Category - Travel/Experience

When Traveling Wanderlust Feeds My Soul {Notes From A Blue Bike}

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My first ‘professional’ job out of college was on a bus and truck  musical theatre touring show (with some occasional flying).   We travelled across the US, Canada, and had sit-down short runs in Atlantic City and two major cities in Brazil.  I did not get paid much money at all, but having my hotel and per diem provided allowed for a comfortable and lovely way to travel and see the world.

We slept in cramped seats  and endured a month of one-nighters in almost twenty different cities.   We began to ask each other, ‘What town are we in again?’ each morning when we stepped off the bus.   We had time off in Montana and Wyoming, where we went horseback riding across the wide open plains.  We trekked to theaters in 3 feet of snow in Canada, and in our flip-flops from the beach in Florida.  We trekked up the Corcavado (the largest statue of Christ in the world, atop a Brazilian mountain) in Rio de Janeiro.   I got sicker in Brazil than I’ve ever been in another country, and used charades and hand motions to get medications from a Portuguese pharmacist.  I walked through Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and performed my first leading role with my Mom in the audience.

We–our motley crew of actors and musicians and technicians–formed close knit bonds that I hold dear to this day.  We admired the places we’d never been.  We went to Disneyworld.

People are willing to be brave when they admit their smallness within the enormity of the world, and the best way to understand our smallness is to leave our comfort zones and start exploring, one foot in front of the other.
~Tsh Oxenreider, Notes From A Blue Bike

In 2008, I spent 6 months traveling and living in China, on a New York based musical tour of The Sound of Music.    Asia and an ‘Eastern’ way of life had never been on my radar, but traveling through a Communist country with a band of artists and creatives was a recipe for sheer delight and exploration as we sang and performed our way around an amazing country.

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China pushed and stretched me.

Traveling with many fellow artists, but very few kindreds,  I took a lot of time both alone, and with a few dear friends exploring a country that was as foreign to me as it gets.    I walked up a mountain with the largest Buddha sculpture in the world carved inside it, and felt the presence of Jesus.  I worked through Beth Moore’s Bible study Believing  God, and prayed with another cast member who loved Jesus too.  I held a baby Siberian tiger with a friend.  I walked through alleyways and back roads with a backpack and a curious and excited spirit.  I put my feet in waters that framed the borders of China and Vietnam.   I watched the Beijing Olympic opening ceremonies with a fellow cast member and a generous and beautiful group of strangers in a Chinese tea shop, where we communicated with laughter, gestures and unspoken respect.

I looked for the division and staunchness I was told I would find, and found loving, open, and generous people in a foreign land.  I sang Rogers & Hammerstein songs next to a Chinese subtitle machine, and  felt the power of music transcend every type of barrier.  I worshipped in a Christian church with Chinese guards posted at the door, and every type of person and denomination and skin color in the pews, and tears of joy streamed down my face.   I felt the heat of a Chinese summer, so humid and suffocating, you could actually see a literal ‘heat haze’ in front of you.  On off day ferry boat trips from Macau, I unexpectedly fell in love with a city at the base of a mountain and the edge of an ocean–Hong Kong.

I’ve rambled on and on about my Asian travels, and I could write so much more about my time there.  I didn’t fully appreciate what that journey gave me until I was home on American soil, and could look back with an objective lens.  Looking back, it was probably one of the most fabulous jobs I’ve ever had.

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When I read  Notes From A Blue Bike, I was transported to Tsh Oxenreider’s world of intention, simplicity and in her beautiful words, “the liturgical, perfunctory parts of each of our lives…”   Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide – Tsh’s book reminds us how important intention is in our everyday lives, and how we can all learn to live a more simple, deliberate and sustained life without the cacophony of busyness and chaos that thrives in our culture daily.

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 Before my extensive touring travels, In Tsh’s words, “…I had hardly known a smell beyond that of my living room rug or the books at my school’s library.”  As a life long dreamer, I’ve pursued travel not only a source of joy, but as a way to see God, a vehicle for depth and growth, and an aid to my creativity.   While I understand that the means to travel is a privilege, I don’t think it has to be extravagant.  I think traveling economically is easier to do than we think.

This fall, Tsh and her family will take a once in a lifetime trip around the world that they have been planning and dreaming about for over seven years.   They will experience other cultures, life changing moments and day to day life in a way that most of us never will.  They will write out their stories and their life lessons so that others can glean from their travels.  They will inspire so many with their intentional way of life.

This book has reminded me in the best ways that my wanderlust for travel is innate and hired wired into my very being.  Travel helps me be creative and broadens my mind and heart.   Travel is as much a part of me as my roots and my home, though I think Tsh articulates it best.

Home may be where the heart is, but on the open road lie your five senses, and when you return to your heart, you’ll better see, smell and hear.
~Tsh Oxenreider

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{affiliate link used supports this blog, but all opinions, promotions and happy gushing about this book comes from moi.  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions, but no one told me to gush like I am.  If I could, I would buy this book up like candy to give to friends.} 

Day 4…Foodie Travel Photos & Stories {31 Days of Favorites}

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It was our last meal in Rome.  We were the only couple in the restaurant not speaking Italian.  There were rows and rows of wine bottles above our heads that the waiters had to grab with an iron hook.  We had been walking in the heat of the day for hours, and suddenly the coolness of night gave way to relief, as we drank sparkling water that was ice cold and crisp wine.  After a few days of devouring Italian pasta (when in Rome, right?),  the waiter brought me the most beautiful salad I’d ever seen.  Everything on the plate was fresh.   The flavors were vivid and bright in my mouth.  The company of my husband was electrifying and comforting all at once.  I wanted to sop up the musical Italian accents around me like my homemade bread drenched in olive oil.  I didn’t want dinner to end. 

 

I have become quite a ‘foodie’ in the past few years.  I think it has something to do with being able to relax and enjoy food as a gift – especially in the midst of my travels.

I took a trip overseas last year that bordered on life changing for me.  It has always been a dream of mine to travel through Europe, and though I have been lucky enough to travel to many other places on the globe – I never saw a stitch of Europe until last spring.

I found along with my pictures of piazzas and mountaintops, I also couldn’t stop photographing the food.  I was trying to capture beauty, yes, but also I think I was attempting to preserve on film the memories those meals held for me.  Moments in time when inhaling the scent of homemade pizza baking in a piazza was not just a scene I saw in a movie, but an experience.

Here are some of my favorite foodie photos from my travels, along with sense memories to the best of my remembrance.

 

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I woke up and felt like I was still in a dream.  The view of the Tuscan countryside seemed even more beautiful than the books I’d read.  Though it was almost summer, our small room encased in stone was cool and breezy without air conditioning.  I walked outside with sleep still in my eyes, and inhaled a deep breath of fresh air.  My husband and I fixed a simple breakfast in our small kitchenette.  The strawberries were vibrantly red, and as sweet as their color.  The croissant was store bought, but tasted like it had been baked in our oven.  The salty, earthy flavor of thinly sliced Italian salami became the perfect addition to our Tuscan breakfast.  I was convinced the beauty of the cobalt glass made my milk taste even creamier.  We ate in the peaceful silence, overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. 

 

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The night we dined behind the Roman Colosseum felt otherworldly.  We had just walked on and through 1000 years old ruins, and suddenly found ourselves in a quaint restaurant mostly reserved for locals and college students.  I ordered a dish I’d always wanted to eat in Italy.  When my plate of bruschetta was placed before me, I was dazzled by the fact that simple red tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena and olive oil from a local vineyard could be so beautiful.  The crisp green leaflets of arugula gave my simple plate even more texture and peppery flavor.  I ate my “broo-skeht-ah” (as our sweet waiter luxuriously said, rolling his Italian R’s) with both hands, and the juice streamed through my fingers.  

 

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I’d been dreaming about Paris’ culinary delights for years.  On the hunt for a meal that didn’t require piles of Euros, we crossed the main avenue to a smaller side street.   Spitting rain fell from a cloudy, gray sky.  The outside marquee of the restaurant in our guide book was nothing special.  Walking through the front door felt like stepping from black and white into technicolor.   The warm light, the mid-century decor and the paintings on the wall were classically Parisian.   The menu was simple, earthy comfort food.  I order boeuf bourgignon, and was thrilled when the server graciously offered to leave out my least favorite ingredient of pearl onions.  My senses were overwhelmed in the best way by the luxuriousness of the broth and creamy mashed potatoes.  The meat and vegetables were perfectly tender.  I felt like Julia Child herself was in the kitchen and had prepared my meal.  After I returned home, I discovered the Polidor was the restaurant where they filmed the Hemingway scene in Woody Allen’s film, Midnight In Paris.  I saw our perfect table when I watched the movie again, and travelled back in time to my favorite meal in France.

 

 That’s how it felt, like we were a part of something lovely and otherworldly, not like we went to a place but like we were a part of a thing–a rich and gorgeous thing, a happening, a moment in time that we’d keep with us all our lives….
Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

 

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It was a great surprise to me that Rome was my favorite European city.  It must have been in part because of the Trevi Fountain.  And gelato.  As we navigated the Roman alleyways, we practically stumbled upon the Trevi.  Suddenly, we were facing the statue head on, beholding the white marble triton like an altar before us.   Around the perimeter of the fountain, crowds spilling out of shops seemed to be flowing down the steps to throw their coins into the waters with the hopes of returning to Rome.   The gelato shop, facing the magnificent triumphal arches, had every color and flavor of cold creaminess on display to lure man, woman and child in its doors for a distinctly Italian  treat. 

We slurped our cones full of creamy chocolate and whip cream as we listened to the rushing water of the fountain, and the cacophony of languages in the piazza.  I’d never had ice cream of any kind that could match the velvety chocolate in that cone.   Later that day, and throughout our time in Italy, we sampled all sorts of glorious gelato flavors–pistachio and amaretto; stracciatella and hazelnut.  But that first treat, that sweet gift at the Trevi Fountain, was my favorite.

Do you consider yourself a foodie?
Where have you eaten some of your favorite meals?

31 Days of Favorites Button - www.allmannerofinspiration.com

 

The Lights of New York & Spiritual Family

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Today I flew across the country to see my people.  My kindreds.  My spiritual family–given to me by God to stand in the gap.  i took some of my first full breaths of peace and relaxation of my summer.

My heart is so full tonight.  I sat and had soul deep words with the woman who has been one of the greatest influences in my spiritual and artistic life.  I hugged my friend I love like a brother, and listened to him share the sheer beauty and strength of his heart.  We ate shrimp drenched in decadent sauce and red chiles, and cool crab meat immersed in a bed of slaw and green apples.  We devoured sweet potato sushi rolls and small pockets filled with avocado, lobster and flakes of fish and ginger.    We walked block after city block and talked and listened and slurped cool frozen yogurt.  We sat on a rooftop overlooking a myriad of twinkling midtown lights and soaked up the space and the mood while summer gave us the rare gift of a breeze.

I am more than happy.  My soul is being filled with the best kind of love and joy.  This trip is true grace – pure and simple.

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And it’s just begun.

Soli Deo Gloria.

A Reunion, a Beach and A Big Loss…

On Friday, after I’d had a full schedule of classes at the university {where I’m currently working on completing my degree}, my husband and I attended my high school reunion. 

It was more than a little surreal walking through the hallowed halls of my high school, showing my husband a part of my past.   We concluded the evening at a small cookout/barbecue with the members of the graduating class that had come for the first day of festivities.  I was thrilled to reconnect with a few old friends.

Such nostagia walking through these halls once again…

My husband and I had decided to compromise on our weekend festivities, in order to go everywhere we wanted to go, thus  I did not attend the rest of the reunion…which was definitely fine with me,

because…

My husband and I then went out of town, beginning early Saturday morning, for a brief weekend away with his {and now, our} friends.

It’s a yearly tradition amongst some of his best guy friends he’s known since childhood, and though they usually just take a ‘guys’ weekend each year on Labor Day, this time they decided to bring everyone’s wives and children and all of us stayed in beachfront condos in Florida.

That part of my weekend was divine…

 

The next part I’m going to tell you about WASNT.

When packing for my trip, I put various school texts and personal books in the front pocket of my suitcase.  {I knew that being on the beach it was only right to study my textbook from Oceanography, right?}  I also, being an avid journaler, had packed my personal journal.

…my beautiful, jam-packed with personal musings, dreams and narratives, made in Tuscany journal….

My beloved journal in Tuscany

I personally packed my journal into the front pocket of my suitcase early before our weekend flight.   {My husband even saw me do it!}   When we got to the parking lot of the airport, I checked the front pocket again to put something else in it,

…and the journal was gone.

At first, my mind went into a state of panic, but then I quickly came to my senses.  My inner monologue began:   “You just accidentally sat it down in the house when packing your suitcase.  You haven’t had a chance to get anywhere with it Silly Sarah- you just left the house!  Stop worrying–you’ll find it when you get home.”

Or so I thought.

As soon as I came home, sand still in the depth of my beach bag, a slight sun-kissed glow on my shoulders, I came into my room to find my journal and write.  “I was glad I had left it at home,” I thought. ” I’ll be able to take some time and reflect on the nostalgia and time away the weekend provided…”  That, unfortunately never happened.

It.

was

gone.

My sweet husband gets the kindness award for helping me tear the house up and down to look for my beloved book.  The whole disappearance is just perplexing to me!  The pocket on my suitcase wasn’t opened from the short few yards between our house door and the car door in the garage, and I realized it was gone before I even walked through the parking lot to get to the airport!  I keep hoping one day it will turn up, but my optimistic attitude I’m so good at adopting for others is harder to transfer to myself.

I keep thinking of everything I wrote in its ivory pages…

My travel narrative of our spring European travels, including Tuscany – where the journal was made…discoveries, revelations, playlists, dreams, aspirations, sermon notes, lists to accomplish…I even had pages of my current devotional tucked away in the back to complete on the beach…sigh..

I know this sounds like the most whiny post ever, but those of you in the wide, wide blogisphere who journal will understand this pain.  It feels like there is a little piece of my heart and soul floating around lost out in the world, and I confess to feeling much vulnerability at the thought of those words following into the wrong hands and on strangers eyes…

Of course, being an avid journaler, I can’t sit still and not replace this pretty little book.  If I don’t have a journal with me at all times; if the hope of putting pen to paper to clear the chatter in my mind isn’t available to me regularly;  my writer’s mind gets a little cluttered and nutty.

I must press into the thought of a bright side…I can now look forward to a little trip to the book shop to pick out my next journal volume….

Have you ever lost something, that while possibly insignificant to the rest of the world, meant the world to you?