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Archive for November, 2012

Not long after I returned from our trip and M and I split up, I was on the hunt for a new roommate, which believe it or not, is really difficult to find in your 30’s.  Everyone is pretty much married or living with a significant other already and although I’d have liked to live alone, it didn’t make financial sense.  So Kelly introduced me to her friend Jill who was in a similar situation as me; we checked out a few places together and settled on a duplex only a few blocks from my previous house.

I had always been apprehensive about moving in with someone I didn’t know that well, as I’d had some negative experiences in the past.  My favorite was a guy named Brian who was unemployed, never cleaned, and sat around our apartment smoking weed, watching porn, and playing the ukulele all day.  Thankfully, Jill and I hit it off immediately and I truly enjoyed getting to know her via our late night chats over boxes of wine (don’t hate, they make some really tasty boxed wine these days).  It only took a few weeks before we were besties – I couldn’t believe I had finally found someone that loved Blind Melon as passionately as I did.

Of course, ‘the trip’ came up multiple times during our discussions.  I think Jill had always had a desire to travel, so she asked me a lot of questions about how we did it, how much it cost, what hostels were like, etc.  Finally one evening she informed me that she too, was thinking of quitting her job to do some extended travelling and perhaps even find a job abroad.  I spent the next several months convincing her that this was the greatest idea in the history of ideas – and after a year of amazing fun roommate times, Jill quit her job, sold her car, put her stuff in storage, and bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica.

As bummed as I was to be losing a fantastic roommate, I couldn’t have been happier for her and PROUD that she was doing it alone.  Jill’s been gone a little over 4 months now – she’s been to Costa Rica and Panama, from where she sailed down to Columbia, and has just wrapped up a month of living with a host family and taking Spanish classes in Cartagena.  She’s living the dream and has plans to work her way across South America, eventually settling in Argentina to find a job.

Jill also has a blog about her travels.  Part of me is selfishly writing this post in the hopes that those of you that read this blog will follow the link and read hers – in turn encouraging her TO WRITE IN IT MORE OFTEN.  Yes Jill – I need to hear more of your stories in order to live vicariously through you.  DON’T DISAPPOINT YOUR NEW READERS!!!  I know I’m being slightly hypocritical, since I obviously suck at keeping up with my own, but I’m officially trying now.

You can check out her blog here:

www.whatdayisit.me

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Love and Miss You Jilly!

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I can’t believe it’s been 9 – 10 months since I’ve posted in this blog.  One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the past year is that I’m not a very disciplined blog writer.

Despite not much happening on the blog, I have been doing a fair bit of travelling for work since my post in January.  I’ll give you the abbreviated run-down.

Ukraine

This was my second trip to Ukraine within the past couple of years.  The difference between my 1st and 2nd trip was  – actually, there wasn’t much of a difference.  Lots of snow, lots of vodka, and lots of fur (one day I counted 97 people wearing full-on fur coats).   Despite the not-so-great food, Ukraine is still home to one of my all time favorite restaurants appropriately titled ‘The Ukrainian Restaurant’.  It’s like Christmas threw up in a hunting lodge.

Inside the Ukrainian Restaurant

Cold Day in Kiev

I still need to write about my visit to Chernobyl, but that deserves a post of it’s own.

 Turkey

I had not been to Turkey since Kelly and I were there backpacking in 2010 and the second time just reinforced how much I love this country, particularly Istanbul.  Much like my work trip to Thailand, I got to see a different side to the city – the 5-star hotel and fine dining side.  The food, people, and sights were incredible and my coworker and I were seriously considering just not coming home.

Not only did I make several new friends this trip, I got to meet up with an old one as well. Kelly and I met Rahim during our first week in Turkey and ate several fine meals and had many drinks at his fabulous restaurant, Adonin, near the Blue Mosque.  Due to the power of Facebook, I managed to stay in touch with him over the past couple of years and my coworker and I were able to pay Rahim a visit and again have a late night of dinner, drinks, and ‘dancing’.

Brazil

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Brazil twice in the last few months for work.  I had never been before and was thrilled to be able to go (and to not have to foot the bill for the $180 visa).

I visited several cities while I was there – Sao Paulo, Curitiba, and Porto Allegre – but my favorite was Rio de Janiero.  Despite the fact that it was winter there and the weather didn’t cooperate as often as I would have liked, I did manage to have a couple of sunny warm days and was able to hit up Sugarloaf and the Christo statue and walk along the amazing beaches.  I must say that Rio is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.  It’s this enormous metropolis with millions of people right smack in the middle of the jungle…and on a beach.  This place is going to be absolutely NUTS during the World Cup and the Olympics.

Impanema Beach

View from Sugarloaf Mountain

Christ the Redeemer Statue

View from the Christo statue

Other than the incredibly friendly (and beautiful) people that I met, my other favorite thing about Brazil was the food.  By far my favorite South American cuisine that I’ve experienced thus far and I packed on 10 pounds between the 2 trips to prove it.  Here’s why:

Pao de Queijo – balls of fried cheese bread that is sold on practically every street corner.  Enough said.

Acai – A tasty berry blended with banana and ice , served with granola and more fruit on top.  A light, and ‘healthy’ treat that turns your lips and tongue purple as if you’ve just downed a bottle of red wine.  WORTH IT.

Acai!!!

Feijouda – A traditional Brazilian meal that consists of sausage and other pig parts cooked in black beans, served with rice, collard greens, more black beans, yucca fries, grainy stuff, and orange slices.  A nap is necessary.

Traditional Brazilian Dish

Italian Food – People always rave about the Italian food in Argentina, but I have to tell you that they are WRONG and Brazil puts Argentina TO SHAME in the Italian food department.  Also, I don’t get good Italian in Austin so I went a little OVERBOARD on it here.

Churrascaria – A mind-blowing amount of different meat on sticks served with salad, rice, fries, yucca, beans, fried cheese, onion rings, and sushi, YOU FUCKING NAME IT THEY HAVE IT.  Food Coma City.

Coxina – basically a fried chicken donut.  Yuuuuuuuuum.

Caipiroska – My cocktail of choice.  Vodka, Ice, Sugar, and muddled lime (or whatever fruit your heart desires).

My New Favorite Cocktail

I didn’t even mention the sushi.

 

All in all, a good year of travelling – can’t wait to see what adventures (and obviously meals) I’ll get up to in 2013!

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