Isn't it amazing how after studying French for 7years, the language evaporated from my skull the moment I arrived in France?
It started with a train from Barcelona to Toulouse, the capital of Haute-Garonne in the south of France. My travel wife, Emily, reluctantly agreed to include France on our Eurotrip itinerary so that I could fulfill my dream of drinking chardonnay along the Seine and discovering the hidden gems inside Shakespeare & Co. Within the first leg of our journey, a belligerently drunk man sat himself across from us, spilling beer as he grew verbally and physically aggressive towards a woman across the way. It was in that moment, when I wanted to offer her a helping hand, that I realized... I couldn't remember a lick of French...
As the man invaded her personal space, the woman remained calm, cool, collected... entirely unfazed. After an hour of pestering the poor woman, the man gave up... then sat himself besides me. For the next few hours, the stinking drunk man pestered Emily and me, and with nowhere else to sit on the train, we were stuck. Upon arrival, we bolted off the train.. low and behold, the drunk man followed suit.
What did we do? We hailed the first cab! With haste, we threw our suitcases in the trunk, jumped in the back seat, and handed the driver our address. "It's not far. It's right over there" the driver said, pointing towards the distance. "No problem, that's fine!" We replied, avoiding the drunk man outside. "No," the driver interjected. "That is your hotel. Right there, across the street." So with that, the driver kicked us out of his cab, and we walked across the street with our "stupid American" stigmas on full display.
This was our introduction to France. Mind you, Emily would have rather gone anywhere else in Europe besides France, but I insisted we had to go. I was determined to redeem our.. interesting travel experience with delightful French delicacies. But I quickly realized, upon speaking English, that no restaurants were willing to seat us!
Instead, we strolled the cute little town of Toulouse, and it became abundantly clear that my inability to speak French would be a major issue here. Paris was two days away, and I felt entirely homesick. Emily and I reviewed our travel itinerary, and made a spur of the moment decision: we snagged tickets for the next overnight train to Paris and booked a hotel room overlooking the Eiffel Tower. This is when the magic began.
At 7am, as our train arrived in Paris, I fell in love with the city. The smell of fresh bread permeated the air as I strolled towards our hotel like a giddy teenager. We dropped our luggage off, and ran straight to the Eiffel Tower. I was besides myself, staring at this beautiful structure that I'd so admired growing up. The views from above were magnificent, almost as delightful as the street treats I acquired on every corner. And every building looked like it had fallen out of a Disney fairytale. As the kids say nowadays, I. Was. Shook.
I toured Musee D'Orsay and The Louvre, made a morning trip to Versailles, indulged in the finest chocolate I'd ever tasted, and explored the local nightlife. I shamelessly engulfed croissant after croissant like my life depended on it, and drank wine in the pebbled streets near Arc De Triomphe. For those few days, I felt overwhelming joy at every waking moment. I loved sitting at the corner cafes, where the chairs faced the street in true people-watching fashion, I loved discovering hidden art galleries and boutique shopping, where I bought the most beautiful crystal jewelry, but most of all, I loved the fu*king bread. I lived off that bread for four straight days until our constipated departure to London.
The grass is greener on the other side.
I'm from Los Angeles, born and raised, so I'm practically a unicorn: nobody who lives here is actually from here. Perhaps the same could be said of NYC, where the hustle and bustle of newcomers keeps the vibrancy alive. In Los Angeles, I've outgrown the romance; I'm no longer entranced by the Hollywood sign, and I can't actually remember a time when I ever was. So when my world was spiraling out of control, and I needed a quick escape, I flipped the bird and booked my first solo trip to NYC for Thanksgiving break.
I would arrive in Albany for a quick visit with my friend, then take the train from Albany to Midtown the following day. Upon arrival, I realized that in my disoriented and distressed mental state, I had provided my friend with the wrong travel dates. MERDE. Being the the queen that she is, my friend was accommodating, navigating around her insane medical school schedule to provide me with a place to stay. The moment I saw her, I couldn't stop crying: I was overwhelmed by life back home, and my scheduling faux-pas didn't help. 24 hours later, after my quick Albany pit stop, I was alone in NYC. For the first time in months, my mind was at ease.
Yes, I ran away from home.. for just a week. Perhaps running away isn't the best coping method for depression and anxiety, but in my case, i needed breathing room, alone, to figure out my life. I'm lucky that I could afford this luxury, and while a week alone wouldn't solve all my problems, it would be the starting point for navigating out of my funk. Back home, in Los Angeles, I would spend days at a time in bed. Here, I didn't stop moving.
Prior to New York, I choose a career where rejection is a constant, surrounded myself with people who regularly undermined my worth, lost loved ones, and fell into a toxic cycle of staying awake all night, trying to solve the unsolvable, and lying in bed all day, completely apathetic and lethargic. I made excuses not to be productive, both personally and professionally, and felt as though my life was entirely out of my control. It finally dawned on me that I needed to make a change, but feeling suffocated in my life, I had no clue where to start. And then I ended up in New York city, and it restored my faith in... me.
For a week, I was entirely dependent on me. Usually contained to my car, I walked upwards of ten miles a day, discovering hidden gems of a familiar city. I reconnected with friends, ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and prioritized myself, something I struggle to do on a regular basis. I saw shows, rediscovering my passion for theatre, and on Thanksgiving day, I ran around the city, watching the floats as they entertained in the parade. I could breathe again. I could see the value in myself again. And when I hopped back on the plane to Los Angeles, I promised myself I would only seek to control the things I could... and that I would leave my bed each day.
Maybe I didn't need New York city to reignite my spark, but the mindset adjustments I made, while focusing solely on myself, were invaluable. I can't control who I'm related to, what people think of me, or who might hire me, and good news: that's okay! I can control how I treat myself and others, how much time and energy I put into my passions and talents, and how I attain happiness. So if escape and travel is what I need to refocus and reevaluate, with clarity of mind, then so be it. For now, New York has a special place in my heart.
I changed a lot in Berlin... like, a LOT a lot.
I traveled to Berlin in partnership with Marriott Rewards for episode one of their Snapchat series, "6 Days 7 Nights". While exploring Berlin, and enjoying the amenities at Marriott's Moxy hotel, I was challenged to step outside my comfort zone and eat adventurously. As the self-described world's pickiest eater, giving up pizza in favor of frogs legs was one of the greatest challenges I've ever faced. Did I succeed? Check out the video below to find out!
I love being on-camera. I'm an actor. I've trained my whole life for this. So to be honest, even in my drowsy state, stepping off the plane in Berlin and immediately into the first shot of "6 Days 7 Nights" was right in my wheelhouse. And no underestimation! I remember it clearly: my best friend Emily and I touched down in Berlin, grabbed our bags, and began our search for the two gentleman who would be coordinating our schedule and shooting footage of me for the entirety of my work trip. It wasn't hard to miss them as we stepped through the rotating glass doors of the airport and directly into the first shot. "Nice to meet you in-person! I'm so sorry to make you do this when you just got off an international flight... but would you mind going back inside and coming back out with a little more enthusiasm?" TIme to wake up!
From thereon-out, I was on-camera for the majority of my time in Berlin, combining my two favorite things: film and travel. I was too excited to sleep, as I typically am when I travel, and I wanted to use every moment, both on and off-camera productively. A typical day involved a dessert-styled sampler of activities, ranging from street art exploring to a historical segway tour, all centered around the theme of eating adventurously. Over the course of six days and seven nights, I tried new foods that I never knew existed **imagine me proudly patting myself on the back.** When we'd break for a "nap," Emily and I would sneak away for some much needed pizza, then pack-in an activity that didn't make it into our production calendar.
Returning from Berlin, I immediately wanted to hop on a plane and fly back. I loved my unexpected adventures: enjoying a cocktail in a ping pong bar, which was created, initially, to block human communication frequencies during the Cold War, stumbling into hole-in-the-wall bakeries with the most delectable treats, discovering alleyways with the coolest street art and accidently finding my way into some of the dopest vintage stores I've ever seen... the list goes on. Despite our jam-packed schedule, there's so much more to see and do. Berlin, I'll be back!!!