Reflections from the Road | 18 Months In

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If January through May were insane and unexpected and spontaneous, and not always in the best way, May and June have gone according to plan for the most part and I haven’t had to tap in to my Good2Go Travel Insurance! I wrapped up my amazing train trek through Europe by adding a few new countries to my list – Switzerland, Slovenia & Croatia; caught up with friends in London; and came home to North Florida just in time to watch my cap-and-gown clad baby sister walk across the familiar football field at Middleburg High School to get her diploma.

There have been mishaps and hiccups, of course, but nothing like the metaphorical face punches of the first 5 months of 2012. Here’s the scoop on the last 60 days!

A rare full family portrait

Highs

  • Adopt-a-Slum is still active and I’m not giving up until I’ve raised the $3,000! Thanks to several of you amazing readers, we’ve raised about $1,100 that I’ve already sent to Kenya to help 30 slum families start their own businesses and give their kids hope of a better future. Thank you so much to those of you who have donated – only $1,900 to go!
  • I wrapped up an amazing week at Blogville in Bologna. In that short visit, there was a press conference in our apartment, we made the local news and along with several other roommates, I was featured in the July issue of Cosmopolitan Italia. The best part was making some very dear friends that I still miss seeing every day. Check out the roomies here.
  • I recovered from TBU & Blogville at two luxurious spas on Lake Geneva in Switzerland; met a fun Aussie guy at a hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and explored Lake Bled together; and visited the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia, all while using my handy dandy global pass from Eurail.com. Is it crazy that I’m already thinking about going back to Europe and doing it all again?
  • The brilliant Costa Brava Tourism Board invited me to experience a week in the region along with a few other travel blogging amigos and I’m so pleased I stayed in Europe long enough to do so! We made pottery, saw the sunrise over the sea from a hot air balloon, had an awe-inspiring dinner with artist Quim Hereu, visited the Dali museum trifecta and had a divine afternoon picnic in a vineyard that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to share all the details (and maybe go back for a visit in September for TBEX??).
  • Another visit to London?!? Yes, I seem to stop there often, don’t I? It’s funny, but suddenly I seem to have more friends in London than anywhere else! On my way back to the US, I had a long layover in NYC, and I didn’t even go out and visit anyone. My how times have changed! While I was in London, I did a fun project with HostelWorld.com — I know, ME & hostels don’t usually fit in the same sentence! —  and experienced Shakespeare’s London with a very cool tour with Context Travel. Will be dishing about all of that in the weeks and months to come!

Reflecting in Switzerland

Lows

  • Ryanair. Can Ryanair ever be put in the highlights column? Those jokers hosed me bigtime, despite the fact that I was fully prepared with my pre-printed boarding pass and appropriate luggage. I ended up paying almost $100 to carry my computer on the flight from Girona to London. I was thisclose to being one of those people you read about who just absolutely loses it and flies off the handle and ends up getting strip searched in some back room with harsh fluorescent lighting. Thisclose.
  • Sorting Hat Fail. I was sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore. I’m pretty distraught. This has far-reaching implications, not the least of which is my trivia group can no longer be called Gryffindor.
  • Adopt-a-Slum. Can I vent for a second? I hate asking people for money. I really, really do. But I also feel like there’s a reason that a well-connected gal like me ended up in a dilapidated, filthy, dangerous slum outside Nairobi. If I can motivate people to travel, shouldn’t I also be able to motivate people to help? If you can’t get thousands of readers, Twitter followers and Facebook friends motivated to drop $1 to change people’s lives… what good is all this world travel anyway? I’m feeling particularly deflated about this, thinking it would be easier and just expecting that folks would care a bit more. I am usually the first person to open my wallet for friends’ 5Ks and mission trips and birthday wells and whatnot, so it really baffles me when folks don’t do the same. Am I crazy? Am I in the wrong for expecting it to be easy? Are there more important things going on in everyone’s life? Gahhh. Ok, rant over.
  • Mean people suck. I’ve run into some really mean people lately! There was a horrible female security guard in Zurich who called me stupid multiple times for trying to help rescue a lost dog in the train station; a rude guy on the train to Lausanne loudly making fun of me for taking pictures of the stunning mountains; a hateful cabbie in Lausanne who yelled at me for forgetting to exchange my euros for Swiss francs; a totally delusional blogger who tried to elevate his own reputation by slandering others… I mean, there are always going to be rotten people and haters. I just wonder if I’ll ever get used to it?
  • Angie Weighs. Whose waistline is this?! In the 12 countries I’ve visited this year, I’ve put on some serious poundage – as I’m sure anyone following my photos from Jordan to Costa Brava can agree. It was unavoidable. I was practically drinking olive oil by the time it was over! I’m down about 8 lbs. since I got home, but it’s been tricky. Pinterest and all its tantalizing recipes are driving me to obesity.
Flooding on my street in Middleburg, Fla. 

Lessons

  • No matter how old you are, living at home will always make you feel like a teenager – complete with angst and rage at your parents who are still… exactly as exasperating as they’ve always been! It’s nice living rent free and all, but good heavens. I feel like I have children!
  • I think I like… cooking! Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been experimenting daily in the kitchen, and attempting to make my Dad cut back on the 3 bowls of cereal and 2 bowls of ice cream he eats every day. I snuck zucchini into pasta the other day and it seemed to go well. Will keep you posted.
  • I also like remodeling & DIY! Pinterest really could not have come at a better time in my personal development. Since I got home, I’ve painted a room a bright, striking blue, stained a concrete floor and made dozens of floral arrangements. What’s next? Crocheting? Watch out, Martha. I’m coming for ya.

Learning to “throw” in Costa Brava

What’s Next

We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

  • New York City. I’ll be in NYC July 7-17 having meetings and catching up with folks. And I’m really looking forward to walking 40 blocks at a time with nowhere pressing to be, sitting at Starbucks for hours on end with an iced latte and a good book, and getting the cheapest & best pedicures the US has to offer. I expect NYC to look very different without the pressure of a full time job weighing down every moment.
  • Atlanta. At the end of July I’ll be converging with tons of old friends in Atlanta for Jamie & Jayson’s wedding – hurray! If that weren’t exciting enough, I’m also on assignment for one of the magazines I write for, so I’ll be going face-to-face with some pretty amazing underwater creatures in the Georgia Aquarium, among other quirky adventures. I can’t wait!
  • Europe? I have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks. The two main travel blog conferences are taking place in September in Portugal & Spain, and I need to decide if I’m going or not. Flights are pricey, but I have the opportunity to speak at a session about travel public relations, and I would love to be able to share my perspective with my peers. AND, if I do head back, I’ll be there just in time for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England – something that’s long been on my bucket list. Decisions, decisions. What do you think?
  • Destination Unknown. I’m working with some amazing brands on projects for the fall, so stay tuned for some big, big things on AngieAway.com.

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Most Popular Posts From the Last 60 Days

Miscellaneous

Top Tips from 18 Months of Perpetual Travel

Jordan

Country No. 31 | Welcome to Jordan

Eating Like a Queen in the Kingdom of Jordan

How Many Millenia Can You Fit Into One Afternoon?

Europe

A Year of Adventures Comes to an End in Europe

I’m taking the train! Highlights from 6 weeks of Eurail travel 

South Africa

South Africa Road Trip

My Love Affair with Sharks

Cape Town: An Instagram Photo Essay

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So, do you hate Ryanair, too? What was your favorite country in Europe? (I don’t think I can choose!) Have you ever sipped olive oil straight? Do you want to? Are your parents crazy, too?

Leave me a note in the comments – I want to hear from you!

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12 thoughts on “Reflections from the Road | 18 Months In

  1. Gina

    Enjoyed reading your recap.Always keep saving lost dogs no matter what anyone says!

    And you should definitely go back to Europe. :)

    Reply
  2. Gerard ~ GQ trippin

    I vote for Europe! I would totally go to TBEX in CB, but I need to use up my United miles by the end of this year. And those miles take me to South America (instead of Europe) almost for free.
    I’m sure there’s so much more you wanted to include in your highlights since Q & I just tried to decide what highlights to include in our 6-month RTW wrap-up. Can’t imagine what happens in 18 months! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Reply
  3. wandergirl

    Yes to all of those questions (including the Europe one, because I don’t think I can pick just one European country)

    I know there were some pretty serious lows in there, but Slytherin?! I really feel for you. I was pretty nervous getting sorted. I think I may have cried if I didn’t get into Ravenclaw…

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    Hi Angie!

    As a fairly new reader to your blog, I hadn’t read about your Adopt a Slum project. What a wonderful way to help give back! I have gladly donated. =)

    Great recap and I am really glad we met at TBU Umbria and to have met up again in London! Hoping to see you back in Europe again soon.

    Reply
  5. jamie

    Yay! Can’t wait to see you in Atlanta in a few weeks. I hope the weekend makes a future ‘Highs’ list and not ‘Lows!’ :) Love you friend!! And ps, you are beautiful! xo

    Reply
  6. Jill

    You’re amazing! I love reading about your adventures – especially when I’m unmotivated at said job! Ha! Keep it up and take advantage of it all. You’re living the dream! (highs, lows and everything in between.)

    Reply
  7. Alex

    I can definitely understand your frustration with Adopt a Slum. Sometimes it can be extremely disheartening when the generosity that we happily extend to others is not returned. At times like that I have to remind myself that I don’t do the things I do in hopes of a quid pro quo, I do them because its what seems right to me. But uh, yeah still a bummer.

    And I’m definitely curious about the hateful blogger! Send me an email if you want to vent, we can trade blogger gossip :)

    Reply

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