4 days ago, I wrote this post on an airplane:
34,000 feet in the air, and for once, I’m speechless. As much as I hate flying, I must admit that the experience is unparalleled. The roaring of the engines and feel of an invisible hand pushing you back in your seat upon takeoff, then soaring over the deep blue sea, passing swiftly through the clouds, but always wondering if the blanket of them could support you on the way down. More than actually being in the air, though, the idea of flying and airplanes always strikes a chord with me. A plane can take you home, or to a location far, far, away. Flying, then, can represent a return to the life you know, or a major life change.
Dallas –> Paris in 9 hours. Chicago –> Hong Kong in 16. It’s unbelievable how quickly life can change. For me, right now, it’s Athens –> London in 4. When I arrive, I’ll be heading to Oxford to visit my Aunt and Uncle for 10 days, and then back to the States, where more life transitions await. Santorini was technically the last stop on my Goliard pastry tour, which hopefully explains my ruminating (though perhaps you’re thinking it’s incessant droning) about feelings of transition.
I took a break in writing this post as my plane touched down, but haven’t been able to finish it since. It could be that my newfound addiction to Downton Abbey (seriously so good, plus I’m hoping to pick up a British accent) and the two-day drama of the French Open final (helloooo Rafa “Muscles” Nadal) have prevented me from sitting down to write. Another truth, though, is that I’ve been rather conflicted. What could I possibly say to sum up such an incredible journey? What should become of my blog? And, perhaps the largest conundrum of all: What should become of me?
I’m pleased to say that my very indecisive self has finally made some decisions. Regarding the Goliard scholarship, I can only say that this trip has been everything I thought it would be, and even more. The pastries…well, you’ve seen the pastries. Rich black forest cake, silky smooth crème brûlée, baklava overflowing with honey. In addition to eating the pastries (which, frankly, might’ve already satisfied me), I absolutely loved every minute of making them. Learning the art of the éclair and macaron in Paris, layering ladyfingers for tiramisu in Venice…it’s not an opportunity I take lightly, and I remind myself everyday how blessed I am. Especially because, it’s not just about the pastries – in terms of eating or making.
This trip, I also enjoyed the rather eye-opening experience of traveling alone for the first time in my life. It’s a sensation that cannot entirely be explained. I was simultaneously excited and afraid, lonely and blindingly happy. As I’ve said, this entire experience, especially that of solo travel, has helped me make some decisions.
First, I’ve decided to keep blogging. Actually, I’m not sure I could stop if I tried. It seems like I’ve developed this inner narrator that likes to comment on my day, and I really do need somewhere to share the commentary. And now I sound like I’ve gone crazy. But anyhow. I may not be keeping my blog entirely pastry themed, as I’d like to share other food adventures. I am very excited to add in (hopefully) successes and (most certainly) mishaps from my kitchen at home. Just as a little note of caution, I definitely won’t be able to post every day. I’m going for twice a week. But, I will keep writing, and I hope you’ll keep reading.
I’ve also made a bit of a decision in regard to my upcoming year’s plans. I had originally planned to go to Australia for two months in the fall, in a “come what may, one-way ticket, I’ll bartend/waitress/wash dishes and couch surf” kind of trip. Now, though, I’ve changed my mind. This doesn’t mean that I won’t travel during the year, and it doesn’t even mean that I won’t visit Australia (so, Mom and Dad, don’t breathe that huge sigh of relief yet). But, I’ve realized that, as much as I’ve loved this trip, I’ve also really missed home. I’ve missed my family and friends, waking up in my own bed, and all the little details, like driving across town to get some frozen yogurt. I’ve realized that I don’t want to leave for two months. I’m excited to spend time at home, to create adventures there, and of course, to share them with you.
As thanks for your patience in reading this extremely lengthy reflective blog post, here’s a glimpse of some desserts that I may or may not have consumed in addition to everything I’ve already shown you:
Mountains of gelato at a gelateria in Athens!
Choco Banana (broke my own chocolate/fruit rule to varied levels of success):
Kataifi – Greek pastry made with shredded phyllo dough filled with nuts and soaked in honey (good, but very sweet!)
Iced Chocolate in Oia – Delicious, and the perfect refreshment after a long walk! It tasted like a cold hot chocolate, but in a rich, not watered down sort of way. I’ll definitely be making this at home.
In Oia, I also happened across this gem of a bakery:
The mouthwatering display cases, as seen from above:
My choice – chocolate pie! As you can see, it was actually more of a cake. I’m pretty sure the cake had a bit of rum in it…so, naturally, I liked it.
I can’t quit this – Frozen Greek Yogurt!
Gelato habits die hard. I tried Kaimaki, which is a special type of Greek ice cream, made from a plant resin called mastic, as well as the root of an orchid plant. It had a chewier (in a good way) texture, and was uniquely delicious.
Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Bar at the Airport:
And finally, a display from the Thai Orchid buffet in Oxford!
Chocolate “Crunchie” Dessert (after the Cadbury chocolate bar):
Super Smooth Flan:
Banana Pudding – with a really great, slightly crunchy crust:
Trifle – Perfectly mild mango flavor: