How Piercing My Nose Changed Me

How piercing my nose changed me. From scaredy-cat to kind of brave.
It’s cloudy and rainy when we walk into the piercing shop in Brasov, Romania. One of those bone-chilling days where the right idea is to stay inside and do nothing. But, with a new city outside my hostel door, sitting inside is the last thing I want to do. So, with a new friend at my side, the two of us venture out. And, end up in this little piercing shop.

“I’ve always wanted to get my nose pierced,” I announce to my friend as we stare at the selections.

“Well, you should do it,” he says.

I let the thought cross my mind, and quickly let it leave.

Truth: I’m a chicken

Blog Europe Romania

Daily Wanderlust: Brasov’s Town Square

Located in Transylvania, Brasov, Romania is a small city (and one of the most visited in the country). Here, people can explore the nearby mountains and local Dracula lore, rent cars and go on day trips, even wander the narrowest street in Europe, measuring a whopping four feet across.

My favorite thing to do while visiting Brasov was head to the Town Hall Square to simply look around. The square features some magnificent examples of color baroque architecture, and historic landmakrs like the Black Church, the largest gothic church in Romania.


Istanbul (not Constantinople)

“Ooooh … Istanbul … so lush,” Gemma had exclaimed before I departed from Spain to Turkey.

In my mind, there was something so exotic about Turkey, some mystical, magical place where Europe hit Asia with thunder.

Arriving into Istanbul, I was far from disappointed.

When I boarded the Havas bus at the airport (I flew into Sabiha Gocken, the Istanbul airport on the Asian side of the country), I met Joe, a guy from Barcelona visiting the country for the first time.

As if I wasn’t excited enough, he fueled it even more, exclaiming as we drove by the colored homes, over the large bridges, “I can’t believe we are in Istanbul!”

He and I separated ways in Taksim after exchanging numbers, and I headed down to Guilhane to Harmony Hostel.

Of course, even with detailed directions, I got lost.

“Where are you going lady?” “Can I help you?” “Do you need a room?” “Where are you from?” Men called to me from their shops and restaurants. At first, I ignored them, thinking back to Morocco, and then I just let it all in.

They gave me directions, offered to carry my bags, kissed my hands, asked me to come back later and talk to them … ahh, those Turkish men.

I arrived to Harmony Hostel after a few minutes talking to one particular carpet shop owner who proudly displayed a feature a magazine did on him before I was able to scoot away.

I was baffled.

A rug shop. No hostel.

I looked up at the red and white sign displaying the name.

Yup. Harmony Hostel.

I looked to the doors. Rug shop. Tattoo/body piercing shop. Next building.

“You need a hostel?” A tall, young man with a silly grin on his face, called to me, popping his head out of the rug shop.

“Yup,” I said, gesturing to the backpack on my back, the messenger bag swung around my neck. “Where is Harmony?”

“In here, my friend! In here,” he said, directing me into the rug shop.

Well, this is new.

We walked through the rug shop, over the fake wood floors and up two flights of cement stairs. Then, we crammed into a little elevator, and went up four more flights, then got out, and walked up another two flights of stairs.

D, a backpack and a million stairs to climb does not equal happy.

I greeted the girl at reception, a petite brunette who told me my room was back down nearly half of those stairs. As I was checking in, a familiar face caught my eye.

“Hey there,” I said, turning to the pale, blue-eyed guy sitting on one of the cushions. “Brasov … Kismet Dao … do you remember me?”

He blinked a few times and then smiled.

“Yes! I do! How are you?”

Craig and I went through a quick catch-up. We had met in Brasov and hung out one night together. It was nice to see another familiar face, even if he was heading out to Bulgaria in two hours.

We chatted until he left, and then, hot and tired, I went down to my room where I quickly passed out.

I awoke the next day ready to see Istanbul.

Blog Travel Turkey

Steering wheel death grips and driving in Romania

Remember, 10 and 2, D. 10 and 2. And, go slowly. Very, very slowly.

Car packed with the three Aussies, I pulled out into Brasov’s traffic.

Oh. My. God. I hope we don’t die. I hope I don’t kill anyone. I hope I don’t hurt this car because I really, really cannot afford to lose the 400 Euro deposit.

My shoulders were tight and nearly touching my ears. My arms were locked straight out. And my hands kept tight on the steering wheel as nearly six weeks of not driving paralyzed me. That, and never having driven in another country.

How did I get roped into being the driver?

Blog Romania Travel

Three Aussies and an American

I was laying in bed Saturday morning when I met Chris, a shaggy brown-haired, adorably cute Aussie.

I was exhausted — the night before Benjamin, Tommy and I headed out with Scott and Heidi (my friends from Budapest), along with a group of four who had rented a car for the night to get out of Bucharest. We enjoyed traditional Romania fair at Sergianna (delicious) and then headed back to Crew Bar, where we were treated to complimentary drinks and a game involving dice ensued.

Actually, it was a nasty little game that revolved around rolling one die and stating before the roll if a specific number was rolled, then something would be done.

For example, Benjamin said if he rolled a four, he would drink a double shot of whiskey. And Scott said the number he rolled would be the number of shots he would drink. And Ryan, a new member to our group, said if he rolled a two, he would buy a bottle of wine.

The die won those rounds and more, and after we left Crew Bar, we ended up in Kismet’s basement, playing cards and drinking more beer.

The next morning, well … suffice to say, we all felt like a million bucks.

After attempting to stay awake with Benjamin to watch “Beer Fest,” I slowly crawled back up Kismet’s spiral staircase to Ageeth’s Room to my bed.

And, that’s where Chris comes in, my main partner in crime (and breakfast-maker and perhaps travel buddy to Morocco) in Brasov.

Blog Romania Travel

A BRIEF intermission: Chasing spring … two months in

Today, May 7, is my two month anniversary of traveling. It is the longest time I have been away from home. The longest time I have been away from family. The longest …

For two months now, I have chased spring. It started in Spain, with the first buds on the trees, the first field of little yellow flowers, and has followed me since then.

Spring is an amazing time of year. It is about birth. About starting new. And, it signifies a lot to me, since this trip is a birth of sorts for me. I have literally taken my entire life’s work, my dreams, my desires, and washed them from my mind and here, have begun to reconstruct the wheel, to re-identify what my dreams and desires could be/are.

A year ago, when I lived in Atlanta, I remember marveling at the city’s sheer gorgeousness with the changing of the season. The pink flowers that would sprout from the winding trees. The bright green grass that would pop up overnight. The light wind that would gently blow during days spent at Piedmont Park, taking in the South’s spring.

I would never in a million years have imagined spending my spring 365 days later in Europe, living in a prolonged (and amazing) spring for nearly two months.

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