While Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, and Paris are all different from each other, I realized on my last trip that I have a certain way that I approach each European city I visit. Since I also get a lot of requests for travel advice from people I haven’t spoken to in years (keep them coming!), I thought I’d share what I do in each city that makes me feel like I’ve gotten to know each one.
While I’ve known about Lithuania’s existence for a long time, having been seated next to a new student from there in my eighth-grade English class, I had never heard a thing about it from a tourism perspective. I knew that Riga, Latvia was a cool city based on what my friend Marie had told me about her long layover earlier this year and I knew that Tallinn, Estonia was a frequent stop on Baltic cruises. It just made sense to add Vilnius into the mix if I was already visiting the other Baltic capitals, but I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I found fascinating during my quick two days of exploring:
Okay, let’s be honest here. The rain is terrible. I get it. I totally get it. The plants, they need it to live. Taylor Swift needs it so she can keep writing songs about kissing it in. When you’re already planning on staying in and having a Netflix day, it’s awesome. But when you’re traveling and you only have a few days to explore a place you might never get back to? It is terrible. So you eat. A lot.
My name is Erin and it has been TWELVE MONTHS and three days since my last trip to Europe, but I am thankfully returning THIS WEEK. And yes, I’m super late with my Croatia content because I went right from that trip to finding a job to finding an apartment to settling in to a busy spring and summer. But some of what’s in Zadar hasn’t changed for centuries, so I’m pretty sure everything I loved about this picturesque town on the Adriatic Sea is still the way that it was a year ago–even if nothing about my own life is the same as then.
At one time in my life, I decided that Summer Erin is the best Erin. I suppose this was when I was in college, when Summer Erin had ALL OF THE FUN. Working at a seafood restaurant, playing (drinking) games until bedtime, sleeping over, and going to the beach with her best friends for 90 days in a row. These days, Summer Erin isn’t totally different from Spring and Fall Erin, though she is definitely way better than Winter Erin. Anyway. I had a summer. It was fun, but not summer 2005 fun, which is probably a good thing, because I am an adult now.
If you follow this blog or know me in real-life, you may be thinking this is where I finally reveal that I shouldn’t have traveled with someone to Croatia who I had just met in August in Ireland a few months earlier. After all, I have yet to even mention my Croatian adventure beyond my recaps (October, 2017, Where to Travel in 2018). But the truth is, that wasn’t a mistake. In fact, since my traveling companion and I didn’t know each other that well, it was easier to go with the flow than if we’d been traveling with people we knew for longer. And we’ve stayed friends, even meeting up in NYC just a few weeks ago.
Okay, listen. I had all intentions of keeping up with my blog with my full-time job, but it’s difficult! Not only am I busy from 8 to 6:30 (that’s including my commute), but I have a social life again after being gone from the city for almost two years. Your girl is straight-up tired. AND here’s the (somewhat) sad truth. My days run into each other, my weeks run into each other, and my months run into each other. Not much changes day-to-day so it would have been a veritable copy/paste from one month’s recap to the next. So instead of being late with my April and May recaps where I also might have had to address that I turned 33, I present you with my SPRING recap, or rather some highlights from a very busy season, that started with a weekend with my family for Easter:
Since I began my new job in mid-March, it’s taken me a few weeks to settle in and figure out my commute, schedule, and energy level. I’ve been trying to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while as well as get to know my new coworkers (who are all nice, funny, and welcoming, for the record). I’ve also still been working on my apartment and the exploration of my neighborhood which takes up a good amount of time. I know, “excuses, excuses”, and I’m sorry I’ve been quiet on here, but I promise, I’ll still be around. Here are some fun things I did in March:
When I first moved to the NYC area, I started off in Jersey City, near Grove Street. I lived there because I found a penthouse suite (okay, the top floor of a three-story building) for way less than anywhere I’d seen in Manhattan, right down the street from two of my closest friends Caitlin and Tyler (one of whom has an awesome food blog). I only lived there for a year and two months because I had gigantic dreams of living *in* the city, not just right next to it. This was also during a time in my life when I was staying out until 4 a.m., and not just on weekends, so I thought Manhattan would be easier for my social life.
I didn’t spent a lot of time working on my blog in February because my life was kind of insane, in the best way. That’s because I moved back to New York City this week after being away for more than a year and a half!
My name is Erin and I’m a beach snob. I grew up ten minutes from the beach in South Jersey, sandwiched in between the popular resort towns of Ocean City and Sea Isle City. I cannot reveal the name of my favorite beach that I go to every day in the summer when I’m at my parents because I don’t want too many others to know about it. In college I had in my AIM profile: “Our life, your vacation.” I’ve been to beaches elsewhere in Jersey, but I’ve never been super impressed whether from the sand quality (it matters!), the slope of the beach as you approach the ocean (looking at you, LBI), or the clientele (no comment).
I know from social media that I’m not the only person who thought January was unusually long. Of course, it lasted 31 days as it always does, but it just felt like it was never going to end for some reason. Maybe because of the cold weather? Maybe because there were 5 Mondays? Maybe because of all the nonsense going on in the world? Whatever it was, it’s nice to finally be in February now.
Many people get excited about the end of the year because of the holidays, the time off, the food, and seeing family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome (duh), but another tradition I get excited about around this time is seeing the next year’s “where to travel” lists, the pinnacle, of course, being the NY Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Yes, I was one of the 9,000 people to apply for the job of visiting and writing about each of the 52 places over the upcoming year. I didn’t get it.
As you will understand from reading this post further, I am a sensitive person. And while this affects many aspects of my life, I don’t know if it had ever affected my tastebuds until I ate at Divya’s Kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in mid-December. With the first bite of each dish I sampled, I felt like I was going to cry. I can’t tell you if it’s because of how the spices brought me back to Bangalore (where I spent four magnificent weeks in 2016), or because the experience was so beyond what I was expecting, or because the food was exactly what my body needed at that exact time, but the emotion was there.
I already published one recap last week, but it can’t replace this post because it’s my 24th monthly recap without skipping one and I need to keep it up or else you’d forever be wondering what I did this month, right?