The Process.

92 posts
29 trains
27 hotels/hostels
25 cities
13 countries
6 planes
5 overnight trains
4 buses (1 overnight)
3 children’s books written
3 bottles of face wash lost
0 bedbug bites

…and 45 days to go.


I got off the train today in Innsbruck, Austria. It’s too expensive to sleep there, so I planned to spend the day there and take a train up to Munich. My railpass makes decisions like that easy, plus somewhere back I realized I write most and see most on trains. It’s never wasted time.

When I arrived at the train station, the only free locker was as tall and thick as me. Not suitable for the backpack. Not suitable for storing anything but an upright body, really. I walked across the street and considered asking a nearby hotel if I could leave it for a couple hours. The one I found was a five star hotel and I was not confident enough in smiling really hard and asking what seemed like a ridiculous question.

So it came with me today.


No big deal. Other backpackers keep saying how “small” my bag is – low 60s in liters rather than the typical 70-75. I feel sorry for the female backpackers that don’t have a butt that can double as a backpack shelf. Little in the middle but i got much back, and it’s so handy sometimes.

I saw this sticking out of the road today.


I took this picture because, well, look at it. I was caught taking the picture by a group of tourists, who asked me if I knew what it was. Mortified, I told a bold-faced lie and said I was just testing my camera. They looked crestfallen.

“Oh… we were hoping you knew what it was, because we think it looks like a penis.”

I want to keep traveling forever.


I just had my favorite Munich dinner and now I’m sitting in the Starbucks where I wrote the first children’s book. The barista has a bandaid over his eyebrow he didn’t have four days ago and I want to know the story.

Somewhere, this got less scary. A train station is becoming just a train station, follow the signs. When you arrive at the hostel, get your passport out. You can probably jaywalk this intersection. You can definitely use (insert chain restaurant) wifi without purchasing anything.

But the story for me is still about the process, and the process doesn’t always make it to the blog. You don’t always need to know the first thing I did in Innsbruck was buy a pack of gum, not for bad breath but to get change in coins for a locker.

The process. In between cities and landmarks and posed photos.

Like the woman on the train this morning. It’s not that we talked about travel, it’s that she started the conversation with “What have you gotten stolen so far?” and proceeded to tell me she’s gotten something stolen from her nearly everywhere. And yet she keeps traveling. And I just wanted to say ma’am, you’ve got to be doing something wrong.

And it’s not that I found the “apo bar” in Salzburg and, proud Alpha Phi Omega brother for three years that I am, I wanted to take a picture. It’s that I ended up with these pictures.



And it’s not that I walked down the street today with a bright red backpack eating an ice cream cone for lunch, but that I was the tenth person in line and when it was my turn, an old man blatantly cut me before saying what I think was “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.”


And it’s not that I took a bunch of funky pictures of my belongings in a public garden today. It’s that I unpacked my backpack, pouch by pouch, in a public garden. It’s that I sat on the ground in the leaves to get some shots.



It’s that I spent a good deal of the time just in socks. It’s that two students from Mexico thought what I was doing was great.


It’s not that I spent my week writing children’s books. It’s that now I’m sitting here debating what clothes my characters wear and asking my family/friends/”creative team,” where every line there blurs, for their input. It’s the process.


I’ve reached a point in my trip where I feel I did “it.” I set out to do what I wanted. By no means do I want to come home early, but I feel I achieved… Something. This summer I got asked what I wanted to get out of this trip, and I didn’t have a good, non-cliché answer. I want to see? I want to learn? I want to write… Maybe?

What did I want?

It’s not that I was walking down the street with my bright red backpack today feeling like a dweeby, dorky girl.

It’s that a nice looking man said something to me, and when I responded with “I’m sorry, I only speak English,” he replied, “You are a beautiful woman.” He continued down the road without another word.


Well. You know, I think I wanted that.



What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder.

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me

I’m about to drop so many Sound of Music lyrics in this post. For Erin, Ryan and all other friends who haven’t seen it, I’ve even linked what I’m referencing. You should probably click through, if not to appreciate the movie, to appreciate how much I appreciated this day.

Let’s start at the very beginning (at least, please click to the 5:20 point and watch for one minute)








On the train to Salzburg yesterday, a girl stepped on the train, looked unsure, looked at me and said, “Ma’am, excuse me, do you speak English?” I think the term for what I did was chuckle. We were definitely the same age, and she was from Tennessee. She was mortified when I said I was from California. Ma’am. I don’t know if I just looked confident or haggard.

In my 6-bed mixed dorm, the three boys in there when I arrived were really sweet. They informed me the other two guys (do the math, it was awkward) were “strange.” Strange how? Little blonde French guy said “They just were weird. Like you could see it in their eyes.”

These boys were nervous. I told them I’d protect them. Then for the next hour, I watched them plan out their next two weeks (a school break) to the minute, telling them you’re debating Brussels and Prague? Hah! And if you’re thinking Brussels, go straight to Bruges. I’m speaking as if I hadn’t learned this six days ago, and they started referring to me as the “expert.” They were sweethearts.

Fast-forward. 4:30a.m. Somebody is rubbing my arm. Odd. Especially odd since I’m on the top bunk.

Oh, this must be one of the weird guys. Those boys called that one right.

“Hi!” he says.


A pause, so I follow-up. “Are we just saying hi?”

“What’s your name?”

I never lie about that one. It’s too hard to remember when you’re sober, and he’s definitely not.

“Where are you from?”


Sometimes I don’t make things up when I should.

“Are you single in Austria?”

As opposed to single in not Austria?


“Someone in California?”


I mean, sure. You can stop rubbing my arm now. I’m not a genie in a bottle, baby.

Blonde paranoid French kid is awake in the bottom bunk across the room. His eyes are darting around. I think he’s terrified he’s the awake male that will have to save the girl.

So I said goodnight. He said goodnight and kept staring.

“Okay pal. Goodnight.”

Twenty minutes later I felt a rub on the arm again, and patting on the bed. Whaaat.

Drunk, drunk Austrian accent – that’s right, Austrian in an Austrian hostel. Don’t get that much.

“I, I, can’t find my debit card! Did I leave it, I think I left it in your bed.”

Okay, now I just feel like a fancy prostitute.

“You didn’t. You really didn’t.”

“Are you sure?”

These bozos kept everyone up for the next two hours. This morning, eyes still glazed and with a really dopey grin, the other one told me “you have a really pretty smile.” Aw, gee. I still don’t like you.

As the 17-going-on-18 cute Nazi postman said, ““your life little girl is an empty page that men will want to write on.”

I walked around town this morning. It’s cute. It really is. But the problem I seem to have is that all the old town, historical charm is lost because, as touristy as it is, the prettiest sites are surrounded by the Gucci, Prada, etc. stores and I easily become disenchanted. I don’t know why that is. I’d wandered through town, knowing my Sound of Music tour was at 2:00, and just when I was thinking alright, my trip to Salzburg will be all about this tour… I found some steps.


And you know what Mother Abbess sang. Climb every mountain…

You’ll notice I didn’t link. That is the most boring part of the movie.

I climbed. I found. I found way better than ground level.












I’m failing to be selective when it comes to photos. This is the greatest autumn I have ever seen.

Side thought. The day in Munich I wanted to sit in a cafe and write all day, it rained. Sound of Music tour day, it was 55 degrees and sunny. Was there a parade going on below me in Salzburg when I reached the top of the fort? You bet.

Feeling awesome about Salzburg now, I looked at my watch and realized I was officially running late for the tour and did not know how to get down from the massive fortress. Luckily, following the logic that downhill paths would work, I made it!

Oh Sound of Music tour. You were a budget buster, and so worth every minute. For four hours, I heard bad jokes, good trivia, went through the sites in Salzburg, and then forty minutes out to… The hills that are alive with the sound of music. With the movie’s soundtrack playing.


This is the lake and backyard of the Von Trapp residence. Notice you never see that house in the movie, they used a different building for the house. The scenes where Maria and Captain Von Trapp are talking to each other? Dialogue was shot separately, miles apart. This is where they wear curtains and fall out of the boat!




The following needs no introduction. Except that my favorite, favorite scene takes place in the gazebo, and it is not the scene with the teens. I love love. Plus, this scene has my favorite line.

Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.



We stopped off for a beautiful scenic spot in the hills. The only reason I post this picture of myself is not because it captures the scenery, not because its flattering of me, but because this is the last of a string of photos this father took of me, none of which I knew he was taking because he kept asking me questions and thus I kept talking.



We even made it to the church where Maria and Captain got married. Yes they got married at the abbey… But the interior of the church was here.



It was a fun, beautiful day. I didn’t want to bury my favorite photo of the day. It’s in the previous post… A couple and their dog. It seemed like a moment captured most people wouldn’t mind having.






All for tonight. So long, farewell.

Oh, YouTube. You’re brilliant sometimes.

Salzburg, Austria, where the hills are alive with the sound of my giggling.

You seize the day and we’ll season your fries.

Even vegetarians. Even though we think you’re weird.

Don’t worry. We took these pictures before they knew our intentions.

Dine and die.

It’s always a good time in Ritchie’s room.

Spend your money here and we’ll feel more secure.

Have your own pick, or you can try one of ours.

We all know she was your favorite Golden Girl.

Not just anybody… No, not you. Keep walking.

I’m in Salzburg, Austria. Train Füssen to Munich then Munich to here, and I am in a quirky little productive not-for-blog writing mood. Not much to post now. Tomorrow, I’m being hugely unoriginal, and going on the four hour air-conditioned SOUND OF MUSIC BUS TOUR!!!

If you haven’t seen The Sound of Music, I’m hugely flattered, surprised and confused as to how you’ve found your way to this blog.

Watch this, because I’m about to spoil it for you in multiple definitions of the word.

I am twenty-two
(I just turned twenty-two)
Without makeup it’s hard to believe
Locals I meet, they tell me I’m neat
And humbly…
I freakin’ agree!

I am twenty-two
(I just turned twenty-two)
With statues I can’t not pose
Laundry and showers, smelling like flowers
What do I know of those?

Totally unemployed am I
When I get home next time
Ill go interview, my biggest skill?
“Just look how well I rhyme!”

I need someones older and smarter
Telling me what to do
But until then, only until then
I’ll just blog… to you.

With love, from Salzburg.


The Ones You Can’t Google

I went to Schönbrunn Palace today, one of the most important cultural monuments in the country, a former imperial summer residence. The palace is massive, greater than any I’d ever seen, and the gardens, you could get lost in them for hours. Beyond the main area of flowers, trees (like woods?) stretched in either direction. You could wander the stony paths all day. I spent three hours there.

My camera, however, didn’t. It died almost as soon as I got there. For a moment, I was ticked. Annoyed at myself. Then I realized this is probably one of the most photographed places in the world, anyone can see it online, and I’m going to spend the next two hours walking the gardens of an Austrian Palace just by myself, no technology but for maybe some Nat King Cole playing in my earphones.

For looking like the typical camera-toting tourist, I burn my camera battery on the most non-touristy things. I hope one or two of these moments catch your interest.



















Scenes from Vienna

Oh Vienna, you’re beautiful.

I walked all day yesterday, and most of this morning. I’m back at the hostel resting before another cruise around town. Did I say I was going to Bratislava? Wrong. Don’t listen to my plans until I show up in a new country. Night train to Krakow, Poland tonight… Enjoying many glorious days and nights in a hostel that includes breakfast, dinner and unlimited tea and coffee. My Vienna hostel… Not so much. Not at all, actually. But I guess that makes me venture out, if spend even more.

Yesterday’s route (imagine today I left my hostel and walked an hour the exact opposite direction):


So anyone worried I don’t get out and see enough… I walked that big straight stretch, up and down, three times yesterday. And I don’t draw the side streets I wander up and down as well.

Vienna is lovely, if a little sleepy. Not much going on after 8:30p.m.

Kunthist. Museum










Schönbrunn Palace








And more…








Grin and Bear Hug It

I get off the train in every new city giggling. It’s generally followed by a “What the heck am I doing in (city, country)?”

Giggle giggle giggle. Get on city bus to hostel. Get lost. Giggle.

I’m in a fantastic mood. Maybe I’ll buy lottery tickets today.

I took the train to Vienna, Austria today. It’s absolutely gorgeous everywhere you look. The architecture, the roads, the parks, the people. I’m here one night but coming back. My hostel is at capacity tomorrow, so why not slip over to Bratislava, Slovakia for a day or two? Back in time for the Vienna Boys Choir at Sunday mass and a night at the opera.

While walking, I take pictures of pretty things. You all know this by now.

But here’s a story you don’t get everyday.

I’m in the neighborhood with everything, it seems. The Hofburg Palace, State Opera, Burg Theatre, City Hall, Parliament, the university and the Museums quarter. Seen below, I snapped a shot of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien.


Pretty, right? Maybe I’ll ask someone to take my picture. Andrea taught me well when we traveled. Offer to take a couple’s photo, they’ll take yours in return. Or just smile, ask and say please.

I saw two middle-aged Asian men with cameras. The sole reason to make the admittedly vague ethnic description is to stress the mile-high language barrier between us. I motioned me + museum + camera, and got this picture.


Yeah! I offer to take a picture of them, pointing my finger back and forth at the two of them.

Not a word of English being said, but heads are being nodded, two fingers are held up.

I’m still speaking English as though it’s going to help, reaching for their cameras. Not getting them.

Sure! I’ll take a picture of the two of you! that’s not what they’re saying

Both of your cameras? Of course! wrong, still wrong, you suck at this game

Two photos? Vertical and horizontal? Gotcha covered. no, nope, not that.

OHHHH!!! …you’ve got to be kidding me.

We never spoke a word, we never exchanged names… But we shared this moment. On three different cameras.


I’m sending it out as my Christmas card this year: “Holiday Greetings from Nae and This Guy”

Maybe I resemble someone famous.

I wonder who.