10 September 2009

Back from Europing

Before I plunge into my overflowing email inbox, I thought I'd post some thoughts on my trip to London and Italy. I just got back last night from Rome and the memories and differences of time abroad compared to my life here are acute and distinct.

Has it only been 17 days since I left for the Continent? It feels as if I have passed a short lifetime, such was the difference of life abroad.

In London, I felt as if a part of me that I had forgotten existed came alive. Even though there are some marked aspects of British culture that would seem to make me run the other way (like the absence of good Korean food and food in general although things have vastly improved, the lack of vernacular about racial/political identities--Asian Americanness etc., the bad sausages (yeah I really do prefer American and Italian sausages), the damp and chill)--I still feel this strong kinship and understanding with British culture that I felt when I was there 9 years ago. In an almost visceral way, I feel as if I belong in ways that are hard to explain. It's like the sky is the limit and I feel this optimism about life that is overpowering. My creative juices flow and it's like my heart is opening to the universe.

Sigh. Yes, why am I in America again?

We flew to Venice and while we were there, we had the most delicious pasta with clams--briney, chewey, earthy, and delicious. A visit to the Basilica of San Marcos solidified any questions I had about my desire and call to study religion, spirituality, and sacred spaces.

In Florence, we partied it up with a wedding party of 50, drinking wine, eating prosciutto and cheeses and steak until we burst, laughing for hours, and crying freely at the remarkable display of love between Dan and Sarah and their family.

A very hot and awful train ride later, we were in Cinque Terre basking on the Ligurian Coast, sitting where the waves crashing on the rocks could mist us with their salty spray. The hike from Vernazza to Corniglia was breathtaking and glorious and the seafood stew cooked in an earthen vase (lobster, mussels, clams, a whole octopus came flying out) in Monterosso was unforgettable.

In Rome, we visited the Vatican and took lingering walks in the evening through the cobblestone streets. We drank cocktails with hipsters in Trastavere and continued a conversation that had sprung from the beginning of the trip about how we could come back and live on the Continent for an extended time.

24 hours later, we are back in southern California. We have already had soontofu and reveled at the spaciousness of our apartment. It's good to eat an apple fritter again and wake up early to a pacific coast sunrise. But I'm counting the days till I can go back.

Gelato flavors eaten:
- Pistachio
- nocciola
- Bailey's
- fragola
- caffe
- cioccolato negra
- cioccolato fondente
- menta
- stracciatella
- noce
- limone
- melone
- fico
- pesca

Steps climbed:
10, 417. (Actually, I have no idea. But it was a lot)

Daily Breakfast:
Espresso or Americano (the cappuchino made my stomach hurt) and a croissant

Memorable shopkeepers:
The twins of Il Pirata, a Sicilian bakery in Vernazza

Memorable dish:
Polenta e funghi

Favorite wine:
Cinque Terre white wine

A memory that comes to mind right now:
Eating grapes picked fresh from the vineyard high above off the Ligurian coast trails


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