Milan, Day 2

There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about my trip to Milan.

Using my extraordinary packing skills, i managed to get a lot of stuff into the Made in China bags and also got them to weigh the exact maximum of 23 kg each, without weighing anything prior to that. Although it is true that i know my jeans weigh about 500 grams, and 4 winter sweaters are almost 1 kg. Nevertheless, impressive. Especially as my father was certain that each back weighed more than 23 kg and was sure that the black one was much heavier than the blue one. Nope.

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Seeing the city again did not cause any positive emotions –  i knew the streets, i recognized the neighborhoods  i understood the language –  but i had not missed any of it, even if at times, when in Chisinau, I had thought i did. And now, i miss Chisinau. So i guess i do think that it’s better where i am not, that the grass is greener in the neighbor’s garden, or, in this case, that the weather is warmer in Chisinau. It’s not, but still, frustration remains.

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This would have been the first time in 5 years that i had not seen the Milan Christmas tree. But there is nothing to see –  Italy is in crisis, the officials allocated far less money for decorations than last year and, this time, i think i can say that no, there is not much of a Christmas atmosphere here in Milan. The latter is more present in Chisinau, where street decorations go all the way to my house. Mmm, my house. The double bed. The tea that tastes better. The TV that i watch only on Tuesdays….

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As i came to Milan, most of my closest friends either left for their Christmas breaks or were preparing to. Seeing them off to the airport, i was left in the snow thinking: and now what?  My feet were wet, my hands were tired and my back hurt from carrying a heavy bag around all day. I thought i had escaped the harsh winter weather, but i guess one can fly away but one cannot hide. It snowed here in Milan, but, surprisingly, traffic was not paralyzed and people seemed to be enjoying the snow. Even I had a small snowball fight, at 4 am.

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I intend to make the most of the people that stay here for the holidays. I have made a bunch of promises to myself –  some of them i have actually written down, and for some i have already set up the infrastructure. But, undoubtedly, some of them will remain with the status of project. Some of them will be dismissed gradually, while others will be shot out in the earliest stages. And only a few pre -christmas holiday . beginning of new life resolutions  will actually be honored. I just do not know which ones yet.

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My first holidays abroad. I wonder how i will pass them. Writing my thesis and working my ass off, i suppose.

How “Back to Moldova ” day 44 changed into “Back to Milan” day 1

It all changed in one minute.  Most of the times, that’s all it takes.  And yes, when an opportunity knocks at your door –  or in this case, calls you on Skype, you do not say no. You maybe think for a little about how you will be sad and lonely for the winter holidays, but then you remember that you have old friends where you are going, people that you need to reconnect with, people that you were once very close to. So you  buy a plane ticket. You cut your hair, you paint your nails, pack 2 huge bags of everything, buy candy and biscuits, say goodbye to friends and family. And you go.

Because enough is enough. 44 uninterrupted days at home. Unemployed. Or, as i thought of it –  unpaid vacation.

These have been 44 very full days.

Wine with parents, discussions about times long gone, philosophy debates, musical debates, double bed, always a full fridge without having to go to the store, food on the table with no prior cooking, and always a sink full of dishes. Time spent with friends. Fun.  Beer on Saturdays (part of the Alcohol Consumption Decrease Program), coffee at the local Starbucks look-alike every other day, sharing stories and emotions. Paying only 19 euro cents for public transportation when in a hurry, and 13 euro cents when in the mood to contribute directly to the state. Cold outside, but expensive heat system working indoors. A bath tub, and bath salts. Lots of pairs of shoes to choose from before going out. Lots of winter coats. And scarves. And umbrellas. A washing machine that plays a song when it is done washing. Dancing classes. And lots of To Do Lists.

It’s snowing.

But enough is enough. It is time to do some actual work and some good for the economy.  Or some damage to the hiring company –  this might be more my case :)

Airports (2)

Los Angeles, LAX Airport, October 2006 –  Saying Goodbye

After the extraordinary US trip, we had to say goodbye to a very good friend, who flew to Boston Airport. We have not seen each other since, we are most likely very different persons by now, but i still remember the good times we had together and i still refer to her as “a good friend of mine” D., I miss you ….

New York, JFK Airport, October 2006 –  Hello again

After the trip, me and O. traveled to New York again, to get our bags and spend another night at the youth hostel. By that time, i already had a laptop and thus i joined the persons sitting on the floor in the hallway, talking in skype, using the marvelous WiFi…  Nevertheless, the most memorable moment was when we both got down to the common kitchen and cooked a porridge, and, not having any butter for it, we stole some from the fridge. The latter butter  had a sticker with a name on it –  but we did not read the name, as we did not want to feel like criminals and actually put a name to the sufferer of robbery. I still remember how we cut the butter with a fork, leaving 4 distinctive marks, thus turning the theft act into an obvious one…

MIlan, Malpensa Airport, October 2006 –  Back to Europe

Apparently there was bad weather in NY, because we got on the plane and waited for almost 2 hours before it took off. We were standing in a line  – I was seated at the window and i counted 18 airplanes airborne before us. Nevertheless, we had TVs in and thus on that plane i watched “The Lion King” for the first time. Our adventure had ended, and little did i know that another one was about to begin …..

I rememer how after getting on the bus from Bucharest to Chisinau, i got off at the Central Station, at about 5 AM in the morning. I had no money, so my only option was to wait for my father to get there and take me home. As it was dark, i positioned myself next to a vending booth, where i witnessed people coming and asking for means to get warm.  Both coffee and tea were sold at that booth, but before my father came, it was the vodka that was finished….

And that is where the trip that started my trips ended.

From there, i started my studies in Italy and thus …. Bucharest Otopeni, Milan Malpensa, Bucharest Baneasa, Milan Bergamo, Chisinau Airport. All so familiar.  I traveled. Rome, Bari, Dublin, Barcelona, Vienna, Madrid, Prague, Budapest… Airports, train stations, bus stops… All the same.

Keep moving, it’s fun.

Back to Moldova – Day 1

I had decided not to sleep before my 8.00 AM flight to Chisinau, as i had to leave for the airport at around 4 in the morning and considered that 3 hours of sleep would not be enough anyway. I was probably wrong, as while watching a movie, at about 2, my eyelids were already heavy as lead.  Or,  it may have been because of the movie itself …

I was watching ” Parallel worlds” – a movie for girls, as a friend put it. It starts with a great idea, and has a great sci-fi plot but…  it does not explore all the possibilities and, instead of focusing on details and on tackling the novelty of the idea, it is based more on the love story.  They kiss and they hug and they run away from villains that appear out of nowhere without any explanation as to why or how. Then lots of other stuff happens without any logic, and all one can do is shrug and say ” Oh well, the idea of the movie was nice.” It kinda made me think that no, a brilliant idea is not enough –   you have to find the right way to approach it, to tackle the issue, to present it. Otherwise that’s all it is –  an idea. And maybe, due to the fact that you brought it into the world but did not exploit it well, you have hindered others from doing so too, as, by stripping it of its originality, it will never produce the same wow effect.

However, i did manage to stay awake after 2:30, which is my threshold time. If i pass it, i am then awake with no external stimuli, like coffee for example. I did have some chocholate about that time, but that does not count :)

The tram i got into was not empty, as one would have thought, at 4:20 AM on a weekday. Recently i discussed the issue of homelessness with a friend, and my theory was correct –  yes, poor homeless dark skin people sleep in the nr9 tram till the last one ( around 2.20 AM), then they get off at the Central Station where they wait, quite cold, for the first nr9 tram ( at 4:00). So yes, at that early hour, i was glad not to be alone in the tram, but with a friend.

A.  saw me get on the bus to the airport and then waived at the whole bus, as the latter had dark windows and he could not quite locate me in it. It was sweet of him to stay awake with me and then take me to the station, so thank you –  i will send you a bag of goodies, you just wait :)

I closed my eyes for a second, in the bus, and when i opened them, i was already at the airport. The same thing happened in the airplane –  and no, i did not get the salty or sweet crackers and juice that the stewardesses offer during a Meridiana flight. Oh well. At least i slept and thus did not worry about dozing off in the minibus to the city, where it would have been more dangerous to do so, as pickpockets operate on route daily. Although i do admit that it would have been harder to nap on the minibus due to the stinging mixed odors of alcohol and cheap perfume, or fresh meat, pickles and/or live animals/birds.

I got home safely and with a comforting feeling that yes, it was good to be back. Even if the streets were muddy, the sky was cloudy, the drivers nervous and speeding and the apartment was freezing. But the bright side was that the fridge was full and that the water was hot, so after grabbing a bite of my mom’s extraordinary chicken schnitzel, i took a short, but very relaxing hot bath. I only managed to fill half of the bathtub with the water from the boiler, and it got cold quite quickly as i did not have any means to replenish it, but nevertheless, the experience was satisfactory and will be repeated the next time i find myself home alone and/or when i locate the bath salts i stashed somewhere last time i was home.

Even if it was my first day back, i did not manage to escape neither questions nor personal fears about my undefined future. I answered the questions as sincerely as i could – stating that i am not as lost as it may seem and that i plan to take matters seriously, prioritize and find solutions to both my professional and personal uncertainties. In short, i said i would return to being the person that my CV says i am. I decided that i need to prioritize and multitask, as all of the pending issues are of great importance and that i need to act simultaneously on more than one front. So tomorrow, my 2nd day, i plan to get started. Hands on, proactive and motivated. Yes.

It is good to be back home, in my huge bed and my yellow pajamas. Lights off. Day 1, over.

Dear Hostels.com

Incoming message : “We miss you ! It’s been a long six months without you !”

Reply:

Dear Hostels.com,

i am really sorry, but i cannot say i feel the same about you. Also, it pains me to tell you that …  there is somebody else. Someone who has been there for me every time i needed, someone who has helped me, offered me ideas and suggestions, and, most importantly …  offered me better prices. I cheated… with booking.com.  And i am not sorry. Together we have been to more than one location, Budapest, Prague, Barcelona….  And we are happy together.

although me and booking.com are going through a break, i hope that things between us will get better. i do not have the time and the resources to be together with it at the moment, but i do miss the cities, the travelling… i miss it a lot, and i hope that in the nearest future, we will be reunited.

Still, dear hostels.com, i hope you learn a lesson from all this and become better. With more locations, more hostels, better prices and discounts. And then, i may come back.

Till then, goodbye !

Airports (1)

I recently heard someone brag about how many airports he had seen. Well, its not the airport that’s important, its where it takes you.

Airports –  they get you places. They are the beginnings and ends of journeys. Beginnings and ends of experiences.

Bucharest, May 31 2006. Work and Travel, the beginning. 

I have seen my first airport at the late age of 21. With a brand new passport in my hand, with a huge black luggage and a hopeful heart, i entered the Bucharest Henri Coanda Airport on the 31 st of June 2006. My friends were already there, ready to embark on what we knew would be the adventure of our lives. On our way to the US. To live the American Dream. And just like any dream, some parts of it were misunderstood, some fogotten, some parts blended together while others stuck onto us forever.

I had 2 bottles of wine in my red back pack, the hand luggage – transporting liquid with you was still allowed…  When i think that, 21 seems soooo far away :)

Milan Malpensa –  May 31, 2006. Airplanes.

We took pictures on the green chaired plane, we got snacks and were happy to be together and… happy. Two of us had never flown before, so all was so new and exciting –  we were naive, loud and happy. Mostly because it was 6:30 am, we had neither slept nor eaten, but, on the plane, we got snacks !

Boston, May 31, 2006 –  Civilization? 

Due to the time difference, my first day as a 21 year old lasted 7 hours longer.

I remember that it was the first time i had ever seen a foot-controlled water tap in the bathroom. I helped a little old lady turn on the water in the bathroom –  and i distinctly remember feeling that yes, i was in another world. It felt scary and new, huge, unknown and … air-conditioned.

New York, La Guardia Airport – September 2006.  Living the dream

The beginning of the travel part was actually marked by the visit to multiple bus stations on our long bus ride to and from Niagara Falls. But the NY airport was also a landmark –  it was when i realized that free Wi-fi is a cool thing.

Too bad that our flight was delayed by almost 2 hrs. That made me take the juvenile decision to call our friends who were  gonna meet us at the other end, and tell them that we would be late. My rationale was that given the delay of the NY plane, we would most surely miss our connecting flight in Washington and thus would have to take a later flight to Denver.

It did not matter that we had spent 3 months working and dealing with impossible personal dilemmas, we were still 2 naive, scared girls on a delayed plane to Washington, so the flight attendant got soft with us and changed our seats, to the 1st row. We had told her the whole story about our flight and about how we had to be in Denver –  us, 2 girls from a far away country from the former USSR.  So she gave us extra snacks, and, while the other flight attendant was announcing the fact that we had landed in Washington but did not have the right to stand up or get our luggage, she gave us our back-packs and, as soon as the door opened, we were out of the plane as bullets.

Washington Airport, September 2006. Getting across

We ran across the airport lanes –  which now i know is not permitted. We ran and we ran, we looked at the monitors real quick and were off to the gate. it closed after we entered  –  the door to the airplane had already been closed when we got to it. But we made it. And all we remember from Washington airport was that its green carpeting had a vertical continuous drawing that was moving really fast under our feet.

We sat on the last 2 available  seats in the plane. Looking at each other, we  breathed in –  we had made it.

“Is this plane going to Denver? ”  i asked the lady next to me, as if we were on a bus. Just to make sure…

Denver Airport, September 2006. Burrito era

So we actually MADE it to the connecting flight to Denver and were there, at the airport, on time. But…  our friends were not.  And that is how and where i ate my first Burrito from Taco bell. A juicy, meaty, flavory, spicy burrito.

(to be continued)