As the Future Becomes the Present

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? Continue reading

Follow Your Nose

*Sniff, sniff* A sense of deja vu overcame me as I looked for the source of the sweet scent wafting down the street. Not overly sweet, the smell instead epitomized the familiar scent that wafts out of the oven as a cake finds its form. Or, to me, the somehow distinct scent of powdered sugar on beignets. The last time I smelled such a heavenly baking scent, I found a bread festival right across the street.

Today, though, I couldn’t figure out the source of this mysterious smell. I saw an open door down the street, and took off for…a residential building. Slightly embarrassed, but now even more determined, I continued down the street, walked quickly past a small doorway, then immediately stopped. And reversed. I definitely would’ve missed the shop had it not been for the intensity of that most lovely scent, along with the line of people streaming in like ants to an ant mound. Peering inside, I saw one of the best sights in the world: Cases and cases of delectable looking pastries.

20120602-012529.jpg Continue reading

I See Rome, I See France, It’s Hard to Launder Underpants

Have you ever run out of clean underwear and worn a pair inside-out? Hey, it’s just a question. And no, of course I haven’t done it. In fact, in order to ensure that such a terrible situation would not arise, my dad and I, geniuses that we are, decided to do a load of laundry in the bathtub last night. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad…until you add the fact that it is apparently too humid here for clothes to dry quickly. Meaning, we are currently ironing our clothing in hopes of speed-drying. And as I type this, the iron has just singed a hole in a pair of underwear. Such are the joys of travel.

I’m really not complaining, though, because another joy of travel is seeing…this!

Yes, today we visited the Roman Colosseum – a historical location of bloodlust, mob mentality, and death – and, also, an absolutely magnificent structure epitomizing the warrior culture of Rome.

20120601-101643.jpg Continue reading

Brek-ing My Heart

I think it’s high time we discuss the toilet situation here. I’ve held off on bringing it up for as long as possible because, frankly, I didn’t want to sound like another whiny tourist, lamenting the lack of clean toilets. In fact – save some interesting toilet differences in Venice to be discussed later – all the toilets I’ve used in Europe have been pretty nice. The problem here in Venice has been locating them.

Yesterday, for example, my dad and I spent half an hour looking for the pesky facilities, but to no avail. I would’ve willingly paid the €1.50 rate (really, I was ready to shove it at someone’s face) to any Venetian public toilet, but I couldn’t find a toilet to take my money! Thankfully, after using my considerable Italian skills (“per favore, dove il bagno?”) to ask a vendor for the nearest bathroom, I was advised to order a coffee at a nearby bar, and then to use the toilet. €6 later, and crisis averted.

Today, though, even before this problem arose again, we happened upon a beam of
shining light, a pinnacle of goodness, a restaurant among restaurants, the solution to all problems tourist: Brek Ristorante and Bar. While searching for wi-fi (broken, along with the air conditioning, at our hotel) to contact my tiramisu instructor for today, my eagle eyes (usually only good for spotting dessert) found this sign:

20120528-010837.jpg Continue reading

Of Canals and Cars

20120527-001653.jpg

You may be wondering why I’m posting a picture of birdseed.

But, it’s not birdseed, it’s actually…Choc-X!

20120527-001700.jpg

And I realize I just sounded like an infomercial lady. My apologies. I just love finding dessert masquerading as a meal. See? “The crisp roasted Swiss muesli with chocolate” – or, in other (my) words, chocolate with a few granola pieces thrown in. Love it. I found it at my hotel breakfast this morning, and tossed it in my bag to eat while waiting for my train (to Venice!!!). I just wish I had found it sooner. Guess my hotel caught a lucky break there.

Anyway, as stated earlier, today I arrived in Venice…and so did my dad! Continue reading

Carte Blanche at the Gelato Factory

I’ve been ridiculously excited about today’s tour ever since I heard about it in early April, but have been too scared to blog about it just in case something awful occurred to stop it from happening. What if the visit fell through/I fell through a hole in the street/all the gelato fell on the floor? But, thank goodness, none of those eventualities occurred, and today, I had the time of my life visiting the G7 Gelato Factory in Bentivoglio, Italy.

Before I get to the gelato part, though (I know, I know, hang on), I want to thank everyone involved in the process of getting me there today. One of the incredible Goliard board members (name not mentioned to protect him from an onslaught of gelato factory requests) contacted a friend at HEB (my absolute favorite grocery store…all the samples!), who then talked to Francesco, the wonderful export manager at G7 Gelato, who set up the tour. All of the staff were incredibly kind to me, and I also want to thank them, and the Visani family, for the tour today.

Now, onto the gelato! We arrived at G7 Gelato in the morning, and quickly suited up for the factory tour.

Me and Francesco – don’t we look dashing?

20120526-075159.jpg Continue reading