travel

Year in Review

Hello again, it’s been a while. Reentering the real world has proven more challenging than I was ready for. I’m finding it a little hard to find balance at the moment, but I’m hoping things will calm down in the new year. Working in e-commerce during Christmas is more hectic than anything I’ve ever experienced, and I started at my new job basically the week before Black Friday, so it’s been nonstop since. Running took a backseat the last couple weeks, and I wasn’t able to go to November Project. I got in this bad cycle where I couldn’t sleep because of stress so I’d be too tired to wake up early and run, but I had nothing to release the stress and energy, so I’d carry it all day and then into the night when I couldn’t sleep again. I know running and NP would have helped with that, but I was just too damn tired. And it was raining a lot and I was paranoid about getting a cold from the lack of sleep, stress, and the germs floating around the workplace. Excuses, excuses. BUT marathon training starts next week and I’m very excited about it. And I’ve been in Santa Barbara since Wednesday and already had some good workouts. I don’t usually make resolutions (except to become ambidextrous, which has been my goal every year since I was young for some reason), but in 2015 I’d like to: run my first marathon, break two hours in the half, celebrate my 30th birthday somewhere fun, and work on my French.

I like to do the year in review things, but this year is tough. I want to go back through each month in our travels, but I’m afraid I will just want to post every picture I took. I’ll try to pick a couple favorites.

January 

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Started the year out in Athens, Georgia. I was going to bootcamp and running, and was probably in the best shape of my life.

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Really happy to see friends in Georgia 🙂

February 

Ran the Mermaid Half and I was sick, but still managed to PR by a few seconds.

Ran the Mermaid Half while sick, but still managed to PR by a few seconds.

Moved out of our first apartment.

Moved out of our first apartment.

March

Ran the San Diego Half for the second year.

Ran the San Diego Half for the second year.

Started our trip in New Orleans.

Started our trip by driving cross-country to New Orleans.

Second stop: Charleston

Second stop: Charleston, South Carolina. 

Jeremy's first time in NYC! We had to hang out in this park until our Airbnb was ready and it was really cold and we were regretting bringing so much luggage on our six-month trip.

Jeremy’s first time in NYC! We had to hang out in this park until our Airbnb was ready and it was really cold and we were regretting bringing so much luggage on our six-month trip.

Visiting my birthplace (NYC, not Washington Square Park).

Visiting my birthplace (NYC, not Washington Square Park).

Made it to Europe! Our first destination: magical Iceland.

Made it to Europe! Our first destination: magical Iceland.

Icelandic ponies!

Icelandic ponies!

Our little home in Iceland. Okay I could post a million pictures from there but I'll stop.

Our little home in Iceland. Okay I could post a million pictures from there but I’ll stop.

April

Next stop: London!

Next stop: London!

Had our first housesitting assignment in the English countryside. Took care of four cats, three dogs, and some ducks and chickens.

Had our first housesitting assignment in the English countryside. Took care of four cats, three dogs, and some ducks and chickens.

Flew to Zurich after London, had somer really great runs around Lake Zurich.

Flew to Zurich after London, went on some really great runs around Lake Zurich.

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Visited the charming town of Bern, Switzerland.

Housesat in Geneva - I could get used to running in Switzerland.

Housesat in Geneva – I could get used to running in Switzerland.

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Spent a week in Avignon, our first destination in France.

May 

Started May by housesitting this massive three-story, eight-bedroom house in Azille, France.

Started May by housesitting this massive three-story, eight-bedroom house in Azille, France.

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Learned to drive stick from watching YouTube videos.

I'll never forget you, Lily the dog!

I’ll never forget you, Lily the dog!

Ahhh, Paris. One of my favorite cities in the world.

Ahhh, Paris. One of my favorite cities in the world.

Had some great runs along the Seine.

Ran along the Seine.

Traveled to Honfleur in Normandy with my parents.

Traveled to Honfleur in Normandy with my parents.

Visited the D-Day Beaches.

Visited the D-Day Beaches.

Drove alllll day and finally made it to Munich, Germany.

Drove alllll day and finally made it to Munich, Germany.

Celebrated Jeremy's birthday at the Hofbrauhaus.

Celebrated Jeremy’s birthday at Hofbrauhaus in Munich.

My parents at the Hofbrauhaus :)

My parents at Hofbrauhaus 🙂

June

Had a housesitting assignment in Bavaria, south of Munich.

Had a housesitting assignment in Bavaria, south of Munich.

Hiked a mountain for the best beer and pretzels I've ever had.

Hiked a mountain for the best beer and pretzels I’ve ever had.

Took an alpine coaster and had the most fun ever.

Took an alpine coaster and had the most fun ever.

Celebrated mine and Jeremy's one-year anniversary at a restaurant overlooking a lake in our little Bavarian village.

Celebrated mine and Jeremy’s one-year anniversary at a restaurant overlooking a lake in our little Bavarian village.

Took a day trip to Austria. Drank delicious beer.

Took a day trip to Austria. Drank delicious beer.

Running in Bavaria was awesome.

Running in Bavaria was awesome.

Drank more delicious beer.

Drank more delicious beer.

Hello Italy! First stop was Verona.

Hello Italy! First stop was Verona.

Stayed in a cool house overlooking Turin, Italy with my parents.

Stayed in a cool house overlooking Turin, Italy with my parents.

Drove to Tuscany, took a ferry to the coastal town of Portovenere.

Drove to Tuscany, took a ferry to the coastal town of Portovenere.

Toured the marble quarries of Carrara, Italy.

Toured the marble quarries of Carrara, Italy.

July 

Stopped in Pisa for a night on our way to Rome.

Stopped in Pisa for a night on our way to Rome.

Spent a week in Rome, ate more delicious food than I thought possible.

Spent a week in Rome, ate a lot.

Jeremy and I head to Rome (my computer decided to hide/delete all my pictures from Rome, not too happy about that) then onto Bologna for a week, a haven for delicious food.

Headed to Bologna for a week, a haven for delicious food.

Took a day trip to Venice.

Took a day trip to Venice.

Had some really great runs in Bologna.

Had some super awesome runs in Bologna.

Back to Germany! Spent a week in Berlin, where we got to celebrate the World Cup win with the rest of the city.

Back to Germany! Spent a week in Berlin, where we got to celebrate the World Cup win with the rest of the city.

Stepped foot in The Netherlands for the first time. Spent a week in Amsterdam.

Stepped foot in The Netherlands for the first time. Spent a week in Amsterdam.

August

Spent all of August in Paris.

Spent all of August housesitting in Paris.

Nicole came to visit and I turned 29!

Nicole came to visit and I turned 29!

The best cheese plate in the history of cheese plates (at Restaurant Astier in Paris).

The best cheese plate in the history of cheese plates (at Restaurant Astier in Paris).

More incredible runs in Paris. Joined a running group and did a 13-mile route one Saturday morning.

More incredible runs in Paris. Joined a running group and did a 13-mile route one Saturday morning.

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Took a train at the end of August to Bordeaux, to meet up with our friends Liz and Alain.

September

Alain drove us all around Bordeaux to visit the historic villages in the region, then eventually we drove to San Sebastian, Spain, with a stop in Biarritz, France along the way.

Alain drove us all around Bordeaux to visit the historic villages in the region, then eventually we drove to San Sebastian, Spain, with a stop in Biarritz, France along the way.

Mine and Jeremy's first time in Spain.

Mine and Jeremy’s first time in Spain.

Flew to Dublin, drove across the entirety of Ireland to get to the coastal town of Dingle.

Flew to Dublin, drove across the entirety of Ireland to get to the coastal town of Dingle.

Completed my first race abroad! The Dingle Half Marathon.

Completed my first race abroad! The Dingle Half Marathon.

Drove to the Cliffs of Moher.

Drove to the Cliffs of Moher.

Spent a week in Dublin, tasting fresh Guinness and visiting the Jameson Distillery.

Spent a week in Dublin, tasting fresh Guinness and visiting the Jameson Distillery.

Said goodbye to Europe, headed back to America.

Said goodbye to Europe, headed back to America.

Drove back across country with stops in Georgia, New Orleans and El Paso, Texas, until we reached Santa Barbara.

Drove back across country with stops in Georgia, New Orleans and El Paso, Texas, until we reached Santa Barbara.

October

Moved to LA!

Moved to LA!

Started November Project.

Started November Project.

November

Signed a lease for a new apartment, got settled in Silver Lake.

Signed a lease for a new apartment, got settled in Silver Lake.

Ran the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, got hit by a wave afterward.

Ran the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, got hit by a wave afterward.

Started a new job downtown LA.

Started a new job downtown LA.

December

Had a wonderful Christmas, put a picture of myself in pajamas on the internet.

Had a wonderful Christmas, put a picture of myself in pajamas on the internet. And finally got my Santa Barbara Half medal in the mail. 

Phew, there you have it. The extremely abbreviated Cliff’s Notes version of the most adventurous year of my life.

ABC’s of Travel

I got this idea from a blog I follow – Unlocking Kiki (written by Kaelene, who is from the US but now lives in Iceland with her Icelandic boyfriend) – who got it from a blog called We Took the Road Less Traveled. I thought it would be a good way to start making sense of the past six months traveling Europe. Even though I blogged about most of it, it still kind of feels like a blur, and I want to start organizing all my pictures and memories, and I need a reminder course of everything Jeremy and I did.

ABCs of Travel

A) Age you went on your first international trip:

I’d have to ask my parents about this one, they started taking me and my brother to Europe when we were very young. Most of the time, we’d trade houses with a family in Europe, and since the internet didn’t really exist back then, we’d order a catalog where you could see tiny pictures of the outside of people’s houses and a little bit of information about them, then you’d call the ones that wanted to switch houses with someone in your region, and make plans to do the trade at a certain point. It is kind of crazy to think about now. Most of the time we wouldn’t meet the family we were trading houses with. I remember one in France where we had a big lake in the backyard and a bunch of goats, deer, and peacocks roaming around. I thank my parents for taking me on adventures every summer growing up, and instituting a strong desire and love of travel very early on.

Me and my dad hiking in Switzerland in 1993 when I was 8.

Me and my dad hiking in Switzerland in 1993 when I was 8.

B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:

This one’s easy. All the beers we had in Germany (especially Bavaria) were delicious, but the one that stands out the most is the beer we had in the Bavarian Alps at a little alpine hut. We had been hiking about an hour and a half and were starving, and the beer and soft pretzel were so fresh and delicious, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything better. We continued hiking to the top of the mountain afterward, and it was just the sustenance we needed to make it.

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I’ll never forget you, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse.

C) Cuisine (favorite):

This one’s not as easy. Jeremy and I had some really delicious food over the six months we were abroad, and it’s hard to choose what was best. All I know is that I could eat French cheese (the stinkier the better) with a fresh baguette and a glass of wine every day for my entire life and I’d die happy.

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In cheese heaven in Paris.

D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:

We’ve been asked this a lot lately and it’s hard to choose, but I think Iceland is still at the top for favorite destination. It was the very beginning of our trip, we had no idea what to expect, and being in Iceland was like being on another planet. The landscape changes as fast as the weather does, and around every corner is one of the most beautiful scenes your eyes have ever seen.

Black beaches mixed with volcanoes and glaciers in Iceland.

Black beaches mixed with volcanoes and glaciers in Iceland.

As far as least favorite goes, we got lucky and really didn’t have any terrible experiences anywhere, but I think the most not-fun time we had was housesitting outside Geneva. The scenery around the house was beautiful and I got to run through vineyards and nice paths with a view of Mont Blanc, but it was Easter weekend, everything was closed, and even if anything was open we couldn’t really go anywhere. It was isolated, the bus into Geneva was super expensive, and we ran out of food with a couple days left.

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E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

I have to go back to Iceland for this one. A few things happened there that basically blew my mind (touching a glacier, seeing the Northern Lights, watching a geyser erupt, petting a wild Icelandic pony, etc.), but I think the moment where I was most in awe of the country was when we hiked to the oldest hot springs pool in Iceland. We got changed into our bathing suits in a sheep shed, and sat in the warm pool for a while, and eventually made friends with the other travelers in there.

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I never wanted to get out.

The view from inside the water.

The view from inside the water.

F) Favorite mode of transportation:

We mainly walked everywhere once we got to a city (although we became experts at Paris’ metro), but I always loved taking the train to and from different places. The cabins were usually spacious, we brought our own food and wine, and often times we got first class tickets for almost the same price as coach if we bought them early enough. Plus, the train stations were always right in the center of a city, so there was no confusion in finding transportation from the airports that are outside the city. We also got some incredible views.

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The view of Lausanne, Switzerland from our train seat.

Favorite mode of transportation runner-up: ski lift. We took a twenty-minute ride up into the mountains in the Bavarian Alps and I never wanted it to end. If I could sit in a ski lift chair and travel around the world, I’d be happy.

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G) Greatest feeling while traveling:

Stepping off a plane or train and being in a completely different place with different architecture, customs, language, feel, everything, for the first time. No wonder it’s so addicting. Either that, or sipping a glass of wine at a sunset picnic in a beautiful place.

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Sunset on the Seine in Paris.

H) Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:

We got lucky and didn’t have much extreme heat to deal with, even in Paris in August when it’s normally stifling. Rome was the hottest though, which made walking for hours around the city a little tiring.

Rome was still pretty awesome though.

Rome was still pretty awesome though.

I) Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?:

Probably the (approximately) seven-course dinner we had with my parents in Turin, Italy. The waiters were super informative and didn’t mind translating the entire menu into English for us. The food was incredible and even though I couldn’t eat all my food because I was too full, everything I tasted was fantastic.

My appetizer at our meal in Turin, Italy.

My appetizer at our meal in Turin, Italy.

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My pistachio cake dessert.

J) Journey that took the longest:

I’ve taken plenty of 12-hour plane flights in my life (CA –> Europe), but this time around our longest journey was the train ride from Berlin to Amsterdam. It was supposed to take about ten hours, but a couple hours away from Amsterdam, the conductor announced that the train was stopping because some of the cabins didn’t have AC and it was too hot. There were no further instructions on how to actually get to Amsterdam, so after being dropped off in some random town in the middle of the Netherlands, we had to find our way. We ended up taking two more trains and eventually got there, but the whole thing was a confusing ordeal, and then we got lost walking to our Airbnb in Amsterdam and it took an hour longer by foot than it was supposed to. It was a long day.

Walking around the charming streets in Amsterdam.

Walking around the charming streets in Amsterdam. 

K) Keepsake from your travels:

Jeremy and I didn’t start buying souvenirs until we were almost done with our trip since we were worried about luggage space, but I’m glad we finally got some little things to remind us of a few adventures in Europe. We got a little handcrafted spoon in Paris that we want to use for salt when we move into a new apartment. We also got a mini beer mug in Germany, and I have about 20 postcards from various places that I never sent. I think our best keepsakes will be our pictures, which I’m going to work on enlarging and framing soon.

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In front of our little house in Iceland.

I had a travel tripod for the first couple months of our trip. This is from our first housesitting experience in Kent, England.

I had a travel tripod for the first couple months of our trip. This is from our first housesitting experience in Kent, England.

L) Let-down sight, where and why?:

Probably the Trevi Fountain in Rome; I had high expectations, but it was under construction when we found it.

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What it’s supposed to look like:

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M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:

Somewhere around this time:

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Eight-year-old me in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

We didn’t really stay in any nice hotels this time around, mostly just Airbnbs or housesitting homes, but a hotel that sticks out in my mind is The Parker in Palm Springs. Jeremy and I went there last year for a mini-moon the weekend after our wedding, and it’s got to be one of the coolest, most relaxing, awesome places that has ever existed.

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Our room at The Parker.

O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

God, I don’t know, everything? There wasn’t one particular thing I looked for the most, but I guess I have a fondness for taking pictures of places from high up. And sunsets.

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View from our rented house in Turin, Italy.

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Salzburg, Austria.

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Bologna, Italy.

P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:

Let’s see, since I got my passport in 2008, I have stamps from: Berlin (2008 and 2014), Paris (2008 and 2009), Frankfurt (2008), London (2008, 2009, and 2014), Dublin (2008 and 2014), Reykjavik (2014), Zurich (2014), Bordeaux (2014), United States (2014). That was definitely only fun for me, sorry about that. It makes me realize that I visit a lot of the same places a lot, time to explore more of the world!

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Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:

Probably Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature) in Paris. It was full of taxidermy animals, extremely old rifles, interesting art (there was one room where the ceiling was covered in feathers and owl heads – that were not real), and there was a special event going on so each room had actors in togas acting out scenes and running around with creepy music.

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R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?

Jeremy and I got lucky again with that, we never really felt unsafe anywhere, and didn’t ever get pick-pocketed or have anything stolen. We were very aware of people at all times, especially on crowded subways or buses, and I always put my purse across my body and had my hand on the top when we were walking around.

S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:

Food. As more time went on, we started having more and more incredible dining experiences, especially after we made the decision to go home. Having lunch with my friend Liz and her boyfriend Alain in a medieval village in France called Sarlat will stand out as one of the best meals of our lives.

Jeremy's foie gras dish.

Jeremy’s foie gras dish in Sarlat. The city is known for having some of the best foie gras in the world.

T) Touristy thing you’ve done:

I think that we visited touristy stuff in every city we went to; we avoided it as much as we could, but sometimes you just have to fight the crowds and see the stuff you’ve heard so much about and seen so many pictures of.

Had to.

Had to. 

U) Unforgettable travel memory:

The entire six months were unforgettable, and my travel bug is slowly creeping back after looking through all these pictures. Traveling with my parents was also really great and visiting France, Germany and Italy with them were highlights of our trip. I couldn’t possibly choose one travel memory that stands out the most, but visiting monastery breweries in Germany and Austria and drinking beer straight out of the barrel was super cool. And celebrating Jeremy’s birthday at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich with my parents and an oompah band was so fun. And touring the marble quarries in Carrara, Italy. And taking a ferry to the colorful Italian town of Portovenere. And riding an alpine coaster down a mountain after hiking to the top of the Bavarian Alps. And celebrating Jeremy’s and my one-year anniversary at a lakeside restaurant in a pretty village in Bavaria. And visiting the D-Day beaches in Normandy. Okay, I’ll stop.

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V) Visas-how many and for where?:

None! We never got any visas, and never felt like we had to. We knew we wouldn’t be in a country for longer than the allowed amount.

W) Wine–best glass while traveling:

We had so much delicious (and inexpensive) wine in France and Italy, and much of it was consumed at a sunset picnic with a nice view, aka my favorite thing to do in the world. The best wine we had though was in Barolo, Italy when my dad took us wine tasting there. One day we’ll have to splurge and buy a bottle of it for a special occasion. It is delicious.

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Visiting towns in the Piedmont region of Italy.

X) eXcellent view and from where?:

Without a doubt, at the top of the Bavarian Alps:

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Y) Years spent traveling:

Over twenty! Thanks, mom and dad.

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:

We were in Berlin for the World Cup finale when Germany won, and people were going CRAZY. We are not super into sports, but being in a bar with a huge screen while the game was going on was a lot of fun, and you couldn’t help but get into it too.

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Jeremy getting in the World Cup spirit.

Phew, that was a LOT harder than I thought it was going to be. Every time I thought of a memory, a dozen more came pouring in. And going through all my pictures was quite the task, but I’m excited to start making albums and framing some!

Since We’ve Been Back

Goodbye, Europe. This was taken in Dublin outside our Airbnb right before we made our last trek to the airport to fly home.

Goodbye, Europe. This was taken in Dublin outside our Airbnb right before we made our last trek to the airport to fly home.

Monday marked three weeks since Jeremy and I flew back to the States. I’ve been trying to process how it feels, but honestly it just feels like we never left. Europe already seems like a distant memory, and I have to look at the pictures to remind myself we were there for six months. The startup disk on my laptop is full so I can’t get the pictures off my camera just yet, which means I am unable to share pictures of Ireland at the moment, but that’ll happen at some point. I also want to do a whole wrap-up of the time we spent in Europe and all the places we went. In the meantime, there are apartments to be rented and jobs to be found. Back to reality.

One of the last pictures I took while in Europe. Heading to the bus to take us to the airport to fly home.

Here are some pictures of what we’ve been up to the past few weeks:

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First order of business as soon as possible: a big ol’ to go cup of coffee in Columbus, Georgia. So tired and jetlagged.

Publix sub, of course.

Publix sub, of course.

Walking around Columbus - this river is right downtown and you can kayak down it.

Walking around Columbus – this river is right downtown and you can kayak down it.

This place had very tasty Southern food.

This place had very tasty Southern food.

Hung out with this dog for a minute while stopping to buy some meat from a farmer for Jeremy's family.

Hung out with this dog for a minute while stopping to buy some meat from a farmer for Jeremy’s family.

I'm so sad this toothpaste we got in France is empty, it made me chuckle every time I used it.

I’m so sad this toothpaste we got in France is empty, it made me chuckle every time I used it.

We went to Athens and ate at Seabear Oyster Bar - highly recommended if you're ever in Athens.

We went to Athens and ate at Seabear Oyster Bar – highly recommended if you’re ever in Athens. That’s a Negroni slushy on the right.

My scallion pancake from Seabear.

My scallion pancake from Seabear.

Visited Athen's newest brewery, Creature Comforts.

Visited Athen’s newest brewery, Creature Comforts.

Is this not the saddest magazine cover you've ever seen?

Is this not the saddest magazine cover you’ve ever seen?

One of my favorite corners in Athens.

One of my favorite corners in Athens; this is the exact spot where I started my runs way back in 2002.

Stopped at Jittery Joe's for some coffee after a run in my new Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3s.

Stopped at Jittery Joe’s for some coffee after a run in my new Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3s.

Visited my friend Liz (who we had just seen in France and Spain) in New Orleans. Donut flavors: red bean and rice, and peanut butter and honey.

Visited my friend Liz (who we had just seen in France and Spain) in New Orleans. Donut flavors: red bean and rice, and peanut butter and honey.

Wandering around New Orleans.

Wandering around New Orleans.

Drove across the country again. I think that must have been the 20th or so time for me. Not exaggerating.

Drove across the country again. I think that must have been the 20th or so time for me. Not exaggerating.

Of course we stopped at In-n-Out.

Of course we stopped at In-n-Out.

Got up early the night after we got back to Santa Barbara to run by the beach. Oh how I missed it.

Got up early the morning after we got back to Santa Barbara to run by the beach. Oh how I missed it.

Another run, another beautiful view.

Another run, another beautiful view.

Beach walks with Pez the dog.

Beach walks with Pez the dog.

View from the top.

View from the top.

Trail ran a little bit.

Trail ran a little bit.

The old stomping grounds.

The old stomping grounds.

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We moved to Los Angeles.

Oh yeah, we moved to Los Angeles. As much as I love Santa Barbara, Jeremy and I were looking for a bit of a change, and settled on LA so we were still fairly close to SB. And now we’re closer to my grandma in San Diego! We’re even driving up to SB this weekend so I can run a 5k or 10k (haven’t decided yet).

Moved to Los Angeles. For some reason I thought this tree would be a nice photo op.

For some reason I thought this tree would be a nice photo op.

There shouldn't be allowed to be something this cute in existence.

This car is so cute it shouldn’t be allowed to exist.

Another view.

Another view.

We’re in the middle of apartment hunting, which is very stressful. I don’t remember ever having this much trouble, but there is lots of competition, and it seems like you have to decide within five minutes of viewing a place if you want to live there for the next year because there are seven other people there filling applications for it on the spot. So much pressure! We rented an Airbnb for the month of October so we’d have time to look around and explore all the different areas of LA (there are so many, this place is huge) and not feel like we had to settle on something immediately, which is proving to be a very good decision. I’m also job hunting, and I have an interview tomorrow, so fingers crossed that goes well. All my clothes are still in storage so I had to do a little shopping, but I think the dress I bought was a good decision.

There's a Madewell like ten minutes away from our Airbnb in Atwater Village. It's dangerous.

There’s a Madewell like ten minutes away from our Airbnb in Atwater Village. It’s dangerous.

My first run as an LA resident.

My first run as an LA resident. The highway’s not too pretty, but the mountains are.

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The LA River bike path is nearby, and I’m excited to explore it.

Driving around apartment hunting with the Hollywood sign right there.

Driving around apartment hunting with the Hollywood sign right there.

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Oh yeah there’s a heat wave.

As far as running goes, I’m feeling pretty blah about it. Shopping was a wake-up call; all those donuts, Southern food, In-n-Out, and everything I ate in Europe was bound to catch up with me, and it finally did. My pants don’t fit and my arms aren’t toned at all anymore. They’re big ol’ jelly sticks now. Plus I’ve been sick the past few days and haven’t exercised at all. I’m supposed to run a 10k this Sunday but may go down to the 5k since I’ve only run nine times since my last half at the beginning of September. I also have the Santa Barbara International Half Marathon in exactly a month, so not sure what’s going to happen there either. I really need to get my butt in gear and start training again, and I feel like my motivation is slowly creeping back, which is a good sign!

Running in Bordeaux and San Sebastian

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You guys tired of seeing this running outfit yet?

While we were in Bordeaux, France and San Sebastian, Spain, my half marathon in Dingle was only a couple weeks away. I was never too successful in following a strict training plan while we were traveling, but instead I kind of just ran what I felt like, while adding in some long runs on the weekends. This proved to work pretty well, since I felt good during my race on September 6.

The weather was hotter than I was used to in Bordeaux, and I started my runs too late and felt pretty tired during both of them. But they were still enjoyable, especially because Bordeaux is a beautiful city, and there is a path that runs along the river for miles. My first run was four miles, and my second was eight miles.

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Some sights I saw:

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Jeremy met me after my run and took this. The tower reminded me of Disneyland.

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A skateboard park right along the river.

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The guy on the front of the boat is holding a big bunch of grapes. I love wine country.

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We were only in San Sebastian for two nights, so I made sure to wake up early the morning after we got there to run some miles along the ocean. The beach had been so crowded the day before, but I got out there before anyone had a chance to wake up (except for the other runners, of course. Oh and surfers). Man, this was a beautiful run and will go down in history as one of my favorite places to run, ever. I stopped to take sooo many pictures, but I really couldn’t help it.

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Bird footprints.

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Empty beach.

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There’s a path that goes all along the ocean and cliffs.

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Running through the old town.

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I wish that we had spent more time in San Sebastian so I could have had more runventures, but we’ll just have to go back one day.

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 2

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As soon as we got to San Sebastian, Spain, we headed to the ocean. My friend Liz, her boyfriend Alain, Jeremy and I rented an Airbnb in the old part of town, just a couple blocks from the surfing beach in town, Zurriola Beach. It was also the beach popular with the young locals, who ended up photobombing us while we were trying to take a picture:

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I figured the water would be warm, but it was real cold… we got in anyway. Before coming to San Sebastian, I read about pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”)  online, which are basically snacks that bars in Basque country make and put out for customers. I didn’t realize that every bar had them, and that they put them out around 10:30am and keep making them until after midnight. Each bar we passed had such a big selection, and some were really impressive. Because every bar has them, they leave the lights really bright inside and everyone just stands around and fills up their plate, and tosses their napkins on the ground when they’re done.

One of our selections of pintxos.

One of our selections of pintxos.

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Jeremy waiting to pay for our pintxos.

Pretty much our entire time in San Sebastian was spent laying out at the beach, eating pintxos and walking around the pretty old town.

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Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

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The most crowded beach I’ve ever been to.

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Sunset walk.

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I’ll have a tiny vehicle of my own one day.

Pretty San Sebastian.

Pretty San Sebastian.

We also went out to eat at a restaurant called La Fabrica. The price for a four-course dinner was very reasonable, and everything was delicious and from the region.

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One of Liz's courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside...

One of Liz’s courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside…

Another pretty course.

Another pretty course.

After two nights, it was time to head back to Bordeaux so Jeremy and I could catch our flight to Ireland the next day. But since Alain was driving and he grew up in the region, he took us to some really great places on the way back. First we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant on the water in Port de la Hume, France. We got huge platters of super fresh seafood and some nice white wine.

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IMG_9735 Then we went to Arcachon and laid out some more and swam in the water.

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Our final stop was at the Dune du Pilat, which is the tallest sand dune in Europe. Once you climb to the top, you can see some really great views.

Starting the climb. It's much steeper and taller than it looks.

Starting the climb. It’s much steeper and taller than it looks.

Still climbing...

Still climbing…

The top!

The top!

Dream team.

Dream team.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you're going to fall face-first into the sand. It's so fun.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you’re going to fall face-first into the sand. It’s so fun.

Looking up.

Looking up.

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It was sad to say goodbye to Alain and Liz, but we had to get on a plane and head to Ireland so I could run the Dingle Half Marathon and explore Ireland for a week and a half.

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Goodbye France!

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 1

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I had my eye on these pants that were being sold all over Bordeaux for 10 euro. Jeremy finally convinced me to get some.

I can’t believe we’re home (well, in Georgia). Jeremy and I spent last week in Dublin, staying in an awesome Airbnb in a historic neighborhood a little bit outside the city center but close enough so we could walk there, and close enough to the Guinness Brewery that we could smell hops in the air. I haven’t shared pictures from our time in Bordeaux, France, where we met up with my best friend Liz and her boyfriend, Alain, who is from Bordeaux. He drove us all around the region, then we took a road trip to San Sebastian, Spain, for beach time and delicious food from Basque Country. Our theme of the past few weeks was “Go Big Then Go Home,” and that we did.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

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La grosse cloche de Bordeaux.

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Alain and Liz. Gah they're cute.

Alain and Liz. God they’re cute.

Liz and I met a few weeks after I moved to Athens, Georgia, when we were freshmen at UGA. We became close that first year, since we both moved there knowing virtually no one and UGA over-filled the dorms and we weren’t assigned any, so we had to live in an apartment complex off campus. We were pretty much inseparable all four years of college and a couple years after, and we were roommates for five of those years. I’m so glad we got to spend some time together in Europe, and can’t wait to travel with her and Alain again. Jeremy and I are actually staying with her in New Orleans for a couple nights next week, so I’m excited about that too.

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Hanging in Sarlat, France.

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Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn't know that two and a half hours had gone by.

Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn’t know that two and a half hours had gone by.

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Sarlat is a well-preserved medieval village that dates back to the 14th century.

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On the way back from Sarlat, we stopped in La Roque-Gageac, a town set on the Dordogne River with houses built into the cliffs.

DSC_5398 IMG_9555On our way to Spain, we stopped for lunch in Bayonne, France, in Basque Country. Apparently there is a chocolate factory there but we didn’t go.

Bayonne, France.

Bayonne, France.

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Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

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What people in Spain call a tortilla is very different than what we think of. It’s basically an omelette in quiche form. 

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DSC_5406Our last stop before Spain was Biarritz, France, where we finally got to see the ocean.

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DSC_5438Next up: San Sebastian, Spain!

Dingle Half Marathon Race Recap

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With only a week to spare, I finally accomplished my goal of running a race abroad! On Saturday, I completed the Dingle Half Marathon on the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. I wasn’t expecting much (I set no goals other than to enjoy the scenery and finish feeling good) since my training has been a little sporadic and I never ended up following a plan even though I was thinking about it, but the race went much better than expected, and I was happy to find that I have kept up my fitness better than I thought. That, and the scenery was just so damn beautiful that it was easy to get distracted and the miles went by fast.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

Charming Dingle with some ominous clouds in the background.

I haven’t written a race report since March (and I’ve had bad race fever ever since, and it’s even worse now after Saturday. I’ve been googling races like crazy) so I feel out of practice, and I’m not one of those people that can recall a race mile-by-mile. I’m actually really impressed when people can do that; I usually zone out or forget which mile stuff happened at. But here I go.

Pre-Race

Jeremy and I flew into Dublin from Bordeaux, France on Thursday (we spent a few days in Bordeaux beforehand then went to Spain with two friends from home, but that deserves its own post), and rented a car at the airport. We drove to Dingle, which is across the entire country. Jeremy drove and picked up the whole driving on the left side of the road thing really quickly.

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Driving across Ireland; Jeremy drove on the left side of the road like a champ.

Driving across Ireland.

We arrived in Dingle in the evening, and met our host and arrived at our perfect little house on the Dingle Bay. I don’t even remember where I found this lady’s email address because she doesn’t have a website or pictures of the house online, but it could not have been more perfect, and since she is just starting out the price was much lower than what she could actually get.

View from our little house.

View from our little house.

On Friday, we went to pick up my race packet from the harbor, and it was super fast and easy. There wasn’t really an expo since it’s a small-town race, but I didn’t mind because I don’t particularly care about expos anyway.

The view from our house.

View from the packet pickup.

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No lines!

We walked around the harbor a bit and I took my traditional pre-race photo.

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IMG_9819 After packet pickup, Jeremy and I drove around the peninsula on the road that the race would follow, called Slea Head Drive. I took some pictures since I figured I wouldn’t during the race.

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Needless to say, it was beautiful and I was getting pretty excited about running the course. There were lots of sheep and cows along the way, mixed with ocean views, cliffs, and countryside.

That evening, we took it easy. I had a lot of bread and a small salad for lunch, and then soup for dinner, which worked out for my race in March so I replicated it this time. I stretched some and wore my ProCompression socks, and laid out my stuff.

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My stretching view (I'm wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago).

My stretching view (I’m wearing the slippers my mom brought for me when we met up in France a couple months ago. You can’t really see them but they are awesome).

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

Definitely forgot a sports bra.

The Race

The race didn’t start till 9am Saturday morning, which was great. We were only about a five-minute walk from the start, so I had a nice and relaxing morning. I’m not a good sleeper in general and the night before a race can be notoriously bad, but I slept really well the whole time we were in Dingle. It was definitely the best sleep I’ve ever gotten before a race (and our entire trip so far, I’m pretty sure). I set an alarm for 7am but I never actually need alarms to wake me up, and got up around 6:30. I ate some porridge (we thought it was oatmeal when we bought it) and a banana and a cup of coffee. We left the house at 8:30am, and I didn’t use the bathrooms before the race since the lines were long and I didn’t feel like I needed to. I got in the corral (there were no waves) and realized I was kind of close to the front after seeing how many people were behind me. The race started right on time, and at 9am we were off.

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The starting line, seen from the opposite side of the corral.

The problem with starting so far up in the corral was that everyone was running faster than I was planning, but I didn’t realize it. After seeing my time of 9:04 for the first mile even though I thought I was going much more slowly, I worried that I would screw myself over if I didn’t slow down. But I didn’t like getting passed by a bunch of people, so I kept up my pace. At around mile 4, I saw some portapotties with no lines and figured I should stop since I had to pee pretty badly, and it would be good to get away from the faster people so I didn’t hit a wall later on. This was the first time I’ve stopped to use a portapotty during a race. I didn’t think it would affect me by much, but I think I may have been able to PR if I hadn’t stopped. But that’s okay, I didn’t know at the time how strong I would feel later on.

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Seen on the course.

I ended up taking some pictures along the way, which really helped me mentally. For some reason it gave me a big boost of energy whenever I did, and it was actually pretty fun. During the first few miles, I was staying on the left side of the road to avoid crowds. A nice older Irishman sought me out to let me know that I should stick to the middle of the road since it was slightly slanted on the side and it would hurt my legs later on. I thanked him and moved to the center. My left quad ended up kind of hurting at around mile 10 and I realized I was on slanted road again. I moved to the middle of the road and the pain went away. I thanked the man in my head again.

Tiny runners on the cliff.

Looking backwards at the tiny runners on the cliff.

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Mile 10 marker.

I only stopped to walk twice, and for only about 5 seconds (if that) each time. I learned from my past half marathons that if I’m really feeling tired, I should stop and compose myself for a few seconds, and pick it back up. This worked, and the second time I stopped to walk on a hill, an older Irishwoman tapped me on the shoulder and told me there was a photographer at the top of the hill so I shouldn’t walk. I thanked her, and started running again. Everybody that I talked to on race day was SO nice and really made the whole experience that much better. I took a mocha Clif gel that had caffeine in it around mile 7 I think, and that gave me a much-needed boost of energy. The gels always take me a long time to finish, so I think I wasn’t done with it until a mile or so later.

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Pretty proud of these splits, especially considering I thought I would be running 10:30 miles or so. Mile 4 is when I stopped for the bathroom, and miles 8 and 12 had some killer hills.

I never ended up hitting a wall, and I was able to sprint the last half mile to the finish line. The race finished at a pub, and everyone was already drinking beer. I couldn’t find any water at the end and I was really thirsty. I finally found a few bottles under a table and grabbed one. My race medal broke a few minutes after I put it on, so a volunteer gave me a new one. My Garmin matched up pretty perfectly with the mile markers and I stopped it two seconds after I crossed the finish line, so I knew my official time would be pretty spot on with my watch. I finished in 2:05:45, one minute and 42 seconds away from my PR. I WILL break two hours soon!

The pub where the race finished.

The pub where the race finished.

Post-Race

There were buses waiting to take the half marathon finishers back to Dingle, so I waited in line and ate some snacks, and talked to two really nice people from Ireland that had just run. The bus took about 45 minutes because of how slowly the driver had to go on the small roads, but it was fun because the scenery was beautiful, and we were driving past the full marathon runners so we could cheer them on from inside the bus.

I met up with Jeremy back in Dingle, and he was waiting for me with chocolate soy milk and pretzels. The best.

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Finished!

True that.

True that.

 

I’m usually not that hungry right after a race, but it was different this time. I really wanted something salty and unhealthy, so we got fish and chips, calamari, and mushy peas. It hit the spot.

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We were going to go out to the pubs that night to hear some traditional Irish music and celebrate with all the other racers that had come into town, but I was way too tired and instead sat at our house, drank wine and ate cheese from a local cheese shop, which was made with seaweed. It was really good.

I know I should have been drinking beer since it's Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese (aka I'm addicted).

I know I should have been drinking beer since it’s Ireland and all, but I had an intense craving for wine and cheese, and I deserved it.

Overall, it was a great race with some beautiful scenery, and I would definitely run it again. The weather was also perfect, it was pretty chilly and windy at the starting line but the wind died down and it was overcast and about 55 degrees and never warmed up. The shirt is also really nice, it’s a long-sleeved performance shirt that has a zippered pocket. It’s pretty big since I went with a unisex medium when registering for some reason, but I still like it.

The only things I didn’t particularly like were the fact that they handed out water bottles at each fueling stop (which were every three miles, which wasn’t that bad for me since I brought my own water), and everybody only took a sip or two and then tossed the rest, so there were basically full bottles of water everywhere, going to be thrown out. I also didn’t like that they didn’t hand out water at the finish line and I had run out of my own.

Oh man, for the first time ever, I took a few good pictures during a race (I actually tried this time). I’m going to buy a picture, I’m thinking this one:

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Or this one:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 7.59.45 PM I swear I was sprinting as hard as I could in this one, but instead I kind of look like I’m la-di-da skipping to the finish line:

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Anyway, half marathon #5 was really great, and now I’m looking forward to #6, in Santa Barbara on November 8th!