Serendipity

The train stopped on the tracks 200 yards past a rural station.

We were about an hour into a Praha to Vienna trip and as my computer clocked continued increasing I ticked down to 0 from the 7 minutes I had to make my connection back home – the last one for the night. I glanced out of the window and saw conductors and then passengers start to meander past.

My tummy rumbled and I thought again of the somewhat-past-prime vegetables I had removed from my bag in the morning. At the time I thought “I’m going to regret this later.” Indeed. An announcement in German was of little assistance and so I turned to my fellow cabin mates.
Waiting for the Train

“I’m sorry but do you know what is going on?”

“Something on the track ahead… we have to wait.”

“Did they say how long?”

“No.”

Over the course of the next hour plus, between getting fresh air, stretching on the segmented gravel, and a few picture opportunities, I learned of the accident at a crossroad on our track. I said a silent prayer for the person, family and friends who were all having a much worse day than I. An 140 minute delay is naught compared to life’s other wreckage.

Sitting back in my computer as we slowly made our way down the tracks I mentally prepared for changing arrangements. Again, glancing out of the window I breathed deep for the beautiful sunset over russet trees and fields of green.

My inner voice sighed contentedly, “relax, appreciate what you have and enjoy the journey.”

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My Kind of Town

I slipped back into my city as if returning from vacation instead of dropping in for a weekend visit. The weather is slightly different seven months later but it feels more like only seven days since I left. Conversations break the spell as lots of “what are you doing here?!”s were not part of my daily NYC life.

My favorite Maintenance Man from my old office building and my bagel guy both remembered my name (and I theirs) with a warm smile. The latter, (corner of 6th and 45th) reached expertly for my cinnamon raisin without missing a beat. A brief catch up on family and workout routine, turning to weather and baseball… our chat wandered the usual paths of acquaintance and ended with a “see you soon.”

I walked away pondering the nature of “soon,” relieved to know my ideas of being able to drop back into this, my city home, were not complete delusions. My list of Must-Eats over the next 72 hours my marker that I don’t currently reside here… But boyhowdy do I live here.

In addition to those meals, I aimed to cross things off my internal “I never did…” list.

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Cervezas y Café Americano

By the numbers… I just began my 20th hour in transit home from Spain. Doing stretches in the second airport of the trip and, while I wish more than ever I had set my literary with direct international flights, I still keep thinking one thing: this is completely worth it.

4 cities in 2 countries visited over 10 days. 1 work trip.

I can’t believe how lucky I was to be paid to take this journey. Yes, I worked. I worked quite hard actually, with a 16-hour final day. I was sucked back into my “old” life as a Production Manager… but this time I was on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. On balance, not a bad life and it was educational to see what working while traveling felt like. I need more time to think about that and digest that trip but I was able to take 2 days in Barcelona before embarking on the Epic and that will be this post.

I was incredibly nervous traveling to Spain. This was the first time I traveled internationally alone. And the last time I went to a Spanish-speaking nation I kept trying to use my limited French. And I had little time to prepare. And I had life and school-work running right up to my departure and didn’t have the time and energy to really think about it. And And And…

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Frozen Dead Guy

“It’s so brown”

…says the lady in front of me at rental check out. She encourages me to leave Denver to go to some much more picturesque place (her intended destination of course) because it is more beautiful. Driving into the city I’m looking at mists rising over mountains. Purples, whites, blues and then the orange of sunset. Dead grass? Sure. It is March. But not muddy or barren (lady, you have obviously not driven in Florida).

Later, while walking through the “revitalized” downtown I’m struck by how empty it seems. That this is the truly ‘dead area,’ though still with rather pleasing peeks at peaks through the buildings. Maybe it is lingering cold. Maybe the last days of snow call weekenders out of the city, but I was surprised at how few people were out and about and using the pedestrian-friendly space. My big-city ears were twitchy at the quiet in such a seemingly urban environment. I thought a “city in transition” was an apt phrase to borrow… but I don’t know really to or from what, it was just my impression.

Long Live Sport

“If they mess up on that first crest, it is basically lost.”

We are up a winding mountain at the purpose of our travel. Two curmudgeonly guys lean on a fence discussing the casket race before them. Costumed runners carry a litter-styled casketed teammate over snow, racing to the cryogenic tent finish. The Dead Guy Games are in full swing.

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