Just say, “NO”. 

How many times have you taken a day off and said, “today is my day”. And then you pick up your phone…. And the day is no longer yours. In order to have time to give away, you need to make time to get away. 
We live in a world of busyness. REST is just missing a few letters to read as STRESSED. We add too much to rest and then it becomes stress. Stress is DEADLY. Many evidenced based studies show the negative impact of stress on our life. Rest is the easiest cure yet we never get enough. 

We need rest. Sometimes when we get away from everything we take a vacation and we take our friends with us. This is not getting away from everything. This is taking your life with you and you are not truly getting away from it all. There is a difference between traveling and vacation. 

So many times, we find our identity in our work. This is not who we are. The problem is that we feel as though people need us. That’s just it. People don’t need us. Everyone is replaceable. That’s life. We can give more of ourselves when we are fulfilled and recharged as opposed to just being and constantly draining ourselves. How can you be inspiring and of use to somebody if you are no different and no more passionate than before, because you never stepped away to learn more and get rid of the old and allow yourself to receive the new. 
On the 7th day of creation, God rested. How in the world do we think that we don’t need what God wanted. We need rest. Sometimes we need to simply learn to just say, “no”. …. And when you say, “no”….. Be okay with it. Otherwise the stress from your regret or saying “no” will eat you alive and ruin your rest. Set boundaries in your life. 
We live in a world that doesn’t stop. We work so much and push ourselves so hard that we are literally killing ourselves. 

You don’t have to have the answer for everyone, everytime, everywhere. Take time for YOU. 

Thailand days 1,2 &3 …human trafficking

Day 1 So!! I am in Bangkok and it has been an amazing trip from the start!! So many breakthroughs …. Today we focused on local people during the day and went around praying over people and we saw blind people healed in order to see and people with chronic pain healed and people who couldn’t walk, walk. People were healed and it was powerful! Some people on our team even began to speak in Thai when they were praying over people and the Thai people understood and fell to their knees in tears… It has been a miraculous trip!!! I cast a demon out of a woman who was twitching and pouring sweat and heavily afflicted and walked up to me asking for me to pray for her… And in the name of Jesus I cast it out and it latched on to my arm and my arm was moving uncontrollably and it was intense pain. Others from the trip laid hands on me and got rid of it. It sounds unbelievable … But it was intense and it was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  
People did not understand what we said half the time but they knew we came to bring love. So many lives were touched and this was only our day ministry on the first day. We are now cautious and aware of the battle we are fighting here. 
The spiritual battle is intense here! The sex industry is big and it is furious! We walked the red light district at night tonight and saw the grounds we are going to do ministry in tomorrow. There are so many broken sad faces. The children are everywhere and they are right in the heart of it. The people are selling their children!!!! We are going to be trained tomorrow during the day by those who have been here laying the groundwork for us, and then going out with our teams and translators tomorrow. I am with a strong group who has been awesome and I have learned so much already and my heart is breaking and changing. I am experiencing things that I thought were only on TV. There is going to be restoration… Justice… Freedom and revival … I can barely put into words what I have experienced… It is supernatural … Unfamiliar and intense … But it is real and it is a battlefield. 
Crazy thing that happened … When we got to our hotel the group leader told us to pray over our rooms since we are in a hotel in the middle of the red light district where so much evil goes on.. I was tired and said meh.”. We are fine.. I got this” then I got into the shower and I looked down and the tub was filled with blood and I realized my nose was bleeding uncontrollably. I saw visions of death and pain and things that have happened in this room. It would not stop bleeding for 5 minutes and then finally I began to pray and I prayed over the room and when I said that there will be no more blood shed in this room and that the blood of Jesus is powerful and covers me, my nose stopped bleeding instantly. Bizarre!!!! And when I left my room a girl on my team said, ” so I feel like we need to go out prepared and claim the blood of Jesus because that is the only power we have!” I told her what happened to me minutes before and it was amazing! 
Then when I went into my room the closet had handprints and marks on the smoky glass door that were multiplying from the inside. ( sounds crazy ) I was freaked out but then I asked God to show me why this was happening and if it was a spirit or a sign… And I saw children and faces in the glass. And I opened the door and my roomate walked over and said ” what just happened, because I just saw a little boy skipping out of the closet like he was just freed” God told me that he wanted me to open the doors that nobody is willing to open out of fear because if I don’t, then who will.  

Random things people prophesied to me today: 
A girl who didn’t know me and didn’t know about my brother committing suicide last week came up to me and said ” God wanted me to tell you that it’s not your fault and you need to stop blaming yourself and put your focus back on the mission he has you on” I told her that was crazy that she said that because I have been struggling with self blame with my brother’s death. 
Another guy came up to me who didn’t know me.. Said that God gave him a vision that I had been working on a farm and God is preparing me to protect people at this farm .. I told him I’ve been working on Kendelton Farms in Houston, Texas and I have been houng there on safe house for women and children survivors of human trafficking. He was amazed.. As was I …
Then another girl came up to me and said that God told her that I have been struggling with a rough past and a lack of family but that He will bring people into my life to become a new family and He has me where I am for a purpose. 
Then Daniel (a pastor preaching at the church in Bangkok we visited) pointed to me in the middle of the service and said he had a vision and declared it before the church about how he saw me standing in the middle of the street and having headlights come straight at me and I was just staring into the headlights… And then the car didn’t hit me and I survived and that God is doing some deer in the headlights moments in my life recently (which He clearly has) and that I am going to survive even though it looks like I’m about to be hit. 
SO needless to say … This has been a powerful trip and it’s only day one. These are just a few things on my heart that I can remember from today… I started off being freaked out and now I just realize that I am protected and purposed.
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Day 2 

This is the second day and the miracles have not stopped. From the moment we walked up and saw rain in the forecast and gray skies above us, we knew God was going to do great things. We left the hotel and walked to a local human trafficking rescue chapel. As soon as we all took off our shoes outside of the door and went inside the rain began to pour down. Service itself was awesome. God did amazing things. When we left, we went outside in the rain stopped. The ground was wet and our shoes were dry. We walked back to the hotel and when we got inside the rain poured down again. The forecast said that it was supposed to rain every day, and we have not gotten wet yet. 
While we were in the church our leader told us to go over to the women and start praying for them. We don’t speak the language so we don’t know what they need prayer for. But we believe that when we pray in the Holy Spirit that their spirit will understand our prayers regardless of the language. The women that came up to me I was given visions of different things to pray for them for. As I would pray over one girl for forgiveness of her abortion she finally let go and began to weep even though she didn’t understand my words. The next girl I prayed that God would give her the husband and children she has been desiring. She began to weep and nodded her head yes. Over all of them I prayed that they will feel security and the love that they were never given will be given to them in new ways. and I told them that their families would be taken care of back home, even though they felt that they were abandoning their families by not sending money from prostitution back home to support them. I prayed these things not knowing anything about them. Later the leader who works in Thailand told us that these women have the biggest need for security, love and that their families will be taken care of back in the villages. God told me what to pray for before I even knew. 
Early in the morning, when we were preaching before a group of these trafficked women, our leader that spoke the message was sharing a message of love. The whole time that she was speaking I was amazed at how she was glowing. I saw her shirt and how late it was and it seemed like the white was glowing. I even thought to myself, “I could never get away with wearing white without spilling something on it.” Her message was powerful and pure and brought many of the women to tears. After the service we went to lunch, she sat across from me at the table. I looked at her and she looked different and when I looked at her shirt it was a camouflage dark shirt. I told her that I could have sworn she was wearing white. I told her that she glowed and that her clothing turned white as she was speaking. That message spoke to me that even when we try to camouflage ourselves God will show forth his might.
The whole day the theme that people kept talking about was a spirit of adoption. There are so many young girls who have been taken from their families and feel alone. We told them that they had been adopted into a new family. And that Jesus was their father and they are loved. I resonated with that message since I was adopted and felt alone and I was able to reach women in different ways because of a deeper emotional understanding. 
Different people from the team came up to me and prophesied to me and told me of visions they saw for me… 3 people came to me at different times who didn’t know me or each other and they all spoke the same words and had the same vision. It was eye opening and confirmed Gods power to me. Again, this is something that’s hard to explain if you did not experience it yourself. But it’s real. 3 people told me that they had a vision of an onion and that the layers needed to be peeled back and that there were tears inside that wanted to come out but the process of us peeling had not been done yet. They said I needed to do that in order to cry. They said that I spend so much time helping others that I never give myself time to he. Then a friend back in Michigan messaged me and said he just woke up from a dream where he was holding two onions in his hands and he asked me if I was ready to peel them yet? When he shared that with me I was overwhelmed. 
There was a girl in church I prayed for in the morning and I laid my hand on her stomach and prayed over her baby without even knowing she was pregnant and without speaking my language she began to cry. Later I saw her making jewelry and she put down the jewelry and came to me and just hugged me and wept. 
Later, there was a girl on my team who I didn’t know that came to talk to me and started telling me about her vision for Detroit and a human trafficking ministry….her visions lined up with mine and she talked about a year that God was preparing her for and I shared my heart with her and we both saw the same vision. I told him about how I’m praying that God would bring somebody with that vision to Detroit for this year because I was going to be spending a year dedicated to Houston to prepare myself to better Detroit. She was that girl. This girl also has a desire to be a nurse and to be a sexual assault nurse examiner. She shared that with me and I told her that that is what I specialize in. That was a divine appointment. Before she knew who I was, she added me on Facebook because she felt like she wanted to connect with me. My Facebook was private and she didn’t know what my specialty was but for some reason she felt she wanted to connect with me. I told her that I had been reading the chapter in the bible, Isaiah 61 and that I felt she needed to read it to. She said that she has been meditating on that same passage for weeks. 

ONE OF THE BIGGEST MOMENTS OF AWE- we were walking from the red light district back to the hotel. While walking there was a man walking beside us. He was wearing an Australian shirt. Our group was in a hurry to get back to the hotel because we were late. But I thought that I was supposed to talk to this man. I asked him if he was from Australia. He told me that he was from Sweden. He said that he was here for word and to do some diving. We did not get to talk for long because our group had to turn at the next street. I shook his hand and walked away. In that moment, I’ve prayed that God would bring somebody into his life that day to pray for him. I feel that I was supposed to pray over him but I did not have time. So I asked God to be bigger than the time constraint and to send somebody to pray for him. Later that afternoon, Ryan one of the men on my team came up to me and said that he wanted to hear more of my story. He said that he was intrigued by the power I carry and wanted my insight. He said that he saw me talking to this man and wanted to know more. I told him about my burden for the hearts of the men that buy the women for sex, I told him about my heart for the traffickers. About how I feel that they are filling a void and that they have an addiction and they are struggling too. He commended me for stopping to talk to that man. Later that evening we went out on a night mission on the streets. When we got back from the red light district we shared stories about what happened. Ryan stood up and told us about man he stopped in the street in the red light district. He said that he got the chance to pray over a guy that he walked up to because he was wearing an Australian shirt and asked him , ” are you from Australia.” Then the guy told him that he was here from Sweden and was doing diving and his name was Stefan…….. He got to pray over the man and he told us about it. It was amazing that God used him to reach the guy that I saw earlier that day, especially in a city as big as Bangkok!!!! That right there is divine intervention.
When we went out in the red light district and went into one of the strip clubs it was eye-opening. The strip clubs that I minister in, in Detroit are much different. Here in Thailand the girls are sent in from the villages to work in the strip clubs. They send the money back to the family and is considered honorable. When we walked into ours we looked at all the girls on the stage that have numbers on them. You are supposed to choose a number for the girl and they bring her to your table. They get paid based on services and the amount of drinks you buy them. As the woman danced, I prayed for the Lord to open my eyes to which girl he wanted me to bring to the table to pray with and show love to. I asked him to show me the child in the room. There was a girl on the other side of the dance floor that was facing away from me. It was almost as though God shined a light on her. And I decided that I wanted to choose her. When she turned around and looked towards our table I could see that she was only a child. The mamason (lady pimp) brought me to her and I led her back to my table. She spoke very broken English. She was about 11 or 12 years old. She said that it was her first day. She was very timid and scared. She had blisters on her feet from it being the first time she wore high heels. The shoes were much too big for her tiny feet. She was barely wearing any clothing. When I ordered her drinks, I told her that I was not going to buy her alcohol and that she was safe to sit and drink with me. And I sat there with her and just hugged her and told her how precious she was and that God was going to take care of her and make a way for her to be free. She said that she loved singing and that she wanted to go to school and finish someday to be a singer. My heart broke for her. And it reminded me of my purpose. It reminded me of why I do what I do. To go in, rescue, and love these girls who are being forced into sex slavery. There were Buddhist shrine’s everywhere in the place. They believe that this is honorable to their god. That sacrificing their daughters for sex is an honor to their gods because they are providing for their family. This is the perfect opportunity for me to tell them about Jesus and that they can choose a God who loves them regardless of where they have been or what they’re about to go through until they find freedom. And that they are already forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. That they have hope for healing and redemption. And that they still have worth. 
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Day 3 forgive any grammar errors. I’m exhausted!! 😊 

Many people think that women in prostitution have a choice and they do it because they want to… Well… That’s a lie….

On day two we went to the local ministry here where they give the women who have been rescued from human trafficking jobs making shirts and jewelry and the sales fund their rescue program and give them a salary and a way to make money outside of prostitution. I bought one of the shirts that said “light up the darkness”. Today at the church I was sitting in the back and in the church was all of the rescued women who have been taken in for shelter and restoration. I felt led to go up to the front pew and lay my hands on a girl and pray over her. The act of going to the front of the church made me very uncomfortable but I began to pray over her in English and she only spoke Thai. As I was praying over her she began to laugh uncontrollably. I was praying in English that the childhood that she was robbed of would be given back to her and that she would have the joy and laughter of a child. Her laughter would not stop and it was contagious. People around her began to feel that same joy and began to laugh uncontrollably. It was beautiful. She looked at me with tears in her eyes after I finished praying.. And In broken English she pointed at my shirt and said, “that’s shirt is that I made”. I knew in that moment that God called me from the back of the room to the front to pray over her for a purpose. 

During breakfast in our hotel lobby our pastor stood up and started telling us what we were going to do for the rest of the day … There were other people in the restaurant eating and my eyes were turned over to a man sitting on the left side of the room and I started praying for him and sensing anger in him. He was facing away from our group and was on the other side of the room but I saw spirits of darkness and anger around him. Once our pastor started praying for our team at our table, when he said “Jesus” the man across the room turned around and waved has hands around and yelled out in anger, ” shut up, just shut up, shut up” the waiter came to him to calm him down and I prayed that God would calm the man and remove the spirits of anger surrounding him. The man immediately stood up and walked out of the restaurant. It was intense! The name of Jesus is powerful. There is so much going on in the spiritual realm that we do not see. And this confirmed that for me once again. 
In a village that our team went up to a miracle happened where a lady had a giant cobra come towards her and when it raised up to attack her, she said, ” If this Jesus that my sister believes in is really the one true God then leave form me and let me live. The cobra dropped down and went away. This was so symbolic. The fact that it balled is amazing in itself but I’m not completely shocked because God is so powerful…. But it’s symbolic as well because in the bible it talks about how satan was a serpent. The things that are happening here in Thailand are beyond belief and I am being stretched so much in my faith!!!
As we left to head to a new place in Thailand, we went to the airport to catch a local flight. I asked God to show me the men in the room that I needed to pray for and I asked him to point out the men who were about to fly to the villages and buy the girls and bring them back to work in prostitution. As I looked around the room I saw cleat the men who were getting ready to do so. I saw it in a supernatural way that was hard to explain. Usually when I go undercover to collect intel it’s all about using my skills to collect information. This was the first time that I actually asked God to point them out to me. I am learning!! 
Then when we went to the food courts I was shown a man that God wanted me to talk to. I walked towards his direction and before I could even say anything to him he said, “you are so happy and it’s like you are glowing, why are you so happy?” And I said, ” thank you I am very happy! I’m in Thailand and I have been able to share the love of Jesus with so many people and I have watched healings and miracles for the first time … So even though I am exhausted, I am so happy” I sat down at the table that he was eating at and asked him if he was happy and he to me that he was right now. When I asked if he was happy with his career he said no, it is very stressful and tense and that he has to leave and go on vacations to get away from the stress of it all. I asked him what he did and he said that he runs the night clubs in London. I told him that was very ironic because I was in London last year and was at the main club that he runs an I met somebody that I gave my business card to that read my books and sent me an email that when I came in he saw light and happiness that he has never felt and that even though I am back in America he will never forget how I made him feel. SMALL WORLD!!!! Without being too specific in order to protect myself in case he was a head trafficker, I simply told him that my mission is to be in nightclubs in order to be a light in a dark place and to show the love of Jesus in the dark places where many go to fill voids and end up feeling even worse after making bad decisions because they were looking in the wrong places. He told me that he appreciated me coming and doing that and that it is a heavy place and he feels so much tension and darkness while he is there but he has to be there to run it because he makes so much money and that he travels as much as he can to get away from the noise. I told him I had to get to my plane but that God pointed him out to me to walk up to in this huge food court for a purpose and that I would be praying for him. He said, ” please, please do and pray a lot especially early in the mornings” that moment was such a reassurance of how God prepares divine appointments far in advance and uses things in ways we will never fully understand.

Moments and hi-light Quotes of the Eurotrip:

Most of these are “inside jokes” between myself and Tricia, the girl I went on the two month backpacking trip through Europe with. Some of them are funny standing alone, but most have a story behind them. We had many adventures on this trip that I don’t want to lose memories of so I compiled this list for my future reference. Feel free to read and write me to find out more details of the stories if you are interested in hearing more.

“Your not tired, you are just lonely– come dance with me”
( Dutch boy in berlin after I told him and his friends that we were tired and going back to the hotel )

“You are laughing on me”
( Iran – Ramin)

“Learn the language of Hungary by getting a Hungarian lover for a couple years, live with him, learn the language then move on.”
( Budapest tour guide)

I said to Tricia, who was sitting in the back of the train playing with her phone, in a short frustrated voice, ” you wanna come look at this or what? ( referring to the subway map to see where we were stopping) a sweet dutch girl sitting in front of Tricia gets up and said,”yes I’m sorry what do you need” I said “oh my I’m sorry I was talking to my friend behind you….. That was really rude and I’m surprised you even responded” …I cooled my temper and felt bad. We all laughed.

Everybody called Tricia, shasha, Sasha, Churchill, theresa or Vincent because nobody could understand her when she introduced herself. She just went with it.

We were walking down an alley in Amsterdam and a guy standing outside a restaurant and said to me ” Can you please make a picture with me? Your hair is very beautiful.” I stopped and smiled next to him for the picture and walked away. When we walked past again he said, ” please you must understand, you are exactly my type. I would like to make marry with you”
Then we walked further and a guy stopped Tricia and asked where she was from. She told him she was from Canada. Then guy said he wanted to go back with her because he loved Canada. A couple walked by and he stopped them and said, “excuse me have you ever met anybody from Canada, because I just did and I love her but she doesn’t love me yet”

Then we walked further and somebody asked where we were from with our blonde friend and when we said that we were from America, he got excited and started jumping around yelling America and began pelvic thrusting into the air several times.

There was a guy in Venice we met while getting in a water bus. He said that he wanted to marry me and that he had the money and to meet him at st macro square at 5 pm.

Then we met a couple guys we were talking with and they said, “ok, so you will marry us now”— this is the third time people have said that to us. I don’t understand! Is that a thing? Must be!

Then in Budapest we met these Australian guys who came up to us and when they said hello, they grabbed our boobs and said that is how they shake hands in Australia.. We weren’t buying it. We left very quickly

Then when we met the England Rugby players after walking around London all day, we sat down with them for dinner. We were having a blast at dinner telling stories and laughing. I had my tan hiking pants on and when I stood up from the table the main player who joined us said, ” woah, whoa sit down, you look like you are on a safari” they still let us come back to their private club with them for drinks after regardless of looking like hikers ha! A photographer came by to take pictures and they just ignored him. They said it happens a lot

In Amsterdam we met soccer players from the England team that had played in the World Cup, we talked with them for a while and they wanted us to come out with them to a bar. I was exhausted and knew the ” to what end” of that scenario and kindly declined. I got the whatsapp number for one of them but never wrote him. They yelled at Tricia when she was taking a video.

When we got on the bus in Ireland there halfway to our hotel a hot guy got on and say a few rows up from us, Tricia leaned over and said, ” this is my shot, would it be obvious if I got up and sat next to him and asked if anybody was sitting there” she didn’t but it would have been hilarious. Then legend of Dracula started playing loudly on the bus TVs out of nowhere.

In Slovakia, when I said that my hip surgery cost around $40,000, our friend Tomas said, “for $40000 in Slovakia they will make you from male to female”.

A German guy we talked to said, nobody should treat me for my meat”
In Austria the Finnish guy said, ” I don’t feel very normal, I am still drunk” we didn’t understand what any of that meant lol

The swingers in Amsterdam there talking behind our backs and said that we would make beautiful babies for them and they would adopt them. Woah! That really happened… What a night

Rome- couchsurfing host ” that light was not red. For me and my lawyer it was green”

Are you married? Not recently!- George from London ( the guy we met in florence who was siting in the grand hotel lobby when we walked in to go up to the bar. We started talking with him and he came to the rooftop terrace with us for a drink. Then he had to leave to catch his flight that was leaving in an hour).

Yolo, is that Mexican? Italian man

” what happened to the banana ” what the Hungarian man said to the Italian girls after they fried a banana on the stove, he apparently did not like it.

Hitchhikers we picked up in Ireland who were from Germany – Alex and Rafael 18yrs old and 19yrs old. They budgeted 17$ a day and ate PB&J 3 times a day. Very nice

Tour guide in Dublin said to the other tour guide, ” those Italians came over to me”

We walked to Kate Middleton’s place where she lives with prince Harry with our ” private tour guides” we saw all the embassy’s…. That was a random night. We walked up her driveway to the gate. The people we were with gave us the insiders tour. We can’t say the names of the people we were with for privacy purposes, but we met them on the roof of a Ritz Carlton in Barcelona and they invited us to dinner in London. It was a great experience. They ave us the background information on princess Diana and all the gossip of the times over there that most people don’t know.

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Italy

Pizza, pasta and bread? More like food, culture and men! Most people go to Italy expecting great food, great wine and vineyards. These are all readily found. But I took on Italy in a slightly different way! Tricia and I are in the process of backpacking through Europe for 6 weeks. This is our week in Italy! We started in florence and then moved to Rome and finally Venice…. With a small stop in Sicile. We have been using trains for transport and couchsurfing and bed and breakfasts for accommodations. There has not yet been one dull moment in Italy.

I found out very quickly that the men in Italy were very fond of blondes. I got more attention in one week in Italy than my entire life in the states! It was quite the confidence boost! Everywhere Tricia and I walked we heard, “Ciao Bella” and “Barbie”. When we were in florence we were walking across the bridge to get dinner with a couch surfing friend, and this Italian man on a motorcycle pulled over and told us he wanted to give me a ride that night and to meet him on the bridge again at 10 pm! He told me to put my friend to bed and meet him. Lol lets just say that I was flattered but did not attend. The couch surfing man we met up with took us to a non-touristy restaurant where we got florentine steak! Yum! He then told us about how his home is in the historic district and the paintings on the walls were from students of Michaelangello. He told us about his family and three homes. He offered to let me stay in Italy at one of them if I wanted to. I thought that was very generous. culturally that is normal though. We had great conversations about the purpose of life. He was an italian writer. We walked through the town and stumbled upon another protest by the Palestinians. This is the 3rd country we have observed this. When he left we were being scoped out by a French speaking man dressed as a pirate who was with an Indian man. They were very scary. This was the first event that we were in possible danger.

When I ordered a martini at the restaurant, the Italian host we were with said that I was ordering a super drink. He told us that he sees Americans that always drink to get drunk quick and not to socialize. In Italy they will spend hours at dinner! When I went to order the drink the waitress had walked away already. The host said, oh she escaped! Tricia and I laughed because it didn’t translate well. He then took my hand and he said he would read my palm in a way. As he held my hand in his and stroked his thumb along the base of my fingers he said, ” oh my” and stopped. I asked him what the problem was and he said that he didn’t want to talk about it. I continued to inquire and he said that he has a hi of seeing people’s pasts. He said that it was to deep and dark. He told me I had a recent health issue that I was dealing with that is better now. He was very accurate because I just recovered from my hip surgery. He would not talk about anything else because it was too much that he saw! It was bizarre. Then the table behind us had 4 men sitting at it. They didn’t speak English well, but the man facing me told me to come over to him. He kissed my hand and asked me to stay in Italy with him. Tricia said, “what about me”? He said, “you are ok but I prefer her”.

It was raining one of the nights in florence. It was funny to see people riding around on mopeds in the rain because half of them were wearing ponchos in the bikes! We got a ride on a moped by another couch surfing friend in Florence. For the most part we rode the metros. When we arrived to the metro stations it was like playing a game of; which character here is the pickpocket? We saw a few obvious ones! You had to be very careful entering and exiting.

We had a couch surfing host in Rome that was also quite a character! He made us dinner at his parents house. It was a pasta dish with peas in it! I do not prefer peas but yet I ate it. He invited his friend to dinner as well so there was 4 of us. He was playing techno music loudly in his house which was funny to me. He had a “chill room” for hanging out and to host couch surfers. He had buckets full of lighters. When I asked him where they were from he basically said that he was a professional pickpocket! It was very interesting. He then drove us to some terrace bars outside of Rome city center and showed us how the locals hang out. The drive there was quite interesting. He ran a red light on the way and when Tricia asked him why he did that he said, ” the lights was red for everyone else, but for me and my lawyer it was green. He said some very funny things during that car ride. When I told him that I needed to go to the restroom he said, ” please do not pee in my car, that is just basically rude”. He was serious! Then he pulled over and peed on a tree and handed me napkins to do the same….. Well……I had to go! That night was quite eventful! Eventually he dropped us off back where we were staying at a bed and breakfast in Rome. When he got out of the car to say goodbye he tried to convince us that in Italy it was tradition to give a kiss on the lips goodbye. He kissed Tricia on the lips and that shocked her because she wasn’t expecting it. When he came to me I pushed him away and guided him back to his car and said goodbye. Tricia and I started walking to our B&B and we heard somebody running after us. It was him! He was running after me and grabbed me and turned me around quickly to kiss me. I pushed him away again and we ran home. He walked back to his black Lexus that he left parked in the middle of the street with the door open and he went home. Wow quite the experience. The whole night he kept telling me that he would marry me and keep me here! I made sure to end that evening early!

We finished our Italy trip in Venice. I could write an entire post about Venice! On the train ride there we met two Portuguese men. We told them about our trip to portugal and laughed a lot! I LOVE the people from portugal. I have not met a bad one! Venice was lovely. The city built on water. The transportation was all boats the ambulances were boats going to and from the areas. That was quite interesting. We rode around in water taxis and took them to and from the islands. We went to Murano and Burano. When we were in Murano we got lost in a maze of houses. We didn’t know which way to go to get back to the taxi point to make our train home. There was a man we saw in the distance as we turned the corner. He was standing there alone he appeared to be about 80 years old. When we reached him, he didn’t speak English, yet he took us and pointed us in a few directions and motioned for us to walk a certain way. We thanked him and he turned a corner and disappeared. Tricia and I looked at each other trying to figure out where this man came from and how he knew where we were trying to go. I personally believe he was an angel. Strange things happen to me like that all the time and I truly believe it is divine intervention. There was a man we were speaking to, and I said, “yolo”. Afterwards he didn’t understand and said, “yolo? Is that Mexican? I thought it was hilarious. I explained what it meant afterwards. We continued to talk and I asked him if he was married. He said, “not recently”. I told him that was the funniest comeback I heard all day and that I would adopt it as my own.

We met two Canadian couples who were roughly in their 60’s on that boat ride home. We ended up going of a gondola ride with all of them. That was fun! The one lady had a water bottle full of wine. She asked the gondola driver permission to drink it. It was adorable. We ended up having a Bellini with them in San Marco square. That was our first train that we took that day that left at night. On the night train to vienna we were in a cabin with 6 people. It was 5 feet wide. On each wall there were three beds. 4 guys and us two girls all stayed there. It was so small and quite an interesting ride. There were two 18 year old boys from London, one 19 year old from vienna and an 18 year old professional swimmer from Russia. He had swimming fins with him. It was quite the interesting bunch. Tricia and I were on the top bunks and it was so hot up there. I had brought fresh berries with me on the train and it was so hot that when I woke up in the morning they were covered in mold. I have two more night trains to go on this trip alone without Tricia because we will be splitting up in Budapest.

Barcelona – Paris- Geneva

Barcelona- Paris -Geneva

BARCELONA- The language spoken in Barcelona Spain is Spanish and Catalonian. For the most part it is easy to understand locals because they are taught English as a second language. There were a lot of tourists in the main city centers so to find the locals you have to venture outside of the city. At nighttime the younger generation will go out at 11 pm for dinner and drinks to prepare to go out to the “disco” at. 1 am. There were these discos ….or nightclubs so to speak…. Everywhere! The nightlife was quite eccentric!

Food- there was a lot of tapas places ( Spanish appetizers ) so we ate a lot of ham and bread and patatas bravas …. but mainly Paella ( this is rice cooked with meat or seafood in a big platter) I am not a fan of crab or shrimp in the shell but here they were cooked in the shell and brought out to you as such. I would request the kitchen to take off the heads back there before they brought them out to the table. For dessert a big item was Churros- usually dipped in chocolate.

Tourist sites- The La Grata Familia is the historical church they have been working on for years. Definitely worth seeing. Also there is las hambras which is the downtown area where there are a ton of restaurants and shops. This is very busy and very touristy. I stayed at the Hotel Arts Barcelona ( Ritz Carlton property) this was right by the marina….this was a great area. I walked to mostly everything. Public transport was also readily available.

PARIS- Can I say beautiful?! The city definitely was charming. The sites were breathtaking. The Eiffel Tower of course was beautiful day and night…..the downfall is that there were lines for hours to get in to see that or any of the other sites. Norte dame was a long wait as well but well worth it. The Arc De Triumph was cool to walk to and take pictures next to. The Louve museum — where the Mona Lisa is was a huge sight to see….plan on spending hours in there. We went on a Wednesday which is the day it is open the latest.
—- behind the louve is a downtown area full of nightlife and young people. This was my favorite area to hang out in.

Around the Eiffel Tower and other historical sites, there were men selling purses and keychains and sunglasses. Anytime the cops walked through, these men would grab their belongings and start running and the cops would chase them. One time I saw a cop catch the guy and take all of his keychains. The guy was so sad because that was the way he was going to make his money that night

Food- I was not impressed with the food. I ate a lot of crepes with Nutella and banana and a lot of bread baguettes with meat and cheese in them. For breakfast they ate croissants and espresso. It was on average $12 for a croissant and an espresso. They ate a lot of duck there and a lot of goat cheese.. The goat cheese salad I was okay, but the duck…not so much.

People- I have heard it said that the French are rude—- I disagree….I wouldn’t say that they are rude but rather that they are busy. It reminded me of being in New York. Everybody was on a mission. Busy people don’t have time to talk. and when there is a language barrier it makes it tough. Not very many people spoke English so that made it difficult to interact with the locals. But for the most part, as in any country you will go to, if you approach somebody with a smile and you do not have a barrier up, they will be warm and open to you.

SWITZERLAND- Geneva was a last minute stop on the trip. We didn’t know what to expect. We ended up getting hosted by a local off of the Couch surfing website. He was from Italy which was really cool to get his perspective on the city. He showed us around the town and we rented bikes to go around lake Geneva. He even cooked for us 😉 he was very nice! There were a lot of people from around the world here as opposed to Swiss people. Most spoke french. I didn’t meet very many natives in the city. It was a very expensive city to live in. Minimum wage there is $25. A small pizza cost $23 and a bottle of juice was $8 the cost of living definitely matches the higher wages. Overall the city was beautiful. We went to the city celebration with our host and it was a huge rave- techno fest. There were 5 Starbucks within walking distance of each other in the city center.

Everybody in Switzerland walked around with tiny dogs. The street signs were on the walls of buildings. We are used to them being on the street corners so we got lost a few times. People were usually willing to help. Most of time they would point to a direction because they didn’t speak our language. The Swiss people have international schools. The families tend to have lots of children, the reason being…. the economy is doing so well there they feel that the kids will have a good future there. The children are taught three languages. English, German and French. Our host walked us down the red light district and didn’t tell us that we were there until halfway through. It was a very seedy area.

There was a big lake with a connecting river with many bridges. There was one bridge where the locals would come to after work and go swimming. And they would jump off the bridge into the water and the current would take them downriver. Then they would run back to the bridge to jump off and do it again….Those are the types of places you find when you walk away from the tourist areas and find the roads less traveled. .It was a lot of fun! Now— off to Italy

Portugal

Portugal

The first portion of my 6 week backpacking trip began in Lisbon, Portugal. For this trip my friend Tricia and I decided to go solo with only a backpack full of items and no set plan. We will be doing couch surfing, hostels, and hotels. The benefit of hostels is that you get to meet travelers who are doing the same thing you are and you can find friends along your journey. Couch surfing is a website where travelers from all over the world take in different guests and host them at heir own home, in hopes that when they travel, others will do the same. Portugal was my 4th couch surfing experience.

Luis – Luis was our host when we arrived in Portugal. Most people said that my girlfriend and I should be weary of staying with a random man in Portugal…. Common sense also said that you should… So … Our experience went as follows- we had originally planned to land at the airport and go to his house at 8 am and leave our backpacks in his house after meeting him- our flight was delayed ( we met some cool people during the delay at the airport that were training with the Portugal Futbal team to be professional soccer players) —- our flight was delayed A few hours so by the time we left Detroit and arrived in Portugal, our couchsurfing host was already at work. When we got to the Airport he told us that we can go drop our bags off in his trunk in the parking garage in city center and we could meet him later in the day to go stay at his place. This seemed very shady for him to be a total stranger… What did we do? We dropped off our bags in the trunk. Throughout the day-we joked with each other about how crazy that situation was and hoped we met him again to get our bags. Turns out -we did! We went to his house and it was a very nice apartment with a great view. Throughout the trip he was a life saver! He gave us great suggestions on what to do and drove us around to places. It was awesome to have a personal contact in the city and somebody to look after us. He drove us around in his
Lexus convertible 🙂 let me just tell you he was VERY attractive- and such a gentleman!!! The next day we met up with the soccer players and hung out at their pool in the beach for the day.

Transportation – The train and metros were a great way to get around. The castles and gardens in Sintra, and the beaches in Estoril- they were all easy to navigate. We took buses taxis train and metros and it was all very easy to figure out. We went with NO plan whatsoever and it all worked out just fine! Be prepared to wear comfortable shoes.. We climbed to Cruz alto ( a high cross in the mountain) and I was wearing flip flops because I didn’t know we would be hiking) bad choice!

People- The people spoke a little English…In the smaller towns they didn’t seem to speak or understand any at all. There was a lot of pointing, hand gestures and smiling and head shaking to communicate. Language barriers make the trip very difficult. They sing fado music during meals at dinner. A the place we went to the waiters would stop and sing to the restaurant but they wouldn’t if people were talking… The only thing I didn’t like about that was that I wanted to have conversations with the people we were eating dinner with but we couldn’t because it was considered “rude” while the people were talking – otherwise the live local music was great.

Food- There were a lot of pastries and cream cakes. Lots of fish and sardines! The late night partying drunk food was sold by people on the street pulling around coolers full of chicken legs. The streets were all uphill-downhill cobblestone. The parties were in the street like Mardi gras. I would never want to live downtown in that city!

Drugs- Everybody will try to sell you drugs on the street

Port wine- I never drank wine before because I don’t like it. But I tried it at Luis home and I loved it. It is a new favorite of mine!

One of the funniest things that my host had said that didn’t translate well, was when he was telling us about his girlfriend. When he told us about why they broke up he said it’s because she made a “big shit”. This translated that she made a big deal out of nothing

One main thing that did not translate well is when I said that I rode a crotch rocket back at home. Here we refer to them in America as crotch rockets sometimes. Race bikes or street bikes. Not cruisers. When I said this the person’s eyes got really big and they didn’t understand how I rode a crotch rocket.

Some key things I learned from a poet I met there…

Sometimes you just have to trust people
-Love can finish ( to be in love can end)
-When you have everything it is hard to appreciate anything
-Once you achieve all of your desires, your dreams will be destroyed – don’t make your goal to have everything.

Did I mention that I love Portugal?! We met two Portuguese men on the train to Venice as well. Showed them our funny videos and pictures from when we visited. They were so nice. That was the first time that we had cute boys our age sit next to us on the train who actually spoke English!

Couchsurfing

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This past weekend was my first experience with couchsurfing. I was hesitant at first, but I LOVED it. I had such a great time! For those of you who don’t know what this is: couchsurfing is where people from all over the world who like to travel will open up their homes to travelers to stay with them and in return when those people travel to new destinations they will look up who is hosting in the city that they are traveling to and then stay with them. Through this process you gain references for your future travels…. But the best part is… You meet people from all over the world and lean about different cultures. You are able to make friends from everywhere.

This 1st experience of mine I researched the person that I stayed with in Chicago and he had a lot of references. I took a girlfriend with me so that I wasn’t alone. I played it safe!! The host we stayed with then told me that there would be a guy from Australia, a guy from Rwanda and two people from Indianapolis!!! That made me even more excited to stay there and meet people. I know that this is off the wall concept, but this is a great way to connect and meet people. It is a great community and they are all like minded individuals.

Europe- I plan to use this concept when I go backpacking through Europe in July- August. So this was a great start and I’m looking forward to more experiences such as this!!