Stroll Through Hyde Park

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    Sometimes it just feels good to write…to get it out of your mind and out of your head and most importantly out of your heart, and to put those thoughts into a physical form; something that can been seen and read. I’m sitting on a plane right now, conflicted and confused as to what it is I want out of this life. The easiest givens are usually the hardest decisions. How do you sort through all the clutter and get to the real essence and substance of what makes you, you?

Prosting to the Good Life

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit. Der Gemütlichkeit. Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit”

European adventure! 297

If you just read that phrase, and rather than actually reading it, you were singing along in your head imagining yourself holding up a large beverage in your hand (it better be a large MASS of bier), then you, my friend, are in a good position. If you can sing that song with pride and with affirmation, you have learned the inner-workings of the German culture; the joy, fun, and pure happiness of the culture. You see, when you sing that song, the traditional German drinking song, you instantly become friends with your neighbor. You clink and clank your glasses, you swing and sway your beer, and whether you know the words or not (or if you do, in fact, know the words but have indulged in too much German liquidy goodness that you cannot seem to pronounce the words correctly), you feel like you have instantly become best friends with everyone in the room. And most likely, after a few rounds of singing and cheers-ing, you actually WILL become best friends with everyone in the room.

Ok, ok so I am a little bit biased when it comes to this song. What else do you expect from a girl who is 100% German, after all? Not to mention, my dad is actually in a German Polka band (lederhosen and all), and I was practically forced to learn this song in between learning Christmas carols and church hymns. In fact, my first three words were: Mom, dad, and PROST; this song is just THAT important. Of course, it’s common knowledge that people do have the impression that Germans like to drink, and while I am not here to argue against that (because we all know there is NO arguing that), it’s beyond the beer and the singing. Above all, Germans LOVE spending time with their friends and family, and good drinks are the excuse to always get together. Or wait, maybe it’s the other way around….

In Germany, they have something called “Stammtisch” at local bars and beer halls, where people gather every week on the same day and at the same time, and they are there for no other reason than to spend time with their friends while drinking their favorite beverages. In the Hofbrauhaus, Germany’s most beloved and famous beer hall, there are roughly 15-20 different Stammtisches that meet there every week, and have been doing so for the past three decades. Their pictures hang on the walls, and they even have personal “lockers” where they store their mugs and beer steins for safe keeping. But of course, who DOESN’T have a special locker where they securely lock up their drinking devices in this day and age? In the words of ELF, those folks at the Stammtisch know that “The best way to spread GERMAN cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!”

I absolutely love sharing this tradition with my friends, neighbors, coworkers, and occasionally random people I meet in day-to-day life. But what I love even more than this is learning about other culture’s traditions. We all know that nothing really beats the German drinking song OR German beer (I’m overdosed on Deutsche Pride), but there are so many cultures that have traditions like this one. The Italians need to cheer with their wine, the Hispanics need to sing to their tequila, the Russians their vodka, and the Americans…well, they just cheers to everything. My friend from Israel did teach me that instead of saying “cheers”, they say “La Heim”, which means, “TO LIFE.” In Spanish, they say “SALUD” (which is spelled WAY too closely like “salad”, in my opinion). In Turkish, it’s “Serefe”, and in Japan, they say “Kanpai,” meaning: Dry the glass. 100 dollars go to the first person who can pronounce “Egészségedre” correctly, which means “to your health” in Hungarian.

No matter how you say it, no matter what language you are saying it in, and no matter where you are in the world, the meaning is all the same; to cheers to a LIFE that is worth living.

So raise your glass high, look at the person next to you, and PROST to the road ahead!

Paris, Amour

faire jaillir des étincelles- to make sparks fly
 
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I am a professional croissant eater, a sophisticated beret hat wear-er, and a Moulin Rouge junkie. My winding streets will get you happily lost, and your photos of my elegant buildings and magnificent views will make you feel like a master of photography. Miss Mona Lisa calls me home, and greats such as Michelangelo and Monet keep their treasures here for safe keeping and protection. I am filled to the brim with history and change, and I am the setting of Europe’s greatest love stories. Above the noise and the people, above the monuments and museums, you can find the heart of my being in front of the Eiffel Tower, right there on the grassy lawn. There, you will find the people that have truly embraced and lived my city. Those are the people with their blankets laid out, their bottles of wine opened, in front of the greatest structure to pierce my sky.

Who am I? If I have to tell you, I haven’t done my job correctly.

If you haven’t been to Paris, put it on your bucket list, write it on your calendar, just plan it immediately, right this second. Paris is a city that you can visit a hundred times, and every single time, it will have you experiencing a different kind of magic, it will show you a new side to its already diverse and delicate self. Paris is intricate, and ancient, and magnificent. It will have you catching your breath a thousand times, and yet it will never get old. It’s the city of 101 Dalmatians, The Davinci Code, Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel, Passport to Paris (deep down, we all STILL love Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) Yves Saint Laurent, escargot (snails), and French fries (kidding).

I have been lucky enough to visit Paris on several occasions, and I fall in love with it over and over again. Its stories and and history never get old, and I can eat more Nutella crepes than the population of France combined. My most recent visit was this past summer, and yet again, I found myself in awe of the same sights and monuments I’ve seen on previous trips. It’s like watching a complicated, elaborate movie the second time around; you get so caught up in the plot that you fail to notice the small hints and details that make the movie so enchanting in the first place. I noticed things on this trip that I was blinded to before, mainly for the fact that when I went for the first time, I couldn’t get the image of the Eiffel Tower (and the SHOPPING) out of my head. But the novelty of seeing the Louvre or the Arc de Triomphe doesn’t wear off; it will NEVER wear off. Instead, quite the opposite happens. The more you see it and visit it, the more you are drawn to it; the more you cannot stop looking at it. This effect takes place at every landmark in Paris, and it may have been what the ultimate goal of the original architects was; for the observer to feel like “sparks are flying” whenever they look at a building in Paris.

Between walking around Notre Dame at night, listening to accordion players claim every street corner as their own , and my sad attempt at speaking French (everything I know about the French language is credited to the movie Moulin Rouge, enough said), the moment that I would live over and over again was when my boyfriend and I bought the cheapest bottle of wine we could get our hands on, grabbed some cheese and crackers, and headed over to sit in front of the Eiffel Tower at dusk. Paris was the first stop on our trip, so mixed with the excitement of having the entire trip ahead of us, brainstorming and naming off cities and countries we wanted to explore, and the glittering of the Eiffel Tower right before our eyes, it felt like all was right in the world, and we were on top of it.

 
And sparks were flying.

Today I Make A Vow

Theres a whole world out there

Today I will make a vow: I will NEVER SETTLE for a boring life.
-Post Secret, February 27th, 2013.

How many mornings have you woken up and thought to yourself, “Is this really it?” You work hard during the week, putting in longer than normal hours, only to come home to think about all the work you have cut out for you the next day. You live for the weekends, counting down the hours until that 5pm hour on Friday, even if it is only 10am on a Monday morning, and while your Monday through Friday week seems to go by slower than an 85-year-old driving, your weekends take on the depressing complete opposite effect. Before you can even say the words “Happy Hour”, it’s already Sunday night and you’re catching up on the TV shows you missed during the week (DUCK DYNASTY) and packing your lunch like a child gearing up for the first grade.

Those Sunday nights when I feel like I’m preparing for war (the work week), that’s when reality usually hits me square in the face. When did I become like this? When did I grow up to be a real, working adult? Just a few short months ago, my weekends started on Thursday nights, and even so, I still treated the week like it was one big social hour. Always off and about, always meeting up with friends, and always looking forward to fun, spontaneous plans on the weekends. Now, I’m lucky if I stay up until 10:30 during the week, 12am on the weekend, and if I meet up with friends just one night out of the week, I consider my social life a success.

The transition in between college and “real life” may be the most difficult, the most frustrating transition of them all. Sure, high school to college was a bit scary, but an hour after your parents dropped you off in the Chrystler Minivan and after you snapped out of the whole missing mom-and-dad-and-your-dog thing , you busted through the gates of college and into the land of fun, theme parties, and 2am food runs on a Tuesday night. Your life became 100 times more interesting, and every weekend was deemed “the best weekend ever.”

The upside to this, if it makes you feel any better, is that everyone goes through this. Sure, we all would LOVE to be the Van Wilder’s of our class, and you know, some of us have even tried this tactic (we are all thinking of THAT one person who we personally know) but…

1. You never want to be that person on campus that is clearly trying to relive their glory days and is making it known to everyone by bonging beers with frat boys and
2. You just have to grow up eventually

It’s not fun, it’s not easy, but it’s the reality that we all need to (sadly)(reluctantly) accept. Graduating from college was not something that I was necessarily upset about. It was a bittersweet kind of feeling, in the way that I knew that I was ending a remarkable and unforgettable chapter in my life, yet exchanging that chapter for something “bigger and better.” I want my days, weeks, and months to be as spontaneous and full of life as my college days, and while sometimes I feel that getting that feeling back is impossible because I am a “real working adult”, I know that someday, hopefully sooner than later, that feeling will come back alongside an adventure as big (if not bigger) than college was.

Today I vow to never settle for a boring life, and to live as if my next big adventure is just around the corner.

Who knows, maybe it is?

Photo Credit to: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/travel