In Transit

I have recently discovered one more thing about myself and that is how much I appreciate solitary train rides. It gives me an opportunity to gather my thoughts and allows me to enjoy down time – which I truly need every once in a while to keep my sanity in check.

I actually started writing a blog post on the train en route to home this morning but sleep got the better of me. Now that I feel much more recharged (at one in the morning), allow me to recollect my thoughts and put them in (tada, what else) a list.

1 I realised I am not afraid of dying. How I die, probably. But not dying. I am not sure how morbid this might make me sound but it’s a truth I just woke up to and acknowledged one morning. I believe there is a heaven and that all the people I love but already passed are there. That is where I want to go. That is the reason why I am trying my best to become, at least, a good person while I am here. And I cannot wait to bicker with my brother.

2 Not all losses are equally painful but they all elicit pain anyway. I guess it is safe to say I have my fair share of losses, especially in the past few years. Sometimes, I surprise myself with how I handle them.

Thinking about it now, I talk a lot but I never really often open up to people. When Wency (hi, To. I just have to talk about you now) left us, I had to be strong for our parents cos it was what was needed. I cannot recall the number of times I had to cry on my own because crying in front of them would only lead to an even bigger cry fest. I easily make my family and friends laugh but do not find it as easy to tell them about the personal conflicts I go through cos a) I hate bothering people b) I have always believed these conflicts will pass anyway.

Every other loss that came after 2015 seemed less significant. But I still considered them losses. And yes, they hurt as well.

3 We keep meeting people. And I now honestly believe in the cliche that people come in our lives not to stay but to teach us a lesson or two. I don’t keep a checklist of everyone I ever encountered but I do know that not everyone I used to be  very close to a few years back has stayed until this day.

I guess that is just how it is. If anything, I am not upset.  In fact, I am glad to meet the people I did.

4 I have found my person/s. And while I am not certain I could find a partner who will put up with me and my very sudden mood swings, there is comfort in knowing I have my person/s to harass with my long dramatic messages at unholy hours and decode my one-word responses the next day.

My person/s is one I don’t regularly talk to or see but who understands me the most even if I don’t say anything. It is anyone who can tell me off for making stupid decisions but end our conversation by saying things that uplift me. If you feel like you are that person/s, then you most certainly are.

5 There is so much to life I need to discover. I will take my time to do that.

 

 

Paella & Sangria in Barcelona

After a rainy five-day trip in Paris, we flew to the largest city of Catalonia where we mostly danced around, drank Sangria, walked in the streets of Las Ramblas, and felt the summer breeze. Barcelona, I guess it is safe to say I have fallen in love with you.

Maybe it was the weather that greeted us the moment we stepped out of the airport that did it. Or the tourists from everywhere really. Maybe we got too soaked in the Parisian rain that being someplace warm felt like a breath of fresh air. Maybe it reminded us of home though not quite.

Whatever did it, it sure did the job well. I was charmed and I would not hesitate to go back if I could.

If you are like me who does not mind being all touristy (cos um hello, I was one) in a too-touristy city, below are five things I enjoyed the most about our recent trip to Barcelona that I would not mind suggesting (to anyone who comes across this blog by accident really lol).

1 One of the first things we did after a power nap was to visit Barcelona Cathedral. There was a queue and we were one of the last ones that were allowed to get inside. It was Holy Week when we had this trip so naturally, my mom (being my mom) reminded me countless times to pray and fast – the sort of things we normally used to do back home together during this time of the year. Honestly though, even without prompting, I would still have visited this cathedral (and all the other chapels, basilica, and cathedrals we went to both in Paris and Barcelona) to pray.

I was not surprised to see that the cathedral’s architecture is mainly Gothic – after all, it is located in the city’s Gothic district. After taking in the intricacy of its interior and offering our prayers, we proceeded to the rooftop.

People who know me well would know how much of a sucker I am for rooftops views. If you are like me, please go ahead and do not hesitate to step in on the lift that takes you to the view that overlooks the bell towers, the spires, and the breathtaking city that is Barcelona.

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Again, we were one of the last ones allowed to go up the rooftop and also called to go down (lol) because they were almost closing.

2 I am about to state the obvious but: one’s food experience has a lot to say about one’s overall experience in a place. This is just me saying but a trip can never be complete without going on a gastronomic adventure.

I remember for a few weeks leading to this holiday, we were on treadmills and yoga mats at the gym most nights (lol) – the reason behind this now is as clear to me as the summer skies: I needed some more space to get everything in my tummy.

For someone who has a hefty appetite, transitioning from morning croissants and bowls of hearty French onion soup to massive servings of paella and assorted tapas was not a feat at all. I do not think I am in a position to compare French and Spanish flavors so let me just put it in layman’s terms: you better not miss on all the good ol’ churros & hot chocolate dip, quezo & chorizo, paellas & tapas the esquinitas of Barcelona has to offer. Por favor.

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3 Of course, I could have just easily put food and drinks together in one number in this list but no. My daily affair with sangria while in Spain began as love at first sip and I would recommend you to do the same. Basically, this drink is a mix of red wine and chopped fruits.

After a worst Bacardi encounter last summer and a few post Captain Morgan blackout episodes since the second half of last year, I swore to myself to (try to) mellow down on the alcohol. Sangria might just be the answer I have been searching for.

Our first glass was one we bought while on queue to be served at a tapas bar. The next one was next day’s dinner drink of choice to go with the paella. The third was sangria in plastic cups by the beach. And after we got home from the trip, we have been trying to recreate the recipe in various ways. Hopefully, we get it right in time for summer.

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4 Not only does Barcelona offer a feast for the tummy but one for the eyes as well. Basically, when in this beautiful city, it is a must to immerse in the greatness that is Gaudi’s. 

It is impossible to leave Barcelona without being struck with awe at Gaudi’s works which are widespread. Antoni Gaudi (or as my friend jokingly likes to call ‘Gandi’ lol) was a Spanish architect known to be the artist that brought famous tourist spots such as Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Placa Real to the way it is wonderfully designed today.

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Personally, I was most amazed with his brilliant use of mosaic – e.g seating area at Park Guell and the stained glass windows of Sagrada Familia. If anything, we ended the trip with me having newfound respect for this guy. #GandangGaudi all the way!

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5 One of the other things I enjoyed doing the most was exploring the streets of Barcelona. In particular, I had fun walking the long stretch of La Rambla which was buzzing with different activities establishments – definitely very touristy but worth it.

On our last full day, we had a late seafood and tapas lunch inside the famous market located within the heart of La Rambla which came to be know as La Boqueria. It was lined with food stalls offering everything you would wish to put on your plate – hamon & queso, fruit juices, fresh seafood (and even a small Dunkin Donut shop just right outside lol).

I am pretty sure we have something like this back home – only this one is more packed with tourists and certainly a must-visit. Plus, some stalls accept card payment. A word of advice though: it is still best to carry some spare coins and cash just in case you feel tempted to buy a second cup of their fruit juice.

Another word of advice: As La Rambla is known to be one of the tourist hot spots, it is best to be extra vigilant at all times. It is difficult not to have your eyes caught by the beautifully designed buildings, the lady waving at your from the window of Erotica Museum, the different merchandise sold in the middle of the boulevard, and even the eye candy tourists (hehe just had to mention that one) but just be careful.

In fact, we have to be careful anywhere we go really – in Barcelona or out.

 

 

 

Two months today

It’s been two months since I left home in search for ‘greener pastures’. So much has happened in those two months, I must say. Nothing was easy but there was so much to be thankful for. There is so much to be thankful for. It still feels surreal some days but I’m trying to get used to that feeling while making sure it does not completely blind me from reality.

In those two months, I’ve learned how to trust and to not trust people. I’ve learned that the only person I can ever completely trust is myself. While not everyone is out to get me, I also cannot expect everyone to be true to me. I’ve learned to depend on myself even if it was the last thing I thought would be possible for me to do.

But while it was good to keep some things to myself, in those two months, I’ve also learned to open up to very few people. I’ve put some walls up but I’ve saved a door open for those whom I think are worthy of it. Most of these are those who I came with here, who were as clueless as I was of what would await us.

In those two months, I’ve learned to be prouder of the University I graduated from. I used to think that all the talk about it being one of the top performing Nursing schools in the Philippines was pure hype but it turned out it was not. Four years of vigorous training paid off on the days leading to the exam and on the exam day itself. It definitely felt rewarding.

In those two months, I’ve officially become a United Kingdom Registered Nurse. While this part here has not fully dawn into me yet as it only happened a few days ago, it has definitely redefined my purpose to wake up every morning. A month ago, I used to wake up to nerves, anxiety, and impending doom. After the results were out, everything that used to be greyscale felt more real and alive. My dreams (and Wency’s) are out there and I finally have means to chase them.

In those two months, I’ve learned to look after myself. I’ve done chores I never bothered doing back home and yes, I cook now. While I know it was inevitable, it still surprises me to remember how I’ve been cooking for more than a week now – not just for myself too!

In those two months, I’ve learned to be more open to my family and closest friends back home. It was difficult to have to reply to every single message I received in the first few days but I eventually got used to it. Though I don’t get to talk to my brother or my parents everyday, I try to make sure I get to see them (or to let them see me lol) once in a while just so they know I’m okay – and eating well.

In those two months, I’ve learned to get to know myself better. I’ve learned I can be alone without feeling lonely. I’ve learned I can do things if I put my heart to it one hundred percent. I’ve learned I can meet strangers and eventually treat them as friends. I’ve learned I can let go of people who have long let go of me. I’ve learned of my capabilities – some I never really got to explore when I used to be in the comfort of my own home. I’ve learned I can actually achieve something more worthwhile than the awards I used to get in school and I can discover my purpose this early on in life. I’ve learned I can be generous and grateful because really, we learn to share if our hearts swell with gratitude. I’ve learned to become a better person.

And I’m still learning.

It’s only been two months today and while I don’t know what to expect in the next few days, weeks, and months, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that, as I start with the first few days of the rest of my life, I will continue learning.