The summer of 2013 is more than half over - what have you been doing during this, the most glorious season of the year?
It's been quite a while since I last wrote an update on what I've been doing, and I guess the only real reason it's been so long is that I've been pretty busy. Since my last post about the Venice Carnevale, I've been back to California and Phoenix, to the island of Mallorca, Paris, Edinburgh, Florence, Brussels, and Leuven. I've also found a flat for myself in London and thrown down for tickets to visit Jen in Uganda. Whew.
Here's a brief rundown of each trip, with photos because duh!
As with most of the time I have spent in California, my March-April trip back to the bay area consisted of getting outdoors, climbing some rocks, hanging out with friends, and having some serious type 2 fun. Two of the highlights were climbing at a secluded stretch of overhanging rock on the way to Yosemite, and completing a non-stop 50 mile hike. This crag offers some of the most pristine sport climbing within shouting distance of the Bay Area:
My last weekend in town, we also planned a non-stop 50 mile hike to be completed in 24 hours. The route took us from Point Reyes, down past Mt. Tamalpais, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and finished with us passing out on Crissy Field. We got started around noon on Saturday and finished as the fog cleared Sunday morning to reveal a pristine San Francisco spring day, stopping only to chow down on some glorious 2:00 AM chilli provided by Caryn, Allison, and Sara. I didn't walk right for about a week after that sufferfest, but damn if that wasn't the best chilli any of us had ever eaten.
Earlier this year, Mike and I started talking about doing a climbing trip somewhere in Europe. We gathered interest and eventually decided on the island of Mallorca, one of Europe's sport climbing meccas, famous in particular for its deep water soloing made famous by Chris Sharma in the film King Lines (trailer). Our crew was Mike, me, Mark Frichtl, Nicole, Mina, and Mark Canada (a last-minute Canadian addition whose partner bailed on their trip).
We set up base in Porto de Pollenca, a town of mostly retired German tourists in northern Mallorca, and Mike drove us from crag to crag each day. Each day seemed more spectacular than the last, and we felt confident leading some of our most difficult routes ever. We also fully embraced the Spanish lifestyle, drinking wine at night, waking up around 11:00 AM and climbing until dusk around 8:00 PM.
Mike, Mark Canada, and I finished off the last day with a wild 7-pitch climb that ended with a fourth class scramble to the summit of one of the island's highest points. It was the perfect end to a total Type 1 fun trip.
My family was able to all make time to come visit at the beginning of June, and we headed to Paris to start the trip. We hit most of the "first time to Paris" sights - Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, and Versailles - and interspersed them with delicious meals and plenty of French wine.
London, Bath, Frome, Stonehenge
After Paris, my family stayed for most of a week in London, touristing around and enjoying a spell of really nice weather. They saw much more of London in four days than I had in nearly three months! Feeling adventurous, I rented a car the following weekend and we headed out to Bath, Frome, and Stonehenge. Driving on the wrong side of the road wasn't too bad since I bike around London most of the time, but I did curb check a few times.
Stonehenge is, as reported, a circle of mysterious large rocks on the side of a highway. Frome, England, is a really cool place as well, with a quaint feel and a surprising number of cool shops and restaurants. We were only able to spend a few hours in our namesake town, but we made sure to get a picture with a large Frome sign (and major thanks to Ben for risking life and limb to get the photo!).
Lauren and Ben left us before Edinburgh, so my parents and I took a beautiful train ride up north to the Scottish city of Edinburgh. We were once again met with unseasonably mild weather and small-ish crowds, which made this lovely city even more enjoyable. The unexpected highlight was the Scottish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Military Museum inside Edinburgh Castle - they were a moving tribute to the fallen sons and daughters Scotland's proud military tradition.
When you live and Europe and your friends come to do a trip, you kind of inevitably end up flying somewhere to meet them. This is one of the best perks about living here - it seems like people are constantly coming and wanting to meet up.
I met Caitlin and James in Florence during their two week roadtrip through western Europe. As seems to be my M.O. these days, I flew in a day early and stayed at a hostel before meeting up with them. We had an absolute blast walking around a very hot Florence and enjoying some of the best meals I've had in my life.
On Sunday, we had the privilege to watch the Calico Fiorentino, a kind of medieval no-holds-barred handball match replete with colorful pageantry and a heavy dose of ass kicking. I do not exaggerate at all when I say that there were around 10 ambulances parked just outside the gates, and injuries were so common that they didn't even stop play to scrape these guys off the pitch.
Brussels & Leuven
To cap off a pretty hectic two months of travel, I booked a last minute trip to Brussels and Leuven to visit Chris, my sophomore year roommate from Stanford. He had just finished the first year of a two-year Master's, and was hanging around Leuven one last weekend before heading out for the summer.
I arrived by train in Brussels, and we went straight to the Delirium Cafe for some of Belgium's finest beers. For the rest of the weekend, we hung around in Leuven, an idyllic Belgian town with a massive town square lined with innumerable cafes and pubs. Chris and I sat outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather for most of the weekend - it was gloriously relaxing.
Over the last 3-4 weeks, I've stayed in London and occasionally been a tourist in my own city. Chris came to visit the weekend after we were in Leuven, and we got out to see Westminster Abbey and several of the other marquee London sights. I've also settled into a flat with 4 other flatmates in the Southwark neighborhood (Borough, more specifically) of south London. My flat is pretty much equidistant from Crossfit Central London and The Arch Climbing Wall, and a 10 minute bike ride away from Medallia's UK office.
With these essentials sorted out, I've turned my sights to what travel adventures will fill the second half of my summer and on into the fall and winter. What is on your list for the rest of the summer? Any suggestions for adventures I should have? Leave a comment!