Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gone to the birds!

Excited to have a house, I splurged a bought some bird feeders - a thistle feeder for finches and songbirds and a suet cage feeder for woodpeckers etc.

I bought them in the fall, filled them up, and not once saw a single bird.

Leaving for a month seems to have done the trick.

In the last hour I have seen gold finches, morning doves, a red wing blackbird, a downy woodpecker, house finches, chickadees, a couple of grackles, and even some crows across the street.

Greece - amazing after amazing.

It has taken me a full week to process and even begin to figure out where to start.The short version is that it's amazing, and you have to go there. ALL of you have to go there.

These pictures, as well as the pictures in the other two posts about this long voyage are all unedited. No cropping, tweaking, or adjusting. I also do not have a fancy camera. It is merely this beautiful with breathtaking sights and views at every corner.

 I spent a week and a day in Athens before Joe arrived. I didn't take a single picture during that time, needing to process, recover, have a break and a change of pace to come down from my time in indochina. I spent my days taking long walks around the city, discovering squares and smaller monuments that would never have been an intentional destination but each was a spectacular find. I truly marinated in the history, culture and environment of such a bountiful city.

After Joe's arrival we spent four days together exploring the major monuments and historical sights within walking distance and thoroughly enjoyed the recorded tour aboard the double-decker red tour bus - although I think I got more enjoyment out of the fact that it was red than he did. ;)

We then took a 7.5 hour ferry out to Santorini/Fira with the intention of visiting some other islands hopping our way back to the mainland.

Santorini, or Fira as the locals call it, was an amazing island full of old-world history, modern slow living, and the ultimate place to find a peaceful balance, reconnecting with my beloved husband.

Even without being at my healthiest (recovering from microbes and whatnot from asia) and even spending the last few days coughing sick, I cannot recall a happier, more relaxing, and soul-nourishing place. While it would have been amazing to be anywhere with my husband all to myself, I cannot imagine a more idyllic place, the most magical spot I have yet to encounter.

The only disappointments we encountered, other than the occasional grumpy hotel worker, was that the renovations on some of the major sites prevented us from seeing them as we might wish. Our consolation? Oh we'll just have to come back in five or ten years! And gladly!

I am so thankful to have had this opportunity not only to visit with my husband but to see such a richly steeped place - history, culture, beauty, and deliciousness of every kind, without warning, pomp or circumstance.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Four days in Cambodia

Cambodia, in contrast with Vietnam was welcoming and friendly. While they had as little as the Vietnamese and had also suffered incredible losses. I found they had somehow managed to be positive and proud of what they have left. It was a breath of fresh air and an immense emotional relief.

Our whirlwind tour included many of the most renowned temples, many amazing restaurants, entertaining experiences with locals, and evenings escaping from the heat. While there are many destinations higher on my list, I would happily return.

Ten days in Vietnam

The beginning of my trip was the first ten days in Vietnam as part of a fourteen day all-woman trip. A twelve-hour time difference and a 36 hour journey started me off exhausted but still excited.

The culture shock was just that - shocking. It is an entirely different world there, and none of our basics here are normal there. While doing my best to be open minded, I definitely struggled to be able to take care of myself both physically and emotionally.

I have never been faced with so much blatant negativity and even hatred and desperation. By most of their standards I am wealthy - I have access to an abundance of food and unnecessary items. I was unprepared for me, who has not earned a single dollar myself this year, to be merely a walking dollar sign and a target for desperate or even angry attempts to put a chicken in their supper pot.

I have never been more grateful to have the option to live anywhere but there. I admire the people for what they have made out of what options they have, but must admit that I cannot fathom how a people can, in general, contain so much hatred and hostility towards so many peoples - even their own.

I am not as evolved as I wish to be and therefore am very grateful that their challenges are not my own.

It was an awe inspiring with extreme contrasts in landscape from stepped rice paddies to extreme limestone "mountains" jutting out of the landscape. The stark beauty of the place makes me aware of how small we really are. One feels at the mercy of greater, more vengeful forces at all times.

While I am glad I went, I am glad it's over and that I never need return.

'Round the world

As most of you probably know, I've just returned from a 'round the world trip. I touched down on four continents, spent about 80 hours in planes and airports, visited three very different countries, culminating in an amazing two week and two day visit with my husband.

While I've whittled down the approximately 1,500 photos to a little over 200, there are still far too many to post here. I'm happy to show people in person but for now I'll only include a few highlights in following posts.

Overall the month and a half long journey has left my need for adventure well satisfied (for now!) and I have never been happier to be home and am enjoying the spring.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Goodbye, very very much. one of our taxi drivers said as we parted ways.

What an amazing adventure! What started out with lots of trials and unpleasant surprises steadily improved into one of the most amazing travel journeys of my life to date.

While I've been on longer trips, I've never been on more varied and contrasting trips. From misery and repulsion to some of the most breathtaking and beautiful things I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

It may be a bit before I've processed and readjusted enough for photos and details but for now I'll just say that I've never been more happy to be home.

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang