Where Did I Go?

The December holidays sort of snuck up on me and I just got back from my trip to Tenerife. I didn’t forget about the blog though, don’t you fret!

I’m actually drafting up a number of posts – one which will of course chronicle my latest adventure and another on my 2016 reflections.

Stay tuned, there will be some pieces to read this weekend. 🙂

Big City, Loads of Noises

Sirens again. Honking again. Screaming imbeciles again. That’s what I hear.

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It’s been three weeks since I’ve been back in NYC after spending 5 months away. Although I studied abroad and spent nearly the same amount of time away in Paris during my Junior year of college, this past experience feels so different.

Back then, when I had been a foreign country studying another language and truly living on my own for the first time, I was shocked. I was unprepared and didn’t really know what I had. This time while in London, my outlook was different. I loved nearly every minute of it. There were some lows, don’t get me wrong, but I truly saw another part of life and happiness. Even though I was spending my savings and putting myself through an endless test – joy ran through my veins. I was constantly going out to events, networking mixers, emailing companies and trying to do and learn as much as I could. Every day was a new challenge. I walked the city and discovered new restaurants and bakeries of course.

Now being back in NYC, I feel odd. I enjoy seeing old friends and family members I hadn’t seen in awhile but I do feel like I’m in a haze. I don’t want to lose all of the amazing things I learned and did while in London. I loved what I accomplished. I’d hate to let it go by being back “home” and falling back to the normal I wanted so badly to escape. Well, I guess not escape – I wanted to learn and feel a level of happiness I wasn’t quite getting. I found it in London and I don’t want to let go. In my heart though, I know I can’t lose it, unless I choose to.

I think that what I learned the most about London was not to be afraid of taking chances, putting my effort into something and asking for real results, doing me without too much hesitation, etc. It really informed my way of thinking and interacting with people. I already knew I gave too many s**ts about what people think and London helped me shake that a bit.

When I look around me, I see so many tall buildings. It’s pretty in a NYC way but the romanticism I felt in London isn’t here with me right now. Maybe I still need to get used to everything? But I don’t want to. I want to do what I want to and feel the same level of joy. I know I can still continue to push forward with the dreams that I was living in London. I also plan on going back. If there is something I know I haven’t lost, it’s my will. I don’t like to give up and I know the things that I’m after now are very possible! One step at a time. Nothing worth having is supposed to be THAT easy. It’s what they say, ain’t it?

Mallorca Spain

It’s been a couple of months but I went to Mallorca this summer as part of my European getaway. I’m currently daydreaming of my time there as I’m coming off a week back in America.

Shell shocked and immediately plotting my way back, I decided to reminisce on that summer sun in Spain.

I stayed at the HM Bangulera and despite the friendly staff and delicious complimentary breakfast, I caution you not to stay there. After my fun trip, I arrived home to find that some unsavory bug creatures followed me back. Could it have been the airport? Yes. But I have a feeling it was the hotel. Onwards and upwards though.

So Mallorca was hot, like so hot my skin itched. I had been there for maybe a few hours, walking through city center, and that sun was intense.

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Feeling like melted chocolate

But it was great! Although I have much love for England, the weather is not perfect even during the summer.

I walked for about three hours throughout the city of Palma, getting a lay of the land. I saw the Palma Cathedral, some original gothic architecture then made my way to the port for a seafood dinner.

My favorite part about the dinner was the sangria. I had a seafood paella but it didn’t quite hit the spot. It was nice but not the dinner of my dreams.

The next day, I made my way to the beach.

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Playa de Palma was pretty amazing. The sun was high, giving off its radiant heat and the beach itself was beautiful. Touristy but beautiful. It had been a bit of time since my trip to Malta so seeing the crystal blue waters and feeling the sand between my toes was nice.

It was a shock to see some nudes on the beach. Both adults and children were walking without tops or bottoms – I wasn’t prepared but there also weren’t a ton people. I could deal.

Even while on the beach on my own, I was able to find a nice spot to bathe in the sea. Had I gotten to the beach earlier, I could have went on one of those snorkling or boating excursions. These activities do sell out for the day pretty quickly so I recommend booking in advance or getting there really early.

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After a bit, I started feeling sun stroke. I was so tired and I wanted to sleep. I could have tried to do that on the beach but I was alone so I figured that wouldn’t be smart (I didn’t want anything stolen). I made my way to the bus back to Palma where I grabbed a bit of KFC for lunch.

The last couple of days there, I went to the Haagen Das store, had gelato, did a bit of window shopping and walked the streets of Palma.

It was a lovely time and it wasn’t too expensive – recommend going but don’t stay at the HM Bangulera.

Windy Walks and Cliffs in Cornwall

I didn’t imagine myself in Cornwall ever – never ever. I guess that’s strange since I went to Manchester and many people would say they’d never see themselves there. But boy, I’m so glad I went to Cornwall, in October even!
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First off, Cornwall is beautiful. There are plenty of walking paths near the coast, beaches, mini hikes, rural animals and farms, and more. It’s so quaint (but sometimes too quaint with shops closing at 9 PM and refusing to serve you food since their kitchens are closed) and the atmosphere is relaxed beyond belief.
I went there on a quick getaway with a friend. We stayed in the cutest little Chalet (hidden behind a slightly scary and narrow road) that had everything you could ask for (maps of the area, TV, wifi, mini kitchen, homemade cake and honey, etc). It was warm, peaceful and picturesque.
As soon as we got in, we made our way to one of the only open eateries near us – a fish & chips spot in Hayle. I ordered cod with some cheesy chips (fries) and my friend had the fish cake and traditional chips. Both were absolutely delicious. The portions were huge, the food was fresh (since we were so close to the sea) and the meal was cheap. Great first intro to Cornwall.
Next up, windy hikes in Porthleven and Porthcurno.
We stopped in Porthleven where we each picked up a breakfast pastry and warm drink. Again, delicious. We then walked along the harbor where we eventually started skipping, climbing and throwing rocks. I wasn’t ready immediately, I had my Michael Kors handbag in one hand and a pastry in the other but I had to roll up my sleeves and get one with nature. I wanted to enjoy all that fresh air and just sit.
After a bit of that, we were off to Porthcurno where we hiked along the coastal path. We saw “wild ponies”, sheep, castle sites, sea side views and even trekked along a small fishing village. It was a very windy day however,making it difficult to hike as there was great potential for the wind to pick you up and throw you off the cliff! We survived but there were a few close encounters.
The next few days, we took it easy, eating the Cornish delicacy called the pasty from Philps and just going on casual strolls and car rides around Cornwall.
We then took a trip down to Tintagel to see some Dark Ages ruins as well as King Arthur’s castle. It was really nice and the views were again, freaking awesome. We also had an amazing seafood meal at the Seafood Cafe in St Ives but nearly killed ourselves eating. Although the portions weren’t huge, I felt like I was going to explode after sharing a starter, then eating my meal with a glass of wine and some dessert.
I loved Cornwall! Especially the last day where we walked all over Hayle beach and got another Cornish pasty for the road. Fun times!
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October in London

It’s October of 2016! How in the world did that happen? I remember when the year just started and I was in NYC dreaming of all the things I would and could do this year.

Now I feel like 2017 is just around the corner and it’s just… wow. Not to mention, I’m still in London going through life trials and tribulations. Meeting new people who have been encouraging to me when they have no real reason to be (I’m a stranger), hard talks and realities thrown on me by people I’d never suspect (I’m not a stranger) and just running into random experiences and adventures through some unknown will I keep stumbling across. It’s still great. It’s still hard. It’s life.

In one way, time is running out. Well my London time is. I’ve extended my ticket and thought about the big life question that everyone ponders “what’s next?” I have a vague idea. Very foggy and vague I might add, but I’m still going to try for this idea. Part of what’s in that idea is figuring out how to make my European dreams come true. I mean, lots of great Europe things have happened but I believe in always striving for more.

Some amazing things I’ve done as fall set in on me in another country:

  • Assit in editing a video for a Walking Dead promo
  • Help out on a shoot for Ugg
  • Learn more about using software like Premiere and After Effects
  • Learn way more about marketing than I intended (Google Adwords, Mailchimp, Tweedtdeck, etc)
  • Meet incredible people in the London film and production industry with drive and passion as well as lovely social skills (haha)
  • Go to movies in London (simple pleasures)
  • Move into my own place and share with girls that are super nice
  • Make friends despite having a network or good everyday social setting to find them (it’s hard stuff, believe me)
  • Go to a random concert, clubs, bakeries, book store, play
  • Travel to some new cities in Europe
  • Shop a little and grab some cute pieces (even if it hasn’t been warm enough to wear them)
  • Discover things about my self and what I can improve

That’s just a small bit of the list but there are plenty of things, including bad, that have in the end helped me to have a better understanding about what I want. I know that may be a selfish statement and it is, but it’s also not in some ways (learning more about how I want to treat others vs how people treat(ed) me is one way in wish it’s more people friendly).

I’m glad to be here, in London in October. I do admit I wasn’t sure if that would happen but I’ve been making it since June. If only I could find a way to make it last for as long as I chose. I mean, maybe I can and will stumble into that situation but overall I’m just glad… and grateful.

So yeah, that’s just a bit of my thoughts on making it to London and living here. It’s been crazy but I don’t regret even in my weak moments of disappointment and negativity.

 

Joe & The Juice Musings

I’m sitting in this Brooklyn-esque coffee shop/juice bar in London, reading a book about lessening worry.

I’m not sure it will actually help me. If at the end of the day, it’s just me wasting money since I’ve already been making my own efforts to worry less, well at least no one can say that I didn’t try! haha

So far, the book outlines the art of worry and how things in the past should remain as such – in the past. But while reading, this thought popped up. I started thinking about why I worry and the things I worry about and at the end of the day, it all stems from other people.

I think you should be able to tell others your opinions but at what point are others opinions someone else’s worries. Is it the individual’s fault for letting someone else’s words invade their minds to the point of stress and anxiety? Maybe. But when should others just shut their trap and live their own life (be it miserable or full of happiness)?

I consider myself a curious open minded person but as I get older and start to get more confused about life, I start to wish others just kept their ill informed opinions to themselves. Maybe that’s where the mean old lady stereotype comes from, young girls tired of being confused by life and receiving unwarranted thoughts morphing them into b*tch. But I kid. I mean, I don’t truly wish to not hear other perspectives. I still admit that I like to hear what goes on in another person’s brain out of curiosity. It’ll then lead me down a road where I’ll try to analyze the nuts off what was said or done when I really don’t need to go into super-sleuth “what did you really mean” mode. I need to stop that. It’s not like someone will confirm my analysis. It will forever be a hypothetical.

But worry. I don’t like it. It adds years onto you, makes you tired and often causes you to be blind to happiness and joy of the here and now. I don’t want that to be me and I don’t think that is me. I do wish that it were easier to hear other people without letting their idiotic thoughts about what you should do and where you should be get to you. And on that note, there is no “should.” There just is when it comes to your life. And if there is a “should,” it’s your should not someone else’s notions.

Don’t let someone fill your head with ways you’re inadequate or how you suck. I mean maybe people aren’t doing that and I’m reading between the lines when there actually isn’t any space to read. But what I’m learning is that if you’re true to you then worry will start to fall away.

If worry is burdening you because of others words then stop it! Learn to recognize what you find important and necessary and just do it/live by it. As long as you gave it your all, things will somehow find their way to nice ending.

 

Manchester Madness

Manchester is a city that when spoken about amongst Londoners, has them scoffing at the thought of any tourist actually wanting to check it out.

At least, that was what I encountered when I went there a few weeks ago but I didn’t let the negative words or laughs at my attempt to explore the UK stop me. I hopped on a Virgin train into the vibrant city that was once the shining gem in the UK crown.

Manchester is a beautiful city that is typically undermined by the rain and grey mist of clouds that hover over. There’s a large amount to do: restaurants, shopping centers, theater, nightlife and more.

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The photo above is a shot of Deansgate. It’s a popular street home to a lot of pubs and a few clubs. You can basically walk this long endless road and run into a variety of options to party your night away. I ended up at one club (the name of which is escaping me but is in fact on Deansgate) that required me to pay an entry fee that went into the double digits. I decided to fork over the cash as I wanted to have a good night and I was promised all the drinks I could swallow before 10 PM (I powered through four large glasses of champagne in an hour). The music was ok and the venue was a nice space but it was literally empty for the entire time I was there. I stayed from like 9 PM until 11:30 PM. I guess I could have stayed longer but when you’re at a club by yourself for more than 2 hours and no one is there to really talk to, things get old quick. I did text a few friends at home in the states but again, it gets old.

I probably chose wrong in regards to club but it was generally a good deal since I had a lot of drinks and there were free snacks. I do know that you can have a good time in Manchester though for way less money than is required in London. Just make sure you choose better than me!

Manchester food. I was starved my first day and ended up at Byron which I thought was a local burger joint but later realized it was a chain restaurant all over the UK.

Byron Burgers was freaking awesome! The burger was so tasty and the mac and cheese, DELICIOUS! It’s a must eat if you ask me and the price isn’t terrible. The restaurant was also a nice way to hide from the rainy mist that came down the first day I arrived. Just think, had it not rained, I would have never bothered to try Byron Burgers. I think Manchester earned loads of cool points just for that fact. Thanks rain!

Later on in my trip, I went to this cute cafe for breakfast on my last day called Teacup. They had a huge selection of teas and beautiful decor. I ordered a breakfast scone with rose tea and imagine my delight when they came out with a tea timer to ensure I had the perfect cup of tea! I was a bit confused as to how it worked but super delighted by it. It made me feel as if I were at a tea party thrown by the girliest girl known to man. Overall it was a nice breakfast. A definite must try if you have a super sweet tooth. Very sugary scone.

I also tried to have some local fare which was a meat pie. Um, I should have went back to Byron. I mean it was ok (I went to a place called Pie & Ale) but wished it was better for the price I paid. I also ordered potato skins with bacon and cheese and what I got, maybe I’m just used to American skins. I would not recommend ordering.

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The city is rich with history! I went on an unofficial tour of Manchester hosted by a guy who is from the city and recently graduated from university. The tour is listed on Facebook and is free but he does ask for donations if you enjoy the tour and what he shared. The guy is Really good! He takes the whole group around Manchester shedding light on the music scene, the gay district, the history of Vimto, where Victoria and David Beckham had their first date, museums and more. It’s great and a really nice way to spend a few hours in Manchester as well as get to know the area. You literally walk everywhere. At the end of the tour I went to a show recommended by the guide in this special round theater . The show was full of inside jokes about being from Manchester and the UK as the play chronicled the life of a growing boy in Manchester and his obsession with ping pong. I was able to catch on to the inside jokes fairly quickly but I’m glad I made myself check out the show.

As for where I stayed, I was at the YHA hostel. It was clean and good for just a basic place to rest your head. Nothing to run home and tell mom about especially seeing as our room had this really weird porto toilet but again, it was fine to sleep in for the weekend.

I feel like my negative points or notes on what I didn’t like about my trip might be outshining the overall post but Manchester was really great. I learned so much about how Manchester played a part in the slave trade, the influence on the music scene and just the general bustling nature of the city. Lots to do but everyone isn’t in a rush.

If you want pop into a European city, check out Manchester. I promise Londoners are just a little full of themselves here. haha

Possible Story?!

So while on my crazy trip, I realized that I do enjoy writing. I’m constantly pondering outcomes and this exercise is a good way of getting things out whilst being creative. I’m currently pondering writing a short story (or longer one).

Below is a first look at my really rough draft of something. Comments welcome (DON’T STEAL MY GENIUS, haha)!

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I can’t recall the last time I felt completely secure.

Maybe that’s my fault for being so dependent on others. But actually, I think it’s my parents fault. They never considered me to be an adult or allowed me to figure things out on my own. It was do this and do that. Like a robot, I complied without putting up a fight. Why though? Was it because it was and is my personality? But wasn’t my personality shaped by the people who raised me? So the answer is, my parents are to blame.

I see the stars in the sky and feel the sand and wind whipping past my face.  Holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a stolen wallet in the other, I’ve never felt so confused and alone. I’m fighting back tears, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Why is my life such a mess and how is it possible to feel so insecure? My 30th birthday is a month away and right now, all I want to do is just make it all stop. Freeze time. But maybe I should go back to the beginning.

My parents are happily divorced. Siblings, none. Me, I’m Becky. It isn’t short for Rebecca so get that out of your mind now.

I grew up in Connecticut, in a modest home to middle class parents. My mom and dad were college sweethearts. Married a year after graduation because they were madly in love and knew they would make it till the end. About three years into their marriage, they had me. Little Becky. A curly brown haired girl with green eyes and a few freckles. I was adorable and my parents had the perfect little family.

I don’t remember much about my childhood or rather, the details of it – birthday parties, family trips, milestones and the like. There are plenty of pictures and home movies to look back on but for some reason, all of those memories don’t really stick with me. I remember random facts like the TV shows I’d watch after school or the soccer games I played from middle school straight through to high school. It’s not that anything traumatic happened then, I just push those memories out. I’m not sure why.

I do remember how I felt and how people perceived me. At every family function, I was the odd one, the quiet one, the one who wouldn’t dare look you in the eyes. Everyone would say “look at me when I’m talking to you” and I would reluctantly do so, terrified of offending anyone. I always felt awkward because of this and my dad didn’t help make things any better or help me get over this unnatural fear.

He’s not a bad guy. In fact, he’s well respected. The man everyone goes to for advice BUT I do remember how he’d always try to fill my head with…..

I Got My Hair Wet! #Help Malta Diving

Malta. I was inspired to check out this sunny European city after seeing one of my favorite vloggers on YouTube head there in a past video. With expectations of fun times, sun, sand and a chance to find a real beach this summer while staying in London, I made my way down to the island.

Unsure of what to do as this was one of my many solo trips, I decided to check out one activity that seems to be HOT on the island, diving.

After a bit of research into local facilities and places within walking distance of my hostel, I came across Divewise.

Divewise is located right next to party central on St. Julians, Paceville. The facilities are clean, easy to spot and the staff are quite friendly.

As a person who has never dived before and had no idea what to expect, I was pretty nervous about going through with it. The thought of chickening out did pass through my mind but within a moment’s notice, my instructor showed up at my hostel to pick me up for my morning lesson. Nice one! A personal valet for a diving lesson? Definitely threw some more cool points Divewise’s way.

My instructor, Lee, was very friendly. He chatted with me in the car about the island, the diving course and gave me some insight on what to expect but when we arrived at the facility, things got real.

Tanks, fins, masks – my belief in my ability to swim and not drown started to wain. I wasn’t confident about everything that was about to go down but then my instructor Lee reassured me with the help of a pamphlet and a diving skills overview.

When the other two students from my intro to diving class arrived (the class was only three people including myself, making it perfect to have a one on one skills session), Lee went over the four basics we needed to know while diving. He familiarized us with all the equipment, showed us how they functioned and then had us do a mini test to make sure we were fit to dive and were paying attention.

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He then came by and checked with us our sizing information and gave us wetsuits, boots, fins and even fitted us for swimming masks.

Let me just say, wetsuits are tight! It’s more than just trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans. It’s really hard to get into them but you can do it if you try. I eventually managed to do it successfully and then Lee came by to help fit us with our diving tank backpack.

IMG_2760.jpgWhen we were all ready, it was time to go into the sea to run through skills. Practicing clearing our masks of water, reinserting our breathing tubes, leveling our pressure, etc, we were doing everything possible to ensure a safe dive.

I must admit that for some reason, my brain had a hard time figuring out how to clear my mask of water but Lee made sure each us mastered it before we even attempted diving. I felt very well watched and taken care of, alleviating any fear of drowning.

When we were all set, it was time to go on a dive! We followed Lee, swimming through the sea and watching all the fish pass by. It was truly an amazing one of a kind experience. Seeing everything so close up and doing something I had never done before, it really was and is thrilling!

Again, I also felt super taken care of as during the dive, Lee kept checking with each of us to make sure we were ok. He helped us get our balance, clear our masks, and even added weight to my belt while in the water as I kept floating around and was unable to stay low to the sea floor.IMG_2735

Now there are a ton of diving shops on Malta but I must say that my experience with Divewise was excellent. They were super attentive and even offered to drop me off at my hostel once the dive was finished. If you’re looking to try your hand at diving or just try a fun water sport with great people (the staff are beyond friendly), then please go to Divewise. You won’t regret it nor will you mind getting your hair wet!

 

 

Traveling While Black

I feel like my title might be controversial but this is a topic that has popped into my head whilst I’ve been traveling about Europe and living a life that always seemed like something that could NEVER really happen.

A few days ago, I was coming back from my recent trip to Malta. My flight left late so I arrived later than planned. Not a fan. I make a mad dash to the border control because I didn’t want to wait forever and the trains in London stop running after 12, which would have forced me to take cab when I didn’t want to nor did I budget to do so.

After running for what seemed like 10 minutes, I arrive dat the border to see a massive line that was about two hours long. TWO HOURS! How in gods green earth that was the case, I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was at Heathrow? Any who, I tried to be patient, letting out a few moans, sighs and chats with myself about how ridiculous the line was to finally get to an agent.

I presented my passport and landing card and out of nowhere, I found myself questioned about my travels. I’ve been in London for about 6 weeks and while here, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Manchester and Malta (with a layover in Vienna). The woman/agent started questioning my travel. Asking me where else I was going and how long I would be in London. I explain that I’m traveling for the summer and visiting family among other things. The answer didn’t satisfy her.

She then started to ask about how much money I had, if I was still employed, requested to see my tickets for my other trips and probed into how I was related to my sister. This all seemed extra to me as I know plenty of people and friends of the non color persuasion who have traveled Europe for the summer without any problems. Have you heard of the young millennial backpacker for heavens sakes?

I produced everything she asked for and then she seemed satisfied enough to let me through. Just in time as the last tube into London city center was about to take off in 2 minutes.

Why did she question me so hard? Were my movements really that suspicious or was it that me, a young black female couldn’t possibly travel Europe for the summer without trying to do some shady immigration thing? Could I be digging? Could the woman just have been doing her job? Perhaps, but it was odd.

It was odd because when I do vacation, it is rare to see other brown people traveling and relaxing. There aren’t many of “me” around, only people who live locally and most likely happen to be lower class. I saw it in Malta, I saw it when I went to Mexico, I saw it when I went to Stockholm, I usually always see it.

Then there’s also the case of my friend hand her boyfriend. Her boyfriend just got back from spending a month traveling around Europe for work. He is also brown. Upon returning to NYC, he was detained in a “brown people line” while his white co-workers were able to breeze through. They did the same traveling but why did he get the third degree?

This is just a rant but it is sad that I can’t travel around without it looking odd. Does my last name being Obama as an explanation and would that even be enough?