Happy Birthday, Bethany!

One of my best friends turns 27 today, and I can’t help but reflect on our adventures together. From Kalmar to Chicago, Reykjavik to Cortez, Colorado, we always have a spectacular time together!

Bethany is always a consistent source of joy and happiness in my life, and I know she always will be. Every conversation is meaningful, every adventure is purposeful, and every laugh or inside joke is cherished. This gal is truly my best friend!

Happiest birthday to you, Bethany! You’re more than anyone could ask for 🙂

Nostalgia is Bittersweet

I’m thinking of Sweden on this Saturday morning…

A few days ago I Skyped my friend Bethany, who has been featured in several of my posts, most notably for our travel experiences together. We met in 2016 as two eager U.S. students studying in Kalmar, Sweden and we haven’t skipped a beat since! Bethany now lives in the Seattle area and I’m hoping to visit her as soon as possible. She’s truly the friend you can always rely on, no matter the distance.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been FIVE YEARS since we began our Swedish adventures. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with watery eyes. I have a love-hate relationship with looking at old photos. I reflect and feel myself in that moment again, sometimes with sweet nostalgia and other times with immense longing to be there again. But why?

1. I’m craving new adventures and memories (aren’t we all?). In all seriousness, travel is my decompression. It’s an escape from work, from people, from life at home. Those long weekend getaways with a close friend, my husband or parent, and lengthier international adventures mean more to me than any material thing.

2. I don’t love where I am right now. I believe people looking into my life (especially through photos) would want what I have: a husband, a dog, a home, a job… but I am not emotionally where I’d like to be. I know deep down that I need to rediscover myself and what’s important to me, which is why I’m in need of positive change.

3. Sometimes the past is more appreciated in the present than it was back then. Sometimes I’ll look at an old photo and think “wow, that was an awesome day!” and maybe I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s such a shame how our minds can trick us this way.

I’m trying not to beat myself up because all of us can experience these feelings. We can all look at old photos or reflect on old memories with a multitude of emotions ranging from sadness to warm-hearted joy.

I hope we can all create new memories – be it solo, with loved ones, or even strangers – this year and for many years to come 🙂

Reconnecting in Colorado (Part I)

Bethany and I met in Sweden while we were studying there in 2016. We’ve also visited each other in Chicago a couple times, as well as traveled to Iceland together in 2018. That was the last time we saw each other in person, until last week…

Kalmar, Sweden 2016
Chicago 2017
Chicago 2018
Iceland 2018
…still Iceland 2018…
Colorado 2020

Perusing the streets (and past memories) of Paris

With the COVID-19 chaos among us, all I can think of is traveling. Last Monday I was supposed to venture off to Banff National Park for some solo adventuring, yet here I am soaking up some sun on my couch…

While I may not be educating myself on wolf-dogs, tubing down mountains or glacier hiking, I am currently lost in past travels. I recently spoke with one of my best friends who I met while we studied in France, so I’ll continue my French-inspired posts for now.

One of my favorite photos from the weekend…

Carolyn and I spent one weekend in Paris during over summer abroad; for both good and bad reasons, it was a weekend we’ll never forget. I can only explain our weekend mishaps by sharing a piece of my matron of honor speech from September 2019:

“During our time in France, there was only one moment when I feared that Carolyn wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore. We were lost in Paris for a while, wandering the outskirts in the middle of the night. Let’s just say that it brought out the worst in us. Our phones weren’t working and we had no clue how or when we would find our way back.

For once, there were no stories about our significant others, no rants about Veronique and her subpar cooking, and most importantly, no laughter. Thankfully, things went back to normal once we found our hotel, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

In fact, we’ve had a reunion every year since that summer, and in 2015 we were also lost in Chicago late at night. We laughed while we struggled to find our way back to the hotel, and it brought me back to that hectic night in Paris.”

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy with your loved ones (and favorite TV series!) ❤️

Fond of France (2014)

I officially started this blog in 2015 by being forced into it as a class assignment. I thought, “no one is going to care what I have to say,” but thank you for reading and following my journey anyway. 

With this gratitude, I will be sharing my first study abroad experience with you: Aix-en-Provence, France (2014). I have shared some photos way back, but it’s time you saw and heard about one of my favorite countries to this day. I’m feeling just as grateful for my summer in southern France as I am for all of you! 
Thank you for all of your love and support, always. 
Cate

MontREAL Fun!

A few weeks ago, I planned the most epic bachelorette weekend ever (and when I say “epic,” I mean something along the lines of a “grandmas who like to drink a lot” kind of vibe)!

The seven of us celebrated Carolyn’s love for Ryan by… eating the classiest brunch in Old Montréal. We all ordered savory dishes, and mine consisted of salmon, cauliflower purée, cranberries and greens.

After the boozy brunch, we wandered the streets of Old Montréal; this immediately reminded Carolyn and me of our time in southern France. All of us were on the same page and ended up at a street festival with tons of food trucks, zip lines and happy people. We even rode the giant ferris wheel, which is comparable to the London Eye.

Even though our night out at the comedy club and bowling were pretty low-key for a bachelorette party, we had a riot! Prior to going out, we played some drinking games in the hotel and were able to get to know each other quite well!

The next day, we visited Ontario Street (aka: where all the hipsters live). It was a different vibe for sure, but I loved it regardless. I felt like I was in a different city or country all together. We had another wonderful brunch and spent the afternoon on a pedal bar tour.

If you haven’t been on a pedal bar tour, you need to! My brother and I did this last summer in Portland, and both times were absolutely awesome! Whether you’re with one person or several, you’re going to have a good time with the others you’re pedaling with 🙂

We had two bachelorette parties on our bike, so we all knew we were in for a fun time!

I can’t wait to see these wonderful ladies at Carolyn’s wedding this month!

Longing for “Moher” (April 14, 2016)

Exactly three years ago today, I was galavanting around Ireland with two good friends. The beauty of these cliffs is insurmountable and sometimes on the windiest of days, I feel like I’m sitting right where I was on this day in 2016.