Discovering Corfu

Corfu Rock

So far in my European travels, I have been bouncing around between established, old cities that appear on everyone’s bucket list. The cities have been amazing, and I have had the opportunity to delve into a multitude of different cultures, experience interesting people, eat delicious food, and taste different beers from all over Europe. It has been the experience of a lifetime, but something had been missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the moment, but now I see it all with clarity.

When I was planning my trip to Corfu, I had never heard of Corfu (It is an island in Greece – you’re welcome). My motive for this trip was to find a cheap flight to somewhere with a beach for July 4th. After sharking around on Ryan Air for hours, I came across a flight to Corfu for less than 100 Euros round trip, and I knew we had to go. I looked at Google images and I was instantly floored by the beauty of this place.

Lemons Corfu

I have never been to a more beautiful place in my life. Corfu was home to crystal clear, bright blue water, staggering cliffs, and endless gorgeous beaches. My favorite day in Corfu happened to be July 4th (Yes, we sang the National Anthem twice at the bar obnoxiously loud, go America). We went out on a kayaking tour lead by our hostel, which if you ever stay in Corfu, you have to stay at the Pink Palace hostel. It shouldn’t even be called a hostel; it is a beautiful resort that is incredibly accommodating, especially to young people. We kayaked to another set of beautiful cliffs and jumped off a 30 foot cliff in the Mediterranean for about an hour, then we set course for an ancient, abandoned monastery that was located at the top of a small island right off the coast of Corfu. It was one of the most amazing places I have ever been to.

Life is full of opportunities for spontaneity and adventure, it just requires you to go grab them. You have to be willing to do new, possibly uncomfortable things to truly travel and experience the world the right way. That’s what traveling is all about; exploring unfamiliar places and seeking out adventure at every turn. I took a risk on Corfu, somewhere I had never even heard of before, and it ended up being my favorite destination yet. I literally landed myself in paradise on a whim.

Trust your instincts, say yes to adventure, and get out and see the world. You won’t regret it.

Canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city riddled with beautiful canals, scenery and delicious food, as well as a plethora of “coffee shops” and plenty of opportunity for erotic window shopping. It is a melting pot of fascinating culture, swarming with tourists from all over the world. Parts of Amsterdam are a bit shocking to look upon to the untrained eye; it is different than any city I have ever been to. The elicit, even grotesque parts of Amsterdam are often a few steps away from some of the most beautiful parts. Whether you agree with all that Amsterdam has to offer, it is a fascinating and eye-opening place to experience firsthand.

My friends and I spent two nights in Amsterdam and our goal was simple; we wanted to get a feel for the city. We wanted to walk along the canals, visit the red light district, visit a coffee shop, and just generally experience the vibe of the city. We were able to do all of this and much more in just two days. One of the most enjoyable parts of Amsterdam was just walking around aimlessly, watching the people and seeing all the interesting shops. Every new street offered some sort of surprise that added a new perspective on the culture of Amsterdam.

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One of my specific to-do’s was to take a tour through the Heineken brewery. This was my favorite part of the trip, the brewery tour, and although you have to deal with crowds of people and a lot of waiting in line, is so interactive and engaging! They do a good job of explaining the beer brewing process (a passion of mine) while still making it fun and hands on. At the end of the tour you have an opportunity to drink at a rooftop bar at the top of the brewery and enjoy a delicious Heineken as you gaze out over Amsterdam. If there’s anything I love, it is drinking beer outside and in high places with a beautiful view. Heineken was awesome. One night we went to the Amsterdam Ice Bar, and that was incredible as well. It was exactly as advertised, a bar made of ice with drinks in ice glasses. It was pretty cold, though (I know, I’m a regular Einstein).

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Another item on my list was to visit the Anne Frank house which unfortunately we didn’t have time to take a tour (online tickets are the way to go). This picture is taken close to the Anne Frank house (it is on the left right before Westerkerk aka the giant tower). I definitely want to come back to take a tour, but it was really cool even just seeing it from the outside.

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Amsterdam means different things to different people but it will always hold a special place in my heart. I love you, Rin.

 

Until next time Amsterdam!

Magical Bruges

Bruges
As I currently sit in the Mark’t, the central square in Bruges, I feel as though I have been transported back in time to a magical age before the invent of modern technology. It is as though time has not taken its toll on the beautiful, ancient buildings; it remains an oasis in a desert of evolving technology and change. Even as I look upon the buildings in person, and also after I climbed the ever ascending, winding staircase to the top of the Belfry, I had the sense that what I was experiencing was not real, how could it be? Those who refer to Bruges as a fairy tale city are exactly right. It’s difficult to believe such a beautiful, old, quaint, yet vibrant city still exists in today’s society.
My friends and I took a weekend trip to Belgium, spending two nights in Brussels and one night in Bruges. We started in Brussels, and naturally our first stop was a waffle shop. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a waffle so quickly, at least not until I had my second one 15 minutes later (it was practically a heart attack on a plate – a waffle topped with a pile of whipped cream, strawberries and sugar). We wandered the streets and wound up in my favorite spot in Brussels, Grand Place, the central square (Yes, you caught me, I have a thing for old city squares). Over two days it would be safe to say that I was in the square 10 or more times, I could not get enough of it, it was so beautiful. Sitting outside at a restaurant on the square and drinking a liter of Blaunche de Bruges was one of the highlights of Brussels for me.
Brussels
The nightlife in Brussels was such a great time due to the fact that everyone was so nice and they genuinely wanted to talk and get to know us. We went to a bar called Delirium that has more than 2000 beers available for purchase, which is just such an overwhelming amount of beer (I wasn’t complaining). We ended up meeting people from all over the world and taught them American drinking games like thumper and cheers governor (they loved them and never wanted to stop).
The second night we went to a sports bar to watch soccer games that were a part of the Europa tournament. It was the most insane bar experience I’ve had. There were people from all different countries standing on chairs screaming for their countries (especially the Irish, classic) and drinking copious amounts of beer. Everyone was getting incredibly rowdy but the best part was that overall, people were extremely respectful of each other even though they were all passionate about their teams with several beers under their belts. It was an awesome and unforgettable experience to have.
Brussels 2
It’s hard to talk about Belgium without talking about the chocolate, waffles, fries, beer or mussels, so let me just tell you they are all insanely good! I don’t know how one small place has so many incredible, unique staples. Also, all of those are heavy, seemingly fatty foods but I don’t think I saw one overweight Belgian in my entire three days in Belgium. Pretty remarkable if you think about it!
Bruges 2
Now to my favorite part: Bruges. I had to start the post with a blurb about Bruges because I fell in love with it in just one night. It really is magical and charming, and the people we met were so unbelievably nice. After a full day of walking around and getting a feel for the city, we met up with a couple of locals, Rien and Maren. Rin (my partner in crime, and not to be confused with Rien) arranged for me to meet up with them because Maren is her sister’s friend from college. They were so incredibly friendly and nice, and they have such a romantic story of how they met. Briefly, Maren, an American, studied abroad and met Rien, a Belgian, they started dating and she eventually just moved to Bruges to be with him. Wild, right? They showed us around to some of their favorite bars and ended up inviting us back to their house for some beers and stimulating conversation. It couldn’t have been a better evening (Thanks Rin, you’re the best. And of course thank you Rien and Maren!).
If there is anything I know for certain, it’s that Bruges will be seeing me again.

Southern Expedition

Wash_Flags
Traveling is never truly about reaching your destination or about seeing miraculous places and historical monuments. Traveling is about the journey; all of the difficult moments, set backs, and long, uncomfortable bouts of transportation are what make up the real experiences of traveling. Often people look at these experiences as the negative aspects of a trip, but I disagree. All of the difficult parts are the parts you will remember and laugh about many years after. Set backs and difficulties while traveling often present new opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have had if everything went according to plan. You also develop fantastic stories that you will inexhaustibly tell for the rest of your life (People love to hear the same travel story 30-40 times before it gets annoying, it’s a fact).
Rin_WashFeet
Rin and I traveled thousands of miles by car on our east coast road trip of the US. At one point I did the math and I think total we drove about 37 hours over 15 days, often on very little sleep. There were many times we would get in the car exhausted and worn out, but we were always able to wear an optimistic attitude and to build each other up when we were having an off day. It is so amazing how much control you have over your own happiness; sometimes all it takes is an optimistic outlook and a roll-with-the-punches attitude to have a wonderful time. Traveling with someone who shares this outlook is such a relief and it makes it incredibly difficult to have a bad time.
Monument
Rin and I traveled from New York to Richmond to meet up with some of my friends and family for a night before heading to my brothers wedding in Myrtle Beach. It was quite a bit of driving for just two days but it was so worth it for the time we spent in Myrtle Beach. My brother’s wedding was so beautiful, and by some miracle the weather held off so they were able to hold the ceremony outside next to the beach. It was an undeniably beautiful, magical wedding with a really fun reception (Yes, the open bar helped considerably).
After having 4 wonderful days in Myrtle Beach with friends and family (Thanks for letting us crash, Mom! You’re the best!), Rin and I headed back up the coast, stopping in Richmond for a night before heading to DC. We had two sunny, warm days in DC so we were able to walk all around the mall and visit a lot of the Smithsonian museums. Our favorite museum, however, was the Newseum. It was incredibly well done, with exhibits including a portion of the Berlin Wall, a 9/11 exhibit that featured front pages on newspapers from all around the world the day after, an interactive television news studio, and so much more. We could have spent all day in the museum, it was fascinating and well worth the 20 dollar entrance fee.
DC marked the end of the best road trip I have ever been on (It is also the first road trip I’ve ever been on). I hope it’s the first of many more to come with my new partner in crime!
Next stop: Berlin, Germany
Tschüss!

Northern Expedition

Empire State

Sometimes in life we have the opportunity to be accepted into a new group of people, whether it is at church, school, or meeting the family and friends of someone you care about. Inside these groups are years of history, countless memories and jokes that they all share between them. They are a cohesive unit, and even if there are flaws or broken relationships in the bunch, everyone knows about them and how to avoid conflict. This can be intimidating for an outsider coming in; you are entering a dynamic that you are not familiar with and you do not know the subtle ins and outs of the group. However, even though you fumble around and make some mistakes, it is wonderful to witness and attempt to be a part of a new, fun group of people.

In my recent travels I had the privilege to dive right into a couple different groups of people who could not have been more welcoming. Within a couple hours of meeting these people, I felt like I was a part of the unit and I was starting to pick up on the group dynamics. There are few better feelings than being accepted into a group of people that you really enjoy spending time with. Also, it is much easier to be accepted when the person introducing you has already told everyone about you previously. (Thanks Rin!)

Brooklyn Bridge

From the pictures above, it is pretty obvious to make the connection that I recently traveled to New York City. It was my first time in the Big Apple so I tried to see as much as I possibly could in the short time I had. Pictured above were two of my favorite sites (Can you guess them? I’ll give you a hint – the second one leads to Brooklyn…). I was just so amazed by the size of the city and the consistent height of the buildings. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by concrete giants, herding you through an asphalt maze. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Thankfully, due to my lovely and talented guide (Thanks Rin!), I was able to see a large amount of Manhattan in just one day. I had a small taste of the city that will most definitely draw me back, and I’m sure it will be soon!

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I spent close to a week in Bristol, RI, which by the way, is the quaintest, loveliest town with the nicest people you could ever imagine. Bristol is right on the Narragansett Bay which offers beautiful scenery and a wonderful opportunity to kayak and sail. If you ever are passing through Rhode Island, it is a must see! While I was in Bristol, my newly acquired friends and I took a day trip up to Boston, another city I had always wanted to visit. Boston had a wonderful vibe to it; it was historically rich and culturally vibrant. The picture above was taken from a restaurant we were eating at right on the Boston Harbor. While I was able to see some of the sites in Boston including Fenway Park and Faneuil Hall, we decided to take it slower than New York. After each site, we would go to a brewery or bar to recharge our batteries and of course we would all have a delicious beer to keep us going (How else could we make it to the next spot?).

My trip up north with the best co-pilot and travel companion in the business, Erin (also referred to as Rin) could not have been better. I saw so many new cities and states and I was able to experience new cultures and taste so much delicious food and beer. I met the most amazing people along the way that I hope to keep in touch with for years to come. My eyes were opened to so many new and exciting things, and none of it would have been possible without you Rin. Thank you so much for taking a leap of faith and sharing the most incredible trip with me. You are a beautiful, adventurous, and kind person and I am so grateful for the time we had together.

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Our road trip took us down south as well, but that is a story for another day. Moral of the story: if given the opportunity to go on an adventure that seems risky or improbable, take the leap of faith and go. You will regret not going far more than you would if you just go, and who knows, maybe you’ll have the time of your life.

 

Leap of Faith

Money_Gibraltar

Plans are the lifeblood of dreams; they are what keep our hopes and future ideals alive. We make plans to give our lives direction and to give ourselves a purpose. With plans, we have goals to work toward and future events to look forward to. Not everything in life should be planned, of course; there always needs to be room for spontaneity and adventure. However, it is nice to have an outline to guide your journeys.

Plans are a large part of my life right now; I will be traveling or away from home for about 13 weeks this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I will be traveling all around Europe, from Germany to Italy to Ireland and to wherever else the road takes me. I will be able to experience so many different countries, cultures, people, beer, and food along the way. I will be living within the outlines of a plan but also with a sense of spontaneity in my every day travels; there are so many experiences that will just happen organically, but they would never happen if I hadn’t planned to put myself in that situation. As much as planning may seem laborious and full of future commitments, it is a beautiful way to reward yourself and to open up the doors for adventure.

Before traveling abroad, I will be taking a 15 day trip up and down the East coast, seeing cities as far north as Bristol, Rhode Island and as far south as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The trip is planned but it was very spontaneous; one might even call it a leap of faith. This trip seems crazy and has from the the word go, but I have never been so excited for 15 consecutive days in my life. To me, that’s all that matters. Some things in life don’t have to make sense to everyone else, they don’t need to be justified. You just know you want and you chase it with everything you have. It’s really that simple sometimes. (Rin we are totally psychotic, aren’t we?)

Adventure awaits and I for one am not going to pass it up. Life is full of risks, and I’m willing to take a leap of faith that I think will ultimately make me happy. I don’t want to live a life wishing I would have seized opportunities that seemed too risky or crazy at the time. I want to look back and only regret the actions I took, not the opportunities I was too scared to take. Ideally I would like to regret nothing at all, but nobody is perfect and I would rather find out firsthand where a path will take me rather than spend my whole life wondering.

I took this picture while standing on the Rock of Gibraltar with my monkey buddy viewing three countries and two different continents from one spot. (Morocco, Spain, and England, and Europe and Africa. Duh.) The only reason this was possible was because I booked a trip seven months out on a bit of whim and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

Plan a trip, no matter how big or small, and no matter how far in the future it is, you will not regret it!

Escaping Time

Sevilla_Couple

Our lives are complex stories that can’t be written and reduced to simplicity. We are all constantly evolving as people, changing, and making decisions that ultimately alter our future. People are the furthest thing from stagnant; we are dynamic beings. As time slips by, we inevitably change, for better or for worse. In just a week’s time, events in your life could impact you enough to completely alter your mindset on life and the direction you are heading. The amount of time doesn’t matter; no matter how long it takes, the force of change in our lives is inevitable.

Thinking about life this way is a bit unnerving. It is difficult to pin down who, where, or what we will want in any amount of time. We are constantly searching for a purpose and subconsciously blindly grasping for happiness. When you can accept the uncertainty of life, you realize that we are all on our own adventure, traveling through life on our own, separate paths. It really is beautiful and exhilarating to approach life when you are able to accept change and treat each step of your life as another stepping stone in your own grand adventure. The uncertainty of the future is a blessing in disguise; it keeps us motivated, chasing our happiness and stumbling through life the best we can, learning valuable lessons along the way due to our missteps. If our future was written there would be no reason to fight for today.

However, the passage of time catches up to all of us. Life is a wonderful adventure but it is by no means an easy path to follow. There are pitfalls at every turn, distractions painted left and right, and sometimes we board trains that we never should have boarded . Time doesn’t wait for anyone; it is neither forgiving nor kind, but it is fluid. It will never stop moving.

We are able to cheat time through moments. Moments are the most powerful tools we have to combat time because we are able to essentially stop time. Time can pass on and on until eternity, but that moment will last forever in our minds and our hearts. These moments occur when we accept the spontaneity of life and embrace the situations available to us. These moments happen when we cease being afraid and just live life the way we want to. These moments only occur if you are willing to live in the moment.

Photographs and words are magnificent because they have the authority to summon memories and place them before us in an organized fashion. They are time capsules that open up the door to the past. However, people often miss the moment nowadays because they are so hell bent on documenting every second of their lives. It is difficult to have an incredibly life changing moment if you are staring at a screen or looking at it through a lens the entire time. Moments are supposed to be organic and unique, not staged and forced.

The picture above is a moment that was shared between a couple in Seville, Spain. We were touring La Catedral de Sevilla and my group happened to be trailing this couple most of the way through the gardens. I had no idea what their situation was; whether they were married, whether they fought all the time, or whether they had much money. None of that mattered because in that moment they were having a delightful stroll through the beautiful gardens, never once unclasping their hands. They were talking quietly with each other while continually smiling and laughing. It was really a beautiful moment to behold and to be able to capture.

Don’t be afraid to love a little more and live life with an open mind. You never know what opportunities will fall in your lap.

Discovering Confidence

Erin_Sunset

Any experience we have, big or small, can be life changing; the significance of an event is determined individually by the person who lived through it. It doesn’t have to fit any sort of mold, and you can’t force a situation that ultimately changes your outlook on life. These experiences happen organically when you least expect them to. They are not a daily occurrence and some of us only have but a few in a lifetime. These events are the type of experiences that you will remember when you are telling your grandchildren stories of the past. These are the moments in our lives that define who we are and where we are heading.

I am in a transition period in my life where change is constantly afoot and I am striving to redefine who I am. It’s not that I want to change who I have been; I just want to improve myself to create a more fulfilling, happier future. When in the midst of all of this change, it is easy to get lost and stray from the goals you set out for yourself. After all, in the process of rediscovery, you don’t have a solid foundation on who you really are or who you exactly want to be. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs as you experiment and try new things.

This past week I went on a cruise to the Bahamas with three good friends of mine as an escape from reality. We had planned on just relaxing and having a good time, while also realizing that we would probably damage our livers in the process (Post cruise report – our livers are still intact.). I figured we would probably see some neat places and possibly meet some cool people in the process. Those expectations were met and severely surpassed. We definitely saw some stunning sights but more importantly we met some incredibly extraordinary people along the way.

I met a particularly special person on the cruise who opened my eyes to the possibilities of facing life without fear by handling every situation placed before you with confidence and a positive disposition. It is in our nature to worry about what people will think of us; everyone wants to be liked. However, what clouds our vision is the fact that we are falsifying our personal image if we aren’t acting as ourselves. It takes courage to be yourself. Letting the world know who you really are is frightening. What if they don’t like who you are deep down? What if they don’t think you belong anymore? What if you lose friends because you had the courage to be yourself?  The answer is simple: if they don’t like who you really are, then you shouldn’t be close enough with them to worry about what they may think anyway!

To look at it from a different perspective, being yourself opens up so many opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to grasp. If I hadn’t made a conscious decision to just be myself (being on a cruise definitely helped me loosen up) I never would have had the wonderful experiences with the people I met on the boat. If I had pretended to be someone else, in fear that they wouldn’t like who I really was deep down, I never would have gotten past hello (They told me, I’m not making this stuff up. A little harsh right? Tough love is the best love, right?). Instead I decided to muster the courage it takes to conquer the fear and had the best week possible. Simply by being yourself, the odds of meeting people with similar interests who love you for who you are skyrockets.

Our adventure in just one short week offered so many amazing experiences, some that I will never, ever forget. I’ll spare you the details (Ain’t nobody got time for that.), but the large take away is that confidence is key. The entire cruise I would dance with our new friends but always timidly; I don’t know how to dance, so instead of going for it I just tried not to look stupid, which in turn just made me look stupid. How stupid is that? Finally, come the last night, I found the courage to just go for it and dance like crazy and I had one of the best nights I’ve ever had. People love to see the genuine side of other people; it is so easy to see through a lie. Just be yourself, as difficult as it is, and things will fall into place. Have confidence in who you are. Because of this, I was able to have the type of experience that was significantly life changing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Freeport_Beach

Photo Credit: Erin Lyons in Freeport, Bahamas

(This one goes out to the cereal killer; the master of grace and taste, the purveyor of confidence, and a delightful source of constant amusement and entertainment.)

Everlasting Pursuit

Sevilla_1

At this point in time, I think it would be appropriate to say that travel has a massive impact on my life; past, present, and future. I have been bit by the travel bug and most of my time is spent planning my next adventure or reflecting on past adventures. Travel has consumed me like it has to so many others across the world. I want to see more, learn more, and live more, and this is more than adequately accomplished through traveling. I have passed by the idea of having 3-4 weeks of vacation a year. I want to live a life that is composed of traveling.

I don’t think that I yearn to travel because I am lost or that I am running away from my current situation. I believe that the urge to constantly travel is my personal, constant pursuit to see the good in the world in a mixed array of cultures and people. I want to see the beauty that exists in the world, not only in nature, but in human compassion. I believe that the world is stocked full of incredible people from all different backgrounds and I want to meet them. I want to understand the different ways people get through life and I want to experience their unique cultures first hand. I want to grow as a person and ultimately find a way that I can be happy while helping other people. Travel is essentially my constant pursuit of happiness.

I think that a lot of people deep down would enjoy a life built around traveling and helping people all over the world while attaining all sorts of worldly knowledge along the way. However, most people just deem this as an unrealistic path to follow. They want to begin a career and follow a very rigid, defined track that will eventually lead them through a life that they are familiar with. It is the same track that most of their family and friends are on; it is accepted and safe. That’s fine! This makes many people happy and that’s really what matters, right? However, I don’t believe that path would make me happy; I have different plans. I believe that the unrealistic path for me to follow is a career track that has me sitting at a desk for the next 40 years doing something that I am not passionate about. The uncertainty of a life lived all over the place fills me with excitement. As for my plans to accomplish this, I won’t share at this point because if there is one thing I have learned, words can be fickle but actions are resolute. I am learning to share only what I have actually accomplished (Baby steps, excitement is hard to bottle up!).

That being said, no path through life is easy; there are immense challenges any way that you slice it. No path is absolute and no one knows what their future holds. I just want to take life one step at a time and I will see where it takes me. I will try to position myself in a situation that makes me happy; after all, that’s all that we can really do. With the knowledge that I have at this point about myself, I believe that traveling will make me happy and ultimately pave the way for a life that offers daily fulfillment and happiness. So travel, I will.

The picture above is a capture taken from La Catedral de Sevilla, offering a glimpse of one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to.

 

 

 

The Wild, Wild West

New_Orleans_Bridge

“It’s the wild, wild west out there. I have seen people commit the most heinous crimes and not get prosecuted for it.”

These are the wise words that a convenience store clerk gave us upon arriving in New Orleans the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Experience was written all over his face; he did not crack a smile or even hint at the possibility of making a joke. He had seen some crazy, horrible things in his tenure as a convenience store clerk in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

New Orleans was like no other place I have visited. It is overflowing with unique culture, with clear French and Spanish influences all over the place, with some of the coolest streets and restaurants I have seen in the States. There are balconies everywhere overlooking the narrow streets, and they were all decked out in Mardi Gras decorations giving the city a very festive feel. It is such a neat city, and it is seemingly a city without rules. Anything goes! People are naked in the streets, drinking all kinds of alcohol, and throwing all sorts of things at each other (not just beads).

My friends and I were lucky enough to see the Thoth parade, which really ended up being a fight for beads and other meaningless trinkets. It was oddly the most fun we had all day. People in masks on floats would just chuck whatever they had at the crowd as hard as they possibly could, and everyone was happy about it. They threw bags of beads, bouncy balls, hats, cups, trash, and my most prized possession, rubber duckies (he now has a respectable place on my desk, he’s my co-pilot).

Canal_Street

This was our view of Canal Street and the parade. (Excuse the quality, I was not about to bring my camera to New Orleans!) If you look closely, you can see the sign for Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is as wild as it gets at all hours, but definitely don’t bring your kinds out to Bourbon Street at night (you would be surprised by the amount of parents who did not heed this advice; they quickly wised up). The street is chalk full of cool bars and very strange places that I won’t mention. Religious picketers filled the streets after dark to inform all those indulging in the local culture of the sins they were committing. It didn’t seem to stop anyone.

As you would expect, the streets were filled with all types of crazy people, but there were also a lot of normal people (like ourselves, I think) who were from far away places. Beads were a form of currency in many ways; giving someone beads was the best way to start a conversation. I met some of the nicest girls from New York City (shout out to Emma and Anna!) because I was tired of my massive hunk of beads and tried to give them all to Anna, who declined vehemently, but then we quickly became friends. Even in the most absurd places there are wonderful people everywhere, you just have to lift your eyes up from your phone to see them.

New Orleans is a wild, unique town and I truly hope it never changes so everyone who has the urge to experience it has the chance to. If you ever have the chance to go to New Orleans, or just anywhere new, say yes and embrace the experience!