Jodie O’Shea’s Orphanage

As promised, here is the first orphanage that I have committed to. I have been in contact and scheduled a day to spend with them. I will be bringing miscellaneous supplies that they request closer to that date and they will also be escorting me to the market, and with the help of a couple of the older orphans, I will be purchasing food from a list that their staff has prepared.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Thank you

Children at Jodie O’shea’s Orphanage 2016

It was opened in 2005 in honor of Jodie O’shea, an Australian that was killed in the 2002 bombing. They currently house 95 children. Click here if you would like to visit their website to read more. They have made the decision to not receive any funding from the government, so they rely solely on donations. Their website offers multiple different ways to donate, from different levels of sponsoring a child to a list of specific things they are currently needing. If you look back at my previous post, you will see that I referenced a fire extinguisher, yup, that was for Jody O’Shea’s Orphanage.

Just to make it easy for you, here is the gofundme link again. I have also had a couple people request paypal to avoid any fees… if that interests you let me know and I will get that to you. Thank you to everyone that has already donated!! I am so excited and overwhelmed with all the people that have already committed! Much love! 

 

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My Exciting News

There are an estimated 150-200 Million orphans in the world. Every 15 seconds a child loses a parent to an AIDS related condition. I would assume if one parent has it, normally the other will as well, causing this number to climb at a heartbreaking pace. The 2011 earthquake in Haiti left 300,000 children without their parents. The current Syrian war already has 8,000 orphaned children leave Syria. These are just a few of the hardest numbers I have seen as I have researched this. We have a terrible problem, there are so many babies out there struggling to survive at an age they shouldn’t even know what the word “survival” means. Do I have your attention? If you have started to read this, I ask that you read all of it. Don’t skim to the end, listen to what I am telling you, let the numbers sink in, and definitely turn on that empathy.

The last 3 months I have really struggled with this blog. What is my purpose for it? How will I make a positive impact the documentation of my travels? The most computer illiterate person can google any place in the world and there will be a blog describing that destination. I love keeping everybody informed with what I am doing where, but I have an internal conflict because it all feels… well… shallow? Last night driving to a missionary meeting it just clicked. I am so excited to transform this into not just a travel site, but a site that can be a benefit. My travels now have a purpose. Before I go into that however, let me jump back to this crisis that is getting worse. I can’t help but think how many “15 seconds” have gone by just while I am typing this.

PHILIPPINES

The most recent statistic I could find stated that there are 1.8 million orphans there. Stop and let that sink in, 1.8 MILLION children! It breaks my heart! In 2015, Filipino population was 100.7 million, of that number 26 million remain poor and 12 million are living in extreme poverty unable to feed themselves. So nearly 1 in 3 is struggling to eat.

INDONESIA

Indonesia is ranked #6 in the world for orphan population, with 4.8 million. In the last 4 years, over 140,000 Indonesians have lost their house due to national disasters. 28,364 homeless gives Jakarta the 6th highest homeless population in the world.

I name these two countries because in exactly a month, I will be boarding a plane and my destination will be these two countries. While these numbers knock the breath out of me, I also see a huge opportunity for this little blonde girl to make a positive footprint on these beautiful countries. What is that?? I am now ready to explain the new purpose of this little website I have created. I have a love for travel and a tender heart for the less fortunate and I can finally combine these for the best trip yet! I have been in contact with a couple orphanages in both countries and am looking for a school and a shelter. I have set up a gofundme account for donations and all the money donated I will use to purchase the supplies that each place requests. I want to be VERY clear; I am paying for my trip. Every single penny of these donations will go toward the different organizations that I pick; none of it goes to myself. Now it gets a little more exciting. These orphanages, shelters, schools, and every munchkin they support are what I will write about! Once I have selected where the donations go, I will write a little profile of each of the places I pick. Then, when I actually drop off the materials I will spend a day there and be able to tell you about the facility, something about different people there, and hopefully a way for you to donate/keep in touch in the future. Guys I am so excited, I will be donating as much as I can personally, but I want anybody that is interested in helping be able to. Even better, you then see the exact orphan your money bought shoes for, or the orphanage that was able to buy that fire extinguisher they haven’t been able to afford for 3 months. Pretty cool right?

So this is my big exciting news. I hope I haven’t rambled too much and forgive my grammar; I am in a rush to post this and am also so full of excitement it makes logical sentences difficult! I leave in a month and throwing this in has added a lot of work. It’s going to be a quick goodbye now, I got things to do! Love you all! 

P.S. Look below for the link to the gofundme 🙂

https://www.gofundme.com/my-call-to-action 

Week 2: Australia Effortlessly Stealing My Heart

This week, I kept it local with a rugby game, touched a shark egg, took a picture with Heath Ledger (well, his wax replica), saw my first real koala, touched a wallaby, throw in a snake show with some beautiful and very poison snakes, and that makes it a successful 20160812_092408.jpgweek. I then get to add that I met Super Bowl XLVIII Champion and my personal hero, Marshawn Lynch, and that is where the pendulum goes past successful and into just… Well, when do I have to wake up from this dream?? Apparently it is real, and I am so blessed to be on this adventure!

20161129_144025.jpgAnybody that knows me, knows how much I love animals… the stray cat gets a couple pets, a wild bird definitely would like some sort of snack, and that doesn’t even get me started on the treatment I give my own personal animals. So, the aquarium and wildlife park… Well, the word excited doesn’t do my emotional state justice… I maybe slightly pushed a little kid out of the way to pet a wallaby, completely lost all forms of adulthood upon my first sighting of a kangaroo, and absolutely stood in front and listened intently during the “koala walk” (which was a trainer speaking about the koalas while the 4 or 5 slept within arm’s reach from the fence) Did you know koalas sleep nearly 20 hours a day?! Thanks to that fact, they do not allow you to actually pet the koalas. Needing that much sleep, you can imagine it would be pretty obnoxious waking 20161129_143930.jpgthem up all of the time for unrequested touching-especially from someone like me. They do allow you to get close and take photos, which I absolutely did, and it was hilarious to see how undisturbed they were with people swarming around snapping hundreds of photos. There were even a couple baby koalas all snuggled up with their mommas. I also didn’t realize that these little guys are NOT bears. They have a pouch, thus throwing them in the marsupial family with my equally adored kangaroo. As you plan your trip to Australia-which I am sure you are doing now- read up on the drop bear, don’t let the locals trick you!! 😉
The aquarium didn’t have quite the interaction as the wildlife park, but it was still equally amazing. Th20160830_234429.jpgey had tiny 40 gallon tanks with small coral arrangements and a few fish, all the way up to two huge tanks with sting rays and sharks that had to be close to 10 feet long.  These larger tanks had clear tubes through th20160902_005424.jpge middle, creating a walkway with these huge fish swimming on the other side of the glass. We were even lucky enough to be there during the feeding of one of the large tanks. Dory… well, she was a piglet! While I did get some of my favorite pictures from the aquarium, I feel like you need to go to my Australia album and just look through the pictures to see everything they had.

It has been called the most physically demanding team sport. They say only the strongest men can really do it. Being a passionate Seahawks fanatic, my brother made sure I saw rugby first hand. Hearing the first slap as one beast of a man throws another equally huge man to the ground I realize, yes Australia, you may just have this one right… Monday night I was able to watch my first rugby game, and even better, this game wasn’t on TV! I traveled to the stadium and watched the game first hand! Sharks VS Rabbitohs (which is Australian slang for, you guessed it, rabbit). Yes, the ball looks just like a football-well, from a distance- and they do have goal posts, but outside of that, you really need to throw out those rules when watching this battle. The only way I can briefly explain it is like soccer set up with American football aggression. My understanding is that these men wear a mouth guard, maybe a small excuse for a shoulder pad, and every so often a helmet that resembles Xavier’s headpiece in X-M20161129_143226.jpgen. Then it is an under-armor type shirt and shorts. Don’t let that lack of padding make you think these guys hold back. This sport is like soccer and football had a baby, and it inherited all of footballs aggression. I saw multiple tackles that I was sure they guy was done, but he would jump up, shake it off, and go back at it with no reserve. Despite everything that Mother Nature has taught me, the Rabbitohs beat the Sharks, and unfortunately we walked out hyped from the adventure, but still losers that day. L Stinking bunnies!!

The forecast said it would rain for the next week, so I didn’t make any tourist plans and decided to spend the time indoors. I was a little peeved when I woke up the third morning to a beautiful sun coming up. I love the sun, but I had scheduled no plans. Social media came through for me. Marshawn Lynch, my runningback, had been in Sydney for quite a while (he apparently did some trainings with the Rabbitohs, which is clearly why they beat the Sharks earlier that week), and was going to be supporting his brand Beast Mode at a sports store in the area. Well… A little over an hour train ride, but that’s close enough for me! Instantly, after finding out this news, I dug out my Seahawks 2014 conference champs shirt, and started my trek to Bondi. I gave myself a couple extra hours, which ended up bei20160825_212703.jpgng pretty smart, 20160825_195448.jpgbecause this store was located in a 4 story mall that also ran several blocks. Even using the directory, it took me a little while to find the actual store. A female lost in a mall… That was slightly embarrassing.

I walked through the doors about an hour before he was supposed to be there, and already a line wrapped halfway around the store. I couldn’t help but giggle as I saw “fans” walking around, wearing everything from Kaepernick jersey to even a Favre jersey. I found out the next morning someone even had him sign a Patriots shirt… He used this opportunity to exercise his freedom of speech, and in a few words he wrote how he felt about the Patriots… Moving up even higher in my book! Despite the large number of people, the line moved quite quickly, and in no time I was next in line to meet my football hero! I was maybe completely normal, probably a little closer to a blu20160830_234002.jpgbbering mess, but I did my best. While he signed my shirt (yup, he touched me!!), he noticed my accent (being American) and we were able to have a quick discussion about the odds of me running into a famous American football player-even more specific, one of my favorites- on the other side of the world, something about ‘go Cal’ and like that, I was ushered
off and the next person stepped up. It was a grand total of about 90 seconds, but I am so excited and blessed it even happened. This city has been packed with wonderful surprises!!

My time in Australia is quickly drawing to an end. It still feels like I am just arriving, and there is so much more to do. About
10 more days remain… Next week, I have to make it back to downtown Sydney, cross the harbour to Manly, maybe see some whales, quick trip to the capital, AND of course, make it to another rugby game (this time, Marshawn Lynch can’t sabotage my Sharkies… right?). I have a busy schedule, but I still make sure to slow down, inhale the eucalyptus, and appreciate the people that make this county so special! I promise I won’t make you wait this long for another post… Sorry all!

 

 

Week 1: Landing in Australia

Australia, the land down under. The place of koalas, gum trees, and stick bugs. Home of the Outback with its kangaroos and dingoes and the significantly different Great Barrier Reef where you will find fish ranging from Dory (Blue tang fish) to the infamous great white shark. Did you know 80% of the creatures here are exclusive to Australia?! In the first week, I sampled delicious kangaroo meat, canoed a river in the Royal National Park, and took nearly 200 pictures of the Sydney Opera House. A lifelong dream has finally become a reality. I still can’t believe it is real, but I take a big breath and that skepticism is laid to rest by the refreshing smell of eucalyptus. 

20160822_233556A glance from afar and everything looks the same, houses, trees, birds etc.-but upon closer review, that is quickly proven incorrect. We all know you drive on the opposite side of the car… on the opposite side of the road, but did you know even the grass here is significantly different- It is soft and mildly fuzzy, almost as if someone cut little blades of grass from an extremely thin felt. Like I referenced before, because of the trees there is a slight eucalyptus aroma, making even the city smell incredibly fresh. The foliage upon closer inspection is also significantly different, most leaves and flower petals are thick with a spongy consistency 20160822_231701that you can fold and it won’t break. The trees do not simply grow straight up with branches growing out, but rather look like they maybe had a little bit much to drink and are all crooked and follow no obvious growth pattern. (Perfect for climbing!) While they do have seagulls-I am yet to find a continent or island that doesn’t- the rest of their birds are quite different. As of 2014, there are 898 different species, of that over 45% are only native to Australia. Here, cockatoos are wild and their obnoxious squawk alerts that they are near. One of my highlights this first week was sitting in a park on a sunny day feed20160822_234314ing cockatoos, kookaburras, and rainbow lorikeets (yes that is how you spell it J ) I even had a cockatoo take food directly out of my hand!! I have even seen parakeets flying around on a few separate occasions! It feels like I am living in an exotic bird cage… but this is natural!

Upon arrival, I was treated to a beautiful drive to Cape Solander on the Kurnell Peninsula. Fun historical fact: this is where Captain Cook first landed before moving on to the more accommodating Sydney Harbour. 20160819_121420 - CopyWe were in the middle of the bush, but every so often could catch a glimpse of the city and I was amazed at its close proximity. One direction had forest as far as the eye could see and then the other direction was coastline with the city a mere 30-minute drive. Listening to  the ocean waves smash onto the beautiful red rock cliffs was amazing. It was here, that I saw my first cockatoo in its true, natural habitat!! 😀 (I maybe was a little too excited about that) Leaving there, we went to a beach where there were shells as far as the eye could see. 20160819_123805To me, this is heaven; I could’ve spent the whole day picking up shells and once again the Sydney skyline was just across the bay.

I spent two full days in Circular Quay (pronounced key), which is where you find the 2016-08-16-10-01-14-259Sydney Opera House and are also close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which creates some great photo opportunities. If I had rushed, I could’ve seen almost everything there is to see in a single day. In fact, my first day, I did start out with a pretty specific agenda-I needed to see this, absolutely must go there, and make sure to try that-but I quickly realized in order to enjoy this experience I absolutely had to throw the agenda out, take longer, and make sure I absorbed as much of Sydney as possible. I spent an entire hour at the end of a pier that had a great view of both the bridge and the opera house and I simply people watched, snapped pictures, and drank my coffee. I finally started my walk back to check out the opera house and had to stop at multiple shops, 20160817_121806 (1) - Copyannoyed birds trying to snap their picture, and again stopped to marvel at the city across the water-In my first hour I probably took 100 pictures. Coming back around to the other side of the harbor, I started to get closer to the Opera House, there were people from all around the world near me and everyone was doing the same thing but reacting their own way and in their own language. While I did my best to still take pictures, I found myself just enjoying the moment, inhaling everything, walking up to and around this icon of Australia. I can’t explain how massive this building is and the intricate detail couldn’t be captured in photos. (Though I did try) This building, that bridge, the water, the view across the water, and all the people around me, it was more awesome than I had ever imagined… which is why I spent about 3 hours in its vicinity.20160817_122018 - Copy.jpg

I ate fish and chips at a little restaurant with the bridge as my view and then went to the Royal Botanical Gardens and found a huge tree to get out of the sun, relax, and again just watch everything that was going around me. Apparently, I picked a good spot because I was able to c20160822_234530atch a group of locals play a quick game of rugby in a quiet corner of the park. Again, it was a “taste of home” just instead of our football it was their football being played. After a while, I got up and continued around the park, witnessing many more crazy/beautiful birds, extravagant plants, and always a glorious city as the backdrop.  

So that is week one in review. Next week I am going to the local aquarium, a small zoo 2016-08-23-00-13-33-695(with kangaroos and koalas!!), watch a snake performer, a rugby game, some more bush walking, and so much more! I can’t wait to share it with you, this place is far more amazing than I imagined, start saving your pennies and schedule a trip! In the meantime, I will be posting a heap of pictures on my Facebook for you to giving you a sample of this phenomenal country. I miss you guys, leave me some love below!

Escaping the Rat Race

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of”

-Paulo Coehlo

This quote is from The Alchemist, the book that pushed me over the edge whenalchemist I was trying to decide whether or not I should pursue my dream of travel.  A good friend of mine let me borrow it, I read it on a 3 hour flight, and it is now the ONLY book that I have packed with me on my adventures. I would like to start this post out with, if you are contemplating a crazy life change of any sort, read this book!! 🙂

The last few days, I have been reliving the past 3-6 months, when this idea came to me, making the decision, and the work involved to get to where I am now, just a couple days from this idea and lifelong dream becoming a reality. I realized, while I have shared with you bits and pieces, I haven’t gone into any sort of specific details on how I have managed to go from a receptionist at a small company in North Idaho, living by myself, to this: TulumMetaking a break from my job, packing up my life, and jumping a plane to a whole mess of unknowns.

A year ago, I was looking at starting a small business, nothing extreme, but something that I could call mine. At the time I was a receptionist, making enough money to survive and live comfortably, but not enough to put any significant amount of money away. So I decided that my first goal towards starting my business was to pay off all of my debt and get a strong savings, which led to the dreaded decision to get a second job. This meant that
while working the 8-5 Monday through Friday job, I also started serving 3-5 nights a week. Within 6 months I was debt free, so it became time to start getting more serious about my business. I didn’t expect how burnt out I would be after working almost constantly for 6 months, and I didn’t feel ready to commit to this business that would become my baby for the next 2-3 years. I have had a job, sometimes 2, (at one time even 3) since I was 16, I have taken vacations, but nothing more than a week, and they were normally far in between. Taking a couple months off to travel was suggested to me and I started to ponder the idea. Within the week, I found out that my lease was up in two months, solidifying the plan. The next day I started this blog, the original plan to was keep my friends and family posted, but it has become fun, so I might as well see where it goes. Here are the steps that I took 2 months ago to make this upcoming Friday a reality.

I worked WAY too much. I spoke with my boss at the restaurant and told him what I wanted to do, I asked him if he would schedule me enough so that I could pay all of mySDme2 bills and live off of that job. Of course he obliged, which meant I was working at least 2 days a week that were 8 AM -5 PM playing receptionist and then going straight to the restaurant and working 6 PM until it slowed down, sometimes 10, normally closer to 12 AM. On top of that, I would work one if not both weekend days, making some weeks a 7 day work week. That sacrifice made me able to live frugally off of the serving job and allowed me to put my entire paycheck from the other job into savings.

Minimized eating/going out. I didn’t completely do this, but I made a real effort to grocery shop once a month and prepare my meals in advance – meal prepping can be an addiction!- I could live off of a small percentage of what it would cost to go out even just a couple times, and even better, I was eating healthy; from fresh fruit smoothies to steamed fish, it was all delicious, I feel better physically, and this was a HUGE part of being able to save money.

Bargain shopping. I switched from the more expensive groceries stores to Winco-I love that place-Some items I would still go to the better stores for quality reasons, but for most part, I could get the same brand for dollars cheaper. 🙂

Eliminated Unnecessary Splurges. While I do still get my hair done, everything else has been eliminated-pedicures, manicures, etc.- I am now my own nail tech. It is a little silly budgethow much money I spent on things I could do myself or simply just didn’t need! Daily coffees, lunches, even the silly vending machines at work, I tried to minimize all of those-while my morning latte is still a problem splurge, I guess $3 a day isn’t something to get too bothered about, but even that equals around $90 a month if I get one a day.

Sold Misc Items on Local Swap Websites. As I downsized, I would find all sorts of little treats that who knows why I was holding on to them, before I would take them to Goodwill I would post it on Shop and Swap, if someone bought it great, if not, I would just take it to Goodwill. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but, I am also a little to attached to most of my stuff and could’ve probably sold way more….

Saving my change. As a server, I get quite a bit of cash going through my hands. All the change at the end of the day goes into a jar-to be left there until my trip- I have been doing this for 6 months. I don’t have the slightest clue how much is in there… but I get to finally exchange it tomorrow, and I am kind of excited.

Lowering my monthly bills. I started looking at all of my bills and tripiggy banked to get better deals.
Just one example is my car insurance, I was able to do some shopping around and save $20 a month. That means, with that bill alone, I will save $240 this year! 

Freelancing. I am where I wanted to be budget wise, but I still prefer to have the ability to make money while I am travelling. I have not had a whole lot of time to make much money off of any of these websites, but when I am not working 2 jobs my goal is to focus on this more and keep that cushion in my savings account-I will get back to you on the progress/effectiveness of this in the future.

*Summarize*

 I looked at my spending after a month of normal spending-I tried to use my debit/credit card for every purchase so I could see exactly how much I was spendinBeBraveg and what I was spending it on-then set myself a reasonable budget according to category… some things that “reasonable budget” was $0. While my trip is yet to start and I can’t address any successes with that, I can say that I was able to set a financial goal and get close enough that I won’t be stressed about the money side of this trip.


So what do The Alchemist and my finances have in common? I saw my dream, and largely thanks to this book, decided to pursue it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you make, where you live, your eye color, or your favorite candy it is never to late to go after what you want the most in life. If you dream of travel, here are some steps I took, some harder than others, but it worked for me. I have taken my first step out of the Rat Race and am embarking on my own path-that I still have so much to figure out 🙂 

 

T Minus 5 Days Until Lift Off!

“Don’t be afraid of change. You may end up losing something good, but you will probably end up gaining something better

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We both prefer the Seahawks.

– Unknown

Well, I have been a vagabond for 2 months now,  4 days until my last day of work, and I leave in 5. I am a big ball of emotions. I am stressed, excited, and tired. In 5 days, I will have put the last of my belongings in storage, given my Idaho friends my last loves, and began my trek.  I have a pretty significant road trip to take my last fur baby to his temporary home and then from there… my first international stop will be the land of kangaroos, great white sharks, and camping, where Marlin finally found Nemo, the land down under… Australia. 🙂

Originally, I was going to talk about the stresses I have

20160715_161003

Awkward 4 year old faces

dealt with in the last two months, jumping from house to house, my entire life organized into two suitcases, a shower caddy, and one rather large makeup bag. But as I started putting it into words, I realized that every stressful situation also had a blessing counterpart. So instead of whining, I am going to tell you what has been great about my last two months.

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Clearly, no love here

It has been one long sleepover with friends. I have stayed at 3 different houses, each place the stay has been between 2 weeks and a month. These women have gone from coworkers and casual friends to deep rooted friendships. There have been talks until 4 AM, late night dinners, early morning coffees, some pretty serious Game of Thrones 20160715_163735theories, and of course Netflix marathons-you can’t truly know someone until 7 straight hours of Drop Dead Diva.  We have enjoyed happy fun conversations and some not so happy talks of how life may have not been so fair. These people have opened up their homes, but more importantly their lives and hearts. It has been sad when the stay comes to an end, but I am so appreciative of these memories and friendships I walk away with.

Boss and Rommy

Boss’ current best friend

My preparation time is drawing to a close. As I come to the end, it is a little convenient that I had to pack everything into storage early, now I have time to address the little details that will make this complete inversion of my life a little easier. People keep asking me if I am scared; yes, I am stressed about getting everything together, but not scared about going to a foreign country. That could definitely hit once I get on that plane, and all those previous issues have been handled, but as for now, I feel like a 6 year old child, waiting on Christmas, except I have chores I am required to complete in order to even participate… the responsibilities seem like they will never end and time, is just not moving. But again, the positive counterpart is: while doing these ‘chores’ I have more coffee dates, Netflix marathons, and late night puppy snuggles to cancel out the long work days and my suitcase ‘dresser.’ They are all good problems to have when you consider what I am getting in return! 🙂 Australia, I hope you are ready!

Two days in Athens

20160706_130559Athens, Greece; This has always been a place I thought I would only dream about. When choosing my destination, I almost cancelled Greece out, there is no way I could even scrape the surface of this ancient city in that amount of time.  In the end, when given the opportunity, everyone should absolutely choose a two day trip to Greece. Surprisingly, I was able to make it to many sites, swim in the Mediterranean, and make sure to slow down and smell the local flowers. Here is how I took advantage of the small amount of time in such a big city full of history.

20160621_120809Tourist: That is the word that would describe my first day. Ten hours, which wasn’t nearly enough, of walking downtown Athens. I visited the Acropolis, Parthenon, Plaka, Panathenaic Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Erechtheion, Arch of Hadrian, Odeon of Herodes, Theatre of Dionysus, (to name some of my favorites) as well as many old halls and churches. It was an entire day committed to walking to each, can we call them attractions? It was a long, hot day, full of pictures, (roughly 250 of them) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I ate breakfast and lunch, at local restaurants with outdoor seating both within view of some huge, ancient structure.20160703_005801The second day, it was time for some relaxation so I went to check out this little lake I have heard so much about… the Meditteranean!! I wasn’t let down. I found a nice beach club,  Akanthus, and this is were I posted up for the day. They supplied umbrellas, chairs, food, and refreshments along with a beautiful view of the pebble beach and clear water.  Maybe I am a little to sentimental, but stepping into that water, changed that sea from a backdrop for all those Biblical and historical stories I was raised on, to reality and it was as magnificent as I had imagined. 20160621_125108

I chose to stay in Ilioupoli, a charming neighborhood, it required a little bit of travel to the city center, but it was packed with little boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and even a little park. I was thrilled with this decision, I  fell in love with this little corner of Athens. In my three nights there I became a regular at a local restaurant, getting a delicious Euro and Greek salad-the last night I just had to poke my head in the door and they knew exactly what I wanted. I sat on the patio to relax, recap my evening, and watch the Greek evening happen around me. This was one of my favorite parts of my trip, I loved all of the sightseeing, but it is here that I established relationships with the locals and witnessed the Grecian way of life around me.

20160706_155720During my two days in Athens, I was serenaded by an accordion, had pigeons eat out of my hand, pitted my first olive, ate a Mediterranean pizza, drank ouzo, contemplated how to pack a stray cat in my carry on, see my first park full of kids at 11:30 PM, hear a Greek remake of Brittany Spears’ “Oops, I Did It Again,” swam in the Mediterranean, made new friends, contemplated how to pack a stray cat in my carry on, all while in one of the oldest, most stunning cities in the world. It still doesn’t seem real.

Have I convinced you of how magnificent Athens is? Do I have your atte20160621_163759ntion? I have something else I would like to share about this city. Remember a year ago, all the news stations were covering this country because it was going to default on debts? Well, they truly are facing a serious economic obstacle. The government is near collapse, the elderly face losing their pensions, businesses are closing, corporate employees are forced to take any job that will have them, people are losing their houses, their cars, and are struggling to provide for their families. I saw the most beautiful buildings vacant because whatever business it housed before could no longer afford it’s rent.  Furthermore, I spoke to the locals and they didn’t see it getting better, but worse. One of the oldest cities in the world is facing a crisis.I share this, because I fell in love with the Athenians, because I want to help, because I also want to have the quality of life that everyone seems to have in this city, and finally, because the child in me hopes that maybe just drawing awareness to this problem will help bring a change. Even in the midst of this, the people I spoke to didn’t complain, they simply stated the facts and answered my questions. It is far from prime there, but these people still have a positive look on life. You could go there and see the sights, eat their food, and you would never realize what is really going on, because while it is a looming stress, they don’t set that as th20160706_161238.jpgeir focus

Athens, thank you. Thank you for sharing your city with me, for taking pride in your history, and allowing me to experience it. Thank you for being so kind and catering to a simple outsider that couldn’t speak a word of your language. Thank you for stealing a little part of me. I hope one day to make it back, but if not, this experience and these people will always be in my heart.