Where You Should Go: Long Weekends in Europe (part 2)

Hi friends, readers, expats! Before I jump into the second half of my long-weekend recommendations, a quick update on my life: I got a job! A real-life, full-time, honest-to-goodness job working as an editor (something I loooovvvvve). A job with a regular paycheck to pay for travel. A job with ample vacation time. I couldn’t be happier! With this latest transition, however, comes fewer blog updates, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. But even though I might not post as often, I’m not going away. (-:

If you caught my last post, you know it was inspired by my friends over at Adventuring Pandas asking me where they should go in 2017. I had more ideas than one post could accommodate, so I broke it into two halves. Voila: the second half!

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Where You Should Go: Long Weekends in Europe (part 1)

My friends over at Adventuring Pandas recently asked me where they should go in 2017. The answer is wherever they can get themselves to, but even after I’d narrowed it down from there, I realized the answer required more than just a Facebook reply—and besides, many of my readers are probably also planning their 2017 adventures.

What follows is the first half of a collection of places I’ve visited in Europe that would make a decent long weekend, with at least one reason why I loved it! The second half of the list will follow in a few days.

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Driving Through the Highlands

Glancing at my calendar yesterday, it hit me that tomorrow, it will have been three weeks since I flew back to the States. Three weeks, that is, without updating my faithful and patient readers on all the cool, non-farming, non-disillusioning stuff I did while I was away!

Allow me to rectify that oversight starting now, with a Scotland omnibus similar to my Trial By Fire post a month ago.

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“What do they need that your talent can provide?”

Today a friend tagged me in a Facebook video of Jim Carrey. In it, he says,

Risk being seen in all your glory. . . . Fear is writing the script, and the working title is I’ll Never Be Enough. . . . How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide?

All month, my working title has been I’ll Never Be Enough, as I’ve managed to fail at everything they’ve given me to do, and at even understanding them half the time. But today, on my penultimate day of volunteering, I have figured out what they need that my talent can provide.

Beauty.

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How to WWOOF Effectively

If you’ve seen any of my recent posts, you know I’ve had some trouble adjusting to my first experience WWOOFing. It has not been all bad, but it also hasn’t been all good. (Whatup, life?) Mostly it’s been my fault for not being really ready.

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Oomph.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I could have prepared better and how it could have gone more smoothly. If you’re thinking of WWOOFing, here’s some advice.

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Mrs A

No country British home is complete without its Mrs A. She cooks, helps with the laundry, and—most importantly my first few days here—keeps everyone warm.

“You just don’t see these in the States,” I said my first day, cozying up to her with a cup of tea.
“Not even in the countryside?” the other WWOOFer here asked, aghast.

Alas, no. My friends, allow me to introduce Mrs A.

(A is for Aga.)

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On Being Spaintaneous

The year before I studied in Germany, a friend of mine studied in Spain. That semester, she stopped wearing her watch, she stopped worrying as much as we’re both prone to, and she learned how to be spontaneous, or, as she called it, spaintaenous.

What a great way to live.

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Pont du Gard, 2009.

Just like my friend, I typically like to plan things. I like to know where I’m headed and what steps I’ll take to get there. But there’s a big, suppressed part of me that hates being so regimented.

And this week, she won out.

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Trial By Fire

Clearly by my last post, you all know I certainly felt in over my head upon arrival. And it was undoubtedly difficult, especially as someone who doesn’t know how to pace herself or when to quit. I had also forgotten I can experience things like homesickness and loneliness, for all my big talk about about traveling solo. Despite all that, after getting to know my host and hostess better—and realizing just how kind they are—I’ve hit my pace and am well-poised to enjoy the rest of this experience.

And what an experience it is! The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Fest is taking place this weekend, and my hostess and I went to a ceilidh to celebrate. I feel like Lydia Bennet when I say I danced every dance!

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Travail

The difficult moment as a travel writer: Do I write about the negatives?

Yes, travel is wonderful. It opens you up to all new experiences and horizons and ideas and people. But it’s difficult—no coincidence the root of travel is the same as that for travail—and how much of that should I write about?

But you see, this trip is nothing like what I expected.

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