I thought finding housesitting gigs would be easy. Turns out there is a lot of competition for the “good” ones, so they get snatched up right away. While in Malaga, Spain, just prior to my Portuguese stint, I saw a listing for a little town called Ubrique—only a few hours by car from where I was. The start date was the day after I finished housesitting in Palmela, Portugal and ended a few days before my flight home from Barcelona. It would be a total of five weeks. The timing was perfect.
Mau, Toots and Kitty were my reason for visiting Portugal. Before I left for Cannes I signed up for Trusted Housesitters, hoping to house sit for as much of my remaining two months in Europe as possible. House sitting is a fantastic service—in exchange for taking care of someone’s home, plants and animals, you get a free place to stay. Lengths and locations vary, but I didn’t have much of an agenda so I was pretty open. I was pleased to receive a response to my inquiry from Annette, a British woman living in Palmela, Portugal, which is a small town about 45 minutes outside of Lisbon. I would be there for a week. As an unexpected bonus, my friend Lissette flew out to meet me. What I initially thought would be a low-key week turned into a side-splitting, sangria-flowing fiesta. Continue reading
When Kara decided she would meet me in Europe for a week after Cannes, she suggested we go somewhere other than France, Spain or Italy because she’d visited several times since moving to New York (yes, poor baby). Always one with an “alternative” location in my back pocket, I suggested Montenegro because of its reputation for being just as beautiful as Croatia, but with fewer people. Actually, it was my sister Joanne who planted the idea even before this Europe trip was a glimmer in my eye. Since Kara hadn’t been to either Montenegro or Croatia, we decided to split our time between the two countries. I had been to Istria, the northern Croatian peninsula, but never to the south, so these were new destinations for us both. Continue reading
After the most circuitous route to the airport I’ve ever taken to pick up my friend Kara, we were both safely snuggled into our little Airbnb apartment in Dubrovnik where we would stay for four nights. We were centrally located between the beach and the Old Town, although Old Town was a bit of a schlep, so we took the local bus. While a little pricey at about $2 for the short 15 minute ride, it was a straight shot from our apartment with little chance for error. Parking in the city is almost non-existent so there was no way I’d be circling in our little rental car. Instead we would use it for exploring locally and driving south to Kotor, Montenegro where we would lay our heads for another four nights. Continue reading
Things didn’t exactly go according to plan. My friend Kara was joining me from New York for a week in Croatia and Montenegro. Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, was the cheapest place for her to fly in and out of, so I flew to Podgorica from Nice two days before she arrived. Unfortunately my connection in Istanbul was of the 14 hour overnight variety, so I made myself a bed at Gate 202 based on recommendations from sleepinginairports.net (yes, it’s real). A few days earlier I was walking the red carpet in Cannes; a sobering reminder that everything is fleeting. Continue reading
After a five-month break back home in LA, I hit the road again.
Lissette, my friend and defacto agent, sent me a job posting for Membership Director at The American Pavilion. I scanned the requirements, then paused when I realized this job would involve working in Cannes as part of the Film Festival. Let me think about this for one minu… resume sent.
After three rounds of interviews, I got the job. I may have let out a little squeal. I was pretty excited. And then the dichotomy of my life hit me over the head. At the same time last year I was learning to ride a motorbike in rural Cambodia. Now I had a job that would take me to the French Riviera for one of the world’s most glamorous movie events. It felt strange; like I suddenly wasn’t sure who I was. Did this cancel out the past year or could I really have both? How did this become my crazy, upside-down life?
One trip I knew I would take while in Buenos Aires was up to Rosario. I met Valeria in Kerala, India and we instantly hit it off, spending a few days together exploring Fort Cochin before she headed home to Argentina. Who knew then that I’d be in her ‘hood less than a year later!
I ate pretty well in 2014. Bun rieu cua (crab and tomato soup) in Hanoi, baked bbq pork buns in Hong Kong, Thai red curry in Bangkok, gado gado (stir fried veggies in peanut sauce) in Bali and kulfi ice cream with rose sauce in Kolkata are a few notable standouts. But after a year in countries that were mostly devoid of cheese, I was giddy with lactose anticipation for Argentina. Similarly, I had a lot of making up to do from months in beef-free Hindu zones, and let’s not forget how wine deficient Asia is! I had my fill of watery beer (sometimes with ice cubes to render it even thinner), longing for the substantial legs of a full-bodied glass of red. Sometimes a girl just needs her wine.
For the last stop on my 15-month journey (HUGE sad face), I wanted to stay still. Instead of seeing a city for a week or two before moving on, I would plop myself in Buenos Aires for 2 ½ glorious months. There would be no vineyard trips to Mendoza; no horse scampering across the wilds of Patagonia. Nope, I was going to rent an apartment, take Spanish classes and allow the city to romance me slowly. Continue reading
After traveling for a year, one gets used to things not going as planned, spending hours in front of the computer or running around town to make changes. I expect this in places like India and Cambodia, so I was shocked at the roadblocks Argentina kept throwing up. Like I was being challenged: How much do you REALLY want to come here? Not that my own incompetence didn’t play a teeny tiny role. Continue reading