Do as the Parisians do

June 6, 2017

For me, traveling and tasting go hand in hand. So much can be learned about a country’s history, region and way of life through by trying what’s eaten there day to day. Walt and I have come to love exploring the our ports of call through their cuisines. Whether it be through food tours, cooking classes or simply sampling interesting looking restaurants in our neighborhood, I feel we peal back the stories we read and the suggestions we’ve heard and finally get to experience just a bit of a place first hand.

So before we even arrived we knew we wanted to participate in some food tourism while we’re in France. If we had more time here, I would have loved to enroll in some practical cooking classes. I don’t need to go to the Cordon Bleu or anything, but I would love to learn a thing or two about true French bread… or sauces… or pastries… I digress. Unfortunately, we only had a limited time here, so we opted for an evening class about two of the most quintessential items in French cuisine: wine and cheese. Continue Reading

Paris, je t’aime

June 4, 2017

On my first day of 8th grade at East Jr. High School I walked into Mrs. Cross’s French 101 classroom without truly knowing what I was getting myself into. I had never seriously studied another foreign language, but 13 year old Kylie was enamored by the idea of being so worldly that she could speak dozens of languages, flitting between dialects with ease and perfect pronunciation. Fat chance teenage me, being fluent in a second language takes years of hard work and practice, and to be honest, it was far outside your attention span then… as it probably remains today.

I ended up studying French for eight years in middle school, high school and through half of college, and I have a remarkably laughable grasp on the language to show for it. But more than studying verb conjugations and past participles, my French studies were an entry into the history, art and culture of the countries that speak it. Before arriving I knew that France has an odd mix of cultural conservatism and political progressiveness, that folks visit their local baker at least once if not twice a day, and that egg dishes are totally welcome outside of breakfast (And for the record, I’m totally on board for omelets for dinner any day of the week. Why on earth would you ever limit yourself?). I had grown to romanticize what it meant to be French and all that life style entails without ever having been there.

But let’s be honest. When it comes to Paris in particular, the entire world seems to have these same picturesque notions. No other city in the world has been built up to be so enchanting, halcyon and romantic. I mean, every time I say the word ‘Paris’ I have to fight hard not to make it sound like sigh just aching for a ‘dah-ling’ to immediately follow.

The thing is, my first impression leads me to believe Paris more than lives up to it’s hype. I’m trying to look at it objectively but it’s hard looking past the Haussmannian apartments dripping with green planter boxes, the old gentleman walking his terrier with a baguette tucked under his arm, and the glowing lights of Notre Dame flickering off the waters of the Seine to see faults to this place. It’s as if there’s a spell over this city. Heck, even Walt loves it here. After discovering that our apartment is directly across the street from a green grocer, baker, pastry shop,  butcher, cheesemonger and wine shop, each a different store, one after the other down the block, he turned to me and asked “So when do we move here?” I think he was joking, but I’m not quite sure.

We only just arrived and I’m already regretting only spending two weeks here. Never the less, we are determined to soak in as much as we can of this breathtaking city before we must move on to our next destination… where we will inevitably start planning our return to Paris. It may take years, but I already know I’ll coming back.

 

 

 

Despedida, Portugal

June 3, 2017

There’s something romantic about Portugal. Perhaps it’s the collective longing for a bygone era. A yearning for a time where the power of the Portuguese spanned the entire globe. Or maybe it’s the back to the earth momentum, finding value in crafts like making wine, pressing olives and curing presunto. Then again, it could simply be the sunny hospitality that the Portuguese show toward the gaggle of European and North American tourists that flock to their country.

Whatever it is, I am so thankful to have spent the last five months embraced by such a culturally and historically rich country. Thank you for opening up for us, Portugal. We’ll be back.

Coworking roundup

June 1, 2017

Here on Off They Went I end up writing about the adventurous side of our travels – breathtaking hikes, memorable meals, and visits from friends – but that horribly misrepresents what our average day looks like. Far and away, the majority of our waking hours are spent working: generally in a 10 am – 6 pm fashion, five days a week. Walt with his handy laptop stand and me sketching on my iPad, sitting side by side, in the zone with our headphones in, checking in every once and a while to gauge when it’s time to grab some lunch.

Super engaging, am I right?

It goes to show why there isn’t a lot of representation of our working life here on the blog. Work is still work, no matter where in the world I am, it seems. Although, one thing I am really beginning to enjoy is the change of environment we work in. Specifically the multitude of coworking spaces we’ve been able to try around the world.

Walt swinging away after a day at work at Village Underground in Lisbon

As of now, Walt and I have visited sixteen coworking spaces in four different countries. Most of these visits were just for a day or two; either we were just visiting the city for a short time, as was the case when we were in Tokyo, or we we just arrived to a city and were checking spaces out before choosing one to join for the extent of our stay. At the beginning of this trip, these trial visits were a little intimidating. We didn’t know what to expect and I found it hard to focus in a new surrounding – getting through my daily to-do list was pretty difficult. But by now Walt and I know what we need from a work space, what are nice haves and what are deal breakers. We can spot what coworking spots will jive with our needs from a mile a way, but we’re also become much more flexible with our environments. It’s way easier for me to mentally engage in my work while in nearly any environment than it was when we left Seattle.

I thought it would be fun to put together a little coworking roundup, touching briefly on all the offices we’ve tested out in chronological order. I’m not sure if this would be of actual use to anyone planning on traveling and working remotely, but it was fun to put together and to mentally revisit all of these spaces.

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Following Bourdain

May 25, 2017

If you find yourself spurred to visit a country, often that initial urging comes easily. You read an article, chat with a colleague, watch a movie, or eat a dish and boom – all of a sudden you want to go to Seoul, Bruges, or Johannesburg. But beyond that foundational spark, it can be a daunting task to try to round out your trip. Chances are you’ll only be in that country for a relatively quick stay, you want to make the most of your visit: soak in the most history, eat the most authentic food, and see the most breathtaking sights. Superlatives abound.

This makes complete and total sense. It’s what tourism is. So, what do you do?

Well, personally, I look to Anthony Bourdain… and, so it seems, does everyone else.

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Sonnet to a stair

May 20, 2017

Ugh. Breath, the usher of life’s great trials,
you, who oft catch, hitch, shallow and quicken,
typically not what my body exiles,
yet from my lungs, it seems, you’ve been stricken.

Plodding, step after step, foot above foot,
climbing up a never easing incline,
my evening goals, my dinner plans: caput
once my shoe lands in some shit-de-canine.

Treacherous when dry, but hell in the rain,
steps that spite me after my day at work,
you offer nothing but my legs to pain,
a cheep beer in hand is too small a perk.

At day’s end, it’s always me who declares:
I don’t wanna walk up those effing stairs.