Hello wonderful people!
I hope everyone is recovering from Christmas and Hanukkah and gearing up for New Years! I’ve been over here in Europe diving into a few months of travel— hopping on and off flights and meeting up with many of my favorite people. Needless to say, I’m feeling truly blessed!
Two weeks ago Friday, after wrapping up finals, consuming as much falafel as possible (how I am going to last without it for two months I do not know) and packing up my backpack, I was off to Madrid to meet up with our closest family friends and neighbors, the Weiners. I met them at the beautiful Air B&B they were renting right off of Plaza Mayor and immediately was surrounded by an essence of family, conversation and care that I have been missing since July. We spent our days exploring Madrid (museums, cathedrals, markets) and eating fantastic food (specialty mushroom restaurant, Christmas dinner at the oldest restaurant in Europe and more hot chocolate than anyone could keep track of).
We managed to sneak in some tradition too— celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on the 24th. Naomi even relinquished her “youngest child gets to light the candle on the first night” privileges and insisted that I take over. What an honor! Christmas packages and breakfast followed the subsequent morning, along with a leisurely walk around the neighborhood before attending a professional flamenco show that evening. Such a treat! Other highlights of Spain included day trips to Segovia and Toledo, exploring the Jewish history of Spain, cuddle sessions with Naomi, in-depth political discussions, laid-back family time and conversations about Israel.
Early Thursday morning I bid goodbye to the Weiners and flew to Austria to meet up with Maggie. Bless her soul for flying across the world (and out of her comfort zone) to come to find me! Although, I’m not sure I’ve expressed my thankfulness adequately yet, as she likely currently hates me for dragging her around outside all day to kick her jet lag. Truthfully, I failed on this account today when we came back to the hostel for a midday snack and I found her asleep at 5 pm. Oops! (Hi Mags, you’ll read this when you wake up!)
In other news, we have spent the past few days walking around Vienna, visiting museums, getting lost, wandering in and out of cathedrals, drinking mulled wine and enjoying the weird holiday spirit that occurs between Christmas and New Years. It’s been fun for me to experience the wonders of European culture again through her fresh, new, untravelled eyes. “Why is there so much smoking?” “They eat a lot of meat.” “All the cars are small.” “They aren’t as rushed as Americans.” “Jet lag is so weird.” I smile at each observation— realizing how (somewhat) accustomed I’ve come to jumping in and out of countries and cultures. I suppose I’m still as observant as ever, but less surprised by the differences themselves. In that sense, it’s been a treat to have her here and give her a taste of the life I’ve been living for the past few months. The jury is still out on her opinion! I’m not sure if I’m converting her into the curious world traveler that I am anytime soon, but lord knows I’m trying.
As far as New Year’s Eve plans, this evening we are headed out to a large street party in the center of the city— complete with music, lights, fireworks, hot drinks, sausages, potato wedges, treats and just about every white-bread-meat-beer combo one could imagine! Europe at its best. We’re hyped! (Although Mags is probably currently praying I won’t make her drink any beer or walk too many more miles.)
And with that, I wish everyone the most fulfilling and positive last day of 2016. What a year it’s been! Globally, it’s been a rough one. Personally, it’s been a great one. I climbed some tall mountains (really tall mountains), spent lots of time outside, moved to a new country, began to learn a new language (shoutout to עברית), ate amazing food (obviously worth including), excelled academically, made new life-long friends, enjoyed my family and home and said “yes” to many opportunities outside my comfort zone.
I am blessed for this life I lead and the people I am surrounded by. I am incredibly excited to share 2017 with you all. Here’s to another year of #doingthings! There is so much ahead.
Happy New Years & much love to you and your families.