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. 

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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Budapest

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Budapest

When I went to Budapest I was not sure what to expect. What I did know is that they were famous for their Hot Springs, thermal baths and bridges. That’s all I need to know to spend an extra day there in the spa! Trisha and I had quite the experiences there. It was our midway point of a six-week backpacking trip. So we were using Budapest as our relaxation point where we could just spend all day in the thermal baths at different locations in the city to recharge for the rest of the trip. We ended up spending two whole days at the Hot Springs. It was amazing. The mineral baths were therapeutic, relaxing and just what the doctor ordered.

When we first arrived in Budapest we checked into our hostel – which was five star hotel converted into a hostel.It was called wombatz hostel. It was huge. There were young adults there from all over the world. It was the best place to meet people….. Although, I am still trying to decide for myself if there is a real difference in the definitions between hostel and brothel! It was definitely a hook up spot for random people! We learned that very quickly! Although, I must say that I did not join in the festivities. After we dropped our bags off, we went down the street to look for some food. On the way to the restaurant we saw this Mexican place. When we walked by there was a man through the open window who made eye contact with us. As we walked past the door the guy came out after us. He came up to me and said, quote you look very happy, I would like to give you a massage. Not the sexy massage but the relaxation kind. I would like to do this for you in my apartment right next-door hardly a price.” I looked at Trisha with the eyes of, “is this real life?” The guy was serious. We thanked him and walked away. He did not speak great English. I was in shock that actually happened. It was hilarious. We spent the rest of that evening at the train station mall. It was a four-story mall. We caught up on all of our shopping there for the rest of the trip. Budapest was really inexpensive!

The next day, we went to Gellert spa. We spent all day to different thermal baths that went up to 40°C and then the 19°C pools. It was much needed relaxation day. We followed that up with an hour massage at the spa. Later that evening, after a full day of relaxation, we met up with a couch surfing friend that I met online. His name was Ramin. He gave us directions to his house to meet him and two French girls and two Italian girls who were also strangers from the couch-surfing website as well as his roommates at his apartment before they went out for the night. It was late at night. We made it off of the subway to the stop that he told us. When we got to his home, we rang and rang and knocked and knocked. There was no answer. We decided after standing in the dark street for 10 minutes that maybe this was not a good idea. We figured that they had left without us or it was a set up.

We then decided to sit on the curb near the apartment. We opened up a bottle of wine and began to drink it on the street side just like everybody else did in that town. People were walking by and we still had no response by phone from the contact we were meeting up with. We decided to make the best of it. A younger guy walked past us and Tricia asked him if he wanted a drink because we have plenty. He smiled and said no thank you and walked on by. I looked and down the street and said, “wait where you going. ” He said that he was going to meet up with his friends to go out. I said, “perfect let’s join you” He felt a little bit uncomfortable but said yeah I guess so…. We got up from the street corner and walked with him. When he went to unlock his door it was the same building that the guy we were supposed to meet lives in. I then told him the story about how we were meeting this guy named Ramin to go out with him and his roommates and friends and that I hadn’t heard back from him. The guy stopped and looked at me. He said, “no way”! As we walked into the building. She said, “that is my roommate”! As we walked up the stairs Ramin started walking down. He said, Rachel, hello! I apologize, I was in the shower and I did not have my phone with me.” We all stopped and laughed. We told him the story about how we gave up on him and decided to join another person for his night out and he turned out to be going to the same place we were. That is why again, I will always say, talk to everyone. You never know who you are going to meet.

When we got to his house, there were two girls from France and two girls from Italy. One guy from Argentina. There was also one other guy from Finland and his roommate from Italy. It was quite the interesting bunch to go out. Nobody knew each other. It made for great conversations and an excellent night out.
Ramin was from Iran but lived in Budapest. He reminded me of Borat. There were certain things that were lost in translation. When Trisha and I started laughing at something he said, he would ask us “why we were laughing on him”. The poor conjugation made us laugh even more. He told us about how his favorite animal was a meerkat. He even had a photo of one on the back of his phone screen. He took us to a ruin bar. Two of them actually. A ruin bar is an abandoned building that the city turned into a bar to use the space. Everything is raw. It is an open space with a lot of eclectic things. It would be considered very hipster. The first one we went to was the third best in the world.

The next day after that, we went to a spa in another location in the city. That was another relaxation day. After that day at the thermal baths we walked through town. This time we stopped at an Asian massage place. It was a lot better than the first place I made a reservation at which was called the princesses of massage. That was not the type of massage we were looking for. This was the most awkward massage I’ve ever had. They made us take off our shoes downstairs and put on their sandals. Then we walked upstairs to a dark place. There were curtains separating the rooms. When I got to my curtained off room, there was a mat on the floor. She told me to take off all my clothes and lay facedown on the mat. When she came in to do the massage, she sat down next to me and began. Halfway through she was sitting on top of me to do the massage….. I felt very uncomfortable. I was definitely not expecting that. When Trisha was finished with her massage next-door, I asked her what her experience was like. She said that she kept her clothes on and that it was not the same….. Weird! We then went on a walking tour of the city. The first thing that our tour guide told us is to learn the language of Budapest by picking up a Hungarian lover for a couple of years and settle down with him until you learn the language and then move on. One thing that I noticed about Budapest is that they referred to the shady places as the shadow areas. The tour guide would tell us to “move into the shadows.” I learned that the helicopter, vitamin C, ballpoint pen, and the Rubiks cube were all from Hungary. Also, an important thing to know is that hello actually means goodbye.

That night we were very tired, but everybody insisted that we go out and check out this popular ruin bar in town. As we were walking there I stepped into a manhole that was exposed and got covered in mud. Luckily for me it was right across from where we were sleeping, so I got to go back home and change. There were a couple other shady characters he walked past. Two separate guys on the way stopped me to give me a kiss on each cheek and then kiss my hand. It was weird. So after a rough start getting ready to go out for the last night in Budapest Trisha said “I feel like God is telling us to stay home and to not go anywhere tonight”. We looked at each other and agreed. We decided to at least go check it out. We got tacos at a seedy place and then we started walking to the ruin bar.

In route we were approached by two very shady characters. We were a block away and there was a Nigerian man with healed knife marks on his face and neck with his right Eye missing. He came up to us and started speaking Nigerian with broken English. Then his friend came from across the street behind us. I told Tricia to keep on walking and to follow me. I moved quickly to try to avoid eye contact and went through the bouncers to get in. Sure enough, they followed us in. To be sure that I wasn’t just crazy and that they were actually following us, when we walked through the bar, instead of following everybody at the main entrance I went to the left towards a hall with a stairway and we started to go up the stairs. They had followed the main crowd for a few steps then they turned around and came towards Tricia and I. They were talking to us and it was hard to understand. We pushed through them and went to the main entrance. I told Tricia to run! We went through the main crowd and ran to a small crevice and waited for them to go past. Then we went up the stairs to be able to look down into the main part of the restaurant and locate them to see where our best exit would be. When we saw them downstairs they were looking around and looking upwards for us. The one guy made a phone call and the other started going upstairs. I took Trisha and we sat down at a random table full of Italians. We jumped into the conversation like we belonged. When the coast was clear we ran down the stairs and made a safe exit and got back to the hostel. We both agreed that it wasn’t worth it to go out again. The next day we had to leave, but we had time to go hiking. While we were hiking up a mountain, we saw the Italian guys that we sat down with. That was random!

We then parted ways. Trisha went off on the night train to Prague and I went off on the night train to Poland to see Auschwitz.

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!

Wanderlust-The incurable disease many of us have

Wanderlust, like many diseases, comes with its own symptoms and side effects. Like a plague, it comes down on some with a vengeance and may never be cured. It can leave those stricken with lifelong symptoms and years of money and time spent trying to diagnose the incurable disease.

It leaves children and adults impaired, unable to function properly through their daily routines many of us take for granted. Because, like any sickness, its side effects can be damaging.

The wanderer cannot help his or her sickness any more than someone with the common cold. It’s a bug that takes over and flushes itself through the system, yet this one refuses to leave after a few days of Emergen-C and hot water with lemon.

It’s damaging to the brain, the body and the mind; it takes hold and refuses to let go. It’s a disease inflicted by ourselves on ourselves,

and there’s really nothing we can do about it, but hope to pacify the side effects.

We must learn to live with them, the way one learns to live with pain. It’s a constant ache that becomes part of our existence, like a bum leg. So for all of you trying to diagnose those aches and pains, here are the signs it’s probably just wanderlust.

Constant Yearning

The wanderer craves foreign lands the way a diabetic craves sugar. Though it may not be life or death, wanderers feel like a part of their soul is dying if they’re not able to cross oceans or reach new lands.

This yearning is usually brought on after a trip or before, when it seems like their hearts are swollen with the promise of a new land or the remorse of leaving.


Itches You Can’t Scratch

No matter where you go, it will never be enough. The downfall to traveling is there will always be a place you haven’t been. This itch will follow you throughout your life, like a bad rash, the only ointment and relief will come from momentary trips and plans of new ones.

The itch will make people wonder where you’ve been, what you’ve touched and just exactly how you contracted it.


Hazy Vision

It’s hard to see the world when you’re always thinking about another one. Another side effect of the wanderer is an inability to enjoy the present moment because wanderers always want to be in another one.

Unless they are dancing in Ibiza or eating pizza in Rome, wanderers will never be satiated with the present and their vision will always be skewed by the things they could be doing and places they could be going. Their judgment of the present moment is constantly clouded, like a fog that sits over a gloomy city.


Swollen Memories

Engorged memories of better days fill the mind of the wanderer. Wanderers have no ability to cope with the present when they are constantly thinking about the past.

Memories of past trips will haunt them as they wish they could relive them, or at least try and find something to replace them. Their head feels swollen with memories, good times and better days.


Tight Budgets

The plight of the constant wanderer is the inability to afford medication. Like the costs of most vaccines prove, there is a high price to pay for health.

From airfares to hotels, the wanderer gets no help from insurance companies or the government, but must find a way to pay for all treatments out of pocket.


Utter Discontentment

Disillusion and depression will forever be side effects of the wanderer who cannot wander. These people will never be happy where they are unless they are somewhere else and this keeps them in a state of discontent for most of their lives.

This side effect can be one of the most unbearable to live with, as wanderers live with the notion that life is always better somewhere else. This depression keeps them from enjoying all of life, mainly the parts that don’t involve crossing oceans or visiting uncharted territories.


Lucid Daydreams

Fantasies, mirages and hallucinations plague the wanderer on a daily basis. Unable to stay awake and alert, these people dream with their eyes open and their realities compromised. They sleep in other worlds and are constantly berated for their inability to live in reality.

They do not know how to cope with the real world because they’d rather be living in another one. This can many times keep them from maintaining jobs, relationships and commitments.


Fatal Nostalgia

Whether it’s following the scent of Indian spices into a dangerous neighborhood or tracking down some local, but unsanitary fish that reminds them of their time in South Korea, the wanderer will do anything to feel the way he or she once felt.

Wanderers will cling to people, things and notions that they should no longer rely on so heavily. Their nostalgia overcomes them, squeezing their hearts until they are choking on feelings and memories of things they will never have again, or at least for a long time.

As I prepare for my 42 day backpacking trip through Europe…these words speak to me

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This was written by Lauren Martin on  and was posted on Elite Daily. I resonate with this 100% and felt the need to share it with my readers.