada de bacalao, seafood paella, chicken paella and a mojito sorbet. Christina and Guillermo pride them selves on using only all natural and fresh products. Everything was made from scratch from the tomato sauce to the fish stock. Nothing came out of a can, nothing was processed. I was very impressed. Especially since I had never made tomato sauce or fish stock from scratch before. we started with the the starters which were to die for. I am not a big fan of bacalao ( I know, I know....I am Puerto Rican it should be in my blood.) but I am not (Don't judge). But the brandado (a fish paste) was yum city. Spread over bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with parsley.


But lets talk about the star of the show the PAELLA!! We used fresh tomato sauce, saffron, prawns, muscles, clams and cuttle fish to transform this rice dish to heaven on a plate. We used the fish stock made earlier in the day to give the rice the perfect flavor. Everyone had part in making the paella, from cutting the pepper to sauteing the rice. My job, the most important of course, was the cutting the cuttle fish; a squid like sea creature. I had never worked with this and Guillermo was very patient walking me through cutting off the cartilage and making sure it was cleaned properly. Then I got to this sacky like part from the inside of the cuttle and I assumed I would throw that part away. "NO!" Guillermo said. That's the most important part and what will give our rice that seafoody flavor we need. I was to carefully open the sac and squeeze out all the excrement so that it can go in the Rice. that's right folks, SQUID POOP all up in the rice. And I loved every minute of it.  Needless to say the rice came out perfect. Everything came out perfect.
Squid Poo.

This had to have been one of the best days here in Barcelona. I was in my element, surrounded around great people with great conversation. I learned that when you have a dream, do anything and everything to make it possible. The group I was with was inspirational; from a fellow blogger (seasoned), two different couples who shared the love of food, to a woman who after 30 years at her job quit to become an authentic chocolatier. And of course Chris and Guillermo who also had an amazing story. It's moments like this that I live for. I went to the class originally wanting to just learn how to make paella and drink good wine. I left coming out inspired to take on the world.

*I have also supplied the recipes for all of these dishes, please them under devour.
** Please visit their site @ barcelonaslowtravel.com they offer great opportunities to see the Barcelona in a new light and experience what the locals experience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eat, Paris, Love.

I am not your typical tourist that has to do the "top five things to do" in a city to feel satisfied. There are some touristy things that I may do because they really impact me personally but for the most part I'm not THAT tourist. I don't find enjoyment in the waiting in long lines, with screaming children, old men couching up what seems to be a lung, and foreigners confused on which direction they should head. That doesn't tickle my fancy esp. not when my trip consist of only 48 maybe 72 hrs. I'd prefer not to spend my time waiting in line to see some old artifact, Sorry.  But you know what does get my engines roaring? The city its self. Breathing it in, walking until I have blisters, finding beauty in a back alley way that houses some small old jazz bar, the people, the drink, the food. Oh the food. 

Paris the city of love. A very appropriate description for this classy, eloquent, and gritty city. Filled with beautiful men and women. Where everyone, even the elderly, dressed impeccably and looked as if they came straight out of Vogue. I instantly fell in love the minute I arrived and could see the Eiffel in the distance on the bus ride there. I only had two days in Paris and I wanted to make sure I saw everything and ate everything. As the foodie that I am, I had to experience what all these world renowned chefs talked about. What was all the fuss?? I had to know; so I spent those 48+ hours walking my ass off, eating, drinking and eye goggling men. I saw the Eiffel, I saw the Louvre, I walked the Champs Elysee, I saw the love lock bridge, and I walked threw Luxembourg park. But the main attractions, were the many delights I ate along the way. From crepes filled with nutella, strawberries and bananas (which I failed to picture because the gluttony set in and before I knew what happened, it was gone) to foie gras.  

Below you'll see some of the romantic affairs I had on this trip. Be warned pictures do not do justice.

I had the opportunity to go to Le Dome, a restaurant praised by many, and recommended  by Anthony Bourdain (my all time favorite person EVER). The fanciest restaurant I have ever been too and the food was immaculate. My first time trying Truffles and I don't know how I am supposed to live without this fungus in my life, in every dish I make. The truffled risotto had to have been the best thing that has ever happened to my mouth. I am just saying.


.
Fresh muscles in a cream sauce with a hint of curry.
So delicate and buttery, melted in the mouth.
White truffle and Scallop risotto.
the scallops seared perfectly and
truffles heavily through out the dish 

Pasteur Bistro had some of the most mouth watering dishes. I went there twice because the first dish of duck breast with potatoes au gratin was so good. I am glad I went there for a second time because I had the opportunity to try foie gras and see what all the fuss was about. I still don't know. After bite three and trying to mentally convince myself I liked it because, well all the fanciest people eat it, the texture of the duck liver and the notion just made me sick and I couldn't finish it. However, the steak con frite was to die for. One of the best steaks I have ever had.
Duck Breast cooked rare with potatoes au gratin
Steak con Frites avec foie gras

Finally dessert. My all time favorite, the macaron, not to be confused with macaroons a coconut cookie. The macaron is one of the most delicate and hardest desserts to perfect. The "cookie" part, is created from almond powder and gel or powdered food coloring/flavoring; as the slightest measurement discrepancy will throw off the "cookie" and you will not get that light and airy texture needed to make this classic confection.
Pierre Herme-  home of the best macarons in the city
with flavors like: passion fruit & Belgian chocolate or
Cinnamon & orange blossom (my mouth just watered)

My all time favorite Pumpkin & Corn.
I went back
just to get another two before I left.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Road to Montserrat

I wasn't sure what to expect when my roommate asked if I wanted to go to this town in the mountains, but I knew from the moment he asked that this was right up my alley. We vowed to get up early that Tuesday and head out; needless to say we both slept in and did not leave the house until 10:30; which if you ask me is still early. We head out, coffee in hand ( my daily addiction), and head to RED Line1 to stop at Plaza Espanya, where we would hop on a the train R5 and take the 1.5 hour journey there. The train ride was just as impressive as the arrival to Montserrat, OK maybe not,but as the first time seeing the country from a different perspective, away from the hustle and bustle which is Barcelona, I found this to be mind-boggling.

Towns that appear to be ruined by heavy neglect and disregard to common upkeep; with buildings crumbling in front of my face, still held this rustic beauty and told stories of passion behind the cracked broken structures. All the while, graffiti lined walls with brightly colored, bubbled letters transform these desecrated ruins into pieces of urban art. Obvious negativity held in those lands are squashed by spirits greater than the everyday Joe schmo, I know. There was such mystery and allure in the country sides that I knew nothing about. All of a sudden the excitement and curiosity turned me into this a lil kid sitting on the train seat, on my knees in reverse, looking out the window in awe.

Then the train pulled up to a mounitan-ness terrain, and my eyes grew big with gleam. I can see in the distance what looked like this small town up in the mountains, and my excitement grew. We got off the R5 and waited for the funicular to come. I would like to mention that we had no clue where we were going we only just winged it; however, It all worked out because If in doubt, follow the crowd. We get on the funicular and it took us up the hill on the edge of the mountain side, along this narrow path; so high my I can feel my ears clogging. The view was majestic, I could see all of those lil towns I just passed on the R5.

We finally get to Montserrat, which is now a tourist attraction as no actual people live there and it is gorgeous. Naturally chiseled rock formations surround the town as if protecting it from outside influences. When your standing there, staring at this town in the mountains, you instantly feel as if you are closer to God himself. INSTANTLY! Montserrat It is a religious site, and in Arthurian myth it is said to hold the holy grail. The Virgin of Montserrat, a black faced Madonna is located there and said to be the guardian of this grail. The cathedral tho unseemly on the outside, has to be one of the most beautiful sites I have EVER seen in my life; bringing tears and an overwhelming feeling of emotion the minute I walked in. I am not a religious person , but I do believe in God and boy was he there with me. Maybe it was because I was also closer to the heavens but I could feel that my dear and beloved grandmother was there as well. As the organs played and the choir boys sang I sat there astonished, with tears streaming down my face. All I could do was say thank you to God and to my grandmother. Thank for allowing me to experience this magnificence and for allowing me travel to the world. I told my grandmother how much I missed her and asked that she watch over me on my journey. After my talk with god and grandma I made my way to see the black Madonna, and waited in line just to get a glimpse and a touch for prosperity. The beauty of the whole place was just unreal, and from the moment I stepped on those grounds I felt their presence and was filled with constant emotion.

After, the roomie and I decided we were going to take another funicular up to the highest point of the hill. THEN, we had this crazy idea and said to the hell with it lets hike. 2 hours later, hiking up hill, I was muerta, dead, heavy panting and tired limbs made me blurt out, I CAN'T go anymore Luke, I really just cant! Needless to say we didn't make it to the very tippy tip, but we got far up there, only another "20 mins" and we would have been there. I felt kind of bad because I know he wanted to go up, but I hiked up that hill till I couldn't anymore. One of the many draw backs of being a big girl is the heavy breathing, limb pain and the sweating profusely. However, it was nice as we stopped a long the way to take in the sights and my sweet Luke would say "we don't have to go any further I'm sure it looks the same from this point as it does from 20 more minutes up hill". I know he was trying to be nice and spare my feelings, but all in all I felt accomplished and happy we hiked as far as we did. Then the fun began, walking down hill, and what a beautiful sight it is when it's not blocked by your own sweat stinging in your eyes. It was relaxing and memorable, I was honestly glad we decided to walk instead of taking the funicular.


After getting back down to the monastery we were both more than exhausted, but we felt accomplished after our day of adventure. It had excitement of the unknown, a religious experience and healthy fun. And best of all we only spent a total of 12 euros, for the train ride. It was definitely a successful day I highly recommend if you in this area, to visit Montserrat.













Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Random Thought- Thank You Montserrat

Today I said a prayer. I am not Catholic, nor am I Jehovah's witness; or any other religion for that matter. I just wanted him to listen, I wanted her to listen. I wanted to say how grateful I was and how much I missed her. And then I felt them both, and I knew they were listening to me and a tear rolled down my cheek as this feeling of overwhelming love enveloped me. And though I can try to describe my feelings of how I felt, no words can truly explain, how and why I knew they were there with me. Now I say thank you Montserrat for allowing me to be closer to MY God and my beautiful grandmother, I will be forever in debt.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Istanbul, Oh Istanbul

Istanbul, Oh Istanbul.

As I wrap up my Istanbul part of my voyage across Europe, I have allot to say about this beautiful city. Istanbul is truly filled with a distinct culture. One of the oldest city's in the world, it offers so much. I did not know what too accept from this city. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot more impoverish than it was; however, It is a bustling metropolis alive at all hours of the night. Where religious culture clash with modern day nuances. Where burka covered women roam the streets while young men/women in the latest fashion pass you by. It is a world where new and old cultures mix and live harmoniously (for the most part).

There are some distinct parts of my trip that I have to mention in this article. The first thing is to make sure to dress modestly; as any provocative clothing on a woman ( because in this we have stepped back into time and women are not seen in the same respect as men) will get you stares, dirty looks and annoying cat calls. Everyone smokes and between the countless smokers, the lack of deodorant, and various spices used in different restaurants it can get kinda smelly. Hammam's or Turkish bath houses are amazing. You instantly feel as if you stepped back to the year 1593A.D, and you are a Roman empresses being bathed by your help. It is amazing and the notion of being topless in a marble slabbed Roman esque room, tho at first may seem embarrassing, it's not, it's exhilarating. Every woman has tits, don't be shy and let them hang. The lady who bathed me was awesome we cracked jokes and she told me I was beautiful. I'm almost certain she was hitting on me...lol...jk. 
Try and see all the touristy things there to see. Some are worth it and some are not, but I will let you be the judge of that. Every touristy thing I did was necessary. It gave me a true feel of how Istanbul was during the various periods of life from the Ottoman empire to the Roman take over. 

The beauty of listening to the prayer calls five times a day is unreal. Every time a prayer call would be heard it would penetrate my soul. You can hear these prayers from any part of the city. As the muezzin ( a person appointed to say these prayers) will stand a top the minaret and call his followers. I felt the yearning of the call, the melodic tones of the men's voices were warm, and the spiritual aspect of it all was amazing. The faith they have is unwavering and tho I am not religious, it is appreciated and equally as beautiful. 
The food for me was a hit and miss. Tho I liked lamb, by day 6 I was ready for some arroz con gandules. You'll find the same dishes over and over, and some stops are better than others, you just have to explore. Their diets lacks fruit and actual veggies, the spice is like nothing I have ever tasted before, and they are big on meats and starches. Even the strongest of stomachs will have some issues. Two out of six of us were constipated (myself included) and two more suffered really bad diarrhea. Nothing that prevented us from enjoying our time, but just make sure you know the food is def different from typical American/Caribbean dishes. 
The men, what do I say, they are intense. I mean they made me feel as if I was a prude. They do not treat Turkish women the way they treat foreigner and I think it is because we are much more loose to say it lightly and have somewhat of a reputation. They will stop their cars for you, they will try and kiss you within the first 5 minutes of knowing you, they will call you beautiful and ask you if you want to have sex with them right in front of their mothers. They are horny horny bastards and sometimes may cross the line. Be coy, do flirt, but be strong and impeccable with your word and you should be fine. The language barrier can get you in some trouble, so be as direct as possible. I found that by the last few days this was truly annoying and uncomfortable. I have always been a confident big girl, but at home I do not get recognized and I thought I would not in turkey, but the men loved me and were not afraid to show it.

All in all Istanbul was enlightening for me. It taught me allot about how I handle certain situations and how strong I am. There were moments I was scared, for example when I decided to take on the town by myself, but I made it out alive. I appreciated the culture and the differences; it made me appreciate home that much more. For my taste, Istanbul is not a place I could see myself living, there are too many people, the drinks are expensive, the food is limited, and they don't use actual milk. I know you may say, “so what, they don't use traditional milk” but I never realized how much I loved milk until I had to drink carton milk (sorry call me a princess). I am glad I visited it and would never take it back. It completely took me out of my comfort level and where I could see some of my closets friends complain I tried my very best not too. Even tho those two hundred stairs I had to take uphill daily to get anywhere were a bitch and I'm pretty sure I complained about those once or twice, but it was all in jest. I love those stairs (not really) for I lost four pounds on this trip...jajajaja. I am a better person because of Istanbul and I will be forever grateful.

For all the friends I made on this trip Cathy, Wilmi, Luis, Jo, Oz, Altup and the gang, kemal and family, and Nur. Thank you, thank you for showing me a great time. It was awesome; the good, the bad, the ups and downs.

Till we meet again



Friday, October 10, 2014

Random Thought- Who Are You?





I do not know you, but I know how you smell.
I know when you touch me , the hair on my skin raises.
We have never met, but I have dreamt of you and your blurred face.
I love the way you stare at me and I long for your something.
I long for you, your kiss, your touch, your heat.
We are strangers, but you know me better than I know myself;
And you don't know it, but you care for me more than anyone else.
Today you are this faint memory of what could be.

But maybe, just maybe tomorrow we will be able to meet somewhere between here and the distant sea.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do's and Don't(s) of shopping at a Bazaar!

Navigating your way through a Turkish bazaar can be cumbersome. I was lucky to visit two bazaars on my trip to Istanbul; the Spice Bazaar and The Grand Bazaar. The names give away what your most likely to find at those given bazaars. Both however will house the same items for the most part. The Spice will have more spice/tea shops, while the Grand will have more jewelry (gold/silver) and trinket shops. I personally liked the Spice better, as it was less crowded and more manageable to get through. The grand was just too much soliciting and body odor for one person to endure. However, there are just a few simple rules you must follow when going into a bazaar and I have listed them below, to make your life easier.

  • The most important rule, and the hardest to follow: Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT buy at the first few shops. Take your time to look around, most shops will have the same items and the deeper you get into the bazaar, the cheaper it will get; also,the haggling will also get easier.
  • Do Haggle (within reason of course) never accept the first offer they give you. Be ready to have exact change and state how much you are willing to pay. For example: “I'm sorry, 60 liras is too much, I only have 45 liras” the worst that can happen is they will say no.
  • If pushed out of the way by an old Turkish lady cursing you out in a language you do not understand,because your a stupid tourist oooo'ing and aaweee'ing, all while standing in the middle of the pathway, let her. She's over the tourists and I get it, I would be over them too. Plus “her” pushes and curses don't really hurt much.
  • Do accept tea from the various spice shacks, to say no is quite an insult. It is polite and customary to accept the tea. I recommend the apple but the pomegranate is good as well. “Turkish Tea” is just black tea people.
  • Do NOT accept every single offer of tea! I know contradictory to what I just said, right? Everyone will offer you tea, and if you accept like I did, you will more than likely have to shit your pants by the end of the first hour. Find a nice way to turn them down. By tea three I used the following lines, “I just had some tea but thank you very much” OR “No thank you, but would you be so kind and give me water?”
  • Do Not accept an offer for a free gift from an old Turkish man (or a young one for that matter), nothing is free my friends and they are more than likely going to try and seduce you and will try to kiss you.


Okay, that's about it, with these simple rules, you will make it out of the bazaars that are scattered all over Istanbul alive and not too broke.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hickeys in Istanbul

Language barriers, getting lost, passionate Turkish men, body odor, cobblestone streets with 75 pounds of luggage; all describe my first night in Istanbul. Stepping out into the streets of a foreign country is an experience that is very hard to describe. Sensory overload is the best phrase I could use. The smells, the sounds, the RUSH.

 Teşekkür ederim, I say to our shuttle driver with an angry tone in my voice. I am thanking him to be polite, but in reality I could have just punched him the face for asking for a tip. I sound rude, don't I? I just spent the last half hour, or so, walking up and down hills on cobblestone streets searching for our flat. Our shuttle driver, we shall call him Alik, had no clue how to get to our flat. Alik was continuously asking for directions and finally parking on the main streets and asking us to get out cause we needed to walk the rest of the way. Okay at this point I'm fine, and even taking on the treacherous walk with my heavy luggage with a smile, laughing actually that this is even happening. We walked up and down alley ways that were built during the Ottoman empire ( I kid), to finally arrive to the correct apt. Then Alik said we needed to tip. I just paid him 60 liras to bring us here and I walked most of it!!!!!! However, deep down I felt bad, it was really hard to find and at least he walked the whole way with me in the rain. I said my good bye, got to the flat, introduced myself to my roommates for the week and got ready to head out on the town.

 At this point I'm running on adrenaline and excitement I had been on a plane for about 16 hours total with 5 hours sleep. But hey I cant stay in on my first night in ISTANBUL!!! so we head out with some Turkish friend of ours, Oz ( a friend of Naty's) takes out to eat (see pics under devour), and the food was amazing. Then we meet up with some other friends of Naty's who were all awesome. We decide to go out for some dancing and a beer or two. On our walk around the main part Taksim, Altup (a guy friend) comes to me and hands me a rose. I say thank you carim (honey) and we hit it off. The streets are alive there are people everywhere cars bustling through narrow streets and smells of meat are fragrant in the air. The streets are alive in Istanbul, and the energy is unreal. As we walk, my new beau grabs my hand to make sure I don't get hit by a passing car, which will run you over if they need too. These cars do not care about the pedestrian law. We enter a club to have a drink and to my surprise all I hear is American top 40 with a splash of Spanish music. It was as if I was back home, except for dancing. Turkish people dance differently, weird in my opinion. I can testify too this because I watched two Turkish men in a dance off. A TURKISH DANCE OFF!!! (it was awesome). One thing very noticeable was this smell. I smelt this off the plane, in the shuttle and at our first restaurant. It was body odor!!!! I do not believe Turkish men know what deodorant is because I smelt it on different men, and if they do we need to up the prescription because it is not working. Very strong manly smell protrudes from mostly every man in Turkey. And from what I here women as well. Altup (my new beau), a 28 year old male with strong dark features, who also has the same body odor issues, was intense to say it lightly. It was obvious that he was into me, and I loved the attention. On our walk back home he would kiss my cheek, stop me to try and share a joke, which I did not understand, but laughed and cooed to make him feel better. As we approached the door we stopped to just enjoy each others time then the making out started and boy o boy can this boy kiss. Passionately kissing under a rainy stary night in a dark Turkish alley way is very exhilarating. So exhilarating that on my return up to the apt and back into my room, my bed mate says to me “Um Amanda... do you know you have a hickey the size of Texas on your neck?????” DOH!

My New Turkish Friends. Altup, Dursan,& Naty (my bed mate). Missing Murat.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

WTF have I gotten myself into?

What a day! First let me start off with the many emotions of Amanda. One minute I am ecstatic, the next depressed because I will miss my family and Friends; the next I'm scared shitless with fears of being kidnapped and my organs sold on the black market, and now as I sit here at the Washington airport I am perfectly calm. I think it is because I am over flying but I haven't even embarked on the ten hour flight; all I did was take a two hour connecting flight. The calmness could be induced by the half a Xanax I took, but I would like to believe that I am at peace. The hard part is over, saying good bye. good bye to fam and friends, and good bye to old Amanda But let me tell you a lil story about Amanda, and how she forgets that not everything will be peaches and cream. This is the precursor to my trip.... two days before my trip I am emailed by my Barcelona host who advises me she can no longer host me. My initial reaction is to freak out, but I decide that I will look on AIRBNB, the best site ever, and look for a new host. It all ended up working out, tho I am paying so much more now and I have a place to stay for the first month. THEN I was rudely awakened when I arrived at the airport. For my four month trip I brought a huge duffle bag, a carry on and a "personal" bag which in reality could be characterized as another carry on. When I checked in my duffle bag it was about 25 pounds over and they want to charge me $400. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! When I could have brought another check-in (50 pounds) for only 100; in what world does that make sense. Its funny how quickly you realize you don't NEED all the shit you packed when someone is trying to charge you a car payment to bring it with. So there I am sprawled out on the floor, hair (That was freshly done) a mess, sweating (cause after all I'm a big girl), rearranging my suitcases... there's stuff everywhere.......everywhere..... all this in the middle of check in. So basically now I am out pajamas, boots wedges, jewelry( which was five pounds in itself) and all my shampoos lotions...etc.... oh Manda!!!! but I made it work, I had my friend, Ariel ( my knight and shinning amour) come and pick up the extra stuff. Now About this flight on Turkish Airlines....first, the food they offered, which was two meals and three snacks, was awesome. Movie selection even better...comfort level....lacking... the first five hours were manageable, but by hour five I was so done. I was uncomfortable, hot because the plane was a million degrees, and over it. But then we landed, and anxiety started to hit as I could not figure out which baggage claim I should be at, I couldn't figure out the Turkish WiFi and couldn't find the party who was supposed to pick me up. But like always it all worked out. A stranger helped with the baggage and setting up WiFi and I found my girl Naty.
All in all it was hectic messy and uncomfortable and I loved every minute. After all it's all about the adventure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take That Chance


The right time will never come. We wait and wait for this “right” time to have a baby or go for that new job or embark on new and scary adventures, to realize that this time we wait for rarely ever happens. There is always something holding us back, be it money, relationships, ourselves, or fear. All of these “obstacles” stifle our growth process and don't allow us to blossom into the person that we are meant to be. It's okay to fall on our face, it's okay to fail. With out failure we wouldn't be open to trying new things; if we never try something new how do you know that we won't soar to unprecedented success? Failure, has such a negative connotation when in reality with out it we never figure out what we are truly good at.

Growing up I was always led to believe from my elders and from society, that we must get up every morning brush our teeth, go to school and get an education. We get this education to maybe one day get a job that will pay our bills and allow us to live comfortably. We get this job, work day in and day out to become a loyal “slave” for a company that usually has no loyalty to us. We do this all in hopes that we can appear to be successful and like we have our shit together. We work this 9-5 usually hating every minute of it because that's what “we are supposed to do”. We break our backs (figuratively speaking) for years so that one day in our old age, we can possibly retire. And if we get to fully retire, we pray that we are not too old and sick by this point to enjoy what they call life. We don't even realize that our lack of living and the miserable state that comes along with this is affecting everything and everyone around us because we have been conditioned to think that this is what is expected. To those who truly follow their dreams and are happy where they are at, I commend you and YOU have inspired me to be great, but let's be honest how many of us really take that chance? So many of us just go through the motions of everyday. We get up, follow the same set cycle day in and day out; not loving our lives fully. This is not success, this is not living, it's called insanity.

Not me, not no more. I woke up one morning and said enough is enough. I was tired of getting up every day going to a job that I didn't hate but that I was not happy with. I was tired of doing what somebody else told me I had to do to be “normal”. I was tired of doing something I did not absolutely love to do. So I asked myself “what is it that you want to do Amanda?” I had no clue. Coming to a realization that you had been running in this hamster wheel for so long chasing this fabricated dream that when you finally stop to catch your breath you can no longer even walk properly, hits you like a brick and you stop and ask WTF am I doing? Who am I? Where has my light gone? With all these questions running through my head and me second guessing what I am accomplishing in a whole, I decided I need a change. What I knew yesterday no longer applies to today and what I will learn tomorrow will no longer apply to yesterday. I am at a transitioning point in my life and I want something BIG. I want something monumental, something that would change the person I see in front of the mirror every morning. It was time to get lost, literally. I want to accomplish what I consider freedom; if even for just a split second in time. I want to let go of the conventional notions that are laid out for us in black and white. I want to stop saying I'm different and actually be different. I read a quote once that said “sometimes we must get lost in order to find ourselves” and I took that literally and said FUCK IT, I'm going to travel the world. I am going to escape this fish bowl I live in, make my way to the ocean and explore like the mermaid that I am. It may be the Pisces in me, but I have always had this hunger. This hunger for something greater than myself. This hunger for knowledge, for enlightenment, for passion and romance. I have always been in-love with cities I have never been too; I am tired of this constant daydream and I'm ready to live it. I am writing a new chapter in my book and I know the best has yet to come. I am excited, scared, anxious, overjoyed, impressed and weirdly calm about this whole experience I am about to take on. Deciding to backpack across Europe at 28 years old is huge. I quit my job, liquefied my savings and I'm saying que sera, sera. I am ready to be even more amazing than I am today, I am ready to have amazing stories. At this point in my life I have nothing holding me back; I have the support of my family, friends and myself to take on a new frontier and get crazy.


I started the blog for two main reasons, because I want my family, friends, and secretly the world to know what I am doing at all times (social media syndrome) and I want to immortalize this huge feat. I want to be able to document my feelings, my adventure and my hunger so that when future Manda is questioning her purpose or life in general (cause it will happen time to time) she can sit back and relive this moment in her life over and over. No matter whats life throws at me I will remember what great things I have accomplished and I will never loose that feeling. That feeling of true freedom.