As I trudged through the Frankfurt Airport this morning, I was forced to hold on to my stretched out jeans with one hand like a Siberian prisoner. Feeling extremely groggy due to not sleeping while my ovaries committed suicide on the plane packed with screaming babies, I reflected on the absolutely amazing things I’ve seen and done in the past three weeks. It all started with a weekend trip to Southern Italy.
Jenn, Bill, Brandon, Matt, Sean and I went to Sorrento on Friday night, then did Pompeii and Capri on Saturday. Sunday we headed to an island called Ischia, which was the highlight of the trip for me. We arrived by ferry to discover our hotel was idyllic and situated right on the beach. After two days of packed itineraries, we were thrilled to put on our suits and relax and swim. The hotel provided kayaks, and we were able to paddle around and see some of the insanely picturesque coastline. That afternoon we decided to check out another beach and it was even more lovely, with pristine white sand. The water was warm and we swam out to a sand dune that was like the most beautiful natural pool I’ve ever had the pleasure to bathe in. You could see right down to the ocean floor even in the deepest parts, and it was completely clear, down to the soft clean sand.
The beach completely cleared out about 6pm, but we stayed and watched the sun go down. It was definitely one of those moments when you just feel so satisfied with where you are and what you are experience that absolutely nothing could be wrong in the world. Bliss…
Sadly, we returned home on Monday, and I did a quick run and repack, then left Tuesday morning for Bahrain. The flight was mostly empty and I was able to sleep, leaving me fairly refreshed after the 6 hour flight. I worked and went to bed early that night in preparation for a big week. I spent my days there doing quality control, and training our Field Rep in marketing. I met with faculty to discuss future plans and ideas, and also met with the various people on the Navy base that assist with making our program a success. In between I also managed to see a bit of Bahrain, which is a very unique place.
It’s a small island that is actually growing thanks to the magic of land ‘reclamation,’ where they basically create land and then put big glass buildings on top of it. The culture is a mixture of Arabic and European, and you can find just about anything there, from Old Mosques to the Ritz Carlton to a street lined with fast food restaurants dubbed “American Alley.”
I mostly ate on the base, but did have the chance to eat dinner in the Gulf Hotel, which is a 4 star hotel, and a sight to behold with gigantic chandeliers, piano players, Saudi Businessmen, women for hire, and a host of other unusual and expensive things. I ate Thai food that was delicious and even managed to get a White Russian in an outdoor bar for dessert. I ate off base a couple of other times, but nothing too interesting. I did have an amazing fruit/yogurt/ice cream treat in a local café that was lovely, but nothing else to write home about.
After a jammed packed 4 days, I left late on Saturday and flew overnight back to Frankfurt. I had a four hour layover and then hopped my next flight to Washington DC. At 4pm on Sunday I arrived at the University of Maryland University College Inn and Conference center, after having traveled for about 27 hours straight. I unpacked, watched Fletch, and was asleep by 8pm. I had a long run the next morning after waking up bright eyed a little before 6am. I spent most of the day training on a new database we’re going to be implementing, and then ventured out with two other girls who’d also come over from Europe. We had a hilarious time trying to walk to the metro station down roads with no sidewalks, through two foot tall grass. Apparently, people in American think walking is overrated, and prefer to sit in traffic and talk on their cell phones.
We made it to Georgetown and had a great time wandering around and checking out a few shops. We ate a fabulous sushi dinner in a swanky joint called Mate’ and I must admit I was feeling quite chic and international. Plus, it turns out that these two girls were very good company!
The next day we had more meetings and training, and we had a work dinner scheduled for 6pm. Much to my surprise, we were picked up in a big SUV and we all went to Union Station in DC, which is the HUGE train station that’s right across from the capital building. We are in a gorgeous restaurant called B. Smiths, which was upscale modern southern food. We shared fried green tomatoes, fried catfish, clam and corn chowder, cornbread, spinach salad, and a bottle of wine so modern it actually came in a carton. Everything was delicious. The entire experience was almost fairy tale like for me, having been to Union Station once on my 8th grade trip, and now suddenly being a grown up enjoying a decadent meal. I know I should get used to being able to do such things, but somehow I never seem to!
Wednesday was not lost on us, and we went to the local mall after work, did a bit of shopping, then braved a monsoon to eat at a local restaurant called Franklins where I drank a house brew called “Anarchy Beer.” It turned out to be a lot like normal beer, but the place was fun, sort of an urban cracker barrel with a store full of goodies, and of course, delicious food.
Since this is turning into a tale of awesome places to eat in DC, I’ll just skip right ahead to Thursday, when Amanda’s father took us out to dinner in the city. We went to Maggiano’s, which is a very, very cool Italian restaurant. As we walked in, a jazz duo was playing and the bar area was packed with smart businesspeople drinking martinis. We continued on to the restaurant portion, which was enormous, and very beautiful. The place has a very vintage feel, like an Italian Restaurant in New York, complete with red velvet curtains, dim lighting, and lots of black and white pictures. We split spinach salad, gnocchi, spicy angel hair with shrimp, and then finished with tiramisu and coffee. I was having another blissed out moment listening to Frank Sinatra and feeling high on good food and company, and we had a limoncello before heading back to Maryland for the night.
I honestly did not think it could get much better than that, but it did. I checked out of my hotel on Friday, and Jeremy M. came and picked me up! Bless him for doing this, since it was raining and I had no idea where to go. He took me into the city and we ate burgers and fries at Five Guys that gave In N’ Out a run for its money. After that we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and saw dinosaur bones, mummies, whales, bugs, and the Hope Diamond. After that we weren’t sure what to do, so we thought we’d get some coffee and discuss. As we searched for a café (because I was hoping for one that wasn’t Starbucks, which are basically extinct at this point), we came across the Warner Theater with a big sign showing that PJ Harvey was playing there! I had a total spaz attack in the middle of the sidewalk and Jeremy indulged me and we got tickets. I was SO happy after that and still basking in the joy of anticipation while we at a nice Sushi Dinner in Chinatown with another old friend from Murfreesboro. After dinner I practically glided back to the theater and was very pleasantly entertained for the next two hours. It was only her work that she’s done with John Parish, and I knew about 50% of it, but the show was fantastic. She sang better than ever, and the band looked great in suits and fedoras, backlit to create silhouettes. The effect was very cool, and the sound in the theater was great. I really liked the way the whole thing came together as a performance in a specific style, showcasing her talent, but only a portion of it. She’s a true artist to me in every sense of the word. Needless to say, stumbling upon this show felt like a gift, and like Jeremy so succinctly put it, it only happened since I started eating more bananas since I found out Libras should do that.
The next morning, my last, I wanted a big American style breakfast, and Jeremy was more than accommodating, convincing me to eat a warm Krispy Kreme on the way to the diner. MMMMMMmm. I then gorged on waffles, eggs and bacon until I thought I would explode, but I was glad, and it was enough to get me through 3 hours of exploring the Air and Space Museum that’s out by Dulles Airport. In fact, you can go up in a tower and watch all the flights coming and going from Dulles from the museum, and we did that for a bit. The museum was awesome and had a full scale space shuttle, and tons of neat planes, including a stealth blackbird and the Enola Gay. Overall it was spacetastic, and I am very grateful to Jeremy for acting as my own personal DC tour guide and chauffeur – a very fun one at that.
Now it’s time to catch up on sleep and see how long I can drag out my jetlag…