I’m writing to you from the depths of economy on a long-haul flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles. No, it’s not comfortable. Even less comfortable is the fact that I was assigned a middle seat (with no option of changing it!). Fortunately, the woman next to me begged me to change seats with her husband, who was in an aisle seat. I graciously complied.
Now, I’ve already told you about my trip to meet Harrison’s parents. What I haven’t told you about is his trip to meet mine. You see, Harrison may have two parents and a sister, but I’ve got five and three siblings. We’re a bit larger of a family.
So I finally enticed Harrison to fly to California, and I ended up meeting him at my apartment as he landed before I arrived home from Illinois.
I take it you all remember when I faced that gauntlet of his friends? It was a bit similar, as my entire family turned out for the special occasion of Harrison’s visit, including my father, who drove in from work just to (I think) glare disapprovingly at Harrison. That’s what Dads are for, right? We’re just lucky he didn’t whip out the pellet gun.
Day two after his arrival I dragged him to Disneyland, because of course I did.
In total Harrison spent a total of seven days in California, including a road trip of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Those posts are upcoming!
-Carissa, Harrison “This is a Psuedonym,” Diamond and Brit “The Snackiest of Snacks”
You know, we didn’t do all that many tours while we were in Budapest, in stark contrast to our previous vacations. I think it’s because as time has gone on we’ve become more desensitized to the common kind of tours. I mean, I think art is pretty and all, but I can only look at so many different paintings in so many different museums before I run out of energy.
That being said, we spent most of our trip in Budapest relying on rave reviews from others and my old favorite app, “Spotted By Locals,” to get around. Which is how we ended up at Szimpla Kert, one of the immensely popular ruins bars hanging around the Ruins District of Budapest (which, by the way, we were staying in. Yes, I’m great at locations).
Since Harrison and I are ninety year olds in young people bodies we showed up to this bar at 7pm, to grab some drinks and sit around judging people all night long.
No seriously, I basically spent the whole time making up stories about all the people sitting around us. Does that make us boring?
For those of you who don’t know, the ruins bars are immensely popular old buildings in the Jewish District of Budapest, formerly abandoned and now taken over by various hipsters who sell overpriced beer and host local concerts. In short, they’re super cool.
We spent all night at Szimpla Kert, chilling and hanging out, realizing only when we left how lucky we had been. You see, as old farts, we had showed up long before the crowds. But by the time we left, the line to get in was roughly 50 people long, wrapping around the block and back.
Now it’s been a month or two since I went to Budapest, seeing as how I totally failed to post for the last couple of months. However, I am pleased to tell you all that Hungary was my 40th country visited, 30th for Harrison, my male traveling companion, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in this Eastern European country.
Hungary was actually my very first visit to Eastern Europe and I had high expectations. I’ve been all over the west, from Spain to Belgium, and have seen the hordes of tourists battling it out over mediocre museums. From what I’d heard, though, Budapest was positively bustling, a very beautiful city, and dirt cheap.
All these things were true. We spent only four nights, as Harrison and I both have limited time (for some reason he keeps running out of vacation time at work), but we Lived. It. Up.
Actually, we did probably one of my most favorite tours ever here, where a local guide took us around with vintage Polaroid cameras to all the best places in the city and let us take some awesome photos.
This served three purposes: one: it gave us the lay of the land, two: it gave us some amazing souvenirs to take home, and three: I mean how cool are vintage Polaroid cameras?!
I like to think of myself as pretty brave. I enjoy my solo travel, I’m always looking for the craziest thing to do wherever I go, and I’ve eaten more dubious food than I can count.
So when Harrison mentioned the CN Tower Edgewalk, I immediately volunteered. For those of you unfamiliar with this Toronto-nian landmark, it looks like this:
The Edgewalk part is up there at the veeeery top. It’s the world’s highest free walk, which means there’s no guard rail and you’re simply strapped to a thick rope as you circle around the tower, trying not to shit your pants.
Here’s the video. I’m the one looking like I want to die. If you scroll to about five minutes in, you can hear me cursing profusely as I attempt to walk backwards off the edge of the tower. No, I’m not kidding.
I mean, when it was finished I felt all victorious and all, but you could literally not pay me to do that again.
As many of you have likely noticed, Harrison tends to be in a lot of my blog posts. That would be because we are dating.
So, to that end, I went to meet his family this past September. Harrison happens to be Canadian, which is how I found myself for the very first time in the city of Toronto. I could talk crap about it, but I know he (and his family!) will read it, so I’ll refrain. Besides, I loved the city anyway. It’s large and metropolitan and really quite nice.
I will tell you that Harrison and I had been putting off meeting his family for over a year, as we both have serious commitment issues and he tends to be an overthinker. Nobody tell him I told you all that.
So the day finally came when I was to be introduced to his family, and it went a little like this: I flew in from one of my best friend’s wedding, where I was a bridesmaid:
And Harrison picked me up at the airport. He and I both poorly played it cool as we rolled my suitcase to the car and got in. It was a half hour ride to his parent’s home, and we made awkward, stilted conversation as we drove.
The atmosphere in the car was morbid- as if we were making our last, trudging steps to the gallows. He white-knuckled the steering wheel as I clutched his hand ferociously, my mind whirling with fear. “What if they don’t like me? What if they think I’m…weird?”
I mean, to be fair, I am weird. But they don’t need to know that!
Luckily, all my (and his) fears were for naught, as his family turned out to be amazing. I was greeted with hugs at the door, prompt bottles of wine, and excellent food. How much better could it be?
I also met all of his friends in a situtation that I-swear-was-not-like-a-gauntlet-of-introductions.
In short, I had an amazing, happy time. Nothing to fear. Nothing at all.
Today is the 2nd birthday of my blog! It’s been a crazy two years, with so many changes I can’t even count. I’ve lived in four different countries, traveled so much my own family hardly recognizes me, and made friends across the world. To celebrate, I’ve made a map showing the countries I’ve traveled to since starting the blog:
And for those of you who are curious, here’s what my 2019 looks like so far:
Scotland (I can never get enough!)
Israel some more
In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to drastically cut down my travel this year, as my life begins to move into new stages. (Like, why did I have to get a job?) Also, traveling with Brit is going to present me with new and interesting challenges (like certain countries I can’t go to due to quarantine laws). But overall, that list looks good to me.
I’ve had a very blessed two years and my heart is full.
Life is good.
-Carissa, Harrison, and Brit “You Got Any More of Them Snacks?!”
Another picture post today, as I spent the entirety of my summer volunteering at a nonprofit in Tel Aviv teaching Arabic. This was an interesting lesson for me. You see, I have always been an idealist, thinking that being a certified granola crunching woman of the land was my calling (never mind my air-travel pollution). So when I volunteered to teach at a nonprofit over the summer I thought a few things.
1. Finally! I’ll be able to make a difference!
2. Nonprofits are what I want to do for a living.
3. I can totally live on a pauper’s salary.
So, to no one’s surprise but my own, only 1 out of 3 of these thoughts was actually true. (#1, if you’re unsure). It turns out that the girl who flies around first class as much as possible isn’t exactly…stoked about working in a non-air conditioned office in 114 degree weather and 100% humidity.
Not that I’m complaining. I mean, I am. But it was a valuable experience, teaching, and I learned a great many things. I love helping people, that’s true.
But maybe I would prefer to help people somewhere cold. In the winter. With warm pajamas. Enjoy!
It’s now been six months since Harrison and I went to Vietnam. Ok, ok, I get it. I should have written about it. But I’ve been doing so many other things! So, since I’ve got so much more to write about…here are a boatload of Vietnam photos. Enjoy, and try not to be too disappointed in me!
The Cu Chi Tunnels
For those of you who don’t know, the Cu Chi Tunnels are where the Viet Cong hid and lived during the Vietnam War. They’re these insanely tiny holes in the ground, with slightly larger caves that functioned as homes.
No, I would not have survived that war.
Nowadays, they’ve enlarged some of the tunnels for us huge westerners to crawl through, and maintain an open air museum displaying some of the more creative techniques the Viet Cong used to fight the west.
It’s been an awfully long few months, and much to everyone’s relief, I haven’t died, fallen off a cliff, or otherwise injured myself. I’ve simply been very busy.
When last we spoke I was still in school (technically), funemployed, and traveling. Well, as all of you may have guessed, I am still traveling. In fact, I’m on a plane to Georgia (the country) right now. However, I have also officially graduated from the University of Edinburgh.
And gotten myself a job. You’ll all be pleased to know that it’s fully remote, so yours truly can continue to wander around the world, doing whatever I please.
Ok, that last part wasn’t quite true. I’d like to introduce you all to Brit, my service dog.
She and I were paired just about a month ago, and she’s going to be my best companion from now on. You see, sometimes some bad things happen. And some bad things happened to me while I was in the Air Force. But sometimes there are some people who care, truly care, about you, and want to see you well. And for that I am eternally grateful.