Lisboa

Dearest Lovers of Random – I promised a post about my latest city of habitation, Lisbon Portugal.  As referenced in my past post, Lisbon has been a different feel for me.  I’m an employed woman now and I am throughly enjoying being an accounting badass again.  I’m running a fitness challenge and have started a new weightlifting program, so I’m enjoying slinging weights again (thanks Dustin!). Budapest may have felt like home, but Lisbon feels much like my old life…. with a European twist, of course.

What can I tell you about Lisbon? Well, for starters, its dirty. In the midst of an economic rebound, there is construction everywhere, which means there is dust everywhere. Also, most of the drinking is done in the streets. So is the male relief of the by-product of that alcohol. Speaking of the drinking in the streets, Lisbon is also loud. At least my home is. Situated between the two bar districts in town, Barrio Alto and Pink Street, and having a few lively places of our own, there is always a chorus of drunken madness wafting it’s way up to my windows. Also directly beneath my window, a tram rail and a bus stop. Both run frequently. The sidewalks are narrow. The locals hate tourists. In the dead of summer, every day is hot and there are hills everywhere. But all of this is just as much a part of the unique charm of Lisbon as the tile buildings, towering staircases, stone walkways and street art filled walls. I’ve learned that Lisbon is a lot like me…. you love it for what it is, or you move on. It does not apologize for what it is.

In most cases, this dedication to culture is heartwarming and satisfying in the form of decorated plazas, delightful local dishes (I recommend the duck rice at Castro), and a wine culture that rivals any I have ever seen. Seriously, two buck chuck has nothing on the bottles you can get here for 3 euro. Some if it is better than a $50 bottle at home. There is a craft cocktail bar – 4 Caravelas – where I can walk through the door and order a Bulliet rye, and the Australian expat who owns the place automatically puts the dash of bitters that I enjoy so much and only had to ask for once. We can talk about the subtleties and differences of rye, bourbon and scotch while I sip my cocktail and it reminds me of HBG at home, because my glass is never really empty. There’s Helio, the local who runs the aforementioned Castro’s, a quaint bar and eatery offering open air seating in vintage upholstery served with a side of conversation about local culture. There’s Red Frog, a speakeasy that reminds me of Death & Co in NYC, although the door guy is a midget instead of a towering ape in a tux. There is Foxtrot, with it’s open courtyard and smoky old fashions. And one of my personal favorites, Baguettes & Cornets, a French corner bakery with the best baked treats and the friendliest staff in Europe.

But Lisbon also has a dark side, and it is ugly. I never personally experienced it, so I don’t feel I have the right to write about it, but you can read my tramily’s takes on the events of one horrible evening here and here. I have no respect for those who fuck with the people that I love, and I love my fellow Earharts deeply, so Lisbon will always carry a scar on my heart. But if I were to lump all of Lisbon in with the few neanderthals that perpetuated the events of that night, I would be no better than them.

In the spirit of open mindedness, I climbed the hills of Lisbon and watched sunrises and sunsets. I peered down it’s picturesque alleys and enjoy local wine in it’s parks. I ran along the river and watched the rising sun sparkle across it. I boarded a sailboat with friends old and new to see sunset from the Tagus and eat homemade stew between bouts of uncontrollable laughter. I wandered Pink Street and Barrio Alto after late night shifts. The Goddess visited and we sipped sangria with DL on top of a parking deck while watching the sunset over a bridge that resembles the Golden Gate. She and I swank it up at the Palácio do Governador with pool time, spa visits and girl talk in hotel rooms. I enjoy meals and drinks and late night deep chats with the 11 other souls living in my building. I do my best to make the most out of my time in Lisbon. That said, I’m not disappointed to leave.

My European adventure has come to an end. I’ll spend a few days in the Middle East before starting my life in Southeast Asia, and I don’t even have a clue what to expect, so I’m ready for anything. Stay tuned for the Random adventures: Vietnam addition.

Specifically Yours,

SR

 

Remote {Emotional} Reality

Bom Dia my Lovers. I know it has been a while since I have written you, but I promise you've never been far from my thoughts or my heart.  Arrival in Lisbon has meant a shift in more than one of my day to day activities – I'm ramping up at a new job, running a fitness challenge in the group (selfish motivation is my own lack of fitness these past two months), hosting friends, and basically trying to find a new balance between all of those things while still taking side trips and exploring a new city.  Don't worry, I'm well aware that I owe you posts on Lisbon, Porto, the Goddess of Love's visit and, soon to come, Lagos… and probably Sintra.  But I felt this post was what I needed right now, and let's be honest – it's really all about me.

After our arrival day in Split, we were subjected to a day long presentation about what to expect out of Remote Year – the good, the bad, the ugly – and despite being epically jet lagged and most every one of us hungover from our meet up the night before, we sat on edge and took in all we could.  This month, I'm finding one part particularly useful, and I'm not the only one.  RY's Experience Leader, Travis, a guy who has the most positive energy I've ever experienced in my life, reviewed the four stages we would go through, each on an individual and group level over a year.  Of course there is the honeymoon period, where life is fun and we all love each other.  After that comes a dip, where we start to settle into who we were, who we are, and where we fit.  This is a tough phase for an individual, and a difficult one as a group.  Ours started this month, and so many of my tramliy have been brave and outspoken about their struggles, so here I am, doing the same.

Those that know me the best know that baring my soul is my least favorite thing to do. Shit gets too real and I shut down, walk away, end the conversation, never talk about it again.  Healthy, I know, but up until now my strategy has served me well enough. It helps to be surrounded by an army of people who like you, and circle of those who love you, and an even tighter knit group of those who love you unconditionally – relationships that were forged over months and years of interactions, both positive and negative.  The thing about RY is, you're forced to press the reset button on all of those timelines for the people you interact with on a day to day level and you are starting fresh with 50 (give or take) people.  50 amazing people.  50 brave souls.  50 uniquely individual human beings that by the end of this year will have a bond that doesn't exist outside outside of this experience – but for now, we are struggling.

Disclaimer: in no way am I insinuating I speak for everyone in the group. For purposes of this post, I am generalizing from those who have spoken up.  My usage of the word "we" is solely for simplicity of writing.

We miss home.  We miss our families, our friends, the long forged bonds that facilitated the unconditional manner of support and love.  Our relationships with those we left behind are changing and we are dealing with their hurt and pain along with our own.  We're getting to know each other on a deeper level, figure out what we need (and don't need) from each others.  We cry, we hug, we fight – and hopefully make up. We reach out when we can, shut away when we need to.  Most importantly, we support each other.

I can only speak for others with what they have shared, but if I'm brave enough, I can keep typing and ultimately hit publish and let you into my personal emotional journey this month.  And you can choose to keep reading, or wait for the next post, where I promise to lighten it back up and open the window back up to the fun stuff.  Freedom is a powerful things my Lovers.

My month got off on to a rocky start from day one with an argument from a loved one at home that spanned the majority of a 15 hour already stressful travel day – I didn't cope with the manner in the most adult manner, behaved quite embarrassingly, and worst of all, caused a fellow Earhart pain that a sober me would never impart on anyone.  The aftermath of my behavior caused a lot of anxiety, but I resolved to use the experience as motivation to grow and be a better version of me, both for myself and those around me.  The fallout from the airport caused some (much deserved) setbacks in this resolve, and I was emotionally raw to some of the interactions after it, causing misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and in one case, acceptance that making amends was out of my hands.  None of this boded well for my spirit, and I spent a emotionally charged morning dipping in and out of the conference rooms at the workspace crying because I didn't trust myself to be able to make it home without breaking down.

I consider myself extremely lucky that there are already several people on this group that I feel really care about me…. maybe not unconditionally yet, but they are definitely dedicated enough to recognize when I'm struggling and take the time to help me through it.  I hope there are those in this group that feel that way about me, if not now, then by the end of this post, this day, week, month or year.

My most difficult struggle has been finding a way to fit into the group while still being the unapologetic me I've always been.  Here are some things I know: I come in hot.  I'm loud. I have a tendency to overdo a lot of things in life, including drinking.  I'm a guys girl, always have been.  If you don't know me, those things can be….. annoying.  Intimidating.  Eye roll worthy.  Misconstrued. You don't know that I laugh loudly because I spent too much time not laughing enough. I'm boisterous because I spent years fitting myself into a box someone else built for me. I'm one of the boys because I was raised by a single father who knew nothing about girls: I didn't even know how to blow dry my hair until I was 17. And my excess indulgence is a product of my love of whiskey. These things make up who I am, and as I said before, I will not apologize for them, or change them to fit into a world that's clearly not meant for me. One of my favorite quotes inthe world is from Dina Von Teese: she said “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” I have to continue to accept that not everyone loves peaches. Or Pinos for that matter.

Today, I'll prepare balance sheets and do capital reconciliations through tears as an uncontrollable wave of homesickness grips me. I blame the Goddess's departure for this. Tomorrow I will embark on a journey of the west coast with Starbucks and fill my soul with the beauty of Portugal.  Next week, I'll get ready to move to Asia (with a short stop in Dubai), and I'm hoping to leave behind the loneliness I've felt here, be it self-imposed or real. Over this next year, I will work to get to know each member of my tramily on a level that allows me to miss their quirks and ticks and demeanors for the rest of my life. Beyond that, I hope I can take these experiences and continue to become a better version of myself, molded by the beautiful souls that surround me every day.

Emotional post over.

Specifically yours,

SR

P.S.  After an outpouring of concern (and love) from home within minutes of posting, I do want to let you know that I am still fantastically happy, and yes, everything is ok.  But feel free to keep sending the love.  There can never be too much in this world.

Tomorrowland

Oh, my Lovers, are you in for a treat. I knew my Tomorrowland post would be one of epic proportions, but even in my wildest of Random imaginations, I never would have considered what an A D V E N T U R E Tomorrowland would actually be. There was bike drama (lots of it). I was an entourage. We got in a fight with a taxi driver. I got hit by a car. I’m battered, bloody, bruised, and flying home to Budapest on a delayed flight with a throbbing head and a black eye that’s growing by the moment, and somewhere between all of that I attended the most epic music festival in the world, danced to my hearts content (in the rain more than once) and forged more life long friendships. Let’s first answer the question that is burning in all of your Loving minds. Did I partake in mind altering substances to enhance my Tomorrowland experience? I hope I don’t lose any of your Love when I tell you that I did not, and instead fueled my weekend with double shots of Jameson and more sugar free Red Bull than any one human should consume, and as the events of the weekend unfolded, this further proved to be the correct decision. Brace yourselves for the Randomness that was: Tomorrowland.

For two weekends each July, nearly 180,000 people descend on the quaint town of Boom, Belgium to unite over music at one of the greatest festivals worldwide. This year, my first decision after joining Remote Year was to be one of those 180,000. As mentioned before, I’m travel weary from overloading (overloving?) my plate this month, and the night before we leave for the festival the crew gets together to celebrate the Russian Beauty that is Milana on her birthday in another dance filled late night eve that includes me running through an open fire hydrant and ruining the hair I had straightened just a few hours before. Despite the late, whiskey laden evening, I’m up bright eyed and bushy tailed in time to shower and make breakfast before our two hour flight to Brussels. Once we land, our overly gracious AirBNB host scoops us up at the airport and we join the crew that is already settled in. Hair, makeup (because, as Jen once told me, festivals are all about the makeup), then festival. Our host as provided us with bikes so we can get to the festival in about 10 minutes. The Princess Meilz, J Lee and I take off to dive into the madness headfirst. The festival itself is a gorgeous setting of circus themed stages placed throughout a massive park with trees, lakes and bridges. J Lee is a hit and made me get in every pic that was requested of her, so I have strong urges to scour Instagram #tomorrowland to see if I can actually find any of the entourage pics.We kick it off with Cederic Gervais at The House of Books, hit Alison Wonderland at The Garden of Madness, get some Mainstage on with Marshmello and Tiesto before hitting the other end of the festival for Paul Van Dyke on The Freedom Stage and, my personal fav, Seven Lions at The Rose Garden, where the #PIC saw me twirling my little heart out on the live feed.

Dizzy from whiskey and dancing, we head back to the bikes for a whimsical ride back to our Boom digs. We uncouple our bikes, mount up to go, and J Lee’s bike doesn’t move – she’s got a tire lock on her bike and it has somehow gotten engaged – and the key is nowhere to be found. We look. And look. And L O O K. That sucker was G O N E. Meilz heads home ahead and I stay back with J Lee to walk the problem bike home. I have to pee before we go though, so I pop a squat, where I proceed to lose my ID – for the first time. Recovered in the most unsanitary of fashions, we proceed with my driver’s license in pocket, and I quickly realize this >2 mile walk will go much quicker if I clean this sucker up to my shoulders and carry it in a manner that all of my weightlifting coaching has prepped me for. This bike is heavy, and we are stopping nearly every five minutes so that I can rest and switch shoulders. After a good mile and a half, several switches, a scary detour into a park that is NOT as happy as Tomorrowland, we stop to rest and I realize my ID has once again escaped the confines of my person. This time we aren’t so lucky, so after J Lee retraces our steps without any success, we forge on just the two of us until Julian arrives like a knight in shining armor to help us with the last half mile. Lovers, usually I tell knights to ride the fuck on because I have my own white horse, but I was quite grateful in this instance. I’m just as grateful for the Jameson I bought at the duty free on the way in.

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Day two starts with a family breakfast, hair, makeup, trampoline jumping and pregaming with champagne before grabbing a cab to the festival because fuck those bikes. Upon arrival we revisit the lost key area from the evening before and find said key in less than 90 seconds. Into the belly of the beast, it’s The Garden of Madness for Valentino Khan before Mainstaging it for Nervo, then down to The Freedom Stage for Sebastian Ingrosso – who I confused for Ferry Corsten – and the best set of the whole weekend. He killed it. We shoot over to The Arch for some Brennan Hart before Mainstaging Armin Van Buren and attempting to find the real Ferry Corsten. We eventually abandon our quest and head for the taxi line where we grab the only cab from a cashless festival that doesn’t take credit cards, a fact we don’t realize until he takes us to the wrong address for a second time. Once we finally manages to get us to the correct address, J Lee and I throw 20 Euro at him and bolt for the house as he screams at us from the street. Grateful again for the Jameo.

Day three we decide to give the bikes another shot after waiting out the rain, and we don’t get a block before I have to pull out my childhood bike mechanic skills and get J Lee’s chain back on. After washing my grease covered hands – I still have bike grease under my fingernails – we head for the Mainstage and dance in the rain to Yellow Claw and Oliver Helden. The next stop is the Freedom Stage for Nicky Romero, which is the only indoor stage and is extra packed due to the rain, but I don’t care about any of that as some overly excited (and rather short) guy behind us lifts me up on his shoulders for my favorite song “I Could Be The One”. Our escape from the overcrowded stage leads us to the Rose Garden, where I remain for the rest of the day with Jonas Blue, Feder, Robin Schultz and Klingande. This is also where I spend the most time with the non-Earhart Remotes that are at the festival and feel part of an even bigger family, The Remote Nation. Some of these guys have finished and are re-uniting. Some are in month 11, some month 4. We give each other pro-tips on cities and group dynamics between dance sessions and rain storms and bond over the mutual crazy that brought us not only to Tomorrowland, but also on this unbelievable journey.

Leaving the festival, I get separated from the group and end up having to bike home alone. On a bike that’s too big for me. With no light. In the dark. And the rain. I’m hugging the curb when a car comes up beside me and swipes me just enough to throw me off course. The bike hits the curb and stops – I keep going – until the right side of my body makes contact with the sidewalk and my head smacks the ground with the most sickening crack I’ve ever heard in my life. I still attest that the driver had no idea, because they kept going and I would like to believe in the goodness of people – luckily my faith was restored by the car behind that did stop. I tried to assure them that I was ok, but when I turned into their headlights and the guy’s face went white, I confirmed with them that I was not actually ok. Luckily it was all scrapes and bruises and one knock to the skull with no concussion symptoms, so we locked the devil bike to a tree and they drove me back to the BNB where my fellow Earharts patched me up while – you guessed it – I calmed my nerves with some Jameson.

So there you go my Lovers. That’s your Specifically Random rundown of my weekend at Tomorrowland. I am battered and bruised and I have one hell of a shiner from my abrupt pavement encounter, but I wouldn’t trade one second of the shit how that was leaving Tomorrowland for any second of being in there. I have never smiled, laughed, and danced to my heart’s content so much in my life. Tomorrowland was my happy place, and all the things that happened when I left only served to tell me one thing: next year, I’m camping.

Randomly Yours,

SR

Guess what?  Pictures have been updated! Budapest, Prague, Tomorrowland and MORE!

Are you following the adventure on Instagram?

Praha

Ah, my Lovers of Random… I’ve had just enough to drink after a visit to the Ruin Bars to think that writing my latest Love Letter to you is a good idea.  I will preface this post by letting you know that I’m missing “home” much more today that usual.  Between the Snapchasts from the Goddess, the FTs with the #PIC and the subpeoans from transgressions past (not my own), home is haunting me in the most delicious and tortuous sense. But I went on this trip to live a better life, so instead of delving into the delectable demons that are haunting me at the moment, let me instead tell you the tale of Prague…..
Shortly after returning from my Cali trip, Marky Mark and I boarded an overnight bus to Prague to visit the one European city I was most excited about that wasn’t a part of the Earhart itinerary.  Jet lag from Cali had set in like a fiery bitch, but I wasn’t about to let that put a damper on everything that lay ahead of us: and I’m glad I didn’t because Prague was my F A VO R I T E adventure to date, jet lag v health issues v breaking down in rando no where Czech be damned. 


Is it Praha or Prague?  Czechia or Czech Rebuplic?  Depends on who you ask and for what reason.  We arrived E A R L Y AF and still hungover from the water bottle of rye that we fueled our trip with, it didn’ take two seconds for me to be swindled at the ATM out of my first withrawl by a guy looking for “change”.  Call it a life lesson, and my only saving grace is that it wasn’t an expensive one.  After downing some coffee and some carbs, we figure out the subway system and find our way to our hotel and drop our (my) 45lb packs and catch a cat nap before venturing out.  Friday we don’t have much leeway as we both have to work, so we meander our way to the workspace – which happens to be an old embassy – and nod off in respective corners while attempting to be contributing members of society.  We rally ourselves back to the hotel after some convos with the local team and take advantage of the wifi and D E L I C I C O U S fare in the hotel bar before taking advantage of the local *literal* underground bar scene that Prague has to offer.  These bars are epic, and the deeper you go, the deeper it gets – the music, the people, all of it.  We come across one that offers a mask with admission, so Marky adorns me with our right of passage cardboard and we dance until we can’t stand, learn that the cloves the #PIC so graciously supplied are like gold here, pour ourselves into an Uber and head back to get some much needed rest.  


Being the sick and twisted fitness freak that you all know and love, I’ve already researched running routes through the sights of Prague, so once we get up and moving, Marky (bum ankle and all) and I set off for a fitness filled castle tour of Prague, including The Prague Castle, the Petrin Lookout Tower, a hidden castle we discovered, the John Lennon Wall and a super cute French market we just happen to stumble upon.  It’s Remy’s birthday, so we shimmy back to the hotel to get all fresh and clean for our dinner date with the birthday boy.  Eska is the restaurant de jour, and while the steak was over cooked, the company was fantastic.  After a sparkling birthday dessert and an embarrassing happy birthday serenade, we make an attempt at the Hemingway Bar, but get shut down without a reservation.  They shuffle us off to their sister bar (that I can’t remember the name of to save my life) where I sip on rye old fashions and toast our new friends.  Our next stop is Propoganda Bar, a straight up  speakeasy where they say eff you to the rules of bar curfews and smoking bans.  We get back to the hotel just in time to watch the sunrise, which we actually couldn’t see, but we laughed about it as we sat atop a wall that separated a mall from a cemetary – me in the hotel bathrobe over my disco ball dress to keep warm.


Sunday is not a good day for me as I’m racked with fever from an infection I’m powering through.  Being his awesome self, Marky lets me get some extra sleeps, after which I pull myself together and we switch to our new (swanky) hotel closer to Old Town.  Right outside our new digs is a Hare Krishna festival, but we skip the long line for free food and post up at a local spot and order the Czech specialities – Marky’s was better and I had total order envy, but he’s s sweetheart in all senses, including sharing his food.  After lunch we wander off into Old town, grab a bottle of wine and sit in the Square and people watch.  We catch the top of the hour at the Astronomy Clock and decide to catch the sunset up on Sunset Hill.  Unfortunately for us, it’s cloudy, so we suffer our second sun related defeat in one damn day, but it’s a chill atmosphere and there are no regrets.  We leave the Hill and make a second attempt at Hemingway, this time a successful one, drink craft cocktails that resemble snow globes and come in the oddest glassware before grabbing a kebab and heading back to the room.


Monday brings another location change, so we grab breakfast and relocate to our Air BNB by the famous Dancing House.  Despite the pain I’m in, we lace up for another run to hit the sites we missed on our previous trek.  Back up the hill another 700ft, but worth every *literal* breathtaking second when we reach Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral.  Other Hartthrobs have arrived, one of them saving my life with some meds from home, so we run down the hill – with a much quicker pace – and meet up with them for the handoff and a beer.  Needing to work, we head back to the BNB and knock out some gangster society contributing fueled by grub from the local place across the street.  After hitting it hard until nearly 3am, we grab some brews and post up in the mushroom park across the street to unwind.



Tuesday is our last day, so we try to hit up anything we missed, but end up just walking along the river, negotiating on some Prague art and crashing an Earhart lunch before heading to the workspace.  I’ve got scattered calls and training, and Marky is up against a deadline, so I grab us some Indian food while we finish up before cutting it way to close for my comfort to get to the bus home.  Seriously, running with my backpack – not cool.


Budapest feels more like home than Split ever did, so as sad as I was to leave the ever so beautiful Prague and the unbelievable time we had there, I’m happy to be back home where I’ve already caught up with Duffs on the steps of the Basilica with a bottle of wine and attempted to find others at the ruin bars – quite unsucessfully, but I did find a second set of Harts that I crashed instead.  I’m here for a few days before heading off to Tomorrowland, so stay tuned my Lovers.  There is plenty more Random to come.  Next edition – festival style.

Randomly Yours,

SR

BudaFcknPest

Dear Lovers,

If I was the type for apologies, I might throw one out for inundating you with two posts in one week, but if we are being honest with each other (and let’s be honest), I don’t think you mind much at all.  In fact, I’m sure there are some of you who greatly appreciate my dedication to updating you on the reg.  And in the spirit of honesty, there’s nothing more I would rather be doing in this moment.  So, with a rye whiskey in hands I (thank you duty free) and a clove burning (thank you #PIC), let’s dive into this month’s chapter – Budapest.


The month is far from over, but tomorrow night Marky Mark and I are boarding a bus to Prague for some epic exploring- but more importantly, Remy’s birthday- so I wanted to give you an untainted rundown before that detour.  I have to admit that I am slightly disappointed that I’m traveling so much this month, although I’m quite certain that each adventure I take will leave me with no regrets.  Budapest is quickly replacing New York as my favorite city ever, and that’s saying a lot, because they don’t have the Yankees here. Our arrival was slightly hazy after our Split airport experience (see Sleep When I’m Dead for reference), but the next morning revealed a gorgeous apartment with large rooms, tall ceilings and a balcony overlooking the Budapest Eye. The best part of our apartment – besides my top notch roommates, Kitty Kat and The Princess – is that I have enough space to get unpacked and have a clean room – something I never achieved in Split.  Stepping outside we see that we’re on a cobblestone street lined with restaurants and shops, and it is just the cutest thing ever.  Princess and I meet up with the breakfast crew for brunch at a beer garden and the Dinster sums it all up by refusing to stop saying how happy she is.  After brunch we wander to the Danube, where the Red Bull Air Racing Championships are taking place – awfully fitting for the arrival of the Earharts if you ask me.  We cap the day off with our city preview, where we learn that Hungarian is a very dirty language.  After that, we sample the local cuisine, find a bar with a pool table, sample the local libations, and head off to bed.

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Photo cred MRandall

This city is b-e-a-utiful, with every turn revealing old world architecture mixed with a big city feel, and my walk to the workspace is no different.  Each day I get to round the corner and cross the courtyard in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica on my way to be the productive human that none of you believe I’m actually achieving.  It’s July 4th, and our city team has arranged a day at the water park for us, so after some work at the cafe, Duffs, Yogi and I head to meet the crew.  I’ve just removed the dressing from my fresh ink, so I pass on the partaking of the community water slides, but while I’m just chillin with the group, the Dutch Lover convinces Duffs and I to join on a pub crawl of the local ruin bars that evening.  The ruin bars are an interesting story, as they were created out of a need to repurpose old bombed out structures from the war, and the tour begins and ends at one that takes up an entire city block and is three stories high.  This place is a maze of rooms, each one with a different theme and soundtrack, and it isn’t long before we’ve all lost each other.  After meeting some football players from England (actual football, not soccer), a guy with called himself Christmas, and a Belgian in town for a festival, I give up on my quest to find my crew and Taxify (Buda’s Uber) it home to prep for my Cali trip. (See Life in the Pit Lane)

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After losing all of Monday with a 9 hour time change and 23 hours of flying, I arrive back on Tuesday and make the best decision I’ve made in the city so far and buy a transit pass. Home just in time to unpack and cross the aforementioned courtyard to the workspace, I hop on a call to meet my new fearless leader at HPC.  RY had arranged an event for us and I’m running late – I’m also still figuring out the transit system, so after an exhaustive search for the subway station and an initial hop on a train going the wrong way, I miss the rural bus that is supposed to carry me to our city leader’s mom’s house, where we are having traditional Hungarian cuisine prepared with ingredients all grown in a local garden.  Not one to miss out on that, our city leader guides me via WhatApps onto the correct bus and the sweetest little Hungarian lady ensures that I get off on the correct stop 35 minutes outside of the city.  Kiwi is waiting to walk me to the house, where we chat with the ladies that make up this cooking club while they prepare Goulash and other dishes for us over an open fire pit in the backyard.

I have another call at 21:00, so I hustle back to the workplace, where I’m once again persuaded to join the crew out on the town. Damn Whatsapp group chats.  I make the 5 minute walk back across the Basilica to drop off my valuables, and on my way back to 360 bar, I’m intercepted by a group of Remotes drinking at the steps of the church.  Plans here change on a dime, so I join them instead and we run through bottle after bottle of local wine until the rain starts to come down.  As the party retreats under an grove of trees, I venture out into the middle of the courtyard and stand in the rain, soaking in every drop and every second of this beautiful experience.  It was a light drizzle at that point, not the steady rain that occurs when Marky talks me, Momma Joe and his visiting girlfriend into joining the birthday girl MRandall out for a drink, trekking nearly 20 minutes and being soaked to the bone by the time we get to them – but I couldn’t have been happier about it.  Remy and his Russian beauty are there as well, along with Wake Jeber who has lived to tell the tales of Pamplona.  We toast the birthday girl, I struggle through a convo with some traveling Italians, and call it a night VERY early (late) in the AM.

Jet lagged and partied out, I didn’t start the next day until 14:30.  I was feeling like a very non-productive human being, so I ventured out and bought some running shoes to take a 4 mile breathtaking first run in almost 6 months around Budapest.  Not my best time, but I kept getting distracted by the amazing views.  I have another call and some invoicing to do, so Marky and I run the night shift at the workspace until each of us is too hungry to continue. Agreeing it would be our best bet to try to find something before midnight, we close up shop and take a left down the main drag, where we stumble upon a late night spot, order the meat on meat platter, and grab a few happy hour drinks to sip on.  Akvarium Klub is a local spot, well known for people taking some drinks, taking their shoes off and dipping their feet in glass bottomed the pool that houses a bar underneath.  When in Rome – or Budapest….

After partaking in the local customs and having some chats about life before, during and after RY, we decide to venture over to the Danube to scope out a light show I had literally run across earlier in the day.  The show had been set up for the upcoming FINA World Championships this weekend, which we will miss while we are in Prague, but we did get a sneak peek of the light show, and this was happening across the way:

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Breathe easy Lovers, you are now caught up on the first half of the Budapest version of my year long adventure.  I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately that seem to include the inquisition of regrets and whether or not I have any.  The answer is no.  This trip is the best decision I could have made for myself at this point in my life.  Every day I have to keep reminding myself that this is in fact my life, and it is incredible and beautiful, and I get to share this experience in real life with 47 other amazing souls, and virtually with all of you, my Lovers of Random.  I hope I’m doing the journey some justice, because even if I broke down every moment of every day for you, it still would’t come close… there are just some things that words and pictures can’t capture.

Specifically Yours,

SR

Life in the Pit Lane

Happy Monday my Lovers!  I am coming to you from terminal C at EWR where I am sipping a double Angel’s Envy Rye and waiting on my NY Strip dinner before flying back to Budapest after going (going) back (back) to Cali (Cali) for a weekend with the #PIC.  I know I had a goal not to re-enter the good ole’ USofA for this year, but I couldn’t be happier about my decision.  I didn’t exactly “come home”…. I spent my entire weekend in what Travis deemed the “growth zone”, pushing myself to my limits in an unfamiliar environment, and loving every second of it.  I am jet lagged, bruised, and my lips are so sunburnt they are swollen to the verge of cracking… and my only regret is that I didn’t get to ride the 2 up bike.

A while back, I attempted to stage a surprise trip to the States to see the #PIC.  I teamed up with some of his racing official buddies and his bestie to coordinate, but my plan was disatriously thwarted when my calendar junkie ass put the flight on the one I shared with him.  The element of surprise was lost, but not the excitement.  I would join them at Laguna Seca in beautiful Monterey, California for Round 8 of the FIM World Superbike Championship.  The trip include almost 45 hours of flight time, nearly 60 hours of total travel time, a 9 hour time difference swing, and three long days at the track, but I was all in from day one not only for the experience, but the chance to be included in a part of the #PIC’s life that’s important to him. Even as excited as I was though, it didn’t come close to preparing me for the amazing weekend that I still haven’t come down from.
To be completely honest with you, my faithful Lovers, the weekend did not start on the greatest note.  After a scheduling SNAFU (totes my fault) about my new job, I learned when I touched down in the US that my new job training was pushed up due to my copious amounts of flying on the originally scheduled date.  I arrived at the track, got acquainted, and hustled off for a 3 hour training session in the official’s trailer. #RemoteReality at its finest.  After being completely overloaded with information that I can’t wait to master, I was free to resume my duties as a volunteer on Pit Lane… and not in a skimpy dress or skin tight leather with a smile screwed on my over makeuped face – although I would have if asked, and have made respect for the girls who did – but in the actual throes of officials duties – boards, horns, grid starts, even a checkered flag waiving.  I was scared to death for the majority of it – I remember at the end of one day, the official officials were comparing steps and and max heart rates for the day and I kept quiet because mine had spiked at a regular basis throughout each of the three days. 

Even with my extensive vocabulary and whiskey buzzed writing style, I won’t be able to come close to getting you in the moment with me, but I will do my best to at least get you a taste of my adrenaline fueled weekend.  My pit lane duties began with the holding of the boards.  The boards signal several things, including the opening and closing of pit lane and the start sighting laps, warmups and races.  There were 4 classes of races there: The World SBK, the MotoAmerica SuperbikeSuperstock 600, and the KTM RC Cup.  For the first World SBK session, I’m handed the 5 minute board to signal the time until track opening – which I proceed to display UPSIDE DOWN.  #facepalm. In hindsight, I’m glad it was my first one.  I didn’t make that mistake again. After learning that the next day I would be on the grid working lollipops, I attended a volunteer meeting that got my anxiety level at a all time high (although I partly blame the jet lag).  The lollipop guild is responsible for holding up row numbers for the grid at the start of the race.  Much less about letting the riders know where they go, and much more about being ready with a yellow flag should a rider have an issue at the start – a stalled bike or unready rider can cause people to get seriously hurt. I’m glad the day is over and I’m even more happy about the double rye the #PIC has waiting for me at the bar.


I’m a bundle of nerves on Saturday, but also know I just need my first time through to be comfortable with it.  I get there the next morning and see my row assignment – Row 2.  As if I’m anxious enough, Padgitt walks up to me about 7 minutes before go time and says “Don’t worry.  If you fuck up, there’s only about 30-40 million people watching – worldwide”.  Thanks Scott.  I later learn that WSBK is broadcast on 95 channels in 175 countries and the 30 million viewship earlier mentioned was not all fluff designed to have a little fun at my expense. Luckily the weekend of lollipops wielding went smoothly, and I even got to write up a grid report on a rider for the Sunday round.


Up until Sunday, my favorite part of the weekend was running the pit lane boards.  I am up on the wall and I can feel the heat of the bikes as they roll out less than two feet away from me.  Never one to turn down a chance to face something that increases my heart rate, I only hesitate momentarily when the #PIC asks if I want to wave the checkered flag for a World SBK race.  Do I?  Fuck. Yes. I. Do. I’m saving my comments on the race family for last, but once again, I’m told (lovingly) not to fuck it up – and def don’t drop the flag.  I’d like to tell Remy I did it for the ‘Gram, and the #PIC did get some amazing shots, but I did it because it was waving a checkered flag at an internationally televised race and it was on the top of the list of the most exhilirating things I’ve ever done. 



Hang with me Lovers, because we are not done yet.  For Sunday, my lolli row is 9, which means for some races, I’m not needed.  This is the case for the second World SBK race, so the #PIC tells me to follow him, we are running the boards at the FRONT> OF> THE> GRID.  This means there’s a lead car.  And a pace car.  Then there is me. And him.  Then the umbrella girls.  And then the grid.  25 or so riders standing ready to race at nearly 160 MPH according to our cues.  Surreal doesn’t come close to describing it.  The #PIC and I make a great team (meaning he loves me enough to make sure I don’t fuck up and make an ass out of myself on national TV wearing MotoAmerica gear)…5 minutes board to horn…. 3 minutes, B2H… everyone but two crew and the *aforementioned* umbrella girls clear…. 1 minutes B2H… bikes start, crews and ladies leave… 30 sec B2H.. it is me, the #PIC, and the riders… we clear, they rev and get in position in perfect unison, green flag and go.  There was nothing like it.  I mean nothing. I got chills that racked my entire body.  I met Keanu Reeves about 7 minutes later and it didn’t even come close to comparing. High on that, I run my lollipops for the rest of the day, help the crew break down the tents, and load up to head back to SJC for one more American night in a fluffy bed with too many pillows and an extra large shower before heading back to the European adventure.


I could go on forever about the amazing nature of this weekend, but the last thing I want to mention is how I now feel like I have gained an additional family.  I believe family is what you make it, and most of the team this weekend has known each other for YEARS.  They have raced together, officiated together, loved and lost together.  But they were more than happy to welcome me, a full on visitor, solely there for personal reason and with no knowledge of motorcylce racing at all, into the family, giving me encouragement when I needed it, but much more often, shit when it was warranted (or the wind was blowing the right way).  Pranks and chirping are first language in this crew, and I hope I at least came close to holding up my end.  Rachel ,the pit team leader, has a confidence and swagger that not only I saw, but was confirmed by a photographer.  Scotty is the ladies man of the group, and I can’t help myself from smiling about the lingerie store buyout or the Google+ mishap, even in the middle of EWR by myself.  Pat successfully assimilated a new chirp of the fact that #PIC and I can’t keep our hands off each other, and Chris came in clutch on Sunday with some fourth quarter zingers that pushed him up the leaderboard in points.  But by far, my favorite new connection is the #PIC’s brother.  This isn’t the first time we’ve met, and that time didn’t go as I would have hoped, but by the level of abuse I got from him this weekend, I think we bonded on a level that I’m afraid to put into words, because I’m sure he will twist them into a sick and non-intended nature.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Officially Yours, 

SR

Sleep When I’m Dead

Dobar don my Lovers.  I started this post from a quaint little courtyard cafe that I stumbled upon while walking through the breathtaking streets of Belgrade, and I’m finishing it from my 15ft ceilinged room in Budapest.  I am fully aware that I am WAY behind and there’s much of the adventure that you need to be updated on, from jazz bars to summer parties, road trips, cliff jumping, bay swimming, yacht club hanging, private dinners, solo wandering, farewell parties, illegal activities, and the best airport dance party ever.  And that’s just the last weeks of my time in Split.

In the interest of keeping this post to a manageable reading length, I’ll try to keep it to a 10,000 foot view of the adventures, and only delve into the details of the juiciest of activities.  This is going to be a challenge for me, as we tend to pack 3 days worth of life into every day. A quick check of my sleep app has me averaging 4.5 hours of sleep each night, and while I occasionally go down for the hard 11-12 hour slumber (actually just woke up from one), the energy that is created internally by the amazing people I’m surrounded by makes powering through a simple task.

The Summer Party

After a week that contained a lot of work (yes, I do actually work), entertainment of visitors from Remote Year Kublai, spectating of a Hartthrobs soccer match (that Duffs said I wasn’t allowed to participate in because my voice hadn’t returned), I was prepping for an easy night when this happened:

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First, yes, we salsa.  every Wednesday.  Well, they do – I have never actually indulged. Second, IDK about you, Lovers, but I see a post like that all thoughts of Netflix and chill go out the window.  We got there around 11, got the dance party started (because let’s face it, we don’t need a crowd, we are a crowd), and the place was a madhouse before you could say “summer solstice”.  We crawled on outcroppings, sat on vans, took shots, danced our little Harts off and left in the wee hours of the AM covered in sweat (ours and others), drinks (ours and others) and with what I’m starting to think is a broken big toe.

Dubrovnik

After spending the next couple of days knocking out work, knocking interviews out of the park (I’m employed my Lovers!) and hammering out a 22 persons, 2 van, 1 car, 5 Air BNB, 2 city trip (with the help of The Remote Yogi), we loaded up and headed off for Dubrovnik and Montenegro.  We crammed 9 into our van, took a coastal route and enjoyed view after view of the most breathtaking scenery.  Dubrovnik itself was magical (and I won the AirBNB game for realz) and included a stellar outdoor DJ set with intense visuals, but my favorite part was the 30 foot cliff jump I executed from beneath the castle walls. Sorry Lovers, no pics of that one.

Montenegro

The next day we are onto Montenegro.  Van karaoke, Bosnian border crossings, car ferries and another AirBNB win in the bay of Kotor.  I’m going to eventually have to stop saying that “this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been”, but it was pretty spectacular.  We did a family style dinner, hung at a swank ass yacht club, climbed 1,300+ stairs for the view and the sunset (and the ‘Gram, of course), had a private dinner provided by a local who sang traditional songs for us, consumed copious amounts of local wine, stared at the stars, and bonded further as a tramily.

Belgrade

Don’t take this next sentence the wrong way, because I adore each member of my Earhart family, but after rolling 25 deep for the last three days, I’m not disappointed about boarding a flight to Belgrade all by my lonesome to roll dolo for a couple of days. I meet up with my temp roomie, run into DL (who is on his way back to Split), settle into a cafe to get some work done before heading off to grab some dinner as a prelude to turning in for the aforementioned and much needed crash session. The next day I learn how breathtakingly beautiful Belgrade really is.  It has a vibrant city atmosphere with an old world feel.  I walked almost 12 miles around the city, taking it all in. I went to the two tallest building and denied access to the top of both.  I explored the Fortress, where I was humbled by the fact that this part of the world was at war in my lifetime.  After the temp roomie and I caught an epic sunset , we boarded the Ambar train and had 16 courses of mouth watering local fare, washed it all down with some good bourbon (no rye in this town either) and headed back – but not before I danced through a fountain.

 

Mosor

The next day, client issues forced me back to Split earlier than anticipated, so I had some interesting airport conversations, pulled out the Southern Charm, and made it back home in time to climb Mosor, the big mountain you see in the background of all the pics for Split. Guided by Nate, past remote and avid climber, we took the path less traveled, and endured a grueling climb up to the little red hut where we left our names in the books at the top.  After rest and refuel, Nate pointed to the next peak and said let’s go. Lovers, I have never done a ridge climb before, and I spent the next hour or so exhausting all my adrenaline stores to achieve crawling across this ridge to the next peak, but fuck, how amazing I felt when I got there…. there’s just no describing it.

The Final Days

We got back and showered just in time for the Farewell party.  We boarded a boat to Joe’s Beach, swam in the sea one last time, and sat on the shore after sunset and had a Hartthrobs sing along. Friday was our last night in Split, and we had decided to close the month out exactly as we had opened it – with a dance party at the open air club.  But first – ink.  Duffs and I got our Split marks needled in, and The Remote Yogi even joined us for some Hakuna Matata. After that, we left our mark on Split by tagging the wall outside of the workspace before heading to Old Town for one last Croatian edition of Danceharts. **This actually turned out not to be the case, as after our chartered flight from Split to Budapest got delayed 3 hours (and after 5 bottles of liquor, 4 cases of beers, 4 bottles of champagne and 4 bottles of wine), we started a dance party in the airport.  All 48 of us.  Earharts can start a dance party anywhere.

Ok Lovers, you’re all caught up on the first 35 days.  The Budapest adventure started Sunday, but you’ll have to wait for the updates on that.  For now I’ll tell you I’m in love with this city, but I’m reserving my Random raving for now.

Until next time, my Lovers.

Specifically yours,

SR

Guess what else I updated?  PICTURES!