A break from South America: our whereabouts from November til April
After we traveled up the Peruvian southern coast back to Lima, we took a flight back to our respective countries-first stopping in New York-my home. We arrived just in time for Thanksgiving. Laurent spent a week with me in NY visiting friends/family before he returned to France. This was the first stop in what was to be our planned, long break from traveling in South America. Not that we really stopped traveling but we sort of stopped I’ve come to the conclusion that we have a problem staying put! We planned this break for several reasons. The first being the obvious; to have a break!
Travel around South America has been exhilirating, exciting, fascinating, the best this that and other superlatives. But it was also exhausting, stressful and taxing. After traveling from October 2012-November 2013, we decided it was time for a lengthy pause. We planned on resting up a bit, not worrying about language barriers, having constant hot showers and being able to use our own kitchen (!) but also writing (me) and working on photos (Laurent). We prepared to start writing our book. A daunting task, to say the least, but one that needed to get going.
But first, I enjoyed the holiday season in New York. I love being in the city at this time of the year. I was so happy to be able to co-host a tree trimming party-just like the old days when I used to have one every year. And I got a big surprise when a mutual friend flew in from LA for the party! That was one of my best weekends. I was also grateful to spend Christmas with family this year. Laurent departed and returned to France to visit his family/friends for the holiday season and it was a welcome break to be away from each other. We had been traveling together for a year and a half 24/7!!! While this has proven the strength of our relationship and made us very grateful for each other both as travel companions and as lovers, it is nice to get a break and allow each other to miss one another! It wasn’t all chocolates and roses!
After Christmas, I departed with some friends to meet back up with Laurent and even more friends in Marrakech, Morocco. Since New Years Eve is our anniversary date (and this year we were celebrating 5 years!), we always try to come up with a big way to celebrate. This year proved pretty massive, as we got a total of 9 of us friends together to rent a gorgeous Riad in Marrakech. To top it off, on NYE, a friend who I met through a mutual friend (who is currently living her dream of teaching abroad in Morocco-you should check out her great blog ‘Mindful in Morocco‘) came to our Riad to celebrate with her boyfriend! What a way to ring in 2014! We loved Morocco and especially our visits to the coast at Essouraia and a trip to the Atlas mountains.
After Morocco, Laurent & I departed together to France where we stayed from January til April eating very good food (I mean, come on….it’s France for crissakes!), taking care of household-type things, Laurent cared for his grandmother and we worked quite a bit. But it wasn’t all work and no play. We can’t stay still for long and Laurent was anxious to explore some of his country. Most of our time was spent in the region of Correze but at times we ventured further. Below are a small sample of some foods we ate:
We visited Paris, Lorraine, Alsace, the famous & scenic route des vins along the Alsace wine trail, colorful Strasbourg, Colmar, Dijon and then it was on to more wine-tasting in the wine country in Bourgogne-famous for their pinot noirs. Everything you heard is true; France is indeed a gorgeous country and I couldn’t get enough of exploring the food, cities and landscapes.
One of our favorite highlights was the city of Strasbourg, located on the border with Germany and known for its colorful architecture (like in the photos above) but also for it’s massive, ornate cathedral. This church is home to an impressive astronomical clock that puts on a little show every hour, especially at noon.
Two very dear friends came to visit in February. I met them in Paris where we learned how to make croissants and pain au chocolates (!) Deliciousness! We all traveled by train to the countryside and visited some small villages around Correze. It was so great to have them. At the end of March my cousin came to visit and we even got to celebrate her birthday! Overall our time in France was much busier than I thought it was going to be but I loved every minute of it. There is nothing like having friends and family come visit you when you are far from home.
At the beginning of April, it was time for me to leave France. My 90 day visa was up and I was pretty bummed about it. It was so peaceful in France and good to have our own space for a while. But we looked forward to getting back on the road too. On my way back to NY, I stopped in London because, well….it was on the way! I visited two of my favorite couples while I was there. One is a long-standing friend of Laurent’s who is currently dating a fantastic guy (they both came to Marrakech with us) & together we indulged in some delicious Indian food together & spent some time catching up.
The other couple we were fortunate enough to meet in South America. Remember that homemade raft that we went down on in the Amazon jungle in Bolivia? And that lovely Brit couple we met? The authors of LatinChattin? Yes, I was lucky enough to meet up with them in their home country! We indulged in a greasy, lip-smacking English breakfast and had some pints together. I learned the wonders of HP sauce and tasted my first bubble & squeak and I even liked it! And most importantly we got a chance to catch up before they head off on their next adventure!
My stay in London was a short one (too short!) and on the way back, I had a long layover in Copenhagen (8 hours) and I got to check out this beautiful capital city. Lucky for me, it was just about a 10 minute metro ride from the airport into the city center and I could store my big bags in the lockers at the airport. I had my first smorrebrod, which is a traditional Danish dish, kind of what we would call an open-faced sandwich but on that hearty Danish brown bread. Washed down with a Tuborg, followed by some street strolling, well, it was probably the best layover I ever had! Below is the colorful architecture along one of the many canals and my smorrebrod!
I had already been through three airports in 2 days but it wasn’t finished yet. I moved on to the west coast to Portland, Oregon to visit one of my best friends out there. I spent a few days revisiting the city, hiking near Mount Hood and catching up with my old friend. Then it was on to Seattle. My other friend and I took the drive up about 3 hours north to visit another dear friend. It was an amazing week visiting two of my favorite US cities and seeing two of my best friends. Below is Portland to the left and a Seattle sunset to the right:
From Seattle I flew back to New York and got a chance to visit with family and friends there one more time. It was the last time I was going to be home for a long time, so I tried to make every minute count (and eat as much pizza as I could!) But I didn’t get to see nearly as many people as I would have liked.
Laurent came to meet me in NY on April 23 and together we prepared for our April 29 departure back to Colombia, South America and that’s where we are at the present moment. We couldn’t be more excited to be back on the continent. We spent our first week on the Caribbean coast in and around Cartagena. Stay tuned for our next post which will detail this beautiful city!